movie, movie review

December 31st, 2015 Movie – Lurkers


Man has this year flown by. It’s hard to believe that I have made it through another 365 movies, and even harder to believe that after 2 years, I am just now finishing with the letter L. That means that after watching 730 movies, I’m not even half way through the alphabet. Admittedly, that is my fault for buying so many movies. Anyways, this has been a fun two years of watching movies and I probably have at least that many more years worth of movies to go. So let’s go ahead and finish off the year with today’s movie, Lurkers.

The plot: 10 year old Cathy is reading her book at the table instead of eating when her mother takes the book from her and, since she wasn’t eating, tells her to go outside and play. Cathy says she doesn’t want to but her mom approaches her with the iron and forces her to go. Outside, Cathy is jumping rope with some girls when the rope is suddenly wrapped around her neck and the two girls begin choking her with it, all while looking at a strange girl dressed in white. When a woman approaches the apartment, the girl in white disappears and the two girls drop the jump rope, allowing Cathy to breathe. That night, Cathy hears strange voices calling her name and sees several ghostly figures approaching her bed. In the present, Cathy is meeting with her boyfriend Bob when she is almost run down by a cab. The strange woman from her youth rescues her and it is revealed that the girl in white is inside the cab, staring at Cathy. During lunch, Bob tries to convince Cathy to invite her brother to their wedding but she refuses, saying too much happened in their youth. Later, after talking with their wedding planner about invitations, Bob invites Cathy to go with him to a work party hosted by his partner, Monica. Later, as Cathy is playing cello with a quartet for a recording, she sees the girl in white staring at her, but no one else can see her. That night, she dreams about when her mom killed her father then tried to kill her but as Cathy ran to escape, her mother chased after her. Cathy wakes up then  cries to Bob about how her brother blames her for what happened to her parents, which is part of the reason that he became a priest. The next day, Cathy goes to see a Tarot Card reader and after getting her reading, she asks if she should go to her brother’s church and ask him to come to her wedding but the Tarot reader says not to. Cathy goes anyways and invites her brother to the wedding but he refuses, and ignores her pleas to help her deal with her dreams. Cathy tries to persuade him but when he enters his church, she sees the girl in white, who tells Cathy to go home, causing Cathy to flashback to when her mother died. Later, Cathy returns to her apartment and receives a call from Bob saying he will be working late in the studio, when he is actually out on a date with another woman. Cathy decides to take a bath but she dreams that her mother tries to drown her. As Cathy and Bob head towards the party, Cathy sees the strange woman and has Bob stop so they can give her a ride. As they are driving along, the woman tells Cathy not to go home, but Cathy doesn’t understand what she means and when she turns to ask her, she discovers the woman has disappeared. When they arrive at the party, Cathy is shocked to discover that the building is the one she grew up in. Bob tries to convince her to come inside but she refuses to go, explaining all the bad memories she has of the place, so Bob says he will go make his excuse to Monica and they will leave. As Cathy is waiting outside, she sees a woman being chased by a crazed man and tries to call the police for help but discovers the pay phone is broken. Running down the streets, Cathy sees more and more scary things happening and eventually winds up back at the apartment and reluctantly enters the apartment with Bob so she can call the police. Bob takes her up to where the party is, but as she insists on trying to call the cops, Bob ignores her and tries to convince her to enjoy the party. Monica introduces herself to Cathy and Bob finally tells Cathy he will call the police while Monica talks with Cathy. When she feels like Bob has been gone too long, Cathy decides to go looking for him, and is shocked by what she discovers in some of the rooms. She reaches the door to the developement room, where she overhears Bob, Monica, and Desmond speaking with a man named Steve, before they have Desmond bring a man named Leo, who is the madman Cathy saw on the street, into the room, where he proceeds to beat Steve almost to death. Cathy is worried about what she heard but realizes that she has no way of leaving the place. When she sees Leo, as well as some of the ghosts from her youth, she manages to leave the apartment but as she tries to leave the building, she sees all sorts of disturbing scenes before she is confronted by the girl in white, who tries to kill her with a jump rope. Heading towards the roof, she sees Steve tied to a cross and tries to free him but she is confronted by Bob. Bob explains that the woman that warned Cathy is a Guardian Angel, and the “lurkers” she saw as a child, were merely the spirits of the people that died in the building. Bob explains that the building is Hell and that they lure people to the building so they can die and they can go to hell, and that there are more buildings like this that evil people are born into and then return to die. As Bob, Monica, Desmond and the others continue to approach Cathy, they end up forcing her off the roof, where she falls to her death. Some time later, Monica, disguised as a nun, begins to work on Cathy’s brother while Cathy, now a lurker, tries to warn Bob’s new girlfriend not to return to her old home.

This was kind of an odd movie. The acting was ok, with Christine Moore doing a good job as Cathy while everyone else honestly seemed somewhat generic. The plot sounded good but the pacing just felt off with all of the various flashbacks to the past as well as the cuts to what was going on with Bob and Cathy. Also, the movie just seemed to move rather slowly and really dragged out the setup of what was supposed to happen, then cram a bunch of stuff in during the last 20 minutes or so. There wasn’t really anything scary in the movie but there were some disturbing imagery that did help set the mood for the movie. Not really scary but it was an interesting movie to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5


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December 30th, 2015 Movie – Lucky Number Slevin

lucky number slevin

I really don’t have time for this stupid rain today. Aside from giving me a headache, I have my annual Pre-New Years party tonight and I am pretty sure most of my friends don’t want to have to deal with the rain. But enough complaining about the weather. Before I finish cleaning, I get to watch a fun movie today. With today’s movie, I honestly had no real expectations towards it when I went to see it but I ended up rather pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. So let me get right to today’s movie, Lucky Number Slevin, and then get back to cleaning.

