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December 22nd, 2014 Movie – Fantastic Four (2005)

fantastic four 2005

After working a 14 hour day yesterday, my brain was pretty much dead, thus no blog. Anyways, Sunday I watched a low budget movie that was never released. Yesterday, I watched the big budget movie that did get released. Even though I like comic books and enjoy most of the movies that are based on comic books, I was hesitant about seeing this in theaters. Still, I had caught bits and pieces of it on TV so when I saw a used copy for sale cheap, I decided to pick it up. So on to today’s movie, Fantastic Four (2005).

The plot: Reed Richards, a brilliant scientist who has fallen on hard times, and his friend Ben Grimm have gone to see Victor Von Doom, a former classmate, to fund a mission to study a cosmic storm that will be occurring near the earth. Doom, enjoying being able to show up and humiliate Reed, agrees and introduces his chief genetic researcher, Reed’s ex-girlfriend Sue Storm. With Sue’s brother Johnny piloting the shuttle, the 5 people head up to Dooms orbital station to begin the experiments. However the cosmic storm approaches the station far sooner than Reed calculated and bombards everyone with cosmic radiation. After arriving back on Earth, Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben realize that their bodies were altered by the storm and that they now have fantastic abilities. Reed begins building a machine to help turn them back to normal, especially Ben who has been turned into an orange rock-skinned creature. But Doom was also changed by the storm and decides to use his new powers to take out his frustration at losing his company on Reed and the others. The four friends must put aside their differences and team up in order to survive this threat.

The critics were pretty negative about this film, claiming it to be a goofy and mediocre entry into the comic genre of film. This was shown by the 27% rating it received on Rotten Tomatoes, a score that is actually lower than what the unreleased film earned a decade before. Jessica Alba was actually nominated for two Razzies for worst Actress, one for this movie and the other for Into The Blue, but would lose to Jenny McCarthy. However, the audiences still went to see it as it would earn $330 million worldwide, making it a commercial success.

I was hesitant to see this in theaters because the trailers did not make it look good, and I was right. This had some good moments but overall, this is a bad movie. The effects were pretty good for the most part but the acting was terrible. Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis were the best parts of this movie, especially their interactions with each other. That was one aspect that stayed pretty true to the comics. Jessica Alba was terrible and Ioan Gruffudd and Julian McMahon were mediocre at best. For the “first family” of Marvel Comics to be reduced to this was simply tragic.

So if you want to watch a comic book movie, watch something else because this really isn’t worth watching.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 25th, 2014 Movie – Never Say Never Again

never say never again

In 1983, there was a war like no other on the big screen as James Bond took on James Bond. I mentioned before the circumstances but in case you forgot, or are too lazy to reread, here is what happened. After a long legal battle between Kevin McClory and Eon Studios over the rights to Thunderball and the SPECTRE organization, McClory won the battle. He decided to remake Thunderball and got Sean Connery to reprise the role of James Bond.They then released their film to compete with the Eon Studios movie that came out earlier that year. Since I already reviewed Octopussy, so now it’s time to review today’s movie, Never Say Never Again.

The plot: After failing a training exercise, M orders Bond to health clinic to get back in shape. While there, Bond notices some strange happenings between a nurse and a patient and after being spotted, is attacked by an assassin. The patient happened to be an Air Force Pilot, who was working with SPECTRE to steal a pair of nuclear missiles in order to blackmail the world governments. Bond suspects Maximillian Largo to be involved and along with CIA operative Felix Leiter, begins to investigate his involvement. As the investigation continues and with the fate of the world at stake, Bond must find a way to stop Largo’s plans before he winds up dead himself.

Although it only earned a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics were pretty positive about this movie. Many critics felt that this was one of the better Bond films and that Connery, while appearing older, had not lost a step in his portrayal of the British spy. However, in spite of having the more favorable reviews, Never Say Never Again failed to outperform Eon Studio’s Octopussy, earning only $160 million worldwide compared to Octopussy’s $187 million. While Warner Brothers was the studio that released the movie in theaters and early rental releases, MGM studios (who now owned Eon Studios) bought the rights in 1997 and handled all future video releases.

I have to say, I actually like this movie more than Thunderball, but that might be due to the fact that I remember seeing this movie first. Sean Connery was very good and showed why he has long been considered the best to play the role. Klaus Maria Brandauer was a decent villain although the whole jealousy angle did get a little old after a while and while she fit the role of the stereotypical Bond girl, Kim Basinger really didn’t add anything to the movie. The action scenes were played out very well and there was actually a bit more espionage in this film that had been lacking in some of the last few movies. The dialogue was pretty good with quite a few quips and references to the fact that Connery was returning to the role. While not considered an official film, it is definitely a great film to be included in the series.

So if you want to see Sean Connery make a return as the character he made famous, then you should definitely watch this movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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December 21st, 2014 Movie – The Fantastic Four (1994)

fantastic four 1994

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I screwed up the date for the movie because this movie came out in 2005. Well, you are right in the fact that the Fantastic Four movie did come out in 2005, but that was not the first time a Fantastic Four movie was made. Roger Corman produced a low budget version of the famous quartet in 1994, however the movie was never released. Luckily for me, bootleg versions of the movie are available if you know where to look (aka, Bootleg Guy at DragonCon). So let’s get on with today’s movie, The Fantastic Four (1994)

The plot: While student’s in college, Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom engage in an experiment to harness the power of the Colossus Comet but the experiment backfires and Victor is horribly burned and supposedly dies due to his injuries. Years later, Reed , and his friends Ben Grimm, Johnny and Sue Storm, go up in an experimental rocket in order to study the Colossus Comet, but their experiment fails when the diamond needed for their experiments was replaced with a fake without their knowledge. When their shuttle crashes, they find out that they have acquired fantastic abilities, but are captured by a strange group pretending to be the military. When they try to escape, the four friends are confronted by an armor-clad menace called Dr. Doom, who plans to destroy New York City. Using their powers, the Fantastic Four must stop Doom and save the city before it is too late.

Time for a history lesson. In 1983, producer Bernd Eichinger met with Stan Lee in order to obtain the rights to make a movie about the Fantastic Four but it would be 1986 before he was actually able to get them. While some studios did have an interest in the movie, budget problems kept causing problems for any production to begin. With his option set to expire, Eichinger teamed up with Roger Corman to produce a low budget movie for one million dollars in order to retain his option for the film. However, though there were some trailers released that promoted the film, Eichinger said that he never intended to release the film ( a claim backed up by Stan Lee) and only made the movie so he could keep his options for it. Still, the movie does have a rating of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on the 6 critics that have seen the film, which isn’t bad all things considered.

Ok, I know this isn’t going to be a good movie, you know it isn’t going to be a movie, but unlike the 2005 movie, this movie is actually entertaining to watch because it is so bad. It is incredibly campy and the effects were ridiculous, especially the ones involving Johnny Storm. The suit they made for The Thing looked every bit like the rubber suit that it was and I honestly thought that Dr. Doom was wearing a blanket around his shoulders for a cape. The actors were ok although I was disappointed in Dr. Doom’s portrayal in this movie. All he did was stand around and look menacing throughout most of the movie. There was a scene where a firefight was taking place between Doom’s men and the Jeweller’s men, and Doom was standing around, getting hit with bullets, and all he was doing was flexing his arms over and over. It was so ridiculous. Still, I wonder what they could have done if they actually were able to get a bigger budget for the film.

So if you ever want a superhero movie to laugh at, and you can get your hands on a copy of it, give this film a try.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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December 20th, 2014 Movie – Face/Off

faceoff

1997 was Nicolas Cage’s year for action movies as he was in two of the summer’s biggest action movies that year. I already reviewed the first movie so now it’s time for the second one. I remember going to see this in theaters and thinking two thoughts while watching it; the science was complete bullshit and that John Woo can direct some entertaining gun fights. So let’s get on with today’s movie, Face/Off.

The plot: FBI agent Sean Archer has a long standing grudge against international terrorist Castor Troy over the death of his son. After years of effort, Archer finally manages to capture Castor and his brother Pollux, although Castor is left in a coma after the encounter. When Archer learns that Castor had placed a bomb somewhere in L.A., he undergoes a radical surgery where he is given Castor’s face in order to get the information from Pollux. However, the procedure caused Castor to wake up from his come and after getting the procedure done so that he has Archer’s face, he kills the only people that know the truth about which person is which. Now wearing the face of his worst enemy, Archer must somehow escape from the prison he is in, find a way to stop Castor, and reverse the process so that he can get his life back.

Critics were very positive about this movie, giving it a rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some praised John Woo’s action sequences and story telling ability, while others tended to criticize the excessive violence. The general consensus is that :Travolta and Cage Audiences were eager to see it as it earning over $245 million worldwide. Face/Off was nominated for an academy award at the 70th Academy Awards, but it wound up losing to another big budget Paramount movie about some boat that sunk.

Of the two Nicolas Cage movies that came out in 97, this was my favorite. It doesn’t hurt that this was a pretty entertaining movie. I thought the whole concept of the two stars going back and forth from playing the good guys and bad guys was very interesting. Travolta was great in this movie but I honestly liked him better as the bad guy. Cage was ok but I didn’t think he put as much difference into his characters as Travolta did. The action sequences were very well done, as you would expect from a John Woo film, filled with plenty of “gun-fu” fights and lots of doves (seriously, does this guy have some sort of bird fetish). A nice action movie that does not fail to deliver.

So if you are in the mood for a decent action flick, then feel free to give this a shot.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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December 19th, 2014 Movie – Eyes Behind The Stars

eyes behind the stars

So not only is today’s movie another film from the Sci-Fi Invasion set, but it is also an Italian movie. I might have to go through and see just how many Italian movies I own. While the Italian horror movies have a tendency to be some of the most disturbing movies I have seen, the sci-fi movies tend to be different, which is odd because usually sci-fi and horror can go hand in hand. Still, let’s see what today’s movie, Eyes Behind The Stars, has in store for us.

The plot: Peter, a photographer, and his female model Karin are taking doing a photo shoot in the woods when they get the feeling they are being watched and decide to leave. After developing the pictures, Peter heads back out to the woods to take some more pictures and finds himself captured by aliens. Karin goes by Peter’s place and after seeing the developed pictures, calls her friend Tony to look at the pictures and after seeing the pictures, Tony decides to take the negatives for further study. Later that night, Karin is also abducted by aliens. As Tony tries investigating what is going on, he finds his efforts hindered by the military, while a mysterious group known as the Silencers try to keep quiet the mere existence of the aliens.

Not quite what I was expecting, but this was a halfway decent movie. The story was pretty good and actually had an X-Files type feel to it. However, that was really the only good thing about the movie. Since it was an Italian film, it was obviously dubbed into English and the dubbing was terrible. The actors were mediocre at best and none of them really stood out. One surprising thing was that there wasn’t any nudity and hardly any violence in this film, which is odd since Italian films tend to go for the shock value to the point of being almost exploitative at times. I’m curious how this movie could have turned out if they had a better budget.

So while the story was good, the other aspects of the film did not help this movie so it is up to you if you want to watch.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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December 18th, 2014 Movie – Eye Of The Beast

eye of the beast

Sometimes I miss having the Syfy channel. I used to love binge watching all of the movies that they would air over the weekends. Of course, since I don’t have cable, I have to wait until the movies come out on DVD so I can get them. Luckily, they tend to be cheap so I can usually get a bunch of them for a couple of bucks. Today’s movie, Eye Of The Beast, is another from the Maneater Series of films, so one killer animal coming up.

The plot: Dan Leland is a scientist that has been sent to a small Canadian town to do research into why the fishing has declined in the area. At the same time, a number of strange deaths have occurred around the lake, and some people are blaming them on the “lake monster”. As racial tensions rise between the townsfolk and the local Indian tribe, one of the local fishermen is attacked by a giant squid, but manages to cut off one of it’s tentacles and get away. Now the townsfolk and tribe members must work together and help Dan capture or kill the beast before it decimates the town.

Awww. Look at James Van Der Beek trying to be someone other than Dawson. I think they were trying to get some sort of name recognition to help boast the audience for this film. I don’t think it helped much but you never know. Anyways, this was a decent movie to watch although a bit unoriginal. To be honest, I thought it seemed like a cheap knock off of Peter Benchley’s The Beast. Now for low budget movie, the effects were pretty decent as far as the squid was concerned. But the dialogue and the plot itself were very weak. I feel bad for James Van Der Beek because this was an attempt to play a different role than he normally played, but it still seemed like it was Dawson trying to be a scientist and get the girl.

So it is a decent movie but don’t expect an award winning performance out of this film.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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December 17th, 2014 Movie – Extra Terrestrial Visitors

extra terrestrial visitors

You know, I should just go ahead and accept the fact that most of the movies from the Sci-Fi Invasion pack are not going to be great. I mean, judging by the movie poster alone, I can tell that today’s movie is really going to be a high class film. However, since I know that today’s movie was featured on MST3K, I can expect to be laughing at how bad it is. So let’s get on with today’s movie, Extra Terrestrial Visitors.

The plot: Three poachers are hunting in some woods when one of them notices a meteor crash to Earth and goes looking for it. He discovers a glowing cave filled with strange eggs and proceeds to smash them but is attacked by an alien creature before he breaks the last one. A group of people are camping nearby and when one of the girls runs into the creature and fall off a cliff, the rest of her friends grab her and try to find some help. Meanwhile, a young boy named Tommy discovers the cave and takes the egg back to his house where it hatches into a strange creature. As the mother alien continues killing people in the retaliation for it’s broken eggs, Tommy and the alien, who Tommy named Trumpy, make plans to hide so that Trumpy won’t be killed by mistake.

Wow. That’s all I have to say about this movie. So originally, this was supposed to be a straight up horror movie but with the success of E.T. in theaters, the producers wanted to involve a kid and a lovable alien in the film. They honestly should have left that part out. This movie is terrible. It is a Spanish film so the dubbing is just awful at times. The aliens looked like some weird cross of a bear’s body with a deformed elephant’s head. And the kid was the worst. I got so sick of hearing his dubbed voice that I actually muted my television whenever he was on screen. I can understand how this made it onto MST3K but I don’t know if I could even stand watching it under those conditions.

Don’t waste your time. Just don’t.

Rating: 1/2 out of 5

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December 16th, 2014 Movie – The Exorcism Of Emily Rose

the exorcism of emily rose

Today’s movie is one of the more interesting movies that I own. Not so much because of the subject, although the subject is interesting too, but because of the two conflicting themes in the movie. In movies, there are romantic comedies, horror comedies, dramadies (dramatic comedies), etc. Well I guess you can call this one a court room horror, since it has elements of your typical court room drama mixed with a horror movie. So let’s get one with today’s movie, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose.

The plot: After a young girl dies, a priest is placed on trial for negligent homicide for being responsible for the failed exorcism that led to her death. During the course of the trial, the events that happened to Emily are told through flashbacks. The prosecutor’s theory is that Emily suffered from a form of epilepsy and that had she received medical treatment, Emily would have survived, and he has the medical experts to back up that theory. The defense claims that Emily did not suffer from a medical condition but rather a spiritual possession, but proving it in a court of law will not be the easiest thing to do.

Regarding this movie, the critics were of a mixed opinion, as shown by the 45% rating it has on Rotten Tomatoes. Most of the critics praised Jennifer Carpenter’s performance but had problems with one aspect of the movie. The fact that the film “asks a secular institution, the court, to decide a question that hinges on matters the court cannot have an opinion on.” Still, audiences had a desire to go see it as it would wind up earning $144 million worldwide.

Like I said, this was an interesting movie but one that was very well written. The courtroom drama parts of the movie seemed to move at a rather slow, methodical pace, but that tends to be the case with such movies. The flashback scenes involving Jennifer Carpenter were more intense, especially when you consider that she was actually contorting her body in almost all of the scenes where she was possessed. This movie doesn’t really go for the blood and gore horror, but rather more of a creepy tone. The one issue I have is the same one that some of the critics had. In regards to the separation of church and state, this movie touched on a tricky subject that has actually come up in real life; that being, can you try someone for their religious beliefs. But aside from that, I still think this is a good movie.

Not your average horror movie or court room drama, but worth watching none-the-less.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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December 15th, 2014 Movie – Excalibur

excalibur

I love the legends of King Arthur. T.H. White’s The Once And Future King was one of my favorite books to read in high school and The Sword In The Stone was one of my favorite Disney movies as a kid. So as I got older, it seemed only natural for me to get a more adult movie based on the legend. I had seen bits and pieces of this movie when I was a teenager but never saw the whole thing until about 10 years ago. I had been listening to some classical music at work and my boss at the time walked up as “O Fortuna” was playing and he mentioned this movie and how that song made him want to ride around chopping people’s heads off. Yeh, he was a little bit on the weird side. Anyways, here is today’s movie, Excalibur.

The plot: It’s the legend of King Arthur. In case you have no clue, here is the condensed version. Merlin helps Uther make peace with a nearby duke, but Uther’s lust for the duke’s wife ends the truce and results in further war, the duke’s death, and a son for Uther. Years later, young Arthur pulls the legendary sword Excalibur from the stone it was in and becomes the new king. As he works to build his kingdom, he recruits other knights to his court, including Lancelot. Lancelot happens to be in love with Arthur’s queen, Guenevere, and when their feelings become known, it throws the inner court into turmoil. Arthur’s step-sister Morgana uses this opportunity to steal Merlin’s power and sleep with Arthur in order to bear a son that will take over the kingdom. Arthur and Mordred go to war with the fate of the kingdom in the balance.

In spite of the fact that it has an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the reviews for this movie were pretty mixed. Almost every critic stated that the film was visually spectacular, but while some would say the whole move was a fantastic film, other’s commented that aspects of the film were a mess or even atrocious. There was also a lot of criticism about how the women were portrayed in the film, especially Morgana and how she was portrayed in a Satanic light in the film. All this aside, it did manage to be a moderate success, earning over $34 million in the US.

While it can be a bit dark at times, I thought this was a pretty good movie. Visually, this is one of the better fantasy films to come out of the 80’s. I was also surprised by a couple of actors who, while not as well known before this film, are definitely pretty famous now (Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart). I also thought they did a decent job of sticking to the Arthurian legends for the most part, although there were some creative liberties taken I am sure. The one thing I didn’t like was the dialogue. At some times it was completely bland and lacked any drama that you would expect from such a film, and other times it was even worse. Still, you tend to focus more on the visual in this film so that isn’t a total deal breaker.

So a fun movie to watch if you are in the mood for some knights and battles.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 24th, 2014 Movie – Casino Royale (1967)

casino royale 1967

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “I thought he was done with the Bond films. And didn’t Casino Royale come out in 2006?” Well, let me explain. Dr. No and all of the Bond films that I have reviewed so far were all produced by Eon Studios (and later MGM) and are considered the official Bond films. However, there were three movies starring James Bond, one of which pre-dates Dr. No, that were done by different studios. Those three movies are considered the unofficial Bond films. Today’s movie, Casino Royale (1967) is the second of those films.

The plot: James Bond, long since retired, is visited by the heads of MI6, CIA and other intellegence agencies and asked to help deal with SMERSH, who has been killing off agents. Bond refuses at first but when his mansion is destroyed and M is killed, takes over as M in order to deal with the problem. James renames all the surviving agents “James Bond” in order to confuse SMERSH and begins training them in how to ignore the seductive charms of women. But all of his plans are compromised when it is discovered that Bond’s nephew Jimmy is leading the operation for SMERSH.

Charles K Feldman obtained the rights to make this movie in 1960 and wanted Eon Studios to produce it, but Eon chose not to make this film. Thinking that he could not compete with the Eon series, Feldman decided to make his movie into a satire. With a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics obviously did not care for the film, many criticizing the confusing plot. However, it was considered a commercial success, earning over $41 million worldwide.

While I did find several parts of the movie funny, I have to say that overall, it was too confusing to be entertaining. The acting was good, especially Peter Sellers, Orson Welles and David Niven. But the plot was such a train wreck. The first time I watched this movie, I kept having to rewind it just to make sure I could understand what was going on. It jumps around all over the place so much that it really is hard to follow and does not make for an entertaining movie.

So it is a Bond film, but not one you will probably want to watch more than once.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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