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February 29th, 2016 Movie – The Incredible Hulk

the incredible hulk

I have often wondered what exactly the people who made the calendar/dating system had against February. I mean, why exactly did they decide to give it the short end of the stick as far as the number of days in the month, then decide to throw it a bone every four years and give it an extra day. But enough about that. Today’s movie was the second entrant into the MCU and came out just one month after Iron Man. Hoping to cash in on the success of Iron Man, and hoping that comparisons to Ang Lee’s Hulk wouldn’t keep people away, the studio had high hopes for The Incredible Hulk.

The plot: Bruce Banner, a fugitive from the U.S. Army, is hiding out in Brazil, where he works as a day laborer at a local soda factory. While helping to fix one of the machines, Bruce cuts his finger and has the owner stop the machine so he can clean up the blood, not noticing a nearby bottle that some of the blood had dripped into get filled up with the soda and shipped out. As he leaves work for the day, he saves a famale co-worker that was being harassed by some other workers, then meets up with a man who gives him a package. Returning to his apartment, Bruce pulls out a laptop and after connecting to the internet, begins online chatting with a man named Mr. Blue. The package contains a flower which Bruce hopes will be able to cure the gamma mutation in his blood but when he tests it on a single drop, it doesn’t work. He reports the failure to Mr. Blue, Mr. Blue tells him that they should meet but when Bruce says it is too dangerous, Mr. Blue says to send him a blood sample so he can try to help, which Bruce reluctantly does. Some time later, General Thunderbolt Ross receives a report of a man who received gamma poisoning after drinking a soda. Ross, finds out where the soda is bottled then has a team assembled, including Emil Blonsky (on loan from the British Royal Marines) to go in, tranquilize Bruce, and bring him in. In Brazil, Bruce receives a message from Mr. Blue saying that he might be able to cure him but he needs more data, which Bruce does not have available. That night, Blonsky leads his team to Banner’s apartment but when his dog hears something, Banner decides to run, with Blonsky and his team giving chase. Bruce ends up running into the men that were harassing his female co-worker and they chase him into the bottling plant where they start to beat on him. As Blonsky and his team arrive at the plant, Bruce transforms and quickly dispatches of the men and when Blonsky and his men attack, easily takes care of them before he escapes, with Blonsky being the only one to survive unharmed. Later, Blonsky meets with Ross and asks for some answers to what happened and tells him that if Ross is going after that thing again, he wants in on the team. Ross confides to Blonsky that he was working on revamping the old Super Soldier program from WWII and Bruce’s work was early stage, under the guise of gamma resistance but when he tested it on himself, something went wrong. Ross then asks why Blonsky hasn’t been promoted and after Blonsky responds that he is a fighter and wishes he had the body he had 10 years ago with the knowledge he had now, Ross says he might be able to help him with that. Meanwhile, after waking up in Guatemala, Bruce makes his way back to his old lab at Culver University in Virginia, but seeing the security system in place, does not go inside. He tries looking up Betty Ross, his old girlfriend and Thunderbolt’s daughter, but noticing she is with someone, decides to see his old friend Stanley, who owns a local pizza shop. Stanley tells Bruce about Betty’s new boyfriend offers Bruce the spare room over the shop for him to use to rest. Disguised as a pizza delivery boy, Bruce is able to sneak into the lab and use the computers but is unable to find his old data in the system and contacts Mr. Blue to relay the news. Bruce packs up his things and goes to say goodbye to Stanley but as he starts to walk into the shop, he is spotted by Betty, who had just come in with her new boyfriend, and he quickly runs out the back door. Betty runs out after him but when she doesn’t see him, she questions Stanley as to whether it was really Bruce, then gets in her car and finds him, convincing him to come back to her house. At her home, Betty gives Bruce their data from the experiment, saying that she got it out of the computer before her father and the military took everything. When Bruce says that he has to leave in the morning, she agrees to give him some cash and help him get to the bus station. Meanwhile, Blonsky meets with Ross, who says he will give Blonsky a low dose of the revamped super soldier formula but if there are any side effects, he will pull Blonsky until he is back to normal. The next day, Betty is saying goodbye to Bruce when Bruce notices some military men approaching and tells Betty to run before he takes off. Bruce makes his way through the college grounds, spotting Blonsky chasing after him and makes his way to the college library, where he swallows the flash drive with the data on it. Betty sees the command vehicle approaching and stands in front of it until her father emerges from it and confronts her. When Bruce is cornered in an overhead walkway, Ross orders gas canisters fired to try and knock him out. When Betty runs towards Bruce and is stopped by some of the soldiers, Bruce becomes angry and transforms into the Hulk, smashing out of the walkway. Ross orders his men to attack, and when the guns don’t work, he sends in Blonsky, who is able to avoid the Hulk’s attacks and lure him into the path of two Humvees armed with sonic cannons, which stop the Hulk in his tracks. When the Hulk sees Betty pleading with Ross to stop, he is able to use a piece of metal as a shield to blunt the sonic attack, allowing him to destroy the two Humvees. Blonsky disregards orders and attacks the Hulk but after he runs out of bullets, the Hulk kicks him in the chest, sending Blonsky rolling into a tree. Ross orders his men to pull back as he calls in a gunship but Betty approaches the Hulk. When the helicopter begins firing at the Hulk, the Hulk shields Betty from the bullets, as well as the explosion when the Hulk destroys the helicopter, but the explosion knocked Betty unconscious so he carries her off. Later, Ross has his men take all of Betty’s research from her home while he speaks with her boyfriend, Dr. Leonard Samson, who had tipped off Ross, but Leonard isn’t able to help them, saying the Hulk protected Betty when Ross almost killed her. Meanwhile the Hulk had carried Betty to a cave in the mountains fro the night and the next day, Betty gets a motel so they can rest. While Betty goes shopping for some supplies, Bruce regurgitates the data and after figuring out what they could take, Bruce sends the data to Mr. Blue and they make their way to meet him in New York City. Meanwhile, Blonsky has miraculously recovered from the injuries he received and Ross gives him a second does of the serum but unknown to Ross, Blonsky begins showing signs of outward mutation. Meanwhile, with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s help, the military learn the identity of Mr. Blue, cellular biologist Samuel Sterns, and they set up checkpoints all around the city to try and find Bruce and Betty as they get in. Bruce and Betty manage to slip past the checkpoints and meet with Sterns, who says that he doesn’t know if his antidote will cure just that one episode or if it is a permanent cure, plus there is the risk of killing Bruce. After getting him prepared for the procedure, Sterns initiates a change in Banner but as the Hulk starts to break free, Betty gets onto the Hulk’s chest and manages to calm him down long enough for the procedure to work. Later, Sterns talks about how he doesn’t know if this is a permanent cure as none of his test subjects survived and when Bruce questions him about the test subjects, Sterns tells Bruce that he was forced to replicate Bruce’s blood in order to test his procedure. Bruce wants all of the samples of his blood destroyed so it doesn’t fall into the military’s hands but he is suddenly shot with a tranquilizer and captured. As he is placed into a helicopter, Betty goes to follow, arguing with her father over how he made Bruce a fugitive to cover his mistakes. Meanwhile, Ross’s aide is questioning Sterns on if he can replicate Bruce’s experiment and make more Hulks when she is knocked out by Blonsky, who wants Sterns to give him the Hulk’s power but Sterns worries that the Hulk’s blood, mixed with whatever is in Blonsky, would result in an abomination. After being threatened by Blonsky, Sterns goes ahead with the procedure and Blonsky mutates into a monster, knocking Sterns aside, where some of the Hulk’s blood drips onto his head, causing his head to start swelling. Abomination smashes his way out of the building and the military mistakenly believes it to be the Hulk but when they radio it in to Ross, he knows it can’t be the Hulk as Banner is there next to him. Seeing video of what is going on, Bruce convinces Ross to let him fight it, as he believes he can direct the Hulk at Abomination. After kissing Betty, Bruce drops out of the helicopter in order to help facilitate the change and ends up crashing through the street but emerges as the Hulk. When Abomination sees the Hulk, the two monsters race towards each other but Abomination, being bigger than the Hulk, gets the upper hand. Tearing a police car in half, the Hulk uses the wreckage as a pair of boxing gloves and proceeds to beat down Abomination but Abomination kicks him through a building. As Abomination gives chase, Ross orders the helicopter to open fire on him and Abomination ends up attacking the helicopter. Hulk manages to save the helicopter from Abomination but they end up crashing onto a rooftop. Abomination attacks the Hulk again and overpowers him but seeing Betty in danger, the Hulk gets a burst of strength and manages to beat Abomination, using a some heavy chains to choke him unconscious. Betty approaches the Hulk, who calls out her name, but when a news helicopter shines a spotlight on them, the Hulk takes off. Later, Betty is looking at a picture she took of Bruce before her camera’s battery dies while somewhere in British Columbia, Canada, Bruce is meditating when his eyes turn green, signalling a transformation, at which he smiles. Later, Ross is sitting in a bar when he is approached by Tony Stark, who tells the general that they are putting a team together and the general questions who is doing that.

