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January 30th, 2015 Movie – G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

gijoe rise of cobra

Why is it that when Hollywood seems to run out of ideas for a movie, they turn to Television for their ideas. And why cartoons? I realize that cartoons are the epitome of fantasy, which in a way are what most movies are, but they don’t always translate well into live action movies. I mean, let’s face it. You can do anything in a cartoon, but you can’t do those things in real life. Yet Hollywood persists and here we are, watching G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra.

The plot: When a NATO convoy carrying newly developed nanomite warheads is ambushed by a heavily armed group of terrorists, the convoy is saved by a top secret team known as G.I. Joe. The Joes take the warheads, as well as the two survivors Duke and Ripcord, back to their base, The Pit, where Duke uses his knowledge of one of the attackers, his ex-fiancee Ana, to get both Ripcord and himself a spot on the Joe team. But while they are under going training, James McCullen, the creator of the warheads and the man responsible for the attack, sends The Baroness (Ana), Storm Shadow and a group of nanite powered soldiers to infiltrate The Pit and steal the warheads. The Baroness and Storm Shadow then head to Paris so that they can arm the warheads and test them in order to frighten the entire planet with what can happen. While the Joes race to stop McCullen from destroying some of the world’s most powerful capitals, a secret, and more sinister scheme, is being carried out that will have an even greater impact than the missles themselves.

The critics were pretty harsh with this movie, giving it only a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics complained about pretty much everything, from the bad storyline, to bad acting, to bad special effects. [Spoiler] My favorite criticism involved the Eiffel Tower scene where one critic said “the Eiffel Tower appears to be destroyed by some green slime left over from the Ghostbusters films.” Fans of the toyline/cartoon/comics were upset over the number of changes that were made to several of the characters. Still, all of the criticism didn’t stop G.I. Joe from making over $300 million worldwide, which was lower than the producers expected but still considered a financial success.

Ok. This movie is ridiculous. There is no denying that. It honestly felt like the producers and writers just wanted to take a giant crap over every kid from the 80’s that liked G.I. Joe. There was a lot of action in this movie, but the plot itself was weak. I will agree with the critics that some of the special effects could have been a lot better. In my opinion, the best parts of the movie involved the fights between Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow. Honestly, I think they patterned Snake-Eyes off of the comic book version as opposed to the cartoon version. [Joey reveals a bit of his geek side] In the cartoons, Snake-Eyes was always the silent soldier, who looked like he was supposed to be a ninja but never showed it and never seemed to be as good as he was made out to be. Not to mention the fact that he almost always seemed to get captured. In the comics, he was a complete bad ass. To give you two examples, in one comic, he infiltrated Destro’s castle by himself, managed to take out several guards plus a couple of ninjas, and fought Storm Shadow to a draw all in order to rescue Scarlett, who had been taken prisoner. In another issue, he broke into Cobra’s consulate building, make his way through all of the guards, and held a sword to Cobra Commander’s throat until Cobra Commander ordered the release of some Joes that he had captured. See, comic book Snake-Eyes = bad ass, cartoon Snake-Eyes, not so much. So some good fights between Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow and then some other action that isn’t as interesting. That about sums up the movie.

If you are in the mood for a mindless action movie, then you can give this a shot. But if you are a fan of the comics/cartoon, then you probably want to stay far, far away.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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January 29th, 2015 Movie – G.I. Joe: The Movie

gijoe animated

We have finally made it to my favorite letter of the alphabet when it comes to movies. If you don’t know why, you soon will. Now this is a movie that just about every kid from the 80’s has seen. Although the G.I. Joe franchise has been around since the 60’s, it hit the height of it’s popularity in the 80’s with the Real American Hero series of figures, which inspired both the comic book and cartoon series. Today’s movie, G.I. Joe: The Movie, is a follow-up to the end of the cartoon series.

The plot: During a meeting of the top members of Cobra, a mysterious woman named Pythona infiltrates the Terror Drome and instructs Serpentor that he needs to steal the B.E.T. from the G.I. Joe team. Cobra attacks the Joe team as they are testing the B.E.T. but when Serpentor is captured, Cobra Commander orders the remaing forces to retreat. With a squad of G.I. Joes on their tail, Cobra Commander leads his to the hidden land of Cobra La, an ancient civilization that once ruled the world and has plans to do so again. With this new threat to deal with, the G.I. Joe team must get their new recruits trained and ready for battle or the whole planet may pay the price.

