Archive for Sigourney Weaver

Be Kind Rewind

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 30, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jerry is a junkyard worker who attempts to sabotage a power plant that he believes is melting his brain. But, when his plan goes awry, the magnetic field that he creates accidentally erases all of the videotapes in a local video store where his best friend Mike works. Fearing that the mishap will cost Mike his job, the two friends team up to keep the store’s only loyal customer–a little old lady with a tenuous grasp on reality–from realizing what has happened by recreating and re-filming every movie that she decides to rent. From “Back to the Future,” to “Robocop,” to “Rush Hour,” to “The Lion King,” Jerry and Mike become the biggest stars in their neighborhood by starring in the biggest movies ever made.

What people are saying:

“inviting, undemanding and altogether wonderful…you’ll want to see it again, or at least Swede it yourself.” 4 1/2 stars

“started out ok but the ending was way too sappy. on an added note, i do miss the long gone days of mom and pop video stores. But it was Blockbuster that did them in not the internet. I think they still existed for a while in densely populated urban areas (both rich and poor) where you could have enough customers in a few blocks to support a small business.  ” 2 stars

“It’s hard to get too cranky about a movie that, at heart, is a tribute to the joy of making things with your friends.” 3 1/2 stars

“Mos Def has the screen presence of a bowl of fruit. Aside from that, the film is well shot and manages to convey a sense of nostalgia as other users have pointed out. ” 3 stars

“The film begins rather unrealistically but soon develops into a great story. Jack Black fuels the flick with humour as the comedic colossus he is and it powers on with great film references and balances it out with some heartfelt moments.” 4 stars

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Heartbreakers

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 18, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Max (Sigourney Weaver) and Page Conners (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are a mother-daughter con artist team. When the film opens, the Conners are settling a con on Dean Cumanno (Ray Liotta), an auto-body shop owner and small-time crook. The con, which the Conners have played a number of times before on other men, involves Max marrying Dean, passing out on their wedding night to avoid actually consummating the marriage, and then Page (posing as Dean’s secretary) luring Dean into a compromising position to justify Max’s immediate divorce and hefty settlement. The con is a success.

Page declares that she wants to go solo. Max initially relents, but when they visit the bank to split their earnings, they are confronted by an IRS agent (Anne Bancroft) who declares that they owe the government a considerable sum on top of the rest of their savings, which have already been seized. Page reluctantly agrees to work together with Max on one last con in Palm Beach (refusing to work anything cheaper as Palm Beach would result in enough money to pay off the I.R.S. and set up Page to work on her own). For their target, they choose widower William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman), a tobacco baron who is addicted to his own product.

Complicating matters is beachfront bartender Jack (Jason Lee), whom Page meets without her mother’s knowledge while attempting to go after a target she pointed out earlier (a doctor who inherited money from an uncle; Max rejected him on the grounds that he was a “momma’s boy”). Page learns that Jack is worth $3 million, having inherited the bar, and decides to target him for a side con. Page ends up developing genuine feelings for Jack, but Max, who has been hurt many times before, tells her to break it off; Page reluctantly ends the relationship.

Tensy proposes to Max ahead of schedule, but before they can get married, he passes out and dies due to his lifetime of smoking. While Max and Page are deciding what to do with the body, Dean arrives, having tracked Max down in order to propose to her again. Dean discovers the ruse Max and Page played on him, and threatens to expose them. Max offers to return Dean’s divorce settlement money if he’ll help them make Tensy’s death look like an accident. Max reveals to Page that the money wasn’t really taken by the IRS, and the agent had in fact been Max’s mentor, Barbara, in a ruse to prevent Page from leaving. But when Max, Page and Dean go to the bank, the money really has gone, liquidated in an act of betrayal by Barbara.

In order to help Max, Page decides to accept Jack’s offer of marriage, planning to work it as a regular con. Page insists that Jack will not cheat on her, but is heartbroken when during the wedding night she breaks into his room and finds him in a compromising position with Max. After the divorce settlement is paid, Dean confronts Max about the ethics of their con, pointing out that even a “goody-goody” like Jack is only human. Max reveals that Jack actually turned her down, and she drugged him, defending her decision by claiming that Jack would have gone on to hurt Page eventually. Dean counters that life is about pain, but that it can also be good, and Max has no right to keep Page from living her life just because of what might happen.

