Archive for William Fichtner

Independence Day: Resurgence

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

We always knew they were coming back. After INDEPENDENCE DAY redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global catastrophe on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.

What people are saying:

“With its flat characters and a bland, retreaded narrative, Independence Day: Resurgence makes for a banal and instantly-forgettable sequel that can’t even live up to the decent spectacle of the original.” 2 1/2 stars

“Ouch. An insult to the original. And to make matters worse, it’s horrifying when a movie feels the need to explain itself so early and so often. It couldn’t be just another Independence Day — that would’ve been bearable — they had to try and be different…and failed. Horribly.” 1 1/2 stars

“A worthy sequel with some over the top special effects. It may not be as well received for fans of the first one, but this is definitely worth a watch.” 3 stars

“Independence Day: Resurgence proves that visual effects cannot hide the script from monotone and stupid characters and a confusing nonsensical plot. Worse, it proves Roland Emmerich has little to no clue what made the original fun in the first place” 1 1/2 stars

“The Resurgence blueprint calls for a scene in which characters have human, allegedly humorous and/or touching moments; a scene in which characters plot strategy against the aliens; and a big action sequence in which it’s often difficult to tell the difference between the good-guy spaceships and the bad-guy spaceships. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat” 1 1/2 stars

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Armageddon

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

As a massive asteroid hurtles toward Earth, NASA’s head honcho hatches a plan to split the deadly rock in two before it annihilates the entire planet, calling on the world’s finest oil driller to head up the mission.

What people are saying:

“Just when you think you’ve had it with this movie, there comes a farcical, rock ‘n’ roll sort of comedy sequence, or a hilariously goofy line.” 3 stars

“Yes, it’s big. It’s stupid. It’s also completely kick butt. A true adventure film, Armageddon takes you by the throat and won’t let go. For as silly as the script seems, I dare you not to be on the edge of your seat during the tense moments or touched by the admittedly sappy sentimentalism later in the flick. There are too many moments here that are full of sheer joy not to watch this again.” 5 stars

“Now I love movies, I really enjoy action movies, but this….Oh my! This IS one of the worst movies of all times. Mindbogglingly dumb, full of cliches and a meaningless ending. Why so many people adore this waste of time and money, I’ll never understand.
A typical Bay-affair. Still waiting for him to just release a movie with 90 minutes of just explosions!” 1/2 star

“Yeah, gotta go with five stars for this one. Yes, it unashamedly goes for the heartstrings, yes the song is cornball, and yes, it’s full of cliches and REALLY bad science. It’s also action-packed, full of humor, loads of fun, and if you don’t cry at the end, you’re probably not human. This one and Twister are my two favorite cornball ‘disaster’ movies.” 5 stars

“NASA decides to recruit and train a courageous group of drillers to save Earth from a large asteroid. A List movie stars-Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, and a great movie soundtrack “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. Despite the movie having a very serious plot, some characters provide comic relief including Rockhound, Bear, Lev Andropov, and Oscar Choi. One subplot is the conflict between Harry, Harry’s daughter Grace, and AJ (Grace’s boyfriend) which eventually gets resolved. This movie has great footage of NASA’s spacesuits, equipment, rigorous training facilities/program, control center, and space shuttles. It also has superb special effects of the smaller asteroids striking Earth, the team traveling through space to land on the asteroid, and the team on the asteroid. Once arriving in space, the team appears jinxed facing one unexpected challenge or tragedy after the next leading to the courageous climax of the movie that will make viewers cry. This movie has a strong plot and subplot, excellent character choices, is well written to touch the heart and emotions of viewers, and has amazing special effects making you feel like you are there with the team. Most people would not have enough courage to do what this team did in outer space to save Earth.” 5 stars