The Incredible Hulk received mostly positive reviews, holding a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. the consensus among the critics is that “The Incredible Hulk provides the action and excitement to please comic book fans and re-ignite this fledgling franchise.” The movie made over $263 million at the box office, and though it did not seem like it by the numbers, the movie was considered a success by the studio. Though the idea was for another stand alone film to be made, so far that hasn’t happened, but he is supposed to have more prominent roles in some of the phase 3 and 4 movies.

I know I am probably in the minority on this, but I like this movie. The acting was pretty good, with Ed Norton making a decent Bruce Banner, while Liv Tyler (Betty) and William Hurt (General Ross) were also good. I also like Tim Roth (Blonsky) but was bit disappointed in the change to his character. The story was pretty good and while they did change the details on how he became the Hulk, I liked how they chose to recap it during the opening credits instead of devoting a whole scene to it, since that has been shown in one form or another in the previous movie, not to mention the TV show and two cartoon series. I did like the couple of funny inside jokes that were in the movie, such as Betty giving Bruce a pair of purple pants, the cameo by Lou Ferrigno and the pizza owner being called Stanley (a play off of Stan Lee). I know some people might criticize this movie as being nothing but a lot of action but let’s be honest people. with a movie involving the Hulk, you don’t really need plot, you just want to watch him smash stuff, which this movie delivered. It’s not the best movie in the series but it is still fun to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: March 28th, 2014 Movie – Batman: The Movie

batman the movie

It’s just a super hero kind of day as I review this movie I watched a while back. Now when I was a kid, I remember watching rerun of the old Batman TV show on TV, as well as catching the movie they ma

The plot: Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson were going for a drive when they receive a warning that the yacht carrying famed inventor Commodore Schmidlapp is in danger, they return to Wayne Manor and using the Bat-poles, change into their costumes as they enter the Batcave and race off in the Batmobile. Heading to the airport where the Batcopter is waiting for them, they fly off to the yacht’s last known position and Batman uses the Batladder to climb down onto the yacht. Just before he reaches it, the yacht suddenly disappears and Batman ends up plunging into the ocean. Robin raises Batman out of the water but a shark has bit down on Batman’s leg. Robin hands Batman a can of Bat-Shark repellant spray, which he uses to get the shark to let go of his leg, causing it to fall back into the sea, where it explodes. At Commissioner Gordon’s office, Batman holds a press conference to try and answer the reporters’ questions and assuage their fears. One of the reporters, Miss Kitka from the Moscow Bugle, asks Batman to take off his mask for a photo but they refuse, explaining that his and Robin’s identities are a closely guarded secret. After the reporters leave, Batman, Robin, Commissioner Gordon, and Chief O’Hara, learn that Catwoman, Joker, Penguin, and Riddler are all at large and realize that the four crooks have joined forces to commit the crime and Batman and Robin head back to the Batcave to try and find a clue. Meanwhile, Miss Kitka heads to a bar on the docks, where it is revealed that she is Catwoman in disguise and she meets with the other criminals, who have kidnapped Commodore Schmidlapp and tricked him into believing that he is still on board the yacht but it is stuck in heavy fog. At the Batcave, Batman and Robin find an illegal buoy, which they believe was used to project the illusion of the yacht to lure them into the trap. Using the Batboat, they head out to investigate the buoy, unaware that Penguin, Riddler, and Joker are observing them in the Penguin’s sub. Batman and Robin discover the projector unit in the buoy, then notice the sub’s periscope watching them. Before the can get away, Penguin activates the electromagnet in the buoy, holding the two heroes captive while Joker fires torpedoes at the helpless heroes. Batman uses his Bat-transmitter to send super energy waves at the torpedoes, detonating two of them early, but the batteries die before he can destroy the third one. When the torpedo explodes, the criminals believe they have killed Batman and Robin but unknown to them, a porpoise had swam in front of the torpedo, saving the two heroes from being killed. When they reach shore, they witness a missile being fired from the sky and two riddles are written into the sky. At Commissioner Gordon’s office, the crime fighters solve the riddles and realize that they point to Catwoman and Batman theorizes that the 4 criminal masterminds are out to take over the world. Meanwhile, Catwoman discusses the criminals’ plan to take over the United World Organization’s Security Council and how they need to get rid of Batman and Robin. Riddler decides to use each criminal’s strengths to lure Batman into a trap, with Catwoman posing as Kitka to seduce Bruce Wayne and use him as a bait for the trap. Kitka goes to see Bruce Wayne, showing him a note reportedly from the Riddler and Bruce Wayne decides to spend the evening with her to keep her safe, while Robin and Alfred keep watch in the Batmobile. Robin checks in with Commissioner Gordon and has him light the Batsignal, hoping it will cause the criminals to go ahead and make their movie. Seeing the signal, Kitka signals the other crooks and they capture Bruce Wayne and Kitka. At the criminal’s hideout, Bruce manages to trick the criminals into freeing him, then searches for Kitka but unable to find her, he makes his escape. Penguin comes up with a plan to trick Batman into taking him to the Batcave and uses Commodore Schmidlapp’s invention to dehydrate 5 of his goons, turning them into powder and placing them into individual test tubes. Batman and Robin return to the bar and discover a bomb there so Batman jumps down and grabs the bomb and races out to get rid of it, choosing to save the bar patrons in spite of their shady lifestyle. As Batman recovers, the pair are approached by Penguin, disguised as Schmidlapp, but Batman and Robin see through the disguise and decide to play along and see what Penguin is up to. Using gas to knock Penguin out, they take him to the Batcave, where the Penguin rehydrates the goons to attack the Dynamic Duo, but he accidentally uses heavy water to rehydrate the goons, causing them to be unstabel and disintegrate at the slightest contact. Penguin manages to get away but Batman and Robin follow him until they are accidentally knocked out of the sky by one of Riddler’s skywriting rockets. Penguin meets up with the other criminals at the United World Organization’s Security Council, and proceed to dehydrate the nine members, and place them in test tubes. Batman and Robin show up as the criminals are leaving but Catwoman stalls them by threatening Kitka’s life, allowing the crooks to escape. Batman figure out where they are heading and give chase in the Batboat, then use Batcharges to bring the sub to the surface, where the proceed to fight with the criminals and their henchmen. They manage to subdue the criminals but when Catwoman tries to get away, she trips and her mask comes off, revealing her identity as Miss Kitka to Batman and Robin. After calling in to have the criminals picked up, Batman grabs the test tubes containing the security council when Schmidlapp shows up and trips, breaking the test tubes and scattering the dust when he sneezes. Batman and Robin collect all of the dust and use their Super Molecular Dust Separator to separate the different particles into the individual containers. Heading back to the Security Council’s chambers, Batman and Robin re-hydrate the council but realize that the members now speak a different language than their native country and Batman hopes that this “mixing of the minds” will lead to more good than harm before the Dynamic Duo head out the window.