The plot: A man is sitting at a nearly empty bus terminal when another man in a wheelchair starts talking to him. The man in the wheelchair then proceeds to tell the man a story about the Kansas City Shuffle and a man named Max, whose uncle tells him about a horse race that is fixed and he decides to bet on it. When the horse winds up dying during the race, Max finds himself owing the mob $22,000. Knowing that he is unable to pay them back, the new mob outfit that is setting up in town has Max and his family killed, even hiring an out-of-town hitman named Goodkat to kill his son, Henry. When the man asks if that is the Kansas City Shuffle, the man in the wheelchair says no and distracts the man, allowing him to snap his neck. Sometime later, Slevin Kelevra has just finished taking a shower at his friend Nick Fisher’s apartment when he Nick’s neighbor, Lindsey, shows up to borrow some sugar. After talking about what happened to Slevin and how Nick is missing, Lindsey thinks that Nick might be in trouble and says she will help look for him when she gets back from work. After she leaves, two henchmen show up looking for Nick and since Slevin is the only person in the apartment, they punch him and take him to see their boss. Slevin is taken to the penthouse of a downtown apartment and he meets “The Boss”, who says that Nick owes him $96,000 and he believes Slevin is Nick. When Slevin says he doesn’t have the money, The Boss says he will cancel the debt if he does him a favor. The Boss says that The Rabbi killed his son so he wants Slevin to kill The Rabbi’s son, The Fairy. After Slevin leaves, The Boss talks with Goodkat and questions why he is involving Slevin in this hit. After being returned to Nick’s apartment, Slevin talks with Lindsey some more but after she leaves, two of The Rabbi’s men arrive and force Slevin to go with them to see The Rabbi, whose headquarters is located right across the street from The Boss. Slevin meets with The Rabbi, who says he owes him $33,000 and he expects it within 48 hours. After Slevin leaves, The Rabbi talks with Goodkat, and says he believes Slevin when he says that he isn’t Nick, and Goodkat admits that he knows. Back at Nick’s apartment, Lindsey is fixing Slevin some lunch and says that she had checked out a hotel that had called Nick’s place earlier and followed a man named Mr. Smith to an apartment, and later, she saw Slevin leaving the apartment and has him explain what is going on. Realizing he has no choice, Slevin meets with The Boss and agrees to kill The Fairy and, as they are playing a game of chess, The Boss reveals details about The Fairy and his security detail. Later, Lindsey comes back to the apartment and tells Slevin that a bookie working for The Rabbi has been killed and she believes Nick set him up to take the fall for his debts since the only people working for the mob that knows who Nick is are now dead. That night, the two go to dinner at a restaurant frequented by The Fairy and Slevin manages to arrange a date with The Fairy but runs into a police detective named Brikowski, who questions what Slevin is up to. The next day, as he is getting coffee for himself and Lindsey, Slevin is picked up by Brikowski and questioned again, but the only thing Slevin tells them is his name. Back at the apartment, after saying goodbye to Lindsey, Slevin is approached by The Boss’s men and given a suit to wear and as they are leaving, it is shown that The Rabbi’s men have been shot. At The Fairy’s apartment, Slevin shoots The Fairy but when Goodkat enters the room, instead of shooting Slevin, he shoots The Fairy, who was pointing a gun at Slevin. Goodkat hands Slevin some car keys and while he gets Nick’s body (the man Goodkat killed at the bus station), Goodkat deals with The Fairy’s bodyguards. Afterwards, the two men rig the apartment to explode, faking Slevin’s death. Goodkat goes to see The Boss, killing his men along the way. Meanwhile, Slevin goes to see The Rabbi and knocks him unconscious. When The Rabbi comes to, he finds himself tied to a chair in The Boss’ office, next to the equally bound figure of The Boss. After The Boss tells The Rabbi that his son is dead, Slevin shows up and explains that he and Goodkat set this up in order to get to the two men. When they ask why he says it is revenge for what they did to his family. It is revealed that Slevin is Max’s son Henry, and The Boss and The Rabbi were the mob bosses that had his family killed. While Slevin is killing The Boss and The Rabbi in the same manner that they had his father killed, Goodkat shows up at the morgue that Lindsey works at and shoots her. Meanwhile, Brikowski receives a call from another cop, who gives him some information concerning Slevin when Slevin shows up in the backseat of his car and shoots him, as Brikowski was the one that killed Slevin’s mother. Later, Slevin is waiting at a bus terminal and Lindsey approaches him. It is revealed that Slevin had warned Lindsey about Goodkat and given her a bullet proof vest to use. When Goodkat appears, Slevin approaches him and explains that he didn’t think he would understand his wanting to keep her alive and Goodkat explains that he did, as the same thing happened with him and he hands Slevin his father’s watch and walks off.

Lucky Number Slevin was met with mostly mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics was “Trying too hard to be clever in a Pulp Fiction kind of way, this film succumbs to a convoluted plot, overly stylized characters and dizzying set design.” The movie was a box office hit as it made over $56 million off a $27 million budget.