So in 1986, Hasbro, Marvel, and Sunbow planned on making full length theatrical releases of two of their most popular cartoon series, G.I. Joe and Transformers. The G.I. Joe movie was supposed to be released first, but due to it being held up in production, Transformers wound up being released first. This would actually cause a couple of interesting developments to occur. First off, while it was originally scheduled to be released in theaters, the poor box office performance of Sunbow’s other two movies, Transformers and My Little Pony, it was decided to make it a direct to video release. The other thing involved the fate of the lead hero, Duke. When the movie was first being written, Hasbro decided that they wanted to kill off Duke, a decision that also prompted them to kill off Optimus Prime in The Transformers. However, after the backlash from children and parents over the death of Optimus, Hasbro decided to change things and instead of killing him, they rewrote it so that Duke went into a coma instead.

The kid in me enjoyed this movie immensely but the adult in me did have some problems with it. The animation was great and seemed a step up from the normal TV show. However, as unrealistic as G.I. Joe was (in the sense that two military forces fought all the time and nobody died), the addition of Cobra La just made it seem too unbelievable. The whole scene with Duke dying/falling into a coma was also weird because if you ignore the audio, everything in the scene still acts like he died. I know it probably would have been a pain to redo the animation but it would have looked a little better. The other thing that I did not like was the fact that, unlike with The Transformers, we did not get a new season of G.I. Joe cartoons. Well, we did, but it was 3 years later and with a different company whose animation style paled in comparison. But let’s face it, all of those things really don’t matter much because if you are watching this, it is because you enjoyed the cartoon and you will enjoy the movie just as much.

So if you feel like a bit of nostalgia or just want to feel like a kid again, then go right ahead and watch this movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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January 28th, 2015 Movie – Future Women

future women

I really have to wonder about how people classify movies. I am pretty sure I have made this complaint before, but when I am watching a movie from the Sci-Fi Invasion collection, I expect it to at least be a sci-fi movie. If it isn’t a sci-fi movie, then why even include it in this set. It doesn’t make any sense and yet these movies keep showing up in this collection. Today’s movie, Future Women, is another example of a movie that does not belong in this collection.

The plot: Secret agent Jeff Sutton arrives in Rio carrying a briefcase full of $10 million but his arrival does not go unnoticed. Local mob boss Sir Masius sends some of his men to capture Jeff and get the money but Jeff manages to fight his way free. However, he is soon captured by agents of the megalomaniacal Sumitra, the leader of the all female nation of Femina, who wants to use the money to help her plans to take over the world. When Jeff manages to escape from Sumitra’s kingdom, he winds up being captured by Masius, who wants Jeff to show him where Femina is so that he can get a hold of Sumitra’s wealth. Caught between the two forces, Jeff must find a way to get both himself and his companions to safety before they all wind up dead.

For a James Bond ripoff, this wasn’t a terrible movie but I can’t say it was good either. The casting was kind ok, I guess, considering this was a low budget 60’s exploitation flick. Richard Wyler (Jeff Sutton) was ok in playing the “typical spy” that sleeps with a lot of women, one of them being an enemy agent who falls in love with him and helps him in the end. George Sanders (Masius) honestly came across as a poor man’s Ian McKellen and Shirley Eaton (Sumitra) was ok except that it always looked like her eyes were going to pop out of her head. The plot was pretty weak and kept jumping from one part to the next without leaving much of a break for you to try and catch up. The filming was pretty poor in some parts and they kept reusing scenes but just from different angles which I guess was a good way to save money but it still looked weird seeing the same 3 or 4 people getting killed in the exact same way over and over again. This just left me disappointed.

I’m not going to recommend this. If you want to watch it, be my guest.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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January 27th, 2015 Movie – Future Hunters

future hunters

I love being surprised by movies. When you read the plot for a movie, and have a slight idea on what to expect, only to watch it and realize that your expectations were not even close. Those make for some of the most enjoyable movies because of the surprises they may have in store. Today’s movie, Future Hunters, is one of those types of movies and definitely one of the “so bad, it’s good” variety.

