horror, movie, movie review, thriller

March 31st, 2018 Movie – Turistas

turistas

Ahh, it is the end of the month and at the same time, the end of a letter. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I particularly care for today’s movie. I remember seeing the previews for this movie and honestly, was not the least but interested in going to see it. You might be asking why I have a copy of it when I didn’t care to see it. Well, the explanation for that is pretty easy; I am a sucker for free movies. So when someone is clearing out their DVD collection and offers some of them to me, of course I am going to say yes. Thus I find myself owning today’s movie, Turistas.

The plot: Alex, his sister Bea, and their friend Amy are riding in a bus in Brazil, with Alex complaining that the should have flown to the Northeastern Beaches instead. When the bus attempts to pass a slow moving scooter, the driver is forced to swerve to avoid hitting some people on the other side of the road and the bus ends up teetering on the edge of the cliff. Alex yells for everyone to climb out of the bus and they safely do so before it topples over the edge and goes crashing down the hillside. As they go picking through the wreckage to find their belongings, they meet Finn and Liam, two British backpackers and Pru, an Australian who speaks Portuguese. Pru tells them that the next bus won’t be by for several hours so they sit by the side of the road to wait for it. As they are waiting, Bea takes a picture of a local boy eating some fruit but this upsets some of the native Brazilians. Pru attempts to calm things down, then explains that kids have been having their organs stolen for sell on the black market and it has the locals nervous when someone takes pictures of children without permission. Seeing two girls walking by with drinks, Pru speaks with them and learns that there is a bar down by the nearby beach and, deciding it best to keep some distance from the still angry locals, they decide to head there. When they get there, they head out onto the beach and swim for a while before they head to the bar and get some drinks. While there, they encounter another couple, Svend and Annika, who had ridden a motorcycle down from Mexico and they all decide to spend the night on the beach and catch the next bus in the morning. Meanwhile, the bartender calls a doctor named Zamora and tells him of the 8 “gringos” on the beach and he hires a couple to take care of them. That night, the group is partying on the beach with Kiko, a local teen who had befriended them, when they all end up passing out. Waking up, Alex discovers that they were all robbed and probably drugged the night before. Meanwhile, Svend and Annika are shown to have been captured by some men and carried off into the jungle. When the men stop to take a break, Annika manages to slip her restraints and tries to run away and Svend attempts to stop the men from chasing after her but he is killed by one of the men with a machete while another man chases after Annika, who ends up losing her footing and falling to her death off the cliff. Alex and the others make their way back to the crash site and continue walking along the road until they come to a nearby village and try to find the police. As they are looking around, Alex notices Svend’s motorcycle and he and Pru attempt to get information about it. Meanwhile, Bea and Amy notice a kid wearing Alex’s hat and they call out to the kid. When the kid runs, Liam and Finn chase after him and Liam throws a rock at the kid, which hits him in the head. As Alex and the others meet up with them, the villagers start crowding around and angrily yelling at Liam. Kiko shows up and attempts to calm the situation down, then tells Alex and the others to follow him. He tells them that he knows of a secluded home that his uncle owns where they can stay until the bus shows up the next day. Meanwhile, Zamora meets with the men he hired, who tell him that Kiko is bringing the group to the cabin and Zamora reminds the men that he wants them alive, as they are no use to him if they are dead like Svend and Annika, killing one of the men in the process. Back in the jungle, Kiko stops at a waterfall and tells the group he knows of some underwater caves and wants to show them, Jumping off the falls and telling the others to follow him. Alex, Pru, Bea, and Finn walk along the rocks and then follow Kiko into the water but Amy and Liam choose to stay behind. Diving underwater, Kiko leads them underneath the falls, stopping at breathing spots along the way, until they come to an underwater cave. As they swim around, Kiko gets a strange look on his face and says that they should head back to the village, saying it will be safer and he can find them a ride out of there but refuses to say why he has changed his mind so the others insist on heading to the house as it is closer. Returning to Amy and Liam, who are caught making out, the group goes for one last swim when Kiko, showing Finn how to dive off the rocks, ends up hitting his head on a rock in the water, cutting his head open. Realizing they have to get him some help, Alex and the others make their way to the house and look for something to tend to Kiko’s injuries. Finn finds a medical staple gun and uses it to close up the wound and afterwards, Kiko gets up and walks off. The group decide to spend the night at the house but are woken in the middle of the night by a helicopter arriving nearby and Kiko’s uncle, Zamora arrives with several people. As Kiko rapidly speaks to Zamora in Portuguese, Zamora’s nurse tells Alex that they should run now, as Zamora has plans for them, Zamora dismisses Kiko, who leaves the house despite Alex and the others asking what is going on and when Zamora’s men grab Pru and Amy, Alex tries to stop them and ends up getting slashed in the back with a machete. Alex, Pru, Bea, and Liam are placed in dog cages outside while Amy and Finn are placed on operating tables. Zamora approaches and explains that Americans have exploited his people and land for years and now they exploit them by taking the organs from the poor in order to avoid waiting for lines on the transplant list so he decided to even the odds. Zamora proceeds to operate on Amy, removing her liver and kidneys but she ends up dying on the table. Meanwhile, Alex manages to get his knife out of his back pocket and manages to pass it to Bea, who cuts him free and then he does the same to her and the others. When Zamora sends one of his men to bring in another girl, they attempt to fight back and are helped by Kiko, who kills the guard. Alex tells Pru and Bea to head to the water fall while he and Kiko get Liam free, who says they have to rescue Finn. As they make their way inside, one of Zamora’s men, armed with a crossbow, finds the empty cages and reports it on his walkie talkie, then heads out into the woods, chasing after Pru and Bea. Meanwhile, Zamora is cleaning up after harvesting Amy’s organs and has his nurse prep Finn for surgery but Liam gets inside the house and manages to rescue him. As they attempt to escape, they are chased Zamora’s other man, and they use a hook to incapacitate him so they can escape. The man frees himself, then shoots Finn in the head and when Liam turns and begins shooting back at the man, he is shot as well. Zamora stops the man from killing Alex and Kiko, saying he needs them alive, and they quickly grab Liam’s body and drag him inside in an attempt to salvage what they can. Alex and Kiko run into Bea, who had gotten separated from Pru during the night, and they make their way to the underwater caves, where they find Pru hiding. Alex then starts to fight with Kiko, blaming him for Amy, Finn, and Liam’s deaths as he knew what was going to happen. Zamora and his men appear at the second entrance to the cave and start shooting at the group, injuring Alex and killing Kiko. Alex tells Pru and Bea to head back through the caves and Zamora sends the man with a crossbow into the water after them while he and the other man circle around the other way. Alex leads Pru and Bea through the underwater caverns but Bea gets separated from them as the man continues after them. Making their way to the various breathing holes, Bea and the killer end up at the same breathing hole and as they struggle with each other, Bea grabs a crossbow bolt from the man and stabs him in the neck, killing him. Alex finds Bea and brings him back to where Pru is and they attempts to leave only to find Zamora waiting for them there. Hiding behind some rocks, Alex manages to sneak up and attack Zamora, striking him repeatedly in the head with a rock before Pru and Bea stop him. When Zamora’s man shows up with his rifle, Zamora orders him to kill them but Pru pleads with him not to do what he says as he treats him so poorly. When Zamora calls the man a coward, the man shoots Zamora, then stares at Alex, Pru, and Bea before turning around and leaving. Alex, Pru, and Bea make their way down the river where they come to a village, and the villagers take them in and tend to their wounds. Some time later, the three are standing in line to board a plane and when he hears a couple behind him contemplating taking the bus, Alex turns and tells them to take the plane before boarding and the three fly away from the horrors they experienced.