Batman: The Movie was well received by the critics, holding an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics is that “Batman: The Movie elevates camp to an art form — and has a blast doing it, every gloriously tongue-in-cheek inch of the way.” Producer William Dozier had wanted to do the movie while the TV series was running, to generate more interest in the show, but the studio didn’t want to cover the entire cost of the movie as opposed to only sharing the cost of the TV Show. Many of the characters from the show reprised their roles from the show with the notable exception of Catwoman, who was played by Julie Newmar in the first season of the show but due to scheduling conflicts, was replaced in the movie, and secodn season of the show, by Lee Meriwether. The movie was barely a success, as it only made $1.7 million off of a $1.5 million budget.

You absolutely can not help but laugh at how campy this movie is, which is why it is so much fun to watch. Every actor and actress were so good in their over the top performances that it is hard to list one as a favorite because they all did incredible jobs. The plot honestly felt like it was from and old school comic book, but filled with a lot more campiness. The scene with Batman trying to get rid of the bomb is definitely one of the funniest scenes to watch. The fight scenes were so over the top corny that they are just funny to watch, especially when you add the floating word balloons that would pop up when people would throw a punch or kick. Definitely a must see movie for any comic book fan, especially if you need something to watch and cheer yourself up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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February 28th, 2016 Movie – Iron Man

iron man

Now I know what most of you are probably thinking. You are all wondering why I didn’t review today’s movie a couple of month’s ago. Well, there is a method to my madness, or at least my organizing ability. You see today’s movie was the first in an ongoing series of movies that have been dubbed the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, which is why I waited until now to watch these movies. Now, I was a big collector of comic books as a kid, and to a lesser extent now, and mainly picked Marvel over DC, though there were some exceptions, and while I was not a long time reader of Iron Man or the Avengers, I did read enough of the comics to know enough about the character. Hearing that a live action movie would be coming out had me eager to see it so let’s see just how good today’s movie, Iron Man, really is.

