Archive for Samuel L. Jackson

Incredibles 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Family, Movie Reviews, Pixar, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Three months following Syndrome’s defeat, the Parr family – Bob, Helen, Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack – continue operating under their superhero identity, the Incredibles. After unsuccessfully preventing the villain Underminer from robbing Metroville Bank, the authorities become concerned over the level of damage caused by the incident. As a result, Rick Dicker informs the Parr family that his department’s “Super Relocation” program is being shut down, forcing supers across the world to permanently adhere to their secret identities. Soon thereafter, Bob and Helen, along with family friend Lucius Best – the superhero Frozone – are contacted by Winston Deavor, a superhero fan, telecommunications tycoon, and owner of DEVTECH, who proposes a publicity stunt to regain the general public’s support of supers.

Helen Parr, considered the least-destructive of the supers, is selected to undertake the stunt by openly fighting crime in New Urbrem, under her old identity of Elastigirl. As part of the plan, Winston provides the family with a new home, to which Bob offers to take care of the kids while Helen is away. During her absence, Bob discovers that Jack-Jack has various super powers, but struggles with controlling the family’s infant. Seeking help, Bob takes Jack-Jack to Edna Mode, a family friend and superhero-costume designer, who agrees to help upon seeing the baby’s superpowers in action. Helen meanwhile confronts the Screenslaver – a mysterious villain who hijacks screens in order to project hypnotic images that can brainwash civilians.

After rescuing an ambassador from the Screenslaver’s clutches, she manages to defeat him, only to find that he is no more than a pizza delivery man, who has no recollection of what he did. While attending a celebration of the Screenslaver’s defeat at the Deavor’s, Helen realizes that the pizza delivery man was being controlled by hypno-screens within his goggles. Before she can alert anyone to this, Winston’s sister Evelyn Deavor overpowers her and brainwashes her with Screenslaver’s goggles glasses. Evelyn reveals herself to be the mastermind behind the Screenslaver – seeing supers as a threat to humanity’s independence, she sought to undermine her brother’s mission, and plans to brainwash the world’s leaders so that they cannot re-legalize superheroes. Evelyn then manages to lure Bob and Lucius into a trap, and place them under her control with brainwashing glasses.

Avoiding the same fate as their parents, Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack, whom Edna had outfitted with a super-suit, sneak aboard the Deavor’s ship to rescue their parents, as the world leaders meet for a hearing on supers. After freeing their parents and Lucius, the group reveal Evelyn’s plan to the assembled leaders. A battle on the boat ensues, threatening to crash the ship into New Urbrem. However, the group manage to stop it, while Helen apprehends Evelyn when she tries to make an escape. Following the incident, the Supers Relocation Program is reinstated in response to the group’s heroism, making supers legal once again.

REVIEW:

There have been some long-awaited films to be released in the past 12 months including, but not limited to Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Star Wars : The Last Jedi, etc. None of these come anywhere near the anticipation for Incredibles 2. 14 years we have been waiting for this sequel…14 years!!! Will this be worth the wait or a major letdown? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2”–but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again–which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

What did I like?

Right where we left off. Every now and then we are privy to a sequel for a film that was released some 5, 10, 15 yrs prior. While it is great to see these characters, and in some cases actors, again, the feeling just isn’t the same…even if they move the story forward and age with the actors. The brilliant thing about animation is that these characters don’t age (I read they did think about aging them in an early meeting, though). The only difference in this cast over the past 14 years is the voice of Dash is a different actor, for voice change reasons and the guy that was agent Dicker retired and passed away. Once those holes were filled, it was easy to come in and pick up right where The Incredibles left off. Literally, they pick up in the same scene that ends the first film!

Jack-Jack of all trades. There has been a real emphasis placed on marketing the baby, Jack-Jack. Can you blame them, though? The kid is cute, has a seemingly unending array of powers, and there is a fight with a raccoon that steals the show! If this moves forward with another film, I am interested to see where they go with him and his powers. One theory is that he’ll stop being cute, rebel against the family, and become a supervillain. Meh, I’m not much a fan of that theory, but this kid does need to be reigned in a bit. Strangely enough, he seems to have a rapport with Edna…maybe that will lead to something?

