Archive for Terrence Stamp

Big Eyes

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Directed and produced by Tim Burton, BIG EYES is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist earned staggering notoriety by revolutionizing the commercialization and accessibility of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The truth would eventually be discovered though: Keane’s art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. BIG EYES centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work.

What people are saying:

“”Well-acted, thought-provoking, and a refreshing change of pace for Tim Burton, Big Eyes works both as a biopic and as a timelessly relevant piece of social commentary”. 3 1/2 stars

“Middling drama from Tim Burton, based on some real life art controversy. There’s some nice integration of pop art into the visuals and some evocatively cartoonish recreations of the era, but there’s something decidedly underwhelming about the film as a whole. Amy Adams is good as always if not always well served by the script, but Christoph Waltz can’t save a character that sadly descends into caricature well before the end. Not up to Ed Wood or even Big Fish standards (comparable as this is another rare film where Burton drops his gothic schtick – although you can clearly see that his animated fare owes something to the big eyed waifs featured in this). You can do worse. You can also do much better.” 2 stars

“Bright yet disturbing, Big Eyes is both an indicator of just how far women have come in the past 60 years and a comment on the commercialization of pop culture.” 4 stars

” It’s not a bad movie, but it is slow (I fell asleep twice). What to say… it’s an interesting story, but it’s just not told in a very riveting way. I wanted to like it more than I did, especially as I usually enjoy Amy Adams. But she seems to be somewhat “dialing it in” these days. I miss the performances of her early career. She amazed me in “Catch me if you can”, and again in “Junebug” (a rather odd little film but fascinating character study). This film can be summed up in one word: “Meh”. ” 2 1/2 stars

“Big Eyes certainly isn’t what you’re used to. It’s unique, it’s compelling, and its cast, led by Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, make it entertaining from start to finish. As my girlfriend, Katie, said, “Some of it left me speechless.” Waltz plays the villain so well in every film, and especially in Big Eyes, where you do not realize he is the villain till later on. The story itself is fascinating, and unpredictable, and the “paint-off” at the end in court is the climax that the audience deserves. Although it is not perfect, it definitely shows glimpses of brilliance, which Tim Burton always provides the audience. It will certainly be remembered as one of Tim Burton’s most interesting and realist films, and will also be remembered when it comes to the topic of women’s rights and feminism. It is a sad story, made happy, and was a good film to start of my year at the movies.” 3 1/2 stars

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The Haunted Mansion

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jim Evers is a workaholic real estate agent whose continuous pursuit for new deals leaves very little time with his family. He misses his wedding anniversary with his wife Sara, but to make amends, suggesting going on vacation to a nearby lake. Beforehand, Sara is contacted by the occupants of Gracey Manor, located in the Louisiana bayou. Eager to make a deal, Jim drags Sara and his children Megan and Michael to the mansion. They meet its owner Edward Gracey, his stern butler Ramsley, and other staff members Emma and Ezra. When a storm floods the nearby river, Gracey allows the Evers to stay the night, though everyone save Jim is unhappy with the idea. Ramsley takes Jim down to the library to have a talk with Gracey, but while he waits, Jim gets trapped in a secret passage.

Megan and Michael encounter a spectral orb and follow it up to the attic, where they find a portrait of a woman resembling Sara. Sara herself talks with Gracey in the library, who explains his grandfather hanged himself after his lover Elizabeth Henshaw poisoned herself despite their plans to wed. Jim meets Madame Leota, a gypsy woman’s ghost whose head is encased in a crystal ball, but she scares him away. Jim runs into his children, Emma and Ezra, and returns to Madame Leota for answers about Elizabeth’s likeness to Sara. It is revealed everyone in the mansion are ghosts, cursed a century ago by Gracey and Elizabeth’s suicides and can only go to the afterlife when they are reunited, and Gracey believes Sara is his lover back from the dead. Madame Leota sends the Evers off to the mansion’s expansive cemetery to find a key which will reveal the truth behind Elizabeth’s unusual death. Jim and Megan venture into a crypt where they find the key, but disturb its undead residents. They escape with help from Michael. Madame Leota then instructs them to find a trunk in the attic, Jim unlocking it to find a letter written by Elizabeth to Gracey, revealing she wanted to marry, revealing she was murdered. Ramsley suddenly appears, revealing he poisoned Elizabeth to prevent Gracey from abandoning his heritage. To hide the truth, he traps the children in a trunk and throws Jim out of the house, enchanting the house so Jim cannot break in.