The plot: In Afghanistan, Tony Stark is riding in a military convoy when the convoy comes under attack. Tony tries to get to safety and call for help, but an explosive lands near him and he has time to notice that it is one of his own weapons before it explodes, seriously injuring him and he is captured by a terrorist group known as the Ten Rings. In flashback, a ceremony is held at Ceasar’s Palace where Lt. Colonel James Rhodes, Tony’s friend and military liaison whom he refers to as “Rhodey”, was presenting an award to Tony but Tony didn’t show up so the award was accepted by Obadiah Stane, the manager for Stark Industries. James finds Tony gambling in the casino and after they leave, Tony is approached by reporter Christine Everhart, who asks him a couple of questions and ends up going back to Tony’s place with him to have sex. The next morning, Pepper Potts, Tony’s administrative assistant, goes over some last minute items before he heads to the airport to meet Rhodey and they fly to Afghanistan to showcase Stark Industries new Jericho missile system. Back to the present, Tony comes too and finds himself a prisoner along with another scientist named Yinsen, who was able to save Tony’s life by grafting an electro-magnet to his chest in order to keep the pieces of shrapnel still in his chest from reaching his heart. When their captors arrive, they have Yinsen translate and tell Tony that they want him to build them a Jericho missile, revelaing that they already have several cases of weapons for him to use in the process. Tony agrees, but instead of building the weapon, he decides to use the materials to build a way out of there. First, he takes apart several missiles and uses some of the material inside to build a miniature arc reactor, which will help keep the shrapnel from his heart and make him more mobile, as well as power what he wants to build next, an armed suit of armor that will help them break out of there. When the leader of the Ten Rings grows impatient with their lack of progress, he gives them an ultimatum to finish the missile by tomorrow or he will kill them. Stark and Yinsen rush to finish building the armor but when they realize it will take some time to fully power the suit, Yinsen grabs the weapon from a downed guard and heads out to buy Tony some more time and ends up getting shot. Some guards enter Tony’s workspace as the suit finishes powering up and he makes short work of the guards and makes his way out of the cave. Finding the badly injured Yinsen, Stark tries to rescue him but Yinsen’s injuries are fatal and he tells Stark that he will be going to see his family, who are already dead, and tells Tony not to waste his life. Tony exits the cave and proceeds to destroy all of the cases of weapons that were from his company before flying away from there, crashing some ways out into the desert. Tony is eventually rescued by some military helicopters, with Rhodey leading the search, and transported back to the US, where Pepper tries to get him to go to a hospital but he insists on grabbing a cheeseburger and then call a press conference. Returning to Stark Industries, Tony is greeted by Obadiah and they head to the podium for the press conference, while Pepper is approached by Agent Phil Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D., who asks her to arrange a time for Tony to be debriefed. At the press conference, Tony announces that the experience has opened his eyes and he plans to shut down the company’s weapons manufacturing division, which causes some concern to Obadiah, who voices his concerns to Tony later. At his home, Tony has Pepper help him as he works on replacing the arc reactor he built in Afghanistan with a newer, more powerful model. Tony goes to see Rhodey and tells him he is working on a new project and wants to bring him in but Rhodey turns him down and tells Tony he needs to go back to making weapons. With the help of Tony’s AI program Jarvis, Tony begins building a new suit of armor, choosing to keep it a secret from everyone and keeping the records on his own server. As his work progresses, Obadiah comes to see him after attending a meeting with the Board of Directors and tells Stark that the company’s stock had dropped 56 points but Tony refuses to tell Obadiah what he is working on, even when Obadiah tells Tony that the Board is filing an injunction against him. Tony finishes in building a suit of armor and decides to take it for a test flight but as he tries seeing how high it can go, the suit begins to freeze up and he ends up falling from the sky until he is finally able to reboot his system and regain flight. Returning to his home, Tony works on solving the freezing problem and comes up with some new ideas for a future suit, then heads out to a charity benefit while the new suit is being built. At the event, Tony sees Pepper and convinces her to dance with him and as the two are talking later, they realize there is some chemistry between them. Tony is later approached by Christine, who shows him some photos of an Afghan village, which Tony recognizes as Yinsen’s home, showing the villagers being killed by Stark Industries weapons, including the Jericho missile. Tony questions Obadiah about the weapons being shipped out and Obadiah admits that he is the one that filed the injunction to lock Tony out of the company. Tony heads home and after donning the new suit of armor, flies to Afghanistan and arrives in time to save a group of villagers from being killed/taken captive by the Ten Rings, then heads to the weapons depot that had the Jericho missile and destroys it. As he is flying back, he is attacked by two F-22’s, as the military had observed what had happened and wanted to know what the unknown bogey was. Rhodey is on the phone with Tony and though he denies it at first, Tony admits that the bogey is him and he accidentally destroys one of the planes but manages to save the pilot before flying off. Later, Obadiah arrives in Afghanistan and meets with the leader of the Ten Rings, who had retireved the original armor that Tony had built. Obadiah uses a sonic weapon to paralyze the terrorist, then has his men kill all of the terrorist and take the armor with them, where he assigns a secret lab at Stark Industries to work on reverse engineering a prototype to build. At his home, Tony sends Pepper to Stark Industries to break into the company mainframe and try to find any list of the shipping manifest for the weapons but when she hacks the computer, she finds a video file that shows Obadiah was working with the Ten Rings and had ordered the attempt on Tony’s life. Obadiah shows up as Pepper copies the files and when he realizes what she has done, he starts to go after her but Pepper leaves the building with Agent Coulson. When Obadiah’s people are unable to create a miniaturized arc reactor, Obadiah goes to Tony’s house and uses the sonic device to paralyze Tony long enough for him to steal the arc reactor from Tony’s chest. Pepper calls Rhodey and has him check on Tony while she leads Coulson and some other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to Obadiah’s lab. At his house, Tony makes his way to his workshop and grabs the original arc reactor that Pepper had framed but passes out before he can put it in but Rhodey shows up and helps Tony. Pepper leads that agents into section 16, where they find Obadiah in his new suit of armor, which he calls Iron Monger. Tony dons his Mark III armor but the old reactor is only able to provide 64% power. He arrives just in time to save Pepper from Iron Monger, but he finds himself out matched by Obadiah’s armor. Deciding to use Obadiah’s armor against itself, flying up to the maximum altitude with Obadiah on his heels, but just as Obadiah catches up to Tony, the Iron Monger armor succumbs to the freezing temperatures and shuts down. On reserve power, Tony manages to make it to the roof of Stark Industries but Iron Monger appears and continues fighting him. Tony uses the suit to call Pepper and has her prepare the main arc reactor to overload, resulting in the Iron Monger suit to overload and kill Obadiah, who ends up crashing into the reactor and causing it to explode. The next day, Tony is given a cover story by Agent Coulson to use at his press conference to talk about “Iron Man”  but when he gets to the podium, he ends up telling the reporters that he is Iron Man. Later, Nick Fury shows up at Tony’s house, telling Tony that he is not the only super hero and asks to speak with him about the “Avenger Initiative.”

Iron Man was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics is ” Director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey Jr. make this smart, high impact superhero movie one that even non-comics fans can enjoy.” The movie was a box office success, earning over $585 million worldwide off a $140 million budget. The movie would be the first in Marvel’s attempt to make a unified cinematic universe with the hopes of incorporating future characters into the film series and having them all be connected.

While I have always gone back and forth as to where I would rank this movie among the others, One thing that never changed is the fact that this is an incredible movie to watch. Robert Downey Jr. was hands down the best person to play this role and he did an amazing job as Tony Stark. Gwenyth Paltrow (Pepper), Jeff Bridges(Obadiah), and Terrence Howard(Rhodey) were also very good in their roles. The story was very good and did a good job of modernizing the origin as well as introducing the audience to a character that most people were not as familiar with as other super heroes. The special effects were really good and had a great blend of the CGI with the suits to mix with the real life people they were interacting with. A great action/comic book movie that really leaves you chomping at the bit for more.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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February 27th, 2016 Movie -The Martian

the martian

There is a running joke among my friends that I never buy/watch “good” movies, which is funny but not entirely true. The joke was made due to my love for B-movies (and some lower grade ones) and my tendency to buy such movies. My reasoning was always that everyone buys the big blockbusters and famous movies but the lower budget movies need love too, especially since I want them to continue being made. So anytime I buy one of the “good” movies, my friends get confused as to why I own it. Today’s movie will definitely have them scratching their heads as I review a fairly recent purchase, The Martian.

The plot: The Ares III manned mission to Mars is on the 18th day of their mission when a strong dust storm forces them to scrub the mission. As they are making their way to the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle), a piece of debris is thrown by the storm and hits astronaut Mark Watney, sending him flying from the group. Not picking up any signs of life from Mark’s suit, Melissa Lewis, the mission commander, sends the rest of the crew to the MAV while she tries to locate Mark’s body but as the storm grows worse and threatens the ship’s stability, she is forced to give up the search and they blast off from the surface, leaving Mark behind. On Earth, a press conference is held where Teddy Sanders, NASA’s Administrator, announces that the astronauts have returned to their ship, Hermes, and are on their way back to Earth, but that Mark was killed during the storm. On Mars, Mark regains consciousness and finds that a piece of the debris had punctured his suit and wounded him but the blood clotted around the wound and kept him from dying of decompression. Making his way back to the HAB (the mission’s living quarters), Mark treats his injury, then starts recording a log, where he lists what his options are and what he must do to try and survive. After going through all the food supplies, Mark figures he has enough food for 300 sols (days) but figures he might be able to ration it out to 400, but must still come up with a way to grow enough food for 3 more years. Putting his botany skills to use, Mark transforms the kitchen area of the HAB into a greenhouse, using recycled waste from all of the astronauts as fertilizer for the martian soil and extracting hydrogen from leftover rocket fuel and using a fire to oxidize it in order to make water. Mark plants some potatoes that were saved for Thanksgiving and after two weeks, he notices that the plants have started to grow. On Earth, Vincent Kapoor, the Mars mission director, speaks with Sanders to try and finance a 6th Ares mission in order to go to retrieve Mark’s body, but Sanders is reluctant to try. Meanwhile, Mindy Park, a satellite planner for NASA is given some coordinates to check and sees that it is the HAB. When she notices that some items have been moved since the day the astronauts left, she realizes that Mark is still alive and reports the news to Vincent and Sanders. Along with the NASA’s head of media relations, the two men look at Mindy’s findings and try to figure out what they are going to do but Sanders says not to tell the rest of the Ares III crew, as he doesn’t want them to get distracted. Back on Mars, Mark knows that the next Ares mission to Mars will be in 4 years but the landing site is 3200 kilometers away and the Rover that was brought on the mission only has a battery life good for 35 kilometers before it needs to be recharged at the HAB and the site is a 50 day journey. Mark figures out a way to increase his battery life but he can’t use the heater, which would mean he would freeze to death at night so he digs up the radioactive material used for the flight to Mars and insulates it so he won’t be exposed to the lethal radiation but is still able to use the power source as heat, making it possible for him to survive. On Earth, Sanders and the rest of NASA are trying to figure out ways to help Mark survive and Sanders authorizes a probe to be sent to resupply Mark to better his chances while Mitch Henderson, the Hermes flight director, still expresses misgivings about not informing the rest of the Ares III crew that Mark is still alive. On Mars, Mark comes up with a way to communicate with NASA by heading to the sight of the Pathfinder, an unmanned probe that was sent to Mars but fell silent in 1997. Mark finds the probe and brings it back to the HAB, where he is able to get it working. On Earth, Vincent figured out Mark’s plan and heads to JPL (Jet Propulsion Labratory) to speak with Bruce Ng (JPL’s director) and the rest of the men that worked on Pathfinder. Mark is able to establish contact with the Pathfinder demo model on Earth and using it, Nasa is able to communicate with him, then tell him how to link Pathfinder to the Rover so that they can communicate via text. Mark is happy to hear that NASA is working on a way to help keep him alive but when he learns that they haven’t told the rest of the crew that he is alive, he is furious. Sanders finally relents and Henderson sends a video file to the Ares III crew, telling them that Mark is alive and they were deliberately not informed for 2 months. On Earth, the plans to have a resupply probe sent up are on track but Mitch says they will be cutting it close as to when they project Mark’s food will run out. On Mars, Mark is securing the hatch for the night when the door malfunctions and explodes, causing the HAB to depressurize and ruining Mark’s crops. When they learn of this, Sanders tells Bruce that they will have to step up the timetable to get the supply probe to Mark. Mark is able to make a makeshift door so that he can continue living in the HAB, but he still must try and stretch out his rations to last even longer. Sanders rushes the probe’s launch, choosing to ignore the safety checks in order to speed up the launch, but when the probe launches, it ends up exploding shortly after launch. Hearing about what happened, CNSA (China National Space Administration) reaches out to NASA and offers the use of their classified booster engine, the Taiyang Shen, to help send a resupply probe to Mars. However, Rich Purnell, an astrophysicists for JPL, tells Vincent that he has worked out a way to rescue Mark by having the Hermes slingshot around the Earth to help boost it towards Mars and using the Taiyang Shen to resupply them for an extended time in space. Sanders decides not to risk the returning astronauts lives on the maneuver but Henderson secretly sends the details of the maneuver to the Hermes‘ crew. On board, Melissa tells the other astronauts what the plan entails and the consequences should the choose to disobey NASA but the crew all votes to try and save Mark. When the Hermes begins the slingshot, Sanders is forced to use the Taiyang Shen to resupply the Hermes for the trip back to Mars. Meanwhile, scientist and engineers work with Mark to help him modify the Rover to carry all the equipment he will need to survive while making the journey to where the MAV is located for the Ares IV mission. After 461 days on Mars, Mark loads up the last of his supplies and makes his way to the MAV. As he nears the MAV, Bruce and Mitch explain to Vincent that in order to get the plan to work, they will need to have Mark remove all of the computer equipment, as well as the nose cone of the ship, in order to make the shift light enough to reach escape velocity in order to reach the Hermes, while on the ship, Melissa and the rest of the crew work out the plan to retrieve Mark. On Earth, crowds gather around every major city to watch as the mission to retrieve Mark commences. When the time comes, the MAV is remotely launched and Mark ends up passing out due to the G-forces but the MAV ends up falling short of the necessary altitude. Melissa has the Hermes adjust course to match the altitude, but they end up going faster than would be able to safely grab Mark. Mark regains consciousness and after hearing the problem, he offers to puncture his suit to help get him to the ship but Melissa decides to use the idea to blow one of the airlocks on the Hermes to slow them down. Doing this does succeed in slowing them down, but they are still to far away to grab Mark so he goes ahead and punctures the glove on his suit and uses the released air pressure to propel himself towards the Hermes, where Melissa is able to grab him and bring him on board the ship, to the cheers from the rest of the crew as well as everyone on Earth. Returning to Earth, Mark ends up teaching a survival course for future astronauts and 5 years later, the Ares V mission is successfully launched into space.

The Martian was highly praised by the critics, earning a critically fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is ” Smart, thrilling, and surprisingly funny, The Martian offers a faithful adaptation of the bestselling book that brings out the best in leading man Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott.” The movie was projected to earn $172 million in the US but would wind up earning over $228 million in the US, and over $620 million worldwide, making it a box office success. The movie has been nominated for 7 Academy Awards. including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

This is a fantastic movie to watch. Matt Damon was great in this role, especially when he would go back and forth from being serious when facing the problems at hand, to more light -hearted and comical, in order to keep his spirits up and not fall into depression. All of the other characters were also good in their roles but this movie mainly focused on Damon and he held up to the pressure. The story was really good and I am sure it helped increase the sales for the book the movie was based on. The special effects were good and for the most part, the science was entirely plausible, with one or two exceptions. All in all, this is definitely one of the must see movies from 2015.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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February 26th, 2016 Movie – Mars Attacks

mars attacksMan, there were a lot of movies that came out in 1996 that had me going to the movie theaters. I’m glad it happened back then, when ticket prices were cheaper, because if it happened now, I would probably be out several hundred dollars easily. Now today’s movie is one of my favorites to come out that year, partially because of the cast and partially because of the origin. I mean, a movie based on a trading card series didn’t exactly work out the last time someone tries it, just ask the guys that made The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Then again, with Tim Burton directing and the cast assembled for this movie, there was little chance of Mars Attacks not becoming a major hit.

The plot: In a small Kentucky town, two farmers comment about smelling BBQ when they are surprised to see a herd of cattle on fire running down the road, then a flying saucer take off into the sky. The saucer heads towards Mars but explodes before reaching the planet, causing a huge fleet of saucers to launch from Mars and head towards Earth. President James Dale has a meeting with Press Secretary Jerry Ross, Professor Donald Kessler, and Generals Casey and Decker on how to handle the situation. General Decker recommends keeping the news quiet and going to Defcon 4 but everyone else feels the Martians might be coming in peace and they should act accordingly. The President makes a live address to the nation to tell the people about the Martians. Later, Donald goes onto a daily talk show hosted by Nathalie Lake but the show is interrupted by a signal from the Martians, where the Martian Ambassador appears and begins speaking to the people of Earth. The President meets with his advisors and a scientist that created a universal translator and they learn that the Martians are landing a ship in Nevada and General Casey is tasked with leading the welcoming reception. In the Nevada desert, a crowd of people and reporters have gathered to see the Martians arrive. Using the universal translator, they translate the Ambassador’s speech as a declaration of speech, and one of the assembled crowd releases a dove. When the Martian sees the dove flying towards them, the shoot the bird, then begin killing the assembled people, capturing Nathalie and her dog during the confrontation. General Decker believes that they should attack the Martians now but Donald and Jerry believe that it was a cultural misunderstanding and convince the President to send a message to the Martians to seek another chance at peace. The Martians receive the message and laugh, as it is shown that they have switched Nathalie’s and her dog’s heads, with Nathalie’s head now attached to her dog’s body and vice versa. The Martians send a reply and the Ambassador agrees to meet with Congress. However, when he arrives, the Ambassador and his bodyguards kill all of the congressmen and knocking Donald unconscious and taking him aboard their ship. When Donald comes to, he discovers his body has been dissected while the Martians keep his head alive, as well as seeing Nathalie and the two admit that they were flirting with each other on the show. That night, a Martian disguised as a human girl is picked up by Jerry, who thinks she is a prostitute, and taken inside the White House. Inside, Jerry tries to seduce the girl but she ends up killing him, then heads towards the President’s bedroom to kill him but the Secret Service are able to shoot the Martian when it is distracted by killing bird. When the assassin is killed, the Martian leader sends a full invasion to Earth and they begin attacking everywhere. When the Martians attack the White House, the Secret Service rush to escort the President and his family to safety but their daughter Taffy gets separated from them and the First Lady, Marsha, is killed when a Martian blast causes the Nancy Reagan chandelier to fall on her. As President Dale mourns his wife, the Martians advance on the Secret Service but two boys, Cedric and Neville, grab the weapons off a dead Martian and begin fighting back, helping the President get to safety before they head home. In Las Vegas, Art Land, owner of a new hotel, is giving a sales pitch when his hotel is destroyed by the Martians. Art’s wife Barbara goes to see Byron, a former Boxer who works at a casino, and asks if he knows how to fly a plane as she has one ready to go. They are approached by Tom Jones, who says a Martian is right behind him and Byron proceeds to knock the Martian unconscious and take it’s gun, then leaves with Barbara, Tom, as well as a coworker Cindy and a gambler. In Kansas, Richie, the brother of a soldier who was killed by the Martians in Nevada, heads home and finds his parents preparing to defend their trailer but when the Martians start attacking, he leaves the trailer to go get his grandma from her nursing home, and ends up being followed by a giant Martian robot after it destroys his trailer. At the nursing home, the Martians are killing the residents but when Richie gets to his grandmother’s room, he sees some Martians about to kill her but when she unplugs her headphones, the music she is listening too causes the Martian’s heads to explode. In Washington, the President gives the ok to fire a nuclear missile at the MArtian ships, but the Martians use a device to suck up the radiation, which the Martians inhale, acting like helium to the Martians. The Martians then manage to break into the war room, killing General Decker and everyone else inside and President Dale tries to reason with the Martian ruler and the Martian appears to want peace and offers to shake the President’s hand, but the hand is a fake hand and it ends up impaling the President and a Martian flag emerges from his body. In Vegas, Byron leads the others to the private airfield but the gambler gets separated and is killed by one of the Martians. When they reach the hangar, they see that the Martians are blocking the runway so Byron decides to serve as a distraction to allow the others to escape. Challenging the Martian ambassador to a fist fight, Byron proceeds to smash the Ambassador’s helmet before the other Martians surround him and proceed to beat him down, while the others fly off, looking back to see him left lying on the runway. Meanwhile, Richie and his grandmother head to the nearby radio station and play her record on the air, as other people and the military learn what the music does and use it to kill the Martians. In the main saucer, the aliens are all killed and Donald and Nathalie’s heads both come loose and they end up kissing before the ship crashes into the sea. As the Earth recovers, Richie and his grandmother are honored by Taffy in a ceremony at the steps of the destroyed Capital Building, while Byron is shown to have survived and arrives at the apartment where his wife and sons live. Meanwhile, Barbara, Tom Jones, and Cindy emerge from some caves in Tahoe and are approached by various animals while they look at the wreckage of a saucer in the nearby lake.

Mars Attacks received mixed reactions from the critics, earning a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics was that “Tim Burton’s alien invasion spoof faithfully recreates the wooden characters and schlocky story of cheesy ’50s sci-fi and Ed Wood movies — perhaps a little too faithfully for audiences.” Many people compared the movie to Independence Day, as it was also released in 1996 but Tim Burton says that while there were some similarities, it was just a coincidence as it is a basic genre. The movie was considered a commercial bomb in the US as it only made over $37 million domestically but did better overseas, as the total worldwide gross was over $101 million.

There are a lot of things to love about this movie. The acting was great, with Jack Nicholson doing great in his dual roles of President James Dale and Art Land. Annette Bening (Barbara), Pierce Brosnan (Donald), Jim Brown (Byron), and Martin Short (Jerry) were also really good in their roles. The story was pretty basic and did a good job of spoofing the classic alien invasion movies of the 50’s but did add a very humorous twist to the alien invasion, such as one of the Martians carrying the translator with it saying “Don’t run. We are your friends.”, as they Martians are attacking people in Vegas. I also liked how they borrowed an idea from Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, with the idea of a terrible song being used to defeat the Martians. The special effects were pretty good and very colorful, which helped make the movie look more like the trading cards and comic books that the movie was based from. A very funny movie that is always a pleasure to watch.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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February 25th, 2016 Movie – The Marine

the marine

One thing that I will freely admit to is that I am a wrestling fan and have been for over 30 years. Back in the day, wrestling used to come on right after Saturday morning cartoons and right before whatever B-movie the local channels would show Saturday afternoon, so there was not much reason for me not to watch it. So in the early 2000’s, WWE decided to start getting into the movie business and began producing movies that would star, or at least feature, some of the wrestlers in their company. The first three movies featured Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, while Kane (Glenn Jacobs) was the appropriate star for the fourth film, due to it being a horror movie. Then in 2006, WWE used this generation’s version of Hulk Hogan, John Cena, to star in their latest action movie. I will admit, I was bored and curious when I picked this movie up so let’s see just how good or bad The Marine is.

The plot: At an Al-Qaeda hideout in Iraq, Sgt. John Triton observes a group of terrorists preparing to kill some hostages and disobeys orders to wait for backup, choosing to go ahead and rescue the hostages. At a marine base in Germany, Triton is informed by his colonel that he is being honorably discharged for disobeying orders and sent home, where his wife Kate is happy to have him home. The next day, a group of criminals (Rome, Angela, Morgan, Bennett, and Vescera) rob a jewelry store and steal $12 million worth of diamonds, killing the worker that tipped them off to the score. Meanwhile, John takes a job as a security guard but when he gets in a confrontation with an employee’s ex-boyfriend and his bodyguards, he throws the ex-boyfriend through a window and ends up getting fired. Arriving home, he doesn’t tell Kate what happened but when she sees a story on the news showing what happened, she decides that they need to take a vacation so John can unwind from his time in the military. Stopping for gas on their way to the mountains, John goes inside for some snacks, passing Rome as he is walking out of the gas station. As Rome is filling up his gang’s getaway car, a police car pulls up and one of the officers starts talking with Rome until Morgan, another member of the gang, shoots him and Rome shoots his partner as he tries to back away. Hearing the shots, John tries running back to his car but Bennett hits him with a fire extinguisher, knocking him unconscious. Seeing their car has a flat tire, Rome decides to steal the Triton’s truck, taking Kate as a hostage, while Morgan starts a fire that ends up blowing up the gas station. John manages to survive the blast and seeing the crooks drive off with Kate in his truck, he gets in the police car and follows them, using the radio to inform the police of what happened. When John catches up to the crooks, they begin shooting at him but he keeps following until the crooks stop at a cliff and John ends up driving off the cliff, managing to jump out of his car before the crooks blow it up. With the Triton’s truck out of commission, Rome decides to make their way through the swamp to avoid the police, continuing to take Kate with them. Detective Van Buren arrives at the scene and finds John still alive and warns him not to pursue the crooks but John doesn’t listen and makes his way into the swamp. As the crooks are making there way through the swamp, Morgan and Vescera begin arguing and Rome ends up shooting Vescera, leaving him for the alligators to feed on. As they keep moving, Rome gets a phone call from his silent partner and he ends up telling his partner that he is keeping the diamonds and cutting him out of the deal. John continues tracking the crooks, finding where Vescera was killed and grabbing his knife along the way, when he is captured by a couple of meth dealers. The drug dealers take him back to their hideout but he manages to free himself and take out the two men before continuing after the crooks. Rome spies a lodge nearby and decides to hide there until the police leave the area, then use a boat to make their way to the marina, where he arranges to have a car waiting for them. Morgan is sent to look for a generator to power the place and after he gets it running, he is attacked by John and killed. Rome sends Bennett to get one of the boats running but John kills him as well, then sees Van Buren has caught up with him. As Angela leads Kate outside, the two girls begin fighting while inside, John and Van Buren surprise Rome but Van Buren is revealed to be Rome’s silent partner and points his gun at John. When Van Buren gets distracted while asking Rome about the diamonds, John grabs him as Rome shoots at the both of them, killing Van Buren but John manages to get to cover. Rome leaves the lodge, then shoots the generator, causing an explosion but John manages to jump into the river and survive. Rome and Angela take Kate and drive off in Van Buren’s car, but then ditch it and kill a truck driver for his truck. Meanwhile, a harbor patrol officer spots John and starts to arrest him but John handcuffs him instead then uses his boat to head to the marina. At the marina, Rome is looking for the car that is supposed to be there when Kate, who is handcuffed to a pole in the back, attacks him and causes him to lose control of the truck briefly. In the boat, John sees this and catches up to the truck and jumps onto it, then makes his way to the passenger door, where he grabs Angela and throws her into the path of an oncoming bus. Rome tries knocking John off the truck by crashing into several buildings, finally succeeding but then he is forced to jump out of the truck before it crashes into the river, leaving Kate handcuffed to the sinking truck. John tries to rescue Kate but Rome attacks him and the two end up fighting in a burning warehouse before John finally is able to beat Rome, throwing him into the warehouse as it collapses. John dives into the river and frees Kate, then begins doing CPR until she begins breathing again. The two hug each other when suddenly, Rome appears and tries to strangle John with a length of chain but John manages to loop the chain around Rome’s neck and throw him, then yanks on the chain to break Rome’s neck. John and Kate embrace, with John joking that they should have gone to the beach, as the cops begins arriving at the burning wreckage.

The Marine met with poor reviews from the critics, earning only a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics is that the movie is “Overblown in every possible way, The Marine is either so bad it’s good or just really, really bad.” The movie was a mild success at the theaters, earning over $32 million off a $15 million budget. When it was released on DVD, it was the number one rented DVD it’s first week and would make over $30 million in DVD sales in 12 weeks, prompting WWE Studios to release 3 direct to video sequels, which also starred wrestlers in the title roles.

Let’s be clear about one thing, this is not a good movie. However, this is an entertaining movie due to how over the top it is. The acting is decent, with Robert Patrick (Rome) and Anthony Ray Parker (Morgan) being my favorites. As much time as he has spent in front of the camera as a wrestler, you would think that John Cena would have done a better job but I think he suffered from rookie movie nerves as he seemed kind of stiff and his acting didn’t feel as natural as some of the others. The story was a pretty typical heist/chase movie and didn’t really offer much in the way of originality, but the pacing did flow pretty well. Then thee was the random bits of humor, such as Bennett making a comment about John being like the Terminator and Rome glaring at him, or Rome talking to his silent partner on the phone while they are in the swamp, then switching lines to take a phone call where he was approved for an upgraded cable package with all of the premium channels and the sports package. The action scenes kind of reminded me of wrestling as it was over the top and entertaining. There is a reason that this movie wasn’t up for any Oscars, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t give it a chance if you are in the mood for a mindless action film.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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February 24th, 2016 Movie – Once Upon A Time In Mexico

once upon a time in mexico

I think it is safe to say that the summer of 2003 was the summer of Johnny Depp, as he would star in 2 of the summer’s biggest movies. I will get to the first movie at a later date but for now, let’s talk about today’s movie, which also happens to be the last chapter in Robert Rodriguez’s Mexico Trilogy. When the trailers for this first aired, I was pretty excited to see it as it had been 8 years since Desperado came out so I wanted to see how the story played out. So let’s see how it ends with today’s movie, Once Upon A Time In Mexico.

The plot: In Mexico, CIA agent Sheldon Sands meets with a man named Belini, who tells him about El Mariachi and Carolina, and how they had a run in with General Marquez and seriously wounded him but did not kill him. Belini says that some time later, Marquez found and killed Carolina and El Mariachi just disappeared, but if he still lives, he is the man that Sands wants. Sands pays Belini, questioning why he took so little of a payment, and after Belini leaves, Sands reveals that he had a fake arm on as his real arm had a gun trained on Belini under the table. In a rural village, a group of armed men led by Cucuy show up looking for El Mariachi and after they kill one man who feigns ignorance, El Mariachi reveals himself and he is taken away. Cucuy takes El Mariachi to see Sands, who wants El Mariachi to kill Marquez, as the Barillo cartel is hiring Marquez to kill the President of Mexico in the attempt to seize control. Sands tells El Mariachi to head to a nearby church and to contact him at a certain time, but secretly, Sands had told Cucuy to contact the cartel and tell them that El Mariachi will be there. El Mariachi heads to the church, where he meets with one of Sands men in the confession booth who says that El Mariachi will be a free man after he finishes the assignment but then the man quickly leaves as the cartel show up and begin shooting the confession booth. El Mariachi escapes and kills the cartel’s men, then calls Sands, who tells him that he passed the test and to assemble his team and he will call him with further instructions. Sands meets with retired FBI agent Jorge Ramirez and convinces him to kill Barillo, which Ramirez decides to do since Barillo was responsible for his partner’s death. Meanwhile, El Mariachi goes to see his friends Lorenzo and Fideo, who were keeping his guitar while he was gone, and tells them that he will need their help. Meanwhile, Sands goes to see Belini again but when a waitress accidentally spills coffee on his fake arm and tries to wipe it off, Sands kills Belini and the waitress, then gets the information he needed from Belini and disposes of the body. Sands then meets with AFN agent Ajedrez, who has been keeping tabs on Barillo for him and he explains his plan to her, and how he plans on taking the money Barillo is going to pay Marquez and run off and invites her to join him. Sands checks in with El Mariachi, who asks why Cucuy is keeping watch on him, and Sands explains that it is for his own protection. El Mariachi, Lorenzo, and Fideo arrive at the presidential palace and are shown the back way in by the President’s Advisor, who Sands has paid to help with his mission. As they are playing during a dinner party, El Mariachi makes note of the security in the room and later, tells Lorenzo and Fideo to practice. Ramirez calls Sands and says that he has been following Barillo and Dr. Guevera and that Barillo has a medical procedure planned for the following day, which happens to be the Day of the Dead. Sands believes the coup is going to happen on that day and tells Ramirez to take a shot if he gets the chance, but doesn’t tell Ramirez what is going on. Recognizing one of Barillo’s men as a US fugitive named Billy Chambers, Ramirez approaches him and is able to get his help as Billy is tired of working for Barillo. In exchange for protection from the cartel and being sent back to the US, Billy allows Ramirez to place a bug on Billy’s pet chihuahua so that he can record Barillo’s plans. Meanwhile, El Mariachi is walking the streets and notices several cartel soldiers in the marketplace. He meets up with Cucuy, but Cucuy tells him that he no longer works for Sands and he plans on collecting on the bounty for El Mariachi. El Mariachi kills some of the men and tries to escape but Cucuy shoots him with a tranquilizer and takes him to Barillo. At Barillo’s place, Cucuy tells Barillo that Sands wants El Mariachi to kill Marquez but instead of paying him, Barillo has Billy kill Cucuy. Meanwhile, the tranquilizer causes El Mariachi to dream about Marquez killing Carolina and their daughter, which wakes him up and he is able to escape. Ramirez had followed Barillo to a hospital and when he notices a bunch of armed men enter the building, followed by AFN agents, he goes in and finds the operating staff have been shot and Barillo died of apparent blood loss due to an incomplete facial reconstruction surgery. However, when he notices that Barillo’s rings are falling off the body’s fingers, Ramirez realizes that the body is a fake, then finds the real Barillo but he is knocked out by Ajedrez, who is working with Barillo. Sands is on the phone trying to get help as he realizes that his plan has been compromised but he ends up being captured by Ajedrez and Dr. Guevera. When he comes too, he sees Ajedrez, who tells him that she is Barillo’s daughter, then Barillo has Sands eyes drilled out. Blinded, Sands grabs a young boy that had sold him some Chiclets and gets him to act as his eyes, managing to kill a cartel soldier that was following him. As Marquez and his men attack the city, El Mariachi, Lorenzo, and Fideo, along with the towns people, fight back against the soldiers. When the President’s Advisor leads him into a trap, he is saved by El Mariachi and the others, then Lorenzo and Fideo take the President to safety, stopping to grab the money that Barillo was going to pay Marquez. When Marquez enters the President’s chambers, he finds El Mariachi there and when he tries to shoot him, El Mariachi shoots out his knees, then shoots him in the head, taking back Carolina’s necklace which Marquez had stolen when he killed her. Meanwhile, Sands has the boy lead him to the middle of the city and when two of Barillo’s men show up, he sends the boy away then kills the two men, but is shot in the process. Barillo, Ajedrez, and Dr. Guevera arrive at the palace and find Marquez dead. Ajedrez notices Sands lying in the street and goes to finish him off but Sands kills her instead. Billy brings Ramirez into the room and Ramirez shoots Dr. Guevera while Barillo shoots Billy for betraying him. When Barillo turns his gun on Ramirez, Ramirez shoots him, as does El Mariachi, who had reentered the room. Ramirez grabs Billy’s chihuahua and leaves, running into Sands, who was being helped by the young boy, and the two say a sarcastic farewell to each other. Lorenzo and Fideo escort the President to a safe place, where he is picked up by his limousine. Meanwhile, El Mariachi gives his portion of the money to his village before he walks off, carrying his guitar case.

Once Upon A Time In Mexico met with positive reviews from the critics but only holds a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics is that the movie is ” Violent, pulpy, loopy fun, with Depp stealing the show.” Some critics criticized the fact that the plot was too convoluted and that El Mariachi was almost reduced to a secondary character but Rodriguez has stated that it was his intent as he patterned the movie after The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. This movie was also distinctive in being the first big budget movie to be shot in HD. The movie was a box office hit, earning over $98 million off a $29 million budget.

The last movie in a series is almost always worth the wait, and so it was with this one. The acting was really good, with Johnny Depp (Sands) definitely stealing the spotlight in this movie but Antonio Banderas (El Mariachi), William Dafoe (Barillo), Mickey Rourke (Billy), and Ruben Blades (Ramirez) also doing great jobs. I was sad that Salma Hayek’s character was killed and only shown in flashback as I felt that was a cheap plot devise to introduce a new need for revenge. The plot was a little convoluted and could be hard to keep track of what was going on, but the important thing is that everything did get wrapped up at the end and there were no loose ends, which is good. The special effects and action sequences were both well coordinated and well shot and the HD definitely showed with the explosions. A great way to end the series and well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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