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Flashback Review: February 17th, 2015 Movie – Prometheus

prometheus

Way back in 1979, one of the most iconic movies came out that was directed by a relative newcomer to Hollywood, Ridley Scott. Since making that film, he has directed numerous other films, many of them being critically acclaimed and well received by fans. Then, in the late 2000’s, rumors began circulating that Ridley Scott was returning to his outer space roots. However, this was not going to be a new film in the Alien franchise per se, but rather a prequel that had some elements of the franchise in it. Regardless there was a lot of excitement regarding today’s movie, Prometheus, so let’s see if it was well founded.

The plot: In 2089, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and Dr. Charlie Holloway, on an archaeological dig in Scotland, have discovered a map, similar to one found in other cultures, which points to a location in space with a possible habitable planet. The Weyland Corporation funds an expedition to the planet in the hopes of making contact with these “Engineers”. Arriving on the planet, they land near an artificial structure and proceed to begin exploring it. They make several incredible discoveries including numerous stone cylinders, a statue of a humanoid head, and the decapitated corpse of a large alien. Further explorations reveals several more bodies, leading the team to think that the Engineers are now extinct. When a storm is about to hit, Elizabeth grabs the head of the alien and the exploration crew prepare to head back. However, unknown to anyone, David, a robotic humanoid, has secretly taken one of the stone cylinders with him, while two other crew members, Fifield and Millburn, are lost inside the structure and left there until the storm passes. Back on the ship, Elizabeth, David, and Ford examine the head but it winds up exploding. They still managed to confirm that it’s DNA matches that of humans. Meanwhile, David secretly analyzes the cylinder and discovers it contains a strange organic fluid, which David secretly uses to taint Charlie’s drink. Back at the alien structure, Fifield and Millburn spot two strange creatures but when one of them attaches itself to Millburn’s arm, Fifield tries cutting it off but winds up having his helmet smashed and collapses in a pool of the black liquid while the creature gets into Millburn’s suit and crawls into his mouth, killing Millburn. The expedition returns to the structure and discover Millburn’s corpse while David, exploring on his own, discovers a control room with a star chart highlighting Earth and a surviving Engineer. Charlie begins to rapidly sicken and so the expedition heads back but the expedition leader, Meredith Vickers, refuses to let Charlie on the ship and, at his request, winds up burning him with a flamethrower. Onboard the Prometheus, David does a medical scan on Elizabeth to see if she was infected and discovers that she is pregnant, in spite of the fact that she is sterile. Fearing the worst, Elizabeth performs an emergency surgery and removes a squid-like creature from her stomach. She then learns that Peter Weyland, the owner of Weyland Corporation, is onboard the ship and had funded the trip to get the Engineers to prevent his death from old age. While this is going on, Fifield shows up outside the ship but he has become deranged and proceeds to kill several crew members before he is eventually killed. Janek, the Prometheus’ captain, theorizes that the structure was really a military base and that they lost control of some sort of biological weapon. Elizabeth, David, Peter, and a small team head back to the structures control room, where David wakes up the Engineer. However, the Engineer proceeds to rip David’s head off before Peter and the rest of the team while Elizabeth manages to escape. The Engineer then proceeds to power up the control room, revealing it to be a space ship. Elizabeth warns Janek that the ship is heading towards Earth and if he doesn’t stop it, no one on Earth will be left alive. Janek releases the lifeboat and then crashes the Prometheus into the alien ship, causing the alien ship to crash back to Earth, killing Vickers in the process. Elizabeth heads inside the lifeboat but a warning from David lets her know that the Engineer survived and is heading for her. The Engineer attacks her but she opens the medlab to unleash the squid monster, now grown to giant size, which overpowers the Engineer and inserts an ovipositor down it’s throat. Elizabeth grabs David’s head and body and heads to another alien ship planning on heading to the Engineer’s home planet while back in the lifeboat, an Alien hatches from the stomach of the Engineer.

Prometheus was generally well received by the critics, earning a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The general consensus was that while the “quasi-prequel” did not answer all of the big questions, it was “redeemed by the visual grandeur and the compelling performances”. The performance of Michael Fassbender as David received almost universal acclaim from all of the critics. The audiences and fans were somewhat mixed but they still enjoyed the movie as it would make over $403 million at the box office.