Gracey and Sara enter the ballroom. He asks Sarah if she can recognize him which confuses her. Desperate, he insists to Sara that she is his beloved Elizabeth from long ago. The room fills with ballroom dancing ghosts of the past which causes Sara to flee from the room. As she runs up the stairs Gracey reveals his true ghost self to Sara begging her to understand and that she really is Elizabeth and that they can finally be together. She shouts that she is not Elizabeth and slams the door in his face. Gracey begins to believe that Sarah can’t Elizabeth because she doesn’t remember him. But Ramsley insists that it is her and that in time she will remember. Ramsley tells Sara to get ready for her wedding to Gracey. Sarah refuses but Ramsley blackmails her into marrying Gracey in return for her children’s safety. Encouraged by Madame Leota, Jim drives his car through the mansion’s conservatory, rescues his children, and stops Sara and Gracey’s wedding ceremony where he gives Elizabeth’s real letter to Gracey. Gracey confronts Ramsley, who rages at his master’s apparent selfishness for loving Elizabeth, and summons wraiths to kill the group. However, a fiery dragon emerges from the ballroom fireplace and drags Ramsley down to hell for eternal damnation for his crimes. Sara suddenly collapses, having been poisoned by Ramsley during the wedding, only for the spectral orb encountered by the children to appear and possess Sara, revealed to be Elizabeth’s ghost. Elizabeth and Gracey reunite, and Sara is revived. With the curse lifted, Gracey gives the Evers the mansion’s deed and departs to the afterlife with Elizabeth, Emma, Ezra, and the other ghosts.

The Evers head off on a proper vacation, accompanied by Madame Leota, and four singing busts strapped to the back of their car. In a post-credits scene, Madame Leota bids farewell to the audience, inviting them to join the dead using dialogue from the Disneyland attraction.

REVIEW:

Anyone that has ever been to Disneyworld, or knows anything about Disney, is at least somewhat familiar with the fact that this film The Haunted Mansion, much in the same vein as the first Pirates of the Caribbean was an attempt to bring the ride to life on the big screen. However, it wasn’t the huge success that some assumed it would be, but why is that, besides not have a mega budget?

What is this about?

When Jim Evers, his wife and kids encounter a ghost while visiting a haunted house during a job interview, they get a crash course in family values.

What did I like?

Tragic story. Well, we can’t have a big haunted house without some tragic history, right? In this case, the well to do owner of the house has his beloved taken away from him through an apparent suicide that, from what I can tell, closed to door for all spirits to pass through on those grounds. Truly this is a tragic love story. Imagine if Scarlett O’Hara hung herself and Rhett Butler was heartbroken for centuries about her death. So much so, that he stays and searches for his lost love to be reincarnated.

Kneel before Stamp. Terrence Stamp can really play the stoic villain. Some forget that he was the iconic villain in Superman II, General Zod. This character calls for him to be a proper British butler and also a delusional ghost who takes his duties too far, I’ll leave it at that. This film isn’t known for being scary, but Stamp makes an attempt to add in a bit of haunting that it severely needed.

Ghostly appearance. I was gearing up to complain about the way the special effects in this film look a bit…unkept, but then I noticed something about the ghosts. They have the appearance reminiscent of the ride. Say what you will about this film, at least it is making an attempt to stick to its roots. Can the other films based on rides say that? Ok…maybe Tower of Terror, but that was specifically made as an advertisement for that particular ride. I have to tip my hat to the effects department for being cheap and having it work.

What didn’t I like?

Haunted? I know that this is a Disney film about a Disney ride and all that jazz, but should something that has the word haunted in the title, actually make you feel a little bit scared in a place or two? I’m not talking full-on horror, obviously (though with the stuff that comes out today, this might actually fit in), but rather something more along the lines of a jump scare here and there. Terrence Stamp was doing a good job with his random appearances scaring the family, but that wasn’t toward the audience. I would have liked for there to have been something more haunting about this haunted mansion.

