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January 24th, 2015 Movie – U.S. Marshalls

us marshalls

Sometimes a sequel to a successful movie sounds good on paper, but is it always a good thing? In this case, writers Roy Huggins and John Pogue decided to make a sequel to The Fugitive, focusing this time on Tommy Lee Jones’s character. Now I never saw this in theaters but would always wind up catching the last hour or so of it on TV for years. I think it was about 5 years after it came out that I finally saw U.S. Marshalls in it’s entirety.

The plot: After assaulting a prisoner while he was in custody, Deputy U.S. Marshall Sam Gerard is ordered to accompany a prisoner transfer to D.C. and then do some P.R. During the flight, an assassination attempt against one of the prisoners causes the plane to crash. Gerard, along with most of the prisoners and guards, manages to survive the crash but Mark Sheridan, the prisoner that was to be killed, manages to escape. Gerard and his crew begin a manhunt for the escaped fugitive, with every step closer to their man bringing more truth’s about the case to light. But when one of Gerard’s teammates is killed in the line of duty, the case becomes very personal for Gerard and nothing was going to stand in his way from catching the man responsible.

While The Fugitive was one of the best movies to come out in ’93, it’s sequel did not fare as well. While U.S. Marshalls was met with mixed reviews from the critics, it only earned a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A lot of the complaints focused on the similarities to the previous film and the plot being too confusing. While the audiences did seem to go to see the movie, it only earned a little over $102 million worldwide, which was 3 times less than what The Fugitive made five years earlier.

I loved The Fugitive and while I did not hate U.S. Marshalls, I was a little “meh” towards it. Tommy Lee Jones did a good job, but the character just didn’t seem to have the same charm as he did in The Fugitive. Wesley Snipes also put in a good performance but his character just seemed poorly written and you couldn’t empathize with him the way you could with Richard Kimble. The plot seemed to have a lot more twists than were necessary and it seemed to get in the way of the movie because they tried to tie up all of the loose ends that they created. The actions scenes were good and there also some decent scenes of suspense but a couple of good scenes can not carry the whole movie. If it was a stand alone movie it would have been a lot better but as a sequel, it was a little disappointing.

A little but disappointing as a sequel but a decent move that is worth a watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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January 23rd, 2015 Movie – The Fugitive

the fugitive

When it comes to entertainment, there are those that you can watch on the big screen (movies) and those that you can watch on the small screen (television). Every now and then, a title that is a standard on one format will make it’s way to the other. For instance, a movie will be successful enough or have a big enough following to warrant a TV show or cartoon series to be made. Or you will have some Hollywood producer think that a TV show would make great movie. Today’s movie happens to be the latter of those as I am watching the big screen version of The Fugitive.

The plot: Dr. Richard Kimble, a prominent vascular surgeon, comes home one night to find a one-armed intruder in his house and his wife murdered. Despite his claims that the one-armed man killed his wife, Dr. Kimble is found guilty of murder and sentenced to be executed. On the way to prison, an accident occurs and Dr. Kimble manages to get free but is pursued by U.S. Marshall Sam Gerard and his team. Now Dr. Kimble must try and find the one-armed man in order to clear his name while staying one step ahead of the authorities. But finding the man is only the tip of the iceberg, as Dr. Kimble finds out that there was a darker reason behind his wife’s murder.

The Fugitive was one of those movies to receive “universal acclaim” from the critics, receiving a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Almost all of them praised the performances of both Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. The audiences definitely wanted to see this movie as it wound up being the third highest grossing film of 1993 with over $368 million worldwide. It also was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, an almost unheard of feat for a film based on a TV show, and won the Best Supporting Actor for Tommy Lee Jones’s performance.

I don’t always like movies based on TV shows but this is definitely an exception. This is one of my favorite Harrison Ford films that does not involve him wearing a fedora or flying the Millennium Falcon. Harrison Ford put in a solid performance as Richard Kimble, but to be honest, Tommy Lee Jones stole the show and totally deserved the Oscar he received. The dynamic between both characters matching wits in this movie was incredible. As to the movie itself, the action and pacing were both phenomenal. There was an equal mix of suspense and intrigue to go along with the action and close calls as Kimble manages to barely stay one step ahead of the authorities. I’m not going to try and make any comparisons to the original TV show because while I do remember seeing a few episodes, I was too young and it was too long ago for me to remember anything clearly enough where I can make any sort of comparison. But as far as the movie goes, this is simply a great film to watch.