This was good…really good…possibly great even, but not quite up to par with the original Alien. Still, Ridley Scott did make a remarkable film and I enjoyed it immensely. The actors did a really good job, especially the performances of Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth) and Michael Fassbender (David). The plot was really good, incorporating several aspects of the Alien franchise while putting a new spin on how the story progresses. This movie had some of the most stunning visual effects from a science fiction movie that I have seen in quite a while. The beginning scenes with the alien planet were absolutely incredible, especially since there was very little use of CGI throughout the movie. A great movie to watch, even if you aren’t a fan of the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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May 31st, 2015 Movie – The Adventures Of Hercules (a.k.a. Hercules II)

hercules2

Movie producers amaze me sometimes. So at the same time that Lou Ferrigno was filming the previous movie, he was also filming a movie called The Seven Magnificent Gladiators. However, they wanted the director to film some more scenes in order to save it because it was “unwatchable.” So the director did and when the producers saw what he had filmed, they wanted him to write a story around what he had filmed and and film some more scenes without telling Ferrigno it was for a sequel. Thus, we have the story behind today’s movie, The Adventures Of Hercules.

The plot: When 4 renegade gods steal the seven thunderbolts of Zeus, they unleash a series of evils on the Earth. Zeus sends Hercules down to Earth to retrieve the thunderbolts, but the renegade gods have transformed them into monsters, making the task more difficult. Upon arriving back on Earth, Hercules is immediately attacked by a monster but he defeats it to reveal the first thunderbolt. Wanting to stop Hercules, the renegade gods revive King Minos to kill Hercules and prevent him from retrieving the thunderbolts. Hercules continues his journey and meets up with Urania and Glaucia, two sisters that are trying to save their village from the evil high priest and his scarifices. After running from some slime people, they encounter the second monster Euryale, a half-scorpion monster that can turn it’s victims to stone. They then travel to a haunted forest where Hercules defeats a demonic knight to retrieve the third thunderbolt. While Hercules and Urania travel underwater to retrieve a magic balm that will help him defeat the fourth monster, Glaucia is captured by the high priest and prepared for sacrifice to the monster. Urania saves Glaucia while Hercules defeats the beast and obtains the thunderbolt. The renegade gods are becoming nervous and worried that Hercules will find all of the thunderbolts when Minos appears before them and, having already killed one of the gods, kills two more before capturing the 4th god, Hera. While Urania consorts with the seers, Hercules and Glaucia are attacked by a group of Amazons and Hercules is captured. Hercules is brought before the Queen of Spiders but before she can kill Hercules, Urania manages to wake Hercules and he strangles the queen, revealing her to be the 5th thunderbolt. The three then travel to space, where they discover the renegade gods had hidden the 6th thunderbolt in a rock. Suddenly, Glaucia grabs Urania and holds a knife to her throat and Minos appears, informing them that Glaucia had died a while back and this was a copy. Hercules and Minos proceed to battle each other, with both of them becoming beings of light at one point, and Hercules eventually defeats Minos. Then, with Zeus’ help, Hercules manages to grow to giant size and saves the Earth from colliding with the moon. Urania then reveals to Hera that she knows that Hera hid the final thunderbolt inside her (Urania’s) body and begs her to give her the kiss of death in order to restore the thunderbolt. Hera does what Urania asks and, with his powers restored, Zeus honors both Urania and Hercules by letting them live as gods among the stars.

As crazy as the first movie was, this was even better…in that awesomely bad sense. Again, the acting was pretty over the top and the dubbing was off at times. The story was just plain ridiculous and mixed up so many different myths, as well as stealing from other movies (such as Star Wars & King Kong) that it made no sense at times. The effects were definitely not the most mind blowing you would ever see. They were pretty laughable at times, especially the parts where Minos and Hercules transformed into figures of light, not to mention every time Hercules hit someone there would be a flash of light. This isn’t a good movie by normal standards but it it a whole lot of fun to watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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May 30th, 2015 Movie – Hercules (1983)

hercules

Ok. This is one of those movies that really started my love for the B-movie. Years ago….ok, make that a few decades, there used to be a video rental store. It was perfectly located, in my opinion, between the arcade and the Kroger by my dad and grandparents house. On the weekends that I spent with my dad, we would usually go there and see if there was something to watch. One day I saw the case for this movie and my thought process was more or less “The Incredible Hulk is playing Hercules and he is fighting robot monsters. This will be awesome!” So my dad rented it and we watched and now I introduce to you, Hercules (1983).

The plot: When Pandora’s jar is opened and unleashes all of the evils upon the world, Zeus decides to create a champion by empowering the baby Hercules. Minos, the commander of the army of Thebes, stages a revolt and kills the king and queen but fails to kill Hercules. After surviving being set adrift along a river, Hercules winds up being raised by a farmer and his wife. Wanting Hercules to be destroyed, Hera enlists the help of Minos, now King of Thera, to accomplish this task. Minos calls for Daedalus’ help, who gives him 3 mechanical creatures to use against Hercules. The first creature, a giant robotic insect, kills Hercules’ mother but Hercules is able to kill the monster. Trying to figure out what to do with his life, Hercules competes in a series of games held by King Augias and ultimately is asked to escort his daughter, Cassiopea, to Athens. However, Hercules falls in love with Cassiopea and tries to kiss her but is stunned by a bolt of lightning. Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, captures Cassiopea and Hercules but tosses Hercules into the ocean on their way back to Thera. Hercules manages to make it to the island of Circe who, after using his blood to regain her youth, offers to help him get to Thera in exchange for retrieving her magic charm from Hell. Minos sends the second creature, a robotic dragon, to kill Hercules but Hercules manages to reflect the creature’s deadly rays back on itself and destroys it. Hercules and Circe manage to retrieve her charm and she uses the magic to transport them to Africa, where the use Poseidon’s winged chariot to make their way to Thera. On the island, Circe is killed by the final robot, a giant centaur, but Hercules defeats the creature and makes his way to save Cassiopea. Making his way into Thera’s capital city of Atlantis, Hercules winds up being captured and Ariadne tries to seduce him but he resists and manages to escape. Hercules heads to the volcano where Minos is attempting to sacrifice Cassiopea but Hercules kills Minos and Ariadne, rescues Cassiopea, and manages to escape before the volcano erupts, destroying Atlantis.

This movie is everything you want in a B_movie; bad acting, ridiculous plot, and some cheesy special effects. No wonder I think this movie is great. The acting was pretty terrible, in fact Lou Ferrigno and Sybil Danning both won a Razzie for Worst New Star and Worst Supporting Actress respectively. The special effects were very flashy and were pretty low budget. The robot creatures….ahh, the robot creatures. The thing I remembered most about this movie was the horrible noise those creatures made. Besides, you have giant mechanical monsters fighting in ancient Greece. That is just funny to watch on it;s own. Definitely a “so bad it’s good” movie that is worth watching and laughing at.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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May 29th, 2015 Movie – Hercules And The Tyrants Of Babylon

hercules and the tyrants of babylon

Ok, who came up with this whole “swords and sandals” genre of movies. The Italians? Well, that actually makes sense. However, did these movies have to be so terrible. Granted, there were some big budget Hollywood movies that fit this genre but the bulk of them were just awful. Luckily, this there aren’t too many of these movies in this box set so there is only a mild bit of suffering I have to endure. So I might as well get it over with and watch today’s movie, Hercules And The Tyrants Of Babylon.

The plot: When the King Phaleg of Assyria visits the three sibling rulers of Babylon (brothers Azzur & Salman Osar and their sister Taneal), they grow suspicious of the gifts he offers them in exchange for all of their slaves. Taneal seduces and drugs Phaleg and learns that one of the slaves is actually Asparia, Queen of Hellenes, and Phaleg plans on finding and marrying her to create a mighty empire. Hearing this, Salman Osar and Azzur decide to not only find the queen, but kill Phaleg as well. They send some of their soldiers to attack Phaleg and his envoy but Phaleg is rescued by Hercules, who has traveled to Babylon to rescue Asparia. Accompanied by some of Phaleg’s men, Hercules makes his way to Babylon and is welcomed by the three rulers, who have a feast prepared in his honor. After dinner, Hercules is shown a secret underground tunnel by Christophisis and locates Asparia but is unable to free her at the time. On their way back to their room, Hercules and Christophisis see Taneal talking with one of the city’s guards. They learn that she plans to loot the city’s treasure room and destroy the city by using a giant wench that will take out the city’s foundation. However, Azzur has grabbed Asparia and plans on marrying her to make his own empire but Salman Osar kills him and takes Asparia. Hercules rescues Asparia and has Christophisis lead her and Phaleg’s surviving men out of the city while he destroys it. Hercules proceeds to turn the wench, which causes the city to begin to collapse. Salman Osar had witnessed Taneal looting the city and was about to shoot her with an arrow but he winds up being crushed by the debris, as are Taneal’s men and the treasure. Christophisis is killed by Phaleg’s man but Taneal stabs him and captures Asparia herself to use as a bargaining chip with Phaleg. Hercules kills Phaleg and chases off his army while Taneal kills herself leaving Hercules, Asparia, and the rest of the slaves free to return home.

This might have been the best movie out of these 4. Don’t get me wrong because this isn’t necessarily a good movie, but it was better than the others. The plot was actually pretty good and surprisingly was decently written, with quite a bit of subterfuge…well at least for the time. The acting…well, that was definitely lacking and the lousy dubbing didn’t help matters. The fight scenes were the standard over dramatized fare that was standard in the 60’s. I will say that it was very funny to hear the club battle between Hercules and three champions. And by club battle, I mean that they were using clubs to fight with. The reason I said “hear” is because anytime the clubs struck something, whether it was a person or another club, they made a very definitive plastic sound. It basically sounded like they were using painted whiffle ball bats for clubs. It was very funny. Not the best movie but there was a decent plot buried under all the crap if you are willing to dig through it.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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May 28th, 2015 Movie – Hercules Against The Moon Men

hercules against the moon men

Well this should be interesting. So as some of you may know, Italian horror movies can be good, albeit pretty gruesome while Italian sci-fi movies tend to be less than stellar. So what would happen when you have a collaboration Italian/French film? Is this going to be a good movie or an utter train wreck? Well, considering what the previous two films have been, I don’t think we have much hope for a good movie here. Well, might as well get started with watching Hercules Against The Moon Men.

The plot: For years, the city of Samar has been terrorized by aliens from the moon, who have demanded the village’s children to be given to them as a sacrifice so they might resurrect their queen. Queen Samara, the ruler of Samar, has made an alliance with the aliens that if she continues providing the children to be sacrificed, they will help her conquer the world. Gladius, the queens chancellor, warns the queen that the villagers will not continue to live this way and secretly brings Hercules to Samar so that he can defeat the aliens. Hercules meets with the village resistance and makes plans to stop the next sacrifice but when he tries to save the victims, he winds up being captured. Knowing the queen would try to drug him, he pretends to drink the wine she offers him and fakes being her slave. Thinking Hercules is under her control, Queen Samara tells him what her plans are but is shocked when Hercules reveals that he faked being under her control. Samara rushes to the Mountain of Death to warn Redolphis, the leader of the moon men, but he has her killed for betraying them. Redolphis then slices the wrist of Billis, Samara’s sister, so he can use her blood to revive his queen. Hercules arrives and begins battling the moon men in order to save Billis. Reaching the altar, Hercules topples the statue of the moon men’s queen, causing a massive fire which destroys the queen and allows Hercules to escape with Billis.

Wow. I am somewhat amazed at how bad this movie is. It is hard to tell with the dubbing but the acting seemed pretty over dramatic at times. The fight scenes were pretty outrageous and in some cases looked really stupid. The filming and editing looked pretty poor, with lines and white dots popping up on the film frequently. Then there was the infamous sandstorm scene. Towards the end of the movie, when everyone is heading towards the Mountain of Death, there is a sandstorm that is meant to hinder their trek. This scene lasts for several minutes and tends to focus on Hercules, Samara, and many of the villagers floundering around in the sandstorm and looking completely lost. It was a pointless waste of time because it really didn’t add anything to the movie, just prolonged the agony of watching it. Thank god there is a MST3K episode featuring this because that is the only way you really want to try and watch this movie.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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May 27th, 2015 Movie – Hercules And The Captive Women

hercules and the captive women

So this seems to be Greek week in movies for me, because I have a bunch of movies revolving around Hercules to watch. Unfortunately, 5 of these movies are a part of the SciFi Classics set, which means they could be hidden gems….or absolute garbage. Yesterday’s movie definitely fell in the latter category. It really was hard to watch, and coming from me…that’s saying something. So let’s go ahead and see what today’s movie, Hercules And The Captive Women, has to offer.

The plot: When strange atmospheric disturbances occur across Greece, Androcles, the king of Thebes, asks his friend Hercules to help investigate. When Hercules chooses not to go, Androcles drugs him and places him on a boat crewed by thieves and cutthroats. Unknown to Hercules, his son Hylas has also come on the journey, but is kept hidden below deck by Androcles’ dwarvish sidekick, Timoteo. When one of the crew ruins the boat’s water supply, the boat lands on an island and the crew mutinies but is stopped by Hercules. As the ship continues on, a storm wrecks the boat and separates the travelers. Hercules finds himself on a mist covered island and sees a young woman chained to the cliff and meant for a sacrifice to the demigod Proteus. Hercules defeats Proteus and frees the woman, Ismene, who takes Hercules to her home in Atlantis. Antinea, the queen of Atlantis, is reluctant to welcome Ismene back as there is a prophesy saying that if Ismene lives, Atlantis and all it’s people will be destroyed, and so she has Ismene recaptured and sent to be executed again. Hercules investigates some of the strange things about Atlantis and learns that that Antinea is planning to conquer the world with a race of superhuman beings. Hercules stops the army and manages to escape with Hylas, Ismene, Androcles, and Timoteo before Atlantis is destroyed.

Ok. This movie is actually worse than the one I watched yesterday, but the awfulness of this movie actually made it more enjoyable, in a complete “wtf” frame of viewing. The acting was ok but the dubbing (because this was yet another Italian film dubbed for American viewing) was incredibly out of sync at times. The lighting and editing was terrible. There was scene where the screen was red and even though you could hear people talking, you couldn’t see anything. The fight with Proteus was also very bad and yet very entertaining as Proteus would change into different creatures(at one point he changed into a bipedal lizard-type creature that was portrayed via a suit that was a step up from an early Gamera monster). It is a bad movie but it is one that can be considered entertaining in the right frame of mind.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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May 26th, 2015 Movie – Hercules Unchained

hercules unchained

Dear Mills Creek Entertainment. I think you need to reread the definition of what a Sci-Fi movie is. There are several movies in your “Sci-Fi Classics” box set that are clearly not Sci-Fi movies. Seriously, what does a movie about Hercules have to do with science fiction. Now if this was a “Fantasy” box set, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it because this would fit right in, but as a sci-fi movie, this is nowhere close. Ok, now that I got my little rant out of the way, let’s get on with today’s movie, Hercules Unchained.

The plot: After a recent adventure, Hercules is returning to Thebes with his new wife, Iole, and his fellow companion,Ulysses, when they discover an army of mercenaries camped outside Thebes. Upon investigating, Hercules learns that the army has been hired by Polynices in order to take control of Thebes from his brother Eteocles. Trying to find a peaceful solution, Hercules continues on to Thebes and talks to Eteocles, who says if Hercules can get Polynices to sign a peace treaty, he will relinquish the throne. Leaving Iole at his house in Thebes, Hercules and Ulysses head back to see Polynices, but Hercules winds up being bewitched after drinking from an enchanted spring, falls unconscious, and is captured. Hercules is taken to Lydia where Queen Omphale tries to take advantage of his amnesia to make him fall in love with her. Ulysses, pretending to be a deaf and mute servant, manages to get a message to his father while also attempting to help Hercules regain his memory. When Ulysses’ father and his men arrive, Hercules does regain his memory and manages to escape with Ulysses and the rest. Heading back to Thebes, they realize that the due date for the treaty has passed and try to prevent a war. Hercules learns that Eteocles has imprisoned Iole and plans to feed her to the tigers in the arena if Hercules shows up in Thebes. Hercules sneaks into Thebes but winds up facing the tigers himself and manages to kill them. While this was going on, Eteocles and Polynices were having a duel outside the city in order to prove who would rule the city. When they wind up killing each other, the leader of the mercenaries orders his men to attack the city but Hercules rallies the city’s defenses and mounts a counter attack which defeats the mercenaries. The city officials then elect the high priest Creon as the new ruler of the city to a rousing applause.

I have to be honest, I felt this movie was pretty boring. The final battle was pretty decent but every other fight scene was slow and boring. The couple of times that there was a one on one sword fight, they looked like they had incredibly fake wooden swords and were so overdramatic with their movements that it was hard not to laugh. A couple of different myths were used for the plot of the movie and while the dialogue was decent, the story itself moved too slowly. I don’t know. I mean, I loved Jason And The Argonauts but this is just a pale imitation.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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