Comedy. Let’s face it, outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy films and Ant-Man, superhero films are serious business (Marvel does throw in jokes here and there, unlike the brooding, depressing DC Universe). I don’t know why, but I was afraid this film was going to go in that direction as well. Instead, there are plenty of jokes to go around. Pixar may be known for tugging on the heartstrings primarily *COUGH* Up *COUGH*, but leave us not forget they know how to make an audience of all ages laugh, too, something they succeed with in spades with the film. Situations with Jack-Jack, Bob learning new math, the character Voyd’s nervousness around Elastigirl, etc. All the jokes land and make for a thoroughly entertaining film.

What didn’t I like?

Feminism. Over the course of this blog’s history, I have made it no secret that I am no fan of feminism. Everyone should have equal rights, sure, but don’t shove your agenda down my throat, or say I am a bad person because I prefer seeing a damsel in distress once in a while. The level of feminism in this film isn’t bra burning, stop shaving your armpits, listen to 90s era lesbian grunge, for lack of a better term…blame the ladies I went to college with…but it does reek of trying to put the focus on Elastigirl and shove her down our throat. I’m ok with that, except for the fact that we for a good chunk of her in the last film. If you wanted to give us some girl power, why not put the focus on Violet, which some of the film was, or make a new super, which they did and i’ll get to her next. Hell, even give some more with Edna, even though she doesn’t have powers, one gets the feeling she could do some damage. All in all, though, in this day and age where is seems to be a crime to be male, let alone a straight male, this film took the easy road and pushed all the guys to the back of the bus.

Voyd the other supers. We saw in the last film that all the supers were killed, either by horrific accidents, which Edna Mode blamed on capes, or by Syndrome’s robots. As one generations falls, another one must rise. Enter a new group of supers. Most are forgettable, tbh, except for Voyd. I have two issues with the new guys. First, all of these powers are what we’ve seen a billion times, electricity (Black Lightning), telekinesis (Jean Gray), super strength (Mr. Incredible), flight (Angel), and the one that did stand out was an old man whose acid reflux allows him to spit lava! *SIGH* Second, Voyd is a great character. Her fangirling over Elastigirl almost made me want her to turn on her, but that would be a rehash of the first film in some respects. I do think they could have dialed her back a bit or given her compatriot supers some more time to develop personalities. I don’t think the electric dude said anything outside of introducing his powers when we first meet him!

Seen it all before. There is a misconception that this is the exact same film, just with the genders reversed. That isn’t the case. For instance, the villain isn’t anywhere near as strong a characters as Syndrome. There is a twist that comes before the last act, which you can probably see coming a mile away, but it doesn’t affect a character like you would think. Elastigirl isn’t hiding her superhero assignment. Blah, blah, blah All that said, there are more things in common with the first film that I would like for there to be, such as the main plot of one going out to be super, while the other stays home and takes care of the kids. If that was done for familiarities sake, then ok, but if it took Brad Bird 14 years to come up with that perfect story, I am highly disappointed.

The Incredibles is my all time favorite Pixar film. I have waited as we have had a sequel, and a prequel, to just about every Pixar film that was released before (and after) 2004. Not all of them have been good, some have been an obvious cash grab, and others were just horrible, but Incredibles 2 delivers. Is it as good as its predecessor? No, but let’s look at the superhero landscape and people’s general attitudes since the original was released. There has been a definite shift. That being said, I highly enjoyed this film and look forward to watching it again, and again, and again. My only real issues are that the Underminer got away and there are now 2 blueprints for how to do a solid Fantastic Four film for whichever studio ends up getting the rights. Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Stop reading and watch it multiple times with the whole family!

5 out of 5 stars

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Lakeview Terrace

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

An interracial couple moves into their California dream home, only to find themselves the target of their volatile next-door neighbor — a racist LAPD officer — in this tightly wound thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington. Newlyweds Chris and Lisa seem like they have the perfect marriage and now, with their new home in the exclusive community Lakeview Terrace, the perfect life as well, but things soon turn ugly in the posh neighborhood when they begin to receive threats from their neighbor Abel, a middle-aged LAPD officer who has obvious objections to the couple’s interracial marriage. What starts as an attitude problem soon morphs into full-on harassment, and before long the couple finds that their worries go far beyond their property values — or the encroaching California wildfire burning in view of their community — as they begin to fear for their lives.

