Archive for Will Arnett

The Lego Batman Movie

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the irreverent spirit of fun that made “The LEGO (R) Movie” a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble – LEGO Batman – stars in his own big-screen adventure: “The LEGO (R) Batman Movie.” But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.

What people are saying:

The LEGO Batman Movie isn’t the same experience as watching The LEGO Movie, but I also don’t think it’s trying to be. It’s trying to be a fun superhero movie with clever callbacks to previous Batman films (every single Batman movie all the way back to the 1940s serials are referenced) that can, at least, provide DC superhero fans with a taste of fun amidst all the doom and gloom. (That can either be a reference to ‘the real world’ or the current DC Cinematic Universe films, you can choose either one you want or both.) And at that, The LEGO Batman Movie succeeds” 5 stars

The Lego Batman Movie works precisely because it knows audiences are sick of its hero. It’s a reassessment, an intervention, an effort to try and remember what’s fun about him.” 4 stars

“After the endless outpouring of “this movie is just SOOO GREAT!!”, I finally got a chance to sit down and watch. It was incredibly disappointing. Way too many references being thrown around rapid-fire, the action was happening way too fast to catch what was going on related to the movie, let alone all the side references. Not especially fond of the choice of voice cast. Will Arnett was doing his best to hold the Kevin Conroy Batman voice and Ralph Fiennes made an excellent Alfred, the rest were forgettable. In fact, I had to use the pause button during the credits to figure out who the rest of the cast were. I got bored enough to fall asleep during the movie two or three times and didn’t feel compelled to wind back when I woke. I didn’t feel like I had missed anything. I think this movie has been classified as a “greatest movie ever” because the public was TOLD to think it was great. We really need to rein in pre-release movie hype.” 2 stars

“This is fun and all, but it suffers from the curse of all the best stuff being given away in the trailer. It also doesn’t have the novelty factor any more, since the animation isn’t anything we didn’t see in The Lego Movie. The jokes are funny, and as a Batman fan I enjoyed seeing a lighter side of that, but in hindsight I wish I had waited to rent it instead of paying to see it in theaters.” 3 stars

“This film was not part of DCEU, still it made an impact to my experience, the animation was so smooth and it moves in a fast then slow paste, the storyline was typical like the other Batman movies, characters like Robin and Batgirl had a silly of a backstory that are not align to the comics, the script was written like a child’s play conversation which makes it perfect for children, what is outstanding is the chemistry between heroes and villains and this is the first film written in a form like that, it was emotional, sympathetic, and inspiring, it is connected to the topic of self-worth, I know this is a spinoff film for kids but still it feels like it’s how the real world interacts with one another. We got tosee enough screentime of both Superheroes and Supervillains but in a one-to-one connection, this film has its touch and I had great experience watching it.” 4 1/2 stars

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Blades of Glory

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At the 2002 World Winter Sport Games, rival men’s singles skaters Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell), a skillful skater but raunchy sex addict, and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder), an equally talented but sheltered and effeminate skater, tie for gold. An argument ensues, which develops into a fight on the awards podium, ending with the World Games mascot being set on fire. As a result, they are stripped of their medals and banned from men’s singles competition for life. Jimmy’s competitive adoptive father, billionaire Darren MacElroy (William Fichtner), immediately disowns him and leaves him stranded on the side of the road.

Three and a half years later, Jimmy is working at a winter sporting goods store and gets demoted to sorting stock after he refuses to listen to a little girl when she tells him her skating boot has been tied too tightly. Chazz is fired from a children’s skating show called “Grublets On Ice” for being in a drunken stupor on stage. Jimmy’s obsessive stalker, Hector (Nick Swardson), tells him of a loophole in the ban allowing him to compete in pair skating. In hopes of entering the upcoming World Winter Sport Games, Jimmy contacts his old coach, Robert (Craig T. Nelson), but is unable to find a partner. Jimmy’s search for a last-minute partner leads him to Chazz, and Robert convinces the two to skate as the first-ever same-sex pairs team, because the regulations fail to state the genders of the pairs.

The reigning U.S. national pairs champions, brother and sister Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler), see the new pair as a threat and conspire against them. The pair convince their sister Katie (Jenna Fischer), whom they often take advantage of by reminding her that their parents died taking Katie to skating practice, to spy on the duo. In the process, Katie becomes acquainted with Jimmy and they develop a relationship. Although Chazz and Jimmy are initially disgusted by each other, they eventually develop a friendship. They compete at the United States Figure Skating Championships and earn a chance to compete at the World Winter Sport Games.

Chazz and Jimmy’s coach, Robert, informs them that to win, they will need to perform a technique that has never been performed successfully: The “Iron Lotus”, an extremely complicated maneuver that Robert developed years ago. However, it is also dangerous: the only attempt of the maneuver was “behind the bamboo curtain” in North Korea, and resulted in the man decapitating the woman with his skate blade. Nonetheless, they decide to attempt it as Robert is convinced that two males would be better suited for the move because of the physics of a same-sex team (this is a parody of skating-themed film The Cutting Edge, where the conflicting main characters also decide to practice a dangerous skating routine). Fairchild commands Katie to disrupt the duo by having sex with Chazz, threatening to harm Jimmy if Katie does not comply. Katie gets Chazz’s attention after attending a sex addict’s meeting as the newest member, then invites Chazz to her room, and tries to seduce him. Chazz refuses, delighting Katie, but cannot resist grabbing her breasts. Jimmy witnesses this and is outraged at Chazz’s and Katie’s betrayals.

