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July 30th, 2014 Movie – The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002)

count of monte cristo 2002Tonight is the premier of Sharknado 2: The Second One so I figured I would go ahead and review the first Sharknado. Huh? “…” What do you mean I can’t do that? “…” Look, it’s my blog and I can jump ahead if I want to. “…” Well, why not? “…” But I want to review it now, “…” Fine, fine. Stop guilting me with my own conscience of what’s right. Sorry about that folks. Like I said, today’s movie is the latest film adaptation of the classic piece of literature, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

The plot: During the course of a voyage, Edmond Dantes makes a stop on Elba Island to seek medical aid for his ailing Captain. While on the island, he is asked by Napoleon to deliver a letter to an old comrade of his. Upon his arrival back home, he is betrayed by his former first mate and his friend and arrested for treason. After spending 13 years imprisoned on the island prison of Chateau d’If, Dantes manages to escape with the help of a former priest. Plotting revenge on the ones who had him imprisoned, Dantes finds a long lost treasure and uses his new found wealth to become a Count and obtain his revenge.

I will admit that I have not read this book yet. I have read 2 other novels by Dumas, The Three Musketeers and The Man In The Iron Mask, and enjoyed both of those books so I am sure I would enjoy this one as well (right now I am sure one or more of my friends are telling me I should drink). The thing is, I always like to read the books that movies are based on just so I can . Now I am not going to get into that debate on which is better, the book or the movie. That debate has been going on for years and will most likely be going on for more years to come. It is all a matter of personal opinion.

Now since I haven’t read the book, I can’t say how closely this followed the actual story so let’s just focus on the movie itself. I liked this movie. There was plenty of drama and action in it to hold most people’s interest, plus some comedic spots that were rather funny. Jim Caviezel was pretty good in his role as Edmond Dantes, playing off both his despair at his imprisonment plus his rage at those that did him wrong. Guy Pearce was great, absolutely nailing the role of a spoiled, rich kid. I also liked Luiz Guzman’s character because he added some comedy to almost every scene he was in.

So if you want to get an idea on what some classic literature is like, go read the book. But if you don’t feel like reading (and honestly, who doesn’t like reading?), then watch this movie so you can get a feel for how the book is.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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July 29th, 2014 Movie – Cosmos: War Of The Planets

cosmos war of the planetsUgh. My head is killing me. I really don’t want to have to think to much today. I hope today’s movie doesn’t require much thought. Let’s see…Cosmos: War Of The Planets. Ah crap. It’s in the Sci-Fi Classics collection. Well, I have a 50/50 chance on whether this will require my full attention or not.

The plot: A strange signal is disrupting all communications on Earth at the same time as a UFO is spotted over the Antarctic. Captain Alex Hamilton and his crew are sent outside the solar system to find the source of the signal. The discover an unknown planet where a giant robot has enslaved the population by stealing their psychic energies. With the robot setting it’s sight on Earth, can Captain Hamilton and his crew stop it and save the Earth?

I do like these classic B sci-fi movies from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. It’s always neat to see how they handle the limited budgets these films usually had. Some films are able to make a decent film with the small budget they are given, others….not so much. Another thing that you can sometimes see in these films is an idea that is used in future films. It might not even be a major plot point. Sometimes just a simple scene or even a line could be stuck in the memory of a future director or writer who will use it in his blockbuster film 20 or 30 years later.

I have to say, that I was pleasantly surprised with this film. Yes, it was campy. The acting was laughable at times and the plot kind of jumped around at times. The costumes were silly, in fact, they almost looked like Devo except silver instead of black. The giant robot really did look like a kids toy at times. But you did have a rebellious captain, ala James Kirk, which tends to make for a heroic action figure. The sets themselves were pretty good as well and the plot itself was somewhat unique and able to get you invested in the movie.  My favorite bit was the “simulated sex computer” that was used in the movie. I thought it was funny because a similar idea was used in Demolition Man, 16 years later.

All in all, in spite of it’s low budget, this was a pretty solid sci-fi- movie and well worth giving it a viewing at least once.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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July 28th, 2014 Movie – The Convent

the conventWow. I’ve been on quite the comic movie kick for the past few days. Maybe I should switch to something different. Hmmm. The Convent. Sounds like a nice wholesome movie. Let’s see….Demon possessed nuns, virgin sacrifices, zombies, devil worshiping idiots. Yep, completely wholesome. Let’s watch.

The plot: In 1960, a teenager named Christine goes on a killing spree and kills all of the nuns and priests in the local convent. 40 years later, the convent is an abandoned building full of rumors as to what happened and why. A group of college kids break into the convent during a pledge prank to try and defile the bell tower. However, when a group of devil worshipers use one of the kids as a virgin sacrifice, a horde of demons are unleashed. Now Clorissa must team up with a grown up Christie to deal with the demons once and for all.

The problem with horror movies is that it is very hard to have an original idea for a horror movie. Serial killers, zombies, monsters, vampires, giant mutated animals; all of these have been used in one movie or another. The best that directors/producers/writers can hope for is to try and do something unique with an existing theme. They need to do something that will make their film stand out from similar movies. Let’s face it. Hollywood is the ultimate popularity contest.

Now I personally found this movie to be more funny than scary. I’m not saying that there isn’t any blood or gore or anything that you would expect to see in a horror movie because those things are here. This movie reminded me a little of The Evil Dead with how the demons come about and act. But everything is so over the top ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh. The demon possessed kids/zombies are all twitchy once they become possessed. I mean full on, rapid head shaking twitchy. Some of the various deaths are so over the top, that you can’t help but laugh. The scenes with the two male devil worshipers are also funny as their characters are so ridiculous in their quest to summon a demon.

So if you are bored and want to watch a movie with a slightly new twist on an old theme, you might want to watch this.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 4th, 2014 Movie – 007: Thunderball

007-4 thunderballContinuing on with another Bond film. I will never get tired of the Bond series. If I happen to walk in when one is playing, I will sit down and finish watching it. Thunderball has always been a fun film to watch. The settings plus all the underwater scenes just make this an incredible movie.

The plot: While recovering from a mission, Bond uncovers a plot to steal two nuclear warheads. The evil organization SPECTRE plans on using them to blackmail the entire world. Bond finds himself travelling to Nassau, where he is partnered with the beautiful Domino and CIA’s Felix Leiter, while confronting SPECTRE’s agent Emilio Largo aboard his ship, the Disco Volante. Can Bond manage to save the world from SPECTRE’s scheme?

When Thunderball came out, Connery was at the height of his fame for 007. The budgets for the movies were starting to get bigger which meant that the effects would be better. This could be seen in a lot of the underwater scenes where they were so accurate, it was almost unbelievable to believe that it was filmed in the 60’s. The gadgets for Bond were also bigger and better. You have the jetpack that he uses in the opening scene and the super tricked out car in Nassau. This is probably the first “gadget” film in the Bond series.

This isn’t my favorite film but it is still a solid film to watch in the series. Sean Connery pretty much had Bond down to a science by this point. You honestly felt that Connery really was Bond. The rest of the supporting cast was ok although Adolfo Celi was great. He portrayed dual roles with his villainous Largo; both as the #2 henchman to the head of SPECTRE, and as the lead villain in the campaign against Bond. The underwater scenes in the film were great while the jokes were just ok.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad Bond movie but regardless, this is a fun movie to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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July 27th, 2014 Movie – Conan The Barbarian (2011)

conan the barbarian 2011Today’s movie is the 2011 remake of Conan The Barbarian. Now, I know what you are thinking. I should have watched this movie yesterday. And you are right. I would have. The problem is that Amazon was a little late getting this movie to me yesterday and so I had to move ahead. So naturally, it showed up after I had finished writing the blog for Constantine. Oh well. Let’s move ahead.

The plot: The evil warlord Khalar Zym attacks Conan’s village searching for the last piece of the Mask Of Acheron, slaughtering everyone in the village but Conan in his quest to retrieve it. Years later, Conan, now a pirate, is still seeking revenge on the man that killed his father. After learning the Zym is seeking Tamara, the last pure blood descendant of Acheron, he rescues her so he can lure Zym into a trap. But Conan soon realizes that his fate is linked to Tamara’s and they both have a destiny to save the Hyberion Age from a dark evil.

Man, there were a lot of remakes in the 21st century. Honestly, has Hollywood run out of original ideas that they decided to remake movies that honestly aren’t that old. I can kind of understand the whole “introduce to a new generation” idea but come on. Surely there are some original ideas out there that can be made into a decent movie. I think the problem is that studios are unwilling to take a risk on a movie unless it will make at least $100 million.

Now I was hesitant with this remake because I do like the Arnold movie so much but I went into it with an open mind. Surprisingly, I found this movie to be pretty entertaining, which is all I really want in a movie. Since there is such a wide range of stories to draw upon in the world of Conan, I looked at this as just a different story in his life. As far as the story goes, there is no deep meaning or hidden subtext. This was pretty much a straight up revenge story. Conan’s father is killed and Conan dedicates his life to finding his killers. There is a mild element of sorcery but for the most part, this is straight up sword fighting and blood shed with a slight splattering of topless women thrown in. Pretty much what you would expect from a fantasy movie. I thought Jason Momoa did a decent job as Conan, giving him more of a wild, savage look to the character. The rest of the casts also gave some good performances. I especially liked Ron Perlman as Conan’s father.

So if you are in the mood for some sword fighting in an ancient age without a lot of plot changes, then this is just the movie for you.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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July 26th, 2014 Movie – Constantine

constantineWow. Third movie in a row where the subject matter was previously seen in a comic book. Yes, I know that Conan was a book series way before comics but still, it was a comic before a movie. Still, all these comic theme movies, you would think I was a fan or something. So today we go from the age of swords and sorcery to demons, angels, and mysticism as I watch Constantine.

The plot: John Constantine is a demon hunter and mystic who is trying to buy his way into heaven by sending as many demons as he can back to hell. He is sought out by Detective Angela Dodson to investigate the apparent suicide of her sister, Isabel. As he looks into her death, he is attacked by demons while his friends and allies are killed off. Realizing that Isabel’s death is part of a much bigger plot, is John willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save the world?

Ok. Now I, like most people, tend to have a love/hate relationship with Keanu Reeves. I mean, for the longest time he was always Ted. Didn’t matter what role he was in, it still seemed like Ted was there, underneath the surface, just waiting to come out. It was about the time that he starred in The Matrix where I think most people finally stopped thinking of him as Ted. But just because he is no longer typecast, doesn’t necessarily mean I like everything he has done. Some roles he does well in, and some you have to wonder why he was cast in them.

Now I like Constantine and, while not the best choice for the role, I thought Keanu did a good job portraying the character. His delivery and attitude actually fit with the character’s normal snarkiness and deadpan humor. As for the movie itself, overall, I think it is very enjoyable but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t problems with the movie. The story was good, although a bit over dramatic for the character. Most of the character’s were well written although I do have to question some of the casting choices here. Let’s face it, Gavin Rossdale should stick to making music, not acting. These problems aside, this is still a fun film to watch.

So if you want to watch a comic book movie without some of the mainstream characters, then you should definitely watch this movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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July 25th, 2014 Movie – Conan The Destroyer

conan the destroyerThis was a funny and annoying day. The funny part is that I was criticized by someone I have never met that I need to step up with collecting movies for my collection. I honestly thought it was funny and since she is friends with my cousin, I took it as just some good-natured ribbing. Oh, and in case she is reading this, Hi Mary (oh, I ordered Krakatoa today so I should have it on Tuesday). Now as for the annoying part, well that concerns today’s movie, Conan The Destroyer…..sort of.

The plot: Conan and his companion Malak are given a task by Queen Tamaris, Escort her niece, Princess Jehnna, and her bodyguard, Bombaata, to a mystical island fortress and retrieve a magic gem that can awaken the god of dreams, Dagoth. Feeling that he would need help with this quest, Conan recruits the wizard, Akiro, and befriends the warrior woman, Zula, to accompany him. But with an evil wizard guarding the gem, and treacherous plots against him, will Conan be able to survive and fulfill this quest?

Before I get to my review, I need to issue a complaint about something real quick. This is in regards to DVD’s where 2 movies are on one disk but each movie is on a separate side, i.e. movie 1 is on side A and movie 2 is on side B. While this is a cheaper way to produce the DVD’s, this also tends to make it necessary to replace the dvd’s sooner. Since there is not a “safe” side to touch the DVDs, you are more likely to get smudges or scratches on either side of the DVD which will make it unplayable. I would much rather have each movie have it’s own disk or have both movies on the one side. I hate having to replace 2 movies because 1 side of a disk crapped out.

Now I own Conan: The Complete Quest, which has both of the Conan movies on 1 disk; Conan The Barbarian is on one side and Conan The Destroyer is on the other. Yesterday, I was watching Conan The Barbarian and with about 10 minutes left to go, right as Conan is facing Thulsa Doom for the final time, the disk craps out. I tried cleaning it and seeing if it would play in a different player but nope. Crap. Well one of the reasons I was doing this project was to see if I would need to replace some movies so I guess I will have to replace this. But let’s see if Conan The Destroyer plays. And of course, it plays fine. So now I am conflicted. I am obviously going to replace Conan The Barbarian but do I keep the set I have now for Conan The Destroyer or do I trash it out of spite and replace Destroyer as well. I have not decided yet.

Ok, back to the movie. You know how I was saying Conan The Barbarian was a great sword and sorcery fantasy movie? Well Conan The Destroyer is the opposite. It is pure Hollywood cheese and campiness, but that can be good in it’s own way. This is much more light-hearted and somewhat safer for kids to watch. Where Barbarian was dark and gritty, Destroyer is bright and jokey. There are even unintended jokes without the need for dialogue, such as making Wilt Chamberlain responsible for protecting the princess’s virginity. The bloodshed, gore, and sex that were prevalent in the first movie were cut out for this one. Most bloodletting would happen off camera and sex was reduced to some cleavage shots. This is pretty far removed from the source material. In fact, this is hard to call this Conan, it is just Arnold playing some barbarian with a sword. Still, in spite of its faults, this is an entertaining movie to watch.

Like I said, the general mood of the film is pretty light-hearted and there are plenty of scenes and lines that will make you laugh. Just don’t expect to get your blood pumping while watching this.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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