Personally, I found this movie to be pretty entertaining. Josh Hartnett (Slevin) and Lucy Liu (Lindsey) were both really good and had good chemistry together. Bruce Willis (Goodkat), Morgan Freeman (The Boss), and Ben Kingsley (The Rabbi) had pretty limited roles but they were all really good as well. The plot was different, though not entirely original but the writing was really good. I thought a lot of the banter between the various characters was both clever and funny. There really wasn’t much action as this movie chose to go for more drama than violence. That’s not to say people weren’t killed but the only real action scenes were when Slevin killed The Rabbi’s bookie and when Goodkat killed The Fairy’s bodyguards. On the whole, this is one of those movies I enjoy watching and will sit down and watch no matter what part of the movie is on.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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December 29th, 2015 Movie – Love Actually

love actually

It is pure coincidence that I am watching a holiday movie during the holidays. It is also somewhat random luck that I own this movie. See, this was one of my ex-wife’s favorite movies. Yet for some reason, she didn’t take it with her when she left. Now some of you might wonder why I didn’t get rid of it. Well, first off, I don’t get rid of DVD’s, unless I upgrade them to Blu-Ray in which case I just give the DVD’s to my brothers. But also, while it is not my usual choice of movie to buy, it is a decent rom-com and has some funny parts to it. So here is today’s belated Christmas movie, Love Actually.

The plot: The movie consists of several different story lines that are all somewhat loosely interwoven together. I will be honest in that I just copied the plot outline from Wikipedia because I wound up getting busy with things this morning.

Billy Mack and Joe: With the help of his longtime manager Joe rock and roll legend Billy Mack records a Christmas variation of The Troggs’ classic hit “Love Is All Around”. Although he thinks the record is terrible, Mack promotes the release in the hope it will become the Christmas number one single. The song does go to number one; after briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy recognizes that Joe needs affection and suggests that he and Joe celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn. Juliet, Peter, and Mark: Juliet and Peter get married in a lovely ceremony orchestrated and videotaped by Mark, the best man. He promises no funny business on their wedding day, but as they walk down the aisle as husband and wife, a singer, choir and band appear performing “All You Need Is Love”. Both Juliet and Peter believe that Mark dislikes her to the point that, when she has a favor to ask, Peter warns his best friend to be nice. Mark avoids seeing her so he will not have to show her his taped version of her wedding, but she stops by one day with a snack hoping to get him to warm to her. She confesses that she knows they are not close, but asks him to give her a chance. When asked to show her the tape, he feigns ignorance of where it is, but Juliet quickly finds it after only a brief search. She pops it in and at first is happy to see a decent shot of her in her wedding dress as the professionals messed theirs up. As the video continues, she sees it’s focused only on her and it causes her to stop talking. Left in an uncomfortable silence, Mark can only blurt out that he acts that way for ‘self-preservation’ before running out and leaving her alone. On Christmas Eve, the doorbell rings at Juliet and Peter’s house. She runs down and opens the door, only to find Mark, carrying a boom box playing Christmas songs and large cue cards. The first one tells her to tell her husband that it’s carol singers. One by one, the cards confess his love for her. After he is done, he walks away until Juliet runs after him to give him a quick, innocent kiss and runs back inside. Continuing to walk away, Mark decides that it’s time to get over her and move on with his life. Jamie and Aurélia: Writer Jamie is pushed to Juliet and Peter’s wedding by his girlfriend as she feigns illness. He returns between the ceremony and the reception to check on her. Finding his brother there, at first he believes his explanation, but the reality is revealed when she yells down to his brother that she wants to have sex a few more times before Jamie comes back. Crushed by this, Jamie withdraws to his French cottage where he meets Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia who speaks only her native tongue. Despite their inability to communicate, they have similar personalities and become attached to each other. When Jamie returns to England, he realizes he is in love with Aurélia and begins learning Portuguese. He returns to France to find her and ends up walking through town, gathering people as they walk to her job at a restaurant. In his broken Portuguese he declares his love for her and proposes. She responds, “Thank you. That will be nice. Yes is being my answer” in broken English as the crowd erupts in applause. Harry, Karen, and Mia: Harry is the managing director of a design agency; Mia is his new secretary. Harry is comfortably married to his wife, Karen, who stays home to raise their children. Harry becomes increasingly aroused by Mia’s overtly sexual comments and actions at the office and does nothing to dissuade her. At the company Christmas party held at Mark’s gallery, he not only inquires if Mark is her boyfriend, but dances closely with her. While at the shops, he calls Mia to find out what she wants for Christmas and ends up almost caught by his wife purchasing an expensive necklace from the jewellery department thanks to the salesman Rufus. Later on, Karen discovers the necklace in Harry’s coat pocket and happily assumes it is a gift for her. When he hands her a similarly shaped box to open on Christmas Eve, she is heartbroken to find it is a Joni Mitchell CD instead and struggles to hide her pain from her husband and children. She realizes that the necklace was for someone else and asks him what he would do if he was her and if the supposed affair is just sex or more than sex. When he sees the harm he’s done to his wife, he is truly sorry and calls himself a fool. She responds that not only has he made a mockery of their marriage but of her and the way she chose to live her life. David and Natalie: Karen’s brother, David, is the recently elected Prime Minister. Natalie is a new junior member of the household staff at 10 Downing Street and from the moment they meet, there is a spark that David continuously admonishes himself for. One day, while meeting with the U.S. President, they run into Natalie and the president makes some inappropriate comments to David about Natalie’s body. Later, David walks in on Natalie serving tea and biscuits to the president, and it appears that something untoward is happening. Natalie seems ashamed, but the President has a sly grin on his face. Due to this, when he gives his political speech, David is uncharacteristically harsh while taking a stand against the President’s bullying policies. Finding that his relationship with Natalie has become strained and a distraction, David has her moved to another job. However, he is spurred to action on Christmas Eve when he finds a Christmas card from Natalie declaring that she is his and no one else’s. After a hilarious door to door search of her street, he comes across Mia, who informs him that Natalie lives next door. The entire family is on their way out the door to a multi-school Christmas play and he offers to drive them so he can talk to her. After Natalie sneaks him in to the school, he runs into his heartbroken sister who believes he is there for his niece and nephew. As the two try to keep from being seen and watch the show from backstage, they finally kiss. All their hiding was for nothing because as the curtain rises, they are seen kissing by everyone. Daniel, Sam, Joanna, Carol: Daniel, Karen’s friend, mourns the recent death of his wife Joanna, as he tries to raise his stepson Sam alone. Sam has fallen for an American classmate, also named Joanna, and, after discussion with his stepfather, decides to learn the drums so that he can accompany her in the big finale for their school’s Christmas pageant (the same one that Natalie’s nephew and Karen and Harry’s children are in). After Sam feels that he missed his chance to make an impression on her, Daniel convinces Sam that he must go catch Joanna, who is returning to the US, at the airport that night and show her how he feels, lest he regret it for his whole life. Sam runs away from the airport security and says hi to Joanna, who then kisses him on the cheek. Meanwhile, Daniel, who previously mentioned admiring supermodel Claudia Schiffer, meets Carol (played by Schiffer), the parent of another of Sam’s school mates. Sarah, Karl, and Michael: Sarah first appears at Juliet and Peter’s wedding, sitting next to her friend Jamie. She’s an American working at Harry’s graphic design company and has been in love for years with the company’s creative director, Karl. For unknown reasons they admire one another from afar, but neither is willing to make the first move. They finally connect at the Christmas party and he drives her home, where they finally kiss. However, before much else can occur, they are interrupted by a phone call from her mentally ill brother, Michael, from his residence in a mental care facility. Sarah and Karl’s evening tryst is aborted and Karl leaves. However, on Christmas Eve, while they are both working late, Karl stops by to say good night. He tries to say more, but can’t and simply wishes her a Merry Christmas. Right as he leaves, Michael calls and she spends that night with him, sharing her Christmas scarf. Colin, Tony, and the American girls: After several blunders attempting to woo various English women, including Mia and Nancy, the caterer at Juliet and Peter’s wedding, Colin Frissell informs his friend Tony he plans to go to America and find love there, convinced that his Britishness will be an asset to him in a foreign country. Landing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Colin meets Stacey , Jeannie, and Carol-Anne, three stunningly attractive women who fall for his Basildon accent and invite him to stay at their home, where they are joined by roommate Harriet. John and Judy: John and Judy are professional body doubles for films. They meet for the sex scenes in a film for which Tony is a production assistant. John tells Judy that it is nice to have someone he can just chat to. While the two are perfectly comfortable being naked and simulating sex on-set, they are shy and tentative off-set. Carefully pursuing a relationship, they attend the Christmas pageant (involving David and Natalie, Harry and Karen’s children, Daniel and Sam, et al.) at the local school with John’s brother. The epilogue is set one month later; the relationships of the characters have continued to evolve. Billy arrives with a gorgeous groupie in tow, and confirms to Joe that his hit song has launched his successful comeback. Juliet, Peter, and Mark arrive together to meet Jamie and his new bride, Aurélia. Karen and the kids greet Harry, but Karen’s reaction suggests that they are struggling to move past his indiscretion. Sam greets Joanna, who has returned with her mother from America, and Daniel is joined by his new girlfriend Carol and her son. Newlyweds John and Judy, heading off to their honeymoon, run into Tony who is awaiting Colin as he returns from America. Colin returns with the gorgeous Harriet and her sister Carla who greets Tony with a hug and a kiss. Natalie aggressively welcomes David back from his flight in view of the press, indicating that their relationship is now public. These scenes dissolve into footage of actual arrivals at Heathrow Airport, as the screen is divided into an increasing number of smaller segments which form the shape of a heart.