The next day, Chazz and Jimmy are both kidnapped and restrained by Stranz and Fairchild. Katie gets tired of her siblings and accepts that their parents were not properly safe while driving. While handcuffing Jimmy in a bathroom, Fairchild reveals that she and Stranz commanded Katie to have sex with Chazz yet she could not go through with it, due to her love for Jimmy. Chazz escapes but is pursued by Stranz through Montréal on ice and then through streets and stores. He tries to shoot Chazz with a crossbow, but accidentally hits the Winter Sport Games Mascot, Snowflake. Jimmy also escapes when a kid in the bathroom knocked down the bin which contains the key for the handcuff, though he had to use his tongue to drag the dirty toilet paper, as the key was on it.

Stranz and Fairchild perform their routine, a dramatization of the “Forbidden Romance” of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Both Chazz and Jimmy arrive in the ice rink just in time to compete. Chazz and Jimmy reconcile quickly and begin their routine, which has a science fiction theme. Fairchild, seeing the two doing well, throws pearls onto the ice. Chazz trips over a pearl and breaks his ankle, which renders him unable to perform his role in the Iron Lotus. Jimmy then offers to switch places with him. Although they have never practiced the other’s roles, they perform it perfectly, with Jimmy’s blade only cutting two small strands of Chazz’s facial hair. Jimmy and Chazz win the competition, Jimmy reconciles with Katie, and Stranz and Fairchild are arrested due to the kidnappings and Snowflake‘s shooting. Stranz and Fairchild begin arguing, then inexplicably kiss each other incestuously before they are handcuffed by the authorities. Jimmy and Chazz receive the gold medal and fly off into the sky through rockets on their skates. During the credits, Hector is seen playing dolls of himself, Jimmy and Chazz.

REVIEW:

Figure skating is perhaps the most popular sport in the winter Olympics. Wouldn’t a comedy spoof about the sport be an instant hit? On paper, I believe it would be, but does Blades of Glory deliver or is it just another Will Ferrell comedy that only a certain audience will appreciate?

What is this about?

When a much-publicized ice-skating scandal strips them of their gold medals, two world-class athletes skirt their way back onto the ice via a loophole that allows them to compete together — as a pairs team.

What did I like?

Fire and ice. I don’t know why, but I am a huge fan of partners/couples that are polar opposites of each other. I think that goes back to when I was growing up listening to Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” every chance I got. Will Ferrell and Jon Heder’s characters couldn’t be more different. One has been trained with the best techniques money can buy, while the other had to do it the hard way on the mean streets of Detroit. I really like how this wasn’t glossed over and while the film didn’t dwell on their pasts, their was an ESPN-type vignette to give us the background on our two leads.

From the ashes. Time after time, athletes end up getting suspended, fined, or worse only to come back and perform at just as high, if not a higher level than when they left. Case in point, Michael Vick. He was on top of the world before everyone crucified him for dog fighting. He went away for a few years, came back and, while he wasn’t as good as when he left, he still did a pretty good job. To this day, he’s still in the NFL, though I believe he is currently injured. What does this have to do with the picture? Well, after setting a mascot on fire because of their personal squabbles. Heder and Ferrell are banned for life. Turns out there is a loophole which allows them to get back in, but they have to skate as a same-sex duo. Not exactly, what they wanted, but hey, it is better than working in a shoe store or doing children’s parties, right?

Cameos. I don’t really follow figure skating, but there are a few names that I know. Almost all of them appear in this film as some type of cameo, giving a bit if, respectability, for lack of a better term, to the proceedings. Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill, Nancy Kerrigan, Sasha Cohen, Scott Hamilton, etc., all make appearances. Kudos to the filmmakers for getting these decorated athletes, and name dropping the ones they couldn’t get, such as Michelle Kwan.

What didn’t I like?

Couple. Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are supposedly funny on their own. They had chemistry at one time, since they were married up until not too long ago. I just couldn’t get into them in this film. Maybe it was them being too over the top for my taste, or perhaps it was the brother sister relationship that didn’t sit right with me. I can’t tell you, but I wasn’t buying what they were selling. I think the big reason is they were never really properly introduced as the antagonists, but rather they just happened to be the top couples figure skaters.

Little sister. Jenna Fisher is cute as a button. When she appears in these Will Ferrell movies, he really knows how to play that up. I didn’t like how she was used in this, though. It is obvious that she is the naïve, innocent type, so why have her in a scene that literally strips all that away by having her seduce Ferrell in a corset/nightgown type thing and then for the rest of the film have her revert back to innocence. It doesn’t work!

Papa, can you hear me? Jon Heder’s character is adopted by a rich businessman who had been breeding champion thoroughbreds. Played by William Fichtner, he comes off as aloof and uncaring. It comes as no shock when, after being banned for life, he kicks Heder out of the limo and disowned him. Seems like there would be a plotline there, right? Apparently not, because that is the last we see of him. I would have guessed he would have shown back up when Heder’s career took back off, but nope!

I was really in a mood for a good laugh tonight and Blades of Glory gave me a few of those as well as just an enjoyable movie where I could just shut my brain off for a couple of hours. No, this isn’t a tour de force film, but if you’re expecting that from the like of Will Ferrell and Jon Heder, I seriously have to wonder about you. Do I recommend this? Yes, it isn’t the most coherent film, nor is it the greatest, but it is one that you can always pop in and get a couple of chuckles out of. Give it a go, why don’t you?