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

Go

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The story takes place involving three different people who all work together in the same supermarket over the 24 hour period leading up to Christmas. Ronna (Sarah Polley) is broke and about to be evicted from her apartment. Despite having worked for 14 hours, she agrees to take her British co-worker Simon’s (Desmond Askew) shift. While working, she’s approached by two men, Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr), who ask if she can come up with 20 hits of ecstasy, which they were hoping to buy from Simon. Realizing she can make some money from the deal, she goes to Simon’s dealer Todd Gaines (Timothy Olyphant). Because she doesn’t have enough money, Ronna has to leave her friend and co-worker Claire (Katie Holmes) with Todd until she makes her deal. Once she tries to make the deal, she grows suspicious when Burke (William Fichtner), a person she never met before and who is with Adam and Zack, presses her for the drugs. In a panic, she flushes the drugs down the toilet and manages to get out. Ronna then swaps the pills she flushed with aspirin pills she steals with the help of Mannie (Nathan Bexton), Ronna and Claire’s friend (and also co-worker in the supermarket), who had swallowed two of the pills without knowing their strength. Ronna hands off the pills to Todd and she, Claire and Mannie make their way to a rave party. Todd soon realizes that he’s been given fake pills and goes after Ronna. Mannie sees Todd coming and Ronna hides Mannie when he starts to become sick. In the parking lot of the party Todd confronts Ronna, but before he can shoot her a car runs her over and dumps her off the side of a small cliff, leaving her fate unknown.

The story then flashes back to Simon, who is going to Las Vegas with his three friends Marcus (Taye Diggs), Tiny (Breckin Meyer), and Singh (James Duval). Singh and Tiny get food poisoning from shrimp, leaving Simon and Marcus to their own devices. Simon crashes a wedding and has sex with two of the bridesmaids before their room accidentally catches fire. Marcus and Simon leave the hotel, getting into the car of someone who thought Marcus was a parking attendant. In the car, Simon finds a 9mm gun and begins playing with it, but terrifies Marcus since, being British, he doesn’t know how to handle firearms. Marcus and Simon go to The Crazy Horse, a strip club, where Simon first orders a lap dance (using Todd’s credit card as security for payment), then enrages the bouncer Victor Jr. (Jimmy Shubert) when he grabs one of the strippers. Simon shoots Victor Jr. in the arm and he and Marcus flee. Knowing that they don’t have much time, Marcus and Simon make their way back to the hotel (after the owner of the car they were in activates an alarm, preventing them from using it) and with Singh and Tiny barely make their escape from the bouncer and the bouncer’s father, Victor Sr. (J. E. Freeman), the owner of the club. However, Simon forgot that he left Todd’s credit card at the club, which Victor Sr. uses to track down where Todd lives.

The story flashes back a third time, this time focusing on Adam and Zack. They are actors in a daytime soap opera, and are secretly gay and in a relationship. Because of a small drug deal they got caught in, they agree to work for Burke, a police detective. Adam is fitted with a wire. Finding out that Simon, their usual dealer, isn’t there, they improvise and convince Ronna to come up with the drugs. When Ronna shows up, Zack whispers “Go” into Ronna’s ear, which is when she decides to go to the bathroom to flush the pills away. After the unsuccessful bust, Burke invites Adam and Zack to a Christmas dinner his wife is making. At Burke’s house, Adam and Zack observe strange behavior from Burke (who, completely naked, shows off his bed to Zack) and Burke’s wife Irene (Jane Krakowski) (who tries to come on to Adam in the kitchen). Burke then make a pitch for his company, an Amway-type company (which Burke vigorously denies is anything like Amway). Adam and Zack then leave and when they start talking about each of them cheating on the other with the same person, Jimmy, they both decide to confront Jimmy who is at the rave party. Having cut off Jimmy’s hair, the two leave and accidentally run over Ronna, speeding off when they see Todd’s gun. In a gas station, Adam realizes he is still wearing his wire. Fearing that they may be found out for running a woman over, they drive back and eventually find Ronna still alive. They prop her up on a car and set the car alarm off, watching from a distance as other party-goers call for an ambulance.

