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April 20th, 2016 Movie -Mission: Impossible 3

mission impossible 3

For those of you that celebrate it, Happy 4/20 day. For everyone else, it is just another Wednesday. So when this movie was in theaters, I decided not to see it, not so much because I wasn’t interested, but because at the time, Tom Cruise just seemed completely nuts. This actually caused a slight argument with my wife at the time, which looking back is a little odd because action movies were not always something she wanted to see in theaters. Anyways, some bad memories kept me from watching this movie for a while but when I finally did, it definitely showed that the studios were trying to make a better movie this time around. So here is today’s movie, Mission Impossible 3.

The plot: Ethan Hunt wakes up to find himself bound to a chair as Owen Davian, an arms dealer that Ethan had recently crossed paths with, tells him that he has an explosive device planted in his head. Davian then asks Ethan to tell him where the “Rabbit’s Foot” is, threatening to kill the woman that is bound in the chair facing Ethan. When Ethan doesn’t tell him by the count of 5, he shoots the woman in the leg. Ethan pleads with Davian not to do this but Davian ends up shooting her in the head. Some time earlier, Ethan is hosting an engagement party for himself and his fiance, Julia, when he receives a coded telephone call from IMF. Making an excuse to leave the party for a few minutes, Ethan heads to a nearby convenience store, where he meets up with fellow agent John Musgrave. Musgrave tells Ethan that Agent Lindsey Farris was gathering information on Owen Davian when she went missing and they believe she was captured by Davian and being held in an abandoned factory. Figuring the information Lindsey had was worth the risk of rescuing her, Musgrave has assembled a team and wants Ethan to lead it but Ethan says he has retired and teaches recruits now. Musgrave indicates a disposable camera and says if Ethan changes his mind, to meet them at the plane at sunrise. Ethan takes the camera and after watching the video, decides to lead the rescue, making an excuse to Julia for leaving as she has no idea what he really does for a living. Joining the team, which consists of Luther Stickell, Declan Gromley, and Zhen Lei, Ethan makes his way into factory and rescues Lindsey. As Luther uses remote control guns to help cover their escape, Zhen Lei makes her way in and goes to grab two laptops but one of the dying technicians releases a grenade and she is forced to run from the room, going back after the explosion to retrieve the damaged laptops. Meanwhile, Lindsey asks Lindsey to turn off his communicator as she has something to tell him in private but before he can do so, they come under fire and are forced to fight their way clear of the building. As the group is meeting Declan for helicopter extraction, Lindsey suddenly starts clutching her head in agony, just as an assault helicopter shows up to kill them. As Declan tries to evade their pursuer, eventually causing it to crash into a turbine at a wind farm, Ethan discovers a micro explosive inside Lindsey’s head and tries to destroy it with a defibrillator but before the paddles can charge, the explosive goes off, killing Lindsey. The next day, Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by Theodore Brassel, the new director of IMF, as he vocalizes his displeasure in what he felt was a poorly conceived plan. Ethan goes to Lindsey’s funeral, where he receives a call saying that some mail that Lindsey had sent him has just arrived. Ethan picks up the mail, which consists of a postcard that Lindsey had used to send him a black microdot hidden beneath the stamp. As Ethan and Luther wonder why Lindsey sent him the microdot, the receive word from IMF technician Benjamin “Benji” Dunn, who uncovered some information off the damaged laptops. Ethan go to see Benji, who tells them that Davian is going to be in Vatican City, where he is buying something called the Rabbit’s Foot, and Ethan decides to lead an unauthorized mission to capture Davian. Ethan tells Julia that he has to leave for a while, and they end up having an impromptu wedding at the chapel of the hospital where she works. Ethan and his team sneak into the Vatican City and capture Davian, faking his death in an explosion to cover his escape. On the plane back to the states, Ethan questions Davian about the Rabbit’s Foot but Davian taunts Ethan about what he will do to his loved ones. When Davian mentions what he did to Lindsey, Ethan grabs him and opens a cargo door, threatening to throw Davian outside if he doesn’t answer but Davian refuses to talk. After landing, they are transporting Davian back to IMF when Luther tells Ethan he figured out what the microdot was. The microdot contained a video of Lindsey, who tells Ethan that while she was tracking Davian, he received a call and she traced the call back to Director Brassel. Suddenly, the convoy comes under attack from a drone aircraft as armed men manage to free Davian and escape. Fearing for Julia’s safety, Ethan tries calling her, then heads to the hospital when her brother said someone had stopped by the house looking for him. At the hospital, Julia is approached by a man disguised as a police officer and knocked unconscious. Ethan arrives at the hospital, just passing the man carrying Julia from the building, but after Ethan searches the hospital, he suddenly gets a call from Julia’s cell. Davian is on the other line and tells Ethan that he has 48 hours to find the Rabbit’s Foot or he will kill Julia. After Davian hangs up the phone, Ethan finds himself surrounded by IMF agents and though he tries to run, he is hit by a taser and taken captive. At IMF headquarters, Ethan is gagged and bound to a table, where Brassel says he will keep him there. After Brassel leaves, Musgrave speaks with Ethan but in between talking, he mouths that he intercepted Davian’s call and tells Ethan to go to Shanghai, before secretly giving Ethan the means to escape. Ethan manages to break free and escape from IMF headquarters, then goes to Shanghai, where he is surprised to be joined by his team. Learning where the Rabbit’s Foot is being held, Ethan comes up with an insane plan to break in, using a nearby building to help him swing onto the roof of the lab where the Rabbit’s Foot is being kept. Ethan makes it inside but is forced to jump out of the building lower than planned and he is picked up by Declan and Zhen. While getting away from the lab’s security, Zhen is shot in the shoulder but Ethan manages to take out the security team’s car. Ethan calls Davian, who tells him where to bring the Rabbit’s Foot. Ethan heads to the meeting place alone, where a limo picks him up and the driver tells him to drink the liquor provided for him. Ethan does so and falls unconscious, reviving just as the micro explosive is placed in his head. Back to the present, Luther, Declan, and Zhen arrive back in the states, where they are met by a IMF team, led by Brassel. Meanwhile, Davian shoots Julia and leaves Ethan with her corpse. Ethan begins telling Julia’s corpse what he wished he told her when she was alive when Musgrave shows up and reveals that the body isn’t really Julia, but Davian’s head of security, who he killed for failing him. Musgrave reveals that he is the mole and that Julia is still alive. Musgrave tells Ethan that he wanted Davian to acquire and sell the Rabbit’s Foot, as it would be a bigger blow against terrorism. Musgrave uses his phone to let Ethan speak with Julia and once he knows that she is alive, he knocks out Musgrave and frees himself. Ethan calls Benji and has him trace the call to Julia’s location and Benji guides him to where she is being held. Reaching the building, Ethan goes to rescue Julia when Davian activates the charge in Ethan’s head, telling him he has about 4 minutes to live, before he begins to pummel Ethan. Ethan manages to fight back and their struggle takes them into the street, where Davian ends up getting hit by a truck. Ethan frees Julia, then teaches her how to use his gun before he makes a makeshift defibrillator and has Julia use it to destroy the charge. When someone tries to shoot at her, Julia manages to shoot the assailant, as well as Musgrave, before she begins performing CPR on Ethan and revives him. As they are walking away, Ethan begins explaining everything to Julia about his job with the IMF. Back in the states, Brassel congratulates Ethan on a job well done and asks if Ethan is planning on leaving but Ethan says he is planning on going on his honeymoon, and he and Julia leave the IMF, with Luther and the rest of the team offering their congratulations.

Mission Impossible 3 was met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, earning a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. the critical consensus on the site is that it is, “Fast-paced, with eye-popping stunts and special effects, the latest Mission: Impossible installment delivers everything an action fan could ask for. A thrilling summer popcorn flick.” There was some controversy surrounding the press tour for the movie, as Viacom (parent company of Paramount and Comedy Central) had pulled the rebroadcast of the South Park Episode “Trapped In The Closet” over threats of Tom Cruise not participating in the publicity tour for the movie but Cruise denied making those threats and Viacom put the episode back in rotation after a threatened boycott of the movie. While the movie was box office success, it performed less than the studio’s hoped for, earning over $397 million off of a $150 million budget, earning much less than it’s predecessor.

They say third time is the charm and this time it definitely worked. The acting was top notch in this one, with both Tom Cruise and Phillip Seymour Hoffman doing fantastic jobs in their roles. I also like the introduction of Simon Pegg to the cast, adding a bit of humor into some otherwise tense situations, as well as making Laurence Fishburne Director Brassel, who definitely had the presence to fill a commanding role. The story was pretty good and actually didn’t involve a bunch of different plot twists to make things overly confusing. I did like how they started the movie with Davian threatening to shoot Julia, then going back to show how they got to that situation as it helped add a lot more character to Ethan Hunt. The action sequences were about as crisp and well timed as you could ever hope for in an action movie without the need for a lot of extra flash to “add to the excitement”. While I have given up hope that the Mission: Impossible movies would be more of a spy/espionage type movie, as far as action movies go, they definitely got better as time got on and this is a good example.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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April 19th, 2016 Movie – Mission: Impossible 2

mission impossible 2

You know, it is a little comforting to know that you can sometimes watch a movie and immediately know who directed it. I mean, several people just have a tell when it comes to their movies. For instance, take John Woo, the director for today’s movie. You can watch one of his movies and almost tell it is one of his because he has several signature tells, such as the doves. What is his fascinations with doves? Anyways, when I heard that John Woo was set to direct the next Mission Impossible movie, I knew that it would be a flashy, but entertaining movie so without further ado, let’s get right into today’s movie, Mission: Impossible 2.

The plot: Dr. Vladimir Nekhovich, a bio-chemical expert working at Biocyte Pharmaceuticals in Sydney, Australia, injects himself with a bio-weapon called Chimera, and sends word to his friend Dimitri to accompany him to Atlanta, where he plans on delivering Chimera and the cure, Bellerophon. On board a plane, Vladimir is talking with Ethan Hunt, who he refers to as Dimitri, about Chimera and tells him that after being infected with Chimera for 20 hours, nothing can save you, not even Bellerophon. When the plane loses cabin pressure, everyone starts putting on the oxygen masks while Ethan goes to see what is going on. However, the oxygen masks actually deliver knock out gas and when Vladimir notices the other passengers all falling asleep, he tells Ethan there is a problem, only for Ethan to inform him that he is not Dimitri. Ethan kills Vladimir, takes the bag containing the samples of Chimera and Bellerophon, then rips off the mask he is wearing, revealing himself to be Sean Ambrose, a former IMF Agent. The plane’s pilot, working for Ambrose, sets the plane on a collision course with some nearby mountains and then he joins Ambrose and 2 other men as they jump out of the plane before it crashes. The real Ethan Hunt is free climbing in the American southwest and after a close call, makes it to the top of the butte he was climbing, only to be approached by a helicopter, which fires a projectile at him. The projectile contains a pair of sunglasses, which he dons and is given a message from IMF. He is ordered to retrieve Chimera and to assemble two other team members but the third member is to be a civilian thief named Nyah Nordoff-Hall, who is currently in Seville, Spain. He must recruit her in the next 48 hours before contacting IMF for further details of the mission. Ethan goes to Spain and catches sight of Nyah at a fancy party, where he watches as she breaks into a safe and steals an expensive necklace. When the alarm goes off, Ethan, who is under cover as the owner’s security engineer, covers for Nyah by saying she was his assistant and helping to test the security, then has her give back the necklace. As they are leaving, Ethan tells her he wants to recruit her for a job and admits that he triggered the alarm remotely, but Nyah drives off in a rage. Ethan catches up to her and continues trying to talk to her but she tries to run him off the road. When she loses control of her car and almost falls off a cliff, Ethan manages to rescue Nyah and the two end up making love. Later that night, Ethan meets with the new director of IMF, who apologizes for interrupting Ethan’s vacation, then plays a video message from Vladimir. After Ethan sees the message, the director informs Ethan that he had sent Ambrose, who had doubled for Ethan in the past, in order to accompany Vladimir but Ambrose had double crossed them. The director informs Ethan that the reason that he had Ethan recruit Nyah is because she used to date Ambrose and the director feels that she would be the surest way to get to Ambrose. Ethan goes back to his hotel and informs Nyah of the mission. Nyah is upset and feels hurt that Ethan wants to use her like this but Ethan tells her that he doesn’t want to but he can’t think of a better way. Nyah agrees and they decide the best way to get Nyah in touch with Ambrose is for her to be arrested and let Ambrose, who is sure to be monitoring all of the law enforcement channels after the plane crash, get her out and bring her to him. As Nyah is brought to Sydney to see Ambrose, Ethan recruits his friend Luther Stickell and a pilot named Billy Baird to join him in Sydney and as they keep tabs on Nyah with a micro-tracker, Ethan theorizes that Vladimir had created a super virus and a cure, which are now in Ambrose’s possession. The next day, Ambrose is receiving offers for the virus but his second in command, Hugh Stamp, is skeptical of Nyah’s reason for being there and tells Ambrose. Ambrose says he is aware of Nyah possibly being a spy for IMF but that he is willing to take the risk, and uses a cigar cutter to cut off the tip of his finger. Nyah and Ambrose go to the horse races and when Ambrose heads to a meeting, a disguised Billy manages to give Nyah a communication devise. Ethan talks to Nyah to find out what she knows so far. Billy sees Ambrose meeting with someone and Luther identifies him as John C. McCloy, the head of Biocyte Pharmaceuticals. Seeing Ambrose show him something on a digital camera, then place the memory card in his left jacket pocket, Ethan asks Nyah to get the memory card so that they can copy it and has Billy distract Hugh so that she would be alone. As Nyah is in line to place her bet, Ethan joins her and gets the memory card, where he sees what happens when Chimera is exposed to someone longer than 20 hours. As Hugh approaches them, Ethan tells Nyah that he wants her to get out of Ambroses house that night. After placing her bet, Nyah rejoins Ambrose and places the envelope with the memory card in his pocket, but the right pocket instead of his left, which Ambrose notices. That night, McCloy leaves the office but he ends up being gased inside his car. Meanwhile, Nyah finds the house empty so she tries to make her escape when she is grabbed behind and she starts to struggle until she sees it is Ethan. Meanwhile, McCloy awakens inside an isolation tent and sees Vladimir standing just outside. Vladimir speaks with McCloy, who admits that he exposed Vladimir’s colleague to Chimera because he wanted to see what it did in real life in order to show a need for the cure. After McCloy is put back to sleep, Vladimir leaves the room and removes the facial mask to reveal it was Ethan Hunt in disguise. Meanwhile, the Ethan that is with Nyah convinces her that she needs to stay with Ambrose a while longer, then pulls off his mask to reveal that it was Ambrose. Ethan decides that the best way to handle the mission is to destroy the remaining Chimera vials, rendering the Bellerophon cure useless. Ethan sneaks in through the atrium and makes his way to the lab, where he starts destroying the Chimera in the incubation chamber. However, Ambrose anticipates Ethan’s strategy and method of infiltration and heads to the lab himself, killing the guards along the way. Luther, who is keeping tabs on Ethan, notices that Nyah is moving towards Ethan’s location and tells Billy. They realize that if Nyah is there, she won’t be alone but they are unable to contact Ethan for another 5 minutes. Ethan destroys the samples in the incubation room, then heads to destroy the three samples in injector guns, but after destroying the first two samples, Ambrose’s men attack him before he can destroy the third. Meanwhile, someone plants a bomb on the van Luther is in but he sees the bomb on his monitors and manages to grab the tracking computer for Nyah and get out before it explodes. Inside, Ethan manages to kill some of Ambrose’s men and keep them from getting the injection gun. Ambrose orders his men to stop shooting, then has Nyah go to retrieve the injection gun but when she grabs it, she injects herself with the virus. Ethan manages to grab her and set off the security alarms but with Ambrose and his men fighting the guards, he can’t get both of them out of there. Nyah tells Ethan to just kill her but Ethan says that they have time to get Bellerophon into her system so he will save her, then makes his escape. The next day, Ambrose has Nyah taken into the middle of Sydney, while he goes to a secluded facility to meet with McCloy, where he blackmails McCloy into giving him controlling share of Biocyte in exchange for the disease and the cure. . Ethan sneaks into the facility, taking out guards along the way and blows the door to the meeting. Ambrose has Hugh and his men deal with Hunt while he continues dealing with Ambrose. Hugh manages to catch up with Ethan but Ethan lets the grenade he had in his hand loose and the explosion knocks them both to the ground. Hugh tells Ambrose that he has Ethan and brings his bound body back into the room, where Ambrose taunts him for a few minutes before shooting him. As he gloats over the body, Ambrose notices the injured finger and pulls off the mask to reveal that he shot a gagged Hugh by mistake. Meanwhile, Ethan, disguised as Hugh, had grabbed the two vials and tries to escape but is unable to make it into the helicopter. Dealing with the guards, he manages to grab a motorcycle and make his way off the island, with Luther covering him from the helicopter. Luther manages to locate Nyah and Ethan tells him to pick her up and bring her to him so he can give her the cure. Ethan deals with the guards following him, but ends up fighting with Ambrose on the beach and after a fierce battle, Ethan beats Ambrose. Billy and Luther arrive with Nyah and Luther goes to get the Bellerophon from Ethan when he stops short as Ambrose pulls his gun on Ethan. Noticing his gun on the sand in front of him, Ethan throws the cure to Luther, then kicks his gun up and shoots Ambrose while Luther cures Nyah. Some time later, Ethan meets with the director, who says that Ethan’s mission was to retrieve Chimera but understands his reasoning for destroying it and says that Nyah’s criminal record has been cleared. Ethan leaves the meeting and joins Nyah in a nearby park, where the two decide to go on a vacation.

Mission: Impossible 2 received mixed reviews from the critics, earning a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Your cranium may crave more substance, but your eyes will feast on the amazing action sequences.” The movie was nominated for two Razzies, one for Worst Remake or Sequel, and one for Worst Supporting Actress. In spite of the negative press, the movie was a financial hit, earning over $546 million off a $125 budget, making it the most profitable film that John Woo made.

Mission Impossible 2 was definitely a visually stunning action movie…and that’s about it. Tom Cruise did a good job reprising his role of Ethan Hunt, as did Ving Rhames reprising Luther, but I was kind of indifferent towards Thandie Newton (Nyah) and felt like Dougray Scott (Ambrose) was too inconsistent as the main villain. I will say that Richard Roxburgh (Hugh) did make an excellent henchman/second in command. The plot was ok but honestly lacked much in the way of being a spy movie. The only part that really made the movie feel like Mission Impossible was when Ethan was breaking into Biocyte. The action scenes were exactly what you expect from a John Woo film, very stylish with several different camera angles and several instances of slow motion to heighten the experience. And of course, where would we be without some birds flapping about somewhere during one of the major scenes. Now I can understand some birds being in the abandoned facility but having them be doves is a bit much. It’s a good action movie but I agree that you don’t need to think much while watching it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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April 18th, 2016 Movie – Mission: Impossible

mission impossible

I know most people tend to complain about how TV shows are getting made into movies in recent years but in 1996, a couple of movies came out and no one really complained about them. Today’s movie is one of those movies and I remember all the buzz surrounding this movie. It’s weird thinking that this movie is almost 20 years old and that it was back in a time when people’s first thoughts about Tom Cruise weren’t about how crazy he was or his insane following of Scientology. So let’s all look back at some fond memories of Tom Cruise’s acting career with today’s movie, Mission: Impossible.

The plot:In Kiev, Jack Harmon is watching surveillance as a Russian man is explaining to a man in a black trench coat how a woman wound up dead in his apartment. After the man informs the man trench coat about a contact he has, the man is given a drugged drink and collapses to the floor and the trench coat man goes into the room Jack is in, ripping off his disguise to reveal the face of Ethan Hunt. Jack gives Ethan a shot, which he administers to the “dead” woman, Claire, who comes too and asks if they got the information. Meanwhile, Jim Phelps is flying on a plane when he is given a secret tape by the stewardess. Viewing the tape, Jim is told of an attache to the US embassy in Prague, who has stolen part of the CIA’s NOC (non-official cover) list and plans to steal the other half from the embassy in order to sell the identities of all the CIA’s deep cover agents. He is told that his team has been assembled and will meet him at the safe house before the tape self destructs. Jim meets with his team at the safe house in Prague and gives them their assignments. That night, Ethan, disguised as a US Senator, attends a party at the embassy, where Sarah Davies shows him around. Seeing the attache arriving at the party, Sarah marks him with a spray, allowing Hannah, to keep tabs on him. Sarah and Ethan head towards the secure area and attempt to access the elevator, but Jack, who got stuck behind an elevator, has not yet uploaded Sarah’s information into the security computer. After a guard comes out to check on them and re-run Sarah’s identification, Jack, having climbed on top of the elevator, finally uploads the information and they are allowed through. Inside the secure room, Ethan and Sarah arrange the computer so that they can catch video of the attache stealing the list through Ethan’s glasses but when they try to leave, the elevator has already been called up by the attache. Deciding to sneak out through the elevator shaft, Ethan and Sarah head outside and keep watch on the entrance as well as watch the attache download the list. As the attache goes to leave, the elevator suddenly begins going up and , unable to stop it, Jack is impaled by some metal at the top of the shaft. Ethan and Sarah see the attache as he exits through the shaft and wait by the entrance while he smokes a cigarette. Jim heads towards the embassy but as he is crossing a bridge, he notices he is being followed and calls for an abort. Ethan tells Sarah to keep tabs on the attache while he goes to help Jim, spotting Claire waiting in the car as he passes. Suddenly, Ethan hears a shot go out over the comms and sees Jim clutching his blood stained chest. Jim falls off the bridge into the river just as Ethan arrives on the bridge. Ethan tries to tell Sarah to abort but her comm is turned off after Jim had ordered radio silence. Racing to find her, Ethan sees the car blow up just as Hannah gets inside. Meanwhile, Sarah had followed the attache and is shocked to discover somebody stabbing him. When Ethan gets to where Sarah is, he finds her dead, with the knife still in her, and that the disk has been stolen from the attache. Using a payphone, Ethan makes a call to IMF Director Eugene Kittridge, who tells Ethan to meet him at a restaurant in Prague, which raises Ethan’s suspicions. When Ethan meets Kittridge, he asks Kittridge about the second team that was at the embassy, which happens to now be at the restaurant with them. Kittridge explains that there is a mole in the IMF, who had maid a deal with an arms dealer known as Max to steal the NOC list, which Max referred to as Job 314. The attache was an IMF agent and the list he “stole” was a decoy to trap Max and expose the mole and since Ethan is the only man left, Kittridge suspects him of being the mole, especially since Ethan’s family’s bank account got a sudden influx of cash. Ethan uses some explosive gum to get away from Kittridge, and makes his way back to the safe house. Deciding that the only way to find out the truth is to get in touch with Max, Ethan tries to figure out a way to send her a message before he notices a bible and realizes that the job actually meant the bible verse Job 3:14. Sending messages out to Max, Ethan dozes off at the computer, having a dream about Jim returning, when he is woken up by Claire. Wondering how she is alive, Ethan questions her and she swears that she heeded the abort call and came back at the designated time. Ethan explains what happened and she says that she will explain what happened to Kittridge but Ethan says that Kittridge will just believe that she is working with him. Ethan receives a message from Max arranging a meeting and he goes to it, where he is surprised to find out that Max is a woman. Telling Max that the list she has is a trap, Ethan tells her that he will get the real list in exchange for her arranging a meeting for him with Job. Testing Ethan’s claims, Max uploads the disk and monitors it, leaving before Kittridge arrives with an IMF team. Ethan arranges a deal with Max and returns to the safe house, where he finds Claire arranging all of their supplies. Deciding they need help, Ethan goes on the Disavowed list and recruits two former agents, a computer expert and hacker named Luther Stickell, and a pilot named Franz Krieger. Meeting with the two former agents, Ethan explains what the plan is and they seem shocked at what he is attempting but agree to help. Using the cover of a fire alarm, Ethan, Claire, and Krieger break into CIA headquarters in Langley, and while Claire puts a tracer on the agent in charge of the secure file room and uses a drug to make him sick, Ethan and Krieger use the air conditioner shafts to make their way to the room. Circumventing the security devices, Ethan repels down into the room and begins downloading the NOC list but when he goes to leave the room, Krieger grabs the disk from him but drops his knife into the room. When the agent returns to the room, he notices the knife and discovers that a file has been downloaded, just as Ethan releases a smoke bomb in the air shafts, which helps cover their escape. Ethan and his group head to London, where Ethan is working on arranging a meeting with Max when Krieger, holding the disk, demands to be involved in the meet. Ethan pulls out another disk, claiming it is the real disk, and shows his skill in sleight of hand to show Krieger how he was able to switch disks in the vault. Krieger gets disgusted and tosses the disk in the trash as he leaves and Ethan starts picking up the books he scattered about when he notices that the bible he grabbed has a stamp from the Drake Hotel in Chicago, where Jim last was before Prague. Ethan then grabs the disk out of the trash, revealing that it was the real disk to Luther and then asks him to make sure that the list doesn’t get out in the open. Claire has Ethan look at a news broadcast, showing his parents have been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking. Ethan heads to a bus terminal and calls Kittridge, staying on the phone long enough for Kittridge to trace him to London but not pinpoint his exact locations, then is shocked to discover Jim in the booth next to him. Ethan speaks with Jim, who says that Kittridge is the mole, but Ethan suspects that Jim is really the mole and killed his team, and that Krieger helped him but Ethan doesn’t know if Claire is involved. Ethan tells Jim his plan about arranging a meet with Max on the TGV train to France at noon and Jim says he will act as backup. The next day, Kittridge arrives in London, where he receives tickets to the train as well as a viewscreen watch. On the train, Max receives a call from Ethan, telling her where the disk is. After she verifies that the NOC list is on it, she tells Ethan where the money is and says that Job will find him. Max tries to transmit the NOC list but is unable to due to Luther’s jamming device. When Luther sees Kittridge entering the car, he gets up to leave, leaving the disguised device behind but an attendant brings it to him, thinking it was his cell phone, attracting the attention of one of Max’s men when all of the nearby phones begin acting up. Claire sees Kittridge and tells Ethan, who says he will meet her in the baggage car. When claire arrives at the baggage car, she sees Jim sitting there and she tells him Ethan is right behind her so they should grab the money and leave since Kittridge is on the train. Jim suddenly removes the mask, revealing himself to be Ethan, and as Claire looks on shocked, the real Jim shows up, pointing a gun at Ethan. When Claire asks Ethan about the deception, Jim explains that Ethan did it to find out if Claire was involved. Claire grabs the money from Etan but Ethan puts on a pair of the camera glasses, transmitting the image of Jim to the watch Kittridge is wearing. Realizing his fake death has been exposed, Jim plans on shooting Ethan but when Claire begs him not too, Jim shoots her, then knocks down Ethan before making his escape to the roof of the train. Ethan follows him to find Krieger piloting a helicopter attempting to pick up Jim. Ethan manages to knock Jim aside and hooks the helicopter to the train, just as the enter a tunnel. Jim and Ethan continue to struggle before Jim jumps onto one of the helicopters landing struts. Ethan follows and uses the explosive gum to destroy the helicopter. On the train, Luther retrieves the disk from Max and gives it to Kittridge, who talks about working out a deal with Max. Later, Ethan and Luther are meeting at a bar, where Ethan says his family was released with an apology from the Justice Department and Luther is no longer on the disavowed list. Luther asks Ethan to come back with him but Ethan says he doesn’t know why he would be doing it and leaves but on his flight, the flight attendant asks if he would like to watch a particular video, and Ethan realizes it is a coded message from the IMF.

Mission: Impossible met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Full of special effects, Brian DePalma’s update of Mission: Impossible has a lot of sweeping spectacle, but the plot is sometimes convoluted.” Several members of the original TV cast were not happy with the script for the movie, primarily making Phelps turn traitor, or the fact that they wanted to kill off the team. The movie was a blockbuster success, earning over $457 million off an $80 million budget.

This was an entertaining movie but I was kind of let down that it was more action than suspense. The acting was good, with Tom Cruise (Ethan) and Ving Rhames (Luther) doing great jobs in their roles. Jon Voight (Jim), Emmanuelle Beart (Claire), Henry Czerny (Kittridge), and Jean Reno (Krieger) were also good, but not to the same level as the others. The story was good, but honestly lacked some of the suspense from the TV show. I think part of this was that the writers made the plot into a massive who-dun-it and kept trying to add twists to it which wound up making things overly complicated. The action sequences were definitely good and showed some creativity, such as Ethan’s suspending into the secure room and trying not to touch the floor while staying quiet. It’s a good movie to watch but the Bond series is still a better spy movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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April 17th, 2016 Movie – The Mighty Peking Man

the mighty peking man

I am curious as to why the 70’s remake of King Kong prompted so many imitations. There were three movies that I can think of off the top of my head but I wonder why nobody thought about this before the remake. I mean, there was a good 40 years between the original and the remake. Did it just hit people on the head when the remake was announced that they could make a spoof or rip-off and cash in. King Kong is a relatively marketable commodity so you could have spoofed it at any point and gotten some interest. Anyways, it’s the weekend and weekends are always a good time to watch a giant monster movie so I am going to sit back and enjoy today’s movie, The Mighty Peking Man.

The plot: A businessman, Lu Tien, is telling some of his subordinates about a news story from the Himalayas, where a village was supposedly destroyed by a giant creature, dubbed the Peking Man. Lu Tien wants to capture the giant creature and one of his subordinates recommends a hunter named Johnny to lead the expedition. Johnny agrees to lead the expedition and they head out towards the Indian side of the Himalayas where the attack occurred. The expedition reaches an abandoned village but as they look to see if anyone is there, they are attacked by a stampeding herd of elephants. After the attack, the group work on fixing the wagons and decide to make camp for the night. As they are eating, two men notice Johnny sitting alone and ask what is bothering him. Johnny tells them that the reason he came on the trip was to get away from his ex-girlfriend, who he caught in bed with his brother Charlie, and one of the guys says if they find and capture the monster, he will be able to get any girl he wants. The next day, the group continues through the jungle when they are attacked by a tiger. Some of the men, including one of Lu Tien’s subordinates, wind up in quicksand and though Johnny tries to save them, they sink to their deaths. Another man is mauled by the tiger and after the tiger is chased off, Lu Tien shoots the man to end his suffering. Continuing their journey, the group scales a cliff but when some of the men fall to their deaths, including his other subordinate, Lu Tien wants to cancel the expedition and leave. Johnny says that they should continue going on and capture the Peking Man but as he turns to leave, he notices a figure dropping from the trees and running into the distant jungle. Later that day, the group discovers the footprints of the Peking Man but as they camp for the night, Lu Tien and the rest of the group decide to sneak off in the night, leaving Johnny alone. The next day, Johnny is attacked by the Peking Man and knocked unconscious but before the giant ape can kill him, a young woman swings down and yells for the creature to stop, and instead has the creature take Johnny and herself to her cave. When Johnny comes too, he looks around the cave for a minute before the woman returns, giving him some water. Unable to understand what she is saying, Johnny tries asking about her parents and she takes him to a crashed plane, where the skeletons of her parents are. Searching the wreckage, Johnny finds a picture of her parents and shows it to the woman, whose name he learns is Samantha,  and she describes how a storm cause her parents’ plane to crash and she was rescued by the Peking Man. Johnny tries to read some more from her parent’s journal when Samantha motions about getting food and drags Johnny away. Making their way through the forest, Johnny discovers that Samantha is friendly towards a tiger and leopard, treating them as friends and pets. After Samantha climbs a tree to gather some fruit, they begin to eat but a cobra bites Samantha in her thigh. As Johnny tries to suck the venom from her wound, the leopard attacks and kills the snake. When an elephant approaches them and kneels down, Johnny carries Samantha towards it and has it carry them back to her cave. As Samantha writhes in pain, Johnny notices leaves falling at the entrance of the cave and discovers the Peking Man dropping them. Realizing that he is trying to help her, Johnny gathers the leaves and mashes them into a paste to place on her wound. Samantha recovers and she and Johnny end up falling in love. After watching the two have sex in the cave, the Peking Man, who Samantha calls Utam, grows upset and begins thrashing about outside but Samantha goes outside and calms him down. Johnny tells Samantha he wants to take them to the outside world and Samantha agrees but the jungle animals are sad to see her leave, especially the leopard, who pulls on her skirt to get her to stay. Carried by Utam to the city, where he shows Lu Tien Utam and Lu Tien hires a freighter to ship them back to Hong Kong. On board the ship, Samantha is saddened to see Utam in chains and tries to get Lu Tien to free Utam but Lu Tien refuses, saying that the chains are to ensure that Utam doesn’t sink the boat. Samantha goes crying back to her room and Johnny tries to comfort her by saying that the chains will be removed as soon as they reach Hong Kong, and shows her a new dress to wear when they reach Hong Kong. Lu Tien enters their cabin as she is changing and after Johnny has her enter the bathroom to change, Lu Tien speaks with Johnny about the money they will make. Johnny seems to be having reservations about using Utam and Samantha but Lu Tiem convinces him that things will be ok. When they leave to go celebrate, Samantha exits the bathroom in the dress but finds it uncomfortable so she takes it off and throws it out the porthole. The captain receives news of a typhoon and wants to wait it out in Singapore but Lu Tien refuses to wait and has the captain continue towards Hong Kong. As the storm hits, the ship finds itself stuck on some rocks but Samantha and Johnny go on deck to free Utam and convince him to free the ship. Arriving in Hong Kong, Johnny takes Samantha to see Charlie at the TV studio but while they are watching a show being taped, Johnny receives a note from his ex-girlfriend asking to see him. Leaving Samantha in the studio, Johnny goes to speak with his ex, who wants to get back together with Johnny. When Johnny says they can try and get back together, she kisses him and they are caught by Samantha, who runs from the room. Johnny races after her but is unable to find her as she makes her way through the city. Meanwhile, Utam is chained in the arena and forced to perform tricks for the audience, with handlers beating his feet with poles to get him to perform. Samantha sees Utam on the TV and convinces a couple to take her to the theater. Arriving there, Samantha sees the handlers beating Utam while he is in a cage and tries to get them to stop but when they shove her, Utam roars out in agner and frightens them away. Samantha enters Utam’s cage and consoles him, telling him that they will run away back to the jungle, when Lu Tiem shows up and convinces Samantha to come with him. In his room, Lu Tiem tries to get Samantha drunk and force himself on her but she pushes him away. When he rips off her top, Samantha accidentally opens the curtains and Utam sees Lu Tiem smack her around before attempting to rape her. Utam breaks free from his cage and goes after Lu Tiem, who drags Samantha with him as he makes his escape from the enraged beast. Utam goes on a rampage through the city while chasing after Lu Tiem and when he finally catches up to him, despite Samantha’s protest, Utam grabs Lu Tiem and throws him to the ground where he proceeds to squash him underfoot. The military is called in to deal with Utam but Johnny goes to the police and tells them to help him locate Samantha and they would be able to safely get Utam out of the city. Samantha is spotted clinging to the top of a street light but she runs off, being pursued by a crowd. As Johnny and the police search for Samantha, the military continues trying to kill Utam, causing him to go on an even more destructive rampage due to the injuries he sustained. Utam eventually climbs up a skyscraper and the military commander has the water towers on the roof filled with gasoline and detonated in order to kill him. Samantha sees Utam on the skyscraper and races towards the building, where Johnny finds her, and they manage to convince the commander not to attack Utam and let them try to get him out of the city. The commander orders a cease fire and Samantha and Johnny head up to the roof of the building to try and talk with Utam. Weakened by his injuries, Utam smashes a hole in the roof, which Samantha and Johnny use to call out to him and Samantha tells Utam that they are going to go back to the jungle where he will be safe. However, the commander decides that Utam needs to be killed and orders the helicopters to begin firing again. The helicopters begin firing at Utam and some of the bullets hit Samantha, who was in Utam’s hand, enraging the beast even more. Meanwhile, the commander orders his men to set the bombs to blow up the tanks and Johnny tries to stop them but is knocked unconscious. Utam sees this and kills some of the soldiers but the rest manage to escape, leaving Johnny on the floor. As the bombs are about to explode, Johnny comes too and heads to the roof and finds Samantha where Utam had set her down. He tries to get her to escape with him but she runs to Utam and begs his forgiveness. Johnny is shot in the leg but manages to get Samantha off the roof, just as the bombs explode and Utam is set on fire. The explosion separates Johnny and Samantha and as Utam collapses dead ontop of what’s left of the roof, Johnny finds Samantha, seemingly dead, and carries her body towards an opening, where he looks out at the city.

The Mighty Peking Man met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the majority of critics commented about the goofiness of the film, with some enjoying it and others hating it. Roger Ebert enjoyed the film, giving it 3 stars out of 4 and actually had to revise a review from another of the director’s movies, Infra-Man, which he reviewed earlier. Feeling he could not give The Mighty Peking Man a higher score, and because he did enjoy Infra-Man, he changed his review of Infra-Man to a 3 star as well.

This is a really funny movie to watch because of how bad it is. The acting was pretty decent, with Evelyne Kraft doing a good job as Samantha, essentially playing a Raquel Welch type character. The story was decent, seeming to borrow equal parts from King Kong as well as from Mighty Joe Young in regards to the relationship with Samantha and Utam. There were some plot elements that definitely didn’t seem to make much sense. For instance, how much time passed while Johnny and Samantha were in the jungle where Johnny was able to teach his language. Also, why did Johnny call his brother when he was the one his girlfriend cheated on him with. And of course, the big question on if Samantha really died at the end. The special effects were not the best, with the gorilla suit looking fairly cheap and the blue screen not syncing right with the action up front but that actually added to the humor. There are better produced giant ape movies out there but this is still worth watching.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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April 16th, 2016 Movie – Midnight Madness

midnight madness

I know I have mentioned this several times, but I have awesome friends. And I love how they occasionally introduce me to people as the B-movie aficionado. I’m serious. It’s great because I am almost always asked if I have seen a particularly movie or know of one which usually continues to further conversation when I say I have seen the movie and sometimes own them. At a recent party, such a conversation occurred and it was recommended that I watch this movie as it was one I had not seen before. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time I got a movie off of someone’s recommendation so let’s see here is today’s movie, Midnight Madness.

The plot: At a local college in Los Angeles, two girls, Candy and Sunshine, skate around campus and hand out envelopes to five people; Adam Larson, Harold, Donna, Wesley, and Lavitas. The five people meet at an apartment where, after watching a short film about games, they meet Leon, a graduate student, who tells them that he invited them to take part in his newest game, The Great All-Nighter. The five people must assemble a team and then on Friday night, they will receive a clue that points to a location. Once there, they must find another clue which will point to another location continuing until they reach the prize. The five people leave, saying they don’t want to participate and while Candy and Sunshine feel bad for Leon, he tells them not to worry as he is sure they will want to play by Friday. During the week, Lavitas and some of his football teammates harass Wesley during a debate and crash Donna’s sorority party, causing both of them to want revenge on Lavitas. Meanwhile, Adam, who works as a freshman counselor, is helping a freshman named Flynch, feel more confident in asking out girls. After Flynch leaves, Laura, a co-worker that Adam likes, talks to Adam and calls out Adam on not following his own advise by not playing Leon’s game. Adam decides to compete and talks about what he needs to do and Laura agrees to join his team. Meanwhile, Harold, a rich, over-weight slob, is hanging out at his house with his girlfriend Lucile and their friends Melio, Barf, and Blade, when his dad yells at him and drags him into his office. Inside his office, Harold’s father berates him for being lazy and tells him to enter the game, constantly comparing Harold to Adam, much to Harold’s displeasure. Later that week, Harold shows his friends the van his father bought him to help him when the game, complete with a computer to help them solve the clues, but that night, Melio catches Harold stashing marshmallows in the van as Lucile is putting Harold on a diet. On Friday, Adam and Laura are about to head out to the game when Flynch walks in, wanting some advise on what to do with the date he has and when they see the girl, Adam and Laura grab Flynch and take him with them. When everyone arrives at Leon’s apartment, they receive a different colored t-shirt for each team to wear. Team Yellow consists of Adam, Laura, Flynch, and Adam’s friend Marvin. Team Blue consists of Harold, Lucile, Melio, Barf, and Blade. Team Green consists of Lavitas, Armpit, Blaylak, Cudzo, and Gerber. Team Red consists of Donna, Berle, Peggy, and Lulu. Team White consists of Wesley and his debate team friends, Debator 1,2,& 3. Leon tells them that they must call in at each location, then has Candy and Sunshine hand each team the first clue and the teams all head off. The Yellow, Green, White, and Red teams all work on figuring out the clue while they are driving and each team comes up with a different location to go to. However, Harold is playing games on the computer and after Lucile says they should go, he stops playing and inputs the clue into the computer, which tells them to go to the observatory. Meanwhile, Leon is preparing to monitor the progress of the teams when his landlord, Mrs. Grimhaus, comes in, complaining about the noise from his apartment and says that if she receives one more complaint she will terminate his lease. As the other teams try to figure out the clue from their locations, Harold calls Leon and lets him know he is at the observatory. As Adam and the other’s try to solve the clue, Marvin comments about being able to see the stars and they realize that they are in the wrong spot and head for the observatory, getting there just as a laughing Harold leaves. Inside, they see the Green team heading towards the observatory and make their way to a telescope but a little kid refuses to move, as he is using it to watch women undress. When the kid finally leaves, they use the telescope and Adam sees the next clue. Eventually, every team makes it to the observatory and calls in to Leon. At Leon’s apartment, some of his neighbors complain to him about the noise but when he explains what is going on, they start getting interested in the game. On their way to the piano museum, Adam spots his younger brother Scott at a bus station and seeing that he was trying to go to San Francisco, brings him along on the game. Meanwhile, Team Blue is at the piano museum but when everyone exits the van, Harold quickly snacks on some marshmallows but is forced to hide the bag in the computer when Lucile checks on him. The search the museum for the clue and Harold is about to hit Melio after he and Barf start goofing around on the instruments when Lucile finally spots the clue. They go to leave just as Team Yellow arrive and Harold and Adam stare at each other before Harold pulls the door open, knocking Adam off balance. Entering the van, Harold puts the next clue into the computer when it suddenly shorts out and he finds that the marshmallows have melted inside the computer’s circuitry. Seeing Melio snacking on some cookies he hid, Harold attacks him. Meanwhile, the four other teams are at the museum looking for the clue when Lavitas sees the clue and plays the notes on a piano, causing one of his teammates to shout out that it is the Pabst Blue Ribbon jingle and that the clue must be at the brewery, which the other team members thank him for telling them. Team Green reaches the brewery first and goes on the tour, but Flaylak is so beer-crazed that he jumps into a vat of beer. Meanwhile, Team Yellow is in line for the tour but they get kicked out when Scott is busted trying to get a beer. As they are trying to figure out what to do, they see some pallets of beer being stacked up with Leon’s face on them and realize that they found the clue, which points them towards a nearby burger joint. Team Red is heading towards the brewery when Peggy and Lulu jump off the back of the truck to go to an amusement park. When Donna and Berle go after them, the accidentally park in a tow zone and find their truck about to be towed but Berle knocks out the tow truck operator and they steal the truck to continue the game. Team Blue is driving around when the spot Team Yellow and decide to follow them. Seeing them enter the restaurant, the siphon the gas from Marvin’s jeep and deflate the tires, then head inside to find Team Yellow and Team White staring at the menu board where Leon’s clue is listed. Each team orders the Leon special but they soon realize the clue refers to a necklace one of the waitresses is wearing and as they each make a mess to attract her attention, she ends up slipping and her necklace comes loose and the teams rush to grab it. As Team Yellow tries to figure out where the clue points too, they see what happened to the jeep and Harold mocks them as he drives off. Not giving up, Adam has Marvin call the auto shop while he and Flynch try to get a ride to the miniature golf park and asks Laura to watch after Scott. Laura finds Scott, who had wandered off, and Scott complains about Adam not caring about him and missing his birthday, which was that day. Meanwhile, Adam and Flynch flag down a very slow moving car being driven by an elderly couple. As they slowly make their way to the golf course, Adam starts to give up and Flynch decides to take matters in his own hands. Grabbing Adam, he drags them out of the car and stands in the orad until a car stops, which he commandeers and proceeds to drive him and Adam to the golf course, impressing the two girls in the car so much that they give him their phone numbers and the rest of their team joins them there. The Green team pulls over at the miniature golf course when Blaylak is about to get sick and seeing Harold’s van there, realize that they still might win. When they see the clue telling them to play a round of golf, Harold decides to just play the 18th hole but when the note they find says that they have to play replay the course, they end up stuck behind a family with several arguing children. Meanwhile, teams Yellow, Green, and White play through and find the clue and head out just as Team Red arrives and decides to follow Team Green. Inside the airport, a group of kids pretending to be monks pass out literature which has Leon on them as well as a clue pointing towards some lockers. Inside the appropriately colored locker, each team finds a package and tries to work out the clue. Team Yellow work out that the clue is a local arcade and the head there, where they find a clue telling them to beat a specific game to advance. Adam, Marvin, and Flynch try but fail to beat the game but when Laura notices Scott laughing at them, she talks to him and he tells her he can beat that game on one try. She convinces him to play the game, saying it would show Adam what he can do and Scott agrees and beats the game. A video of Leon comes up telling them where the finish line is but while everyone else congratulates Scott, Adam rushes out to try and win the game. As they make their way to the finish line, Scott jumps out of the jeep and runs off. Adam wants to leave him and keep going but everyone else is shocked by his behavior and Marvin stops the jeep and they go after Scott, while Adam drives off. Teams Red, Green, and White arrive at the arcade and end up starting a massive fight and when Team Green leaves, the accidentally wreck Team Red’s truck. As Team White and Team Red argue, they decide to work together to reach the finish line. Meanwhile, Scott see Team Blue and tells them where the finish line is and Harold throws him out the back of the van. Adam goes back to pick up the rest of his team, admitting that he was wrong and they go looking for Scott. They find him where he was thrown from Harold’s van and Scott tells Adam that he told Harold where the finish line was but Adam says it doesn’t matter as he is more concerned that Scott is safe. When Harold drives back to get a doll that was dropped when Scott was thrown from the van, Team Yellow realize that they still have a shot and head for the hotel. Back at Game Control, Mrs. Grimhaus called the police in to arrest Leon but the officer starts talking with Leon about the game and some of the equipment he was using. When Mrs. Grimhaus pester the officer to do his job, he has two officers arrrest Mrs. Grimhaus, then he goes with Leon and everyone else to wait for the players at the hotel. As the teams search everywhere for a clue, Leon pages them and tells them to search the pool area. Unnoticed by everyone else, Mrs. Grimhaus, who was brought there by the police, uses the phone to contact hotel security and tells them that a bunch of hooligans are trashing the room. At the pool, Adam sees an express elevator and realizes they need to use it so they head there but Harold sees them and follows. Inside the elevator, they look down at the pool area and see that the deck chairs spell out room 2704 and on reaching the top floor, the head back down so they can use the regular elevator. Harold sees the clue as well but when he misses the elevator, he goes into the power room and shuts down the power to all of the elevators. While Team Blue begin climbing the stairs to reach the 27th floor, Marvin uses Scott’s retainer to jimmy the manual override so they can continue going up. When the two teams reach the 27th floor at the same time, Harold threatens to use a fire hose on Adam and his team but Adam notices the security guards trying to open the elevator door and uses the retainer to open it, causing Harold to spray the security guards and gets taken into custody. Team Yellow is declared the winner and Leon presents them with a plaque while the other teams join in the celebration. As Harold and his team are escorted out, Harold sees the food and breaks free from the guards and begins stuffing his face and when Lucile yells at him about his diet, he hits her in the face with some cake, knocking her into the hotel fountain. Everyone starts laughing and Adam finally works up the nerve to kiss Laura.

It might not be considered a good movie but this was a fairly entertaining movie. The acting was pretty decent. Teams Red, Green, and White were basically stereotypes so most of the acting was between Teams Yellow and Blue, as well as a bit with Leon and his neighbors. The main story was good though due to the number of teams, it did seem to diminish a little by bouncing around between all the locations. There were two subplots in the yellow team centered around Adam. One was the relationship with his brother Scott (Michael J. Fox’s first movie role) and the other his insecurity in acting on his feelings for Laura but both of those wound up being resolved by the movie’s end. Honestly, this kind of reminded me a little of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, as far as the whole groups of people in a race to claim a prize. Definitely not your average Disney movie but worth checking out.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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April 15th, 2016 Movie – Midnight Chronicles

 

midnight chronicles

So, I might be in trouble with today’s movie. See, this movie is based on a RPG, which did not exactly pan out well for one of the last RPG’s to be made into a movie, Dungeons And Dragons. Now I have never heard of the Midnight game so I don’t know if that will factor in on how well I will like this movie but here’s hoping that this isn’t just something that takes up space since the only reason that I own it is because it was part of a set that I bought for the sake of one movie. So let’s see how good or bad today’s movie, Midnight Chronicles, is.

The plot: Ages ago, the dark god Izrador was cast out of heaven and banished to Earth. In retaliation, Izrador gathered the evil creatures of the land and began to try and conquer the free realms of Earth. He was repelled the first two times but Izarod won the third war and began his occupation of the world. During this time, a man is walking against the flow of travelers when he pauses to catch his breath for a minute and notices a woman approaching on horseback. Placing his hand on the hilt of his sword, he considers drawing it but changes his mind and lets the woman continue. Making his way into the woods, the man grabs a book and consults a map inside which he claims will lead him to freedom but when he turns the page, a symbol appears and the book suddenly catches fire. The man races through the woods until he reaches a cliff, where he is confronted by another man, Mag Kiln, a legate in the service of Izarod. Mag Kiln questions why the man would leave the legates before he kills the man and knocks the body off the cliff. As Mag Kiln is riding back to the legate’s home city, his companion, Kruse, tries to convince him that they should relax in the pleasure district and Mag reluctantly agrees to spending one day there. Suddenly, they are approached by Chuzara, a female legate, who tells Mag that he has been ordered to accompany her to Blackweir to help oversee the construction of the new temple and to investigate the disappearance of a fellow legate. Elsewhere, two priests are discussing a prophecy of a hero destined to rise against the Shadow and while one of them is skeptical about it’s seriousness, the other, Geddon, says that all threats to the Shadow must be considered as he plans on heading out to find out more information. When he is questioned about the temple in Blackweir, Geddon says that he sent a legate that has never failed him to complete the task. As Mag, Chuzara, and Kruse arrive at Blackweir, a group of rebels are looting and disposing of a supply convoy that they ransacked. A young woman, Iana, comments about their informant being right and tells the rebel leader, Morrec, that Mayor Lesher is blaming them for the high taxes in the city but the leader replies that it is better to be taxed than to have a temple built in the city. As he wanders the city, Mag runs his fingers over a mark on his hand, thinking back to when his mentor Geddon noticed them. Reaching the site of the temple, Mag comments that there are many souls there, but the missing legate is not among them. Elsewhere in the city, Gaelen is paying the tithe for his family’s farm when he notices Iana and calls out to her but she tells him to go home and not call on her again. In the temple, Mag and Chuzara begin chanting , causing spirits to rise up around the temple, which Mag absorbs into his hand, and once they have all disappeared, he says the temple has now passed onto him. In town, Lesher meets with a man, the master builder, who warns her about Mag and questions what they are doing but Lesher tells him to keep giving her details of the temple supply convoys and leave Mag to her. In the woods, Morrec heads to the rebel hideout, and speaks with Deleth, an elf who had remained behind while the rest of his people returned to their homeland. Telling Deleth that a legate was in Blackweir, Deleth asks how he knows and Morrec reveals the stump of his arm, which he had cut off when he stopped being a legate, and says that he can feel it when a “storm” approaches. Back in Blackweir, Gaelen approaches Iana and questions why she left and she tells him that she refuses to live the life he does and walks off, but Kruse takes notice of her. After meeting with Lesher and master builder, Mag notices some smoke coming from the woods and heads out there with Kruse to investigate. While he is gone, the master builder approaches Chuzara and offers information in exchange for sparing his family from punishment for his crimes. Gaelen returns home and tells his father that he saw Iana and that she had joined Morrec and his father says he is glad for her and wonders why Gaelen hasn’t done so as well. In the woods, Mag and Kruse examine the remains of the convoy when Mag is drawn to a strange rock, claiming that magic was performed there, but as he traces his hand across the symbols, a vision briefly comes to him which shocks him. Back in the temple, the master builder shows Chuzara a secret passage in the temple and she follows him inside, unaware that they are being followed by Crawlis, an assassin in Lesher’s employee. Dolan shows Chuzara a secret chamber that contains the bodies of several dead legates but when she exits the chamber and questions Dolan about it, she finds that he has been stabbed by an elven knife. Mag and Kruse have returned to Blackweir as Mag believes Chuzara is in danger and he sends Kruse to find her when they are approached by the town magister, who warns Mag of Lesher’s deception. When Chuzara shows up, Mag has his guards arrest Lesher and sends Kruse out to find Lesher’s man that sends word to the rebels. In his hideout, Morrec has a dream of when he renounced being a legate, and the shadowy force that is in the temple and removed his arm. The tavern owner approaches Morrec and tells him about Lesher being arrested and her impending hanging and Morrec says Mag is doing it to get to him.In town, Mag approaches Lesher as she is about to hang and questions her about the knife used to kill Dolan. When she doesn’t say anything, Mag stabs her assistant and kicks the block out from underneath him so that he starts to hang, then questions Lesher again, who tells him that all she knows are old wive’s tales. Meanwhile, Geddon arrives at another town and speaks with the head priest there concerning the prophecy and asks if “she” still lives. Back at Blackweir, Mag tells Chuzara to leave Lesher where she is until she talks or hangs hers. He then chastises her for following Dolan alone and when she asks what he found in the woods, he tells her it was a monolith from the first shadow war and the one rune that was repeatedly on there was “prisoner”. In the rebel hideout, Iana speaks with Deleth about where Morrec was and when he says he left, Iana says that Morrec is going to turn himself in to stop the hangings and she goes to stop him, with Deleth accompanying her. In the temple Mag and Chuzara are looking around the chamber with the dead legates and Mag notices a door that has a strong ward on it. Elsewhere, Geddon pays a visit to Shai, the First Watch, an elderly woman that was one of the first servants of the shadow. Shai asks him what troubles him and mocks him about his twin brother, who Geddon says he killed by his own hands. At the monolith, Morrec is speaking with a hooded figure, who reveals himself to be Geddon’s brother Grimnor, and Grimnor says that there is something that he must protect in Blackweir, but he feels that Mag would not be persuaded to stop what he is doing. Reaching the city, Grimnor uses his magic to spook a horse into knocking over a cart, then they use the distraction to enter the city, but Gaelen, who had returned to the city, sees them and decides to follow them. Back at the First Watch, Geddon tells Shai about some manuscripts found in an abandoned fortress and Shai comments about how she once lived there. She comments about a story of someone returning and Geddon says that the story is true and shows her a book showcasing a mark that the chosen one will bear. Back at Blackweir, Mag is meditating when his consciousness is projected into a fortress in the far north, where he sees a body being carried away bearing the same mark on it’s hand that he has and a shadowy figure confronts him saying “We will rise again.” Iana and Deleth use some underground passages to enter the city, where they are met by Gaelen. When Deleth kills a guard after he spots them, Gaelen takes Deleth’s bow and uses it to cover Iana and Deleth’s escape but then he ends up falling down a well in order to escape the guards himself. Iana and Deleth reach the town square just as Morrec turns himself in and as the orc guard’s beat him into unconsciousness, Deleth stops Iana from attacking and says there is another way to save Morrec. Morrec is taken to the temple, where Chuzara questions him, as he is the missing legate they were looking for. Morrec tries to ger Chuzara to turn away from the shadow but she refuses. Suddenly, Morrec begins convulsing and a shadow emerges from him and heads toward Chuzara. Kruse lets Mag know that Morrec was captured but when they reach the temple, they find the orc’s dead, Chuzara alive but unconscious, and no sign of Morrec. As Mag goes to look for him, he finds Morrec standing on a bridge underneath the temple and after Morrec kills the men that accompanied him, Mag begins to fight with Morrec. After disarming Morrec, Mag moves in for the kill but Morrec convulses and the shadow emerges from him once again, taking the form of a beast as it battles Mag. As Shai reads from the book that Geddon brought, what she reads mirrors what is happening with Mag as he kills the shadow. Believing what is written in the book will soon happen, if it hasn’t already, Geddon takes the book and prepares to travel to Blackweir. Meanwhile, Deleth takes Iana to see Grimnor, who takes them into a secret room beneath his home. When Grimnor tells Deleth that the guardian is dead, Deleth realizes that Mag is the harbinger. Iana makes a comment about the books she sees and Grimnor shows her that the entire room is filled with the books of generations, waiting to be taught again.

Ok. When I find myself getting bored with a movie and unable to finish watching it right away, there might be something wrong. Now this movie honestly isn’t that bad of a movie. The acting was a little stiff at times, but for the most part it was pretty decent. The story was a little confusing, as they kept cutting away to several different plot lines. There wasn’t a whole lot as far as special effects, as a lot of this focused more on the sword portion and not as much sorcery. The little bit of special effects that were used were the few times Mag cast a spell and the shadow guardian that he fights. I think the biggest problem with this movie is that they put so much stuff in this movie to setup for possible sequels, that the movie kind of suffered from a sensory overload, making it seem to drag out and be boring. Like I said, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad movie, but I definitely don’t want to sit through it again.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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April 14th, 2016 Movie – Metropolis

metropolis

I love my friends because sometimes they enable my movie collecting ways. Today’s movie is a good example of that. My friend Chad had apparently ordered a T-shirt and this DVD came with it and since he did not want the DVD, offered it to me. Now this is one of those movies that I have always heard about but never got around to buying so when it was offered, I jumped at the chance to own it. Long considered to be one of the early greats of the science fiction genre, it’s time to see if Metropolis lives up to the hype.

The plot: In the futuristic world of Metropolis, a subjugated working class work an maintain the city’s machines while the wealthy citizens of the city live in high-rise complexes. Freder, the son of the city’s master Joh Fredersen, is relaxing in a garden with some of the other members of the elite society and is about to kiss one of the women when the doors to the garden suddenly open. A woman named Maria walks through the doors, followed by a large group of the worker’s children. Maria wanted to show the children how the rich people live but they are quickly escorted away. Freder is fascinated by Maria and after learning that she is the daughter of one of the workers, he decides to follow her. Reaching one of the machine rooms, Freder gets distracted while watching the workers work when one of the machine explodes, Rattled by the explosion, Freder has a vision of the machine being a giant and the workers continuously walk into it’s mouth to be swallowed up. After shaking off the vision and seeing the injured workers being carried away, Freder leaves and goes to tell his father what happened. When his father hears what happened, he asks why Freder was down in the machine room and Freder tells him he wanted to see how his brothers lived. He says that the workers built this city but wonders what would happen if they decided to revolt. When the foreman arrives with some plans that were found on two of the dead men, Joh get’s angry at his assistant Joseph for not telling him about all this first and fires him. Realizing what Joseph might do after being fired, Freder goes after him and prevents him from killing himself. Freder goes back down to the machine room and catches one of the workers, Gregory, as he collapses from exhaustion. Freder switches places with Georgy, staying to work on the machine while sending Gregory to wait for him at Joseph’s apartment. Meanwhile, Joh goes to see an inventor named Rotwang, who shows Joh the robot he created which will be able to replace living workers in the machine rooms. Joh shows Rotwang the plans and he figures out they are polans to some acient catacombs beneath the city. Meanwhile, Freder is trying to read the plans when one of the workers sees him and tells him that another meeting has been called after the shift. As he continues to work the machine, Freder comments about how he didn’t know 10 hours could be torture, as he is unused to physical labor. When the shift ends, Freder follows several of the workers into the catacombs for the meeting. Meanwhile, Rotwang and Joh also head into the catacombs to see what could interest the workers down there. In the catacombs, Freder is surprised to see Maria leading the meeting, Maria tells the assembled workers that a mediator will come to unite the ruling and working class so they should try and be patient. Overhearing Maria’s speech to the workers, Joh tells Rotwang to make his robot look like Maria, then hide the real Maria in his house while the robot is sent to spread discord among the workers. Meanwhile, the meeting disperses but Freder stays behind and speaks with Maria, professing his love for her and saying that he could be the mediator she spoke of. Maria gives him a kiss on the cheek and agrees to meet with him later but after Freder leaves, she is grabbed by Rotwang. Meanwhile, Freder goes to the cathedral to meet with Maria but doesn’t see her there. As he passes Rotwang’s house, he hears Maria’s cries and goes inside but ends up being trapped inside the house. Meanwhile, Rotwang uses his machines to transform his robot into a duplicate of Maria. When the process is complete, Rotwang sends the robot to another room where Joh waits, then goes to see Freder. Joh sees the robot and tells it to go down to the workers and stir them up into doing criminal acts. Freder sees Joh with his hands on Maria and passes out in a delirium. Days later, Freder wakes up but is still plagued by his dreams in which he saw a grim reaper coming for him. Meanwhile, Rotwang tells the reall Maria that Joh is using the worker to incite violence so that he can respond in kind to the workers. The robot Maria tells the assembled workers she is tired of being patient and they should destroy everything. Joseph goes to see Freder and tells him what is going on and Freder leaves with him to try and stop it. When Freder arrives at the meeting, he tells the workers that she is not the real Maria but he is recognized as being Joh’s son and attacked but Georgy manages to save him but is killed in the process. With MAria leading them, the workers all head down to the machine rooms and begin destroying the machines. Meanwhile, the real Maria manages to escape and heads down to the lower city where the workers live and seeing it start to flood due to the damage from the machines, she works on rescuing the children, who were abandoned when all of the adults left to destroy the machines. Freder and Joseph hear Maria signalling for help and lead her and the children to an airshaft so they can escape the flood, with Freder saying that this is the real Maria. Back in his office, Joh is told about what happened and is horrified about what occurred and realizing his part in it. Maria, Freder, and Joseph take the children to the Eternal Gardens and then Maria says she will go tell the workers the children are safe. Back in the machine rooms, the workers are celebrating the destruction they caused when Grot, the guardian of the Heart Machine, makes them realize that they left their children in the city, which is now flooded. Realizing what they have done, the workers become angry at Maria and go after her. The robot Maria has gone to where the rich people live and is partying with them when they are met by the workers and she is grabbed by the angry mob. The robot Maria is taken to the middle of the city, where she is tied to a stake and set on fire. Freder tries to break through the crowd and save her but the crowd holds him at bay. As the flames envelope Maria and reveal her to be a robot, the crowd is shocked and Freder spies the real Maria being chased by Rotwang on the roof of the cathedral and goes to rescue her. Joh shows up on the street and watches as his son struggles with Rotwang on the roof of the cathedral. When Grot and the workers move to attack Joh, Joseph intercepts them and tells the crowd that Freder and Maria saved their children, causing the workers to rejoice. Freder and Rotwang continue their struggle until Rotwang loses his balance and falls to his death. Freder and Maria embrace and share a kiss and as they exit the cathedral, Freder fulfills Maria’s prophecy of a mediator by linking hands with his father and Grot, to help symbolize a union between the two classes.

Metropolis met with mixed reactions from the critics at first but has now been regarded with high praise, as shown by it’s certified fresh rating of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “A visually awe-inspiring science fiction classic from the silent era.” The original cut of the film was lost so the only available copies were missing almost 25% of the movie. However, several prints have since been found so that the movie can now be seen with almost 95% of the original footage. The movie was a flop in it’s original debut as it only earned about half of what it cost to make.

The one problem I have with silent films is that you really have to pay attention in order to follow what is happening. If your mind slips, you might end up lost. That being said, this was an interesting movie to watch. It is kind of hard to judge the acting but I do think that Gustav Frolich (Freder) and Brigitte Helm (Maria/Machine Man) both did great jobs with their roles; with Gustav doing a good job portraying the various emotions during his delusions and Maria switching from the good Maria and the evil robotic counterpart. The story was ok as it seemed to showcase the struggle between the working and elite classes that is older than the movie itself. I do think there were a lot of future movies that had some inspiration, either knowing or unknowing, from this movie. A fairly recent movie that comes to mind is Land Of The Dead, which featured the wealthy people living in the highend apartment buildings while the normal people were forced to live outside in crude shelters. For the time, I guess the special effects were pretty good but I honestly can’t judge for certain on that. Personally, I think the movie fell a little short of all the hype but that could be because I have only watched one of the shorter versions of the film. I will say that it is worth watching if for no other reason than it will be something different.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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April 13th, 2016 Movie – Justice League Vs Teen Titans

justice league vs teen titansPre-ordering movies from Amazon can be a lot like Christmas or birthdays because when the movie comes out, you suddenly get a present showing up at your house. However, there can be a downside to pre-ordering, well not really a downside but more like a mild annoyance. You see, I pre-orderd today’s movie a few weeks ago. Nothing wrong with that because DC’s animated movies have been incredible (much better than their live action ones). However, when I received my email that the package was shipped, it said that two copies were being shipped. I thought there was a mistake but when I received two copies of the movie, I checked and sure enough, I did pre-order it twice; once a few weeks ago and once several months ago when it first was available for pre-order. Totally my fault as I honestly didn’t remember pre-ordering this the first time but it is ok because I am able to send it back and get a refund. So that will teach me to keep better track of what I pre-order in the future. But right now, it’s time to watch some animated comic book goodness with today’s movie, Justice League Vs Teen Titans.

The plot: At the unveiling of the Hall of Justice, Justice League members Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Cyborg are locked in a battle with the Legion of Doom, consisting of Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, Cheetah, Weather Wizard, and Toymaster. After he takes care of Grundy, Batman checks in with his son Damian, the new Robin, who he has placed on crowd control, which Robin is not happy about. After they manage to defeat the villains, Weather Wizard tries to run away but he is attacked and possessed by a shadowy creature. The possessed Weather Wizard is able to easily knock Superman away and takes to the sky, saying he must find the girl. As Superman tries to deal with Weather Wizard, the rest of the league work on getting civilians to safety. Batman contacts Robin to help but Robin disobeys him and instead, crashes the Batwing into Weather Wizard. Weather Wizard falls from the sky and when Wonder Woman rescues him with her lasso, the shadow exits Weather Wizard’s body, leaving him unaware of what happened. When Robin lands, Batman confronts him about disobeying orders but Robin is unapologetic and doesn’t understand the importance of teamwork. Batman has Nightwing take Robin to join the Teen Titans so that he can try to learn how to work with a team. At Titan’s tower, Blue Beetle, Beast Boy, and Raven are having a training session and Beast Boy questions Raven about her recent nightmares. Starfire, the teams leader, informs them of a new guest joining them and the go outside to meet Robin and Nightwing but Robin simply heads inside to his room, ignoring their attempts to greet him. Back in Metropolis, Superman is arranging a date with Wonder Woman and after hanging up the phone so he can do some laundry, he is attacked by a shadow demon. Back at Titan’s Tower, Robin is hogging the training room and after being rude to Starfire and the others, he ends up getting in a fight with Blue Beetle. Robin manages to knock Blue Beetle away but the scarab attached to Blue Beetle lashes out, seriously burning Robin’s face with it’s blast. Raven uses her powers to heal Robin but ends up reading his memories and passes out. At the Hall Of Justice, Batman and Cyborg are studying camera footage of the fight with Weather Wizard and Batman notices a shadow that is unattached to any object, which is what possessed Weather Wizard. Meanwhile, Superman is on his date with Wonder Woman when he begins seeing visions and when Wonder Woman questions him about what’s wrong, he suddenly runs off. Back at Titan’s Tower, Robin is feeling restless and sees Raven meditating in the woods and decides to go see her. Raven is busy casting a protective spell over the others when Robin approaches her, thanking her for healing him. Robin then questions her being inside his head but says he also glimpsed inside her head and wants to know about the figure he saw in her mind but Raven doesn’t answer and teleports away. Back in Metropolis, Superman is banging his head against a wall of a construction site in an attempt to banish the visions but he ends up being taken over completely by the demonic force. When Atomic Skul attempts to rob a bank, Superman fights him and nearly kills him before Batman intervenes with a piece of Kryptonite. As Batman and Wonder Woman watch, the possessed Superman says they both have a part to play before he flies off to search for “the girl”. Back at Titan’s Tower, Starfire finds Robin looking through her computer for more information about Raven and chastises her for not knowing more about her. Later that night, Starfire is video chatting with Nightwing about Robin and decides that she needs to try and teach him how to have fun. At the Hall of Justice, Cyborg tells Batman that the satellites have lost sight of Superman and Batman tells him to search for Superman as well as supernatural events involving a girl. Out in the Middle Eastern desert, Superman dives into the desert floor and unearths a giant ring. Elsewhere, Starfire takes the rest of the Titans to an amusement park and tells them that they need to have fun. During the course of the night, Robin and Raven seem to get closer, as their backgrounds have a lot of similarities. As Robin is competing against Beast Boy in dancing game, Raven is summoned to a nearby hilltop by the demonic minions of her father, the demon Trigon. When they attack Raven, the rest of the Titan’s go to her aid and they manage to defeat the demons. Raven teleports them away from the amusement park, and proceeds to tell the Titans about how her mother was part of a cult and was used as a bride for a demon named Trigon. When her mother left the cult, she was rescued by some people from another dimension and taken to Azaroth. After she accidentally summoned Trigon to Azaroth, which he promptly destroyed, Raven is taken to Trigon’s realm but she managed to imprison him inside a crystal before he could use her to enter Earth. Returning back to the tower, Raven plans on leaving but Robin and Starfire convince her to stay and let them help. Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Flash arrive and plan to take Raven with them but Robin and the Titans refuse to give her up. Raven cries out a warning just as shadow demons begin to take over the Justice League. Batman uses a nerve toxin to take himself out of action but Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Flash are possessed and proceed to attack the Titans. When Wonder Woman and Flash threaten to kill Starfire and Robin, Raven reluctantly agrees to go with them and opens a portal but Blue Beetle manages to take out Cyborg before he goes through. Arriving in the Middle East, Raven steps onto a demonic temple, where her powers are used to open the portal for Trigon to enter. Meanwhile, Cyborg comes too and the Titans work out a plan to rescue Raven. Cyborg opens a boom tube to take the Titans to Raven’s location and Superman rushes to stop them but Robin stabs him with a shard of kryptonite, causing enough damage for the demon to leave Superman. Free from Trigon’s control, Superman has the Titans go and free Raven while he deals with Flash and Wonder Woman. The Titan’s free Raven but it is too late as Trigon appears on Earth and begins heading towards the nearby city. With the only hope of stopping him being to lock him back in the crystal, Raven teleports the Titans and Cyborg to Trigon’s realm while Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash try to stop Trigon from reaching the city. Inside the demonic realm, the group makes their way towards where the crystal is but they are attacked by demonic creatures and Trigon’s minions. As the Titans and Cyborg cover her, Raven heads to the tower and makes her way to the crystal, unaware of a figure watching her. As Raven reaches for the crystal, it is shattered by the figure, who moves to attack Raven but is intercepted by Robin. Robin is shocked to see that the figure is Ra’s Al Ghul and when Ra’s demands that Robin kill Raven, Robin chooses to fight back. As Raven approaches one of the crystal shards, Trigon taunts her with images of the Justice League failing to stop him and that he will kill her friends while she watches. However the taunts serve to motivate Raven to protect her friends and she is able to cast the spell  to imprison Trigon inside the crystal. Saying that the crystal will have to be watched all the time, Raven plans on staying behind but Robin convinces her to come home with the rest of the Titans. 10 days later, Batman and the rest of the Justice League contact the Titans to tell them that there has been no further sign of the corrupters and praises them for their work in saving the world, and the Justice League. Cyborg, who occasionally visits the Titans and acts as a mentor arrives at the Tower with some pizza and notices Raven wearing the crystal containing Trigon on her forehead and talks to her about it. As the Titans celebrate, Terra is shown heading towards the tower, using her powers to ride a boulder across the ocean.

I had some high expectations for this movie and unfortunately, I was kind of let down. The voice acting was good, keeping the same cast from the last couple of Justice League and Batman movies as well as new actors for the Titans. The story was good, but I honestly liked the Trigon storyline from the old Teen Titans cartoon better than this one. I did like the dynamic between Robin and Raven and how they seemed to grow closer together due to their similar backgrounds and having been inside each other’s heads. The animation was really good and continued to show how talented the artist are in creating the DCAU (DC Animated Universe). A solid entry in DC’s movie archives and worth watching even if you aren’t a fan of the comics.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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April 12th, 2016 Movie – The Silence Of The Lambs

the silence of the lambs

Nobody should be surprised about today’s movie. I mean, when I reviewed Manhunter, I did say I was going to buy this after Lent. Sure, it wasn’t immediately after but since I was buying some movies I decided to go ahead and throw this one in as well. Now the first time I saw this movie was actually only one part, but it just happened to be the part with LEcter escaping from the courthouse. Man did that make an impression on me and made me really want to watch the rest of the movie. Seriously, you come in halfway through a movie and see that, of course you want to watch the whole thing to see how the movie got there. But enough digressing, let’s get right to today’s movie, The Silence Of The Lambs.

The plot: FBI Trainee Clarice Starling is running through the obstacle course at Quantico when another agent catches up to her and tells her to report to Jack Crawford’s office in the Behavioral Criminal Science division. Waiting in his office, Clarice notices a bulletin board detailing a serial killer named Buffalo Bill and stares at it. When Crawford enters, he discusses her educational background with her briefly before telling her about the assignment he has for her. The FBI has been talking with incarcerated serial killers to help build a profile database they can use to catch future killers. One killer, Hannibal Lecter, is refusing to talk and he hopes that Clarice can manage to get him to talk or at the very least, get an insight into his behavior from his cell and personal items. Clarice heads to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and speaks with Dr. Frederick Chilton, who leads her towards Lecter’s cell before she convinces him to let him enter alone. After passing through the secure room, Clarice walks past some of the other prisoners before she reaches Lecter’s cell. Lecter appears friendly and cordial to Clarice at first but when she hands him the questionaire that Crawford want him to fill out, he becomes upset and dismisses her. As she is leaving, she notices Miggs, the prisoner in the next cell, masturbating and he flicks a glob of semen on her. Lecter calls her back to his cell and apologizes for what happened and says that he will help her advance her career and tells her to look up a former patient Ms. Mofet, as it will help find Buffalo Bill. As she leaves the hospital, Clarice has flashbacks to her father, a former police officer, and she starts crying outside her car. Back at Quantico, Clarice is looking through Lecter’s case when Crawford calls her to tell her that Miggs is dead and asks if she had any luck tracking down Mofet. Clarice says she can’t find any record of her but believes Lecter’s clue was pointing towards a particular storage facility. Arriving there, she learns that a unit was rented out for 10 years in advance by Mofet and so she breaks into it, where she discovers a severed head. Heading back to the hospital, she speaks with Lecter again, who says that he will help her catch Buffalo Bill in exchange for being transferred to a different facility away from Chiltin. When Clarice pressures him for more information, he says that he can wait but wonders how long her or Crawford can as he is sure Buffalo Bill has already picked out another target. In Memphis, TN, a young woman has just returned home when she sees a man with an injured arm attempting to place a sofa inside his van. She offers to help and they manage to get the sofa inside when the man punches her several times to knock her out. After checking to see what size she was, he cuts off her blouse and leaves it on the ground as he drives off. The next day, Clarice is pulled from her training to accompany Crawford as they go to the site where the latest body of Buffalo Bill’s victims was discovered. Arriving at a funeral home where the girl’s body is being held. As Crawford speaks with the local sheriff, Clarice looks in on a viewing for a funeral and has another flashback to her own father’s funeral before Crawford summons her into the morgue. After clearing out all of the police in the room, Clarice begins dictating notes about the girl’s body while another agent photographs it. When Clarice notices something in the girls throat, the agent uses some tweezers to remove a bug cocoon, which the killer apparently shoved down her throat. Turning the body over, they find sections of skin have been cut from the woman’s body. Returning to Baltimore, Clarice takes the cocoon to some entomologists and learns that it belongs to a death’s head moth, which is native to Asia. The next day, Clarice sees a news report about the disappearance of Catherine Martin, the daughter of a US Senator, who is believed to have been abducted by Buffalo Bill. Clarice heads to see Lecter but is harassed along the way by Chiltin about not telling her what is being discussed. When Clarice reaches Lecter’s cell, she tells him of a deal that is being offered, where if he helps catch Buffalo Bill and save Catherine, he will be transferred to a different facility. Lecter accepts the deal on the condition of quid pro quo from Clarice, where she tells him something personal in exchange for the information he divulges. Lecter has Clarice tell him about the death of her father, who was murdered in the line of duty. Afterwards, he tells her the significance of the moth cocoon, which symbolizes change. After Clarice tells Lecter about going to live with relatives in Montana but running away after 2 months there, he tells her that Buffalo Bill is not a transexual, which some people assumed, but believes he is one and tells her to check hospital records for someone that attempted to get sexual reassignment surgery but was turned down. Unknown to Clarice, Chiltin was listening in on her conversation and he later tells Lecter that the deal Clarice offered was fake but he made an actual deal with Senator Martin, allowing Lecter to be transferred to Tennessee in exchange for the real name of Buffalo Bill, to which Lecter agrees. He is transferred to Memphis where Senator Martin meets him at the airport and confirms the conditions of the deal. Lecter says Buffalo Bill’s real name is Louis Friend and after verbally tormenting the senator, gives the authorities an address. As Chiltin is giving a press conference outside the courthouse where Lecter is being held, Clarice manages to make her way inside and pays a visit to Lecter. As they talk, Clarice tells him that she knows that Louis Friend is an anagram for iron sulfide, or fool’s gold, and knows that Lecter sent the police on a dead end but he was telling her the truth in Baltimore. Clarice wants Lecter to finish telling her the truth but Lecter says their deal still is intact and that he want to know why she ran away from Montana first. Clarice tells him that she woke one night to hear lambs screaming and witnessed them being slaughtered in the barn and she tried to save one of them but the sheriff picked her up and the lamb was killed while she was sent to live elsewhere. Lecter says that Clarice wants to save Catherine in order to stop her nightmares about the lambs. When Chiltin arrives and has Clarice escorted out of their, Lecter gives her back her case file on Buffalo Bill, saying everything she needs to find him is inside. Later that night, Lecter manages to escape from his cell, killing the two guards in the process. As backup and ambulances arrive, they move one of the surviving guards outside when they notice blood dripping from the roof of the elevator. When the authorities check the roof, they find a body there but it turns out to be the security guard. Meanwhile, the ambulance is leaving the scene but it is shown that Lecter had skinned the guards face and used it as a mask in order to escape. Clarice’s friend tells her what happened and Clarice says Lecter won’t come after her and chooses to focus on the case file. Finding a note on the map of where the bodies where found, Clarice heads to the home of the first victim and looks around her room. Noticing a dress with marking similar to the victim’s wounds, she realizes that Buffalo Bill is making a “woman suit” and calls Crawford to tell him. Crawford says that they used the information Lecter gave her and found the real name of Buffalo Bill as Jame Gumb and is heading to his address in Illinois to make an arrest. At Buffalo Bill’s hideout, Catherine manages to capture Bill’s dog and threatens to kill it if he doesn’t release her.  Crawford arrives at the house with an FBI team but the house is empty. Meanwhile, Clarice is interviewing one of the victim’s friends and she mentions a woman that they did alterations for so Clarice goes to see her. Arriving at the house, Clarice is greeted by Buffalo Bill, calling himself Jack Gordon. As Clarice asks him some questions about the house, she notices a death’s head moth and realizes that he is actually Gumb and draws her gun on him but Gumb runs out of the room. Clarice goes after him, finding Catherine in the well that Gumb kept her in. Telling Catherine that she will be back, Clarice tries to locate Gumb but he turns out the lights, making the room pitch black. Using night vision goggles, Gumb stalks Clarice and is about to shoot her but when he cocks the hammer on his gun, Clarice hears it and turns around, shooting Gumb several times in the chest. Later, Clarice graduates from the academy and during the celebration, she receives a call from Lecter. Lecter says that he has no plans to come after her and wishes she would extend the same courtesy but she tells him that she can’t make that promise. Lecter then hangs up the phone, saying that he is having an old friend for dinner, and he then begins following Chiltin, who had just arrived at where Lecter is hiding.

The Silence Of The Lambs met with high praise from the critics, holding a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Director Jonathan Demme’s smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.” The movie wasn’t without it’s controversy as it was criticized by the LGBT community for the Buffalo Bill character as being portrayed as transexual. The Silence Of The Lambs won the “Big 5” at the Academy Awards, making it the third film in history to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie would become a blockbuster success, earning over $272 million off a $19 million budget and Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s characters would become some of Hollywood’s best known villain and hero respectively.

It’s been a while since I watched it but this still comes across as a great thriller to watch. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins were both incredible as Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter respectively, and did a good job of playing off each other in the scenes they were in together. The story was great and the pacing was slow enough to keep you focused on what was going on without being too slow to the point of being boring. Lecter’s escape from the courthouse is probably one of the more vivid scenes in movie history and the part where he rips off the guard’s face that he was wearing is sure to give people nightmares for years to come. Regardless on if you have read the books or seen the previous movie, this is one of those movies that is a must see and can definitely stand on it’s own and earned every accolade it received.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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April 11th, 2016 Movie – Humanoids From The Deep

humanoids from the deep

Unfortunately, this is the last Corman movie for a while but it was fun while it lasted. Today’s movie is one that I saw a long time ago on TV but I never considered getting it on video. Then I was watching a B-movie monster tribute on YouTube and a clip from this movie was part of the video, which made me want to watch it again. When I decided to buy some Corman movies, I threw this one on the list so I could watch it again. So let’s get right into today’s movie, Humanoids From The Deep.

The plot: In the town of Noyo, California, a group of fishermen are preparing to head out to catch some fish but Johnny Eagle, a Native American whose tribe lives along the lake, says that the proposed cannery that is being built will result in all the fish in the lake being consumed. One of the boats manages to catch something in their net and they try to haul it in when their winch runs out of gas. Berating his son Jacky for not checking the winch, the captain has his son refuel the winch while he and one of his deck hands try to secure the net. As the boom threatens to break, the captain tells Jacky to help them and he accidentally knocks over the can of gasoline as he does. Suddenly, the boom breaks, knocking Jacky into the water and as his father tries to rescue him, he is dragged under by the creature, who had gotten free from the net. The captain tries going in to save him when they see blood gushing up to the surface but as the boat’s pilot comes down with a flare gun, he trips and accidentally fires the flare into the gasoline, causing the boat to explode. Jim Hill and his brother Tommy see the explosion and radio it in to the coast guard. Later that night, Jim and his wife Carol are talking to the sheriff about the explosion and the sheriff wonders if Johnny Eagle might have caused it. As they are talking, Jim’s young son starts crying and runs out of the room and their dog starts barking at something outside. Jim lets his dog out and the dog sniffs around some garbage cans that were knocked over then follows a scent into the woods, where it is attacked by a strange creature. The next day, Jim and Carol go looking for the dog and see the garbage cans covered in a strange slimy substance. Following the trail to the lake, they find the mutilated remains of their dog on the shore, just as some of the fisherman find dead dogs along the harbor, except for Johnny Eagle’s dog. That night, there is a dance at town as part of the annual Salmon Festival. During the dance, the town mayor introduces the president of the new cannery, as well as his assistant and their associate Dr. Susan Drake, who claims to have found a way to increase the salmon’s spawning, meaning more fish for the town to catch. As the dance proceeds, Johnny Eagle suddenly appears, carrying his dog’s dead body, and he blames one of the fisherman, Hank Slattery, for killing him. When Johnny threatens to go to court to get the cannery stopped, Hank has Johnny taken outside, where he proceeds to beat him up. Jim and his brother Tommy go to help Johnny fight the men off when the sheriff fires his gun in the air to break up the fight. The next day, Hank sneaks onto the tribal lands and hears them talking about their plans to sue the cannery to get their tribal lands back. Meanwhile, Jim and Tommy have taken Susan, the cannery’s president Mr. Borden and his assistant out on Jim’s boat for some fishing. Suddenly the catch something but before they can reel it in, the line snaps. Susan had managed to take pictures of what was caught but is secretive about what it was. Meanwhile, Tommy’s girlfriend Linda is on the beach with their friends Jerry and Peggy, who decide to go off by themselves to make out. As they are kissing in the water, Jerry is suddenly dragged under and attacked by a humanoid creature. When Peggy sees Johnny’s body, she starts screaming and runs for the shore but is attacked and raped by the creature. Jim pulls into the dock and greets Johnny Eagle, who thanks him for his help but says that he has a difference of opinions concerning the cannery than Johnny and walks off to meet his wife while Johnny invites Tommy and Linda, who just arrived on the dock, to lunch. On the lake shore, a couple are camping on the beach but just as they are about to have sex in their tent, a creature rips into the tent and kills the boyfriend. The girl manages to get away but runs right into the arms of another creature, who proceeds to rape her on the beach. Johnny, Tommy, and Linda are heading back to Johnny’s place when they hear another boat coming down the river but don’t see it. Later that night, they cooking some fish when Hank and some of his men throw a molotov cocktail at the house, causing it to explode in flames. Johnny tells Linda to use his truck to head back to town while he and Johnny try to put out the fire. As Johnny uses the hose on the fire, Tommy hears something and fires out at the disappearing boat. Suddenly, a creature grabs Tommy’s leg and drags him into the water. Tommy starts beating at the creature and tries to get away. Johnny sees Tommy struggling to get on the dock and manages to kill the creature attacking Tommy, then kills a second creature that emerges from the water. Meanwhile, Linda is driving Johnny’s truck when a creature smashes the windshield and tries to attack her. She slams on the brakes, tossing the creature onto the road, then runs over it but a second creature attacks her from the truck bed, causing her to lose control of the truck and drive off the bridge and crash onto the ground below, causing an explosion. The next morning, Susan tries renting a boat but there are none available as everyone is discussing what happened Linda’s death. Suddenly, Johnny pulls up in his boat with Tommy’s badly injured body and the town sheriff starts to question him. As Tommy is being loaded into a truck to be taken to the nearest hospital, Jim and Carol pull up and Carol goes with Tommy. Jim asks what happened and Johnny tells him, but Hank says it is a made up story. Jim says he is going to get proof of what happened but nobody except Johnny volunteers. Susan says she is going to as she is a scientist and would be able to help so Jim reluctantly agrees and the three take Johnny’s boat back to his place. They find evidence that something was there but Susan believes there wouldn’t be enough food there so they take Jim’s boat out into the ocean. As they sail along the coast, Susan notices some caves and they take a zodiac to explore the coastline around the caves. They soon come across a group of the creatures and as Susan takes pictures of them, Jim and Johnny kill them all. As they look around the area, they find Peggy still alive and covered in seaweed. Taking one of the creatures back to the lab, Susan begins to study it but Mr. Borden’s assistant says that she shouldn’t say anything until her theories are proven correct. Susan yells at the assistant and says that she won’t stay quiet anymore and explains that she had been experimenting with DNA to shorten the time that salmon would reach adulthood when a tidal surge cause a batch of her experimental fish to be washed into the sea. She believes that other fish ate the experimental salmon and began mutating into the creatures that attacked them but the cannery wanted her to keep quiet about it. When Jim asks about what happened with Peggy, Susan says she believes that the creatures are compelled to try and mate with humans in order to further evolve and Jim realizes that the festival is in danger. Jim, Johnny, and Susan head to the festival and show a skeptical Hank, mayor, and sheriff the body of the creature. Suddenly, several creatures start coming out of the water and begin attacking the people at the festival. As the creatures begin terrorizing the festival, Jim gets and idea and has Susan help him spray gasoline onto the water in order to keep the creatures from returning to the water. Meanwhile, Carol has gone back home and hears what is going on on the radio, just as two creatures attacks the house. Carol manages to fend off one creature and kill another before Jim gets there and takes them into the town. As they survey the carnage from the festival, Jim asks the sheriff, Hank, where Susan is and he answers that she went back to her lab. At her lab, Susan is with Peggy, who is pregnant, and trying to help her give birth but the baby bursts out from Peggy’s stomach and the girl gives a horrified scream as she stares at the screaming baby.

Humanoids From The Deep met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many of the critics cited their distatse for the rape scenes that were shot, citing them as blatant endorsement of exploitation film’s anti-women slant. The scenes were actually shot by Corman’s second unit director and added into the movie and when they found out about it, the director, Barbara Peeters, as well as Ann Turkel (Susan) wanted their names removed from the film but they were refused. The movie was a modest success, earning $2.5 million at the box office.

This was just another example of Corman’s sexploitation films but it was still fun to watch. The acting was pretty decent for the most part. The story was good, kind of a R-rated version of The Creature From The Black Lagoon, but there was also the racial overtones against Native Americans in a fishing community, something that was known to occur in real life. There was also the little nod to Alien with the whole baby humanoid bursting from Peggy’s stomach. The costume design with the humanoids was pretty decent and there was definitely enough blood and gore with the kills to satisfy any horror fan. The only real problem I had with the movie was the pacing as it moved rather slowly. Other than that, this was a fun cult classic horror movie that is worth giving a watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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