4 out of 5 stars

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

April O’Neil (Megan Fox), a reporter for Channel 6 Eyewitness News in New York City, investigates a crime wave by criminals called the Foot Clan. At a dock at night, she sees the Foot raiding cargo containers. After an unseen vigilante attacks the thieves, April notices a symbol left behind. April’s supervisor Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg) and her coworkers are oblivious to her story. Later while covering a charity event thrown by Sacks Industries, April expresses gratitude to the company’s CEO Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who was her late father’s (Paul Fitzgerald) lab partner.

Frustrated by the vigilante, the Foot Clan’s leader Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) has the Foot Soldiers take hostages at a subway station in order to draw him out. April, at the scene, becomes a hostage herself. Four mysterious figures arrive, take out the Clan, and free the hostages. April follows them to a rooftop and is confronted by four anthropomorphic mutant turtles, causing her to pass out. When she regains consciousness, they advise her not to tell anyone of them. As they leave, April hears Raphael (Alan Ritchson) and Leonardo’s (Pete Ploszek and Johnny Knoxville) names.

April returns to her apartment and remembers “Project Renaissance”, her father’s science experiment, which involved four turtles named Leonardo, Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Michaelangelo (Noel Fisher), Raphael, and a rat called Splinter (Danny Woodburn and Tony Shalhoub). Unable to convince Bernadette of the Turtles’ existence, April is dismissed. Her coworker Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) drives her to Sacks’ estate where she confides in him about her discovery. Sacks believes her and reveals that he and April’s father had been experimenting on a mutagen created to cure disease, which was thought lost in the fire that killed her dad.

At Splinter’s behest, the Turtles bring April to their sewer lair. Splinter explains April had saved them all from the fire and freed them into the sewers. The mutagen caused the five of them to grow and develop humanoid attributes. Splinter took on the role of their father, using April’s father as an example. After finding a book on Ninjitsu in a storm drain, he proceeded to teach himself, then the Turtles, in the fighting style. When April reveals she told Sacks about her discovery of the Turtles, Splinter informs her that Sacks betrayed her father and killed him.

Then, Shredder and the Foot Soldiers attack the lair, defeating Splinter and incapacitating Raphael while the other Turtles are captured. April comes out of hiding and she and Raphael plan to save the others. At Sacks’ estate, he has the Turtles’ blood drained in order to create an antidote to a deadly virus that Sacks hopes to flood New York with, believing he will become rich from people seeking his cure. Raphael, April, and Vern storm the estate and free the other Turtles. The group then escapes the compound in pursuit of Sacks.

On a radio tower in the city, Sacks and Shredder plant a device that will flood the city with the virus. April and Vern subdue Sacks in the lab, while the Turtles fight Shredder on the roof. During the fight, the tower’s support beams collapse. As the turtles try to keep it from falling and infecting the city, April confronts Shredder with the mutagen. In the struggle, the tower collapses and the Turtles pull April onto it with them, while Shredder falls to the street and is confronted by police. Believing they are about to die, the Turtles confess their secrets, while Raphael gives an impassioned speech of his love for his brothers before they land harmlessly on the street. They vanish before the humans find them and return to the sewers, where they give Splinter the mutagen and he begins to recover.

Sometime later, April meets with Vern, who tries and fails to ask her on a date. The Turtles appear in a special modified “Turtle Van”, and Michelangelo accidentally blows up Vern’s new car with a rocket. As police respond to the explosion, the Turtles leave, but not before Michelangelo tries to serenade April with “Happy Together”.

REVIEW:

Like every other kid from the 80s and 90s, I have watched slowly as my childhood has gone from awesome to obscure to blockbuster film franchise. Just as the Transformers would not be recognizable to my 8 yr old self, I doubt that the turtle would be either, at least from what I saw in the trailers. Does Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live up to its legacy, or is this just another big movie that is reliant more on the built-in fan base money rather than being an actually good film?

What is this about?

Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil and her cameraman Vernon Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.

What did I like?

Family. Like many fans of the Turtles, I was introduced to them via the Saturday morning cartoon in the 80s. From what I recall, it was never said that they were brothers, but the toys mentioned their family bond. I want to say that the family thing was there in the original comics, but I don’t know. I applaud the filmmakers from bringing the family back together, rather than just making them four random amphibians and a rat in the sewer.

Personality. Each of the turtles has long been known to have a distinct personality. Leonardo is the no-nonsense leader, Raphael is a hot head, Donatello is the nerd, and Michaelangelo is the skater dude. These personality traits were maintained in the film and made for a much more entertaining flick. Much like the Transformers, their personalities are a part of what distinguishes them from each other, but also endeared them to fans. Wise choice including that in here, rather than make 4 drones, which was probably the initial idea.

Action. Let’s see…a movie about ninjas in New York City that happened to be based on a cartoon/comic, so one is watching this expecting long, dramatic speeches and such, right? If you are, then I’m seriously questioning humanity. This is a picture that is all about the action, from bad-ass ninja moves to daredevil antics, and of course pizza! It is like someone actually listened to what the fans wanted, as opposed to just making a movie that no one involved had any passion or connection to growing up.

What didn’t I like?

April sours. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of April O’Neil as hot. Attractive, cute, girl next door…yes. Hot, no. So, you can imagine that I was among the multitude of fans displeased with Megan Fox being cast in this role. I think we all know she was cast for her look and not talent (or lack thereof). I would say she did bad, but truthfully, she wasn’t given anything to do. My issue is more with the change they made. Apparently, according to this film, the turtles were April’s pets, not Splinter’s, and she named them. In other words, someone didn’t like the origin the way it was and felt it needed to be changed.