Claire goes to a restaurant where she hoped to meet up with Mannie and Ronna and sees Todd instead. Claire starts talking to Todd and the two soon go back to Todd’s apartment building. While making out on the stairs, they are confronted by Victor Jr. and Sr. Todd offers Simon’s address, but Simon walks in just then, having hoped to hide out for a few days. As a form of ‘justice’, Victor Sr. orders his son to shoot Simon in the arm. Disgusted, Claire walks out, hears a gunshot, then Simon yell, “It’s alright, I’m okay”! Ronna wakes up in the hospital and hobbles back to the supermarket, where Claire is also working. Realizing she left Mannie behind, Ronna and Claire go back to the parking lot of the rave party where they find a pale and shaken Mannie. The three of them go to Ronna’s car, with Ronna musing that she has at least enough money to pay her rent, and Mannie asking what they’ll be doing for New Year’s.

REVIEW:

One day I was looking up films that would be considered quintessential 90s nostalgia. The usual suspects were on there including Clueless, Empire Records, Mallrats, etc., but a film that I had not seen or heard of, Go, made the list and ever since then, I’ve been curious. Let’s have a little look at this flick, shall we?

What is this about?

In director Doug Liman’s fast-paced follow-up to Swingers, events conspire to bring together — in unexpected ways — a disparate group of characters as a day in their intertwining Gen-X lives plays out

What did I like?

School of Tarantino. With the intertwining stories and the way they are presented, it is very easy to see the similarities between this and Quentin Tarnatino’s masterpiece, Pulp Fiction. To some degree, you could even say that this is a teen/young adult version of that same film. I’m not so sure I would go that far, but I can see the correlation. The comparison aside, this is perhaps one of the best homages, whether it was on purpose or not, to the work of Tarantino.

Rave on. In my *COUGH* younger days *COUGH*, I made my way to a few raves. In the 90s, it seems as if any chance you could get to put a rave into film, it was done. The best example is the opening scene of Blade, of course, but this weird “Marry Christmas” rave was a bit interesting, to say the least. These are young people, so it makes sense to show what young people do, rather than having them sit at school or work waxing philosophic.

Before Tom. This may seem like forever and day for some, if not all, of us, but there was a time when Katie Holmes was a cute, sweet, and innocent young actress with nothing but her future ahead of her. That was before she met Tom Cruise and everything crashed and burned. I am amazed to watch her in at this young age, because it is quite obvious that the girl has talent, but her proverbial candle was nearly doused by the shroud of Cruise and nutjob religion. For most of the film, she seems like a secondary character, but the last act she gets to show off some chops and boy does she shine. It is almost as if she is too good for this little black comedy.

What didn’t I like?

Polly want a cracker? It is odd that the first segment of this film, which is also the segment that is the plot of the film, if you think about, is the weakest of the three. Sarah Polley does not come off as a strong actress to me, or a headstrong, rebellious teenager. Rather, she exudes “why am I here”, which is good for when she’s working as a clerk, but for the rest of the film, it just didn’t work for me. Also, there were too many questions left unanswered, such as why was the British guy selling drugs? How does she know Timothy Olyphant’s character? Who are these two guys that randomly came into the store (which gets answered later in the film). Maybe I was just expecting too much, though.

Hitman. One of the general consensus around is that Timothy Olyphant is one of the most underrated actors. Looking at his body of work, it isn’t hard to see why people think so. Sure he does some goofy stuff, then he’ll turn around and do something more on the serious side, like his character here. Being that this is early in his career, I really can’t fault him for taking the part, but it is so obvious that he is above this sort of role. Making it worse is that mostly all he did was sit in the apartment with his shirt off. Who wants to see that?!?

Just go with it. During the last segment, we learn that the two guys who came into the store are actors who are in a homosexual relationship. This is further hinted at when Jay Mohr’s character encounters William Fichtner butt naked. Here’s the thing, though. At the time this was made, gay story lines weren’t as readily accepted as they are now. I give props for showing a guy on guy kiss, but I feel as if they wanted to go further and deeper with this storyline. I wish they would have. Well, the same goes for all the plots, truthfully.