Chastened, Max tells Page the truth, admitting that her own efforts to protect her daughter from pain have only hurt her in other ways, recognising that Page has to make her own life. Page returns to Jack, giving him back the bar he’d had to sell to pay the settlement, and tells him her real name. Max and Dean also get together, Dean having admitted that he still misses Max even after what she put him through. The final shot of the film is of Dean — using the name ‘Stanley’ — romancing Barbara, with Max watching them via binoculars, implying that Max and Dean are now working together to get Max’s money back.

REVIEW:

The first time I saw this was when it first came out on video. At that time I had grown to become a fan of Jason Lee, thanks to his appearances in Kevin Smith films. Also, Jennifer Love Hewitt was one of the hottest creatures on the planet, despite not really being in anything to make her a star except Party of Five, which I never watched. That couple with what, at the time, was an interesting trailer, drew me toHeartbreakers.

I can sum this film up by saying that it is about some scum of the earth people. What I mean by that is that this woman, Max (played by Sigourney Weaver), goes around scamming men by using her feminine wiles to get them to fall in love with and eventually marry her. After which, she has her daughter, who is also in on the scam, to seduce them leading to divorce where she gets a hefty settlement.

I’m actually not sure which part is worse, using her daughter, manipulating the guy, or the divorce. It is all disgusting, if you ask me. If this is actually done in real life…well, I don’t know what to say about that, really. However, as a plot device for this film, it seems to work as well as people crashing weddings seems to work in so many films.

A subplot of the film involves the daughter and her want to get out and do a scam on her own. As you can about imagine, her mother is having none of it, just like any other overprotective mother. She also doesn’t want to lose her business partner. Truth be told, with a hot daughter like that, scamming is much easier than being a middle-aged woman on her own.

Things get even more complicated when the daughter, did I mention she was played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, falls for a guy she sneaks off to scam. Apparently, it is a big faux pas to fall for your victim. Complicating things even further, the latest husband tracks them down and with original intentions of proposing, threatens to expose them after something, which I won’t mention, happens.

Yeah, so this isn’t a good film, by any stretch of the imagination. The story has its moments. It actually starts off pretty good, and then right as we get into the final act, and things should be pushing toward that final moment, we instead are forced to watch this limp noodle limp across the finish line. The audience can do nothing less than scratch their head and wonder why we sat through this whole thing.

I will give it to the casting directors,  they captured some pure gold with Hewitt and Sigourney Weaver. They not only have great chemistry, but are quite believable as mother and daughter. Hard to belive they wanted Anjelica Huston and just about any other young, hot Hollywood actress for this.  Then again, some of them most iconic roles in cinema have gone through the same process.

Hewitt not only has great chemistry with her “mother”, but also with Jason Lee. Watching them once they get past the initial hatred phase and into the loving stage is like watching a cute high school couple (before they get to that sickening need to be separated by a crowbar phase).

So, ultimately, what did I think of this flick? Eh, I can take it or leave it. This is one of those films that for everything good, there are two things bad. Would I recommend it? Not necessarily, but at the same time, it isn’t one of those films that will cause your head to explode if you decide to give it a go, just don’t expect to be blown away by some awesometacular pice of cinema, because that is not what you are going to get.

3 out of 5 stars

Cedar Rapids

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Naive and idealistic insurance agent Tim Lippe has led a sheltered life and hasn’t encountered all that others have; the movie is about his becoming more aware of his cocoon and moving out of it. At the beginning, he is shown welcoming a former teacher into his home, addressing her as Mrs. Vanderhei, and promptly having sex with her. Afterwards, he reminisces about his experiences as her student. In his position as an insurance agent, he is sent to represent his company (Brownstar Insurance) at a regional conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Lippe is sent as a replacement for his co-worker, Roger Lemke, who dies in an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident. Tim idolized Roger, believing that his death was merely an unfortunate accident, and that he embodied all it was to be decent, honest, caring to the community and most importantly “Christian,” as these are the key criteria used to judge the winner of the coveted “Two Diamonds” award, which Roger had won 2 years in a row. Tim is under pressure from his boss, Bill, to ensure they win again and keep the small company afloat.