Poker head. Jennifer Tilly has had quite the interesting career. However, these days she is known mostly for her distinctive voice. Can you imagine a film starring her and Joey Lauren Adams? Oh…and get Macy Gray to do the soundtrack! Ugh! That would kill us all! Anyway, Tilly’s voice is not the only thing that gets her noticed, as she has quite the attractive body. I don’t need to tell you that there are a couple of things that can’t help but be noticed. With that said, why take away Jennifer’s body and make her a head in a jar? Seems to me that her character could have conjured up a body to help with the ongoings in the climax, rather than stay in the crashed car trapped by an airbag. I’m just saying!

Eddie, oh Eddie. Many wonder where it is that we can pinpoint the moment that Eddie Murphy’s career started to take a downward spiral and he lost his way, so to speak. This is often considered that point. As far as performances go, yeah, this isn’t Murphy on the top of his game. I’ve long said that he belongs making comedies where he can just let f-bombs fly left and right. Since this is a family picture, he had to struggle to say “crap”. Personally, I don’t think this was the film for Murphy. He did an ok job, but someone more used to doing films like this would have fit in more.

The Haunted Mansion is one of those films that you forget exists because if so overshadowed by the success of Captain Jack Sparrow and the Pirates franchise. Still, there were people who went out to see this. No, it wasn’t a huge blockbuster, but it did earn double the budget back. Will this make anyone want to go ride the ride? Perhaps, but I don’t see anyone having nightmares after watching the picture. Do I recommend this? With Halloween coming up next month, I am sure  you’re looking for something to show early on in your party. Well, that’s what this is for! That and background noise. Use in good health!

3 out of 5 stars

Young Guns

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

John Tunstall (Terence Stamp), an educated Englishman and cattle rancher in Lincoln County, New Mexico, hires wayward young gun men to live and work on his ranch. Tunstall is in heavy competition with another well-connected rancher named Murphy (Jack Palance) and their men clash on a regular basis. Tunstall recruits Billy (Emilio Estevez) and advises him to renounce violence saying that “He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.” Tensions escalate between the two camps, resulting in the murder of Tunstall. Billy, Doc (Kiefer Sutherland), Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips), Dick (Charlie Sheen), Dirty Steve (Dermot Mulroney), and Charlie (Casey Siemaszko), consult their lawyer friend Alex (Terry O’Quinn), who manages to get them deputized and given warrants for the arrest of Murphy’s murderous henchmen.

Billy quickly challenges Dick’s authority as leader, vowing revenge against Murphy and the men responsible for killing Tunstall. The men call themselves “The Regulators” and arrest some of the murderers, but hot-headed Billy is unable to wait for justice. He guns down unarmed men and goes on to kill one of his fellow Regulators in the paranoid (but correct) belief that he was still in league with Murphy. The men are stripped of their badges, which they find out about by reading a newspaper. That same paper also confuses Dick for Billy, showing a picture of Dick labeled “Billy the Kid,” a nickname to which Billy takes an immediate liking.

While the local authorities begin their hunt for Billy and the boys, The Regulators argue about continuing with their warrants or to go on the run. One of the men on their list of warrants tracks them down, barricades himself in an outhouse, and Dick dies in an intense shootout. Billy appoints himself as the new leader, the gang becomes famous and the U.S. Army is charged with bringing them to justice under Murphy’s corrupt political influence.

The gang eludes attention for some time, but is tracked down and trapped while in the home of their lawyer on the main street of Lincoln, New Mexico. Another intense shootout begins as the authorities enter the house. Billy once again shows his shooting prowess by first calling out one of the besiegers by name, then killing him with a snap long-range gunshot out the window that should have been impossible with a handgun. A ceasefire is called for the night, but the battle continues the next morning when the Army rolls in, accompanied by Murphy. They torch the house and Chavez runs out the back of the house, causing Steve to assert that he has deserted the gang. As the house begins to burn down, the men come up with an escape plan. They begin throwing the possessions of Alex, their lawyer, out the windows of the second floor. Billy places himself inside of a large trunk, and when it lands in front of the house, he takes his opponents by surprise when he leaps out and begins to open fire.