What people are saying:

“Some will find it exciting. Some will find it an opportunity for an examination of conscience. Some will leave feeling vaguely uneasy. Some won’t like it and will be absolutely sure why they don’t, but their reasons will not agree. Some will hate elements that others can’t even see. Some will only see a thriller. I find movies like this alive and provoking, and I’m exhilarated to have my thinking challenged at every step of the way” 4 1/2 stars

“It’s ironic when the tactics it uses to ratchet up the suspense actually reduces the very real tension that gets communicated in its first half.” 1 star

“Samuel Jackson pulls off another great role. A cop living next your worst nightmare? could happen. I wouldn’t call this movie a hard core thriller, but it does have its edge of the seat type of moments. I wasn’t sure about watching it, but after I started I couldn’t stop.” 3 stars

“Though it wasn’t perfect and could’ve been much better, it’s a pretty enjoyable character study. It seems like the film, in most spots, doesn’t completely get off the ground and falls a little short before it gets too intense. The three lead performances — particularly Patrick Wilson and Samuel L. Jackson — are quite strong and the story keeps you hooked despite some cliches.” 2 1/2 stars

“Samuel Jackson is downright scary as a totally racist (without provocation, at all) psycho. People are down-playing the race angle, which is the entire underpinning of this movie. He had it out for the couple SOLELY because they were an interracial couple. I doubt most men (of any color) would have put up with his psycho behavior as much as this white husband did – that part is not believable. It also throws like four different, unrelated themes together for no apparent purpose. It’s great to see a film that finally depicts black on white racism (of which there is much), but the plot and story could have been tied together better.” 3 stars

The Hateful Eight

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

PLOT:

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

What people are saying:

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

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

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

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

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

The Legend of Tarzan

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

PLOT:

It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Margot Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the Belgian, Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz). But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash.

What people are saying:

“The site’s critical consensus reads, “The Legend of Tarzan has more on its mind than many movies starring the classic character, but that isn’t enough to make up for its generic plot or sluggish pace” 2 stars

“Enjoyed it fine. Not gonna change your life; just some fun entertainment. Keep your expectations within reason for this one.” 3 stars

“Must say disappointed with the movie. Thought the gorillas were well done but the ending was absolutely ridiculous. Too many animals fighting against the bad guys. Never knew Tarzan could communicate with alligators. Jackson and Waltz were good as always, but they couldn’t save this. You can survive a fight with an 800 pound angry gorilla, but you have trouble with a lone man. Give me a break! ” 2 stars

“For the knowledgeable Tarzan fan (reader) the story is total crap, however it may be the most watchable Tarzan movie ever. This Tarzan is the real deal, not that crybaby monkey-boy from the Highlander guy. Margot Robbie is exquisite as Jane, and Samuel L. Jackson plays pretty much the same character he always does. Don’t be afraid to give this one a try while waiting for someone, someday, to do Tarzan by the book.” 4 stars

“They’ve turned Tarzan into something of a cross between Spider-Man and Batman although I’m not so sure that old Spidey could of kept up with the vine swinger or that Batman could have laid as many blokes low without his utility belt. With Margot Robbie, as Jane, it would’ve played a whole lot better if they had just got Jason Lee to play Tarzan and called it “Tarzan; Earl of the Jungle” and made a parody out of it as the likes of something Monty Python would’ve done if they had been given the chance. It was so close to a parody that it wouldn’t have taken very much more effort and would’ve probably done much better at the box office. They relied so heavily on CGI that most of the time I thought that I was watching anime rather than a motion picture. But, the question that is really dogging me is why there wasn’t the Tarzan yell in the flick? I’m pretty sure that Alexander Skarsgard is now the 22nd actor to have played Tarzan in a motion picture…but Johnny Weissmuller is still number one in my opinion. I give it one and a half stars but if you were to ask me on a better day I might had gave it two.” 1 1/2 stars

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

For years, Abe Portman (Terence Stamp) has told stories to his 20-year old grandson, Jake (Asa Butterfield), about his childhood battling monsters and spending part of World War II living at “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by the coast of Wales. The home’s residents and their headmistress, Miss Alma Peregrine (Eva Green), possess paranormal abilities and are known as “Peculiars”. After receiving a frantic phone call from his grandfather, Jake and his drugstore coworker Shelly (O-Lan Jones) rush to Abe’s house. In the woods nearby, Jake finds his grandfather collapsed with his eye sockets empty, and he tells Jake to find “the bird, the loop and September 3, 1943”, before dying.