So if you want a great movie to watch, then you should definitely watch this movie.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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January 22nd, 2015 Movie – The Beast Of Yucca Flats

the beast from yucca flats

Yet another movie from the collection that Scout bought for me. However, this is one of the movies on the collection that made me interested in this collection. The first time I saw this movie was when it was riffed on MST3K. Granted, when you watch the MST3K version of a movie, you generally don’t get to see the entire movie. But from what I saw of The Beast Of Yucca Flats made me realize that this was a movie I would definitely enjoy. So I am not at all upset about watching this movie today.

The plot: Joseph Javorsky, a Russian scientist, defects to America, taking a briefcase full of Soviet military secrets with him. When he arrives in America, Javorsky and his bodyguards are attacked by two KGB assassins. Javorsky manages to escape into the desert where he winds up caught in the blast of an atomic test, transforming him into a mindless beast with an urge to kill. After killing two people by the road, Javorsky heads back into the desert where he is hunted by two police officers. Javorsky later runs across two small children but they manage to escape. Meanwhile, the father of the two children is mistaken for the killer and shot at but he manages to get away and eventually reunites with his family. The police finally find Javorsky and manage to kill him.

Oh yeh. This is definitely one of those “so bad, it’s good” movies. The good points for this movie? It’s short. In fact, it is only 54 minutes. Now for the laughably bad parts. 1) There is hardly any dialogue in the movie. Most of the talking you hear is in the form of a narrator, who tends to say the same things over and over and over and over again. He especially loved talking about progress. Anytime someone actually does talk in the movie, you never see their lips movie. They are either facing away from the camera, off screen, or shown from really far away. 2) the opening scene features the murder of a women that just got out of the shower. The scene has absolutely no bearing on the movie at all. It was apparently thrown in there because the director liked nude scenes. 3) Anytime a gun is fired in the movie, you never see the muzzle of the gun. You will hear the shot but never see the gun actually fire. 4) Joseph Javorsky chasing the two kids with a stick honestly made me think of some old man chasing kids off his lawn. I could actually picture it in my head. Javorsky yelling at the kids “get off my damn grass, you darn whippersnappers!” I will admit that this is in no way a good movie but it can be entertaining in the right setting.

So if you want to laugh at a low grade B-movie, then you must check this out.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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January 21st, 2015 Movie – The Ape Man

the ape man

I am totally not to blame for my owning this movie. Well….ok, that may not be 100% true. But I am totally not to blame for my owning it right now. This is entirely Scout’s fault. I asked her if I should get a DVD (it was actually a DVD set of 12 movies). She was the one that added it to my cart. She was the one that hit checkout. Now granted, it was my fault for putting my phone that close to her face but I didn’t expect her to keep hitting my phone with her nose. So you can all thank Scout for the fact that I am watching The Ape Man.

The Plot: Dr. James Brewster and his colleague Dr. Randall have been conducting a series of bizarre experiments, the end result being Dr. Brewster transforming into an ape-man. Seeking a cure for his condition, Dr. Brewster believes that the only thing that will work is to inject himself with recently drawn human spinal fluid. When Dr. Randall refuses to help him, Dr. Brewster uses his captive gorilla to help get the fluid. But while Brewster is doing this, reporters Jeff Carter and Billie Mason are investigating Brewster’s supposed disappearance and find themselves caught up in Dr. Brewster’s sinister plans.

To be completely honest, I have never heard of this movie before I got this DVD set. But I was rather pleasantly surprised with this low budget movie. The plot was pretty straight forward and while they could have benefited from a bigger budget, they definitely made the best with what they had. Bela Lugosi did a great job as Dr. Brewster. I really liked his interactions with his captive gorilla. The rest of the characters were ok but didn’t really stand out except for Ralph Littlefield’s character, Zippo. It seemed like his whole point in the movie was to point out the important characters to the audience and at the end of the movie, he calls himself the “scenarist.” The one thing that was laughable was the “captive gorilla.” That was one of the worst gorilla costumes I have seen on film in a while. It reminded me of the guy in the gorilla costume in Trading Places. Other than that, this wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

So if you would like to see a Hollywood icon in one of his lesser known films, than give this movie a try.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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January 20th, 2015 Movie – Fuck

fuck

Ok. Right off the bat, I am sure some people are probably going to be offended just based on the title alone. To be honest, I am pretty sure that is what the director intended. I first heard about this movie while watching the previews for another movie I own. When they said that it was by the same people that made The Aristocrats, I knew that this would be worth watching. I mean lets face it, they made a documentary about the word Fuck. That in itself is pretty funny.

So like I said, this is a documentary about the word Fuck. While they do discuss the origins of the word, the documentary primarily focuses on the cultural impact of the word and of course, the censorship of it. Not surprisingly, the critics were mixed about this movie, rating it a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was shown at about 100 film festivals and in 65 cities during its brief theatrical release before being released on DVD.

