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September 30th, 2016 Movie – Piranha 3D

piranha-3d

Yet another movie taking advantage of the 3D movie phase. When I first saw the trailers for this movie, I thought it looked pretty interesting and figured I would probably go see it. After all, shark movies tend to come out every year but a movie about piranha, it has been almost 30 years since one of those has been in theaters. So when it came out in theaters, I decided to go catch an early Satruday showing of it. When I started buying some piranha based movies a while back, this was one of the ones I picked up. So now it’s time to sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Piranha 3D.

The plot: Matt Boyd is fishing in Lake Victoria when a small quake occurs and part of the lake bottom falls into an underground cavern, causing a whirlpool to form close by. As Matt tries to get his boat’s motor started, he ends up falling into the whirlpool and is attacked and killed by a school of prehistoric piranha that were released by the quake. The next day, Spring Break starts up at Lake Victoria and Jake Forester sees his mom, Sheriff Julie Forester, already dealing with some of the drunken college kids. As Jake goes to pick up his little sister Laura, he runs into Kelly, his high school crush, who is in town with her boyfriend and his friend. The two talk for a bit and Kelly invites Jake to a party but he says he can’t go as he is watching his little brother and sister all weekend. Jake picks up Laura and meets Derrick Jones, the director for the adult site Wild, Wild Girls, and Danni, one of the actresses for the site. Finding out that Jake is a local, Derrick asks Jake to be his guide out on the lake and though Laura tries telling him that he can’t, Jake covers her mouth and agrees to it. That night, Julie and one of her deputies, Deputy Fallon, go looking for Matt Boyd and when they try to recover the boat, Julie falls into the lake and discovers Matt’s chewed up body. Julie considers closing the lake but Fallon points out that the town survives on the week and they would be unable to get all 20,000 kids out of the lake. The next day, Jake bribes Laura and Zane (his brother), to stay home so that he can go work for Derrick and they agree but as soon as he leaves, Zane decides to go to a nearby island to fish and Laura goes with him but they end up stranded on the island. Meanwhile, Jake heads to the dock and runs into Kelly, who is surprised to see him there but finds out why when Derrick starts yelling for Jake to get on the boat but invites Kelly along as well. Julie takes a group of scientists out on the lake to examine the quakes epicenter, where they discover an underwater lake that has now been opened up to the main lake due to the quake. Two of the scientists, Sam and Paula, dive down to explore the chasm and the underground lake while the third member, Novak, stays on the boat with Julie to momitor them but they are attacked by the piranha and Novak manages to grab what’s left of Paula’s body and drag it, along with one of the piranha, back on the boat. Meanwhile, Jake is enjoying his experience on the lake but feels bad about Kelly being dragged into it, especially when she ends up getting sick from the alcohol. When Derrick asks Jake to film a topless girl going parasailing, Jake notices Laura and Zane trapped on the island. Derrick is upset about Jake not filming the girl but when Jake says that his mom is the sheriff, Derrick decides to go ahead and pick up the kids. Meanwhile, Julie and Novak take the piranha to Carl Goodman, a marine biologist and local pet store owner, to find out what it is. Goodman explains that the fish hasn’t been seen in over two million years and warns that if there are thousands of them in the lake, they need to be destroyed. As Fallon and the rest of the deputies try to warn people to get out of the lake, Julie radios for help just as the piranha start attacking people. Julie, Novak, Fallon, and the others try rescuing the people in the lake, with Fallon using the propeller from a boat to kill the piranha at one point but ends up getting killed himself. Meanwhile, Jake and the others pick up Laura and Zane but the prop ends up getting tangled in some weeds. Derrick, in a rush to get back to a wet t-shirt contest, tries to force the engine to get free and manages to do so but ends up getting the boat stuck on some rocks, which punctures the glass bottom. Derrick, as well as his cameraman Andrew and actress Crystal, end up falling into the lake and while Andrew manages to get to the island unharmed, Crystal is killed by the Piranha and Derrick is mortally wounded before Danni manages to drag him back on the boat. Jake gets Laura and Zane out on the deck but Kelly is trapped in the galley as the boat starts to flood. Jake calls his mom and tells her where they are and Julie and Novak go to rescue them. When they get there, they throw Jake a rope that he ties onto the boat and Julie climbs over. After realizing the only way to save Kelly is to swim down from the bottom, Julie has Danni, Laura, and Zane climb the rope back to the other boat but the piranha manage to snag onto Danni’s hair causing her to fall into the lake and be eaten. Jake unties the rope from the boat and ties it around him, then dumps Derrick’s body into the lake to distract the piranha, allowing him to swim to Kelly. Using the radio, he tells Julie and Novak to pull him and Kelly to safety on his signal, then swims down to open the galley’s propane tanks. Jake and Kelly share a kiss then swim out of the boat, where Jake lights a flare and throws it back into the boat. The piranha surround the two teens but they are pulled to safety just as the flare ignites the propane and causes the boat to explode, killing off the piranha. As Jake and Kelly are pulled into the boat, Carl calls Julie and says that the specimen that they brought him was a juvenile and when Novak wonders where the parents are, a large piranha jumps out and drags Novak into the water.

Piranha 3D met with positive reviews from the critics, earning a certified fresh rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Playing exactly to expectations for a movie about killer fish run amok, Piranha 3-D dishes out gore, guffaws and gratuitous nudity with equal glee.” Richard Dreyfuss’ said that his character is a parody of Matt Hooper, the character he played in Jaws, even singing the song “Show Me The Way To Go Home” as he is fishing. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $83.1 million off of a $24 million budget.