Almost at the same time, Doc bursts out of the stairway leading to the top floor with guns blazing, followed by Charlie and Steve. As all the men make it to the lawn, Billy is shot twice in his arms. Charlie challenges the bounty hunter John Kinney (Allen Keller); Kinney shoots Charlie and Charlie fires back. Charlie kills Kinney, but in the process takes a few more bullets and dies.

Chavez takes the Army by surprise. Screaming “Regulators!”, he rides in leading horses for the others. He comes from behind the army and jumps their barricade to get his extra horses to the surviving Regulators. Billy jumps on one horse as Doc gets on the other. Doc is shot as his girlfriend Yen Sun (Alice Carter), Murphy’s Chinese sex-slave, screams; he rides over to her and picks her up, and they ride off. Chavez tries to get Steve on a horse, but is wounded and falls to the ground. Steve helps Chavez mount a horse and sends the horse off so Chavez can escape, but is then left without a horse and unarmed. He is shot multiple times by the Army and Murphy’s men. He falls into a dirty puddle, dead.

Alex cheers on the boys as they ride away. The army opens fire on him with a Gatling gun and he is killed. As the remaining men ride away, Murphy hurls threats and curses after them, but is stunned when Billy turns back, beyond gunshot range of most normal men. Saying, “Reap it Murphy, you sonuvabitch,” he makes another impossible long-range pistol shot, shooting Murphy right between the eyes.

The final scene is a voice over of Doc explaining what happened afterward. In Doc’s explanation, he includes that Alex’s widow caused a congressional investigation into the Lincoln County War. Chavez took work at a farm in California; Doc moved east to New York and married Yen Sun, whom he had saved from Murphy; and Billy continued to ride until he was gunned down by Pat Garrett, who in this film is shown as barely knowing Billy. Billy was buried next to Charlie Bowdre at Fort Sumner. A stranger went to the grave of Billy the Kid late at night and made a carving into the headstone. The epitaph read only one word: “PALS.”

REVIEW:

This is one of those semi-historical films. What I mean by that is it tells some parts of Billy the Kid and the other character’s story, but much of it is fictional. The thing about this film that really struck my fancy is that it does that in such a way as to make it unnoticeable, unless you a wild West aficionado/historian.

While this picture has a bit too much drama for my taste, it is the culminating gunfight that really brings it home. It is very reminiscent of such western gems as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, High Noon, and to a lesser extent, How the West Was Won. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t stack up as a whole.

The story moves along at a decent enough pace, but something just seems to be missing. Maybe it is the fact that they tried to force in too many story lines for Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, and Lou Diamond Phillips, while killing off Charlie Sheen early on in the film, and almost ignoring the other guys. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when you look at how this thing was cast. They were played by unknown actors. The fact that they manged to make it through most of the film alive was a miracle in itself.

Aside from that, there really isn’t much to complain about, except they didn’t really explain why or how Murphy got all that power and was able to pretty much o what he wanted without anyone so much as lifting a finger to stop him.

The casting was ok, especially when you consider that these were all hot actors when this film was made. Emilio Estevez does an alright job as Billy the Kid. I’m not sure Billy was as crazy as he is portrayed here, then again, I don’t think he was as calm as he is in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, either.

Keifer Sutherland is basically the voice of reason in the group. This is a bit out of what we normally see from him, both then and now, yet it works.

Charlie Sheen does a pretty decent job as the group’s leader until he is shot down.

Lou Diamond Philips does what he does best, and that is play up the Native american sympathy part of his character. I would say this would be a bit of an annoyance, yet it works here, especially considering the era and the attitudes of the other characters.

Jack Palance plays one of the best villains to ever grace the screen, yet he gets very little screen time here, which is quite a shame.

Young Guns qualifies as one of the best westerns of the 80s. Some have even gone so far as to say it was The Magnificent Seven for a new generation. I won’t go that far, but it is pretty good. I’m quite sure I cared for the music playing over the end credits, it sort o ruined the mood that was set up at the end of the film, but that’s jut a personal qualm. Should you see this? Yes, I recommend it, but remember that the original westerns of the 50s and 60s are much better cinema and portray the west more accurately. That being said, this is still quite the enjoyable film.

4 out of 5 stars

Alien Nation

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on June 13, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The movie is set in 1991, three years after a flying saucer bearing enslaved aliens (the “Newcomers”) has crash-landed in the Mojave Desert.

Los Angeles becomes a new home for the aliens, who take, or in some cases are assigned, sometimes comical human names (such as “Rudyard Kipling”). Caan plays Los Angeles police detective Matthew Sykes, who loses his partner when they try to stop two Newcomers in what appears to be a robbery of a small Newcomer-owned store. The next day Sykes’ commanding officer informs his squad that they will have to work with the newly promoted Newcomer detective, Sam Francisco, played by Patinkin, and if someone doesn’t volunteer to work with him the commanding officer shall choose someone. Sykes volunteers to work with Francisco, feeling that as he investigates crimes involving Newcomers he will find opportunities to also investigate his partner’s death, which he is officially forbidden to do.

Sykes tells Sam that the joke name given to him by an immigration official is embarrassing, and calls his partner George. In return, “George” points out that in his own language, “Sykes” sounds like the two words meaning “excrement” and “cranium” – “shithead”. As the pair continue to be assigned cases which mainly deal with Newcomer criminals and victims and as the cases progress, Sykes learns to appreciate his partner.

The main villain of the film is an ambitious Newcomer businessman (Stamp) who plans to sell a drug which was used to pacify the Newcomers when they were slaves, but which has no effect on humans.

REVIEW:

This film was released in 1988, but is set in the “futuristic” world of 1991. Not really sure why they couldn’t pick a year a little further ahead in the future, though.

James Caan plays a rough, tough cop who loses his partner at the beginning of the film. He also fancies himself a, in his word, “bigot”, because he doesn’t particularly care for the Newcomers. As the film progresses, Caan becomes more of an audience friendly character, even ending up attending his daughter’s wedding.

Mandy Patinkin, as with all the other actors playing Newcomers, is virtually unrecognizable under all the makeup, but after a while you can tell it is him. He gives a nice performance as Sam Francisco (nice tongue-in-cheek humor, there). Francisco is the quintessential naive alien, who is still learning things, but when it comes to things about his people he knows more then he cares to share. This leads to some confrontation with Caan, but nothing major.

Terrence Stamp isn’t quite as creepy looking with all the makeup and the youth he has in this film compared to today, but that voice and his mannerisms are still the same. I maintain my position that he would be perfect casting for the ghost of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol. Stamp is a Newcomer who has overcome the odds and succeeded in the human world. At the same time he is ready to introduce a drug from the Newcomer’s home planet into circulation. When finally caught by Caan, he takes an entire container of the stuff, appears to die, and becomes some sort of super creature, much in the same way Shredder becomes Super Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze. Funny thing about his metamorphosis is that Stamp has never been a big action star, but he does a good job causing havoc and destruction.

There is just something about 80s film car chases that I really love. The chase in this film isn’t very long, and there aren’t a ton of explosions or anything, but I still found myself on the edge of my seat. I think it has something to do with the street lights, wet roads, and empty streets that makes a nice effect.

The Newcomers are an interesting species, indeed. They don’t mate like humans, and get drunk on sour milk. Whereas a kick to the groin will take down a human male, to get the same effect on one of these Newcomers, yo have to punch them in the side.

I found the theme of bigotry and contempt that many of the humans had for the Newcomers absolutely appalling. How can they judge these people so harshly after they letting them join their society. It hearkens back to the day of slavery. Ironically, these aliens were slaves who got lost and trapped on Earth. Now rather than being treated as they should be, they are shunned because they are different. If this film teaches us anything, its that everyone deserves a chance and that we shoulnd’t judge a book by its cover. James Caan’s character can change, so can we.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars 

Elektra

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film continues the storyline of the film Daredevilwherein Elektra was killed by Bullseye. The story is introduced by a man’s voice (later revealed to be the sensei Stick) explaining that there is an ancient war being fought between good and evil. The evil is introduced as a group called The Hand, whilst the good follow Kimagure, a martial art that supposedly makes its practitioners able to foresee the future and control life and death.

The next scene portrays the death of a character named DeMarco, whom Elektra kills by throwing one of her Sai behind DeMarco while he is sitting behind a chair, introducing her as an assassin. It is later revealed that the dead Elektra was revived by Stick. For a while she was trained as his student, but soon she is asked to leave; thus beginning her life as an assassin.

Elektra receives an assignment to assassinate Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic), and his 13-year-old daughter, Abby. As part of the contract, she is required to stay for some days on their island refuge before the targets are revealed. In this time she unknowingly meets and befriends the two people she has been hired to kill. When told Mark and Abby are the targets, she is unable to kill them and goes to leave the island, in the process noticing two new assassins. Instead of leaving the island, Elektra returns to Mark and Abby’s house and kills the two newcomers, in the process discovering they have been sent by The Hand.

Under the misapprehension it is Mark that The Hand wish dead, she leads the pair to Stick (Stamp), as he is apparently leading the fight against The Hand. In a pool club, she confronts Stick by trying to grab his throat, but he grabs hers and slams her onto a pool table. He then tells her she has not changed since she left his tutorship. Elektra also discovers Mark knows why The Hand is following them, although viewers do not learn the reason at this point.

Meanwhile after the failure of the two Hand assassins, the leader of the group gives the task of capturing the “Treasure” (hinted to be Abby) to his son Kirigi and his fellow warriors, each of whom has unique ability: Stone, who has the ability of superhuman strength and is physically invulnerable to anything that is brought to him; Tattoo, who has the ability to summon immortal animals from the endless tattoos on his body; Kinkou, who has incredible speed and agility through perfect balance, and Typhoid, who can poison anything in her path as she wishes.

Elektra leaves the pool club in anger and is followed by Abby and Mark. Noticing an eagle appearing out of graffiti art on a wall, she realises The Hand has found them and decides to help the pair again. She drives them to the house of McCabe, her negotiating agent. Kirigi follows them to the house and, after killing McCabe, hunts down the trio in the forest. Elektra kills Stone by having him break down a large tree and making sure it crushes him, whilst Abby and Mark kill Kinkou with one of his own daggers. In the process, Elektra discovers Abby has martial arts skills. Distracted by this knowledge, Elektra is attacked by Typhoid, who kisses her in an attempt to kill her. Abby attempts to intervene, but is stopped by Kirigi.

At this point Stick and his pupils intervene, rescuing Abby, Mark and Elektra from the Hand warriors. They all return to Stick’s training camp. Here Stick confirms that Abby is the ‘Treasure’, a prodigy whom the Hand want for their own purposes. He tells Elektra, who has been cured of Typhoid’s attack, that Abby must remain under his protection as long as Kirigi is alive. She also realises it was Stick who originally hired her to kill Mark and Abby, apparently as a psychological trick. She questions whether everything that has happened since Stick had expelled her from the camp has been a test, to which Stick replies that some lessons have to be lived to be understood; possibly hinting that this is the case.

Abby tells Elektra she doesn’t want to have to stay in the camp forever. In an effort to let Abby lead a normal life, Elektra makes a deal with Kirigi: a fight between the two which will decide Abby’s fate. If Elektra is defeated, Abby is given to Kirigi. If Kirigi is defeated, then Abby is free forever.

Elektra returns to the house where her mother was killed (by Kirigi, as she soon discovers), and battles Hand warriors and Kirigi himself. Kirigi quickly beats her and is about to kill her when Abby appears, having followed Elektra. They escape Kirigi and hide in a maze. After they are separated in the maze, Elektra kills Tattoo, who has summoned snakes to capture Abby, by breaking his neck. Elektra then searches for Abby. In the centre of the maze, Elektra once again encounters and fights Kirigi, this time killing him by impaling him with one of her Sai and dropping his body in a well, where he turns to dust. Meanwhile Abby has been attacked and killed by Typhoid who says she is jealous of Abby for being the new “Treasure,” because Typhoid was once the Treasure herself. Elektra senses this and throws one of her Sai, killing Typhoid.

Elektra carries Abby’s body back to the house, where she successfully revives her, completing her journey to becoming a Kimagure master. The film ends with Elektra and Stick discussing her and Abby’s lives. Stick tells her that second lives can often be better than the first.

REVIEW:

I am not well versed in Elektra knowledge, other than her relationship with the Hand, Daredevil, and of course the red suit. Having said that, this is a very enjoyable film, even though it varies from the source material so far that it is almost not recognizable.

Jennifer Garner reprises her role as Elektra. A role she first took on in Daredevil. Strangely enough, she had more life and was arguable a better character in that film than this one, in which she is supposed to be the lead role.  I don’t think the issue is with her acting, but with the script and story. It has more issues than the world economy.

Kirsten Sprout is a bright spot in the cast. She lights up the screen with her innocence and youth. I believe she is currently starring on ABC Family’s Kyle XY, and hopefully she’ll get more roles as she matures as an actress.

The only other part of the cast worth mentioning is Will Yun Lee as the ninja assassin, Kirigi who leads a group of “freaks” to capture the treasure and is the main villain in this film. The climactic battle between he and Elektra is one of the better fighting  scenes I’ve seen in film, but not the best.

One of the best parts of the film is the effects that the aforementioned “freaks” have. They are beautifully done, especially Typhoid (Mary)’s..Tattoo isn’t too bad either. I wish we could have learned more about the Treasure and had more references to Daredevil, but that’s just me.

Some reviews I’ve read have wanted this to be a darker, more violent film. Jennifer Garner even said that if they made a sequel she would only do it, if it was like that. I don’t have any issue with the tone of the film. There is murder at the beginning, but it doesn’t set the tone for the film, that apparently comes in the next scene where she is cleaning the floor. 

I don’t want to make it sound like this is a bad film, because it isn’t. I just think it could have been better. Elektra is a popular character in the Marvel universe, yes, but she hasn’t sustained her own comic. So, why give her a feature film, other than to feature Jennifer Garner, which this film accomplishes, but doesn’t do either Elektra or Jennifer any justice. So, my recommendation is to wait for this to show up on TV to watch it unless you’re just dying to see it. It’s just an average picture. Nothing really memorable except how they may have ruined a perfectly good character.

3 out of 5 stars

Get Smart

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Maxwell Smart (Agent 86) (Steve Carell), the top analyst of the top secret American intelligence agency CONTROL, hopes to become a field agent like his idol and best friend, Agent 23 (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). But despite scoring extremely well in the acceptance tests, Max is denied the promotion because the Chief of CONTROL (Alan Arkin) thinks Max is too valuable in his present assignment. This changes when CONTROL headquarters is attacked by its arch-enemy, the terrorist organization KAOS, led by a man known only as Siegfried (Terence Stamp). As a result, almost all of the identities of CONTROL’s agents are exposed. Max becomes Agent 86 and is partnered with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), whose recent plastic surgery has protected her identity, while former field operatives such as 23 are demoted to desk jobs.

Max and 99 travel to Russia on a mission to determine how KAOS has been getting nuclear weapons. Along the way, Max slowly proves to 99 that despite his inexperience and clumsiness, he is actually a good field agent. Max also begins to show, as does 99, that he has slight feelings for her, and she for him. However, 99 does not want to have a relationship with any agent, as she previously blew a mission due to her being in a relationship with a partner (as it turns out, Agent 23).

The pair try to infiltrate KAOS’ Moscow nuclear weapons factory, which is disguised as a bakery, and even though Siegfried has been expecting them, Max and 99 overpower the guards and plant explosives that will bury the nuclear weapons under rubble. Max even saves both 99’s life and his own by helping one of Siegfried’s henchmen, a man named Dalip (Dalip Singh). Saying “I know you!” in Dalip’s native Punjabi language at first, Max advises him on his marital problems using information gleaned from his analyst work. The Chief sends 23 to oversee clean-up of the bakery, but 23 reports that he has found no evidence of nuclear weapons, causing CONTROL (and an upset 99) to believe that Max is a double agent.