Return of the Super Shredder? I was excited to see what Shredder would look like. The 90s films made him look pretty close to what one would expect…sort of. That excitement quickly went away when he showed up looking like a rejected Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. I don’t know what was up with the weird wings he seemed to have protruding from his hands, either. They seems to be used as blades, but the design didn’t work for me. Basically, this new Shredder seems to be a shiny upgraded version of Super Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze, and not in a good way.

Design. While on the topic of design, let’s talk turtles, shall we. Before this movie came out, I started seeing the toys. In action figure form, they aren’t as bad. However, when you have them side by side with the toys from the current animated series, they look as frightening as they do in person. Yes, I said frightening. I can imagine being a little kid and seeing these giant creatures on the screen and, while they are the good guys, they are still terrifying. Who thought it would be a good idea to make them look like that? Probably the same person that thought Transformers need to have all kinds of whirly gadgets on them, rather than what they have looked like from the beginning, I would imagine. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got it right. 4 guys in rubber suits. Today, just update the technology and its perfect. No kids are scared, more toys are sold, etc. Before I leave this design topic, the size differential bothered me. Raphael was huge! We’re talking roided up football player huge. What was the purpose of that?

I did my best to keep an open mind about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I really did, but there are just some things that couldn’t be ignored. That said, I see potential here for bigger and better things. The writers did take the time to keep much of what fans have come to know ad love about the turtles in place, and that goes a long way. I believe the sequel is going even further with that by bringing in Bebop and Rocksteady, two of the turtles’ biggest adversaries. I’m almost excited to see that. My biggest issue with this film is that things were changed for change sake, and William Fichtner’s character didn’t serve as big a purpose as we were led to believe. Still, I did have fun watching this film, much more than I had any right to, and wouldn’t mind watching it again sometime down the road. Do I recommend it? No, the 90s films are better and feel more like care was put into them, as opposed to this one which just feels like a giant cash grab.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Lego Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Lego universe, the wizard Vitruvius attempts to protect a superweapon called the “Kragle” from the evil Lord Business. He fails to do so, but prophesies that a person called “the Special” will find the Piece of Resistance capable of stopping the Kragle.

Eight and a half years later, a construction worker named Emmet Brickowski comes across a woman named Wyldstyle, who searches for something after hours at Emmet’s construction site. When he investigates, Emmet falls into a hole and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences vivid visions and passes out. He awakens with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back in the custody of Bad Cop, Business’ lieutenant. There, Emmet learns of Business’ plans to freeze the world with the Kragle, a tube of Krazy Glue with the label partially rubbed out. Wyldstyle rescues Emmet, believing him to be the Special, and takes him to meet Vitruvius. Emmet learns that she and the wizard are Master Builders—people capable of building anything they need without instruction manuals—who oppose Business’ attempts to suppress their creativity. Though disappointed to find Emmet is not a Master Builder, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are convinced of his potential when he recalls visions of a humanoid deity called “the Man Upstairs”.

Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius evade Bad Cop’s forces with the aid of Batman. They attend a council of Master Builders, who are unimpressed with Emmet and refuse to fight Business. Bad Cop’s forces attack and capture everyone except for Emmet and a few others. Emmet devises a team plan to infiltrate Business’ headquarters and disarm the Kragle. However, he and his allies are captured and imprisoned, and Vitruvius is killed by Lord Business, who sets his headquarters to self-destruct and leaves everyone to die. Vitruvius reveals he made up the prophecy as he dies, but soon reappears to Emmet as a ghost and tells him it is his self-belief that makes him the Special. Strapped to the self-destruct mechanism’s battery, Emmet flings himself off the edge of the universe and saves his friends. Inspired by Emmet’s sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight Business’ forces.

Emmet finds himself in the real world, where the events of the story are being played out in a basement by a boy, Finn, on his father’s Lego set. The father—revealed as “the Man Upstairs”—chastises his son for ruining the set by creating hodgepodges of different playsets, and proceeds to permanently glue his perceived perfect creations together. Realizing the danger his friends are in, Emmet wills himself to move and gains Finn’s attention. Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet now possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business. Meanwhile, Finn’s father looks at his son’s creations and realizes that Finn had based the villainous Business on him. Through a speech Emmet gives Business, Finn tells his father that he is special and has the power to change everything. Finn’s father reconciles with his son, which plays out as Business having a change of heart, capping the Kragle with the Piece of Resistance, and ungluing his victims with mineral spirits. As a result of the father allowing Finn’s younger sister to join them in playing with his Lego sets, aliens from the planet Duplo beam down and announce their plans to destroy everyone.

REVIEW:

Like most kids, especially boys, I grew up playing with Legos. I think when I finally stopped playing with them, my parents and sister’s feet were the happiest since they could finally stop stepping on them. Back then, who would have ever thought that those little toys would become a feature length motion-picture that took the box office by surprise, even earning an Oscar nod (more on that later)? I’ve been poked, prodded, coerced, and every other adjective you can possibly imagine to check this out, so let’s see what I thought about it, shall we?

What is this about?

After being mistaken for the LEGO Master Builder, ordinary mini-guy Emmet is swept up in an urgent quest to thwart the evil plans of Lord Business. Emmet’s adventures include daunting challenges and hilarious missteps in this computer-animated epic.

What did I like?

