comedy, drama, fantasy, movie, movie review

November 30th, 2017 Movie – Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

stranger than fiction

It’s the last day of the month and it has already started off on an odd note. It started with what sound like someone screaming outside (which I actually had to pause the movie to try and figure out what I heard) and continued about an hour later with a pretty brief, but intense, sudden bout of rain. This has me wondering what else is in store for me today. Anyways, today’s movie was one that actually caught my interest when I saw the trailers for it. I didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters but rented it when it came out on video and liked it enough to buy a copy shortly afterwards. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Stranger Than Fiction (2006).

The plot: Harold Crick is a single man whose life is controlled by numbers; from the specific number of times he brushed his teeth, to the number of steps he took to the bus. Harold, a senior agent for the I.R.S., lives a rather lonely life, only taking a 45 minute lunch break and a 5 minute coffee break, which he times with his wristwatch, before going home, eating, and going to bed at the exact same time every day. One Wednesday, Harold hears a voice narrating his everyday life, which confuses him and causes some of his co-workers to become concerned about him. Harold is given the file for a banker named Ana Pascal, who has come under audit for not paying all of her taxes. As they talk, the voice continues narrating some of Harold’s thoughts, prompting Ana to comment on his staring at her. Harold denies it and leaves, telling Ana he will be back later to go over her past returns and heads outside, where he begins yelling at the voice to shut up. Meanwhile, novelist Karen Eiffel is standing on her desk wondering what it would be like to jump off a building when she is surprised by the arrival of her new assistant, Penny Escher. Karen is annoyed at Penny’s arrival, feeling like she is nothing more than a spy from the publishers as she is having a bout of writer’s block in finishing her book, but Penny tells her that she is there simply to help make sure that Karen finishes her latest book on time and will help her figure out how to kill Harold Crick. Back at the I.R.S., Harold is sent to HR, where the HR manager says some of his coworkers are getting concerned about him and suggests Harold take a vacation. As Harold leaves work that day, his watch suddenly starts acting up and Harold thinks it is just on the fritz, not realizing that it was trying to tell him that Ana was walking across the street. When his watch stops, Harold asks someone for the time so he can reset it and as he does, the voice tells him that his action will lead to his death. When Harold hears this, he starts questioning what is going on and tears apart his apartment, trying to get the voice to explain how or why he is going to die. Harold goes to see a psychiatrist, who believes he is suffering from schizophrenia, but when Harold swears he isn’t and says it feels like he is a character in a story, she suggest he speak to someone who knows literature. Harold goes to see Professor Jules Hilbert, a literary professor, and speaks to him about what is happening and Hilbert says he can’t help him but when Harold repeats verbatim what the voice said, Hilbert becomes intrigued at it’s usage of “Little did he know” and asks Harold to meet him the next day. As Harold is on the bus, the voice alerts him to Ana boarding and he attempts to talk to her, offering an apology for staring at her the other day. Ana accepts the apology and the two engage in some small talk but Harold, listening to the voice, decides to quit before he makes an ass of himself and gets off the bus, not realizing that he is 27 blocks from where he wanted to go. Harold meets up with Hilbert and Hilbert tries to figure out what kind of story Harold’s life is becoming, whether it is a comedy or a tragedy. Meanwhile, Karen and Penny are sitting in the rain, as Karen is trying to get an idea about a car crash during bad weather. Harold heads back to the bakery to begin Ana’s audit, and she shows him that she threw all her files and receipts into a box just to mess with him. After working through the day, Harold goes to leave but Ana convinces him to sit down and eat a cookie she just finished baking. As they sit and eat cookies, Harold asks her how she became a baker and she explains that she was in Harvard Law and would always bake things during her study sessions and at the end of the semester, she had a lot of great recipes and a D average so she decided to drop out and continue baking. As Harold goes to leave, she boxes up the rest of the cookies for him to take home but he refuses, saying that they could constitute a bribe. Ana gets offended and throws the cookies away and as he leaves, Harold apologizes, realizing that she had baked them for him to be nice and apologize for how she treated him during the day. At Hilbert’s suggestion, Harold decides to call out of work the next day and do absolutely nothing but as he is watching TV, his apartment is partially demolished due to a mixup from the construction crew, mistaking it for an abandoned building. Harold goes to see Hilbert, who tells Harold that he is not in control of his own destiny and he should just live his life. Harold goes to stay at his friend Dave’s place and asks him what he always wanted to do and Dave admits he wanted to go to space camp but never did. Harold, who always wanted to play the guitar, decides to go buy one and as the voice narrates the various choices, he finally picks one. As he goes to bed, his wristwatch highlights Ana’s name and he decides to go and apologize for his actions. Harold catches up to her as she closes her bakery, bring her some flours (the baking kind) as an apology, and says he knows he has been acting weird but admits that he wants her. Ana invites him back to her place and as the talk some, he notices her guitar and starts playing the song he learned, and after sitting next to him and listening for a bit, she promptly starts kissing him and they end up having sex. As he lies in bed with Ana, the voice tells him that she is falling love with him, prompting Harold to smile. Harold goes to see Hilbert and tells him he thinks he is in a comedy and Hilbert, who had been coming up with a list of authors who might be writing his story, says that that changes things. As Hilbert starts thinking of different authors, Harold hears the narrators voice coming from the TV and realizes that it is Karen Eiffel. When he tells Hilbert that she is the narrator, Hilbert apologizes, saying that she wasn’t on his list but also that all of her main characters die. Harold tries to get Karen’s contact information from the publisher and when that fails, he uses her tax records to find her phone number. As Harold tries calling her, Karen is writing that exact sequence, shocked when the phone rings each time she types it. After it occurs the third time, she answers the phone and is shocked to hear Harold talking to her. Harold goes to meet Karen, who is shocked that he looks exactly like she described him in her book. Harold pleads with her not to kill him and she admits that she already wrote the outline for her books ending but hasn’t typed it yet and when Harold argues with her about it, Penny suggests that she let him read it so Karen gives him her hand written copy of the book to read. Harold takes it to Hilbert and explains what happened and hands him the manuscript, saying he couldn’t bring himself to read it and asks that he do it. Hilbert reads it and tells Harold that he has to die, as this is probably Karen’s masterpiece. Meanwhile, Karen is wondering if all of the other characters in her books were actual people just like Harold before she killed them but Penny argues that they were not real. Harold takes the manuscript and reads it while riding on the bus and he goes to see Karen and tells her that he loved the book and she should finish it. Harold goes about his last day, spending the evening with Ana and the next morning, he wakes up and heads to work, not realizing that when he reset his watch, he had set it 3 minutes fast. As he waits for the bus, a little boy riding his bike falls in the street  right in front of the oncoming bus and Harold jumps out to push the boy to safety, getting struck by the bus himself while in her office, Karen cries out over what she had just written, knowing that she had just killed Harold. Harold comes too and finds that he had been severely injured but alive, as a piece of his watch had broken off and blocked an artery in his arm, keeping him from bleeding out. As Ana comes to visit him and he explains what happened, Karen goes to see Hilbert and shows him the finished work. Hilbert reads it and says that it is ok and asks why she changed it and she admits she couldn’t bring herself to kill Harold after having met her. When he tells her that the book felt weaker without Harold’s death, she tells him that the story was about a man unexpectedly dying and Harold sacrificing himself to save the boy would not have worked so she chose the wristwatch, which she had anthropomorphized throughout the book, was the one to die instead.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A fun, whimsical tale about an office drone trying to save his life from his narrator, Stranger Than Fiction features a subdued performances from Will Ferrell that contributes mightily to its quirky, mind-bending affect.” During filming, Will Ferrell wore an earpiece that fed him Emma Thompson’s narrative lines, allowing the other actors to react more naturally to Will’s seemingly non-sequitur lines. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $53.7 million off of a $30 million budget.