Turistas was mostly panned by the critics, holding a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Beautiful scenery and cinematography can’t save Turistas from its wooden acting and stale and predictable plot.” In one of the underwater scenes, Olivia Wilde (Bea) is supposed to be panicking because she couldn’t find an air bubble. This actually was real, as Wilde missed her mark and couldn’t find the pocket and the safety divers were too far away to get there but she eventually found the pocket. The movie was a mild hit at the box office, earning $14.7 million off of a $10 million budget.

Slow, boring, and almost predictable. That’s about the best description I have for this movie. The acting was ok but I think Melissa George (Pru) was the only one to really stand out in my opinion, but a part of me feels like that was due to her being able to speak Portuguese. The story was interesting, albeit not entirely original, and while I did like them playing up the whole people being harvested for their body organs story, I felt like they took too long to actually get there. I mean, Zamora doesn’t show up and capture the kids until about an hour into the movie, making the last half hour feel really rushed. I will say the special effects weren’t too bad regarding the gore from Amy’s surgery and some of the other bloody scenes, and there was a fair amount of drama at the end to make up for the slow start. It’s not as bad as the critics say but it’s still not the best horror movie out there.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review

March 30th, 2018 Movie – Tucker & Dale Vs Evil

tucker and dale vs evil

Every now and then, an absolute gem of a movie will appear out of nowhere that you absolutely fall in love with. That is definitely the case with today’s movie. A few years ago, I was bored and suffering from a bout of insomnia so I decided to do what I normally do when I find myself in that situation; read something or watch Netflix. This particular night, Netflix won and I was going through my choices when I came across this movie. My mistake was definitely in watching this thinking it might put me to sleep because I wound up laughing so hard, I ended up staying up the entire night. So let’s end this work week with some laughs as I watch today’s movie, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.

The plot: A news reporter and her cameraman are at a crime scene hoping to find something the police missed when they are attacked by a man with a badly damaged face. 3 days earlier, a group of college kids (Allison, Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Mike, Mitch, and Todd) are going camping in the West Virginia mountains but are disturbed by a pair of hillbillies, Tucker and Dale, who pass them on the road. When the kids stop at a gas station to buy some beer, Dale becomes infatuated with Allison and Tucker tries to get him to go talk to them. Trying to take Tucker’s advise, Dale heads over to try and talk to Allison and the other women but ends up creeping them out before Chad warns him to stay away. As Tucker and Dale head up to the vacation home that Tucker bought and plan on renovating and when a cop pulls them over for a busted turn signal, he tells them that only death and suffering are up in that area. When they arrive at the cabin, Tucker and Dale head inside and are amazed at what they find, paying no attention to the newspaper clippings of a massacre that happened. Meanwhile, Allison and the others are sitting by their campfire when Chad starts telling them a story about the Memorial Day Massacre that took place in the area, where some hillbillies attack and kill some college kids, leaving only one survivor. When they discover a lake close by, they decide to go skinny dipping and Chad attempts to get close to Allison but she rebuffs his advances. Meanwhile, Tucker and Dale are doing some night fishing when they see Allison taking her clothes off on a rock. Dale covers his eyes and yells at Tucker for continuing to stare, which startles Allison and causes her to fall off the rock. When she doesn’t surface, Dale dives in to rescue her and Tucker helps him put her into the boat. Chloe and Chuck see them and, misunderstanding what is happening, think that Tucker and Dale are kidnapping Allison and go running back to their camp, despite Tucker yelling for them to come back. Tucker and Dale take Allison to their cabin and in the morning, Dale explains what happened and how her friends left her. Meanwhile, Chad is leading the search for Allison while Chuck goes to get the sheriff. When they find the cabin, they decide to send Mitch in to see if she is there. As Mitch approaches the cabin, Tucker is around back using a chainsaw to cut through a log when he cuts into a bees nest inside. Tucker goes running around, swinging the chainsaw wildly, and Mitch thinks he is psychotic and yells for the others to run as Tucker heads towards them. As Tucker goes running through the woods after Mitch, Mitch ends up impaling himself on a tree branch, while Tucker continues to run off. Back at the cabin, Dale and Allison have started talking and are playing trivial pursuit when Tucker returns, complaining about Dale not helping him. When Tucker says he saw one of Allison’s friends and she wants to go looking for them but Dale says she needs to rest and says that he and Tucker will go looking for them. Meanwhile, Chad and the others find Mitch’s body and Chad says that they left it there as a warning. When they hear Tucker and Dale approaching, they all quickly hide as they call out for the “college kids”. When they find no sign of them, and not noticing Mitch’s body behind them, they use Chad’s hatchet, which he left in the side of a tree, to carve a note for the college kids, saying that they have their friend. Returning to the cabin, Tucker is using a wood chipper to deal with some underbrush while Dale is working on digging a hole for the outhouse. Allison offers to help Dale and when Chad and the others see her, they think that Dale is making her dig her own grave and decide to attack Tucker and Dale to rescue Allison. As they move into position, Dale sees some of them and tells Allison her friends are here, then calls out to them. Allison sees Todd running at Dale with a handmade spear and yells out a warning, causing Dale to accidentally hit her with a shovel and knock her into the hole, with him falling into it as well and Todd ends up tripping and impaling himself on his spear in the hole next to Dale. Meanwhile, Mike attempts to attack Tucker but ends up falling into the wood chipper and Tucker tries to pull him out but Chloe and Naomi thinks that he is killing him. Dale takes Allison back into the cabin and he and Tucker tell what happens to each other and they think that the kids are involved in some sort of death/suicide cult and are trying to get Allison back to kill her. Meanwhile, Chad wants to kill Tucker and Dale but the others want to get help and see Chuck returning with the sheriff and go to them, leaving Chad in the woods. Tucker and Dale are trying to get Mike’s body out of the wood chipper when the sheriff arrives and they try to explain what has been going on. When he learns that Allison is inside, he follows them inside and checks on Allison but afterwards, accidentally knocks a beam loose and is impaled by some nails on the end of it. The sheriff stumbles back to his car and tries to call for help before he dies. Chuck gets out of the car and grabs the sheriff’s gun and tries to shoot them but when Dale tells him he has to take the safety off, Chuck ends up shooting himself. Chad was watching everything and runs out and grabs the gun and begins shooting at Tucker and Dale, who duck back inside the cabin. When Chad holds Dale’s dog hostage, Tucker hands Dale a nail gun to use as a distraction while he sneaks out the back door and goes to free Dale’s dog. Tucker ends up captured himself and Chad and the others tie him up, then Chad proceeds to cut off two of his fingers. Back at the cabin, Allison wakes up and Dale tries to explain what all has happened to her. Allison feels like this is a misunderstanding between everyone when a package is tossed at the cabin and Allison opens it to reveal Tucker’s severed fingers and a note from Chad and the others. Dale tells Allison to stay at the cabin while he goes to rescue Tucker, almost getting killed by a trap Chad and the others set. Meanwhile, Chad and Naomi enter the cabin to rescue Allison and Chad begins throwing gasoline on everywhere, planning on burning the cabin down. When Allison tries to get him to stop and explain it is a misunderstanding, Naomi thinks she is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, which enrages Chad and he accuses her of being in love with Dale. Just then, Dale and Tucker arrive and Allison convinces everyone to stop and try to talk things out. Chad explains that his parents were part of the Memorial Day Massacre and while his father died, his mother was the sole survivor but went insane over what happened. He was told the story by his grandmother, which resulted in his irrational hatred for hillbillies. Meanwhile, Jason and Chloe show up at the cabin, having seen no sign of Chad or Naomi in a while, and Jason barges in with a weed whacker and attempts to kill Tucker but Tucker ducks and Jason ends up attacking Naomi in the face. Chad attempts to attack Dale and when Tucker stops him, Chad throws a lantern at them, accidentally setting Jason on fire. Chloe attempts to put out the fire but accidentally uses moonshine, causing the blaze to spread and head towards the cans of gasoline. Tucker, Dale, and Allison manage to get out of the cabin before it explodes, killing Jason, Chloe, and Naomi. Chad survives, though part of his face is badly burned, and they quickly get in Tucker’s truck and try to get away but they end up crashing. When Dale comes too, he finds Allison missing and sees Tucker lying outside. Tucker tells Dale that Chad took Allison and convinces him to go after her so Dale takes his dog and goes after them. Tracking them to an abandoned saw mill, where Chad ties Allison to a log  and proceeds to kiss and lick her. When Dale shows up, he goes to free Allison but Chad activats the buzz saw and then attacks Dale. Dale manages to throw an axe at the ropes and cut Allison free and she helps him fend off Chad before the run into an upstairs office. As they look for something to defend themselves with, Allison finds a newspaper about the massacre and they discover that Chad’s father was the hillbilly murderer, who had tortured and raped his mother. When Chad shows up and goes to kill them, they tell him that he is half hillbilly, causing him to slip further into madness. When he moves to kill them, Dale throws some chamomile tea at him, causing him to suffer an asthma attack and fall out the window, apparently falling to his death. Later, Tucker is recovering in a hospital and watching a news report on the events when Dales pays him a visit. After sneaking him in a beer and asking how he is doing, Tucker shows Dale that the doctors found his fingers and sewed them back on, though they don’t look like his. Tucker then asks if Dale asked out Allison and Dale says no at first before admitting that they are going bowling. At the bowling alley, Dale gives Allison a helmet as a gift, suggesting that she wear it as she keeps getting knocked out, and they end up sharing a kiss, choosing to ignore when one of Dale’s friends knocks out a woman and starts dragging her away.

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Like the best horror/comedies, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil mines its central crazy joke for some incredible scares, laughs, and — believe it or not — heart.” In 2014, it was announced that a sequel was being worked on and both Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine confirmed that they were actively developing the project despite being busy with other commitments. The movie would only receive a limited release in theaters but almost broke even, earning $4.7 million off a $5 million budget

This is without a doubt one of the best horror/comedies to come out in a long time; possibly since Shaun Of The Dead. The acting was great, with Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine doing great jobs as Tucker and Dale respectively while Katrina Bowden (Allison) and Jesse Moss (Chad) were also good. The story was great, with the whole confusion mixed with freak accidents making for a ridiculously entertaining batch of deaths. The whole “Memorial Day Massacre” backstory didn’t really feel necessary as a means to explain Chad’s hatred for Tucker and Dale (and hillbillies in general) but it did set up for a nice bit of karmic irony at the end, as he ended up being the very thing he despised and most likely would have killed himself in a fit of self loathing had he succeeded in killing Dale and Allison. I also liked that they tried to instill a bit of a moral in the movie, with the whole don’t judge a book by it’s cover motive playing a big role in the events that took place. The effects involving the deaths were pretty good and I loved the pure random bad luck that played a part in them, as it was somewhat over the top but very effective. It can be a little gory at times, but this is definitely a movie worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, crime, drama, movie, movie review

March 29th, 2018 Movie – Truth Or Consequences, NM

truth or consequences nm

You ever go looking at a DVD and wonder why you own it, or how for that matter? That is the first thing that comes to mind regarding today’s movie. I mean, obviously I bought the movie but I don’t remember when or why for that matter. I have never seen this movie before so I can’t really say what would have motivated me to buy a movie I have never seen, with a subject matter that would not necessarily make for a leap of faith purchase like this. Well, no choice but to go ahead and see what I have with today’s movie, Truth Or Consequences, N.M.

The plot: Raymond Lembecke is getting released from prison and is met outside by his girlfriend Addy Monroe. 8 months later, Raymond and Addy meet with Marcus Weans and Curtis Freley at a diner, then head across the street to a photo shop. Sneaking around to the back, Raymond picks the lock to reveal it is the hideout for a drug dealer named Eddie Grillo. Raymond and his group are shocked to find Eddie and another man there, as the place was supposed to be empty at that time of day, while Eddie is pissed at seeing Raymond there. Eddie accuses Raymond of betraying him but Raymond tells him that he had gone to prison for Eddie and Eddie’s way of repaying him was to give him a lousy job. As tempers start to flare, Curtis shoots Eddie, then the other man and as he searches him, discovers that the man was an undercover cop and wearing a wire. Grabbing the cases of drugs, the group make a run out of the shop, getting in a shoot out with three police officers that show up and killing them as they make their escape. As they travel down the highway, they all begin arguing over what they should do, with Marcus blaming Curtis for putting them in the situation by shooting Eddie and the cop. Realizing that they need to switch vehicles, though Curtis doesn’t want to get rid of his car, they come across a couple, Gordon Jacobson and Donna Moreland, having a picnic and decide to steal their car but when they realize that they have an RV, they decide to take the couple with them. Meanwhile, the police are going over what they know of the incident and the people involved and it is revealed that Marcus is a deep cover fed working for the DEA. As Raymond and his group make their way towards Vegas, intending to sell the drugs and get away, Marcus attempts to leave notes for the police whenever he gets the chance. As the days pass, with a couple of close calls from the police, Gordon starts to develop a case of Stockholm Syndrome towards the group, which worries Marcus. When they stop at a rest stop, Marcus attempts to lead Gordon and Donna away from the RV so they can get away but Gordon yells out for Curtis when he goes looking for them. When a suburban pulls up at the rest stop, Curtis wants to kill the man and steal his car but Raymond and Marcus both tell him not to kill the guy so Curtis knocks him out and they place him in the RV while they all get in the suburban and leave. The police locate the RV and put an APB out on the suburban, resulting in Raymond driving the suburban off road to escape the cops. Pulling into a motel, they quickly switch cars and drive away, with the police driving right past them. They reach Vegas and Raymond, Marcus, and Curtis go to see Tony Vago to make a deal for the drugs, only to learn that Eddie was working for Vago, meaning the drugs were his. Curtis starts to apologize and says they will give back to drugs, then suddenly kills both of Vago’s bodyguards. As Curtis holds Vago at gunpoint, Raymond and Marcus loot his safe and they leave, with Curtis shooting Vago on the way out. Later, as Vago’s men try to figure out what they should do, a man named “Sir” shows up and says he has been sent by Vago’s boss to deal with the situation. The group head over to Raymond’s friend Wayne’s house and hide out there for a while, and Donna gets upset with Gordon over his wanting to imitate and befriend Curtis and the others. When Raymond, Curtis, Marcus, and Gordon go out to get some food, Gordon gets into an argument with a guy that bumps into him. The man starts to beat Gordon up when Gordon grabs a broken bottle and cuts the guy’s throat, shocking Raymond and the others. Curtis quickly grabs Gordon and shoves him towards Raymond, then finishes him off, then they head back to Wayne’s house to grab Addy and Donna and leave, with Raymond telling them they are heading to his brother’s place in New Mexico. Meanwhile, Wayne returns to his home to find Sir and some men waiting for him and they proceed to torture Wayne to learn where Raymond and the others are going, then kill him. Raymond and the others arrive at Raymond’s brother’s house and head inside, unaware that Sir’s men have the place under surveillance. That night, Marcus attempts to call his boss to let him know where they are but is forced to hang up when Raymond walks out of the bedroom. Getting suspicious and paranoid, Raymond has Marcus call the number back to verify what he said but Marcus’ boss, understanding the prearranged signal Marcus had used when he hung up, is able to convince Raymond Marcus was telling the truth. The next day, Raymond gets spooked and wants to go ahead and leave, especially after Addy tells him that she is pregnant. Curtis finds Sir’s lookout on the hill and captures him, just as the men show up to make the deal for the drugs. As the deal commences, Sir and his men arrive and begin shooting up the place, killing Curtis, the dealer, and his bodyguard. Marcus, who told Gordon and Donna the truth about him, tells them to follow his lead and get out of there. Raymond and Addy try to escape and get pinned down and as they exchange fire, Addy is killed while Sir goes to kill Donna but ends up being killed by Gordon. The DEA arrives and finish off the rest of Sir’s men, and Marcus goes to arrest Raymond, who is carrying Addy’s body. Seeing one of Sir’s men attempting to shoot Marcus, Raymond shoots him, prompting Marcus to fire and shoot Raymond but after realizing what happened, feels bad about it and walks away.

Truth Or Consequences, N.M. met with mostly negative results from the critics, holding a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that it was a decent thriller, though somewhat unoriginal in it’s scope. Despite the title of the movie, no filming took place in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, as all the filming took place in Utah and Nevada. The movie received a limited theatrical release, which some feel is why it didn’t get more critical reviews, and only earned $122,046 during it’s run.

Going in unawares, I have to admit that this is not that bad of a movie. The acting was pretty good, with Vincent Gallo (Raymond), Mykelti Williamson (Marcus), Kim Dickens (Addy), and Kiefer Sutherland (Curtis) all doing good jobs in their roles. I have to admit that Kiefer pretty much stole the show with his performance while Mykelti showed a much wider range of acting, which probably will surprise most people that only know him as Bubba from Forest Gump. I will admit that the story was a little unoriginal and honestly felt like it was kind of a poor man’s Tarantino movie stylistically. That being said, this was a pretty solid, albeit slow-paced, thriller. The drama was pretty good while the action scenes added some intensity to suck you in even further into the story. It might not be something that knocks your socks off but this is worth giving a shot.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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crime, dark comedy, drama, movie, movie review, romance

March 28th, 2018 Movie – True Romance

true romance

Man, there were a lot of notable movies to come out in the 90’s and today’s movie is no exception. This is honestly my first experience with Quentin Tarantino’s work, even though he wasn’t the one directing the movie. Now I remember seeing this in theaters and being thoroughly entertained by it. When I watched it again years later, I was honestly amazed at how many people were in it that I didn’t realize when I first saw it. I know several of my friends that saw this movie also enjoyed it so let’s see if True Romance is still as much fun now as it was back then.

The plot: Clarence Worley is attending a Sonny Chiba triple feature at a Detroit theater when a girl, Alabama Whitman, accidentally dumps her popcorn on him. As Alabama apologizes, she asks Clarence to fill her in on what she missed in the movie and the two start talking, continuing their conversation over pie after the movies. Clarence takes her back to the comic shop that he works at and shows her around and they end up having sex in Clarence’s apartment above the shop. Later that night, Alabama admits to Clarence that she is a call girl that Clarence’s boss hired for his birthday but that she has fallen in love with him. Clarence says he is in love with her and the two end up getting married the next day. Later that day, Clarence keeps thinking of Alabama’s pimp, Drexil, and has a vision of Elvis telling him he should kill Drexil and Clarence decides to go through with it. Clarence asks Alabama for Drexil’s address, saying he is going to go there to pick up her things, and she begs him not to go but he insists that he has too so she relents. Clarence goes to Drexil’s house and tells him he is Alabama’s husband and he wants her things and ends up getting into a fight with Drexil and his bodyguard, Marty. Clarence kills Drexil and Marty and tells one of the other call girls to put Alabama’s things in a suitcase but when he gets back to his place, they find the suitcase is filled with bags of cocaine. Clarence and Alabama go see Clarence’s father Clifford, a former cop, and Clarence asks him to asks his friends on the force to see if they are looking into Drexil’s murder. Clifford does so and says that the police think it was drug related, as Drexil was associated with a drug dealer Blue Lou Boyle. Clarence thanks Clifford for his help and gives him the address for his friend Dick in Los Angeles, where they are heading too. As Clarence and Alabama head to L.A., they call Dick, saying they will be there tomorrow, and ask him of they got the letters Clarence sent, as it would explain what they are coming there for. Meanwhile, Clifford is visited by Vincenzo Coccotti, Boyle’s consigliere, and his men, who proceed to interrogate Clifford for Clarence and Alabama’s location. Clifford tells them that they left on their honeymoon and didn’t tell him where and Vincenzo kills him. As he cleans up, Vincenzo tells his men to go to Clarence’s apartment and find out where he might have gone when one of his men finds the note Alabama left with Dick’s address and points it out to Vincenzo. In L.A., Clarence and Alabama arrive at Dick’s apartment and he is shocked that they really have a suitcase full of cocaine. When Clarence asks if he arranged a sell, Dick says he can’t do it but his friend Elliot works for someone that could handle that much cocaine. Clarence, Alabama, and Dick meet with Elliot at an amusement park and explain what they have and Elliot calls Lee Donowitz, a film producer, who agrees to meet with them to sample the merchandise. Meanwhile, one of Vincenzo’s men, Virgil, shows up at Dick’s apartment and speaks with his roommate Floyd, asking where Clarence and Alabama are and Floyd tells him the motel they are staying at. Clarence drops Alabama off at the hotel while he goes to get them some lunch but when Alabama walks into the room, she finds Virgil waiting inside with a shotgun. Virgil asks her about Clarence and the cocaine and she tries to lie but he proceeds to beat her to get the information. Virgil finally finds the cocaine and plans to kill Alabama but she fights back and manages to kill him just as Clarence returns, and he quickly grabs her and the cocaine and quickly leaves. Meanwhile, Elliot gets pulled over for speeding and tries to get the girl he is with to hide the cocaine he is carrying but she refuses and ends up smacking him with the bag, covering him in the powder. He is arrested and offers to cut a deal, telling them about the upcoming sale, and the two detectives, Nicky Dimes and Cody Nicholson, tell their captain about it and plan to wire Elliot to make a sting. As the day of the deal comes up, Clarence, Alabama, and Dick show up at the hotel and meet with Elliot but Clarence, feeling cautious after recent events, points a gun at Elliot and threatens him, causing the police listening in on the wire to worry that the op is blown but Elliot manages to convince Clarence that everything is fine. Meanwhile, Vincenzo’s men show up at Dick’s apartment and learn from Floyd where Clarence and Alabama went. Back at the hotel, Clarence and the others arrive at Lee’s penthouse and they make the deal for the cocaine. As Clarence goes to use the restroom, he is visited by Elvis again, who tells him everything is going fine. Meanwhile, the police got the information they need and show up to make the bust, just as Vincenzo’s men show up. Finding out that Elliot had set him up, Lee throws coffee in his face, causing a shoot out to occur. Clarence is wounded as he exits the bathroom and Alabama crawls over to him while Dick throws the cocaine in the air to cover his escape. Everyone ends up getting shot to death, while Clarence is shown to still be alive and Alabama grabs him and the suitcase with their money and they leave, using a standoff with the last mafia member to cover their escape. Clarence and Alabama head to Mexico to live, with Alabama giving birth to their son, which they decide to name Elvis.

True Romance met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Fueled by Quentin Tarantino’s savvy screenplay and a gallery of oddball performances, Tony Scott’s True Romance is a funny and violent action jaunt in the best sense.” It was Brad Pitt’s idea to make his character a stoner that never left the couch and the hat he is wearing in the movie was one that he found on the boardwalk and decided to keep it, wash it, and use it for the movie. Despite the good reviews, the movie did not fare well at the box office, earning $12.3 million off of a $12.5 million budget.

This is such a good movie an so many levels. The acting was really good, with Christian Slater (Clarence) and Patricia Arquette (Alabama) doing great jobs in the lead roles. I also liked all of the other characters that were in the movie, though I wish that Christopher Walken (Vincenzo) had a bigger role in the movie than just the one scene. The story was incredible and very well written, indicative of Tarantino’s style for story telling. I will admit that the scene with Virgil beating up Alabama to get the information is a bit rough to watch but her fighting back and killing him made it memorable and if possible, more powerful. The drama involved was great in moving the story forward and the fire fight scene, while a bit over the top, had a bit of a poetic feel to it. A great movie and one that earns it’s own place in Tarantino’s hand crafted cinematic universe.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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March 27th, 2018 Movie – True Lies

true lies

You know, usually I try to have something witty or funny to say about the movies I watch but regarding today’s movie, I am kind of at a blank. I mean I remember seeing this in theaters and on TV numerous times and enjoying it. When I saw it on DVD for cheap, I obviously decided to buy a copy of it. For all of this, I honestly can’t think of much to say about this movie. Well, I might as well get on and watch today’s movie, True Lies.

The plot: At a high class party in Switzerland, Harry Tasker, a secret agent for Omega Sector, manages to sneak inside and, after locating the owner of the house Jamal Khaled, Harry sneaks up to his office to bug his computer. Keeping in touch with the rest of his team, Albert “Gib” Gibson and Faisil, Harry leaves the office, but security gets suspicious and so Harry dances with a woman, Juno Skinner, to avoid them. Making his way outside, Harry tries to just walk through the front gate but is stopped by security so he detonates the explosives he had set up before hand, then fights his way through security, eventually meeting up with his team. After arriving back in the states, Harry returns home to his wife Helen and daughter Dana, who are unaware of his real job, believing him to be a computer salesman. The next day, Harry’s boss, Spencer Trilby, berates Harry, Gib, and Faisil over the fiasco their mission turned into and Faisil tries to explain what they have so far but Spencer doesn’t believe it is enough hard evidence. After digging into the files some more, Faisil discovers that Jamal sent $2 million to Juno, so Harry decides to go find out more. Posing as an art consultant, Harry visits Juno at her office in DC to try and find out what her connection is, not noticing some of her workers watching him. After Harry leaves, one of the workers, Salim Abu Aziz, asks to speak with Juno alone and when Juno’s assistant leaves, Aziz slaps Juno and tells her that they are being watched and suspects Harry is a government agent. Aziz and two of his men follow Harry as he leaves the hotel to head back home but Gib spots them so they detour to a mall. Aziz’s men attack Harry in the bathroom but he manages to defeat them, only for Aziz to show up and start shooting at Harry. Harry fires back and then chases after Aziz, with Aziz grabbing a motorcycle and Harry commandeering a police officer’s horse. The chase eventually makes it’s way to a hotel roof, where Aziz jumps the motorcycle off of the roof and into the pool of another hotel across the street, and Harry can only stare in frustration as he gets away. Harry returns home and apologizes to Helen but she is upset that he missed the birthday dinner she and Dana prepared for him. The next day, Harry decides to make things up to Helen by surprising her for lunch but he overhears her taking a call from someone named Simon and leaving to meet him. Upset at the idea that Helen might be cheating, Harry has Gib put surveillance equipment into Helen’s purse and then they follow her to her meeting with Simon. As they listen in on Helen and Simon’s conversation, they realize that Simon is passing himself off as a secret agent and using Harry’s exploits as his cover. Learning that Simon is actually a used car salesman, Harry approaches the dealership and talks with Simon during a test drive, learning that he hasn’t done anything yet with Helen. That night, Simon calls Helen and asks her to meet him and he takes her to his trailer, claiming it is a safe house. Inside, he asks her to go to Paris with her as the cover for his mission and Helen agrees but when Simon says they need to practice the part of being a married couple, Helen balks at actually cheating on Harry. Suddenly, Harry and a team of Sector Omega agents, wearing masks, break into the trailer and take Helen and Simon captive. Helen is placed in an interrogation room and Harry and Gib, disguising their voices, interrogate Helen and learn that she had gotten involved with Simon in order to add some excitement to what she felt was a boring life but never slept with him. Harry tells Helen they will be in touch and sends her home, then he and Gib take Simon out to the middle of nowhere and warn him to leave town. The next night, Helen is told to dress sexy and head to the hotel to seduce the man inside an plant a bug on his phone. When she gets there, she sees a man sitting in a chair and is told to undress and start dancing, not knowing that it is Harry sitting there. Harry attempts to kiss her but Helen hits him with the phone, plants the bug, and goes to leave only to stop when Harry calls out to her. Before Harry can explain, Aziz’s men break into the room and grab them both, taking them to a private jet that Juno has waiting for them. Harry tries to convince them to let Helen go but when Helen, shows Juno her locket with pictures of her and Harry, Juno has her brought along as insurance. Harry and Helen are taken to an island off the Florida Keys, where Aziz has smuggled 4 Soviet nuclear warheads, hidden inside some of Juno’s statues. Aziz has Harry verify the warheads are real, revealing to Helen that Harry is a spy, and then has him and Helen taken away for interrogation. Harry is given truth serum and while under the effects, Helen asks him how long he was a spy and he reveals that he was a spy since before they got married. Harry manages to pick his restraints and kill the interrogator and the guards, then he and Helen make their escape. They see Aziz making a video and talking about blowing up the island as a test, then threatening to detonate a warhead in a major city every week unless the U.S. pulls it’s forces out of the Persian Gulf. Realizing they have to stop them, Harry and Helen make their way through Aziz’z compound, with Harry taking out as many men as possible but Helen ends up being captured and placed in a limo with Juno while Harry escapes being blown up. Gib and the Sector Omega agents arrive and Harry explains the situation as they fly off to rescue Helen and stop the missiles. Warning people to stay clear of the island and for the Coast Guard to air lift anyone that can’t get clear, Harry calls in for air support and 2 Harrier jets arrive and take out the bridge, causing the two trucks to crash into the ocean. Meanwhile, Helen begins fighting with Juno, which causes the driver of the limo to accidentally be shot and the car to go out of control. Flying in a helicopter towards them, Harry climbs onto the landing skids and leans down to grab Helen just before the limo plunges off the ruined bridge. Landing the Harriers and helicopters on the highway safely away from the blast zone, Harry and Helen embrace and kiss as the warhead detonates in the background. Gib tells HArry that Aziz has the last warhead at a Miami office building and had grabbed Dana to use as a hostage so Harry jumps into one of the Harriers and flies off to rescue her. At the building, Aziz has a film crew brought in so he can make his demands but while they are not looking, Dana steals the ignition key for the warhead. When he notices it missing, Aziz chases after her with some of his men. Faisil, who was disguised as the cameraman, takes out the remaining soldiers on that floor while Harry arrives and uses the Harrier to take out the others in the building. Dana makes her way out on a crane on the roof and Aziz follows her, ordering his remaining men to get in the helicopter and kill Harry. Harry manages to grab Dana as she jumps onto the nose of the plane and Aziz jumps onto the plane afterwards, and attempts to kill Harry. During the struggle, Aziz ends up stuck onto one of the Harrier’s missiles and Harry fires it at the helicopter, killing Aziz and the last of his men. One year later, Harry’s family life has improved and Helen is shown to have joined Sector Omega. Harry and Helen go on an assignment and, seeing Simon there attempting to seduce another woman, quickly scare him off before dancing a tango while waiting for their contact.

True Lies met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “If it doesn’t reach the heights of director James Cameron’s and star Arnold Schwarzenegger’s previous collaborations, True Lies still packs enough action and humor into its sometimes absurd plot to entertain.” The movie was a box office success, earning $378.9 million off of a $120 million budget and garnered several award nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects and a Golden Globe win for Jamie Lee Curtis for Best Actress. A sequel was planned which would have reunited the principal cast and a script was written but the movie was scrapped, or at least indefinitely shelved, after 9/11.

James Cameron isn’t really known for his comedies but this is a pretty decent action-comedy. The acting was good, with Arnold Schwarzenegger (Harry) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Helen) doing good jobs in their roles. Tom Arnold made for some great comedic relief as Gib while Art Malik (Aziz) and Tia Carrere (Juno) made for some great bad guys. The story was interesting and had a good mixture of action and comedy going for it that kept it from being too serious while not losing any of the entertainment value. The action scenes were a little over the top, which is to be expected, but no less entertaining. This isn’t something that will absolutely blow you away but it will provide you with some laughs and excitement and makes for an entertaining watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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March 26th, 2018 Movie – TRON: Legacy

tron legacy

Sometimes, patience pays off when it comes to sequels. Take today’s movie for instance. Ever since TRON came out, fans have been clamoring for a sequel but it really took off at the beginning of the century and in 2005, Disney finally decided to get serious with it. Now when I first heard about the sequel, I was really excited. I mean, TRON was so amazing in it’s special effects that I hoped the improvements in technology would make this movie just as amazing. So let’s see if all the patience paid off with today’s movie, TRON: Legacy.

The plot: In 1989, seven years after taking over Encom, Kevin Flynn is telling his son Sam about the Grid and his adventures in there. He also tells him how he worked with Tron and Clu to build a new Grid when something amazing occurred, a miracle Flynn says, though he doesn’t go into detail. Flynn leaves for work but the next day he disappears, throwing his company into chaos and causing the board to seize control of the company from Flynn’s partner, Alan Bradley. In the present day, Sam makes his way to Encom Tower one night and sneaks into the building during a late night board meeting. Inside the board meeting, Chairman Richard Mackey is touting the success of Encom to the board before mentioning their latest operating software’s upcoming release, praising it’s developer Edward Dillinger (son of Ed Dillinger), then says that Encom will be traded on Japan’s Nikkei index, resulting in Encom stocks trading worldwide 24/7. Meanwhile, Sam breaks into the server room, unintentionally tripping an alarm, and as the security searches for him, he uploads the master file for Encom’s newest operating software onto the internet before making his escape. As the board members discover what happened, Sam makes his way to the roof, revealing to the security guard that he is Sam Flynn, who happens to be the majority share holder in the company, and then does a base jump off the building but as he tries to make it to his motorcycle, he is captured by the police. After bailing himself out of jail, Sam returns to his apartment to find Alan waiting for him. After congratulating him on his annual prank, Alan tells Sam that he received a page from Flynn’s office at the arcade, even though the service had been cut off years ago, and suggests Sam go check it out, tossing him the keys to the arcade. Though he thinks it is a waste of time, Sam decides to head to the arcade and after looking around and finding nothing, he starts to leave but finds himself drawn to the old TRON video game. Deciding to play it for old times sake, Sam notices scratches on the floor and discovers a hidden room behind the console. Searching around, he finds a running computer, that had been idle for 20 years, and starts trying to access it only to accidentally activate the laser behind him, which blasts him. Not sure what just happened, Sam leaves the building only to realize that he has been transported to the Grid, just as a Recognizer approaches him and he is captured. When the Recognizer lands, one of the soldiers scans Sam and the other captured programs and Sam is sentenced to “Games”. He is taken to a chamber, where 4 Sirens remove his clothes and give him a uniform and an identity disk. Sam asks what he is supposed to do now and Gem, the head Siren, tells him to survive. Sam exits the chamber to find himself in an arena and forced to compete in disk wars with other programs, as a ship approaches and a masked figure watches from above. Sam kills 2 programs and then attempts to escape but ends up in a different arena, where he is forced to face off with the Games’ champion, Rinzler. As Sam and Rinzler fight, Rinzler gets the upper hand but before he can finish him off, Rinzler notices Sam bleeding from a cut he received and realizes that he is a User. The leader demands that Sam identify himself and when Sam says his name is Sam Flynn, the leader has Sam brought to him. In the leaders chamber, the leader unmasks to reveal the face of Kevin Flynn and Sam is shocked to see his father alive but after talking with him, realizes that it is Clu, not his father. Clu decides to kill Sam in a light cycle duel, facing him in a 5 on 5 team battle, but as Clu prepares to finish off Sam, a strange car enters the arena and rescues Sam. After escaping the arena, the driver unmasks to reveal a woman, who introduces herself as Quorra, who says that Clu’s forces won’t be able to follow as they are not designed to go off grid. Quorra takes Sam to a home in the mountains, where Sam is reunited with his father, who is shocked to see Sam in the Grid. As they eat, Sam and Flynn catch up briefly before Sam asks why Flynn never came home. Flynn tells him that when he first started working in the Grid, he brought over Tron, which Alan had built, and then created a new version of Clu, hoping that between the 3 of them they could build the perfect system. Then, one day, he discovered ISOs, isomorphic algorithms, which Flynn did not create but somehow appeared on their own. Flynn felt that they could help unlock some of life’s greatest mysteries but Clu saw them as an imperfection that needed to be destroyed and led a coupe against Flynn. Tron was killed trying to help Flynn escape and Flynn ended up trapped in the Grid when the portal closed, as it would only stay open for 8 hours and could only be opened from the outside world. Sam says that they should just leave now while the portal is still open but Flynn tells him that Clu wanted someone to open the portal, as he was planning something and needed a new player on the board in order to draw him out of hiding, saying that Clu needed his identity disk in order to try and leave the Grid and go to the real world. Flynn heads to bed and Sam feels frustrated that he doesn’t seem to want to try and leave and Quorra tells Sam to go find Zuse, as he helped her out during the fights and she felt he could be trusted. Sam heads to the city and is met by Gem, who takes him to the End of Line club. Back at the house, Flynn discovers that Sam is gone and decides to take Quorra and go after him. Meanwhile, Clu’s major-domo, Jarvis, tells him they found Flynn’s light cycle and traced it back to it’s origin so Clu, Jarvis, Rinzler, and 2 soldiers head to Flynn’s house only to find it empty. At the End of Line club, Gem introduces Sam to Castor, the club’s owner, who reveals that he is Zuse and seems surprised to learn that Quorra is still alive. Zuse tells Sam that he is someone that likes to play the angles, just as 4 of Clu’s soldiers drop in through the ceiling. Sam decides to join in the fight against the soldiers and Quorra appears to help him but she is injured in the fight. Suddenly, Flynn shuts the room down, allowing the resistance to defeat the soldiers and he tells Sam to grab Quorra and they go to leave but one of the soldiers manages to grab Flynn’s disk before they leave, only to be killed by Zuse, who grabs the disk for himself. Flynn chastises Sam for his actions but decides that the only thing they can do is go with Sam’s idea to make a dash for the portal so they board a solar sailer heading to the wastelands. While they are travelling, Flynn works on trying to help repair Quorra, revealing that she is the last ISO, and afterwards, he talks with Sam for a bit before heading off to meditate. Meanwhile, Clu shows up at the club and speaks with Zuse, who offers a deal to give Clu the disk in exchange for control of the city but Clu simply takes the disk and then blows up the club, killing Zuse and Gem. Back on the sailer, Quorra recovers and as they continue riding, Sam and Quorra end up bonding. Flynn sees them and smiles but his smile fades when he sees a Recognizer close by and sees the sailer pulling into a waystation that shouldn’t be there. Telling Sam and Quorra to hide, they see that Clu is using the station as a launching base for an army and realize they have to get to the portal to stop Clu. Seeing Rinzler close by, Quorra hands her disk to Flynn and then runs out to act as a distraction so Flynn and Sam can escape. When Rinzler captures Quorra, Flynn recognizes his moves and mannerism and realizes that Rinzler is Tron, who wasn’t killed but repurposed by Clu. Clu has Quorra taken to his chamber, along with Flynn’s disk, and he then speaks to his army, and Sam and Flynn realize Clu figured out how to bring programs over to the real world. Sam tells Flynn that they have to get Flynn’s disk and Quorra back and tells Flynn to get them some transport to the portal. Sam makes his way to Clu’s chamber, dealing with the guards along the way, and then grabs Flynn’s disk from where Clu had it kept. Grabbing Jarvis, Sam asks where Quorra is just as Rinzler arrives with her and Sam faces off against Rinzler, allowing Quorra to knock him off the platform. Freeing Quorra, Sam grabs a set of glider wings and jumps out of the tower with her, then races to the light jet that Flynn grabbed. As they leave, Clu enters his chamber and kills Jarvis for allowing them to take the disk, then he, Rinzler, and some of Clu’s soldiers activate their own light jets and give chase. With Quorra piloting and Sam manning the rear guns, they begin battling Clu’s soldiers and manage to kill them. When Rinzler attacks them, Flynn calls out to his old friend, causing Rinzler to fall back as his memories of Flynn reemerge, then crash into Clu in order to save Flynn. As Clu and Rinzler fall, Rinzler goes to grab his spare control stick but Clu grabs it from him and uses it while Rinzler plunges into the waters below, with his uniform reverting back to it’s original coloring. Flynn, Sam, and Quorra arrive at the portal only to find Clu waiting for them and Flynn goes to face him, apologizing for his part in their fallout. Clu attacks Flynn and when Sam goes to defend him, Flynn grabs Quorra and tells her she knows what to do. Quorra moves in front of Sam, pushing him back towards the portal while Flynn tells Clu to ignore them as he is after Flynn’s disk. Clu grabs Flynn’s disk only to discover that Flynn had switched disks with Quorra. As Clu’s ship appears, Flynn yells at Sam to take Quorra out of there and then merges with Clu, causing an explosion that destroys Clu’s ship and the portal area. Back in the real world, Sam downloads the details of the Grid onto a memory chip, which he wears around his neck, then heads out of the secret office. In the arcade, Sam sees Alan looking around and explains that he paged him there to tell him they are taking back Encom, with Sam making Alan the new chairman of the board. Outside, Sam sees Quorra by his motorcycle, who asks what they will do now, and Sam says that they will do what his father asked and change the world, then he has her get on the bike and they ride off, with Sam letting Quorra experience her first sunrise.

TRON: Legacy met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Tron: Legacy boasts dazzling visuals, but its human characters and story get lost amidst its state-of-the-art production design.” While Jeff Bridges was always slated to return, none of the other characters from the original movie were written into the movie. However, public outcry from Bruce Boxleitner and fans of the original movie caused the writers to add him in and his performance was so popular, he returned to play Tron in the animated series TRON: Uprising. The movie was a box office success, earning $400 million off of a $170 million budget and a sequel was planned but has since been placed on indefinite hiatus while Disney considers rebooting the series.

After years of wait, I have to say that I enjoyed this movie but felt like it could have been better. The acting was good, with Jeff Bridges doing a great job returning as Kevin Flynn/Clu, though it felt like a little bit of The Dude had made it’s way into his portrayal of Kevin Flynn. Bruce Boxleitner was also good returning as Alan/Tron, while Gerrett Hedlund (Sam) and Olivia Wilde (Quorra) were equally good but my favorite character was Michael Sheen (Zuse), who was the most entertaining character next to Flynn himself. The story was pretty interesting and I liked how they acknowledged the time difference from the original movie to this one, such as the computer in the secret office showing the 20 year idle screen. I will agree with the critics that the movie did kind of lack some character developement, but mainly regarding Sam and Quorra, who came across as kind of bland despite their being two of the main characters. The special effects were incredible and definitely showcased the advancement in technology since the original movie. I also liked that they tried to incorporate a lot of aspects from the original movie into this, from the Recognizers, tanks, and light cycles, to aspects of Encom tower and the laser that zapped Sam. A good follow up to a cult classic and one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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March 25th, 2018 Movie – TRON

tron

When you think of Disney, everyone will always think of their animated features first and foremost, although recently some people might say that the MCU and Star Wars movies might be more prominent. However, even before they bought those franchises, Disney would occasionally make their own foray into the realm of science fiction. Today’s movie is probably Disney’s biggest cult classic film as I don’t think I have met too many people who have seen it that have not enjoyed this movie. I remember watching this on VHS years ago and 5 year old me thought that it was absolutely fantastic. To this day, I still enjoy it and as soon as it was available on DVD, I would buy a copy of it. So now let’s have some 80’s retro enjoyment with today’s movie, TRON.

The plot: At Flynns, a popular video arcade, people line up to play a series of popular games. Inside one of the games, a program called Sark is racing a light cycle against the player and ends up winning the race by crashing his opponent into the light wall. LAter, Sark returns to his control ship and speaks with Master Control, the main system program for Encom’s computers, tells him that he absorbed some military software and wants Sark to battle their programs and defeat them in order to fully integrate them into himself. Elsewhere, a banking program is placed into a cell, where he meets Ram, another program, and Ram explains that they are there for believing in the Users, the people that programmed them. Back in the real world, Kevin Flynn, a former programmer for Encom, sends his hacking program Clu into Encom’s systems looking for some files he needs. In the system, Clu, accompanied by his data sprite Bit, is riding in a tank into the high clearance memory when he is confronted by a squad of Recognizers. Clu attempts to fight his way through them but ends up crashing his tank, then yells at Bit to get out of there before he is captured. Clu is taken to see Master Control, who tortures Clu to find out who programmed him but when Clu refuses to talk, Master Control has him erased and then contacts Ed Dillinger, the Senior Executive Vice President of Encom. Dillinger returns to the home office and access his computer to talk with Master Control, who tells him that Flynn has been snooping around the system looking for the files and Dillinger suggest suspending the higher level access to try and keep Flynn out. In his cubicle, Alan Bradley finds his access has been suspended and goes to see Dillinger, who tells him the issue and says it will only be for a few days. He then asks what Alan is working on and Alan tells him his program is called Tron; a watchdog/security program that will ensure that systems are not accessing files they are not supposed to. After Alan leaves, Master Control contacts Dillinger and tells him that he doesn’t like the idea of an independent program running around in his system, as he has appropriated countless outside programs. Alan heads down to the research lab to see his girlfriend Lora, who is working on a project with her mentor Dr. Walter Gibbs that consists of  a laser and program that will digitize solid matter and reconstruct it into the computer. Alan tells Lora about level 7 access being suspended because someone was hacking the system and she says that Flynn had mentioned trying to get into the system and had the proper access. The two head to Flynn’s arcade and talk to him and he admits that he had been trying to hack into the system. He explains that he had invented the video game Space Paranoid and several others while he was working at Encom but one day he found his files missing and 3 months later, Dillinger presents the games to the board and advances up the ranks. Flynn has been trying to find the files in the Master Control Program’s memory to show as proof but with level 7 access suspended, he won’t be able to do so. When Alan mentions his Tron program, Flynn says he could forge a level 6 access if he had physical access to the system and Lora says they should go right now. Heading back to Encom, Flynn hacks the security door so they can get into the building unannounced then separate, with Alan heading to his terminal to get ready to activate Tron while Lora taking Flynn to her station so he can hack into the system. Meanwhile, Dillinger is meeting with Gibbs, who is arguing about cutting the programmers access and complains about how the company has changed since he first helped found it. Afterwards, Dillinger is talking to Master Control, who says he plans on hacking the Pentagon and Kremlin, threatening to release the file about Dillinger’s theft of Flynn’s intellectual property to the Times if Dillinger tries to stop him. Lora shows Flynn her terminal then heads up to meet with Alan, leaving Flynn to try to get into the system. As Flynn starts working at the terminal, Master Control speaks out to him and warns him to stop but when Flynn continues on his task, Master Control activates the laser and blasts Flynn, transporting him into the computer system, where he is captured by Sark’s men. Master Control contacts Sark and tells him he wants Flynn placed in the games so he can be killed and when Sark balks upon hearing that Flynn is a user, Master Control threatens to shut him down unless he does as instructed. Flynn is taken out of his cell along with the other newly captured programs, and Sark addresses them and says they will all be competing in the games for the chance to join his men in service to the MCP. As they are walking back to their cells, Flynn sees a program fighting against 4 of Sark’s men and asks Ram who he is and Ram tells him that it is Tron. Later, Flynn is forced to compete in a game against another free program, playing a form of paddle ball on a series of rings, which disappear when the ball hits them. Flynn manages to get the upper hand on his opponent but when Sark orders him to finish the game and kill his opponent, Flynn refuses. Sark then kills Flynn’s opponent and considers killing Flynn but recalls Master Control’s orders and has him escorted to the next game. Flynn meets up with Ram and Tron, who Flynn is surprised to see looks like Alan. When Flynn calls him Alan, Tron remarks that that is his user and Flynn lies, telling him that his user sent him here to help him take out the MCP. Flynn, Tron, and Ram are sent into the light cycle grid and compete in a team battle against 3 of Sark’s men in a 3 on 3 match. During the course of the match, one of Sark’s men crashes into the wall and causes an opening, which Flynn escapes through, following by Tron and Ram. The three manage to avoid the Recognizers and tanks that Sark sends after them and then look around the area. Seeing an input/output tower in the distance, Tron says he has to head there and make contact with Alan or else they won’t be able to get close the the MCP. As the three head out, they are attacked by a group of tanks and Flynn and Ram’s light cycles are destroyed while Tron, thinking they are dead, continues to escape, pursued by Sark and his men. Flynn and Ram survived, though Ram is seriously injured, and Flynn carries him into the wreckage of a Recognizer and lays him down before passing out himself. After resting for a bit, Flynn notices that some of the Recognizer’s systems have come online and he discovers he is able to rebuild it, using his knowledge as a User, to do so. Flying off to meet with Tron, Flynn tells Ram that he will get him some help but Ram motions for him to come closer. Stopping the Recognizer, Flynn approaches Ram, who recognizes him as a User and begs him to help Tron and as Flynn promises, Ram smiles before he derezzes. Meanwhile, Tron has reached the tower and contacts Yori, a program that looks like Lora in the real world, and when she recognizes him, she embraces Tron then leads him to Dumont, who can help him contact Alan. Back in the Recognizer, Flynn finds himself struggling to control it due to damage it had previously sustained, while a Bit begins floating around his head and commenting on his driving. Flynn eventually crashes into the outskirts of the tower and goes looking for Tron but is forced to hide when Sark and some of his men walk by. Noticing a straggler, Flynn knocks him out but as he goes to move the body, Flynn realizes that his circuitry has instinctively changed colors to mimic one of Sark’s men. Meanwhile, Tron and Yori manage to sneak into Dumont’s chamber and convince Dumont to help Tron contact Alan. With Dumont locking Sark’s forces out of the tower, Tron is able to contact Alan, who places the information needed to shut down the MCP onto Tron’s identity disk. Tron and Yori leave the chamber just as Sark and his men manage to break through and capture Dumont for helping Tron. Tron and Yori board a solar-sailer simulation to make their way to the MCP’s core and Tron fights off Sark’s men who try to stop him, unintentionally knocking Flynn off the ship, though he manages to cling to the simulation’s side. As they sail along the information beam, Sark’s control ship attempts to catch up to them but Lori is able to speed up the simulation and escape. As he heads back to Yori, Tron notices Flynn, who calls out to stop Tron from attacking him, and Tron helps him aboard and smiles to see his friend still alive but is saddened to learn of Ram’s death. Tron introduces Flynn to Yori and Flynn tells them that he is a User, which surprises Tron and Yori. When they find their progress stopped by a power surge from the MCP, Flynn uses his body as a gateway to link the simulation to another data stream, allowing the power surge to destroy the two Recognizers that were following them. Tron and Yori are surprised to find that Flynn isn’t derezzing and believe that he is a user but as they continue towards the MCP, Sark’s ship broadsides them and destroys the simulation, seemingly killing Tron while Flynn and Yori are captured. The two are placed in a cell with Dumont and when Sark enters, he is shocked to see Flynn is still alive. Sark orders Dumont taken to his landing shuttle, and tells Flynn that after he leaves, the ship will derezz, along with everyone left on board but unknown to Sark, Tron is still alive and clings to the outside of the shuttle. Sark leaves and the ship begins to derezz but Flynn is able to keep it from completely being destroyed, and saves Yori so she can help him. At the MCP, Sark has the religious zealots taken into the MCP, where Master Control begins to absorb them into himself. Tron shows up and begins fighting with Sark, eventually dealing him a fatal blow but when he goes to attack Master Control, the MCP brings up a shield, then uses his power to resurrect Sark into a giant. When Flynn and Yori arrive, Flynn has Yori steer the ship close to the information beam, then jumps into it, distracting the MCP long enough to expose an opening in the shield. Tron throws his disk through the opening and into the MCP, where it is eventually destroyed. As Tron, Yori, Dumont, and the others watch, the I/O Towers change colors, showing that they are no longer under the control of the MCP. Meanwhile, Flynn is blasted back into the real world and as he gets his bearings, a printer begins printing out the information Flynn had been looking for and he cheers at the success. The next day, Dillinger walks into his office and accesses his computer only to see the information about his stealing Flynn’s games has been displayed to every computer in the building and he sits down, realizing his career is ruined. Some time later, Alan and Lora are on the roof of Encom tower waiting for their new boss to arrive and as the helicopter lands, Flynn gets out and hugs his two friends, saying “Greetings programs”, referencing his time in The Grid.

TRON met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though perhaps not as strong dramatically as it is technologically, TRON is an original and visually stunning piece of science fiction that represents a landmark work in the history of computer animation.” The movie was considered a failure, despite earning $33 million off of a $17 million budget, but the video games developed based on the movie would prove to be a major hit and would actually out-gross the movie. Tron was actually disqualified from receiving an Oscar nomination for special effects because at the time, the Academy felt that using computers was “cheating”. TRON would develop a cult following and aside from various video games, it would get a film sequel almost 30 years later, as well as an animated TV series that would bridge somewhat bridge the gap and lead into the sequel.

Yes, this movie is somewhat dated but I still love this movie. The acting was great, with Jeff Bridges (Flynn/Clu), David Warner (Dillinger/Sark. Master Control), and Bruce Boxleitner (Alan/Tron) doing great jobs in their roles. I also thought that Condy Morgan (Lora/Yori) and Barnard Hughes (Gibbs/Dumont) were equally good, though they unfortunately seemed to come across more as supporting characters. The story was a pretty good action/sci-fi movie as a whole, while also doing a good job of showcasing the fears that some people felt in the 80’s, and still do today, about computers starting to gain more control and self autonomy, to the point where they could eventually replace people. The special effects for the time were incredible and considered groundbreaking, especially the blend of computer animation with human actors. I loved the color scheme used in The Grid, with the bright colors mixed with the bland backgrounds making for some vivid imagery during some scenes. Yes, there might be some nostalgia involved but this is still a movie that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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