Following the advice of his psychiatrist, Dr. Golan (Allison Janney), and finding a letter from Miss Peregrine to Abe, Jake and his father Frankiln (Chris O’Dowd) travel to Wales. Jake explores the island and finds out the children’s home was destroyed during a Luftwaffe raid. As he explores the house, some of the Peculiar Children from Abe’s stories greet him.

The children take Jake through a cave and he finds himself in 1943; they take him back to their intact house, where Miss Peregrine greets him. She explains that she belongs to a class of female Peculiars named “Ymbrynes”, who have the power to transform into birds (in Miss Peregrine’s case, a peregrine falcon) and manipulate time, creating time loops. Miss Peregrine has her loop permanently set to September 3, 1943, in which she and her children hide from the outside world.

Jake is introduced to the rest of the children, including aerokinetic Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell), a 19-year old girl lighter than air, and necromancer Enoch O’Connor (Finlay MacMillan). He learns that one of the children, super-strong Victor Bruntley (Louis Davinson), was killed by an invisible monster called a “Hollowgast”, or “Hollow”. Jake discovers that he himself is a Peculiar; like his grandfather, he can see Hollows. Miss Peregrine explains that Hollows are Peculiars who were transformed by a failed experiment by tapping an Ymbryne’s power in hopes of becoming immortals. Led by shapeshifter Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), they hunt Peculiars to consume their eyeballs enough to became “Wights”, visible Peculiars with milky-white eyes.

As Emma is walking Jake back to the cave, they find a wounded Ymbryne named Miss Avocet (Judi Dench) in avocet bird form. Emma takes her to the children’s home. Jake discovers another letter from Abe to Miss Peregrine, revealing that Mr. Barron is stalking a time loop at Blackpool, England in January 2016 created by Miss Avocet. She reveals to Miss Peregrine, Jake and the children that Barron raided her loop, killed her children and is trying to repeat his experiment with more Ymbrynes. Worried, Miss Peregrine decides to move out with her children and Miss Avocet.

Back in 2016, Jake realizes earlier that a Hollow might be close when a flock of sheep and a blind old man mysteriously die. Jake goes back to the cave to warn his friends, but he’s followed by another visitor on the island, ornithologist John Lemmon (Rupert Everett), who goes through the loop with him. He transforms into Dr. Golan and reveals to be Mr. Barron. He tried to get information about Miss Peregrine’s loop from Abe, but his Hollow companion Mr. Malthus knocked out Abe before he could answer. He posed as Dr. Golan and encouraged Jake to visit the island, hoping he would guide him to the loop. Taking Jake to the house as a hostage, Barron forces Miss Peregrine to come with him and leaves her children, Jake and Miss Avocet for their own safety.

Malthus’ “past self” arrives and kills Miss Avocet, but Jake and the children escape just as the Luftwaffe raid destroys the house and kills Malthus. Without Miss Peregrine the loop closes, leaving the children and Jake in 1943. Jake and the children travel on a sunken ocean liner to the Blackpool loop to rescue Miss Peregrine. They use their abilities to fight and kill Barron’s Hollow and Wight accomplices. Jake frees Miss Peregrine and other captive Ymbrynes. Barron tries to pose as Jake to confuse the children, but when the last remaining Hollow arrives, Jake avoids the Hollow, which kills Barron before being in turn killed by Jake.

Jake says goodbye to the children and returns to the present world in Florida, relenting his adventures to Abe alive and well; Malthus’ death erased his murder of Abe from the future. Abe gives him a map of time loops all over the world, allowing Jake to reunite with his friends again. Jake and Emma confess their feelings for each other, and Miss Peregrine in peregrine form follows them on their ship, looking for another time loop

REVIEW:

There was a time when Tim Burton owned the gothic sci-fi genre. Not sure where or when it happened, but his “followers” either turned on him or just lost interest. Some would even go so far as to say that they grew up. With Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Burton is hoping to return to his roots and gain a new audience. Will he be successful?

What is this about?