This was a surprisingly good movie. The acting was good, with Will Ferrell (Harold) doing a surprisingly good job in a more dramatic role than people are used to seeing out of him. Emma Thompson also did a great job as Karen, especially during the scenes after she meets Harold as she really showcased the anguish she was feeling as she struggles with the choice of whether finishing her book is worth killing someone. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Ana) and Dustin Hoffman (Hilbert) were also really good in their performances. The story was very well written, which is fitting since the basis of the movie is about a book. I liked that good mix between drama and comedy that was in the movie, as well as the premise that sometimes you have no control over your life and it feels like you are simply a character in someone else’s story, a feeling that a lot of people have at one point or another. A good movie that is definitely worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, mystery, sci-fi

November 29th, 2017 Movie – Strange Invaders

strange invaders

Ahh, the fun times of watching sci-fi movies. When it comes to the classic sci-fi movies, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers will always be considered one of the perennial classics. It has been remade several times but it has also been to inspiration for dozens of movies as well, including today’s movie. Now I feel like I had seen this movie at some point when I was a kid but I honestly can’t remember. Now let’s see if I can jog those memories as I watch today’s movie, Strange Invaders.

The plot: In Centerville, Illinois in 1958, a teenage couple park their car near some train tracks and begin making out, not noticing the large alien ship overhead. The ship releases a flying saucer, which lands and humanoid figures disembark and head into town. After making out for a while, the couple heads back into town, with the guy dropping off his girlfriend before heading home himself. At their respective homes, they find the places seemingly empty but as the guy tries to call the police, he is attacked by something. 25 years later, at Columbia University, Professor Charles Bigelow and his girlfriend just arrive at their apartment when they are surprised by the appearance of his ex-wife Margaret. Margaret tells Charles that her mother died and she has to go to Centerville for the funeral and asks that he look after their daughter Elizabeth while she is gone. Getting worried after not hearing from Margaret in a couple of days, Charles takes Elizabeth to his mother’s house, then heads to Centerville to try and find out what happened to Margaret. When he arrives in town, Charles checks into a hotel and speaks with the manager about Margaret but the manager claims not to know anyone by that name or her family. After getting a cabin, Charles leaves his dog Louie inside while he goes looking around but none of the people seem to know Margaret or her family. While he is gone, the hotel manager approaches the cabin and stares at Louie, who starts growling before suddenly howling in terror. Charles hears the howls and heads back to find Louie has vanished and he checks out and starts looking for him. When his car breaks down, Charles heads to a diner to wait while the mechanic fixes it but when he asks the people in the diner if they saw Louie, they all get up and leave. Charles gets nervous when he sees a crowd of townsfolk standing by his car staring at him and when he hears the sound of breaking glass, he turns his head for a second only to find that the townspeople have vanished when he looks back. Suddenly, a bolt of electricity strikes his car, causing it to explode, and Charles climbs out the back window and finds a car he can take. As he is driving away, he sees an alien figure on the street, which zaps the car as he drives away. Charles continues driving as far as he can before the car falls apart, and he is picked up by the police. The next day, two aliens, disguised as humans, make their way to New York City and check into a hotel. One of the alien orders room service but as he waits, he ends up tearing off his human face, scaring the maid who had entered the room and he quickly attacks her. Meanwhile, Charles makes it back to New York only to find his apartment has been trashed. Charles calls his mother to check in on Elizabeth, then heads over to see his friend and department head Professor Hollister. Charles tells him what happened and Hollister doesn’t quite believe him but doesn’t think Charles is crazy either. He gives Charles the phone number for a government agency that handles UFO sightings and he calls them and arranges a meeting. When he gets there, Mrs. Benjamin, the woman in charge, shows him some renderings of typical aliens that people see but Charles gets annoyed that she isn’t taking him seriously and leaves. As he buys a newspaper, he notices a tabloid with a picture of the alien he saw and quickly buys it. Charles heads over to the National Informer and speaks with Betty Walker, the reporter who wrote the article, and she admits that the photo was a photo from an old article and she had made up the story and he leaves. Betty heads to her own apartment but as she is relaxing at home, she hears a knock at her door. When she opens it, an Avon woman is there attempting to sell her stuff but Betty refuses and shuts the door. Hearing a thud from behind the door, Betty opens it again to find the woman had collapsed and asks to use the restroom and Betty lets her in. As Betty is mixing a drink in her blender, her landlord Earl startles her and she tells him about the woman in the bathroom. Earl goes to check and is zapped by the psychic lightning and when Betty goes to see what happened, she finds Earl’s body but no sign of the woman. Betty calls the cops but when they get there, Earl’s body has disappeared. Betty returns to her office to try and make sense of what happened and Charles shows up, offering to buy her a drink. The two go out and end up back at Charles’ place, where they start to make out when they are interrupted by Margaret showing up. Betty gets upset and leaves, despite Charles trying to explain things to her, and Margaret asks Charles where Elizabeth is and he tells her she is at his mother’s house and Margaret starts to explain what is going on. Meanwhile, Betty leaves Charles’ apartment building but notices some strange people watching her from a park across the street. When the woman appears, Betty rushes back inside the building, with the woman following, and heads to the elevator. Getting on the elevator, Betty thinks she is safe for the moment but the woman uses her powers to stop the elevator and bring it back down to the lobby. Unable to stop the elevator, Betty pulls a gun out of her purse and when the woman opens the doors, Betty shoots her, revealing the woman to have green blood. Betty heads up to Charles apartment and tells him what happened and Margaret asks him if there is another way out of the building. Charles says the staircase and Margaret tells them to run and she will hold them off. Charles and Betty head out the window and begin climbing down the fire escape, just as the two men enter his room. As the run from the building, a cab pulls up and Benjamin yells at them to get in and they drive off. Benjamin chastises the two of them, explaining that they had an agreement with the aliens and Betty’s article and Charles’ antics had stirred things up. Meanwhile, three aliens break into Charles’ mother’s house and kidnap Elizabeth while she is sleeping and when Charles, Betty, and Benjamin get there and find out, Charles and Betty quickly leave. Benjamin orders the airports and bridges to be locked down but dismisses the trains, which is how Charles and Betty get out of the city. As they head to Centerville, Betty suggests making a detour to see Willie Collins, the man who took the photograph of the aliens. When they get to the hospital Willie is at, Willie tells them about how he had been on a trip with his family when they stopped in Centerville. That night he saw his family transformed into strange, glowing blue orbs, and had managed to kill one of the aliens but was committed when nobody would believe his story. Charles and Betty go to leave and find that Willie snuck out of the hospital and plans to go with them. As they get close to Centerville, they find the road blocked by police and government agents. Benjamin approaches their car and says that it will all be over in an hour, as the aliens will be leaving then, but Charles pulls out a gun and holds Benjamin hostage so they can get through the roadblock. After making it to the outskirts of town, Charles and Betty head forward on foot while Willie heads back. They make their way into town and see Margaret arguing with the alien leader about leaving Elizabeth there but the leader refuses. Charles and Betty try to get Elizabeth to sneak out the window but they end up being captured. As all of the aliens gather together, the receive a communication from their home world, congratulating them on the data they collected and they are especially surprised with Elizabeth and are interested to test her. As Charles distracts the guards, Betty attempts to leave with Elizabeth but as they try to run out of town, the encounter Willie, who saves them before the leader blasts them with lightning. The leader then transforms Willie and Betty into the blue orbs before taking Elizabeth with him and the aliens all remove their human disguises, except for the leader and Margaret, and head into the ship. As the ship is about to leave, Elizabeth and Charles plead with Margaret to let them go and Margaret ends up attacking their guards. When she is restrained, Margaret tells Elizabeth to use her powers and Elizabeth is able to blast the door, stalling it from opening long enough for them to escape. As the ship leaves, it sends a blast into the church and all of the orbs emerge from the church and start transforming back into the people that the aliens captured. The original townspeople have not changed at all in the last 25 years, as Benjamin and her agents arrive to help them adjust to what has happened. Willie is reunited with his family, who are surprised to find how old he has gotten, while Charles and Elizabeth find Betty in a tree and after helping her down, the two kiss and then leave town with Elizabeth, finding Louie on the way.

Strange Invaders met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics seemed to like the script but felt it was too predictable. The financing was split between two companies; Orion Pictures, who had the rights to distribute the film to North America, and England’s EMI films, who had the rights to distribute to the rest of the world. The movie was a box office bomb, earning just over $1.3 million off of a $5.5 million budget.

This was a decent movie, but definitely could have been better. The acting was ok, with Paul Le Mat (Charles) and Nancy Allen (Betty) doing a decent job in their roles and I liked Michael Lerner (Willie) but thought that Diana Scarwid (Margaret) was a little weak and too wooden in her role. The story was pretty good but I felt like it did feel a bit inconsistent at some points. The parts with the Benjamin and her agency honestly felt like they were thrown in but in actuality, they had been toned down as the financial backers toned down that scope of the movie. The special effects were a lot of flash but didn’t really have a lot of substance to them. All in all, it was a fairly average movie that didn’t quite live up to it’s potential.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

November 28th, 2017 Movie – Storyville

storyville

Another day, another movie. Today I find myself watching a movie that I honestly never heard of before today. It is part of a collection of James Spader movies that my friend got me earlier in the year. So, brand new movie that I have never heard of, I am actually somewhat excited to see what I am getting into today. So let’s get right into the meat of things with today’s movie, Storyville.

The plot: Cray Fowler, a young candidate for congress, is hosting a campaign fundraiser at his family’s house in New Orleans. After speaking with his uncle Clifford for a minute, he meets with Nathan LeFleur, who talks to him about the stories concerning his family and the suicide of Cray’s father. As the party winds down, he is slipped a note from one of the waitresses, Lee, asking him to meet her at a club called Storyville later that night. Cray heads to the club and meets with Lee, who takes him back to her place, which happens to be her family’s dojo, and she briefly attacks him with Judo before seducing him and the two have sex in her hot tub, but Cray is unaware that he is being videotaped. The next day, Cray heads to the courthouse and speaks with his friend Natalie Tate, wo works in the District Attorney’s office, asking her to try and get some of the files from the federal case against his father. Briefly stopping at his campaign headquarters and speaking with his campaign manager, Cray is met by his wife Melanie, who talks to him about getting a new convertible, but Cray agrees to what she wants and leaves to go talk with LeFleur, apologizing for his reaction during the fundraiser and asking for his endorsement for congress but LeFleur doesn’t answer if he will or not. Returning to his campaign headquarters, Cray is shown a campaign ad for Avner Hollister, his congressional rival who has a 20 point lead in the race, and later decides to meet with Hollister. After going duck hunting with Clifford and his friend Pudge, he asks his mother if his dad kept any files about the case with him and she say they would be in his old desk. Cray finds the files and returns to his apartment to look at them, discovering that Hollister was one of the people in the case against his father. When Lee calls from the lobby, he invites her up but when she doesn’t show up, he finds she has been beaten and had collapsed on the stairs. Taking her back to his apartment, he starts to call an ambulance but stops when she tells him that her father had been paid to videotape them together. Lee convinces Cray to go back to her dojo, where Cray cuts his hand on the glass breaking into the place. Cray begins searching the place for her father or the videotape and ends up being attacked by her father where, after a struggle, Cray ends up being knocked out. When Cray comes too, he finds Lee’s father has been murdered, with his throat being slit, and Cray grabs the knife and quickly leaves before the cops get there. Returning back to his apartment, Cray tends to his injuries and hides the knife. The next day, Cray heads to his old law firm and pulls some strings to be assigned to defend Lee, who is being accused of killing her father. Cray goes to see Lee and asks how she is doing and what happened that night, then goes to see Natalie and tells her he is representing Lee in the case. Cray then goes to see LeFleur, showing him a list of names in the files that were supposed land owners his father cheated and tells him that they don’t seem to exist and figures that LeFleur should know about them. He then asks that LeFleur assist him in his case and LeFleur appears to accept. Later, Cray heads to a studio underneath Lee’s dojo to speak with the S&M photographer there, grabbing some photo’s of a model from his desk, but the photographer threatens Cray and tells him to leave. Cray asks his friend Fats, a local strip club owner, to see if he can find out any information about the model. When Cray returns to his apartment, he finds that someone sent him a copy of the video of him and Lee having sex. He quickly turns the tape off when he hears someone knocking on his door and finds Natalie standing outside. She comes in for a drink, revealing that they had a romantic history together, and she asks him why he is taking the Lee case. Some time later, Cray heads to St. Albans Parish, where the disputed land is in, and learns that every name on the list was actually the name of someone buried in the cemetery except for one, C. Sumter. As he is leaving, Cray is attacked by two men wearing clown masks but manages to get a look at the tattoo on one of their arms. Returning to his apartment, Cray meets with LeFleur and comes clean about how he is connected with Lee, as well as his hiding the knife and that someone sent him a copy of the tape. LeFleur is angry about what Cray has done and for dragging him into it but still agrees to help. Then LeFleur asks about the list and Cray tells him about the one name that is not found in the cemetery. At the trial, one witness says that she say Lee leaving the building in a hurry, and a few minutes later, a man left wearing a dark raincoat. When the photographer is called to testify, he says he heard arguing and he called the police to complain about the noise, then went to investigate when he saw Lee leaving. When Cray gets up to cross examine him, Cray asks about the music, as the first witness said it was loud enough to hear downstairs where she was working, and asks how he was able to hear the argument but not the sound of someone breaking into the dojo. He also asks if the photographer was alone, as he usually has the music playing when he is working, and the photographer swears he was alone. When court is recessed, LeFleur introduces Cray to his cousin, who is a police officer, and they head back out to St. Albans, where LeFleur has located C.Sumter. They speak with Sumter, who tells them that he gets $300 every month since the late 30’s, when he had signed something from someone who was supposedly from the bank. Cray asks if he could recognize the man but Sumter tells him he can barely see anything as his eyes have gotten too bad. As they are leaving, Sumter tells them that someone had asked him the same questions 3 years ago and when Cray asks who it was, Sumter tells him the man’s name was Raymond, Cray’s father. The next day in court, Cray cross examines the homicide detective that was first on the scene, asking him why they didn’t take fingerprints or investigate the matter closer as there was evidence of a break in. The detective says that he didn’t feel the need, as Lee had claimed to be responsible and showed a racists slant towards Vietnamese people, due to his experiences in the war. The next day, Lee is on stand and Cray questions her but when Natalie begins to cross examine her, Cray asks the judge for a meeting in chambers before she can say anything incriminating and the judge agrees to give Cray a short recess. Cray and LeFleur meet up with Fats, who has located the model that Cray was looking for and the model agrees to help them. Back in court, Lee is back on the stand and when Cray asks if she saw anyone in the photographer’s studio, she says she did and points out the model, which Cray had brought in. Cray then has the model take the stand and he explains that he cross dresses for photo shoots. The night of the murder, he says they heard a crash come from the dojo and Lee running downstairs. the photographer told her to wait in the studio while he went to check things out and he went to talk to the detective, who went upstairs and then came back down and the photographer gave him a switchblade. The detective yells out at the model and pulls out his gun, shooting Cray in the arm and attempts to shoot the model. A bailiff and a police officer shoot the detective, who falls and attempts to shoot Lee but hits LeFleur instead, then tries to shoot Cray before the judge kills him. Recovering in the hospital, Cray is shown a newspaper article saying that Hollister had dropped out of the race, due to his connection with the dertective, but LeFleur tells him that Hollister did not have the tape. As the results of the election comes in, Cray wins in a landslide and leaves the room, while his campaign manager shows Melanie photos of her affair and Cray’s lawyer has her sign the divorce papers. Later, Clifford returns to the family home to celebrate Cray’s victory and is shocked to see Sumter there. When Clifford enters the house, he goes to congratulate Cray but Cray stops him, knowing that not only was he the one who cheated people out of their land but that he also tried to blackmail him and killed his father to stop him from exposing him. Cray heads out to go to the victory celebration, seeing his soon to be ex-wife standing on the side of the stage before she leaves while Clifford heads out to the swamp and commits suicide. Some time later, Cray is at a bar before heading to Washington and notices Natalie at the other end of the bar, and the two stare at each other.

I have to say, this was a little confusing but a pretty decent movie all in all. The acting was good, with James Spader doing a good job in his role. The story was a little confusing, trying to tie in two different mysteries together, but they didn’t do the best job blending the stories smoothly. The drama honestly was a little weak, as the slow pacing of the movie just killed some of the tension they kept hoping to build. Worth a watch if you are a fan of James Spader but probably won’t be something everyone enjoys.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review

November 27th, 2017 Movie – The Stepmother (1972)

the stepmother 1972

Ok, there is a better than average chance that today’s movie is nothing more than a poor man’s porno. I mean, I think the stepmother seducing the stepson, or vice versa, is one of the more infamous porn plots to come about. Now, added that to the fact that this was made in the early 70’s, and is part of the Drive-In collection, and this adds up to being one of those skin flicks that the drive-ins were known for. So let’s see what I am getting out of this with today’s movie, The Stepmother (1972).

The plot: Margo Delgado is lying in bed when her lover Alan Richmond starts trying to have sex with her and despite her initial protests, she eventually just lies there and lets him have his way with her. After they finish, Alan gets dressed to leave while Margo takes a shower but unknown to them, Margo’s husband Frank arrived home and saw their silhouettes in the window. When Alan walks outside, he is surprised to see Frank there and goes to greet him but Frank attacks him and strangles him to death. Realizing what he has done, Frank grabs Alan’s body, places it in his car and drives him out to the beach to bury him. As he finishes burying him, Frank hears a couple ride up on a motorcycle and quickly leaves, ignoring the woman’s screams when the man gets violent with her. The next day, Frank and Margo are woken up by 4 of their friends, including Frank’s business partner Dick Hill, and they head to Alan’s beach house, though Frank is reluctant to go. While Frank sits by himself at first and talks some business with Dick, Everyone wonders what happened to Alan and where he is. Meanwhile, Inspector Darnezi is going over the autopsy of Alan and a young Mexican girl, who were both strangled at around the same time last night. Darnezi decides to go check out Alan’s townhouse in the city and after finding nothing there, he calls the Alan’s beach house pretending to look for Alan but one of the guys at the house says he isn’t there. Darnezi heads back to the police station to tell his boss that he found nothing at the townhouse and plans to head to beach house to question the people there. At the beach, Sonya, Dick’s wife, is sketching Frank and they are reminiscing about past times when she asks him why he is being so pensive all day and Frank decides to leave and runs down the beach, where he keeps having visions of Alan approaching him. He goes back to the beach house as Darnezi arrives and questions everyone about when they last saw Alan. After returning to the station, Darnezi voices his suspicions of Frank to the Chief Inspector, as Frank has 3 hours unaccounted for in his story, but the Chief says that they don’t have enough facts to rule anyone out so to watch the whole group. The next day, Margo and Sonya are talking and Mrago admits about what happened with Alan the last night he was alive and worries that Frank somehow found out about it as he hasn’t made love to her since. As Frank and Dick arrive at the house to eat, Margo tells Frank that he received a letter from his son Steve and he reads it, learning that Steve will be coming home in a few weeks. The next day, Frank and Dick are at the site of the home they were building for Alan when Darnezi arrives and asks them to come to the station, as they have a suspect for the woman’s murder and wonder if they recognize him. They do so but though Frank recognizes him, he says he doesn’t and Darnezi apologizes for wasting their time. Dick drops Frank off at the work site while he says he is going to the office and after he leaves, Sonya shows up and convinces Frank to go to lunch with her. They head to a steakhouse they are used to going to and are surprised to find Dick there with Margo. Frank initially wants to get another table but is too uncomfortable being in the same restaurant with Margo and leaves, telling Sonya that he can’t trust Margo anymore. Meanwhile, Margo is talking with Dick and trying to get him to help talk to Frank about what happened and convince him she wasn’t at fault. Sonya drops Frank off at the building site and he starts hallucinating that Darnezi is staring at him and judging him. Dick arrives and tells Frank he got the bank loan they needed but Frank questions him about where he was before that and says he knows he was with Margo. Dick says he was talking to her and he knows what Alan did to her but she loves Frank and didn’t do it willingly and as the two continue to argue, Franks shoves Dick away, causing Dick to accidentally fall off the roof of the building. Some time later, Frank is in church confessing to the priest about what he has done and how he can’t bring himself to forgive Margo. Meanwhile, Frank’s son Steve returns home and Margo speaks with him, as there is tension between the two of them, and says she didn’t want Frank to send him away but Steve tells her that he wants to keep going to school in Mexico City as that is where all his friends are. Meanwhile, Frank goes to see Sonya, who tells him that she is getting the money from Dick’s insurance policy and plans on investing it back into the company, despite Frank’s protests, and she is considering selling her half of the company. Darnezi shows up to speak with her and arranges to meet with Frank later. Darnezi speaks with Sonya about Frank and Dick’s relationship and if there were any problems with it. Later, Frank speaks with Darnezi, who asks him some questions about Sonya and Dick’s insurance, and as Frank goes to leave, Darnezi says he is close to solving Alan’s murder. Frank goes to see Sonya to ask her what Darnezi talked to her about and she tells him Darnezi thought that she and Frank were having an affair and Dick’s death was not an accident. Sonya then says that she wants to go with Frank to Acapulco tomorrow but Frank says that she shouldn’t as it would just make Darnezi believe his suspicions are right. That night, Frank tries talking with Steve and convince him to stay with them but Steve says he wants to go back to Mexico. As Frank packs for his trip, Margo kisses him and Frank kisses her back but pushes her away before the go any further. The next day, Frank boards his flight for Acapulco and is surprised to find that Sonya is on the plane with him. Meanwhile, Margo attempts to call Sonya but when she learns that she is going to Mexico, she gets upset and jealous. Margo continues to drink and, hearing Steve playing pool downstairs, heads downstairs and begins flirting with him. Steve resists at first and tries to help her get to bed but they end up tripping and falling to the ground and as a drunken Margo begins laughing and kissing his face, he gives in and they start kissing. The next morning, in Acapulco, Frank is woken up by Sonya and she asks him for a drink before they start talking. Meanwhile, back in the states, Steve is attempting to leave to go to the cabin in the woods but Margo asks him to come with her to the cabin so they can get it ready for the next weekend with Frank and she wants to talk with Steve about what happened but Steve just leaves. Margo then heads up to the cabin, telling Lupe and Jose where she is going and Lupe calls Frank in Mexico to tell him. Frank tells her that he will try to be home that night and goes back to his meeting, asking if they can have the contracts signed that afternoon. The client agrees and invites them to a party but Frank refuses and Sonya decides to head back as well. Meanwhile, Darnezi arrives at the Delgado house and speaks with Jose and Lupe, showing them a shovel that he discovered in Alan’s submerged car and Jose identifies it as his. Heading back to the station, Darnezi tells the Chief his theory and they argue over some of the specifics of it. Back in the mountains, Steve and Margo are both surprised to find the other person there, and they end up getting closer and wind up sleeping together. That night, Frank returns home and after Lupe tells him about Darnezi’s visit, he decides to head to the Cabin but is stopped by Darnezi, who says they have the shovel and are close to finding the murderer. Darnezi and the Chief question the man that killed the girl, who says he saw a car but couldn’t say that it was Frank inside. At the cabin, Frank arrives only to find Steve and Margo in bed together and as they stare in shock, he turns and heads back out to his car. Frank grabs a pistol from the glove compartment and he approaches Steve, who had gone to talk to him, and asks Steve how he could do this to him. Steve begs his father’s forgiveness and Frank says he can’t judge him as he killed a man and plans on going to the police to turn himself in. Frank tells Steve to put the gun away for him but just then, Darnezi and another officer arrive at the cabin and when Frank turns to face them, the officer sees the gun and shoots Frank. As Frank collapses to the ground, Steve goes to check on him while Margo watches in horror.

I have to admit, this was not what I expected. The acting was ok but nobody really stood out in the movie. The story was odd, as the majority of the story was focused on the murder of Alan and Frank’s guilt surrounding it. The stepmother portion of the movie only showed up in the last half hour, and honestly only accounted for maybe 15 minutes at best. They could have titled this something else and it might have come across better. The drama was ok, with it being a halfway decent murder drama, but again the misleading title made it feel like something else. A truly boring movie that is really not worth watching.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 26th, 2017 Movie – Steel (1997)

steel 1997

Sometimes, you have to ask yourself exactly how a movie gets made. Of course, that also begs the question on how I find myself owning those same movies. Now I would actually say that this is the how I wound up owning today’s movie but that would be a lie, as I had actually sought this out and bought it on purpose. The reason for that is simple, my friends and I were discussing bad movies and this one came up and I, being in a bit of a superhero mood, I decided to buy it. So lets have some fun with today’s movie, Steel (1997).

The plot: John Henry Irons, along with his partner Susan “Sparky” Sparks, designs and tests weapons for the U.S. Military. After conducting a test on a new laser rifle, which easily disables a tank, Irons and Sparky are checking over the results on the rifle’s performance. Meanwhile, Lt. Nathaniel Burke is secretly talking with Senator Nolan, who is observing the tests, and tells her he has been making some of his own modifications to the weapons to make them even more powerful. The team heads to the next testing site, consisting of an abandoned village, where the plan on using a sonic cannon to take down a wall. Burke asks to fire the cannon and pushes the power setting to it’s maximum. Irons notices this and tries to stop him but Burke fires the weapon, taking out the building he was aiming for but the sonic blast bounces back and strikes the building they are in, causing part of the roof to collapse. At a military tribunal, Irons testifies that Burke caused the accident which killed Nolan and paralyzed Sparky. Burke is dismissed from the military and blames Irons for ruining his career. Afterwards, Colonel David wants to get back to work designing weapons but Irons resigns his commission, upset that his weapons injured Sparky. After going to the hospital to check on Sparky and giving her his address, Irons heads back home to Los Angeles to live with his younger brother Martin and his Grandma Odessa, unaware that Burke heads there as well. Burke goes to an arcade manager named Big Willy Daniels, who is known to sell weapons to gangs on the side, and offers a proposition for Daniels to loan him the seed money to start producing weapons and he will get half the profits from the sales. Burke builds his first prototype and has a worker demonstrate it for Daniels and the gun shorts out, causing a horrible burn to the kid’s face but Daniels is impressed by the damage the weapon had caused and tells Burke to keep working on them. Burke kills off Daniels’ assistant Duvray, who was critical of Burke, but spares Daniels’ bodyguard Singer and convinces him to work with him. Singer organizes a test of his weapons by helping a gang rob a bank, using the new weapons to easily break into the building and the vault. Irons and Martin are riding to a town meeting with Irons’ friend Norma, who is a police officer, when she is alerted to the bank robbery and heads off to go handle the call. When they arrive there, Irons is shocked to find his weapons are being used to commit the crime and he is forced to rescue Norma when her car is flipped over and catches fire while she tries to stop the robbers. When Irons sees a straggler, Cutter, trying to escape, he chases after him and eventually catches up to the kid and asks him where he got the weapons but he is shot by Slats, the leader of the gang, and the two crooks escape. The next day, Irons contacts David to find out how his weapons got into the hands of a street gang but David tells him that all of his weapons are accounted for. Irons then asks Martin about the gang and heads to their hangout to question them about where they got the weapons but Slats refuses to answer his questions. After Irons leaves, Slats calls Burke to tell him about Irons visit and Burke tells him to keep Cutter out of site but after he hangs up, Burke tells Singer to kill Cutter as an example to the others. Irons tries contacting Sparky and finds out that she has transferred to another V.A. hospital. After going to visit her, and finding her wallowing in self pity over being paralyzed, Irons takes her out of the V.A. to help him. Heading back to L.A., Irons takes Sparky to his Uncle Joe’s junk yard, where he has a workstation set up, and he convinces her to help him build weapons to take out the weapons being used by the gangs. Meanwhile, Martin gets a job at the arcade, where Burke takes over his training. With Sparky and Joe’s help, Irons fashions himself a suit of armor, while Sparks and Jo make him a weapon, shaped like a sledgehammer. Irons goes for a test run on his new weapon and armor, stopping a mugging and a gang shootout without any problems. The gang members all run away but when the cops show up, due to the gunfire, they attempt to arrest Irons. Irons manages to get away, though part of his armor falls off and his grappling cable breaks in the process, and safely makes it back to their hideout in the junkyard. The next day, Martin is talking about Steel, what the media is dubbing the costumed Irons, when Burke talks to him about it, then meets up with Slats and tells him to keep an eye out for the man of steel. As Steel and Joe head out on patrol, Singer, Slats, and some more of Slats’ gang head out and attempt to rob the Federal Reserve, while Burke films what they do so he can use it to sell the weapons on the internet. Steel shows up to try and stop the robbery and Burke, watching the film, notices him talking to someone and wonders who it is. Steel’s weapons have no effect on the crooks armored vehicle, as the armor is the same as his, and he is knocked back by a blast from the sonic cannon. When the police arrive and attempt to arrest Steel, Slats takes out the police helicopter and Steel is forced to save the police officer before the debris falls on him while Singer and the gang make their escape. Steel is forced to run as well as the cops chase him but he is able to get away and drive his motorcycle into Joe’s modified truck. Later, Sparky is tending to Irons’ injuries and chastising Joe for pushing him too hard. Meanwhile, Burke has the footage of the robbery sent out to the TV stations, prompting various criminal organizations to find out how to get the weapons, and then calls the police with an anonymous tip on where to find Steel. Irons returns home and is questioned by his Odessa on whether or not he is Steel when the SWAT team burst into the home and arrest Irons, finding one of Burke’s prototype weapons in his basement. Irons is placed in a line up and the detective in charge asks the people that Steel had helped after the mugging if they recognize him but, feeling like Steel was doing good work, say they don’t recognize him, nor does the police officer that he rescued. Irons is kept in holding for questioning but Sparky and Joe get the D.A’s signature and voice pattern so that Sparky can call and get Irons released. That night, Steel and Joe go looking for the site of where the auction is taking place and Sparky is standing by to call David to arrest them all but Burke’s men show up and capture her. Losing contact with Sparky, Steel and Joe continue to head out and locate the site of the auction and Steel makes his way inside, telling Joe to try getting a hold of Sparky but if that fails, contact David and tell him where to go. Steel heads inside but is soon captured by Burke’s men, who threaten to kill Sparky if he doesn’t surrender. Burke then makes his sales pitch, killing Daniels and turning on Slat in the process but Steel taunts him about having more firepower in his hammer than Burke has in his weapons. Burke falls for the taunts and activates the hammers electro-magnet, sending the hammer back to Steel, while Sparky reveals that she added some weapons to her wheelchair and begins attacking Burke’s men. Steel tells Sparky to get out of there and he goes after Burke, who shows that he has Martin as another hostage and as Steel saves Martin, they find themselves locked in a tool shed, with Singer throwing a grenade inside. With no way out, Martin points to a hole in the roof and tells steel to throw it, to which Steel says he never makes those shots, but manages to get the grenade through the hole, then protects Martin from debris while Singer is killed in the explosion. Burke unveils his latest weapon and attempts to use it on Steel but the blast ricochets off of Steels armor and strikes Burke, launching him back into the warehouse where falling debris falls on him and kills him while steel drives the armored vehicle out of the warehouse so they can get away. David and his soldiers arrest all of the criminal organizations and the next day attempts to contact Irons and convince him to come back to work for him but Irons refuses. Later, Irons, Joe, Sparky, and Martin go to Odessa’s home, which she has converted to a restaurant, and Sparky reveals one last modification to her wheelchair; one that allows her to stand upright, as Irons hugs her.

Steel (1997) was heavily panned by the critics, holding a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Steel is a badly-acted movie that indulges not only in superhero cliches, but also the sappy TV-movie-of-the-week ones.” Shaquille O’Neal had to do his own stunts for the movie, as the director was unable to find a stunt double tall enough to fill in for O’Neal. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $1.7 million off of a $16 million budget.

This is an absolutely horrible movie for a lot of reasons. Shaquille O’Neal was ok playing Irons, while Judd Nelson made a great bad guy in Burke. I also thought it was funny to have Richard Roundtree as Uncle Joe, with that comment about him liking the hammer’s shaft being really funny. The story was interesting in the fact that the character Steel was a member of the Superman family but they decided to make no reference or mention of Superman at all for this movie (although Shaq’s Superman tattoo was visible in several scenes). Aside from that, the character’s origin was very close to the origin of the character in the comics, with some slight differences obviously. I also liked that they worked in the whole Shaq being bad at free throws bit into the movie, but their making it a pivotal moment was a little much. The special effects were average to be honest and could have been a lot better but I have seen worse. This is not a good movie but can be funny in the “so bad, it’s good” style, or just torture if you want to show it to someone you hate.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, drama, movie, movie review

November 25th, 2017 Movie – State And Main

state and main

Sometimes, when you least expect it, a good movie will absolutely drop into your lap. That is the case with today’s movie. Years ago, my roommate had commented on this movie and how much she loved it. She had bought it on DVD and one night my wife and I ended up watching it with her. I had to agree that it was as funny as she said it was and I decided to get a copy of my own after she moved out. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, State And Main.

The plot: In the small town of Waterford, Vt, director Walt Price and his assistant Bill Smith are planning on shooting their movie in town after being kicked out of Vermont. When their camera asks if the mill set that the built had come in from New Hampshire, Walt says that the town in New Hampshire is holding it for ransom but Waterford has their own mill to use. After renting out the only hotel in, Walt has his people start coming in from New Hampshire and begins preparing to make the movie. The mayor shows up at the hotel to talk to Walt about the use of Main Street and says the town council will have to issue a permit but assures him it is merely a formality and invites Walt to have dinner at his house. As Walt is on the phone with Marty Rossen, the movie’s producer, Bill tells Walt that the old mill had burned down. Joseph “Joe” Turner White, the movie’s script writer, shows up and Walt tells him about the trouble with the mill and asks that he re-write the movie without the mill but Joseph says he can’t as he doesn’t have his typewriter. Meanwhile, everyone in town is excited about the movie being filmed here, and that Bob Barrenger is starring in it, except for Doug Mackenzie, a local politician. Joe spots a typewriter in a bookstore and asks the shopkeeper, Annie Black, about renting it until his typewriter is found. She offers to sell it to him, saying it has history, but Joe says his does too as he wrote his first play and is shocked to discover that Annie has a copy of his play in her shop. When Joe returns to the hotel, he meets with Bob and Walt, who are going over some of the scenes in the movie, and when they keep asking him to make changes, he quits the movie. As he is leaving, he passes by Annie, who was bringing him his typewriter, and he tells her he doesn’t need it. He then tells her about his dilemma and how he is currently suffering from writer’s block and she tries to convince him to stay on with the movie, as does Walt when he catches up to Joe at the train station. When Claire Wellesley, Bob’s co-star, arrives in town, she is excited to meet with Joe and thanks him for writing the part she is playing, but is upset to learn that the scene with the old mill is being changed, as that is why she agreed to do the movie. Joe meets with Annie, who had read his script and loved it so she helps him try to make changes to the scenery without losing anything from his script. Meanwhile, Claire is upset over the fact that she is supposed to do a topless scene and Walt manages to convince her to do it until she hears a crew member remarking about her, causing her to break down in tears and demand an additional $800,000 to do the scene. Joe and Annie end up getting closer to each other and after Joe leaves, Annie breaks things off with Doug, who was her fiance. Back at the hotel, Joe interrupts a meeting between Claire, Walt, and Marty, sticking up for Claire in the process, and after she leaves, Walt and Marty demand the rewrites for the script and Joe says he can’t type, as he injured his finger when he got a fish hook stuck in it while talking with Annie. Joe returns to his room and is surprised when Claire shows up to thank him for standing up for her, then attempts to seduce him but Joe tells her that he met someone and they couldn’t do this. When Joe answers a knock on the door, he is shocked to see Annie there and she explains that she was hired to be his typist but he tells her that now is not a good time, trying to get her to leave before she sees the naked Claire, who was hiding in the closet. Annie leaves but comes back to give Joe the fish hook as a memento and sees Claire in the room with Joe and Joe attempts to lie but then tells her the truth and Annie says she believes him and leaves, not seeing Carla, the underage daughter of the local diner owner, sneaking out of Bob Barrenger’s room. The next day, Joe is trying to figure out the re-writes to the script and Annie offers to help him and when she accidentally hits his injured finger, he gets an inspiration for how to do the scene. At the hotel, Claire is leaving after being insulted by Marty and Walt tells Marty to give her the money for the scene when Joe shows up and tells them that they can have her facing away from the camera, so the audience doesn’t see her tits, just Bob’s reaction to them. Walt and Marty think it is genius and Walt has a runner catch Claire at the airport before she makes her flight. Later that night, Joe is walking the town to get some more ideas when a car hits a pot hole and crashes into a traffic light. Joe goes over and helps Bob out of the car but Bob is concerned with Carla, who crawls out the other side, and he tells her to leave so she isn’t seen with him. Returning to the hotel, Bob is treated by the town doctor and afterwards, chastised by Walt and Marty for what happened. Joe leaves and ends up running into Annie and as the two keep getting closer, they try to kiss but are constantly interrupted. The next day, Joe is going over some of the script changes with Walt, Marty, Bob, and Claire, who are all happy about the changes, and want to celebrate but Joe says he can’t as he has a date. Meanwhile, Doug is drinking at the bar to get over Annie dumping him when the doctor comes in and comments about having to remove glass from three people’s heads. When Doug asks him about it, the doctor says Bob and one of the cameramen on the movie, who had broken the stained glass window at the firehouse so he could shoot inside, but doesn’t mention the third. However, Doug sees Carla, who is helping out at the bar, and realizes from her injuries that she was in the car with Bob. Doug takes Carla, her father, and the sheriff to the hotel to accuse Bob of statutory rape and when they encounter Marty, Carla swears that she wasn’t with Bob but when she sees Bob and Claire getting into an argument while they were having sex, she quickly accuses him of taking advantage of her. As Doug makes plans on how to handle this, Marty, who is serving as Bob’s lawyer, says that Carla’s statement won’t stand in court as she changed it from one minute to the next. Doug realizes they are right as he sits at the bar but one of the movie crew, upset that Walt wouldn’t give him time off to go be at the birth of his son, tells him the Joe saw the accident. Doug calls the mayor, who is upset that Walt and the others skipped out on the planned dinner (due to a gofer accidentally writing it on the wrong day on the calendar) calls the state police to help with the situation. As the media shows up due to the buzz surrounding Bob’s arrest, Marty tries to get Joe to lie about witnessing the accident and when Joe goes before the judge to give his deposition, he ends up lying. After leaving the courthouse, Joe can’t face Annie so he packs his bag to leave but when he gets to the train station, he learns that the court house had burned down years ago and the judge to hear his deposition was just arriving. Heading back to where he gave his deposition, he finds that it was simply a high school lab that had been made to look like a court room, and Annie sitting there, explaining she figured he needed to get the lie out of his system. The two head to where he is actually supposed to give the deposition only to find that Doug has dropped the case, after being bribed by Marty with the money that had initially been meant for Claire. Joe and Annie kiss while Doug gives a televised speech, talking about people deserving second chances and how he plans on heading to congress, all while keeping the bag full of cash out of view from the camera. With the situation resolved, work begins on the movie and as the whole town comes out to watch.

State And Main met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “State and Main offers plenty of wit and laughs in its lampoons of the movie industry.” In the movie, a fictional company called “Bazoomer.com” wanted to do some product placement within the movie (with a sign for a company called Bazoomercom, with a bullet hole serving as the period accomplishing this) and if you go to Bazoomer.com, you will see a white page with the phrase “Go You Huskies” in bold letters and a link to why the 1975 huskies didn’t win the state championship (which leads to a blank page as the reason was never mentioned in the movie). Despite the good reviews, the movie was a small hit at the box office, earning $9.2 million dollars worldwide.

This is a great movie and one that is well worth watching. The acting was fantastic, with everyone involved doing a great job in their roles, with Philip Seymour Hoffman (Joe) and Rebecca Pidgeon (Annie) showing great chemistry together. The story was great, with the dialogue showing some real whit and humor that is different from most comedies. There really wasn’t any physical comedy, more a matter of great writing and situational comedy setting the tone, while snarkiness and dry wit, as well as the crispness of the delivery, made for a lot of humor. Definitely something that is worth watching many, many times.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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action, adventure, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 24th, 2017 Movie – Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation

starship troopers 2

I got to hand it to my friends, they really know what I like. See, a couple of years ago, my friend Chad called me up and asked if I had today’s movie. Now, as you know, the original Starship Troopers is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies but I did not have any of the direct to video sequels. Chad then explained that his grandfather was getting rid of some movies that he owned, and while Chad kept the ones he wanted, he did not have any desire to keep this one. Knowing me and my love for sci-fi, and bad movies, he figured he would see if I wanted it, to which my response was “Duh”. So that is how I came to own today’s movie, Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation.

The plot: After the capture of the brain big on P, the emboldened Federation forces have pushed forward into the Arachnid Quarantine Zone to try and eradicate the bugs from the remaining planets. On one of the planets, General Jack Shepherd and his forces find themselves being overwhelmed by the bugs and call for an evac but their request is denied. Lt. Dill, their psychic soldier, has a vision of them being overrun and killed by the bugs and Shepherd orders Sgt. Rake to protect Dill and lead the evac to Hotel Delta 1-8-5 while he stays behind with 4 soldiers to cover their retreat. As the soldiers make their way across the barren planet, a sand storm picks up, blowing several of them away while Corporal Kobe, who was the only team member with a radio, is mortally wounded by a bug. As the get inside, Rake tells Pvt. Sahara to check on getting the door closed while some other men establish a defensive perimeter. As some of the men work on tending to Kobe’s wound, Dill has another vision of a swarm of bugs approaching them. Spotting a radio room, Dill orders Rake to have one of her men use it to call for an evac but she ignores him and continues to focus on Kobe. When Dill pulls rank on her, she tells him that it won’t work without power to the place and Dill orders her to get someone to fix the power. After Kobe finally passes, they check the radio room only to find that it was destroyed and begin searching the building. Hearing a banging sound coming from somewhere further in, they head down to the basement and find Captain V.J. Dax locked inside the incenerator. Sahara finds Dax’s records and starts reading out his commendations but Dill grabs the file and learns that Dax had killed his superior officer and he and Rake both decide to keep him locked inside the furnace. Rake’s men get the power restored just as the men outside detect an army of bugs heading right for them. The soldiers head outside and Dill starts spreading the men out in defensive positions but Sahara and Rake both feel like he is spreading them out too thin. As the bugs start attacking and killing off some of the men, Sahara heads back inside to the furnace and asks Dax to give her his hand. After he agrees, Sahara closes her eyes for a few minutes while she holds his hand, then lets him out of the furnace. Dax activates the perimeter defenses then heads outside and takes command of the remaining soldiers, much to Dill’s annoyance, telling them to keep firing until the defenses activate, launching several explosive barrels around the perimeter which annihilate the bugs. As the dust clears, Dax has Sahara and Private Billie Otter go with him to restore the perimeter fences, with Dax giving Billie his knife when Billie admits he lost his. While Billie works on splicing the cables, Sahara sees Sanders and 3 men coming towards them, being chased by 2 bugs, and she and Dax begin laying down cover fire until they get safely past the fence, which electrocutes the bugs. Sanders thanks them and then helps the men carry their injured companion back to the hotel, but Sahara doesn’t recognize any of the people with Sanders. Inside the hotel, Sanders tells the others how their teammates were killed and he was saved by the two soldiers and their comatose companion. Sanders introduces the new soldiers; Medical Officer Corporal Joe Griff, Technical Sergeant Ari Peck, and Private Charlie Soda, who is in an unexplained coma. When Sanders asks Dill about the evac, Dill shows him the busted radio and Sanders asks Peck if he can get it working. Peck says he will get to work on it, refusing to rest first, and Sanders then turns to Dill and questions him about his actions resulting in the deaths of several of his men. As they prepare to get some rest, Dill chastises Sahara, telling her that her actions in releasing Dax could see her court-martialed. When Sahara reveals that she tested highly as a psychic but her gift became unstable, Dill mocks her some more until Dax shows up and the two argue begin arguing over Dill’s blind loyalty to the Federation. As Rake and Griff check the mess hall for some food, Rake comments on Griff’s eating a sugar cube, not noticing him pocketing some more cubes, while Privates Jill Sandee and Duff Horton sneak off to fool around. Some time later, Soda comes out of her coma to find Sanders and some of the others checking on her and after they leave, she shares a look with Griff. When an accident in closing the doors causes the power to go out again, Dax orders everybody out on the perimeter in case of an attack but Peck manages to jury rig the power back on but says it is wonky and may cut out again. As the soldiers start to relax, Shepherd approaches Dax and offers to temporarily restore his rank if he agrees to help them get off the planet and Dax agrees, which further angers Dill. As a watch is set up on the perimeter, Soda approaches Dax and attempts to seduce him but he refuses her advances, having her do push-ups to burn off her excess energy. Later, a naked Soda wakes up Sahara and is leaning over her as she is lying in her bunk but moves away when Billie and Horton enter the room. Sahara gets up and goes to leave, questioning Horton on if he knows what he is doing, before leaving with Billie. Horton shuts the door to the room as Soda approaches him and the two embrace before Soda kisses him, but Horton has a surprised look on his face as she does. Outside the room, Sahara tries to stop Sandee but she sees Soda kissing Horton and storms off, bumping into Griff on her way out. As she stands outside, Griff approaches her and the two start talking before Griff starts kissing her. Some time later, Rake comments on the new couples to Sahara before she heads off, while Sahara heads outside to give Dax some breakfast and talks with him. Some time later, Griff relieves Private Tor from watch and as Tor heads inside, Peck asks him to give him a hand. When Tor gets on the floor under the console, Peck attacks him, revealing that his eyes are glowing red and his skin turning black. Tor fights back and bites off Peck’s fingers when he attempts to cover his mouth and rips Peck’s arm off but Griff holds him down while Peck vomits out a bug, which forces open Tor’s mouth and crawls inside. As Tor begins convulsing, Peck picks up his severed fingers and throws them away, as well as the arm that Griff hands him. Griff then gets on the intercom to inform everyone that they have comms, and Shepherd has Billie contact fleet to arrange a pick-up, then gets on the comm himself as the fleet officer refuse the request at first. In the morning, Sahara is woken up by a nightmare and proceeds to vomit before heading down to the mess hall and seeing several soldiers acting strange. When Griff goes to grab some sugar cubes, Sahara accidentally brushes his hand and has a vision of a swarm of bugs, causing her to spill some liquid. As she goes to clean it up, Rake hands her a towel and Sahara asks her advice but Rake shoots it down as her hormones being out of whack due to being pregnant, which shocks Sahara. Meanwhile, Griff and Soda stare at Shepherd before Griff leaves and heads to a locker, where Peck’s deteriorating body was being kept, and grabs Peck. Taking Peck to the men’s barracks, where Billie and Private Brick are getting dressed. Griff rips open Peck’s head and pulls out the bug inside before throwing it on the floor of the room, then locks the door as Brick kills the bug but the larvae hatch and infect the two men. Sahara goes to tell Dax about her vision and they go to tell Dill, with Sahara revealing that she is pregnant. Dill tells her that pregnancy tends to heighten psychic abilities and says he had the same vision, which affected his ability to lead the men. Dax and Dill come to an agreement and Dill goes to speak with Shepherd while Dax and Sahara return to watch. When he gets to Shepherd’s quarters, he finds a nude Soda covered in blood in Shepherd’s room. Finding Shepherd unresponsive, Dill holds his gun on Soda, as well as Sandee and Horton when they enter the room but he doesn’t see Billie coming up behind him and slitting his throat. Later, Rake arrest Dax, as he is accused of Dill’s murder, and locked back in the furnace, where Soda drops a bug inside to infect him. Meanwhile, Billie goes to infect Sahara, who is able to fend him off briefly until they are interrupted by Rake. Griff, Horton, Sandee, and Billie then gang up and infect Rake before Billie turns his attention back to Sahara, locking himself in the room with her but she fights him off and is able to kill him and the bug inside him. Meanwhile, Rake uses some drugs to keep the bug from taking over her mind, knocking out Sandee and killing Horton and his bug before heading down to save Dax. After killing the bug attempting to infect Dax, Rake shoots herself in the head so she doesn’t turn on them, as Sahara shows up and unlocks Dax’s restraints. Seeing the grub coming out of Rake’s skull, Sahara grabs it and is able to learn the bugs’ plan; to have the infected Shepherd infect the Federation’s top military commanders in order to ensure the bugs’ victory. Realizing they have to kill Shepherd, they head out, running into Soda and setting her on fire along the way. The power suddenly goes out and they encounter Sandee, who attempts to blow them up, before eventually finding Shepherd, Griff, Tor, and Brick, with Shepherd taunting them about why they will die before he heads to the roof as the others attempt to kill Dax and Shepherd. Dax tells Sahara to follow after Shepherd and he manages to kill Brick and Tor but Griff opens the door, allowing a bug to come in. Dax shoots the bug, and begins struggling with Griff before the bug impales Griff through the head and approaches Dax, who starts shooting at it. Sahara chases Shepherd to the roof, where she sees the bugs swarming to the top of the hotel. As Shepherd attacks her and starts to strangle her, the evac shuttle arrives and calls out to Shepherd. Before Shepherd can get on, Dax arrives on the roof and shoots Shepherd, knocking him off the roof. Dax then carries Sahara to the shuttle, telling the men that she has vital information and must be protected. As Dax turns to face the approaching bugs, Sahara tells him that there are too many for him to handle but Dax says murderers don’t get to go home and that she has to tell command what she saw and about the new bug. Sahara cries out as the shuttle takes off and she sees Dax fending off the bugs as long as he can before he is overrun. Some time later, Sahara is holding her baby boy and watches as Dax’s sacrifice has been turned to a recruitment video for the Mobile Infantry. As the recruiting sergeant looks at her baby, he tells him to hurry up and grow as they need more meat for the grinder, causing Sahara to stare at him in horror before running off.

This is such a letdown of a movie compared to the original. The acting was ok, with Richard Burgi (Dax) and Colleen Porch (Sahara) doing a great job in their roles. The story was honestly a little weak and look like it borrowed more from the Heinlein novel, “The Puppet Masters” than Starship Troopers; what with the whole alien bugs taking over human minds to advance their own agenda. I also think they did this movie a disservice by offering up the fan service of having Kelly Carlson walk around naked in the majority of her scenes; not that she isn’t attractive, but that it was really unnecessary for the most part. Stuff like that is what helps gives direct to video movies the bad rep they currently have. The special effects were good but definitely not to the scale that the original had, as they obviously didn’t have the budget for it. It’s a definite time suck movie but it’s one that you really should avoid.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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