Whether you find it offensive or not, this was a very well made documentary, that was both entertaining and somewhat educational. The people that were interviewed throughout the movie were a pretty well rounded mix of people from comedians, musicians, writers, political commentators, and journalists. The primary focus of the documentary seemed to be about the issue of censorship, from examples in the 60’s and 70’s such as Lenny Bruce and George Carlin to more recent examples(recent at the time) such as Howard Stern and Bono. Segwaying into the different sections of the documentary were some animated shorts by Bill Plympton that were pretty funny, if a little raunchy at times.

So if you aren’t easily offended and you want to be entertained, and maybe learn something, then feel free to give this a try.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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January 19th, 2015 Movie – From Hell

from hell

A movie based on a graphic novel, based on Jack the Ripper. I have to admit, when I first heard about this movie I was immediately intrigued. The legend of Jack the Ripper is one of the most infamous characters from 19th century London, primarily because of the mystery surrounding him. And when I head that Alan Moore did a graphic novel based on Jack the Ripper, I had to read it because I liked a lot of his previous works. So for me, going to see From Hell when it came out was a no-brainer.

The plot: In Victorian era London, Mary Kelly and her friends are some of the unfortunate poor that are forced to work the streets for money. However, tragedy befalls the group when one girl, Ann, is kidnapped along with her lover and another girl gets murdered in a grisly fashion. Inspector Frederick Abberline is in charge of the investigation and as more of Mary’s friends are killed, he realizes that there is a darker motive behind the motives. As Inspector Abberline learns the truth behind Ann’s lover and her subsequent disappearance, the case becomes even more personal, not just because of his superior’s efforts to hinder him, but because of his growing affection for Mary. When Inspector Abberline finally uncovers the identity of the killer, it is a race to stop him before the killer finishes his mission to kill Mary.

From Hell received mixed reviews from the critics, only earning a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While some called it a gripping and stylish thriller, others panned it, saying it was nothing more than “two hours of gory murders, non-sequitur scenes, and an undeveloped romance.” Alan Moore was particularly displeased with the film, both by the story’s change into a “mundane whodunit” and the fact that his character of Frederick Abberline was changed into “an absinthe-swigging dandy.” The audiences did not seem to mind as From Hell would wind up earning over $74.5 million worldwide.

I’m not going to get into the whole differences between the movie and book debate because yes, there are some differences between the two. But as far as the movie goes, this is a really good movie. Johnny Depp and Heather Graham were both great in there roles. I particularly like Robbie Coltrane’s character of Sergeant Peter Godley, who provided a little bit of comic relief to the film. The darkness of the lighting and scenery really helped with the whole mood of the movie. The plot itself was pretty straight forward without any real plot twists and aside from the last murder, there really wasn’t as much blood and gore as some critics would make you believe. It’s simply a great horror/thriller movie.

So if you want a good horror movie loosely based on real events, you should check this movie out.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 29th, 2014 Movie – 20 Million Miles To Earth

20 million miles to earth

The first Ray Harryhausen movie I got to watch during this endeavor of mine and also one of my favorites. I don’t know when I first saw this movie but I had only see it once in it’s entirety before I got it on DVD. Before that I had always seen bits and pieces of it on television, which is a shame because this is such a great movie. So on with today’s movie, 20 Million Miles To Earth.

The plot: When a United States rocket crashes into the ocean off the coast of Italy, two fishermen manage to rescue two men from the craft before it sinks into the ocean. When members of the U.S. government arrive, they inform the Italian authorities that the rocket had been on a mission to Venus and that the mission leader, Col. Bob Calder, was the only one to survive. However, the two men were not the only things that made it back. A creature’s egg was brought back from Venus and while Bob originally thought that it had been lost in the crash, it had actually managed to wash ashore and wind up in the possession of Dr. Leonardo. Not knowing what it was, Dr. Leonardo put the egg in a cage, where a small, bipedal creature hatched and begins to grow at a remarkable rate. While the Italian government wants to destroy the creature, Bob manages to convince them to let him study it. However, the creature escapes from the lab and begins to go on a rampage through the streets of Rome.

I know I have said it before but I honestly can’t say it enough. I love Ray Harryhausen’s work. I have almost all of the major motion pictures that he worked on and have enjoyed every one of them numerous times, and this one is no exception. The plot was pretty typical of sci-fi movies of the time. The acting was pretty decent although there were times that Pepe could get on your nerves. The scenes with Ymir, the creature from the movie, were very well done both in the stop-motion animation and the rear screen projection. It really showed how much Harryhausen had improved in his abilities in stop-motion animation and visual effects in general.

A great sci-fi movie and a great example of a Hollywood legend’s work. This is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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