Siegfried reveals that KAOS has distributed nuclear weapons to unstable dictators and will supply them with the activation codes unless the American government pays him $200 billion, and decides to establish the credibility of his threat by destroying the Walt Disney Concert Hall with a nuclear bomb during the president’s visit. The vice president does not believe CONTROL’s claims that KAOS is a serious threat, so the Chief, 99 and 23 go there to personally convince the president, but to no avail.

Dalip sends Max (who is in custody in Washington D.C.) a tip-off about the bomb via a radio call-in show, so Max escapes custody, equips himself with vintage items from the CONTROL museum and travels to Los Angeles to meet with the Chief and tell him about the bomb. Agent 23 does not believe Max’s claims or his innocence because he has a crush on agent 99, even though the Chief and 99 do believe him. This, plus the fact that Max detects trace radiation on 23 (who had walked through the Moscow nuclear facility), causes Max to realize that 23 is the double agent. Despite Max being his friend, he becomes enraged and takes 99 hostage and flees with the bomb’s remote detonator, and Max and the Chief give chase.

Agent 23 ties 99’s hands into his car. Max and the Chief save 99, with Smart kissing Agent 23, which was a trick to distract him, and kicks him into the now flaming, track-led government GMC Yukon. When Max and 99 are stuck in the car, Max saves 99 by throwing her to the ground while he tries to cut himself free. After the car and 23 are destroyed, Max, 99, and the Chief realize the bomb, hidden in Walt Disney Concert Hall where the president is attending a concert, will be triggered when the orchestra plays the final notes of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”.

Reaching the hall just in time, Max tackles the conductor, stopping the orchestra and thus the bomb. However, the orchestra is doubtful there was a bomb. Maxwell guesses correctly that the bomb was under the piano and shocks the guards. During Siegfried’s escape, the terror mastermind insults Dalip once too often, and Dalip throws him out of their moving car, off a bridge and into a river.

The heroes celebrate their success in CONTROL headquarters. The president is very impressed with the agency, especially Max’s heroics. Max and 99 begin dating and have bought a puppy, named Fang. The characters Bruce and Lloyd also introduce their newest invention, Hymie the Robot (Patrick Warburton). The film ends with Max and 99 leaving CONTROL through the set of high-tech security doors; of course, Max cannot leave the last door (which does not close) alone and repairs it with his pocket knife, causing the door to close on him, and another mini harpoon from his pocket knife to stick him in the cheek.

REVIEW:

Although the TV show aired before my time, I still became a big fan due to reruns.

If you were to ask me who would be the best choice to play Maxwell Smart, I’d have said Steve Carrell. He doesn’t disappoint, either.

Anne Hathaway has never looked better, especially when she is her party gown and her underwear and robe. Yes, there are many other actresses that could have taken role Barbara Eden immortalized, but I believe Anne is the only one that could have done it justice by not taking to too seriously.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shows here that he hasn’t forgotten how to be an action star. As a matter of fact, in the climactic fight at the end I could swear he used some of his WWE moves.

Masi Oka and Nate Torrence (who must be Jonah Hill’s good twin) really come into their own as the gadget guys. However, I don’t think they warranted their own film, but at lest it was direct-to-DVD.

I almost thought for a minute that Alan Arkin was the original chief. He is that much into this role and does a bang up job.

The rest of the cast is pretty good. Terence Stamp is a little underused for my taste, though.

One review I read said that this was an action-comedy that just had the title and characters from Get Smart. I have to agree. While there are a few funny moments, it doesn’t have the slapstick feel of the original show. Something that is sorely missing.

I can’t do this review without bringing up the kiss between Max and Agent 23. Who would have ever thought a man’s man like The Rock would kiss another man. It was unexpected. Of course, 23 being the mastermind behind the whole thing was a surprise, especially since they make it seem like he’s the best agent CONTROL has.

This is a very good film. It’s not perfect by any means, but its actually enjoyable. If you were a fan of the original series, you may be a little disappointed, but there are lots of references to keep you happy. For everyone else, its a good action-comedy that’s worth a viewing.

4 out of  5 stars