This was a very entertaining movie due to it’s sheer ridiculousness. The acting was pretty good, with Elizabeth Shue (Julie), Ving Rhames (Fallon), and Steven McQueen (Jake) doing good jobs. I also liked Jerry O’Connell’s portrayal of the coked out Derrick and Richard Dreyfuss playing Matt Boyd and singing that song was really funny. The story was pretty interesting, having the piranha be living fossils that are reintroduced to the modern world instead of the result of a military experiment. The special effects were pretty good in regards to the kills and everything but the 3D effects could have been better. Considering the setting was during spring break, some nudity and adult humor was going to be expected but the scene after Derrick and Crystal were killed was a bit much (you will have to see it for yourself). All in all, a funny movie to watch but the 3D is not necessary to enjoy it.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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September 29th, 2016 Movie – Killersaurus

killersaurus

Every time I get some movies from Amazon, it is almost always a mix of the normal B-movies I enjoy, and the more legitimate/mainstream movies. On Tuesday, I received a package containing some movies I had pre-ordered and today’s movie just happened to be one of them. Now I saw this movie when I was on Amazon looking for some other movies and, being the dinosaur movie lover that I am, decided to add it to my cart. So let’s see if my random urge was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Killersaurus.

The plot: At a secret lab, Professor Peterson and his team are attempting to use bio-printing to clone a dinosaur but have not had much success yet. During their latest test, Peterson calls his chief programmer, Kayleigh Ma, up to his office to discuss the high cost of the experiment but it is really a thinly veiled attempt to keep her safe, which she sees through and heads back to the main area. When the latest test is completed, Kayleigh’s friend Amy goes to check on the specimen but as Peterson yells for someone to get her out of there, Amy is heard screaming just before her head goes flying and lands on Kayleigh’s desk and Peterson has the chamber door sealed as the worker that tried to stop Amy is also killed. Afterwards, he calls a doctor to ask about someone but is distraught to learn that Suzie (his wife or daughter) died. 3 months later, the project has been shut down due to lack of funding and Kayleigh is still having nightmares about the incident, which troubles her boyfriend Jed Bailey, a wanna be journalist. As Jed pressures her for information about what happened, she says she can’t tell him because she signs a non-disclosure agreement but eventually relents and says she will take him to the site. As Kayleigh goes back to sleep, Jed calls the local paper and discusses what he knows with the editor and agrees to try and get pictures to back up his story. The next day, they arrive at the facility and find the doors all locked, with Jed’s passcodes no longer working. Meanwhile, Peterson is inside and contemplating suicide, apologizing to a picture of Suzie for failing her, but stops when he hears Jed speaking on the intercom. When Peterson answers, Kayleigh speaks to him and though he tells her to leave at first, Jed’s persistence causes Peterson to let them inside. In Peterson’s office, Peterson reveals that they were doing bio-printing, saying that he was their first success when he bio-printed new fingers for his hand after he was injured in an accident. When Jed pressures him about the incident, Peterson tells him to go take a look and when Kayleigh is worried, Peterson says that it can’t have survived. As Kayleigh and Jed leave, Peterson receives a video call from Mr. Andrews asking why Peterson has been avoiding his calls. When Peterson says that they had a successful build, Andrews is ecstatic and then asks about Tier 2 but when Peterson explains about the deaths and how he ran out of funds, Andrews says he is going to come there and see the data for himself. Meanwhile, Kayleigh and Jed head to where the incident took place and as Kayleigh briefly opens the door, Jed produces a camera and starts taking pictures. As Kayleigh admonishes him for lying to her, Jed feels something and pulls out the arm of one of the dead workers. Returning to Peterson’s office, Peterson explains to Jed that they had produced a Tyrannosaurus, explaining everything that they had done to create it. After hearing it, Jed says that he has to write about this and heads back down to the chamber to get pictures of the creature. Peterson tells Kayleigh he can shut the doors from his office and initiates the lockdown but Jed manages to make it in the chamber before the doors close. Inside, Jed comes face to face with the Tyrannosaurus, which ends up trapping him inside the chamber. When Kayleigh tries to get Peterson to open the door, calling him out for his favoritism over her, and Peterson explains that the reason he did what he did was because her appearance and mannerisms were just like his daughter, who had died. Kayleigh convinces Peterson to open the door but as she goes down to rescue Jed, Peterson hears Andrews calling out over a loudspeaker outside. Kayleigh heads down to the chamber and manages to tell Jed how to get past the Tyrannosaurus but just as Jed starts to crawl out the door, he is grabbed and killed by the carnosaur. Peterson shows up to warn Kayleigh just as Andrews shows up and reveals that Peterson was being funded by a black ops program to create super soldiers for the military. While Andrews goes with Peterson to see his data on Tier 2, he leaves the sergeant that accompanied him to guard Kayleigh. Inside his office, Peterson explains that all of the research is theoretical and so Andrews decides to test it on Kayleigh. Heading back to the chamber, Andrews tells Kayleigh to get inside but Peterson shows up and attempts to shoot Andrews in order to save her. A brief gunfight ensues between Peterson and the sergeant during the course of which Peterson is wounded and accidentally activates the Tier 2 procedure just as the sergeant enters the chamber to avoid being hit. Andrews grabs Kayleigh to use as a hostage when the procedure finishes and he opens the chamber door to reveal the sergeant has become mutated into a half man, half dinosaur creature. The creature kills Andrews and starts to head towards Kayleigh but the Tyrannosaurus makes it’s way through the doorway and kills it. As the Tyrannosaurus starts to break completely free from the chamber, Kayleigh and Peterson manage to get to safety and, realizing the dinosaur will completely destroy the lab, leave so they can figure out a way to stop it.

For a low budget movie, this was pretty decent. The acting was ok for the most part but there was nothing over impressive with anyone. The story itself was a fairly typical sci-fi fare, with a scientific experiment being used for a military purpose that ultimately goes awry. With a limited budget, there obviously wasn’t much in the way of special effects but they did a good job with what they had, only showing brief glimpses of the Tyrannosaurus pretty much the entire movie. I will say that the Tier 2 creature that the sergeant turns into was a little disappointing. It’s not the greatest movie ever, but it was good enough to keep me interested for 75 minutes.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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September 28th, 2016 Movie – Central Intelligence

central-intelligence

Once again, you have my friends to thank for today’s movie. Oh, I don’t mean that this is some random movie that I did not intend to buy on my own. See, when today’s movie came out in theaters, several of my friends went to go see it on opening night. They kept going on and on about the movie, with some of them saying that it was the funniest movie of all time, which is a pretty bold statement. So the following week, I went to see it with them, as they said they would gladly go see it a second time. So I guess we should learn if Central Intelligence lived up to my friends’ claim.

The plot: In 1996, a senior assembly is being held during first period where star student Calvin Joyner is honored with an award when Trevor Olsen and some other bullies throw Robbie Wierdicht, a shy, fat kid that was taking a shower at the time, into the gym naked. As the other students all laugh at what happened, Calvin, and his girlfriend Maggie, feel bad for Robbie and Calvin gives Robbie his varsity jacket to cover up with, which Robbie thanks him for before running out of the gym. 20 years later, Calvin is frustrated with the way his life is going after hearing that his former intern has been promoted to a senior partner at the accounting firm he works at. While having lunch with Maggie, who is now his wife, she talks about the upcoming high school reunion but Calvin says he doesn’t want to go because he was voted most likely to succeed but feels he peaked in high school and his life since has been a disappointment, which upsets Maggie. Back at the office, Calvin is on Facebook when he receives a friend request from someone named Bob Stone and after he accepts it, he learns that it is Robbie, who invites him out for drinks to catch up. Calvin shows up at the bar and is surprised to see that Robbie has changed from the shy, bullied fat kid to a muscular, more confidant man. After Bob takes out 4 men that were harassing them, Bob convinces Calvin to go with him to their high school, where Calvin admits to Bob about his feeling disappointed with his life as he looks at the trophy case with his high school awards. When Bob takes Calvin home, he asks Calvin to take a look at some overseas payroll information for him. When Calvin pulls up the information, he says that it is bids on an auction site that ends the next day but just as a warning screen pops up, Bob accidentally spills a beer on Calvin’s laptop, ruining it. The next morning, Calvin finds CIA Agent Pamela Harris and 2 more agents at his house looking for Bob, who she says stole some satellite codes and plans on selling them. Pamela takes Calvin to his office, believing Bob will get in contact with Calvin again. Bob causes a distraction to get Pamela and her men out of Calvin’s office, allowing him to sneak in but when he tries to convince Calvin to leave with him, agents show up to arrest Bob. After fighting with several of the agents, where Calvin inadvertently helps him, Bob manages to escape with Calvin, then explains that a criminal known as the Black Badger stole the codes and killed Bob’s partner when they went after him. When a CIA asset named Larry tracks them down and starts fighting with Bob, Calvin uses the opportunity to run off. He calls Maggie and says that he will meet her at the therapist’s office but after he hangs up, he is met by Pamela. Pamela explains that Bob killed his partner and created the Black Badger to cover the crime, then gives Calvin a signal device to use when he sees Bob again. Calvin is let go and he heads to the therapist only to discover that it is Bob pretending to be the therapist. During the course of their “session”, Maggie ends up getting frustrated with Calvin and leaves, and Bob starts talking to Calvin and convinces him not to press the button. Calvin takes Bob to see Trevor, saying that the need his help to get the transaction number since it is from an off shore account. After getting the number, Trevor apologizes to Bob for what he did but when Bob goes to accept the apology, Trevor says he was kidding and proceeds to belittle Bob again and Bob freezes up while dealing with his high school bully and just walks away. As Calvin goes to join him, he receives a call from Pamela saying that Maggie is going to be arrested unless Calvin tells her where they are. Bob and Calvin are picked up by Pamela and the CIA and taken to a holding facility, where Pamela starts torturing Bob. Calvin feels bad about what he did and, after apologizing for turning him in, Calvin helps Bob escape from custody. Using the transaction numbers to figure out where the deal for the codes is happening, the figure out it is happening in Boston so they steal a plane and head there. Reaching the coordinates, Calvin wonders why they would be having the meeting out in the open and seeing a nearby entrance to an underground garage, realizes the meeting is there. Bob tells Calvin to wait up top while he goes to stop the meeting but when Calvin sees Pamela arrive, he goes down to warn Bob. In the garage, Calvin sees Bob speaking with the buyers and when they ask who Calvin is, Bob tells them he is his partner, then shoots Calvin. As Bob goes to conclude the deal, Bob’s partner Phil, who everyone believed was dead, shows up and says he is the Black Badger. Pamela and her agents show up and a firefight erupts and during the commotion Calvin, who was only grazed by Bob’s bullet, manages to grab the codes and leave. Making his way to a bridge, Calvin is confronted by both Bob and Phil, with each of them trying to convince Calvin that they are the good guy. As the two men start fighting, Calvin ends up shooting Bob in the butt, and Phil reveals that he is really the Black Badger and explains how he faked his death. When Phil goes to shoot Calvin, Calvin attempts the Golden Flip, a maneuver he used to do in high school, and when he falls on his face, Phil mocks him but Calvin says it was meant as a distraction as Bob appears and rips out Phil’s throat. Bob and Calvin give Pamela the codes, who then flies them to their high school reunion in a helicopter and offers Calvin a job with the agency if he wants to change careers. Maggie wonders what is going on and Calvin and Bob explain what happened and Calvin apologizes for how he had been acting. Inside the school, Bob feels nervous and wants to leave when he is announced as the homecoming king, which Calvin admits to Maggie is due to his hacking into the database and altering the votes. As he heads up to the stage, Trevor shows up to try and torment Bob again but Bob knocks him out and steps over him. As Bob gives his speech, he begins to undress as a way of conquering his demons from the past, then sees his high school sweetheart and they share a kiss. Some time later, Calvin is preparing for his first day at the agency and kisses Maggie, who is now pregnant with their child, and finds Bob waiting for him. As Calvin approaches him, Bob gives Calvin back the varsity jacket Calvin gave him years ago and the two head off to work.

Central Intelligence received mixed to positive reviews from the critics, earning a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson make for well-matched comic foils, helping Central Intelligence overcome a script that coasts on their considerable chemistry.” The movie made $35.5 million it’s opening weekend, which is better than the $30 million it was projected to make but was only good enough for second place behind Finding Dory, which had a $135.1 million opening. The movie would become a box office hit as it ended up making $215.2 million off of a $50 million budget.

So, this is not the funniest movie of all time but it was definitely one of the funniest movies I have seen this year. Kevin Hart (Calvin) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Bob) were fantastic in this movie and had some amazing comedic timing together. The story did feel a little weak and came across as a mix between a buddy cop move and a spy thriller, but didn’t quite gel like they wanted. That being said, the writing was really good and the humor in this movie, though definitely adult at times, was really funny and had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. So this is not the GOAT (Greatest of all Time), but this is definitely a funny movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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September 27th, 2016 Movie – Piranha (1995)

piranha-1995

So years ago, when I was a teenager, I remember seeing Piranha listed on Showtime once and decided to watch it. When I started watching it, I realized that this was not the movie I remembered, but continued watching it anyways. More recently, after I bought the original movie, I remembered seeing this version and seeing if it was available on DVD. Luckily for me, it was so I immediately bought it, along with some other piranha themed movies, and that allows me to watch today’s movie, Piranha (1995).

The plot: Two teenagers, Barbara and David, are hiking through the woods when they come across an abandoned army facility. David wants to head back, fearing Barbara’s uncle, but Barbara convinces him to stay as she pushes him into a pool on the site, then proceeds to strip out of her clothes and join him. As the two start swimming, David complains about something biting him when he suddenly starts thrashing around before he disappears underwater. Barbara tries swimming back to the edge of the pool but she is also attacked and dragged under while in a nearby building, the lights suddenly come on. A week later, Barbara’s uncle, rich land developer J.R. Randolph, hires a detective agency to find his niece and the owner sends Maggie McNamara, his best agent, to look for them. When she gets to Lost Lake River, she ends up at the cabin of Paul Grogan and asks him if he has seen the missing kids or knows of any place they might be hiding. When Paul mentions the abandoned Army facility, Maggie has him take her there and after breaking in, the two wander around the site. When Maggie finds Barbara’s necklace at the bottom of the steps leading to the pool, she decides to find a way to drain it to see of the kids drowned. Heading inside the nearby building, Barbara finds the teens’ clothes and then begins to drain the pool. Suddenly, a crazed woman enters the room and asks what they are doing before suddenly attacking them, forcing Barbara to knock the woman unconscious. When the pool is drained, they don’t see any sign of the two teens but do find the skeleton of a dog. Meanwhile, the woman has regained consciousness and stolen their jeep but, still suffering from the blow to her head, she ends up crashing it. Taking the injured woman back to Paul’s cabin, the try to figure out how to get the woman some medical attention and Paul recommends going to the dam, as they have a ranger stationed there. When Maggie asks how they can get her there, Paul shows her a raft he built for his daughter but never used, as she is afraid of the water. As they make their way down the river, they hear a dog barking and pull up onto the dock of Paul’s friend Jack, who they find with his feet and lower legs stripped to the bone. Staying at Jack’s cabin for the night, the woman regains consciousness but seems to be in shock and doesn’t make much sense with what she is saying. The next day, they continue back down the river, taking Jack’s dog Brandy with them, and they start asking the woman questions. She says her name is Dr. Leticia Baines and that the river is full of genetically modified piranha since Maggie drained the pool. Paul doesn’t believe her at first but when Brandy starts barking and jumps into the water, the witness the piranha killing her. Continuing on, they come across a boy, whose father had been killed by the piranha, stranded on an overturned canoe. Seeing the canoe starting to sink, Baines jumps into the river and swims over to help save the boy but ends up being attacked and killed by the piranha. As the keep heading for the dam, the piranha are attracted to Baines’ blood, which is seeping into the river, and they start chewing up the lashings of the raft. Paul dumps Baines’ body off of the raft then they steer it to shore so they can jump to safety and Paul runs ahead and stops the ranger at the dam from releasing water down into the lake. The sheriff is called and after the boy is taken away, he speaks with Paul and Maggie about Baines but says the government denies any knowledge of what she was working on. When Maggie says that she is working for Randolph, they are taken to see him but Randolph doesn’t believe their story. Paul and Maggie warn him to evacuate the summer camp and the resort but Randolph says he will lose millions if the resort doesn’t open and convinces the sheriff to detain them. Maggie uses an escape plan from an old movie to knock out the deputy and they escape and head towards the summer camp that Paul’s daughter Suzie is at. At the camp, the campers are competing in a swimming marathon when the piranha start attacking them. Suzie, who had been hiding so she didn’t have to compete, sees her friend and favorite councilor Laura being attacked and gets in an inflatable raft to save them but Laura ends up falling out of the raft and is killed by the piranha. Paul and Maggie arrive and Paul tells Maggie to call the resort and warn them while he goes to save Suzie and the other kids. At the resort, Randolph’s assistant gets Maggie’s call and tells Randolph about it and Randolph decides to have all of the calls routed to his office while the phones at the resort are to be made out of service. Back at the camp, Paul and Maggie make sure the kids are all right and that help is coming, then head to the resort. At the resort, the piranha start attacking and killing people, including the sheriff. When Paul and Maggie get there, they quickly get in a boat and take off down river towards an old smelting plant. Paul realizes that the piranha are able to live in salt water and are heading towards the ocean, so he plans on releasing the waste from the smelting plant to pollute water along the piranha’s path in an effort to kill them. When the control booth is found to be underwater, Paul ties a tow rope around him, then dives in to open the valves while Maggie counts down. As Paul opens the valve, the piranha show up and start to attack him but Maggie reaches the end of the countdown and starts the boat, dragging Paul to safety. Later, a news reporter is at the resort filming a report and asks Randolph on if he knew about the piranha, but Randolph doesn’t answer and heads to his office, where he dismisses his assistant before killing himself. When the reporter speaks with the governor about what happened, and the governor says he is going to launch an investigation into what happened but says that there is no chance of the piranha surviving in the ocean. The report is played on a radio at a beach somewhere but as the people all go into the water, the sound of the piranha swarm can be heard.

You know how remakes can sometimes stray from the original, well this movie didn’t really do that and that led to some problems. Now this was a fairly decent movie all in all, not as good as the original but definitely better than the sequel. The acting was okay, with William Katt (Paul), Alexandra Paul (Maggie), and Monte Markham (Randolph) doing good jobs in their roles. It is also noteworthy that this is Mila Kunis’ debut film role (though she did appear on a few episodes of some TV shows before this), but she wasn’t really impressive with her performance. The plot was almost exactly like the original movie, with very few changes to it, such as Hoak’s character being changed to Baines. Even the dialogue seemed almost exactly the same, which was confusing and a little funny when Paul dumped Baines’ body in the water and the kid starts screaming out that it is his daddy (like what happened in the original movie). I know it was supposed to be passed off as the kid being in shock but it still sounded really odd. The special effects were mostly reused footage from the original movie, and having seen the movie recently, it was easy to notice them. That being said, it worked in the movies favor several times so it wasn’t a bad move. Like I said, it is a decent movie but I would still pick the original a lot better.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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September 26th, 2016 Movie – Piranha II: The Spawning

piranha-ii-the-spawning

Today’s movie has a somewhat funny memory attached to it that does not involve my seeing it, but rather knowing who had directed it. See, some of my friends and I used to go to a bar when they did “Movie Trivia”, which definitely seemed right up my alley. One week when we were there, a question came up about which famed director made his directorial debut with today’s movie. Many people, except for myself and another teammate that knew the answer, were surprised to learn that this was James Cameron’s first movie. So let’s see how good, or bad, of a job he did with today’s movie, Piranha II: The Spawning.

The plot: Off the coast of a Caribbean island, a couple decide to go for a late night scuba dive and make their way to a ship wreck on the ocean floor. The two decide to have sex inside the wreck but end up being killed by the mutant piranha that managed to survive the pollution in the first movie. The next day, Anne Kimbrough, the dive instructor for Club Elysium, and the other hotel staff are getting prepared for the annual fish fry that will be occurring the following day. Anne’s son Chris has taken a job of crewing on the ship of a rich man while Anne’s estranged husband Steve is the island police chief. Early that day, Steve chastises his friend Gabby for dynamite fishing then tows a dingy back to the club dock and asks Anne if she recognizes it, as it was near the wreck that Anne takes her dive class. Meanwhile, Jai and Loretta, two female bandits, sail into port and plan on raiding the club’s kitchen for some food supplies before taking off for another island. Jai starts grabbing some food but is caught by Mal, a chef at the club. Mal starts to get the manager but Jai starts flirting with him and convinces him to bring some food to the boat in exchange for sex with her and Loretta. However, when Mal shows up with the food, Jai and Loretta trick him into giving them the food and untying their boat, then leave him when he is unable to jump on board. Anne is talking to her class about the wreck and says they are not allowed to swim inside the wreck, which upsets one of the divers but Anne is defended by another student, Tyler Sherman. During the dive, the student sneaks away from the group and heads down into the wreck. When Anne notices he is missing, she has Tyler, who is an experienced diver, lead the rest of the group back to the surface while she goes looking for the missing student and finds his body partially eaten inside the wreck. When Steve hears about what happened, he questions Anne about what happened but when Anne wants to examine the body he refuses, saying it could be used as evidence in a case against her. Later that night, Anne and Tyler end up breaking into the morgue, where Anne takes some pictures of the body. The two are chased off by a nurse but as the nurse goes to put the body back in storage, a piranha that was trapped inside the body suddenly bursts out and attacks the nurse before flying out the window. Meanwhile, Jai and Loretta are out at sea and they are attacked and killed by the flying piranha as well. Anne and Tyler are examining the pictures and Anne doesn’t recognize what could have killed the diver but when Tyler mentions it could be a new species, Anne says that the Army had modified piranha to be used in Vietnam but they were freshwater fish. Gabby calls Steve to the Jai and Loretta’s boat, where they find the body of Jai, and later, Steve finds the nurse’s body at the morgue, along with Anne’s credit card that she used to break in. When Steve goes to talk to Anne, he finds her in bed with Tyler and gets upset and leaves and when Anne chases after him, he tells her about the nurse as well as the other body. Anne tries to tell Raoul, the club manager, about the fish but he ends up firing her. Anne decides to go down to the wreck to find a fish but when she sees them, she is pulled to safety by Tyler, who had also gone down for a sample. When they get back to the boat, Tyler explains that he was part of the team that worked on the mutated piranha and that some eggs had gone down in the wreck. Gabby shows Steve some nets and fish that were chewed up by the piranha, as well the wings off of one of the piranha, saying that they are eating themselves. Anne, Steve, and Gabby try to convince Raoul to cancel the fish fry but he refuses to do so. Steve goes out to the boat that Chris was crewing on and discovers that Chris and Allison had taken the dinghy and gone to one of the islands. Meanwhile, Gabby’s son is killed by the piranha and Gabby starts building bombs to blow up the wreck that serves as the piranha’s lair. As Steve continues to look for Chris, his deputy is patrolling the beach and ends up being killed by the piranha. Gabby brings his son’s body to the club to show Anne and tells her his plans. As the club guests head to the beach to gather grunion for the fish fry, the piranha start attacking them, killing several people, including Gabby, during the night. Anne heads out to the boat, where she finds Tyler waiting for Gabby, and the two tell Steve their plan and Anne tells him to find Chris but to be clear of the wreck area by 6:30 a.m. Anne and Tyler dive down into the wreck to place the bombs but when they start to leave, they see the piranha school heading toward them and are forced to make their way through the ships air ducts to escape. Meanwhile, Chris and Allison happen to have rowed right over the wreck and when Steve finds them, he jumps out of the helicopter, causing it to crash, and gets in the dive boat to pick them up. Anne and Tyler force their way out of the air ducts but Tyler’s suit gets stuck and the piranha kill him but Anne is able to escape. Meanwhile, Steve waits as long as he can but finally is forced to move away from the wreck so they can survive the explosion. Anne sees the boat moving and grabs onto the anchor, allowing herself to be dragged to safety as the bombs go off, destroying the ship and the piranhas. After the explosion, Steve hugs chris, thinking Anne was killed but he hears her yelling for him and sees her swimming towards the boat and when she reaches it, the three end up hugging each other.

Piranha II: The Spawning was heavily panned by the critics, earning a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many of the critics’ complaints were about the poor special effects and the bad script. James Cameron was not the original director of the movie but was brought in after the original director, Miller Drake was removed from the picture. However, James Cameron only worked on the movie for about 2 1/2 weeks before he was also fired by producer Ovidio Assonitis, who would go on to finish the movie. Cameron generally doesn’t acknowledge this as his first movie, choosing The Terminator for that honor, but has acknowledged the film in interviews, calling it “the best flying piranha film ever made.”

For as good as the first movie was, this movie is just absolutely terrible. The acting was ok but there were sometimes where the people speaking were so emotionless that the seemed like robots. The story was ridiculous, taking the original concept of the Army modifying piranha to survive in colder water, as well as salt water, and then basically going “Oh, let’s splice them with flying fish so they can fly.” The editing for the movie was also terrible, as some of the scenes and cut-aways just seemed odd and didn’t make sense as far as the order they were in. The special effects were terrible, and I don’t know if it was just due to the low budget or if it was because the producers didn’t care. Several scenes with the piranhas were pretty obvious that the victims were holding puppets to themselves. A pretty lousy sequel for a good movie.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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September 25th, 2016 Movie – Piranha (1978)

piranha

Yesterday sucked for a number of reasons but I am not going to complain about it (stupid sickness). Instead, I am going to focus on today and try to recuperate from my lousy day. Now today’s movie is one that I have seen on TV countless times but in all honesty, I never saw the very beginning of the movie until I bought the DVD. It is odd, I know, but every time I watched it, the earliest part of the movie I would come in at was always when the piranha were released into the river. Sure, I could have rented this movie at some point and easily solved the problem but to be honest, I didn’t feel the need to rent a movie just for 10-15 minutes of footage over renting something that I had never seen before. Anyways, I bought the movie and have enjoyed it every time I watched it. So here’s to a little enjoyment for me today as I watch today’s movie, Piranha.

The plot: Two teenagers, Barbara and David, are hiking through the woods near Lost River Lake when they come across an abandoned army testing site and decide to go for a swim in a pool of water on the premises. As they are swimming, David complains about something biting him when he suddenly starts thrashing and disappears underwater. Barbara tries to get out of the pool when she is also attacked and dragged under. As her screams stop, a light comes on in the main building and a man opens the door and stares at the pool. Some time later, a skip tracer named Maggie McKeown is sent by her boss up to Lost River Lake to find the missing kids. During the course of her search, she comes upon the cabin of Paul Grogan, a surly drunk that has moved up into the mountains to get away from people. She asks him about the kids and if there are any places they might have taken shelter and when he mentions the army testing site, she manages to convince him to show her where it is. Arriving at the site, they find Barbara’s locket near the pool and decide to look inside the building to find the mechanism to drain the pool. Searching the building, the come across a lab filled with strange creatures which freak them out. When they find the kids backpacks and clothes, Maggie goes to drain the pool but just as she flips the switch, they are attacked by a strange man. They manage to knock the man unconscious and inspect the tank to discover it had been filled with salt water, as well as the skeleton of some animals near the drain. The man recovers and steals Maggie’s jeep but ends up crashing it and Maggie and Paul take him back to Paul’s cabin. After restraining the man, Maggie and Paul settle in for the night and the next day, decide to take him down river on a raft Paul and his daughter Suzie built in order to get him medical attention. Meanwhile, Suzie is at a summer camp but is afraid to get into the water but the head camp councilor, Mr. Dumont, doesn’t accept her excuse and expects her to compete in the swimming competition so Betsy, one of the councilors, decides to help Suzie get out of the competition by pretending she is injured. On the river, Paul starts asking the man, Dr. Robert Hoak, some questions when Hoak yells at Maggie to get her hand out of the water, saying the river is filled with piranha that were released when they drained the pool. Paul starts to question him some more when they hear a dog barking and find the dead body of Paul’s friend Jack, whose feet and lower legs had been stripped to the bone by the piranha. As they make their way down river, Hoak explains that the piranha were bred as part of Operation Razerteeth, which was intended to breed a strain that could survive the colder waters of the North Vietnamese rivers and destroy their water system. However, the war ended and poison was used to kill the fish but some of them survived and began to breed and Hoak was left to look after them. Suddenly, Paul realizes that the dam releases water downstream to keep the levels the same, which would release the fish downstream where a new resort has been built as well as the summer camp that Suzie is at, so they rush to get there before the water is released. Suddenly, they see a small boy laying on top of a canoe, his father having been killed by the piranha, and Hoak dives in to help rescue the boy but ends up dying from the wounds inflicted by the fish. As they keep heading for the dam, the blood from Hoak’s body drips into the water and the piranha start chewing up the raft’s lashings to get to it so Paul dumps the body into the river and paddles the raft to shore before the lashings give way and after making sure everyone is ok, Paul runs to the dam and stops them from releasing the water. The military arrives, led by Colonel Waxman and Dr. Mengers, who also worked on Operation Razorteeth, and after confirming the piranha are at the dam, the proceed to pour poison in the water to kill them. Paul shows them a map of the area, which shows a small stream that goes around the dam and feeds back into the river, which the piranha could use to escape the poison but Waxman and Mengers don’t believe the fish are smart enough to do that and post a guard on Paul and Maggie’s tent so they don’t tell anyone about the fish. The two manage to distract the guard and escape and Paul tries calling the camp to warn them but Dumont thinks that Paul is just drunk and ignores them. The two are eventually stopped by the local sheriff who, at Waxman’s urging, locks them up for the night. Waxman then calls Buck Gardner, the developer of the new resort, and warns him about Paul and Maggie saying there are piranha in the lake and Gardner says he will tell his people to disregard the stories so it doesn’t hurt the grand opening, as it is revealed that Waxman is a silent investor in the property. Maggie uses a trick from one of the men she captured to free herself and Paul and they steal a police car and head to the camp. At the camp, Dumont starts the the inner tube swimming relay when the piranha start attacking the kids, with Dumont being bitten in the face at one point. As the kids start swimming to shore, Suzie, who had hidden under some canoes, grabs an inflatable raft and paddles out to save Betsy and Laura but while she manages to save Laura, Betsy is killed when the inner tube she is on is popped and she is dragged under the water. Paul and Maggie arrive at the camp and while Paul grabs a canoe to get Suzie and Laura, Maggie tries calling the resort to warn them but Gardner ignores her warning and hangs up on her. When everyone is back on shore and with help coming, Paul and Maggie head down to the resort and along the way, Paul remembers the water in the pool being salt water and realizes that the piranha can survive in both fresh and salt water and that they are heading down  stream so they can reach the ocean. At the resort, Waxman and Mengers show up and talk with Gardner about Paul and Maggie but a short time later, the piranha begin attacking the guests and Waxman ends up being killed by the piranha. Paul and Maggie arrive and after stealing a speedboat, the head downstream towards the old smelting plant. Paul plans on releasing the waste left in the tanks to kill the fish when they reach the area but when they get there, they discover the control booth is underwater so Paul is forced to dive down to open the tanks. As the piranha show up and start to attack him, Paul manages to open the tanks just as Maggie finishes counting to 100 and drives off, towing Paul to safety. Back at the resort, Suzie and Maggie tend to Paul’s wounds while Gardner is walking among the injured and dead bodies on the beach before yelling at a cameraman for filming it. Mengers is talking to a reporter about the incident and says that even if any of the piranha survived the pollution at the end of the river, they wouldn’t be able to survive in the ocean so, “there is nothing left to fear” but as the report is broadcast over the radio at a beach, the sound of the piranha’s feeding can be heard in the ocean.

Piranha met with positive results from the critics, earning a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Though there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many of the critics felt that it was one of the best ripoffs of Jaws to come out during that time. When the movie was released, Jaws 2 was already released and Universal originally sought an injunction to stop the movies release but Steven Spielberg saw an advanced copy of the film and loved it so the matter was dropped. The movie would become a big success, earning $16 million off a $770,000 budget, and would spawn a sequel as well as two remakes.

This is a great movie to watch and one of my favorite of the “Jaws” ripoffs. The acting was pretty good, with Bradford Dillman (Paul), Heather Menzies (Maggie) and Kevin McCarthy (Hoak) doing a good job in there performance. I also liked Dick Miller (Gardner) and Bruce Gordon (Waxman) but thought the angle about their silent partnership in the resort was unnecessary. The story was pretty good and did a good job of capitalizing on the Jaws sensation while adding some aspects of the distrust in the military that was showing up during the post-Vietnam era. One thing I thought was really funny was the constant nods to aquatic creatures attacking people, from Maggie playing a Jaws arcade game at the beginning of the movie, to a woman reading “Moby Dick” at the resort, and even a soldier watching The Monster That Challenged The World while Waxman is speaking with the sheriff. The special effects were pretty decent considering the budget and how they managed some of the shots, such as Betsy’s death, was pretty impressive. All in all, it is not Jaws, but it is a good aquatic horror movie that can stand on it’s own.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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September 24th, 2016 Movie – The Pink Panther 2

the-pink-panther-2

I am going to be perfectly honest here. Today’s movie is nothing more than a “Blockbuster is going out of sale and so I grabbed this for cheap thinking it might be half-way entertaining” DVD. Actually, I bought both the remake and this movie at the same time though to be honest, I don’t really know why. More than likely, it was simply a case of me spending money at a place that used to bring me a lot of happiness one last time. Why else would I buy two movies that I had no intention of seeing in theaters. Well, maybe to torture myself. Anyways, let’s get on with today’s movie, The Pink Panther 2.

The plot: A master thief known as The Tornado has stolen famous artifacts from around the world; including the Magna Carta in London, the Shroud of Turin in Italy, and an Imperial Sword from Japan. In France, Chief Inspector Dreyfus is summoned to his superior’s office and told of a international Dream Team of detectives that is being assembled and they want Inspector Clouseau on the team but Dreyfus had assigned Clouseau to being a traffic cop in order to keep him from getting in his political aspirations. Dreyfus summons Clouseau to his office to tell him of the assignment but Clouseau doesn’t want to leave, saying if he were to leave France, the Tornado would immediately steal the Pink Panther but Dreyfus orders him to leave. Clouseau returns to his office to pack for his trip and tells Nicole what is happening and starts to hug her goodbye but Ponton shows up to take Clouseau to the airport and they not to admit their feelings for each other. As they are driving to the airport, Clouseau questions the ten year gap in the Tornado’s crimes, saying it doesn’t make sense. Arriving at the airport, Clouseau says goodbye to Ponton and heads towards the plane but once he passes the gate, a news report airs saying that the Pink Panther has been stolen, prompting Clouseau to say “What did I tell you.” Since Paris is the most recent crime scene, the Dream Team is sent there and Clouseau is introduced to Vicenzo from Italy, Kenji from Japan, and Pepperidge from England. As the detectives start examining the crime scene, Vicenzo asks what they know about the Tornado and Sonia, a recent addition to the team from India, tells them about the Tornado and how he was shot in Paris once, which gave them a DNA profile to use. Returning to the headquarters, Clouseau is repeatedly called into the new HR office over some of his politically incorrect behavior, and also learns that Vicenzo is attracted to Nicole, causing Clouseau to get jealous. Later, Clouseau is at home when Ponton arrives and asks if he, his son’s, and their dog can stay at his place, as he had a argument with his wife and was kicked out. The next day, Kenji tracks the computer to hack into the museum to Alonso Avellaneda, a fence that has worked with the Tornado so the team heads off to Rome to question him. During the flight, Vicenzo continues flirting with Nicole while Sonia appears to be flirting with Clouseau. During the drive Pepperidge and Kenji question Ponton about Clouseau and when Ponton says Clouseau will be the one to solve the case, Pepperidge laughs and says he will run around wearing nothing but a tutu if that happens. Arriving at Avellaneda’s house, they group is invited inside but Clouseau tells Nicole he is going to snoop around. Inside, the group questions Avellaneda, all while trying to keep him from seeing Clouseau as he inadvertently destroys some of his possessions. Avellaneda shows them his shoulder, which does not have the bullet wound, and the others are convinced of his innocence but Clouseau is sure the Tornado is nearby and as they go to leave, Avellaneda is shown to be talking to the Tornado. Ponton shows Clouseau a piece of paper about a dinner reservation at a restaurant’s re-opening, which happened to have been destroyed 3 months ago by Clouseau and Clouseau and Ponton decide to investigate it. Staking out the restaurant, Clouseau is amazed when Ponton tells him he placed a bug at Avellaneda’s table but when they see Nicole and Vicenzo heading inside, Clouseau decides to put the bug on their table to find out what they are saying. Clouseau tries getting inside but the maitre d’ recognizes him and has him thrown out so Clouseau disguises himself as part of a dance act to get inside and switch the bug but as he does so, he accidentally starts a fire, burning the place down again. While this is going on, the Pope’s ring is stolen by the Tornado and Clouseau’s antics have made the Dream Team look bad. The team goes to speak with the Pope and Clouseau, attempting to retrace the Pope’s steps, dons his robes and goes out onto the balcony but ends up falling off it, further disgracing the team. When a third incident occurs, where Clouseau is seen dangling Ponton’s sons off a balcony, the other members of the team vote to kick Clouseau off the team, though Sonia chooses to stick up for him. Clouseau goes to see Nicole but runs into Sonia returning a file in Nicole’s office and after Sonia realizes that Clouseau is in love with Nicole, Sonia says she is depressed because the men she likes don’t like her. Clouseau gives her a sympathetic hug just as Nicole comes in and tells Clouseau that Vicenzo and the others have solved the case. Clouseau goes to see the others, where Vicenzo explains how they tracked down the Tornado and found him dead, having committed suicide. While the other items are found, the Pink Panther is missing and, according to the suicide note, the Tornado supposedly destroyed it. Clouseau doesn’t believe that the dead man was the thief but the others disregard his comments and hold a press conference to announce it, with Kenji getting a DNA report stating that the DNA from 10 years ago match the DNA of the body, proving that the man is the Tornado. Feeling dejected after everything that has happened, including Vicenzo declaring his love for Nicole, Clouseau is spending the evening with Ponton when Ponton says he is going back to his wife and that Clouseau should stop hiding his feelings for Nicole. The next day, a celebration is held for the Dream Team but Clouseau is not invited, having been placed back on traffic duty by Dreyfus. When Nicole brings Clouseau some food, Clouseau works up the nerve to tell her she is pretty but when Nicole says she knows what Clouseau said about her, Clouseau tells her that he told Vicenzo those things to try and keep him from falling in love with her and she leaves confused. As he sits down to eat, Clouseau notices the license plate of Sonia’s rental car and, after consulting his notebook, quickly calls Ponton and heads inside. Clouseau gets Dreyfus’ attention and tells him he solved the case but Dreyfus ignores him and heads back to the others. He tells them Clouseau’s theory, that Sonia is the real thief and the other jokingly try to work out how she committed the crimes. When Nicole asks Sonia to open her purse, she refuses and says she has a plane to catch but Nicole gets in her way and demands she open her purse so Sonia opens it, pulling out a gun which she uses to hold Nicole hostage. Clouseau steps forward and says to shoot him and Sonia does before trying to escape. As Nicole and the others check on Clouseau, they discover that his Medal of Honor deflected the bullet, saving his life but unfortunately killing a waiter. Clouseau chases after her, with the others following but during the chase, they are repeatedly made to look like fools. Clouseau eventually corners Sonia and she pulls out the Pink Panther and threatens to shoot it but when Clouseau tells her to go ahead, she does so and attempts to escape only for Ponton to stop her. When Dreyfus starts yelling at Clouseau but Clouseau explains that he had switched the Pink Panther with a replica so the replica was stolen. When the suicide note mentioned the Pink Panther’s beauty, he knew the Tornado was murdered as the Tornado would have known it was a fake. When the others ask how Clouseau knew Sonia was the thief, he reveals that he gave Sonia a parking ticket the day before the Pink Panther was stolen, which disputed her claim that she arrived after the theft. Vicenzo congratulates Clouseau, then admits that nothing happened between him and Nicole as she is in love with Clouseau and Clouseau asks her to marry him. Later, Dreyfus officiates the wedding of Clouseau and Nicole and afterwards, he accidentally sets off the alarm, causing an armed response team to show up and start detaining the guests as Clouseau and Nicole leave for their honeymoon.

The Pink Panther 2 was pretty much panned by the critics, holding a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Underutilizing its talented cast,The Pink Panther 2 is little more than a series of lame slapstick gags.” The movie was nominated for two Razzies, Worst Actor and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel, but lost to the Jonas Brothers and Land Of The Lost respectively. The movie barely made a profit at the box office, earning $75.9 million off of a $70 million budget.

There are several parts in this movie that made me laugh but in keeping with the spirit of the original Pink Panther, this movie was a joke. The acting was ok, but I felt like Steve Martin was trying too hard and at times, seriously seemed to overshadow the other actors when he didn’t need to. I did like John Cleese playing the role of Dreyfus as I felt that his comedic timing was great when paired with Steve Martin’s. The story was decent but the ending honestly seemed a little weak and somewhat over-simplified to me . There were some very funny parts, and some not so funny parts, and Steve Martin did a good job with his slapstick in this movie but sometimes the comedy felt like it was a little forced and didn’t seem to be warranted. I don’t think it is as bad as the critics say but this is not one of Steve Martin’s best movies.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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