Boy, what an imagination. Watching this film, two things are sure to pop in your head. First, to create all these worlds, inventions, and effects out of Legos is impressive, even going so far as using Legos for water! More importantly, though, is the second thing that may pop in your brain. This plot seems a bit juvenile in its executions. Almost as if it were being done by a little boy playing with Legos, but we find out in the end that is exactly what it is. These filmmakers made the masterful decision of bringing a child’s imagination to the big screen, and with tremendous results!

Animation. The animation in this flick is far above what it has any right to be. I say that because there are a few Lego brand animated series on television and DVD right now and they are utter crap, but to turn around and see this and you have to be taken aback. This animation is so good that at times you totally forget you’re watching Legos! Hell, I’ll go one further and say that I wished I would’ve seen this in theaters…in 3D no less (and you know that’s saying something, coming from me!!!)

Nothing is safe. These days Lego playsets can be anything from the Batcave, to the Wild West, to Mordor, to NY City, and all points between and beyond. This film takes note of that and uses it to its advantage. We get scenes with many of the most popular sets, as well as some satirical skewering of pretty much any and everyone. Here’s the thing, though. The pop culture references made throughout the film are just enough to whet your whistle, as opposed to the complete drowning that happens in films like the Shrek franchise.

What didn’t I like?

Dark moment. This is a fun movie, full of light-hearted innocence and childlike imagination, but there is one scene that is as dark as you can get. The character Lord Business has kidnapped the parents of his security chief, Bad Cop, and is about to Kragle them, but just as he is about to he changes his mind, holds Bad Cop down, erases the Good Cop side of him, and tells Bad Cop to Kragle his own parents! I remind you this is a film aimed at kids!

Live action. For all the great animation and innovation this film shows, they decide to have an extended live-action segment at the end. I can understand having a short scene showing a kid playing with Legos. That makes sense, but this went on into some father/son issues that I felt was just unnecessary. No one is watching this film to see a father and son mend fences. We want to see Lego stuffs!

Green Lantern. One of my favorite DC superheroes is Green Lantern, so I may be a little biased in saying this, but it has to be said. WTF did they do to Green Lantern in this film?!? First off, Jonah Hill as GL? What kind of bass acwards casting is that? Second, why was he so needy? I didn’t get it? When has Green Lantern ever been looked at as needy and such? If anything, this should have been Aquaman (although if you play the game Injustice: Gods Among Us you’ll see Aquaman is no joke), Cyborg, or maybe Robin/Nightwing in some mini-plot involving Batman leaving him. I know some out there probably enjoyed this, but I was not one of them.

Who would have expected that something like The Lego Movie would be such an enjoyable film, let alone be as successful as it turned out to be? I know I didn’t, but after watching this tonight, I was pleasantly surprised. All the praise and hype that has been hoisted on this picture is well-deserved. I do wonder what it would have been like had they used stop-motion Legos as opposed to CGI, but that’s a personal preference. So, what did I think of this film? Well, there is a song in the film that will be stuck in your head once you hear it and sums up everything perfectly, “Everything is Awesome.”

5 out of 5 stars

When in Rome

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A successful and single Guggenheim art curator Beth (Kristen Bell) is at a point in her life where love seems like a luxury she just can’t afford. Years of waiting for the perfect romance have made Beth bitter. One day, she flies to Rome to attend her younger sister Joan’s (Alexis Dziena) impulsive wedding. She meets Nicholas Beamon (Josh Duhamel), who rescues her in a couple of difficult situations but is just as much of a clumsy clod as she is. They hit it off well and reach a point where both parties take an interest in the other.

Just as Beth convinces herself to believe in love again, she sees Nick kissing another woman, who turns out to be the groom’s (Luca Calvani) ‘crazy cousin’. Slightly drunk, she picks up coins (a poker chip, a rare coin, a penny, a quarter and a Euro) from the “fountain of love” (probably based on the Trevi Fountain). She later learns from Joan that legend says, if you take coins from the fountain, the owner of the coin will fall in love with you. She has to return the coins to the fountain to break the spell, but is tied up at work with an important gala that her demanding boss, Celeste (Anjelica Huston) has pressured her into taking care of.

She is pursued back to New York by a band of aggressive suitors whose coins she took, including a diminutive sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), lanky street magician Lance (Jon Heder), a doting painter (Will Arnett), and a narcissistic male model (Dax Shepard). As she falls in love with Nick, she realizes that the poker chip belongs to Nick and is convinced that Nick is merely under a spell, not truly in love with her.

Joan calls Beth on the day of the gala and informs her that the spell can also be broken by returning the coins to the original owner. Stacey (Kate Micucci), Beth’s secretary–who is highly concerned about Beth’s miserable love life–overhears the conversation and steals the coins, believing that Beth would lead a better life with people loving her, regardless of the spell.

Beth’s suitors all show up together at her apartment and she decides to break it to them that she does not love them and plans to return them the coins. After she blurts out her love for Nick to them, she realizes that Stacey has stolen the coins and goes on a mission to retrieve the coins with her suitors aiding her.

When Beth explains to Stacey that this is not the way she believes love is, Stacey returns the coins and Beth hands back the coins to their owners. Left with the poker chip, she calls Nick and thanks him for making her believe in love again. As Nick makes his way to the gala to search for Beth in a sudden lightning storm that hits New York, Beth is in a situation with Lance who plays with the poker chip by doing disappearing tricks. She accidentally hits the chip out of Lance’s hands and chases it as it rolls down three floors of the spiral gallery.

The chip is picked up by Nick, who appears to be in love with Beth still, convincing Beth that his love was true all along. However, on their wedding day in Rome, Lance reveals to Beth that he had multiple poker chips and the one Beth knocked out on the night of the lightning storm was just one of them, which proves that Nick did not break out of the spell. While exchanging wedding vows, Beth hesitates and dashes out of the building to everyone’s surprise. She revisits the fountain of love where she originally picked up the coins and climbs in like before.

Nick appears and climbs into the fountain. He claims that he didn’t throw a chip into the fountain at all. He drops the poker chip in the water and the priest is heard yelling ‘Free of temptation!’. Nick finally believes Beth and kisses her.

REVIEW:

In all the romantic comedies I’ve seen, the one thing that seems to be a constant is that they seem to forget the comedy. When in Rome does not fall into this category, though. Having said that, this thing is also heavy on the sappiness, so much so that is goes into the chick flick category.

Don’t get me wrong, the sappy love story part of this works and is the major plot point of this film, but seriously, what straight man is going to willingly want to see a film about some chick’s quest for true love, even if she is as hot as Kristen Bell? Not many, I can tell you that, especially when there are so many testosterone driven films out there that are more appealing.

That being said, this isn’t a bad film, and isn’t a typical man bashing rom-com, but instead it makes the guy seem human, which I really liked, and the girl has her own set of issues, such as not being able to find the right guy.

There are quite a few funny moments in this films, most of which involve Josh Duhamel being accident prone or some kind of situation with the 4 guys whose coins Kristen Bell has stolen.

The basic story here is quite good, although, I belive it could have been executed a bit better. There just seemed to be a disconnect somewhere between the magic of the coins and the real world. Yeah, that makes no sense to me, either. In a nutshell, it goes back and forth between being a fantasy film and having roots in the real world, without knowing which works better.

Casting was not a problem. Jon Heder, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, and Dax Shepard are great as the suitors. Each with their own quirk. Heder probably does the best, in my opinion, especially in the scene where hereunites with Efrem Ramirez (who is playing a Pedro-like character).

Kristen Bell fits this role perfectly. Her girl next door looks and natural talent make it easy to feel connected to her throughout the film, though one has to wonder why she just didn’t get the hint about the poker chip.

Josh Duhamel is a true surprise, as I had no idea he had comedy chops, but he does. Combine this with his natural charisma and it makes for a solid leading man for this film. I really felt sorry for the guy, though. The whole being struck by lightning in the middle of a football game, his accident prone ways, and the way Kristen Bell seemed to be falling for him, only to keep pushing him away, just got to me.

I don’t really know why the critics are so down on it. I swear, I think they’ve forgotten what it is like to watch a film and enjoy it for what it is, rather than critique every little thing and have a default setting of “it sucks”.

This is not a film your typical guy is going to like, unless they have a huge crush on Kristen Bell or are a fan of Josh Duhamel, because there really isn’t anything guys would like in this. Well, there is a scene where Alexis Dziena is wearing nothing but an apron, but you can’t see anything there, so it doesn’t really matter. I liked this film, but I didn’t fall in love with it. It made me laugh and I felt for th characters, which is pretty much all you ask for in a rom-com, but in the end, it was just too sappy for my taste. Still, I would recommend this as a good date flick.

4 out of 5 stars

G-Force

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film revolves around a special FBI organization of trained secret agent animals, equipped with advanced tools including an advanced earpiece that allows the mammalian members to talk to humans. In addition to a team of cockroaches, the primary field team consists of guinea pigs Darwin (Sam Rockwell) (team leader), Juarez (Penelope Cruz) (martial arts), Blaster (Tracy Morgan) (weapons/transportation), star-nosed mole Speckles (Nicolas Cage) (cyber intelligence), and fly Mooch (reconnaissance) (Dee Bradley Baker). Hoping to impress his superiors on the eve of a budgetary review, the unit’s leader, Ben (Zach Galifinakis), orders an unauthorized infiltration of the residence of home electronics and appliances magnate, Leonard Saber – Owner of Saberling Technology, who has been under FBI investigation for years. The team is able to successfully retrieve considerable sensitive information about a sinister scheme that is set to occur in 29 hours. However, when Ben’s superior arrives for his evaluation, his astonishment at the team’s capabilities and technology is overcome by his indignation at Ben’s unauthorized mission and the fact that the downloaded intelligence appears to be useless information about Saber’s coffee makers. As a result, the government agent orders the unit shut down, the equipment seized and the animals to be used as experimental subjects to be killed as security risks. With the help of their human compatriots, Darwin, Juarez, Blaster, Mooch, and Speckles escape with hopes of stopping Saber’s scheme, but find themselves in a pet carrying case bound for a pet shop.

Now trapped in the store’s pet rodent display case, G-Force meets Hurley (Jon Favreau), a gluttonous guinea pig, Bucky (Steve Buscemi) an irascible hamster and three sycophantic mice. Although Blaster and Juarez manage to get themselves sold to a family with plans to return to extract their comrades, Speckles’ own attempt to escape by playing dead ends disastrously when he is thrown into and apparently crushed in a garbage truck. Meanwhile, Mooch manages to return to Ben to tell him where his mammalian agents are, but Darwin escapes (with Hurley, who is convinced that Darwin is his brother, tagging along) before he can arrive to collect them.

While Blaster and Juarez escape their new owners to return to Ben, he and his partner discover that the discredited intel has a destructive computer function that apparently hid the scheme. At this time, Darwin and Hurley make their own way to their superior. On route, Darwin sees a Saber coffeemaker and decides to investigate it, but his examination of the machine makes it come alive as a dangerous fighting robot that he and Hurley are barely able to defeat. Now with his suspicions vindicated, Darwin and Hurley transport the wreckage to Ben. However, upon arrival, Ben has lost all confidence in his team and confesses the shattering information that they are not special genetically enhanced animals as previously told, but ordinary ones Ben took in and trained for the team. However, Hurley lifts them from their despair by reminding the team of the astounding feats he has seen them do and the fact that they obviously made themselves extraordinary on their own.

Emboldened but with little time to stop the scheme, Ben provides the field team with the means to infiltrate the Saber residence and plant a virus in the computer mainframe. Unfortunately, FBI agents are ordered to capture the animals dead or alive, forcing the team to elude them with an extended pursuit thanks to a high speed vehicle especially designed for them. After that is accomplished and the team infiltrates Saber’s mainframe, the plan is put into motion, and the resulting battle separates the group, only leaving Darwin to take the mainframe down. At the same time, Leonard Saber is shocked to discover that his appliances have become killing machines, expecting them to simply be able to effectively communicate with each other, while FBI takes advantage of this obvious pretext to finally openly move against the industrialist. When Darwin reaches the mainframe, he finds out that Speckles, whose home and family had been destroyed by humans, is the mastermind of the plan, whose masterstroke is to cause a massive planetwide bombardment of space junk pulled from orbit to make the planet surface uninhabitable. Speckles promptly amalgamates the various appliances in the vicinity into a giant walking being, which, combined with a localized bombardment of orbital debris, soon overpowers the police forces gathered at the mansion. Darwin manages to persuade Speckles that his new family is with the rest of the team and Ben, who had taken them all in. Speckles consents, and tries to shut it down, but realizes that it has gone too far. However, Darwin uses the computer virus on his PDA to take it down.

At the end of the film, the guinea pigs are personally commended by the FBI Director who also appoints them special agents of the FBI. Furthermore, G-Force is reinstated as a unit of the Bureau and expanded with Hurley, Bucky and the mice inducted as new recruits. Meanwhile, Saber makes the largest product recall in history, and Speckles is given the punitive duty of personally removing the malicious chips from all Saber products, which number in the tens of thousands.

REVIEW:

Every now and then a film comes along that really surprises the viewers, because they expected one thing and got the complete opposite. For me, G-Force falls into that category.

I fully expected this to be some sort of Beverly Hill Chihuahua but with guinea pigs acting as spies. Needless to say, finding out that the two films have nothing in common was a huge relief.

THe casting here is 50/50. How is that possible? Well, the voice casting is great, but the live actors seemed like they were paid $50 to show up for a day, shoot their scenes and go home. I felt that Bill Nighy and Zach Galifanakis were wasted. Nighy didn’t really get to do much other than…well, he didn’t really do anything. Galifianakis’ comedic talents were nowhere to be found. The same can be said with Will Arnett, but at least he is playing the douchbag character-type he usually plays. To further hurt the live cast was Kelli Garner. I know this is a kid’s movie, but if you’re going to cast a hot chick like that, then use her hotness in some way, geesh!

The effects weren’t that great. The appliances that seemed to merge into giant robots were an obvious ripoff of the Transformers franchise, only not as good. The animals, while not as blatantly fake as Scooby Doo or Garfield, just didn’t look real to me. I know that I’m usually the first one to scream that everything doesn’t have to look real, but for something like this, it is expected. Now, if we’re talking giant monsters from outer space, that’s different.

I’m a huge fan of fast-paced action, and that’s we get here. True, it is watered down, but again, this is a kid’s movie, not Die Hard, so that’s to be expected.

All in all, this is a very good movie. It has everything to please everyone from 2 to 200. There are a few things that could have been done better, but how many films can you say that they are perfect? Just the ones from the black and white era where they actually took the time to hine their craft and not slap some stuff together and sell it to the public like they do nowadays. Anyway, this is a high recommendation from me. Gather up the family and enjoy!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Monsters vs. Aliens

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is hit by a meteorite on the day of her wedding to weatherman Derek Dietl (Paul Rudd), absorbing a substance called quantonium and growing into a giantess. Alerted to the meteorite crash, the military arrive and capture Susan. She is labeled a monster, renamed “Ginormica” by the government, and sent to a top-secret prison facility headed by General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) and containing other monsters: B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a brainless, indestructible gelatinous blob; Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie), a mad scientist with the head and abilities of a cockroach; the Missing Link (Will Arnett), an amphibious fish-ape hybrid; and Insectosaurus, a colossal grub that is larger than Susan. The monsters are forbidden to have any contact with the outside world; while the other monsters have been living contentedly with this lifestyle for the past 50 years, Susan feels incredibly isolated and wishes to return to her old life.

An alien named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) detects the quantonium radiation emanating from Earth and deploys a gigantic robotic probe to find it and extract it from its source, Susan. After a botched attempt by the President of the United States (Stephen Colbert) to make first contact with the robot, it begins destroying everything in sight, resisting all conventional military force used against it. General Monger convinces the President to use the monsters to fight the robot instead. The monsters accept the mission with the promise of freedom if they succeed. Arriving in San Francisco, Susan is chased by the robot across the city to the Golden Gate Bridge, where the monsters are able to defeat the robot.

Now free, Susan returns to her hometown and introduces her family and friends to the monsters, who are quickly rejected after innocently causing a panicked ruckus in the neighborhood. Derek, meanwhile, breaks up with Susan, claiming that he can’t be married to someone who could overshadow his career. Initially devastated, Susan realizes that becoming a monster has improved her life, and fully embraces her new friends and lifestyle. Suddenly, she is abducted by Gallaxhar, who apparently kills Insectosaurus when he tries to save her. On Gallaxhar’s spaceship, Susan breaks loose and chases Gallaxhar down, only to enter a machine that extracts the quantonium from her body, shrinking her to her normal size. Gallaxhar proceeds to use the quantonium to power a machine which clones him into an army so he can invade Earth.

With assistance from General Monger, B.O.B., Dr. Cockroach, and the Missing Link infiltrate Gallaxhar’s spaceship, rescue Susan, and hot-wire the spaceship’s power core, activating the spaceship’s self-destruct sequence. However, during their escape attempt, Susan is cut off from her friends, who are trapped in the power core and tell her to save herself. Instead, Susan confronts Gallaxhar, who tries to escape with the quantonium, and attempts to force him into releasing her friends. When Gallaxhar says he cannot reverse the sequence, Susan takes the quantonium back and absorbs it, restoring her to her gargantuan size and allowing her to save her friends. The monsters leap out of the exploding spaceship and are rescued by General Monger on the back of the revived Insectosaurus, who had sealed his body in a cocoon and transformed into a giant butterfly.

The monsters receive a hero’s welcome upon their return. Derek attempts to get back with Susan for the sake of interviewing her, which could benefit his career; instead, Susan rejects him and forces him to endure the humiliation of being thrown into the air and caught, swallowed and spit out by B.O.B. on camera. At that moment, the monsters are alerted to a monster attack near Paris and fly off to face the new menace.

REVIEW:

When I first heard about this movie I was as giddy as a school girl about it. The thought of classic monsters from the 50s taking on an alien invasion is a dream matchup equivalent to Ali-Frazier, but after I watched this I was a little disappointed. Not that it wasn’t a great movie, but the fact that it was set in modern-day kind of deadens the effect.

The 50s would have made the perfect backdrop for this, and wouldn’t have changed any parts of the plot except for the laptop at the very beginning. It just seems to be that this should have occurred in a time when everyone was paranoid about monsters and aliens, as opposed to everything but them, as they are these days, but maybe that’s just me

As I said before, this is by no stretch of the imagination a bad film. As a matter of fact, it’s really good.

Reese Witherspoon is all happy on her wedding day, then as she’s outside crying she get’s hit by a meteorite. Fast forward a few minutes and she’s at the alter about to say I do, then she suddenly starts glowing and then goes through a growth spurt. Strangely enough he hair turns white…don’t ask me how growing to 50 ft makes your hair turn from brown to white, but apparently it does. Personally, I think it was an upgrade.

The military shows up tags and bags her, so to speak, detains, debrief, and whatever else they do when they want to cover stuff up. Next thing we know she’s in this cell thinking she’s laying next to her supposed-to-be husband Derek. We go through the whole sequence of her meeting all the principal characters of the film here, General W.R. Monger, Dr. Cockroach, B.O.B., The Missing Link, and Insectosaurus.

Fast forward a bit and enter the villain, Gallaxhar, who wants the power of the meteorite that hit Susan. So, he sends out a giant probe to extract her. The thing lands in California. As one reporter puts it, “aliens only land in America.”[sic]  There is a big to do about the probe and the President of the U.S. (ironically and hilariously voiced by Stephen Colbert) attempts to make first contact. This doesn’t work and seems to do nothing more than activate the thing. Soon we see the President and his generals in sort of war room, when General Monger suggests he let the monsters handle it.

The monsters are…unleashed…for lack of a better term on San Francisco to stop the thing. THe fight tears up most of the city and spills out into the Golden Gate Bridge, where Susan realizes her full potential and takes control of the situation, ultimately defeating the probe, but not without destroying the bridge.

After some dramatic, heart warming fuzzy scene, Susan is abducted by Gallaxhar who extracts the quantonium from her, causing her to shrink back to her original size (at least she keeps her white hair) and informs her of his plan to take over Earth and eventually destroy it as he did his own.

The other monsters come to Susan’s rescue and help her to initiate the self-destruct sequence. In a final confrontation with Gallaxhar, Susan in nearly beaten, but then gets the quantonium back and becomes Ginormica again, totally saving the day.

Voice casting here is brilliant. EAch character seemed tailor-made for their voice actor. Keifer Sutherland is unrecognizable as General Monger until you see his name in the credits, and I’ve already mentioned Stephen Colbert as the president.

The action is what you would expect from your typical sci-fi genre flick. A city gets destroyed, ships blow up, the world is in danger, the usual.

I didn’t care for the dramatic mid section, but I suppose you had to have a calm before the storm, as it led to Susan getting captured. I also wasn’t a fan of the design of Derek. He looks like they animators just took a model from Happily N’Ever After put a suit on him, changed his air, and stuck him in Modesto, CA as a weatherman. That’s just a minor complaint, if you can even call it that.

I had high expectations for this picture. It didn’t live up to the standards I set for it, but that doesn’t mean I still didn’t enjoy it. How could you not? The film has everything except for transforming robots, and actually, the probes kind of fit that bill. Again, I think it would worked better had it been set in a different era. Still, anyone can watch and enjoy this, and not have to think too hard about it. Those born after 1985, may not get the keyboard scene, though. Only those of us older viewers will know those songs.

4 out of 5 stars