When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers… and their powerful enemies. Ultimately, Jacob discovers that only his own special “peculiarity” can save his new friends.

What did I like?

Back in time. The past always fascinates me, especially WWII era. When I saw that this film would be going back to my favorite era, I couldn’t contain myself. Even more impressive to me was how they managed to go back there, but still keep everything modern. That is to say, there was no one making fun of old customs, mannerisms, etc. As a matter of fact, had it not been for the war planes and swing tunes, you wouldn’t have been able to really tell what year it was.

Creature feature. A good creature can go a long way towards making or breaking a flick. These hollowgasts, as they are called, are just scary enough to keep children up at night. The design reminds me of a mixture between Slender Man and something from Silent Hill, pardon me for forgetting the monster’s name. An effective mix, when all is said and done, though, and we get plenty of them in the climactic scene.

Stop motion. Earlier today, I was watching another of Tim Burton’s films, Frankenweenie. The brilliant use of stop motion in the film leads me to believe Ray Herryhausen would be proud. Burton is a lover of the stop motion technique, much as I am, and it should really come as no surprise that he inserts some stop motion in this film. Sure, it is a short segment, involving toy like creatures brought to life only to fight to the death, but those few seconds are brilliant and painstakingly done. I appreciate them, if no one else does.

What didn’t I like?

Wasted potential. Looking at the cast for this film, I find myself wondering who owed whom a favor and how many zeroes had to be added on to the original number for some of these actors to appear in this flick, because it is clear that they have no business being here. Judi Dench, who is perhaps the biggest culprit, seemed to show up, film her scenes in a day and leave. There was no point to casting someone of her caliber in this role. Samuel L. Jackson just signs on to any and everything these days, but with this character, I felt he was being held back. Had he truly let go, there might have been a memorable villain in there. The list goes on and on, I’m afraid. Such a shame!

Peregrine. When you are the titular character, one would expect that you would have something more to do with the film than a couple of smirks, a peek at your pocket watch, and a few other quirky moves, but that is pretty much all we get from Eva Green’s Miss Peregrine. Not having read the book, I can’t tell you if she’s supposed to be more Nanny McPhee or Count Olaf, but one thing is for certain, she is quite different. I just with the film would have spent more time introducing us to her, rather than wasting a good hour or so on Jake.

Look alike. Tim Burton is known for casting Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in his film, especially of late. Neither makes an appearance in this one however, I couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity between the actress that play Emma, Ella Purnell and Helena Bonham Carter. The look is almost creepy, especially when it hits you that Burton and Carter recently divorced.

Final verdict on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? Truth be told, I was expecting something more like the Harry Potter films rather than a more serious Big Fish. The peculiarities of the children are great, but to me, they come off as the rejected X-men sketches. I went into this expecting more fantasy, especially from a director like Burton. I was severely disappointed. This is not a bad film, but it is not that I would recommend, unless you want to sit in a theater for over 2 hrs hoping something interesting happens.

3 out of 5 stars

RoboCop (2014)

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW:

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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

2 out of 5 stars

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Eastern European country of Sokovia, the Avengers – Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton – raid a Hydra outpost led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who has been experimenting on humans using the scepter previously wielded by Loki. They encounter two of Strucker’s experiments – twins Pietro, who has superhuman speed, and Wanda Maximoff, who can manipulate minds and throw energy blasts – and apprehend Strucker, while Stark retrieves Loki’s scepter.

Stark and Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the scepter’s gem, and secretly use it to complete Stark’s “Ultron” global defense program. The unexpectedly sentient Ultron, believing he must eradicate humanity to save Earth, eliminates Stark’s A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. and attacks the Avengers during a victory party at their headquarters. Escaping with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources in Strucker’s Sokovia base to upgrade his rudimentary body and build an army of robot drones. He recruits the Maximoff twins, who want revenge against Stark for their parents’ deaths from his company’s weapons. Together, they visit the base of arms dealer Ulysses Klaue in an African shipyard to obtain vibranium. The Avengers battle them, but Wanda subdues the heroes with haunting visions, causing the Hulk to run amok and forcing Stark to use his powerful “Veronica” armor to stop him.