In conclusion, Go is actually a halfway decent film. The second segment had me cracking up and wanting more of the interaction among the guys, and perhaps even more of Taye Diggs. The rest of the film is hit or miss and not really worth talking about, other than just about everyone from this flick went on to bigger and better things. Do I recommend it? No, but if you come across it while flipping through the channels one day, it won’t hurt if you decide to check it out.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At a sideshow in a San Francisco fair in 1933, a boy, Will, who idolizes a legend known as the Lone Ranger, encounters Tonto, an elderly Comanche Native American, who proceeds to recount his experiences with that Old West adventurer.

In 1869 Colby, Texas, lawyer John Reid returns home via the uncompleted Transcontinental Railroad, managed by railroad tycoon Latham Cole. Unknown to Reid, the train is also carrying Tonto and outlaw Butch Cavendish, who is being transported for his hanging after being captured by Dan Reid, John’s Texas Ranger brother. Cavendish’s gang rescues Butch and derails the train. Tonto is subsequently jailed. Dan deputizes John as a Texas Ranger, and with six others they go after the Cavendish gang.

Cavendish’s men ambush and kill their pursuers in a canyon and Cavendish cuts out and eats Dan’s heart. Tonto, who has escaped from jail, comes across the dead men and buries them. However, a white spirit horse awakens John as a “spirit walker,” and Tonto explains John cannot be killed in battle. Tonto also tells him Collins, one of the Rangers, betrayed Dan and is working with Cavendish, whom Tonto believes is a “wendigo.” As John is thought to be dead, he wears a mask to protect his identity from enemies. Tonto gives John a silver bullet made from the fallen Rangers’ badges and tells him to use it on Cavendish.

At a brothel Collins recently visited, Red Harrington informs them about Dan and Collins’ fight over a cursed silver rock. Meanwhile, Cavendish’s men, disguised as Comanches, raid frontier settlements. John and Tonto arrive after raiders abduct Dan’s widow and son, Rebecca and Danny. Regretting his earlier actions, Collins attempts to help Rebecca and Danny escape but is shot dead by Cole, who rescues them. Claiming the raiders are hostile Comanches, Cole announces the continued construction of the railroad and dispatches United States Cavalry Captain Jay Fuller to exterminate the Comanche.

A Comanche tribe captures John and Tonto soon after the pair finds railroad tracks in Indian territory. The tribe leader tells John of Tonto’s past: As a boy, Tonto had rescued Cavendish and another man from near-death and showed them the location of a silver mine, in exchange for a pocket watch. The men murdered the tribe to keep the mine a secret, leaving Tonto with great guilt.

Tonto and John escape as the cavalry attack the Comanche. At the silver mine, they capture Cavendish. Tonto demands that John use the silver bullet to kill Cavendish, but John refuses. Tonto attempts to kill Cavendish, but John knocks him unconscious and brings in Cavendish alive. Upon returning Cavendish to Cole and Fuller’s custody, Cole is revealed to be Cavendish’s partner. Fearing that if his actions are publicly revealed he’ll be charged as a war criminal, Fuller sides with Cole. Rebecca is held hostage, and John is taken back to the silver mine to be executed. However, Tonto rescues him and the two flee as the Comanche attack and are massacred by the cavalry. Realizing that Cole is too powerful to be taken down lawfully, John dons the mask again.

At the site of the union of the Transcontinental Railroad with two trains, Cole reveals his true plan: to take complete control of the railroad company and use the mined silver to gain more power. John and Tonto steal nitroglycerin and use it to destroy a railroad bridge. With Red’s help, Tonto steals the train with the silver and speeds it in reverse, and Cole, Cavendish, and Fuller pursue him in the second train on which Rebecca and Dan Jr. are being held captive. Riding Silver, John pursues both trains. After a furious chase and fights on both trains, both Cavendish and Fuller are killed, Rebecca and Dan Jr. are rescued and Cole dies buried beneath the silver ore after the train plunges off the severed bridge and into the river below.