Lippe meets fellow insurance agents Ronald Wilkes, Dean Ziegler and Joan Ostrowski-Fox, or “Ronimal”, “Dean-Z” and “O-Fox” respectively. He also meets Bree, a prostitute who works the parking lot in front of the hotel. She affectionately calls him “Butterscotch” after he offers her a piece of butterscotch candy. Initially wary of almost everyone at the conference, he spends more time with Ron, Dean and Joan, and starts to develop genuine friendships and even a crush on Joan. All the insurance agents participate in a Scavenger Hunt, with Tim being paired with Joan, and although no one manages to complete the final task, they come farthest and thus win the contest and a gift card to a local restaurant. Tim, Joan and Dean become rather intoxicated through the night and end up in the hotel swimming pool, Tim and Joan’s sexual tension builds to a head and, after making out in the pool, they make love (later, in Joan’s hotel room). Regrettably, they were all seen in the pool by ASMI president Orin Helgesson.

The next morning, Tim is guilt-ridden and calls his older girl friend (and ex-teacher) Macy to confess, before desperately asking her to marry him, she takes this opportunity to explain that as a recently divorced woman she just wants to have fun, so she too has been sleeping with other people and tells him that perhaps “it’s time for him to fly away from the nest and start a new life”. Tim returns to Joan, who attempts to comfort him by telling him what Roger Lemke (the man he idolizes) was really like: that she was his lover but left him after his sexual appetites became a bit too twisted for her, and that he bribed Helgesson for each one of his Two Diamond awards. Tim refuses to believe this, and flees Joan’s room, accusing her of being a “prostitute” sent to destroy his life.

He runs into Dean and accidentally lets it slip that Lemke had bought all of his Two Diamonds. Dean swears to not tell anyone, it becoming apparent that he already sees Tim as a true friend. After some words of advice from Dean, Tim goes to Helgesson for his assessment: it does not go well, and under the pressure he ends up also bribing Helgesson for the award, leaving him penniless and ashamed. He later comes across Bree and accompanies her to a party, which ends up with Tim getting high on crystal methamphetamine and inadvertently starting a fight. Ron, Joan and Dean show up just in time to rescue him, as well as Bree who claims she is in love with Tim. The night ends with Bill appearing at Tim’s door to inform him that with the successful acquisition of another Two Diamond award, he has received a generous offer for the company and despite it meaning the branch’s closure, he has chosen to sell. The day of the Diamond awards comes and while Bill is formally announcing the sale, Tim bursts in and takes over the podium; this when he reveals that his company has unethically acquired the award every year by bribing Helgesson and confesses to doing so himself. Helgesson flees the room, his reputation in tatters. A furious Bill confronts Tim, his revelations having cost Bill the sale of his company. Tim responds by announcing his intentions to leave the company and start another with his clients from Brownstar, 17 of which have agreed to stay with him. Bill storms off, dumbfounded.

As the four friends say their goodbyes and prepare to see each other next year, we see Joan and Tim are happy as friends and Dean invites Ron and Tim to stay at a wealthy friend’s cabin in Canada for the summer, both of them surprising Dean by gleefully accepting, their shared experiences having clearly awarded genuine friendships and personal growth to them all.

It is revealed during the credits that the three of them went on to start their own company together called Top Notch, with Joan involved as well.

REVIEW:

Sometimes, Netflix will send me movies that are at the top of the list, but only because I hadn’t rearranged it, yet. This is how I got to watch Cedar Rapids. While I wasn’t excited about this flick and wondered how it even managed to make it on my list, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Chances are most of you have not heard of this. I know I hadn’t. The plot involves an insurance agent who has been working in the town he grew up in. All of a sudden, the man he has idolized since he began working for the company turns up dead. This means that Tim, played by Ed Helms,  will have to head to the conference down in Cedar Rapids and take his place, not to mention continue the tradition of bringing back the coveted Two Diamonds award.

At the conference, Tim meets an interesting cast of characters, starting with the young prostitute Bree, and fellow insurance agents Ronald, Joan, and the man his boss had told him to avoid, Dean. I can’t remember why it was that he was supposed to avoid him, though.

At the conference, things start to happen, such as Tim falling in love with Joan, finding out a terrible secret about his former idol, getting high on crystal meth, and of course the climactic moment when he finally grows a backbone and tells his boss off.

The comedic chemistry between all of these character is gold. While Ed Helms may not be the best leading man, he makes for a nice central character. Isiah Whitlock, Jr. makes a nice comedic turn as the “token black guy”, with his best scene being when he goes all “gangsta”. John C. Reilly steals the whole show as Dean., the loud-mouthed, lecherous supposed “frenemy”, if you will. Anne Heche (where has she been?) makes a very Julianne Moore-like appearance as the girl of the group, Joan. Take my word for it, you’ll have to do a double take when you see her.

There are quite a few funny moments throughout the film, and it never seems to get bogged down in trying to be too serious. It remembers that is a comedy, first and foremost, which is something so many films tend to forget these days. There are better comedies out there, but you will still be at least mildly entertained by this one. I have to say that is likely to go down as one of the surprises I’m sure to see this year. Check it out if you get the chance!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

You Again

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film opens in 2002 with Marni (Kristen Bell), an acne-riddled high school senior at Ridgefield High School, with glasses and braces, making a video about how much she hates high school, and reveals how she is tormented and bullied by other girls, specifically Joanna (Odette Yustman), who made Marni’s high school life miserable. She adds that her protective older brother, Will, (James Wolk), was very popular as a handsome basketball player. However, at a very important basketball game, Joanna pushes the mascot (Marni), who runs into Will, resulting in a loss of the game.

Years later, in 2010, however, she is a successful public relations executive, recently promoted to a job in New York. When she flies home to her older brother’s wedding, she discovers her brother Will is about to marry Joanna, who bullied and tormented her throughout high school. When Marni meets Joanna for the first time in eight years, Joanna seems to not recognize her. Marni is also upset to see that Joanna fits in very well with the family. The plot thickens when her mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) meets up with Joanna’s aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), Gail’s former best friend who pushed her into a pool at their senior prom. Ramona is now a successful, wealthy woman who owns several hotels and a private plane.

Although Gail seems willing to put the past behind her, she still feels the need to “outdo” Ramona during their interactions together. On the other hand, Marni is unwilling to forget the things Joanna did to her in high school, unless she apologizes, and decides to try to let her brother know of Joanna’s bullying past. Her attempts to get Will alone for a conversation fail. When Marni tells Joanna that she knows who she really is, it is obvious that Joanna remembers Marni. She refuses to give Marni a meaningful apology, and treats her disrespectfully, leaving Marni convinced that Joanna has not changed. Meanwhile, Gail comes to Ramona’s hotel room for “closure” about anything bad between them that happened in the past. They appear to make up, but Ramona still seems not to be too fond of Gail.

One day on the street, Will and Marni’s grandmother Bunny (Betty White) meets a man named Tim (Kyle Bornheimer). Joanna reveals that they have dated, and Tim appears devastated when he hears that she’s marrying Will. Marni decides to bring Tim to the rehearsal dinner as part of her plan to stop the wedding. When it is time for guests to make a toast to the bride and groom, Tim unexpectedly jumps up to give his toast to Joanna. He reveals to a stunned wedding party that Joanna left him at the altar. Later, a video is presented (recovered by Marni) from their old high school time capsule. The video reveals Joanna as she was in high school: an alpha-female bully, with the footage showing proof of her tormenting Marni and pushing other students. Will unplugs the video projector before the video is complete and walks out, furious.

However, Marni is in trouble when everyone discovers that she was responsible for the video at the rehearsal dinner. Marni decides to talk with Joanna, hoping to reconcile, but Joanna is too furious and tells Marni “I thought we could start over.” Marni is now convinced that Joanna hasn’t changed, and walks away. Joanna then starts a fight with Marni, who fights back. Will walks in and witnesses the fight. He tells Joanna that he doesn’t care about her past, but is angry that she was not being honest with him. He then tells Marni that he is furious at her for going behind his back.

Meanwhile, Ramona and Gail argue after the rehearsal dinner, and Ramona accuses Gail of trying to ruin her life throughout high school. A catfight ensues, with both of them falling into the pool. Ramona reveals that she had a grudge with Gail, even when they were best friends, because she always competed with and outdid her, culminating with Gail taking the boy that Ramona wanted to the prom. Ramona stated that Gail was already a legendary head cheerleader and prom queen, and drama was supposed to be hers, yet Gail also defeated her with the auditions. She sarcastically thanks Gail for what she did, because it motivated her to become successful in life. Gail apologizes for being insensitive, but reveals that she is proud of Ramona, and that her loving family is her accomplishment. Ramona, remorseful of her actions, tells Gail that she was jealous of Gail’s happy family especially that her marriages didn’t work out, and feared that she was trying to take Joanna away from her. The two reconcile their friendship.

Later that night, Marni finds Joanna in the kitchen binging on junk food. She finally admits to Marni that she feels truly awful for bullying and tormenting her and feels like an awful person, and that she loves Will. Marni forgives her and promises to get them back together. The next day,during a jog, Marni apologizes to Will for her actions, saying she was only trying to protect him.

Joanna and Will reconcile in the family’s old tree house, but it collapses and injures both of them when Ben Olsen (Billy Unger) loosened the screws as a part of his plan in hiding the tree house. They are both forced to stay at a hospital, which delays the wedding. However, Marni puts together a makeshift wedding at the hospital, with the bride and groom bandaged, but properly dressed and able to walk down the aisle. Gail has a surprise for Ramona, it’s Richie Phillips(Patrick Duffy), the boy from high school that Ramona wanted to go to the prom with. Richie welcomes Ramona home and wants to be her date for the wedding, which makes Ramona very happy and they appear to start a relationship. Marni appears to start a relationship with Charlie (Sean Wing), her brother’s best friend who was always kind to her. Joanna introduces Marni’s grandmother Bunny to Helen Sullivan (Cloris Leachman). It is revealed that Helen and Bunny were enemies in high school when Helen stole a boy from her. However, Bunny gets her revenge when she cuts in on Helen’s dance and takes her partner.

During the credits, at the wedding reception, Marni presents her wedding gift to Will and Joanna, it’s Hall & Oates in person performing Will and Joanna’s favorite and special song,”Kiss on My List”! Everyone then joins Hall & Oates on stage

REVIEW:

For those that were bullies in high school, You Again should be a public service announcement in what goes around can come back to haunt you.

This film has been on my radar for some time, but I just haven’t had the chance to get to it until now.

The basic premise of this film is that the nerdy girl from high school became focused and went on to big things. Her brother, though, is getting married to her arch-enemy and high school bully, though he doesn’t know it. As it turns out, there is also some rivalry between her mother and the fiancée’s aunt stemming back to high school. Maybe it is something in the gene pool, because, as we see in the last scene, even the grandmothers had issues.

This isn’t the strongest story, but it is decent enough to keep the audience interested. Couple that with the ongoing developments of the protagonists high school sagas and of course Kristen Bell (who I’ve been in love with since Heroes and Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

As far as romantic comedies go, I’m not sure this is one. Yes, there is a guy she’s hopelessly in love with, but the film doesn’t revolve around her trying to win him. That being said, some of the film’s funniest moments stem from her trying to impress or not make a fool of herself in front of him.

Reviews of this film have been harsh, to say the least. One guy even went so far as to call it “the worst film ever made”. Ouch! Granted, it has its flaws, but I actually found myself enjoying this picture. The fact that it doesn’t try to be a chick flick, but rather just a comedy centered around women I think it what was most appealing.

For some reason, I wasn’t impressed with the cast. I couldn’t wrap my mind around Jamie Lee Curtis being Kristen Bell’s mom, or that Kristen Bell was that nerdy, pimple faced creature in high school. Why couldn’t they have just found someone to play the younger version or her, and Odette Yustman, for that matter.

Strangely enough, though, Kristin Chenoweth, who may have been the best thing about the cast, would have been perfect for Bell’s mother or even a sister or aunt. I’m just saying.

Betty White. That is all, nothing more needs to be said. She’s Betty White. I will say, though, that I would have liked to have seen more of that confrontation with her and Cloris Leachman. Can you just imagine the comedic gold these two could create?

You Again is a fairly decent film, but you can rest assured it won’t be on anyone’s “best of” lists. This is one of those films that was decent, but that’s about as far as it goes. If you were to decide to watch it, chances are you’ll find yourself giggling here and there, but that’s about it. Do I recommend it? I am not really sure. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it, but there are much worse things out there to see.

3 out of 5 stars

Paul

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are two English comic book nerds and best friends who have travelled to The United States to attend the annual San Diego Comic-Con International and to take a road trip in their recreational vehicle (RV) to visit all the sites of major extraterrestrial importance. At night along the highway they investigate a crashed car and they meet and discover an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who is in desperate need of their help. Although shocked by the appearance of Paul, Graeme agrees to give Paul a ride, but Clive is not happy about the idea. Later, Lorenzo Zoil (Jason Bateman), a shady government agent, arrives at the site of the crashed car and informs his mysterious female superior over the radio that he’s closing in on Paul, and she recommends using local law enforcement as back-up. Zoil then recruits two inept FBI agents, Haggard (Bill Hader) and O’Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio), to aid in his mission, without telling them the nature of their target.

Graeme, Clive and Paul pull into a motor park run by Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig), a Christian fundamentalist, and her controlling father, Moses (John Carroll Lynch). The trio bond around their campgrill and Paul reveals that since he was captured by the government, he had been advising them in all manner of scientific and sociological achievements. Yet Paul had outlived his usefulness as a receptacle of knowledge, and his captors were intending to surgically remove Paul’s brain in an attempt to harness his abilities. With help from a friend inside Area 51, Paul sent an S.O.S. to his home planet, and he was escaping to meet up with them. The next morning, Paul inadvertently reveals himself to Ruth, and the trio are forced to kidnap her and make a hasty escape. Paul then shatters Ruth’s faith by sharing his knowledge of the universe via telepathic link; at first horrified, Ruth suddenly becomes eager to sin, which her father had raised her to fear doing. She initially doesn’t trust Paul, but he heals her eye, as she has been blind in it since the age of four.

Eventually, Paul reveals his intention to return to the girl whose dog he crashed his ship on in 1947 and who subsequently saved his life, who is now an old woman, Tara Walton (Blythe Danner). After spending her life being ridiculed for what she said she saw, Tara seems grateful to see that Paul simply exists. She turns her gas cooker on to make tea, but is interrupted by Haggard and O’Reilly on one side of the house, and Zoil on the other. As the motley crew escapes and drives off with Paul, O’Reilly shoots at them, and the gas ignites, destroying the house. A winded Zoil tries to follow, but Haggard takes off first, running Moses (who’d also been tracking the RV) off the road, and catching up to the RV. However, thanks to an error of judgement, Haggard accidentally drives off a cliff, and is presumably killed, leaving Zoil in hot pursuit. He reassures his superior that he’ll have Paul within an hour, but she declares herself tired of waiting, and informs Zoil that she’s ordered a military response.

When Paul, Graeme, Clive, Ruth and Tara arrive at the rendezvous, they set off a signal and wait. Eventually, eerie orange lights show up over the surrounding trees, and everyone believes that it is Paul’s race. However, it is an army helicopter, with ‘the Big Guy’ (Sigourney Weaver) on board, Zoil’s shadowy superior. As she and three troops move to shoot Paul, Zoil arrives, and it’s revealed that he was Paul’s inside contact who had helped him to escape. Zoil disarms the men, but is shot in the shoulder. Tara punches out ‘the Big Guy’, but Moses appears with a shotgun and shoots Graeme dead. Paul heals him and then collapses, exhausted. Paul seems to be dead and everyone is silent until he coughs, to the relief of all. ‘The Big Guy’ regains consciousness, but is immediately crushed by the arriving alien ship. Paul begins to depart and informs Tara that she is going with him to live a better life and bids farewell to his friends hoping to meet them again one day. Two years later, Graeme, Clive, Ruth and even O’Reily (with a scarred face from the house explosion) are shown again at the 2011 Comic-Con convention, promoting their new mega-successful novel, Paul.

REVIEW:

We’ve all seen alien flicks, right? What about alien merchandise? It is kind of hard to have not seen at least something that has been plastered with the default alien image, but that image, according to this film, is Paul.

I really wanted to see this when it came out. These days it seems like people are afraid to make a funny comedy, at least not without it turning into a drama halfway thorough and never getting back to the funny. No worries about that with Paul.

This flick starts off funny, has a few moments of touching bonding that is to be expected from a quasi-buddy movie, and then gets right back to the funny. On top of that, there is some slapstick and sight gags here that really can have you on the floor rolling.

I was a little disappointed with the special effects here. Sure, Paul looks great, but I guess I was expecting some kind of fantastic, over-the-top alien technology like in Mars Attacks, rather than the subdued subtleties as in something like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

Having said that, Paul’s powers sort of make-up for that. It seemed like everytime something happened we learned about some other fabulous power he possessed. No wonder the government wanted to slice him up and get the secrets. Come to think of it, I think they just wanted to slice him up for the fun of it. That seems to be more their style.

Pacing is pretty good. There aren’t any places that drag the film down. I’ve mentioned earlier how there is a scene that breaks from the comedy, but that doesn’t do anything other than help tie up some loose ends in the plot and whatnot. It doesn’t affect how the film moves along at all.

I liked the story. Knowing how cynical people are these days, I’m sure there are people who would have preferred this story to go in a totally different direction, but not me. Although, it would have been nice to see him harvest some farts (a joke Paul makes when they meet him initially).

You know these days when you have a comedy, you pretty much call in any of these actors (not counting Simon Pegg and Nick Frost). Seriously, look at almost any comedy from the past 3-5 yrs and I would bet you’d find someone’s there and here.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.

People said that when Seth Rogen lost weight, he lost his ability to be funny (now they say that about Jonah Hill). That was certainly obvious with The Green Hornet, but here it shows that he can still do it. Of course, since Paul was animated, it is possible he recorded his lines while he was still a fat guy.

British comedic actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are hilarious as these two sci-fi geeks from, yep, you guessed it, England. Their wide-eyed naivite and chemistry with both Paul and Kristen Wiig really made the film click.

In the end Paul is a good time. No, this isn’t you father’s alien flick, but it is hilarious. Sure there are some issues here and there, but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Look for a couple of surprise cameos, one is only a voice, but it is in a very funny scene. Do I think you should see this? Oh yes, most definitely! I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

4 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

Happily N’Ever After

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

As the story begins, we are introduced to the idea that the Wizard (George Carlin) controls all of the fairy tales and maintains the balance of good and evil in Fairy Tale Land. With the help of his assistants, the Wizard is checking to make sure that all the fairy tales under his care are “on track” to have their traditional happy endings. As we meet him, however, the Wizard is leaving for Scotland for a long-overdue vacation. He leaves the kingdom in the hands of his two assistants, the uptight Munk (Wallace Shawn) and the decidedly goofy Mambo (Andy Dick).

The beautiful Ella (better known as Cinderella) (Sarah Michelle Gellar) starts out a damsel in distress, dreaming of the Prince (Patrick Warburton) who will sweep her off her feet. Her best friend at the palace is Rick (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), the palace dishwasher. Rick takes it upon himself to deliver the invitations to the royal ball to Ella. Ella visits Rick in the palace kitchen to borrow items she needs to complete her chores and to share her hopes of dancing with “him” (the Prince) tonight. Ella sees Rick only as a friend, but Rick secretly loves Ella, although he is too cool and proud to admit it. Rick can’t really understand what Ella likes about the Prince. Rick’s Three Amigos, the comic chefs in the palace kitchen, believe that Rick has a bad case of “Prince envy”. The Prince does everything by the book. He wants it all to be perfect: perfect hair, perfect shirt, perfect everything (he even put on perfect underwear). He plans to meet his Damsel at the ball.

However, things don’t go as planned at the ball. Thanks to the assistants, Ella’s evil stepmother, a drop dead gorgeous woman with an hour glass figure named Frieda (Sigourney Weaver), gains access to the Wizard’s lair during the Prince’s ball. While the wizard is away, the wicked stepmother will play. Frieda manages to chase off Munk and Mambo and tip the scales of good and evil, causing a series of fairy tales to go wrong and have comically unhappy endings (including one where Rumplestiltskin (Michael McShane) wins his bet with the queen and takes her baby). As for Ella, Frieda can’t stand her hope and goodness. Frieda’s goal is to put the “cinder” back in Cinderella. That night, she calls an army of trolls, witches, big bad wolves, and giants to her castle. Ella finds out and escapes to the woods, where she meets Munk and Mambo.

Together, they flee to the Seven Dwarfs’ home. Witches and trolls, led by The Ice Queen, attack them. Rick flies up on a broom, having stolen it from Frieda. The dwarfs hold off the trolls, while Rick, Mambo, Munk, and Ella escape. The Ice Queen is shot down during an attempt to capture them. Frieda discovers the failure and goes after Ella herself. She succeeds in capturing her and Rick, Munk, and Mambo follow her. Ella, meanwhile, is being tortured by Frieda in the palace throne room. Rick, Munk, and Mambo slip into Frieda’s castle and attack Frieda. During the fight, Frieda generates a pit of flame in the floor. Mambo knocks her in, and everything returns to normal. But the voluptuous villainess had one final trick to play. While plummeting through the magma, she uses her staff to fly back up again. After a short battle, Frieda creates a portal by accident. Ella knocks Frieda back, so that part of her is in the portal, she then finishes her off by punching her and knocking Frieda into the portal.

Set against a backdrop of fractured fairy tales spinning wildly out of control, Ella and her true love Rick ultimately must choose their destinies in a world of happy endings and get married. Rumplestiltskin has shown throughout the movie that he has come to care for the baby, and the queen lets him stay in the castle as the baby’s nanny, “Uncle Rumpy.” Later, Frieda is shown trapped in the Arctic surrounded by elephant seals.

REVIEW:

Is it just me, or does it seem like every animated film that comes out these days is some kind of weird take on fairytales? I could be wrong, but that’s just what it seems like to me. Happily N’Ever After is another in that line of films.

Sporting an all-star voice cast, you would think this film would rise above its flaws and be a spectacular masterpiece that would rival anything that could come out of Disney/Pixar, right? Wrong!

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a film that totally blows. The animation is pretty good. Look at the details on the giant’s hand or the curves on Freida, the stepmother, and tell me that’s not impressive.  The story, as I mentioned before has potential, but something just doesn’t work. Maybe it’s the fact that this is a concept that has been done in some for or another, or it could very well be something else. Whatever the case is, it is an epic fail.

There are jokes and pop culture references as you would expect in a film like this. Some may even go above the target audience’s head, but their parents will get them, hopefully.

As the film came to a close, I found myself hoping that the Wizard would come back and save the day, even though it was obvious that Rick was the hero. I think this may have something to do with my being such a fan of the late George Carlin (this was his last role, btw). I also was kind of hoping or expecting the prince to find some ditzy, airheaded blonde to have his happily ever after with, as well.

This film had too much potential, that it pained me to sit through the whole travesty. Its not without its good points, but the faults outweigh them. Yes, this is your average computer animated film, with nothing to really write home about, but it is worth a viewing. However, it is such a run of the mill flick that you’ll probably forget it 5 minutes after you finish. As a matter of fact, chances are that after I post this entry, I won’t remember the film unless I happen to see it in a preview on a DVD or on TV. Such a shame for a film that has all the ingredients to be what few films are these days, and that is great.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars