movie review

October 30th, 2015 Movie – Kung Fu Arts

kung fu arts

Sorry for the lateness of this post. I started watching this movie yesterday but then wound up helping my brother move. I got home late and finished watching the movie but was too tired to really write anything. Anyways, today’s movie is from the Martial Arts collection and to be honest, I am not quite sure what to make of it. I mean, I know that Japanese, and just about every other oriental movie for that matter, can have some pretty bizarre plots going on. But this movie has an emperor marrying his daughter to a monkey. Oh yeh. I can’t wait to see what happens in today’s movie, Kung Fu Arts.

The plot: King Chi, the fiance to the emperor’s daughter, gets into a fight with a stranger on the palace grounds. When the fighting results in him breaking into the emperor’s chambers, he is accused of trying to assassinate the emperor by Pai Yeh Hu, the emperor’s general. Pai Yeh Hu tries to stop King Chi and the two begin to fight but when King Chi attempts to throw a dart at Pai Yeh Hu, he dodges it and the dart hits the princess instead. With the doctor unable to help her and giving her 3 days to live, the emperor makes an announcement declaring that anyone who is able to help the princess will be allowed to marry her. King Chi, disguised as a traveling doctor, makes his way towards the palace but when one of the guards pulls off his disguise, he is forced to fight them. Meanwhile, a baby chimpanzee carrying a bottle of liquid grabs the royal decree and, after being chased by the emperor’s men and the villagers, the monkey is brought to the palace. When the medicine the monkey brought succeeds in curing the princess, the emperor consults with his councilors and reluctantly admits that he is forced to marry his daughter to the monkey, The wedding ceremony commences and afterwards, the emperor places his daughter and the monkey into a boat and sets them adrift into the sea. Hearing word about where King Chi is, the emperor sends some men after him but King Chi is able to defeat the men and escape. The emperor decides to make Pai Yeh Hu the commander-in-chief of all China, but that night, an assassin sneaks into the palace, kills all of the sentries, and kills the emperor, which is witnessed by the princess’ handmaiden. Pai Yeh Hu claims that King Chi did this and swears revenge but the emperor’s councilor, worried about China’s stability, declares that he should assume the crown immediately before there is unrest. Meanwhile, the boat carrying the princess and the monkey lands on a deserted island and the two begin to survive on the island, where it is discovered that the princess is pregnant. Back at the palace, Pai Yeh Hu sends patrols out to look for the princess but they find the remains of her boat and believed she is dead. The princess’ aunt confronts Pai Yeh Hu about his wanting the princess when she was the one who helped him become emperor and Pai Yeh Hu kills her in order to keep the secret. Ten years later, the princess has given birth to a boy, who has grown up calling the monkey “Uncle Monkey”. Meanwhile, King Chi has been practicing martial arts for the past ten years in order to get revenge on Pai Yeh Hu. He sneaks onto the palace grounds and runs into Shao Chen, the princess’ handmaiden, who tells him about the emperor’s death. She gives King Chi a blood letter written by the emperor before he died and tells him what happened the night the emperor died. She also informs him about what happened to the princess, as everyone believing her to be dead. King Chi wants to kill Pai Yeh Hu immediately but Shao Chen stops him, and says in ten days, there will be a better opportunity and she will help him, so he agrees to wait and decides to go to the island to look for the princess. King Chi arrives on the island and sees the monkey, which used to be his, but when he calls out to the monkey, the monkey runs off and winds up being killed by a snake. King Chi eventually finds the princess in a cave, who does not look happy to see him but he tries to explain what had happened. The night if the attack, he overheard Pai Yeh Hu and the princess’ aunt planning to kill the emperor and he followed Pai Yeh Hu to try and stop him but failed. When he tried to disguise himself as a doctor but was recognized, he sent his monkey with the medicine to cure the princess. As they talk, the princess’ son arrives in the cave, and after burying “Uncle Monkey”, the princess admits that the child is King Chi’s. The night of the festival, Shao Chen drugs the sentries and sneaks King Chi into the palace, but King Chi ends up walking into a trap as both him and Shao Chen are captured. Pai Yeh Hu questions King Chi about the emperor’s blood letter but he refuses to answer. After he leaves, Shao Chen apologizes but King Chi says that the letter is safe with the princess when suddenly, the guards arrive and take Shao Chen away. Back on the island, the princess is worrying about King Chi when the emperor’s guards appear in the cave and capture her and ransack the cave looking for the letter. King Chi’s son arrives at the cave and, seeing it ransacked, goes into the forest and asks all of his monkey friends to help him rescue his mother. Back at the palace, Pai Yeh Hu asks the princess for the letter and it is revealed that Shao Chen betrayed the princess and King Chi in order to get a better life for herself. Shao Chen searches the princess for the letter, but when she is unable to find it, she suggests just killing them but Pai Yeh Hu kills her instead. King Chi’s son has the monkeys take out the guards while he frees his father. King Chi takes out the remaining guards and then begins to fight with Pai Yeh Hu. When Pai Yeh Hu starts to get the upper hand, King Chi’s son helps fight him, and the two begin to beat Pai Yeh Hu until the magistrate arrives with more guards. Pai Yeh Hu orders the three arrested and manages to grab the blood letter but a monkey snatches the letter from him and hands it to the magistrate, who learns of Pai Yeh Hu’s guilt. Pai Yeh Hu tries to escape and is killed by King Chi and afterwards, the magistrate announces the two as the new rulers of China,

I have to admit, this was a pretty decent movie. The acting was ok but the dubbing was incredibly bad, which just made the movie incredibly funny to watch. The story was ok but I will admit the whole monkey angle of the story was a little weird. The fight scenes were good and pretty well choreographed. The scenes involving the monkeys attacking the guards were also really funny. Not a blockbuster movie but this will keep you entertained for 90 minutes.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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October 29th, 2015 Movie – Kull The Conqueror

kull the conqueror

Sometimes, you know a movie is going to bad but you watch it anyways because, dammit, you really want it to be good. Conan The Barbarian was a great action/fantasy movie and when I heard that there was going to be a movie featuring Robert E. Howard’s other barbarian hero, Kull, I was excited. Then I started hearing more details about the movie and my excitement started to dim. Then I saw the trailer, and…well let’s just say that I was going to judge this movie on the B-movie scale, rather than the A-movie scale. When Kull The Conqueror finally came out in theaters, myself and a bunch of friends from work went to see it when our shift was over.

The plot: As a test to join Valusia’s elite soldiers, the Dragon Legion, an Atlantean barbarian named Kull is competing against several other soldiers until the battle is stopped by General Taligaro, the legion’s commander. Taligaro challenges Kull to fight him using swords covered with flames and though Kull sets an early advantage, Taligaro wins the fight. When Taligaro learns that Kull is from Atlantis, he tells Kull that all of his soldiers are of “noble blood”, a remark that angers Kull. Suddenly a messenger arrives, informing Taligaro that the king has gone mad and is killing all of his heirs, causing Taligaro and his men to head to the palace, with Kull following behind. Taligaro arrives at the palace and questions the king about his actions, but the king believes that Taligaro is challenging him and knocks him down. Kull stops the king from killing Taligaro and tries to calm him down but the king begins fighting with Kull and Kull eventually ends up stabbing the king. Taligaro and his cousin, Ducalon, both of whom are in line for succession, fight over the crown but the king, with his last breath, gives Kull the crown, making him the new king. Kull is shown around the palace and eventually is shown his harem, where he sees Zareta, a fortune teller who had actually predicted that Kull would become king in the fashion that he did. Later that night, Kull has Zareta use her cards to show the future of his kingdom, with her telling him that he will go on a quest, and that the fate of his kingdom will be found in a kiss. Kull attempts to sleep with Zareta, but when they argue about her being a slave and just being there because he commanded it, he sends her away. The next day, Kull attempts to free all of the slaves in Valusia, but he finds out that he is unable to due to the ancient laws. As he rides through the palace courtyard, he sees an exiled priest being whipped and orders him released and lets him reopen his temple, with Taligaro saying he is going to fast in trying to change things. After an assassination attempt on Kull failed, Taligaro, Ducalon, and Mandara are summoned to the temple of the sorceress queen, Akivasha, by Enaros, who tells the trio that he will help them kill Kull. Enaros resurrects Akivasha, who uses her powers to seduce Kull and trick him into marrying her. After the wedding ceremony, Kull has Zareta read his future but when he draws the death card, Zareta tries to warn him but Akivasha uses her powers to make Kull ignore her warning. That night, Akivasha poisons Kull and blames Zareta for his death, having her arrested. While everyone believes Kull to be dead, Akivasha actually has him chained in a dungeon and tries to convince him to serve with her, but Kull refuses her and so she orders Enaros’ monsterous bodyguard to kill Kull, but Kull manages to escape. Kull meets up with Ascalante, the priest he helped earlier, who tells Kull the truth about who the queen really is. Kull and Ascalante sneak into the palace in order to save Zareta from being executed and, after fighting with Taligaro and the palace guards, they head down a secret passage and manage to escape from the city. They arrive at the port of Tatheli, where Kull visits an old friend name Juba and convinces him to loan them a boat and crew so the can reach the Isle of Ice, where Ascalante claims they will find the Breath of Valka, which is the only thing that can stop Akivasha. When Akivasha learns where they are going, she sends Taligaro after them and uses her powers to help them. Back on Juba’s boat, Kull, Zareta, and Ascalante are drugged by Juba and taken captive but Kull is able to free himself and, with the other’s help, free Juba’s slaves and take command of the ship, throwing Juba and his men off the ship. Finally reaching the Isle of Ice, Kull, Zareta, and Ascalante go searching for the Breath of Valka, which turns out to be a statue of Valka with a freezing wind coming out of it’s mouth. Realizing that she is the only one that can carry the Breath of Valka, Zareta approaches the statue and asks Valka to allow her to be the carrier. Meanwhile, Taligaro and his men arrive and begin fighting with Kull, Ascalante and their crew. The freezing breath enters Zareta’s body, but Taligaro stabs Ascalante, grabs Zareta, and proceeds to trap Kull in the frozen chamber. Kull grabs an axe from a frozen warrior and uses it to smash the statue of Valka, releasing a flood that frees him from the chamber. Back in Valusia, Akivasha has killed Ducalon when Taligaro arrives telling her that Kull is dead. When an eclipse occurs, Akivasha plans to use it to regain her full power and bring back her ancient kingdom of Acheron but Taligaro pushes Zareta into the flame of Acheron in the hopes that it will be extinguished but it fails. Kull arrives and, after fighting with Taligaro, stabs him then turns his attention to Akivasha, who has assumed her true form by standing in the flame. Zareta asks Kull to kiss her, where she passes the Breath of Valka to him, and Kull then kisses Akivasha, killing her and extinguishing the flame for good. Taligaro grabs Zareta and offers to exchange her life for the crown but Kull uses the axe to kill him. The next day, Kull is announced as king once again and he uses his axe to destroy the ancient tablets of law, before claiming Zareta as his queen and saying the shall make a new kingdom.

Kull The Conqueror was viewed pretty negatively by the critics, holding a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Originally this movie was intended to be a third Conan movie, but Arnold Schwarzenegger did not want to reprise his role and Kevin Sorbo did not want to redo a character that has already been portrayed (which is funny considering how many people played Hercules before him). The movie itself was based on a Conan novel, with parts of another Conan story, as well as a Kull story, mixed in. The movie was a box office bomb, coming in at #9 it’s opening weekend and only earning over $6 million domestically off of a $30 million budget.

Yeh, I was hoping for something like Conan, and I got PG-13 version of Hercules. I am not kidding. Kevin Sorbo acted this role exactly the same as he did Hercules, just with a little more sword/axe fighting. Thomas Ian Griffith (Taligaro) and Karina Lombard (Zareta) were both decent but everyone else was pretty bad, although Harvey Fierstein was his usual funny self. I will say that the story was a pretty good for a fantasy movie. The special effects were pretty bad, considering this was a big budget movie. You can watch it to make fun of it if you want, but you are better off skipping this one.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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October 28th, 2015 Movie – Kuffs

kuffs

Have you ever watched a movie and for whatever reason, some part of the movie just made you laugh. I mean, the whole movie could be funny, but there is one scene that always makes you laugh. Let’s take Ant-Man as a recent example. I always thought the scene was funny in the trailer but when I saw it in the theaters, the scene with Ant-Man and Yellowjacket fighting on the toy train tracks and Yellowjacket covering his face with his hands as the toy train comes towards him, then having the camera pull back to show the train just fall on it’s side after it hits him still made me laugh out loud when I saw it. In today’s movie, Kuffs, it was a bit more of a juvenile sense of humor involving a dog farting that had me laughing.

The plot: George Kuffs, a high school dropout who has been fired from his last job, leaves his girlfriend Maya when he finds out she is pregnant with his kid. Kuffs goes to see his brother Brad, who is an officer in San Francisco’s Patrol Special Police (a civilian auxiliary police force that is assign specific districts of the city), in the hopes of getting a loan from him. As they have dinner to celebrate Brad’s birthday, Brad refuses to give him the loan and offers instead to get him a job as a Patrol Special, but Kuffs refuses the offer. Brad heads to a nearby church for communion before starting his shift, when he is shot by Kane, the leader of a gang that had tried to bribe Brad into looking the other way while his gang terrorized his district. Hearing the shots, Kuffs runs into the church and sees Kane pointing the gun at his fallen brother, but Kane drops the gun and leaves, while Kuffs gets help for his brother. While Brad is in surgery, Kuffs is approached by Captain Morino, who tells Kuffs they have the man that shot Brad but he wants Kuffs to come to the station to identify him. At the station, Kuffs identifies Kane but when the district attorney learns that Kuffs didn’t actually see Kane shoot Brad, he is forced to release him. Captain Morino then informs Kuffs that Brad died and he left Kuffs his district and that he can either run the district or sell it. As Kuffs is visiting his brother’s grave, a businessman named Sam Jones approaches him and offers to buy his district. One of the officers in his district also offers to buy the district from Kuffs but, to the surprise of everyone, Kuffs decides to keep the district, going to the police academy during the day, then riding with an officer at night. On his first night on patrol, Kuffs is introduced to Ted Bukowsky, the officer that is riding with him while he is on patrol. Thinking that Ted will get in the way of his plan to look for Kane, Kuffs puts some drugs in a cup of coffee, which he gives to Ted, but Ted refuses to drink it, saying he likes cold coffee. As they start the patrol, Kuffs passes Kane as they drive through an intersection and tries to follow him but after getting yelled at by Ted, he is forced to continue on his assigned patrol route. When they arrive at the seen of a robbery, the description given to them matches Kane and Kuffs wants to go after him but Ted wants to follow procedure and the two wind up fighting until it is broken up by another couple of cops. Ted decides to help Kuffs, and the two stake at Kane’s apartment and follow him to a Chinese laundromat where they see Kane pick up a mysterious tube. The continue to follow Kane where Kuffs sees Kane hand the tube to Sam, and Kuffs tries to follow Sam but he loses him when Sam gets on a subway. Kuffs has to respond to a call about a jumper in his district but as he is driving there, he has to deal with Ted, who has begun to show the effects of the drugged coffee. With Ted unconscious when they arrive at the scene, Kuffs is forced to deal with the jumper on his own but he gets distracted when he sees Maya on the street with a date. Kuffs tries to convince the jumper to come inside but instead, the jumper shoots Kuffs before he jumps. At the hospital, Kuffs is visited by Maya, who still cares about him but is still upset over his actions. Kuffs returns to his apartment to see Kane waiting for him, who offers Kuffs a $25,000 bribe to look the other way. Kuffs pays a visit to Sam to discuss his connection with Kane, then later on, he stops Kane as he tries to shake down one of the business in his district. Kane arrives at Kuffs apartment to try and kill him but Kuffs is able to kill him instead. The next day, Kuffs arrives at the office to find Sam there along with an officer, who is there to arrest Kuffs, due to his lying about graduating high school, which is necessary for being a Patrol Special. Kuffs manages to trick the arresting officer and, borrowing a drug dog, Kuffs goes to Ted’s place to try and get his help but Ted refuses. Kuffs heads to the laundromat but instead of drugs, he finds some stolen artwork that is worth $50 million. Sam and his men arrive and tie up Kuffs and set a bomb to destroy the building before they leave. Ted, feeling guilty, shows up at the laundromat and manages to rescue Kuffs, then the two arm themselves at a nearby gun shop and go after Sam. The two men arrive as Sam is making a deal for the stolen paintings and end up getting into a gunfight with the crooks, eventually getting some backup and though Ted and Kuffs get wounded in the process, they manage to kill or arrest all of the crooks, including Sam. Later, it is shown that Kuffs and Maya got married and have a daughter, and Kuffs took the GED to get his diploma so he can keep the business and, with Maya’s parent’s help, they buy another district.

The critics may have panned this movie (it currently holds a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but I have always found this movie to be pretty funny. Christian Slater (Kuffs) was pretty good in this movie and I thought the idea of him continuously breaking the fourth wall by telling the “audience” what was going on added to the comedy of the film. I also thought that Tony Goldwyn (Ted) worked well with Slater as a comedic pairing and Milla Jovovich did a good job playing Maya. The story was a mix of a typical cop/revenge drama with some buddy cop elements and Slater did a good job going in between the different styles. The action scenes were decent, though a bit over the top at times. A pretty funny movie if you give it a chance.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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October 27th, 2015 Movie – Krull

krull

Man does this movie bring back some memories. I first saw this movie in the theaters with my dad years ago and thought that the Glaive was one of the coolest weapons I had ever seen since the lightsaber. I mean, the guy had a thought-controlled throwing star that could cut through stone. How cool is that. That plus the sci-fi elements in this early 80’s fantasy movie has always made it stick out in my mind and every time it came on TV, I would always watch it. So let me introduce you to one of my favorite fantasy movies from the 80’s, Krull.

The plot: An entity known as “The Beast” travels throughout the galaxy in his mountain-like spaceship called the Black Fortress, and conquers planets with his futuristic army, the Slayers. On the planet Krull, The Beast’s latest target of conquest, a wedding ceremony is set to take place between Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa, in the hopes that an alliance between the two kingdoms will be able to defeat The Beast, though both of the kings are against the marriage. During the ceremony, where the couple are to exchange a handful of flame with each other, the Slayers attack, killing most of the assembled army and guests, including the two kings, kidnapping Lyssa, and injuring Colwyn and leaving him for dead. When Colwyn regains consciousness, he finds that his injuries have been tended to by Ynyr, the Old One. Ynyr tells Colwyn that he is now king, and Lyssa has been taken to the Black Fortress. When Colwyn asks how he can defeat The Beast, Ynyr says that the only way is with the Glaive, a legendary weapon, and he takes Colwyn to where it is supposed to be found. Colwyn climbs the mountain and enters a cave near it’s top, where he retrieves the Glaive (a mystical, five bladed weapon) from a river of lava. Ynyr then tells Colwyn they must see a nearby seer in order to locate the Black Fortress, as it’s location changes every day. While they are taking a break in a nearby forest, they meet Ergo :The Magnificent”, a wizard with a penchant for shape changing, who refuses to accompany them but when he sees a cyclops in the forest, agrees to go with them. As they continue traveling, the meet a band of escaped criminals, led by a man named Torquil, and Colwyn manages to convince them to join his quest to fight the beast. Finally reaching the Emerald Seer, they ask for his help in locating the Black Fortress, but as he tries to find the fortress, The Beast’s hand magically appears and destroys the seer’s crystal. The seer suggests they go to the Emerald Temple in a nearby swamp, where The Beast’s magics cannot penetrate, As they travel the swamp, they are attacked by Slayers but they manage to fend them off with the help of Rell, a cyclops that had been following them since Ynyr came down from the mountains. Continuing through the swamp, the group become trapped in quicksand and while Colwyn and the others try to save the members trapped in the mire, failing to save one of them, a changeling kills the seer and takes his place. When they reach the temple, the changeling attempts to kill Colwyn but Rell, who had seen the seers body in the swamp, kills the changeling. Knowing that it is their last chance at finding the Black Fortress, Ynyr goes to see the Widow of the Web, while the rest of the group wait at the base of the mountain. Meanwhile, The Beast has been trying to convince Lyssa into marrying him, even taking the form of Colwyn in his attempts to seduce her, but she refuses. The Beast shows her an image of Colwyn embracing another woman and says that Colwyn will betray her, but when Colwyn refuses the advances of the woman, The Beast kills his minion for failing to seduce or kill Colwyn. Back at the mountain, Ynyr reaches the lair of the Widow of the Web and makes his way towards her, but as he makes his way across the webs, a giant spider appears. Ynyr calls out the Widow’s real name, which causes her to halt the spider for a time, giving him a better chance to reach her. Ynyr makes it to her lair and manages to convince her to tell him where the Black Fortress will appear. She tells him where the fortress will appear then she offers her life to help him escape from the spider, but tells him his life will end when the sands run out. Ynyr makes it down to the others and manages to tell them where the Black Fortress will appear before he collapses and the sands slip from his hand. The group capture mystical fire mares so they can reach the Black Fortress in time but Rell chooses not to go with them. Arriving at the fortress, the begin to scale the walls but they are attacked by Slayers and several of the group are killed. As the fortress begins to teleport, Rell arrives and manages to keep one of the passageways open long enough for the survivors to enter the fortress, but he ends up being crushed by the passageway. As the Slayers attack them, the group ends up getting separated, with Ergo and Titch being attacked by Slayers but Ergo transforms into a tiger and kills them. Meanwhile, Colwyn, Torquil, Oswyn, and Bardolph find the dome that Lyssa is being kept in and while Colwyn uses the Glaive to free her, the others try to find Ergo and Titch but end up trapped in a room with spike lined walls that begin closing in on them, killing Bardolph. Colwyn breaches the dome and finds Lyssa, then uses the Glaive to block the passage to The Beast so that the can try and escape, but The Beast appears, forcing them to face it. Colwyn uses the Glaive and manages to wound The Beast when he embeds it into The Beast’s chest, but when he tries to retrieve it, The Beast grabs it and continues to attack him. Realizing that they needed to complete the wedding ceremony, Lyssa summons the flame to her hand and Colwyn takes it, allowing him to shoot the flame at The Beast and kill it. With The Beast’s death, Colwyn and Lyssa find the others and manage to make it out of the Black Fortress before it self destructs. Having survived the ordeal, Colwyn removes Torquil’s manacles, naming him Lord Marshal in the process and he and Lyssa set off to begin their new kingdom, with their offspring going on to rule the galaxy.

Krull was met with mixed to negative reviews from the critics, holding a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the critcs stated the film to be too moody and melancholy for the Star Wars set, but otherwise calling it a likeable mix of sword and sorcery and science fiction. This movie was one of the most expensive to be made at that time but it wound up being a box office flop as it only earned over $16 million back from it’s $45 million budget. Still, the movie managed to obtain a cult following in the years after it’s release.

It might not be considered a “good” movie but I have always found this movie to be very entertaining to watch. The acting was pretty good and, it may seem cliched, but the mostly British casting in the movie actually made the movie seem like a better fantasy movie (probably the whole sword and sorcery being linked with King Arthur for me). The story was rather unique, a planet with medieval weapons taking on an intergalactic army with laser-like weapons. The special effects were pretty good, though there were a few times where the rear screen projection could have been a bit better. You could tell that Star Wars had a slight influence on this movie because the Slayers really looked quite a bit like stormtroopers and even Lyssa’s honor guard looked a little like the Emperor’s royal guard from Return Of The Jedi. I was a little disappointed in the appearance of The Beast because it kind of looked like a cross between a C.H.U.D. and one of the creatures from Humanoids From The Deep. Still, it was a big monster boss which is what you need in a fantasy movie. Like I said, it might not be for everyone, but I think this is a lot of fun to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 of 5

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October 26th, 2015 Movie – Kraken: Tentacles Of The Deep

kraken tentacles of the deep

It’s been a while since I have watched a movie involving a legendary creature. Well…let me rephrase that. It’s been a while since I have watched a movie involving a legendary character for this blog. The Kraken has always been a favorite monster of mine due to the different stories and descriptions of it. While it is usually depicted as some sort of giant, squid-like creature, the original stories from Norway made it sound like something completely different. Then of course, we have the monster from Clash Of The Titans and the remake (as well as the popular “Release the Kraken” line), which shows a more humanoid type monster. Today’s movie uses the standard squid type monster so lets get on with Kraken: Tentacles Of The Deep.

The plot: During a nighttime boating trip as a kid, Ray Reiter witnesses his parents being killed by a giant squid. Thirty years later, Nicole, a marine archaeologist, is exploring an area of water off the Canadian coast called Desolation Passage with two of her students, Jenny and Michael, for a legendary opal and Trojan death mask which she believes was last seen on a boat that sank in the area. Using an underwater camera to search the wrecks, the soon discover a wreck which contains the death mask but as they are pulling up the camera, something grabs the camera, pulling the cables taut across the neck of the boat captain’s neck, eventually severing his head from his body. Michael goes to check on the captain and sees several tentacles grabbing the remains before dragging them deeper underwater. Hearing about the attack, Ray heads to Canada and after talking with Nicole, manages to convince her to let him fix her boat and act as the new skipper. Heading back out to sea, Ray tries to get Nicole to tell him what she is looking for but Nicole is suspicious of Ray’s motives for coming and doesn’t tell him. When they get to the wreck, Ray manages to convince Nicole to let him dive with her and the two dive down to the wreck. Nicole goes into the wreck and retrieves some artifacts, including the mask, but when she reaches for something that might be the opal, something grabs her hand and when she frees herself, she winds up getting stuck. Meanwhile, Ray is exploring the outside of the boat, finding the captain’s remains, before noticing the bubbles coming from the ship and goes to rescue Nicole. Ray frees Nicole and as they are swimming back to the surface, Ray catches a glimpse of the squid behind them. Back on the boat, Nicole tells Ray about the legend of the mask and in return, Ray shows her the claw from a giant squid, to let her know what they are dealing with down there. When they arrive back in port, they are met by Maxwell Odemus, who offers to use his money to help them with their expedition but Nicole refuses due to Maxwell’s reputation of stealing other people’s finds and selling them. Later that night, three people are fishing at night when their boat is attacked by the giant squid and they are killed. Meanwhile, Michael meets up with Ike, one of Maxwell’s men, who pays Michael for all of Nicole’s navigational data. At the same time, Ray and Nicole are having dinner and Nicole explains about the opal and how she has traced it throughout history and it’s last known location is Desolation Passage. Ray then explains about how his parents were killed by the squid and he had been searching for it ever since. Maxwell approaches the two and begins taunting Nicole about how she will help him recover the opal when an explosion occurs on the dock, destroying Nicole’s boat. Nicole is sure Maxwell is behind it but when her funding is pulled, she is forced to admit defeat. Ray uses his parent’s life insurance policy to buy a new boat so that Nicole can continue her expedition, and Jenny and Michael agree to come along and help. When they arrive at Desolation Passage, they spot Maxwell’s boat in the area and realize that he has somehow found out the area where the wreck is. Maxwell has already sent his men into the water but as they search for the wreck, one of them is killed by the squid. Ray and Nicole dive down to the wreck but as Nicole goes into the wreck, Ray sees the rest of Maxwell’s men approaching the ship and he goes in after her. Jenny and Michael get the underwater camera ready but after dropping it in the water, the image goes out and they find Maxwell has boarded their ship. Back at the wreck, Nicole has found the opal but as they are leaving the ship, they are attacked by Maxwell’s men. Ray shoots one of the men with a spear gun, and as the man sinks towards the bottom, the squid appears and eats him. As Ray struggles with another of Maxwell’s men, the squid attacks them both, killing Maxwell’s man and cutting Ray’s air-hose but Ray manages to make it to safety inside the wreck. Meanwhile, Nicole makes it to the surface, followed by Ike, who drags her on board Maxwell’s ship, where Maxwell retrieves the opal from her dive bag. Wanting the rest of the artifacts from the wreck, Maxwell asks Nicole where the mask is but when she refuses, Maxwell has Ike shoot Michael, forcing Nicole to tell him where the mask is. As Ike goes to retrieve the mask, the squid begins attack Maxwell’s boat, killing another of Maxwell’s men. Ike finds the mask and proceeds to pour gasoline onto Ray’s boat so he can torch it. Meanwhile, Ray manages to make it to the surface in time to see his boat go up in flames. Making his way to Maxwell’s boat, Ray finds Nicole and Jenny but before he can save them, he is attacked by Ike, and as they are fighting, they wind up suspended over the water and the squid kills Ike. Ray saves Nicole and Jenny but Maxwell grabs Jenny to hold hostage but as he gets close to the edge, the squid grabs both of them and drags them underwater. The squid attacks the boat and as they try to fend it off, Nicole is grabbed and dragged underwater. The squid attacks Ray but winds up getting one of it’s tentacles caught in a winch, allowing Ray to use a machine gun to finally kill it. Ray calls in a S.O.S. before he abandons the sinking ship but as he is rowing away, he hears Nicole voice and sees her swimming towards him and after getting her on board the ship, they watch the ship sink beneath the water, with the opal coming to rest at the bottom of the ocean. As they are drifting in the life boat, Ray gives Nicole her dive bag containing the mask as the rescue helicopter arrives to save them while under the sea, a swarm of baby squid are seen swimming around the opal.

This wasn’t a bad sci-fi movie but it was a bit disappointing in one regard. The acting was decent, though some of the characters were a bit one dimensional. Jack Scalia (Maxwell) was probably the best actor out of them all. I really liked the story. The idea that the squid was somehow linked to the opal and guarded it from human hands was not 100% unique but did add a nice plot twist to what would just be another killer animal movie as it gave the animal motivation for it’s attacks. The special effects were on the cheap side, particularly with how the squid looked. It wasn’t the worst looking giant squid featured in a movie, but it is a contender. Still, my main problem was the fact that the squid really wasn’t featured much in the movie. I mean, you could have taken out the squid, and this would have been a decent drama about a crime lord trying to steal a rare gem from a research trip, which is also a plot that has been used before. So a decent movie that is best watched when you are in the mood for some mindless entertainment.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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movie review

Flashback Review: March 10th, 2014 Movie – Atragon

atragon

So if you missed reading the blog for it, Destroy All Monsters is my favorite movie in the Godzilla franchise, and one of my favorite movies of all time. However, when I first watched it as a kid, I was somewhat confused because there were four monsters that I had not seen in any of the previous Godzilla movies. I soon learned about the other movies that Toho had made where these monsters came from but aside from Mothra and Rodan, many of these movies were not to be found on the video rental shelves. Flash forward to 1998, and I become a regular shopper on a sight known as eBay, where, being the “Godzilla snob” that I am, I am able to not only find all of the Godzilla movies on VHS in the original Japanese version with English subtitles, but I am also able to find some of these other Toho movies to add to my collection. Atragon was the second such movie that I bought.

The plot: A photographer, Susumu, and his assistant, Yoshito, are taking pictures of a swimsuit model on the docks when they see a figure emerge from the ocean in a cloud of steam. Suddenly, a car drives past them and plunges off the pier, with steam billowing from the ocean as the car disappears. The next morning, the police investigate the crash as they believe a missing engineer might have been in the car, but discount Susumu and Yoshito’s story. As they are leaving the docks, Susumu spots a woman leaving a nearby ship and takes her picture, as he wishes for her to be his next model. Later that day, after developing their photos, Detective Ito shows up at their office and tells them that another engineer was kidnapped by a person witnesses said was “steamy” when an earthquake suddenly occurs. Meanwhile, retired Rear Admiral Kusumi, now the president of Kokoku Shipping Co., receives a visit from a reporter from True Story magazine, who questions Kusumi about a sub, the A-403, and it’s commanding officer, Captain Jinguji, who supposedly died in WWII, but the reporter claims Jinguji is still alive. Yoshito, who had been asked by Susumu to locate the girl, calls Susumu ad tells him he located the girl, who happens to be Captian Jinguji’s daughter Makoto. Susumu arrives at Kokoku Shipping just as Makoto and Kusumi get in a car and leave so they decide to follow them. Makoto and Kusumi’s driver turns out to be an agent of the Mu Empire and takes them to the ocean, where he plans to take them to the Mu Empire. Susumu and Yoshito arrive and manage to stop the agent, who swims out to a waiting sub. The next day, a reel of film is sent to the police department from the Mu Empire, where they claim to have managed to survive for thousands of years at the bottom of the ocean. The Mu Empire show the A-403 but claim that Captain Jinguji had abandoned the sub and is working on building a new sub. The tape then says that the surface world must surrender and Captain Jinguji must stop work in his new sub. After several cities are destroyed, and a UN sub following a Mu submarine is destroyed by diving further than it is capable, the UN decide that Jinguji’s sub, the Atragon, might be their only hope but nobody knows where he may be. When a supposed Mu agent who has been shadowing Makoto is captured, he is revealed to be a naval officer under Jinguji’s command who was ordered to keep watch over Makoto. Kusumi and Makoto manage to convince the officer to take them to Jinguji, and they are accompanied by Susumu, Yoshito, Detective Ido, and the reporter. After traveling for some time, the finally arrive on an island, where armed guards escort them to Jinguji’s base. They finally meet Jinguji, who admits to the existence of Atragon, but he refuses to help as he claims Atragon was built to restore the greatness of the Japanese Empire. Makoto runs off and Susumu, who has grown close to Makoto, chastises the Jinguji for refusing to help the world. The next day, the visitors are treated to the Atragon’s test run, where they witness the sub’s ability to fly as well as submerge. Kusumi again tries to persuade Jinguji to use Atragon against the Mu Empire but Jinguji still refuses. When they get a moment alone, Jinguji tries to make Makoto understand his reasoning but she refuses to listen. Susumu, who had overheard their conversation, tells Jinguji that he is a “ghost with rusty armor” and goes to leave but Jinguji stops him and gives him a picture of himself and Makoto when she was a child before asking that he take care of her. Meanwhile, the reporter reveals himself to be a Mu agent, planting explosives in the base and kidnapping Makoto and Susumu as he leaves the island. The two are taken to the Mu Empire, where they are placed in a cell with the kidnapped engineers and told that if they try to escape, they will be fed to the Mu’s god, Manda, a giant serpent-like dragon. When the Mu begin to launch an attack on Tokyo, Jinguji and his crew manage to free the Atragon and head out to face the Mu Empire. The Mu Empire uses an earthquake to destroy the capitol building, and a Mu sub destroys all of the ships in Tokyo harbor, but Atragon arrives and follows after the Mu sub. Back in the Mu Empire, Susumu uses some explosives that he grabbed from when he was forced to work to hold the Mu Empress hostage and they attempt to escape, but the Empress unleashes Manda to keep them from leaving. Atragon arrives and begins firing smokescreen torpedoes at Manda, allowing the 5 people to swim to the sub undetected. Once they are safely on board, Jinguji attempts to negotiate a peace with the Empress but when she refuses, he orders Atragon to attack the heart of the empire. Manda attacks the sub by coiling around it but they electrify the hull to shake the monster loose, then use their Absolute Zero Cannon to freeze the monster into the side of the sea cliff. Atragon then begins to tunnel into the sea cliff until it reaches the Mu Empire’s power plant, where they freeze the power plant, before leaving. The frozen geothermal machinery causes a fiery explosion, which can be seen on the surface of the ocean. Witnessing the end of her empire, the Mu Empress chooses to swim into the explosion and die with her people, rather than go back with Jinguji and the others..

This is a pretty good sci-fi movie. The acting was pretty good as far as I can tell and the dubbing was actually better than some of the other Toho movies at the time. The story itself was also good. Atlantis always gets a lot of publicity as far as being the “lost continent” so it is nice to see another “legendary” lost land mass get some recognition on screen. Now, the idea of an ancient culture trying to retake the planet they feel they should own can seem a bit old, but back in the early 60’s, this was still a somewhat new concept and Toho did a good job with it. The effects were pretty good but I really liked the design of Manda, as it really looked like a traditional Oriental dragon, as opposed to the snake with legs that was in Destroy All Monsters. One thing that always bugged me was the name of the sub. See, in the Japanese version, the sub is called Gotengo but for some reason, the name was changed for the English dubbing. Oh well, it is a small gripe that honestly doesn’t take away from the movie. If you are looking for something new to watch, this is a good classic sci-fi movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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movie review

October 25th, 2015 Movie – Krakatoa: East Of Java

krakatoa east of java

Every now and then, something happens to remind us not only how unpredictable nature is, but how dangerous and devastating it can be. Take Hurricane Patricia for example. This was one of the most, if not the most, powerful hurricanes to be recorded at sea. If you saw the satellite images, this storm was massive, way bigger than Katrina. Luckily for everyone, the storm did end up losing strength so it did not do as much damage as people feared. Today’s movie is loosely based on another example of how destructive nature can be. And if it wasn’t for someone commenting on my movie collection early on in this blog, then I probably would never have owned Krakatoa: East Of Java.

The plot: On the island of Krakatoa, villagers are unnerved by the rumblings and smoke coming from the volcano. In the port city of Anjer, the Batavia Queen, captained by Chris Hanson, is loading up supplies for and passengers for a salvage mission, among them Douglas Rigby (the owner and operator of a diving bell), Giovanni and Leoncavallo Borghese, (hot air balloon pilots), four Japanese pearl divers led by a woman named Toshi, Harry Connerly (a diver) and his mistress Charley (a lounge singer), and Laura (a woman that had an affair with Hanson). Before they are to set sail, they are approached by government authorities and order Hanson to take 30 convicts to a nearby island, which Chris reluctantly agrees to. Hanson recognizes one of the the prisoners, a man named Lester Danzig, and allows him to stay on the deck during the trip as opposed to staying in the hold with the other prisoners. During the voyage, Hanson talks to Laura about what happened with her husband and she admits that he threatened to take her son Peter if she asked for a divorce but she asked anyways as she wanted to be with Hanson. Meanwhile, the crew notice some strange things during the voyage such as huge flocks of seabirds in the air, as well as fiery explosions coming from the sea. Danzig sees Connerly taking some medicine for a lung disease and comments about how Hanson doesn’t know as the medicine could cause him to hallucinate. Danzig also mentions to Connerly that Laura had been in a mental institution for a year and questions the truth of their mission. Connerly tells the others and they all approach Hanson with their concerns about the mission and Hanson informs them that Laura’s husband had taken 10 packages of pearls worth a fortune, along with Laura’s son Peter, with him when his ship, the Arianna, sank somewhere off the coast of Krakatoa. He put together the expedition in order to retrieve the pearls as well as find out what happened to Peter. As they are preparing to eat dinner, a high pitched whistling is heard coming from the ocean itself. As a result of the medicine he was taking, plus the whistling sound, Connerly begins to hallucinate and attacks one of the pearl divers, as well as several of the crew members that try to stop him. Connerly is finally subdued and Hanson orders him placed in a slatted box and suspended over the deck so he won’t hurt anyone. As they get closer to Krakatoa, the heat begins to get unbearable and Charley pleads with Hanson to free Connerly from the box, which Hanson agrees to do. Some time later, they pass through a thick steam cloud and finally arrive at Krakatoa. The Borgheses use their hot air balloon to search the area from the sky, while Rigby goes down in his diving bell to search the ocean floor. The Borgheses spot the Arianna and drop a signal buoy to mark it’s location but when the propeller stops working, their balloon begins to drift over and into the volcano. They begin to toss everything overboard in order to lighten their load and end up being blasted out of the crater but the basket catches fire and they are forced to jump into the sea, where they are picked up by one of the Batavia Queen’s lifeboats. Danzig informs Hanson about Connerly’s condition, which causes Hanson to begin suiting up to dive himself. When Connerly sees this, the two men begin to argue about it but when Rigby’s diving bell is stuck on some reefs, the two men put aside the argument in order to save him. Meanwhile, Danzig uses the opportunity to sneak into Hanson’s cabin and steal a gun, which he uses to knock out the jailer and free the other prisoners. The prisoners then throw the jailer overboard in chains before taking over the rest of the ship and placing the crew in the cargo hold. Meanwhile, after freeing the diving bell, Hanson and Connerly proceed to the Arianna and, locating the safe, have it hauled back onto the ship before they, along with Toshi and the other divers. head back themselves, where they find the Danzig and the prisoners in charge. Danzig has everyone but Hanson placed in the hold and then he shows Hanson that the only thing in the safe was a watch. When an explosion occurs on Krakatoa, Hanson uses the distraction to grab the gun from Danzig then, after killing two of the prisoners, he uses a steam hose to force the remaining prisoners overboard, where the end up swimming to the island. After being freed from the hold, Rigby finds the ship’s log inside the safe, saying that it had made a last stop in Palembang before it sank, and a letter inside the log shows that Peter left the ship to attend the mission school there. Hanson decides to head to Palembang to find Peter, but Krakatoa begins to continuously erupt, sending lava bombs into the air and falling onto the ship, one of them killing Toshi. When they arrive at Palembang, they find the school abandoned and burning but a passing ship tells them that the students and teachers had already boarded a boat heading for Java. The Batavia Queen heads for Java and soon comes across a sinking ship, which happens to be the ship carrying the students. They manage to rescue everyone, including Peter, who is reunited with his mother. As they grab all the supplies that were on the boat, one of them is a trunk belonging to Peter, which contains the pearls. Hanson, knowing that the eruption will cause a tsunami, begins preparing his ship to head to deep water so they can ride it out, but Connerly, Charley, Giovanni, and the diving girls wish to take the life boat to Anjer. Hanson argues that Anjer will be destroyed by the tsunami but when they refuse to stay, he gives them each their share of the pearls and lets them go. Connerly and the others make it to Anjer but when the tsunami hits, they are all killed as the city is wiped out. Meanwhile, the Batavia Queen is able to ride out the tsunami and

The eruption of Krakatoa is one of the most deadly volcanic eruptions in recorded history. The explosions from the eruption could be heard in Perth, Australia, almost 2800 miles away and the shock waves are said to have circled the globe seven times according to barographs. The ash and debris cloud from the eruption was said to have extended 275 miles and darkened the sky in the immediate area for 3 days. The force of the eruption is estimated to have the explosive fource of 200 megatons of TNT, which is 1000 times more powerful than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. You would think that with something as fantastic as this as the basis, a movie about it would be a success. However Krakatoa: East Of Java was a failure commercially and the critics hated it, as shown by the 0% rating it has on Rotten Tomatoes.

I have never really been one for disaster movies but I have always been fascinated by Krakatoa so when this movie was suggested to me, I decided to give it a shot. Visually, this movie is stunning. The special effects, particularly involving the eruption, were incredible and well deserving of the Academy Award nomination the movie received. However, the acting seemed rather wooden to me, with hardly anyone really projecting any emotion into their delivery. The story itself was probably the weakest part of the movie. This was a case where “more is less” because they had so many subplots that they tried to squeeze into the movie that it weakened the picture as a whole. This is a great movie to watch for it’s effects, but if there was a way to get rid of the dialogue without losing the rest of the sounds, then it would be more enjoyable to me.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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