Depending on the country, Love Actually met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics was that it is “‘A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms.” That seemed to be the main problem critics had was that there were so many stories, that the movie dragged on. Despite how critics may have felt, the movie was a box office success, earning over $246 million off a $45 million budget.

On the whole, I have mixed feelings regarding this movie. The acting was really good among all of the main players, and there were definitely a lot of them. The stories were all good but I do agree with the critics that there were too many story lines and some of them could have been left out. While a good part of the movie is the typical “rom-com” that you would expect to see, there are some bits that don’t really fit that theme, primarily the relationship of Harry and Karen. But there are definitely some funny moments in the movie, such as Hugh Grant’s dancing to The Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love)”. I don’t know where it fits on the Christmas movie scale, but it is worth watching.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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December 28th, 2015 Movie – Return To The Lost World

return to the lost worldEver have one of those days that just starts out wrong? Well I am certainly having one today. IT started when my alarm went off and, after turning off the alarm, I laid back down for a minute because my head was killing me due to the weather. Well, a minute turned out to be 2 1/2 hours so I got off to a late start. Then I got to start the day with some family drama (great way to start a Monday) and so now, when I should have been done hours ago and back to playing Fallout, I am just now starting to watch today’s movie. Unfortunately, today’s movie isn’t going to help my headache any as it is the sequel to yesterday’s movie. Yes, they made a sequel and now I find myself watching Return To The Lost World because the DVD I bought was a double feature DVD.

The plot: On the plateau containing the Lost World, Chief Palala and his daughter, Imana, are walking through the forest when they see an airplane in a clearing. Palala goes to investigate and he is captured by men led by Bertram Hammonds, a Belgium scientist, and Gomez. When Palala asks what they are doing here, Betram explains that he was given a lease to do scientific research on the island but in reality, he is setting up to drill for oil. After killing some Ankylosaurs with an explosion, Palala says that they are cursed and Bertram has him thrown off the cliff. Malu happened to be walking by the plateau and finds the injured chief and takes him back to the trading post for medical attention and, at Palala’s request, send word to Challenger and the others to make good on their promise to return and help his people. Edward Malone and Jenny Nielson are covering skirmishes in the desert when they receive word of what happened and make plans to head to London to convince Challenger and Summerlee to come as the two scientists are feuding. When they arrive at Summerlee’s place, they manage to convince him to go with them, but he says he will not go if Challenger goes. When Malone and Jenny go to see Challenger, they are surprised to see Jim there working as Challenger’s assistant. They manage to convince Challenger to go in secret and hide him in a crate on the ship but Summerlee sees Challenger as they get him out of the crate. The two men begin to fight until Jim yells at them to stop as they made a promise to help their friends when needed. Arriving at the outpost, Challenger and the others greet Palala and Malu, then make preparations to head back to the plateau. Back in the Lost World, Bertram’s men have captured some of Palala’s tribe and force them to work as slave labor. As they continue drilling, they find themselves coming under attack by dinosaurs and manage to fend them off but when a Tyrannosaurus attacks, it damages the cooling pipes for the drill and causes an explosion that triggers a volcanic eruption that threatens to destroy the whole plateau. Challenger and the others arrive at the plateau and, after observing the smoke coming from the top, begin making their way through the tunnels back to Palala’s village. On the plateau, with Bertram’s plane destroyed in the explosion, they find themselves trapped but decide that Palala’s tribe must know a way off the plateau. Bertram and Gomez see Imana tending to an injured baby Ankylosaur and capture her in order to persuade the tribe to show them the way off the plateau. When they threaten to kill Imana unless they are shown the way off the plateau, the tribe refuses and Bertram orders Gomez to kill Imana but he is shot and killed by Challenger before he can do it. When the tribe sees Palala and he tells them what Bertram did, the tribesmen begin to attack Bertram but Challenger stops them and orders them to tie him up instead. Later, Jim shows Challenger and Summerlee a mural the tribe has painted, showing the adventure they had the last time they were here. Malu explains that Palala’s people believe they are gods and that they will stop the volcano and restore peace to the land. The next day, Imana takes Jim to see the baby Ankylosaur and he starts to carry it back to the village but he is captured by Bertram’s men, who question him about the way off the plateau until Imana helps him escape by imitating dinosaur noises. At the village, Challenger believes that the only way to stop the volcano is the use explosives to cap it, much like an oil rig fire. Summerlee doesn’t believe it will work and says the only hope for Palala’s people is to evacuate the plateau. When no one will come with him, Challenger decides to go into the tunnels alone but he winds up stuck when one of the ropes on the bridge breaks. Malone goes into the tunnels and manages to save Challenger but a cave in results in the tunnel off the plateau being blocked, trapping them on the plateau. With Challenger’s explosives their only hope, Malone and Jim accompany Challenger so he can place the explosives and set a fuse to ignite it. As the prepare to detonate the explosives, they come under fire from Bertram’s men, who have gone mad in their desire to leave. Summerlee manages to reach the detonator but when he throws the switch, nothing happens and he believes there must be a break in the line. Jim goes back in the tunnels to find it, followed by Bertram. As Jim is repairing the line, he almost falls into a sinkhole but he is saved by Bertram. When Bertram sees a way out, he tries to convince Jim to leave with him, but Jim connects the two wires, causing the explosives to detonate and succeeding in stopping the volcano. The others congratulate Challenger on being correct but are sad, believing that Jim perished until he manages to make his way out of the collapsed tunnel. As the tribesmen carry Jim on their shoulders, they are all surprised to see a Pterodactyl flying overhead, which Jim, Malone, and Jenny believe to be Percival, the Pterodactyl that Jim had brought to London as a baby and set free. Overlooking the festivities, Challenger and Summerlee bury the hatchet and Summerlee remarks on how they saved the place, though Challenger asks “for how long?”

The problems I had from the first movie still exist in this one. The acting was pretty good and I still think John Rhys-Davies is my favorite Challenger. The story is pretty original and actually makes some bit of sense, which surprised me. However, they decided to delve further into a love triangle between Malone, Jenny, and Malu, which they briefly hinted at in the first movie, but made more prominenet in this one. The dinosaurs still look terrible, that’s about all I can say on those. Like the original, watch it if you are bored, but there are better movies out there.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: March 19th, 2014 Movie – Attack Of The Sabretooth

attack of the sabertooth

You know what is detrimental to trying a write a movie review? Distractions, and they come in many forms. For instance, from September through January, those come in the form of football on Saturday and Sunday. For me, video games can be a big distraction, especially any game by Bethesda, meaning any of the Fallout or Elder Scolls games. Case in point, today I watched the movie that I was scheduled to watch today, took a break, then intended to get right back into writing the review for a previously viewed movie. However, that break ended up being a couple of hours longer than I intended due to my getting to absorbed into playing Fallout 4, which I just got a few days ago. Since I need to get this review finished so I can get back into that game, here is Attack Of The Sabretooth.

The plot: At a newly created theme park, a security guard enters a restricted area to retrieve a nude picture, inadvertently leaving the gate open, and ends up being attacked and killed by a sabre-toothed cat. Elsewhere, the park owner, Niles, is setting up for a meeting of the park’s investors, where he hopes to impress his ex brother-in-law Grant, and sends his assistant Alan to check with security. In the security office, an alarm sounds on one of the gates and security guards Savannah and Sindup believe it is a false alarm but Alan decides to go check it out. Grant arrives with his date and wastes no time in belittling Niles. Meanwhile, five college friends (Kirk, Alaina, Robbie, Alys, and Collette) arrive on the island and are greeted by Niles, who is friends with Robbie’s father, and shown to the hotel. At the hotel, Kirk reads the letter stating the rules of the game and hands each of them the card containing the item they must find. Back in the security room, a fire alarm goes off and they notice one of the workers, Brian, welding in the area. Savannah goes to stop him, turning off the camera as she leaves as she uses the opportunity to have sex with Brian since they are dating. Outside, Alan comes to the gate and reports to security that the gate is open, then heads inside to find the missing guard, only to come across the guard’s remains right before he is killed by a sabretooth. Sindup informs Savannah about the breach, and she goes to see if the cats have returned to their cages but their handler, Sachariah informs her that they have not returned for feeding. At the investors meeting, Niles gives his sales pitch to the investors, telling them that he has managed to clone some sabre-toothed cats and that it is only the beginning. Savannah meets with Niles and suggests evacuating the investors but Niles refuses and tells Savannah to get the cats back in their pens. Meanwhile, Kirk and Robbie end up breaking into the park facility, followed by Alaina, Alys, and Collette, and Robbie ends up shutting down the security system so they can find the items they were looking for. Sundip goes looking for Alan and the missing guard and finds their body parts, but he is unable to get in touch with anyone due to the security system being down, and ends up being killed by a sabretooth. Brian and Savannah discover that the power is off and the gates are open and Brian goes looking for the cats while Savannah ties the gates closed. Inside the enclosure, Brian runs into Sachariah, who informs him that he had captured the two cats. With the cats back in their pens, Niles orders Brian to get the power back online. Back in the park facility, Kirk, Robbie, and Alaina find their items but before they can look for the other items, they are forced to hide when they hear Niles bringing the investors into the building. Robbie and Alaina end up in the incubation room, where they find the failed fetuses for the sabretooth cats. Alaina leaves the room and when she runs into a sabretooth, she tries to use the shell spear to defend herself but is quickly killed by the cat. Robbie hears her screams but arrives to late to save her and ends up hiding in a freezer to escape the cat. Meanwhile, Brian runs into Alys and Collette and when they try to run, the end up tripping over Alaina’s remains, where Brian catches up to them and finds out there are two more kids out there. They head to the incubation room, where they find Robbie and Brian tries to get in touch with Savannah but their radios aren’t working. Meanwhile Grant’s date, Autumn, fakes being sick and Niles takes her to his office to lie down but when he leaves, Grant finds his safe and Autumn opens it so Grant can steal Niles’ research and patents. Back in the facility, Brain lures one of the cats into the incubation room and manages to kill it with an explosion, but tells the kids that there is a larger, male sabretooth still out there. Elsewhere, Kirk runs into a drunken investor and the two head into the souvenir shop to make out but the male sabretooth kills the investor while Kirk runs from it. Brian and the kids run into Sachariah, who tells them that there is a third, even larger cat but that it’s slow due to it’s back legs not working. Brian has the kids go with him while he looks for Kirk and Savannah. When Robbie says that he might be able to get the power back on, they head for the security room while Brian finds Kirk just as the sabretooth kills Kirk. Robbie gets the power on just as the sabretooth kills Sachariah. Out in the jungle, Grant and Autumn are heading through the jungle in an attempt to get off the island but one of the sabretooths kills Grant. In the building, Savannah sees the giant sabretooth and tries to shoot it but Niles tackles her. As the giant cat comes towards him, Niles runs for the door and manages to get outside but the huge cat begins banging on the door, causing the one of the fangs from the statue on the building’s roof to break loose and impale Niles. Savannah kills the giant cat and asks Brian if that is all of them but he says he can only confirm one of them. As they leave with the three kids, Autumn is shown still wandering in the forest, where the male sabretooth kills her.

This wasn’t bad for a Sci-Fi original movie but it could have been better. The acting was ok for the most part though there were some people that were just bad. The story was basically a Jurassic Park rip-off, but with sabretooths instead of dinosaurs. As for the special effects, they weren’t too bad until the end, where the tooth falls off the statue and impales Niles. That scene just looked terrible. Still, this kept me entertained for 90 minutes and that was all I expected it to do.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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December 27th, 2015 Movie – The Lost World

the lost world 1992

Hollywood just can’t seem to stop with the remakes. But I guess that could be considered a testament to the popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works. I mean, how many Sherlock Holmes movies have there been throughout the years. I think think there are about 10 movies for The Hound Of The Baskervilles alone. Anyways, in the early 90’s someone decided to cash in on the popularity of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and the buzz for the upcoming movie, by remaking The Lost World yet again. So let’s just see how they did with this.

The plot: In 1912 London, reporter Ed Malone goes to his superiors and asks to be assigned to a dangerous assignment and, as a joke, the assign him to get an interview from Professor Challenger. Pretending to be an Italian scientist, Malone is able to get a meeting with Challenger but when Challenger calls him out for being a fraud, the two end up fighting. When a police officer shows up, Malone refuses to press charges, causing Challenger to have a change of heart regarding Malone. He takes him to his study and after showing him the sketchbook of Maple White, he explains how he found Maple White dying in Africa and having seen the sketch of a Pteranodactyl in the book, he went looking for the plateau that Maple White said contained a lost world. He finally saw the plateau and got a glimpse of a Pterodactyl but was unable to go forward due to his leg being injured by Pedro, who Challenger was forced to kill. Emboldened by Malone’s belief in his story, Challenger goes to the Royal Zoological Institute and proposes a challenge to his chief critic, Professor Summerlee, to mount an expedition to prove if Challenger’s claims are true or not. Malone volunteers to go but Summerlee refuses to allow Challenger to go. He also refuses to allow Jenny Nielson, a photographer for the Smithsonian, along as well but the head of the Institute makes an exception when her family finances the expedition. They are also joined by Jim, a newspaper boy who is friends with Jim and had stowed away on the ship. Stopping at a trading post, they meet up with Gomez, a Portuguese man, and Malu, a native girl, who both learned English from the missionary school and are able to act as guides. Challenger joins up with them, much to Summerlee’s annoyance, and they make their way to the plateau. After finally reaching the plateau, they are met by Pujo, a native that was with Challenger on his first trip. Challenger uses a mortar to fire a grappling hook up the cliff face, and Summerlee and Jim climb up, then pull up a pulley, which is used to help the others up the cliff. Challenger, Malone, Jenny, and Malu climb up, and supplies are sent up as well, but Gomez pulls the rope down and strands them up there as revenge for Challenger killing his brother, Pedro. Stranded, they decide to go exploring and discover a pair of Anatosaurus, and Summerlee is forced to admit that Challenger was right. Some time later, Summerlee ends up falling into a cavern and as he is exploring, it is revealed to be a Pterodactyl rookery and he is attacked by the creatures before the others can pull him up. Jim climbs a rock to get a look at the plateau but as he is climbing down, he sees a man painted like a skeleton. That night, Jim goes to see the lake, followed by Malone and Malu, but on the way back, they are stalked by a dinosaur and they are forced to cover their scent and hide for the night. The next day, the return to find the camp has been attacked and Challenger, Jenny, and Summerlee have been taken captive. They follow trail and discover the tribe of skeleton men, who have Challenger and the others, as well as several other people, and are preparing them for sacrifice by throwing them to the dinosaurs below. Jim gets an idea and manages to distract the natives by making a balloon out of Malone’s jacket, allowing Malone to rescue the others. One of the freed natives leads them to his village, where it is revealed that he is the village chief, Palala, and he offers to let them stay with him. That night, Malu explains to the others the tribes history, that Palala’s people and the skeleton men were once the same tribe and worshiped the dinosaurs as gods. However, the witch doctor convinced some of the tribesmen to worship the meat eating dinosaurs while the “good ones” (the plant eaters) were getting sick and dying. When the chief’s daughter, Imana, shows them a baby Pterodactyl that is sick, Summerlee mentions his theory of how dinosaurs died from disease. The next day, he goes to the skeleton people’s tribe with Imana and gathers some plants, which the skeleton people had placed on them for the sacrifice. When the witch doctor sees them, he leads the skeleton people as the chase after the two but when they reach Palala’s village, Malu manages to kill the witch doctor with a sling. Summerlee explains that the plants were medicine, which the skeleton people were placing on the people in order to feed it to the meat eaters and he proves this by feeding some to the baby Pterodactyl, which begins to get better. With the witch doctor dead, the skeleton people rejoin Palala’s tribe and Palala says he will show them a way off the plateau, provided that all six of them return should the need ever arise, which they all agree. Palala guides them through a series of tunnels, which leads them down to the base of the plateau. When they reach their canoes, Gomez fires at them but when he comes forward to kill Challenger, Malone distracts him while Pujo and Challenger try to grab the gun. Gomez ends up getting shot and Challenger chooses to leave him to the jungle. Returning to London, Challenger and Summerlee present their report to the Institute, but when the heads of the Institute claim that the proof they brought was inconclusive, Jim reveals that he brought the baby Pterodactyl back to London with him, which he named Percival. Some time later, Malone, Jenny, and Jim go to zoo, where they see that Percival is unhappy being in a cage so they free him and watch him fly off.

I honestly have one good thing to say about this, and that is regarding some of the casting. Otherwise, this is the worst rendition of the book that I have seen. The acting was good and I think that John Rhys-Davies made a great Challenger. David Warner (Summerlee) and Eric McCormack (Malone) were also good. The story was ok but a lot was changed from the book, primarily the location of the Plateau and the character of John Roxton was left out. The pacing of the movie is also pretty bad, as the first half of the movie is spent with them getting to the Plateau, then they try to cram as much action into the last 35-40 minutes of the movie, with a couple of minutes at the end to wrap up. The special effects regarding the dinosaurs were just terrible. I know that this was a made for TV movie but you would think they could have done better than some very plastic looking dinosaurs. It’s sad when a movie made almost 70 years ago has better looking dinosaurs than a more recent one. Watch this if you are bored and there is nothing else on.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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December 26th, 2015 Movie – The Lost World (1960)

the lost world 1960You know, it is equal parts sad and comforting that the idea of remaking a film has been around for over 50 years. While there is the rare occasion where a remake can be good, usually they are much worse than the original. But today’s movie is a remake that I have always had an issue with. See, in 1960, when this remake was announced they brought in Willis O’Brien, the man whose stop-motion animation made the original film famous, to work on visual effects. However, instead of using the stop motion animation he was famous for, the budget didn’t allow for it so they went with the classic Hollywood stand-by; lizards in makeup. I have always felt like that was an unintentional slap in the face to Willis O’Brien. But enough about that, let’s go ahead and dive into today’s movie, The Lost World (1960).

The plot: Professor Challenger has just flown into London Airport, where he is besieged by reporters the moment he steps out on the exit stairs. Challenger grows irritated by the reporters questions and strikes one of them, Ed Malone, on the head, knocking him down the stairs and Challenger steps over him as he leaves the plane. As Malone is picking himself up, he meets Jennifer Holmes, the daughter of his boss, who offers him a ride into town as she plans to also catch Challenger’s speech and later that night, she introduces Malone to her date, Lord John Roxton. At his lecture, Challenger tells the assembled crowd that he has discovered dinosaurs on a hidden plateau in the Amazon, and proposes that an expedition be made financed quickly, with his chief critic, Professor Summerlee, as one of the people going with him. Roxton volunteers to go and is accepted by both men but when Jennifer volunteers, she is rejected by Challenger. Malone volunteers and is rejected as well but when Stuart Holmes, Jennifer’s dad and the executive vice president of Global News, offers to finance $100,000 towards the expedition, Challenger reluctantly agrees to let Malone come on the trip. The expedition arrives at an outpost along the Amazon, where they meet Manuel Gomez, their helicopter pilot, and his assistant Costa. Challenger is also surprised to see Jennifer and her brother David waiting for them, who manage to blackmail their way into joining the expedition. Leaving early in the morning, the eventually reach the plateau that Challenger had found and set up camp but they are forced to run when a giant creature heads towards their camp. When they make their way back to the camp and find the helicopter has been destroyed and they have lost any means of communicating with the rest of the world. The next day, as they are exploring, they come face to face with a dinosaur, and Summerlee apologizes for doubting Challenger. When they are forced to run from the giant creature, Challenger and Malone get separated from the group and see a native girl hiding in the forest. Challenger has Malone chase after her and he succeeds in capturing the girl and bringing him back to their new camp. Challenger and Summerlee theorize that the girl’s ancestors must have found a way up to the plateau so there should be a way back down, but Roxton is concerned that they are all in danger from the girl’s tribe. Roxton and Malone end up fighting, with Malone knocking down Roxton but the fight stops when Roxton finds the diary of Burton White. Roxton give the diary to Challenger to read, then explains that Burton had found a map that supposedly led to the plateau and the fable of El Dorado, and it’s treasure of diamonds. Roxton was supposed to go with them but he never showed so Burton and his party went ahead and were never heard from again. Meanwhile, the native girl tries to run but is attacked by Costa. David rescues her and tries to talk with her but is shocked to discover that she knows how to use a rifle, though Challenger doesn’t believe him. Gomez says that he saw something moving in the jungle and goes to investigate but soon calls for help. Roxton, Malone, Challenger, David, and Costa go looking for him while Summerlee and Jennifer stay behind with the native girl when a shot is fired, grazing Summerlee and the girl chooses that moment to run. The others find Gomez, who had been hit on the head and his rifle is missing, and when they return to the camp, Malone, Roxton, and David go after the girl, splitting up in the process. Malone catches sight of the girl but quickly loses her and he is soon joined by Jennifer, who had gone looking for him. Before they can head to camp, a large dinosaur begins heading their way and they are forced to run. Winding up at some cliffs, they hide behind some rocks as a second dinosaur appears and begins fighting with the first one and both dinosaurs eventually fall off the cliff. When they return to the camp, they find it has been ransacked and everyone else is missing. David appears and tells them what happened but they find themselves surrounded and captured by natives. The natives take them to their village, where they plan on sacrificing them all. As they try to figure out what to do, the native girl appears and beckons them to follow her. She takes them to a hidden chamber, where they find Burton White, now blind, who tells them that there is a way out but it leads them through a volcanic maze. Telling the native girl to guide them, Burton quickly urges them to leave as he believes the mountain will soon erupt. Making their way through the dangerous labyrinth, the high priest and the native warriors are close behind but Gomez sets fire to some brush which flares up, causing the high priest and some of the warriors to fall while the others run back the way they came. They eventually come to a cavern, where they discover the diamonds as well as some dinosaur eggs. Gomez chooses that moment to try and kill Roxton, blaming him for the death of his brother, Santiago. However, his shot ends up waking a dinosaur that was sleeping in the lake, which promptly kills Costa. Noticing that the natives had damned up the lave, Malone tries to break the dam and release the lava to kill the dinosaur. Gomez, trying to make amends for waking the creature goes up to help and manages to break the dam but falls to his death in the boiling lake below. The group manages to make it out safely and watch as the plateau is covered in eruptions. Challenger reveals that he had brought one of the eggs out of the cavern with him, while Roxton reveals that he brought some of the diamonds, as he felt that they all deserved something for their troubles. When a final tremor occurs, Summerlee accidentally drops the egg, revealing a baby dinosaur that Challenger claims is a Tyrannosaurus rex and plans to take it to London as proof.

My personal problems aside, this is a pretty good sci-fi movie. The acting was decent, though I felt that Fernando Lamas (Gomez) probably gave the best performance out of the group. The story was good and did have some minor plots from the book that were left out of the original movie. While I personally never cared for the lizards-in-makeup effect, the settings were very well done, especially the scenes where they are flying in the helicopter. I have a lot of respect for Irwin Allen because he did a lot for sci-fi in movies and television, and he did a good job with this movie. I just wish Fox had given him the budget to really let O’Brien showcase his talents.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5