A worldwide backlash over the resulting destruction, and the fears Wanda’s hallucinations incited, send the team into hiding at Barton’s safehouse farm, where they meet his wife, Laura, and children. Thor departs to consult with Dr. Erik Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination. Realizing an attraction between them, Romanoff and Banner plan to flee together after fighting Ultron. Nick Fury arrives and encourages the team to form a plan to stop Ultron. In Seoul, South Korea, Ultron forces Banner’s friend Dr. Helen Cho to use her synthetic tissue technology, vibranium, and the scepter’s gem to create the perfect body for him. When Ultron begins uploading himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind; discovering his plan for human extinction, the Maximoffs turn on Ultron. Rogers, Romanoff, and Barton hunt Ultron and retrieve the synthetic body, but Ultron captures Romanoff.

The Avengers fight amongst themselves when Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. – who is still operational after hiding from Ultron inside the Internet – into the synthetic body. Thor returns to help activate the body with lightning, explaining that the gem on its brow – the Mind Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones and one of the most powerful objects in existence – was part of his vision. The synthetic being, now referred to as the Vision, and the Maximoffs accompany the Avengers to Sokovia, where Ultron has used the remaining vibranium to build a machine that lifts a large part of the city skyward, intending to crash it into the ground and cause global extinction. As the city begins to lift, Banner rescues Romanoff, who awakens the Hulk for the battle. The Avengers fight Ultron’s army while delaying Ultron from activating his plan’s final procedure. Fury arrives in a Helicarrier with Maria Hill, James Rhodes, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to assist in evacuating civilians, but Pietro dies when he shields Barton from a barrage of fire. A grieving Wanda abandons her post to destroy Ultron’s primary body in revenge, inadvertently allowing one of his drones to activate the machine. The landmass plummets, but Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the city into pieces. In the aftermath, the Hulk, unwilling to endanger Romanoff by being with her, departs in a Quinjet, while the Vision confronts Ultron’s last remaining body.

Later, the Avengers have established a new base in upstate New York, run by Fury, Hill, Cho, and Selvig. Believing the Mind Stone is safe with the Vision, Thor returns to Asgard to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events. As Stark and Barton also retire from the team, Rogers and Romanoff prepare to train new Avengers: Rhodes, Wanda, the Vision, and Sam Wilson.

In a mid-credits scene, Thanos retrieves the Infinity Gauntlet and, dissatisfied with the failures of his pawns, vows to hunt for the Infinity Stones personally

REVIEW:

The film the world has been holding its breath for since its predecessor’s credits started rolling has arrived! Avengers: Age of Ultron is sure to make a ton of bank, but how is the film, really? Is it worth watching, or are people just enamored with the grouping of all these superheroes on the screen? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

Returning to action to stem another lethal threat to planet Earth, the cadre of superheroes from the original Avengers takes on the evil and all-powerful Ultron, who’s determined to stamp out humankind.

What did I like?

Teamwork. If you will recall from The Avengers, they didn’t really become a team until the end, as that served as more of an origin story…one that had been building for years. Well, since the first film ended, they have apparently formed a more cohesive way of handling things and work as smooth as a basketball team. It is a thing of beauty to see them in action. It really is like seeing the comic brought to life.

Skynet. Ok, let’s get right down to it. What did I think of Ultron? Well, he is menacing to see and in today’s society that is almost 100% reliant on technology, he is one of the best villains around. James Spader’s voice, which I initially questioned when it was announced, actually works for him, though I believe the guy that voiced him in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would have done a better job, at least with the soulless, menacing part. I do have some issues with Ultron, but they are more related to changes in his origin (for those not in the know…he was actually built by Ant-Man as a security robot and then went psycho) and his jovial nature. I don’t have an issue with his being more of a jolly fellow, but a slow descent into madness would have benefitted his character greatly, not to mention Spader’s voice would have helped sell it. All in all, though, I was pretty pleased with Ultron as satisfied with him as the film’s main villain.

Scarlett. There was a time when it was believed that Thor could never work properly on the big screen. We were wrong. There was a time when we though Captain America would never work on the big screen. We were wrong. There was a time when it was believed that the X-Men and/or the Avengers on the big screen would never happen. We were wrong. There was a time when it was thought that Scarlett Witch’s powers were too weird and mysterious to work on the big screen. We were wrong. I think they did an excellent job with her hex powers. Elizabeth Olson is a great actress and I am looking forward to seeing what else she does with the character going forward. One thing I do take issue with, though, is where is her horned head thing that she wears? HAHA!