The town and railroad enterprise recognize John (whose identity is still unknown to them) as a hero and offer him a law-enforcement position. John declines and accepts his new life as the Lone Ranger, and he and Tonto ride off. Back in 1933, Will questions the truth of the tale. Tonto gives him a silver bullet and tells him to decide for himself.

REVIEW:

A few years ago, I reviewed The Lone Rangera film that was a continuation of the TV series. Today, we see how well that character has withstood the test of time with the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger. Let’s not beat around the bush. This film had its fair share of setback before it even made it into production and then it got blasted by fans and critics, but was their vitriol warranted?

What is this about?

In this reboot of the 1950s television series, Native American warrior Tonto rescues wounded lawman John Reid and restores him to health, thus creating an often-contentious but effective partnership as they attempt to rid the Old West of corruption.

What did I like?

Origin. Unlike superhero films where the origin takes forever to be told, this film manages to basically inform us in the span of maybe 5-10 minutes. Granted, if there was a sequel, I’m sure Armie Hammer would be more comfortable in his role as the masked man, but for what its worth, he does a really good job with filling his predecessors shoes. Being only vaguely familiar with the classic TV series, I can’t tell you if any liberties were taken, but I can say that the spirit walker angle they took was a nice touch.

Villains. The villains are not only believable, but the one played by William Fichtner is almost scary, especially with the whole heart eating angle. On the one hand we have the corporate face of the railroad, who we don’t find out it a villain until a little bit later in the film. You know the type, he has everyone fooled until the truth is brought to light. Then, we have Fichtner’s character who is the most dirty, vile and evil being in the film. He has the look of an old west villain and his mannerisms fit perfectly into the setting. As far as his actions go, well, he eats hearts. Need I say more?

Catch that train! The train sequence that serves as this film’s climax is the best scene in the film. With the nonstop action, gunplay, explosion, and stunts, this scene manages to bring together. I was taken back to those old train robbery westerns watching this scene and wondered why most of the film wasn’t more of this instead of trying to tell some dramatic story.

What didn’t I like?

Length. It is well documented for disdain for lengthy films, especially when they make you feel like they are long. This is one of those that was pretty long and I’m not really sure why. The middle section really could have been taken out, if you ask me. The reason they decided to bring in a rather lengthy section that tore down Tonto and, as is commonplace in today’s films, left our hero doubting himself. Outside of the Tonto origin, there was really no reason for this and probably about another 30-45 minutes.

Depp. I have two complaints about Johnny Depp. First, the guy is very talented. We all can agree on that, but 1/16 Cherokee or whatever percentage of Native American he is doesn’t make up for the fact that Tonto should have been played by a Native American actor.  Also, what was up with the white face paint? Realizing that Depp is the name is fine, but come on, they could have cast him as another character and used an actual Native American to play Tonto. Speaking of him playing other roles, perhaps he should have been cast as the Lone Ranger because he was more the star than Armie Hammer was. It was so much that it made you wonder why this wasn’t just called Tonto.

Tone. This film has issues with the tone it wants to keep. In one scene there is a shootout that results in a guy eating a heart and then a little later we have a horse in a tree. It leaves the audience confused as to what they’re watching. Personally, I think the lighter tone works as the Lone Ranger is not a dark character, but the violent stuff works for the western aspect of this character. I just with the filmmakers would have taken the time to find a better balance with the tone, rather than making random shifts.

When you hear Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”, then you pretty much can be assured that there is a masked man coming to save the day, you’re watching “The Band Concert” with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, or you’re attending a band/orchestra concert. Thankfully, they left that theme in here, even it did go on a bit long at the end. That is what plagues The Lone Ranger more than anything. It takes one step forward and two steps back. I’m still trying to figure out what I think about old Tonto at the sideshow talking to this random kid. Final verdict on this film though is that it tries valiantly, but it just isn’t good enough. Having said that, it is nowhere near as bad as everyone would have you believe. With all its issues, this film is still a fun ride, and you should at least give it a shot.