The plot: In the year 2025, a rebel searches the wasteland for a legendary object, the head of the spear that pierced the side of Jesus. When he grabs the spear, he gets transported back in time to 1986. Fatally wounded after a fight with some bikers, the rebel entrusts the spear to a young couple, Slade and Michelle, and tells them that they must return the spear to it’s sheathe otherwise it will be used to cause a nuclear holocaust. As Slade and Michelle travel to various parts of the Orient in order to fulfill the man’s request, they are constantly harassed by a group of Nazi’s that want to use the spearhead to take control of the world’s nuclear arsenal.

Oh my god. This movie was freaking hysterical. First of all, this was the debut film of Robert Patrick, better known to most people as the liquid metal T-1000 from Terminator 2. Now to briefly hit on all of the ridiculous things in this movie that make it so entertaining. The movie starts out looking like a Mad Max rip-off. The sound effects for the guns are the typical gunfire sounds but when the tanks fire, it sounds like a laser blast. A random kung-fu fight between Slade (Robert Patrick) and his friend against an old man who did not want them to enter a pagoda. A car chase that starts during the night and instantly finishes in the daytime. Mongol warriors on horseback fighting Nazi’s and cave dwelling midgets. Amazons fighting the Nazi’s. A few scenes that looked like they were ripped off from Temple Of Doom, such as the bridge scene and a person being eaten by crocodiles. An earthquake unleashing giant boulders that bounce off people when they hit them (cause they are obviously made of styrofoam). And several plot holes big enough to drive a semi through. All this wrapped up in about 96 minutes worth of movie that will not seem wasted.

So if you want some unexpected laughs when you aren’t supposed to laugh, then you need to watch this movie.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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January 26th, 2015 Movie – Funeral Home

funeral home

I am so sick of the back and forth temperature changes that have been going on the last few weeks. Sunny and warm one day. Freezing and dreary the next. The constant flux has been messing with my head and sinuses since the year started and I would like for it to stop. Of course, that is what winters in Georgia are, a constant series of temperature changes. So while I prepare to deal with another month of this crap, I might as well review today’s movie, Funeral Home.

The plot: Heather arrives at her grandmother’s place to help convert the former funeral home into a bed and breakfast. Things seem to be going fine until some of the guest start disappearing. On top of that, Heather has been hearing some strange noises coming from the locked cellar. Her grandmother warns her to stay away from the cellar but after being pressured by her boyfriend, the two teenagers decide to see what is really down there.

Well based on the plot, I thought this might be a decent little horror movie. Alas, this was not to be. Lesleh Donaldson (Heather) and Kay Hawtrey (her grandmother Maude) both did a good job in their roles. Alf Humphreys also stood out as the deputy who kept trying to pursue the investigation when none of his superiors believed there was a case. The small town setting helped with creating some type of atmosphere for the film. But the biggest problem this film has is the completely unoriginal plot. This movie was incredibly similar to another, and definitely more famous, slasher film that came out in 1980. In fact, there was one point where I kept expecting to hear “kill kill kill kill. kah kah kah kah.” in some of the scenes. Even the big reveal of the killer’s identity seemed ripped off. Maybe if the plot was more original, this could have been a better movie, but as it stands, this is worth passing over.

So if you want to see a watered down version of a slasher movie, then give this a shot. If you want some scares, go watch something else.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 30th, 2014 Movie – 28 Days Later

28 days later

I have a funny, but true story for you regarding this movie. As just about all of you know, I used to be married. Well when our first wedding anniversary came around, I picked the restaurant that we were going to eat at and Jennifer (my wife at the time) picked what we would do afterwards. So after dinner, Jennifer decided that we should go and see 28 Days Later. I obviously did not have a problem with that choice although when she heard about what movie we saw, our roommate thought it was really weird.

The plot: At a medical research laboratory in Cambridge, a group of animal rights activists break into the facility in order to free the animals there. However, the animals have been infected with a highly contagious “Rage” virus, and when one of the activists is attacked by a chimpanzee, the virus quickly infects her and spreads to the other members of the group. 28 days later, Jim wakes up from the coma that he had been in and after leaving the hospital, realizes that London has become a ghost town. The people that he initially finds happen to be infected and try to attack him, but Jim is rescued by Mark and Selena, who explain to Jim what has happened while he has been asleep. Now Jim must learn how to survive in this new world before he winds up dead, or even worse, infected.

28 Days Later was definitely a commercial success, earning over $82 million off of an $8 million dollar budget. The surprising thing about this was how well it did in America, earning over $45 million in spite of the fact that it was only shown on less than 1500 screens. As for the critics, the movie was pretty well received, earning an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics called this one of the best horror movies to come out and definitely one of the best zombie movies of all time. One of the best zombie movies of all time?? SMH.

Now I am a big fan of zombie movies. If you had any doubts of this claim, you should read the zombie paper/blog I wrote years ago. That being said, there has always been one thing that critics have said about this movie that ALWAYS irritates me. THIS IS NOT A ZOMBIE MOVIE! The reason for that is very simple. The infected people ARE NOT DEAD. They may display some zombie-like tendencies but it’s kind of hard to be a zombie if you aren’t dead. Also, to the idiotic critic that said “making zombies move fast for the first time was a bright and effective idea” needs to be fired for not getting his facts straight. Because he obviously has never seen, let alone heard of, Zombie 3 or The Return Of The Living Dead series. All of which show “fast zombies” and first came out in the mid to late 80’s, some 15-18 years before 28 Days Later came out. Idiots.

Ok. In spite of my complaint about how the movie was advertised, I do think that this was a great horror movie. Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris were both great as Jim and Selena respectively. I liked how their relationship progressed from begrudging dependence to actual friendship and even hinted at deeper feelings. Christopher Eccleston was also great in his portrayal of Major Henry West, and how he will do whatever it takes to survive, no matter how distasteful it may be. As for the movie itself, this was simply well done on all aspects. The plot and filming were simply incredible. The beginning scenes of Jim walking through a completely deserted London just added a sense of being completely helpless and isolated to the film. The director really knew what he was doing, not needing to go overboard on the blood and gore, but instead utilizing the simple premise of lulling you into a sense of being comfortable before delivering a fast paced scare that makes you jump and gets your heart pumping. This was definitely one of my favorite horror movies to come out in the 21st century.

So if you want a good horror movie that can deliver some good scares and “jump” moments, then check this movie out.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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January 25th, 2015 Movie – Fugitive Alien

fugitive alien

I am starting to see a pattern with some of the sci-fi movies I own. The producers were lazy. They decided to take some episodes from a Japanese TV show, dub them, and edit them together to form one movie. I guess it was cheaper to do this rather than make an actual movie. After all, the only things you would really have to pay for is the voice actors (there probably wouldn’t be as many of them since one actor could do the voices for several characters) , and the editing procedure (which you would have had to do anyways. Today’s movie, Fugitive Alien, ir pretty much the same thing, starting as an American sci novel series from the 60’s, which gets turned into a Japanese TV show in the 70’s, which then gets dubbed into an American movie in the 80’s.

The plot: Ken Shinsei is a member of the Varna Wolf Raiders, a ruthless warrior race. During an attack on the Earth, Ken refuses to kill a woman and her child, killing his own teammate instead. Branded a traitor, Ken escapes but when his spaceship is damaged, he jettisons into space where he is picked up by the crew of the Bakkus 3. After helping the Bakkus 3 escape from the Wolf Raider fleet, Ken is reluctantly forced to join the crew as they head off to help other planets in their dealings against the Wolf Raiders.

So this was entertaining. I’m not going to say it was a great movie because it wasn’t, but there were a lot of things to keep you entertained. The plot was actually pretty good and to be honest, makes me want to go and check out the books that were the basis for the show/movie. The dubbing was also pretty good, with no over the top voices or trying to make the characters seem weirder than they were portrayed on screen. The bad parts of course are the fact that you could tell this was made for TV, and possibly a low budget show at that. While the ships did look good (although possible ripping off star trek a bit) the scenes in space were just poorly shot. It’s a wonder you couldn’t see the strings hanging from the models. The costume designs were a little out there and the beginning scene with the attack on Earth was just funny to watch. That’s probably why this wound up on an episode of MST3K.

So if you want some laughs then give this movie a try

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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