Hulk and Hawkeye. Bruce Banner/The Hulk actually gets a bit more character development this go around. There are hints of a romantic relationship with Black Widow, you can see the torment that Banner deals with knowing the big guy is lurking, and even with the Hulk, you can see things going on his head. I appreciate that. With Hawkeye, in the first 5 minutes, we get more of him than we did in the entire last film. In the climactic battle, he was cracking jokes and shooting arrows. It felt like Hawkeye! No to mention they changed his costume. Now, just give him the hood/mask and we will have achieved perfection.

The return. I geeked out when the Helicarrier took off in the first film. It was comic geek’s dream to see that come to life. In this film, it came back and I was nearly in tears! Such an awesome piece of machinery, how dare they keep it “in storage”, as Nick Fury says. Hopefully we’ll get more of it and other fantastic machines soon.

What didn’t I like?

Baron von Strucker. Baron von Strucker appeared in a post credits scene at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier stating something about experimenting on humans or something, but we also got our first look at the twins (who should be mutants, but because Marvel and Fox are fighting like a couple of middle schoolers, they had to work around that). At any rate, this seems like it should have been a plot for a whole film itself or, at the very least, a few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. What we get instead is the beginning of what feels like something big, only to be ended by Ultron. I almost think that was symbolic of what the film was going to be and what it ended up being. Still, Strucker is a major villain, especially of Captain America. Didn’t he have deserved better?

Vision. Vision is one of the best characters in the Marvel Universe. He is nearly indestructible, has a vast intelligence, and is always adapting. Do I need to mention that he can phase shift at will, meaning that if you try to hit him, at just the right moment he can shift his density so that you go right through him. Sounds awesome, doesn’t he? I think we will get the full awesomeness in future films, but for now, I have to concentrate on the negative. First, the change in origin to make him and Jarvis one. I get the logic behind this, but I don’t think Paul Bettany was the right choice, after all. Maybe it is the paint, but there was just something that I can’t quite put my finger on that I don’t like. Bettany is a competent actor, and I think he was able to pull of the naïve, but highly intelligent aspects of Vision, but something just doesn’t sit right with me about this character. Maybe when I watch the film again, or when I hit publish on this post, it’ll come to me.

Tease. Anyone familiar with the Marvel Universe knows that vibranium comes strictly from Wakkanda. If you know anything about Wakkanda, then you of course know that it is a land ruled by the Black Panther, who will be making his debut in Captain America: Civil War about this time next year. So, what is my problem with all this? Well, Ultron and the Avengers go down to Wakkanda, meet this villain Ulysses Klaue, get some vibranium, fight, Hulk goes on a rampage, and leave. Black Panther is not only a superhero but also king of Wakkanda. Stolen vibranium and 8ft tall rampaging monster are sure to bring about you awareness. This would have been the perfect opportunity to sow the seeds for Panther, if nothing else than a mention, but alas, we didn’t get it.

Blockbuster. I hate to keep comparing this to its predecessor, but it has to be done. The last film was an event. It had action, story, comedy, character development…everything you can ask for in a film. This time around, everything is here, just not as well executed. The feeling I get from this is more akin to that of a Michael Bay film. Lots of action to cover up other weaknesses. This is not the kind of film that necessarily needs a deep story, but it does need something to set up the action and not just jump in. We’re getting to the point now that more is expected and I’m not sure this formula will work in round 3.

Some really good things are on the horizon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Avengers: Age of Ultron just showed us that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Bringing in new blood with the old guys as a way to keep things fresh, though I still could care less about Don Cheadle as War Machine. As far as this film goes, it is a really fun film, albeit slightly darker than its predecessor. It has its flaws, but those are outnumbered by the positives. I will be counting down the years/months/days until the next Avengers, but in the meantime the focus is on the forthcoming Ant-Man to start the next phase in the MCU. So, do I recommend this? Let me put it this way, I will be in line at the store waiting for the boxes of DVD/Blu-rays to be delivered when this is released. So, hell yeah I recommend it! Why are you even reading this, go watch it right now!!!

5 out of 5 stars