3  1/4 out of 5 stars

Elysium

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2154, two classes of people exist: the wealthy, who live on a luxurious space station called Elysium, and the poor who live on an overpopulated, devastated Earth. While residents on Earth are policed by ruthless robots, Elysium’s citizens live in comfort and regularly use bed-sized medical devices called Med-Bays to keep them free of disease and injury.

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car thief and parolee, lives in the ruins of Los Angeles and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, the military company that supplies arms and weapons to Elysium, and creates the robots that police Earth. An accident at the plant exposes Max to a lethal dose of radiation, giving him only five days to live. Meanwhile, when a caravan of illegal immigrants from Earth attempts to reach Elysium and its Med-Bays, Elysian Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) orders a sleeper agent, Kruger (Sharlto Copley), to shoot down the shuttles. Elysian President Patel (Faran Tahir) reprimands her and dismisses Kruger from service. Delacourt, vowing to protect Elysium and her own power, bargains with Armadyne CEO John Carlyle (William Fichtner) to write a program that can override Elysium’s central computer and make her President. Carlyle creates the program in his office on Earth and uploads it to his brain for safekeeping, encrypting it with a lethal denial system.

Max, knowing his only chance for survival is a Med-Bay, seeks help from notorious smuggler Spider (Wagner Moura), with the assistance of his friend Julio (Diego Luna). Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he helps him steal valuable financial information from Carlyle. Recognizing Max’s weakened condition, Spider has his doctors implant Max with a powered exoskeleton, giving him superhuman strength, as well as a brain implant that can store data. Max, Julio and a team of Spider’s men intercept Carlyle’s ship, and Max downloads the data (including the program) to his brain. However, due to the encryption, the information appears unusable. Delacourt secretly deploys Kruger to rescue Carlyle and recover the program. In the ensuing firefight, nearly all of Max’s allies are killed, Carlyle is mortally wounded, and an injured Max retreats to the house of Frey (Alice Braga), a childhood friend whose daughter, Matilda, has leukemia. After learning that Max intends to smuggle himself to Elysium, Frey begs him to take Matilda with him so that she can be cured, but Max refuses. With Max on the run, Delacourt orders an airspace lockdown over Los Angeles to buy her enough time to recover Carlyle’s program.

When Max returns to Spider to collect his reward, Spider deciphers Carlyle’s program and realizes it can be used to make all of Earth’s residents legal citizens of Elysium. However, the airspace lockdown prevents Spider from launching a ship for Max. Instead, Max bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, not knowing Kruger has Frey and Matilda held hostage. With the lockdown lifted, Kruger’s ship departs for Elysium. A scuffle ensues, resulting in Kruger losing most of his face to a grenade blast and causing the ship to crash land on Elysium. Max, Frey and Matilda are arrested and taken to Delacourt, who has a team prepare to download the data from Max’s brain, while Kruger’s men take their severely disfigured leader to the Armory. The extraction team discovers the encryption mechanism Carlyle has used, and that downloading the data will kill Max. Delacourt coolly consents, and heads off to find Kruger’s team.

Kruger is placed into a Med-Bay, which reconstructs his destroyed face. Delacourt chastises Kruger’s recklessness, but Kruger kills Delacourt, planning to steal the program for himself and rule Elysium. Kruger has his men install a superior military-grade version of Max’s exoskeleton onto himself, and rampages through Elysium looking for Max. At the same time, Kruger’s men kill most of the leaders of Elysium. Meanwhile, Max escapes from his confinement and frees Frey and Matilda. Realizing that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens, Max resolves to use Carlyle’s program to make everyone a citizen. He frees Frey and Matilda and sends them to the surface to find a Med-Bay, then meets with Spider to head for the main computer core. However, they are ambushed by Kruger. During the fight, Max tears the interface that connects Kruger’s brain to his exoskeleton directly out of his skull. Defiantly, Kruger tethers himself to Max’s suit and arms a grenade with the intent of killing both himself and Max, but Max rips the tether off, damaging his own suit, and hurls Kruger over a ledge to his death.

Spider and Max reach Elysium’s main data center where Spider realizes that activating the program will kill Max. Max speaks with Frey one last time over a radio, then activates the program himself. As he dies, the computer core is rebooted, registering every Earth resident as a citizen of Elysium. President Patel, who has just broken in to the computer core with a security team, finds his orders to arrest Spider refused, as the robotic guards now recognize Spider as a citizen. A Med-Bay cures Matilda and, since a massive number of new citizens on Earth are now recognized by Elysium’s main computer as being in need of medical treatment, a fleet of medical ships are automatically dispatched to Earth to begin their work

REVIEW:

Ever wonder what it would be like if the government kept bending over backwards for the 1% and just leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves, so to speak? Watch Elysium and you may get a glimpse into the bleak future. I don’t want to turn this into anything political, though, so I’ll do my best to keep my opinions to myself.

What is this about?

In this dystopian thriller set in 2159, the wealthiest humans move to a fabulous private space station, while life on Earth grows ever more grim. With no other options, an ex-con agrees to join a risky mission to bring balance to the two worlds.

What did I like?

Practicality. Film after film that is released year after year seem to be relying more and more on special effects. Sometimes this is nice, but for the most part one longs for some realistic, practical effects the way sci-fi was in the heyday of the late 70s and 80s (though I wouldn’t mind the cheese factor of the 50s and 60s, either). This director gets what the people want, as his films don’t rely on special effects. Truthfully, the CG is very limited, and I applaud that.

Social commentary. As one of my fellow pseudo-critics put it, the best sci-fi tends to stem from the writer’s view on social issues. If you take the time to think about it, that is true. This film takes healthcare and how there is a split among the classes, so much so that the 1% has left Earth! The fact that this filmmaker had the balls to tackle this subject is a stroke of genius in my eyes, and hopefully it opens some eyes to a topic that needs to be discussed.

Murdock. I have to tip my hat to Sharlto Copley. This is a guy who normally plays skinny, nice guys, and its is something he is good at doing. However, he managed to shed all that with this character, a mercenary-type guy who cares only about following orders and getting the job done. Let’s not mention how imposing the guy looks. Yes, he’s still skinny, but he’s a little more buff. The change in appearance and this well written character made for an impressive villain. Just wait until you see his throw down with Matt Damon’s character!

What didn’t I like?

French tickle. So, if you go by what this film tells us, speaking Spanish or being of Hispanic descent makes you poor and worthless, but if you’re somewhat French, then that means you’re rich and elite, by default. Ok, I exaggerate, but that is the way this film portrays the people. Everyone on Elysium speaks (not very well) with some kind of French accent/dialogue. Down on Earth, it is like Mexico has taken over the Earth. All the residents seem to be Hispanic, except for Matt Damon, his boss, and a few extras in the factory.

Accentuate. Of course, we have to have an evil mastermind behind everything. In this case, that person is a female politician played by Jodie Foster. Not a fan of this bitch of a character, but that is the way it is supposed to be. My qualm is with the way she portrayed this person. As I just mentioned, all of Elysium seems to have this weird French dialect, and she just can’t seem to get it. I almost want to say she went into dialect classes and stopped after a few weeks. The basics are there, but they everything hasn’t been learned. As far as Foster’s performance is concerned, this is a very generic character. She did a good job, but just about any competent actress could have done the same or better.

Earth. You know, for a sci-fi film that has the name of the utopian space station, for lack of a better term, Elysium in the title, there isn’t much time spent up there. At first I didn’t notice it, but as I was sitting here thinking and reflecting about what I just saw, I realized it. Now, the time on Earth isn’t wasted since they use it to develop characters, set up the story, and eventually make their way up to Elysium, but I just felt there should have been more time spent showing how great it was, rather than exploring how crappy Earth looks. We’ve seen this dystopian Earth in just about film set in the future, so give us something else, please!

In a world full of sequels, remakes, and unoriginality, Elysium was something much needed. It was nice to get a film that has a message, but doesn’t beat you over the head with it and is enjoyable. This is by no means a perfect film, but it is one that cane be enjoyed by most. I highly recommend it, so give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars