action, adventure, animation, kaiju movie, movie, movie review, sci-fi

May 26th, 2019 Movie – Godzilla: The Planet Eater

godzilla the planet eater

A holiday weekend, which is a good thing because I theoretically could catch up on some sleep. Unfortunately, that has never been the case for me as I am usually fairly busy during this particular 3-day weekend. Anyways, today we are finishing up our jaunt through the Netflix Godzilla trilogy. Now I was eagerly awaiting this movie to come out, as they had pretty much set up a fight between Godzilla and his biggest nemesis, Ghidorah. However, before it debuted on Netflix, I started hearing some reviews from people that had seen it in Japan and were disappointed in it. That had me a little nervous about what I was going to be getting, but then I decided to ignore what they said and simply enjoy a brand new Godzilla movie like I always do. So let’s relax this weekend with today’s movie, Godzilla: The Planet Eater.

The plot: As the remainder of Haruo’s team recovers from Godzilla’s assault on Mechagodzilla City, Metphies muses to himself on the Exif’s having observed and influenced humanity for centuries, and how he had been waiting for someone like Haruo in order to fulfill his own plans. Meanwhile, Haruo and Martin are observing Godzilla, who has gone to sleep in order to rest and recharge his own powers. On board the Aratrum, Dolu-Do, the Bilusaludo member of the committee, argues that Haruo should be put to death for his actions in destroying Mechagodzilla but the humans argue about Haruo revealing the Bilusaludo’s real endgame towards humanity and feels that Haruo should be commended for his actions. Back on Earth, Martin tells Haruo that Yuko is completely brain-dead, with only the nanometals in her body keeping her alive. When Metphies arrives and tells him about the discussion going on in the Aratrum, some of the crew believe Haruo was spared from the nanometals by an act of God, saying it is proof that his decisions were right. As other crew members start telling their own stories of how they survived against the nanometal, more of them begin joining Metphies religion. Martin tells Haruo that all of the people that survived the nanometal had been treated for injuries by the Houtua, including Haruo, and that some antibody in the treatment is what saved them, not a miracle. Haruo confronts Metphies about his misleading people, but Metphies says that he needed to as he planned to get Haruo and the others to help him summon his god, Ghidorah, to destroy Godzilla, but he needs Haruo to help him with that. Back on the Aratrum, the Bilusaludo mutiny and take over the engine room, shutting off power to the station unless Haruo is held accountable for the destruction of Mechagodzilla City. Back on Earth, Adam leads some of the other newly converted members of the Exif religion to build a temple where they can worship. Meanwhile, Martin tells Haruo what is going on on board the Aratrum and suggest the best thing for Haruo to do is to disappear for a while until everyone has a chance to calm down. Martin had convinced Miana to hide Haruo and she takes him back to the hut that he had woken up in. The two talk, with Miana telling him that to the Houtua, winning is to survive and losing is to die and Haruo, with their help, will win. Miana then removes her clothes and attempts to sleep with Haruo but he asks that he just be allowed to rest in peace. As he is resting, he realizes that since Miana didn’t know how to remove his suit, she couldn’t have been the one to treat his injuries. He realizes that Maina was the one to save him, just as Maina shows up in the room and the two end up sleeping together. Meanwhile, Metphies communicates with his father, Endurph, on the Aratrum and they say that their plan is almost ready to commence. When he finishes, he telepathically speaks with Miana, who had eavesdropped on his plans, and the two argue over his actions before he grabs her and prepares to use her as part of his ritual. Haruo wakens from a nightmare, just as Maina shudders as she heard her sister call out to her. Metphies and Endurph preach to the humans in their respective locations and convince them to pray out to their god in order to destroy Godzilla. On Earth, a shadowy image of Ghidorah emerges and begins killing all of the worshipers except for Metphies. In space, a singularity opens up near the Aratrum, and one of Ghidorah’s heads emerges on an impossibly long neck, which it wraps around the Aratrum, crushing it out of existence. On Earth, Godzilla begins to awaken just as 3 singularities begin to emerge from the clouds. Haruo and Maina meet up with Martin, who is trying to make sense of what is happening, and when Maina hears a voice from a hilltop on the other side of the valley, Haruo heads there to stop Metphies. Ghidorah’s heads emerge from the singularities and Godzilla fires his heat ray at them but the beams curve, while Martin’s instruments are unable to get a reading on Ghidorah. Ghidorah’s heads bite onto Godzilla, and Martin is amazed to see that Godzilla is losing energy, even though his machines can get no reading on Ghidorah. Haruo confronts Metphies, and learns that Exif’s had willingly sacrificed themselves to Ghidorah, allowing only a few priests to survive to spread the word of Ghidorah and offer him more planets to destroy. Metphies begins telepathically manipulating Haruo into accepting his way of thinking, using the images of those that had died to help influence him. Meanwhile, Martin continues watching what is happening with Godzilla’s fight and realizes that Ghidorah must be coming from a different universe and since his attacks are from a different dimension, Godzilla won’t be able to affect it. Since Ghidorah is able to attack Godzilla, someone from their universe must be guiding it and he realizes it must be Metphies, just as Maina grabs him and tells him they have to help Haruo. Maina takes Martin to the egg chamber, where they use the power of Mothra’s egg to reach out to Haruo and try to tell him what is going on. Metphies blocks them and continues trying to influence Haruo but Haruo is able to see into Metphies memories and realizes he is the one that sabotaged the shuttle his grandfather was on. Remembering a memory of his parents, where he is told that his name means hope, Haruo is able to break Metphies’ hold on him and attacks him, causing the medallion in Metphies eye to break and Ghidorah to suddenly gain form in their universe. Godzilla is now able to attack Ghidorah and quickly defeats him, blowing up the singularities to ensure that he can not return. When the dust settles, Haruo recovers and sees a dying Metphies, who tells him that due to his rage and anger, Ghidorah will be watching him. The surviving humans begin to integrate themselves into the Houtua tribe, with Maina becoming pregnant with Haruo’s child. Later, Martin shows Haruo that he has managed to get the last Vulture working again, using a sample of nanometal from Yuko’s body. As Martin talks about being able to control the nanometal to rebuild past civilizations, Haruo’s eye hurts and he hears Metphies voice in his head, saying that Ghidorah can wait. Haruo takes Yuko’s body with him and enters the Vulture, piloting it towards Godzilla so that Godzilla can destroy all traces of the nanometal, as well as the hatred that Haruo carries with him. In a post credits scene, years have passed and one of the twins watches over a ceremony where Houtua children make effigies, symbolizing the things they are scared of, so that they can burn them in front of a giant effigy of the Vulture, symbolizing Haruo.

I have to admit that I see why some people complained about this movie but I honestly thought it was really good and a great way to end the trilogy. The voice acting was good, with all of the people doing good jobs voicing their respective roles. The story was pretty interesting, as I liked the concept of the Exif’s using people’s belief to bring Ghidorah to Earth. The concept of it being in a different dimension actually added some credibility to why the Exif’s believed it to be a god, and why faith was the only way to bring it about.  The ending of the movie seemed to be cause for a lot of criticism but I actually thought it was rather fitting. Haruo’s anger and hatred for Godzilla was what drove him for so much of his life that it had become a part of him. The Houtua didn’t have any concept of hatred and, aside from not wanting to give Ghidorah a pathway to return to Earth, he didn’t want to allow his hatred to begin to influence the Houtua so he decided to sacrifice himself for their sake. Miana, who only understood part of what Haruo was talking about when he was talking with her before he left, interpreted it as facing his fear so his fear wouldn’t win, even if he himself lost. She then incorporated it into a new ritual with the Houtua by havig their children burn what scares them so they won’t be afraid of it anymore, as a way to honor his sacrifice. The animation was really good in this movie, as it was in the others. I did like how Ghidorah arrived through singularities, but I will admit that I was a bit disappointed in Ghidorah itself, as he didn’t have the usual lightening-like gravity beams that he usually wielded, merely biting down on Godzilla and seemingly electrocuting him (sort of) in doing so. So it was a good way to end the series and a good movie in it’s own way, but all it did was really get me geared up for Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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adventure, fantasy, horror, kaiju movie, movie, movie review, sci-fi

May 5th, 2019 Movie – A*P*E

ape 1976

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. So there is a particular movie coming out at the end of the month, and I decided to review some appropriate movies to get myself even more in the mood for it than I already am. So today I decided to start with a quaint little King Kong knock off. So today’s movie was basically an attempt to cash in on all the publicity surrounding Dino DeLaurentis’ remake of King Kong, but would actually come out 2 months earlier than that movie. I have watched this movie several years ago and wasn’t overly impressed by it but it is always a good idea to give B-movies a second chance, as they might surprise you by being laughably bad. So let’s see what we have in store as I re-watch A*P*E.

The plot: As an oil tanker is sailing close to South Korea, two men are talking on deck when a massive, 36 foot gorilla breaks free from the tanks it was in, destroying the ship in the process. As the gorilla heads towards shore, a large shark attacks it but the gorilla easily kills it, then continues towards shore, where it destroys several buildings before disappearing into the jungle. The next day, American actress Marilyn Baker arrives in South Korea to shoot her first picture outside of the U.S. and is surprised to find her lover, journalist Tom Rose, is outside the airport waiting for her. AS Tom offers to escort Marilyn to her hotel, he tries to talk to her about wanting a more serious relationship with her but Marilyn tells him she is focused on her career and doesn’t want anything more than to be casual lovers as they are now. Meanwhile, the giant gorilla appears outside a small village in the jungle, causing the villagers to flee in terror. Captain Kim of the South Korea police receives a phone call, where he is told about giant footprints, but he dismisses the story as someone’s imagination gone wild. When a U.S. soldier comes across the wreckage of a military checkpoint, he calls in to his superior but Colonel Davis thinks it is nothing more than publicity for the movie being shot. As more people report seeing the giant gorilla, Kim begins to believe the stories but when he talks about the matter with Davis, Davis is still skeptical, jokingly asking someone if they think the gorilla is King Kong. When the gorilla shows up where a martial arts movie is filming an outdoor scene, the actors manage to chase it away by shooting flaming arrows at it. Hearing this, Davis reluctantly believes the gorilla is real but attempts to keep it from the public during an impromptu press conference, causing Tom to get suspicious about the matter. Tom then heads to the set where Marilyn is filming and warns her about the gorilla, telling her she should go back to Seoul, but Marilyn tells him she can’t go back until Friday, which is when they will finish shooting, and the two kiss before she goes back to work. As the gorilla continues making its way through the countryside, villages are evacuated ahead of time, while Tom and Kim attempt to figure out where it is going. The gorilla happens across where Marilyn’s movie is shooting and grabs her, carrying her away into hills. When Tom and Kim hear about this, they chase after the gorilla just as the military shows up to try and kill him. The gorilla begins fighting with the military and Tom uses the opportunity to rescue Marilyn and drive back to Seoul, while the gorilla gives the military the finger at their failed attempt. As Davis discusses the situation with his superiors, he says that the gorilla is heading to Seoul, apparently to reclaim Marilyn, and he is upset to learn that he is to capture the gorilla, not kill it. Tom takes Marilyn to Kim’s house, leaving her with Kim’s wife and children, then he meets back up with Kim to discuss what to do about the gorilla. The gorilla reaches Seoul and begins trashing the city as it searches for Marilyn, eventually finding and recapturing her. The gorilla heads back to the hills, with the military going after it again, only Davis disobeys orders and orders his men to kill it, not capture it. The military eventually manages to kill the gorilla, and Tom manages to locate Marilyn in the cave the gorilla had hidden her in and the two lovers embrace.

Ok, this is just as bad as I remember it being and that is not exactly a good thing. This movie really is terrible. In fact, it seems like the director decided to try and make a terrible movie, hoping people would think it would fall into that “so bad it’s good” laughably bad style. The acting wasn’t really that good, as it seemed like several of the people just didn’t put much effort into their roles. The funny thing about this movie is how much it did kind of point out that it was a spoof of King Kong. I mean, you had the obvious aspect about the giant gorilla going ga-ga over a blond and chasing after her, but you actually had Davis mocking calling the gorilla King Kong. My favorite part though was the fact that the director of the movie that Marilyn was working on was called Dino, which was a nod to Dino DeLaurentis, who was directing the Kong remake.  Another thing I thought was interesting was the fight the gorilla had with the shark, which was a total shot at Jaws, which had come out the year before. The special effects were incredibly cheap, as in they only gave $1200 of the movies $23,000 budget towards special effects. To put it in perspective, the model buildings in this movie made the models from the old Gamera movies look like Oscar winning effects in comparison. This is one of those movies that might be worth watching once just to say you watched it, but not for much other reason.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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March 31st, 2019 Movie – Battletruck (a.k.a Warlords Of The 21st Century)

battletruck

It’s the end of the month and that brings us to the last movie from Shout Factory TV, at least for a little while. Now a few weeks ago, I reviewed a movie called Deathsport on here. If you were to try and buy it on DVD, it usually comes as part of a double feature with another movie called Battletruck, which I had never seen before. Luckily for me, it is available to watch on Shout Factory TV so I decided this was the perfect time to rectify that mistake. Now let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Battletruck.

The plot: As the Earth’s fuel supplies began dwindling, the “Oil Wars” occurred, with the end result being the Earth becoming a wasteland. Now, bandits roam the land in search of fuel, with the most dangerous of them being Straker, who drives around in a giant armored truck. One day, Straker and his crew come across two men carrying some drums of diesel in a horse-drawn wagon. When Straker asks where they found the drums, one of the men tries to lie so Straker kills him, which convinces the second man to show them where they found the drums. The man leads them to a facility that has radioactive signs on it but the man says that it is safe and the signs are just to keep people away. After the man shows them the hidden tank, which holds 50,000 liters, Straker tells his men to set up camp, then summons his daughter Corlie. Straker tells Corlie to shoot the man, saying he is now a liability, and when she refuses, he forces her to do it. That night, as Straker and Bone, the truck’s driver, discuss security for their new base of operations, Corlie sneaks out of the truck and runs away, but Straker sees her leave. The next day, Corlie is making her way through the desert, with Straker’s men chasing after her, when she is rescued by Hunter, a former soldier who drives a high-tech motorcycle. After escaping the pursuers, Hunter takes Corlie to his farm, where he takes a look at her wounded leg. Despite Corlie’s begging to let her stay with him, Hunter takes her to Clearwater Farm so she can get proper treatment for her leg, and because he prefers to be alone. Hunter drops Corlie off at the gate, telling her to ask for Rusty, the local blacksmith. and he takes off, just as Rusty comes outside and tries to call out to him. Rusty introduces himself and brings her inside the farm, explaining the rules of the place and she is voted in to stay at the farm. The next day, Corlie is out working in the field when she hears the Straker’s truck approaching and tries to run away again but is dragged back inside the village. The men attempt to defend the village but are easily overpowered and as Straker orders them to surrender, Corlie manages to escape on a horse. As Straker rounds up the prisoners, he notices a young girl wearing a necklace that Corlie had given her and takes the necklace back. Straker questions Judd, a villager that doesn’t trust Hunter, and he tells him that Corlie was there and probably ran back to Hunter, saying that Rusty is the only one that knows where his farm is. Meanwhile, Corlie manages to make it back to Hunter’s farm and tells him what happened, admitting that she was part of Straker’s group. That night, Straker’s men show up at Hunter’s farm and attempt to recapture Corlie but Hunter and Corlie manage to get away so Straker destroys Hunter’s house in retaliation. Making their way back towards Clearwater Farm, Hunter and Corlie are confronted by Judd and Charlene, with Judd wanting to turn Corlie over to Straker to appease him and Charlene saying that Corlie can’t stay there, as it’s not worth risking the entire community over one girl. Hunter tells them that they are going to have to make a choice on if they want to fight  or not, then rides off with Corlie to see Rusty. Inside Rusty’s shop, Rusty is glad to see his friend alive and apologizes for telling Straker where Hunter lives, showing Hunter his hand where he had been tortured, and Hunter forgives him and says they need to build an armored car to take on Straker’s truck. With another villager offering to help, the 4 begin working on building the car, with Judd coming over to help after a while. That night, Rusty and Hunter head back to Hunter’s home and grab an old bazooka that he had hidden there. Meanwhile, Judd grabs Corlie and leaves the village, setting fire to the shop in the process. When Hunter and Rusty return, Hunter asks what happened and takes off after them but Judd, knowing Hunter would chase after them, sets up an ambush and shoots Hunter with a crossbow bolt. Judd continues on to Straker’s base, and uses his bringing Corlie as an attempt to join Straker’s gang but Straker is upset about Judd attacking Corlie and warns him about touching her again. Meanwhile, Hunter, who had been rendered unconscious from his wound, recovers and makes his way back to Clearwater Farm, where Charlene works on tending to his wound. The next day, Hunter takes the armored car out to face Straker, telling Rusty and the others to be where they are supposed to be when he needs them. Hunter heads to Straker’s camp and starts running through the tents, killing Judd in the process, then blows up the fuel tank before racing back out of the valley. Straker and his men follow after him in the truck, With Straker ordering Bones to push the truck faster than it should, causing some tension between Bones and Straker over pushing it too hard and causing the turbines to start overheating. Hunter reaches the rendezvous with Rusty and the others and uses the bazooka to attack the truck, blowing a hole in the roof at the back of the truck. Hunter then jumps onto his motorcycle and races off after Straker, who tells Bones to head towards Clearwater Farm so they can destroy it. Hunter manages to catch up to the truck and jump inside the hole in the roof, then begins dealing with Straker’s men. As Straker turns to go deal with Hunter, Bones gets fed up with him and attempts to kill him but Straker kills Bones instead, causing the truck to begin weaving out of control. As Corlie tries to take control of the wheel, Hunter and Straker begin fighting and when Corlie goes to help Hunter, the truck goes off the road. Hunter and Corlie manage to jump to safety before the truck goes over a cliff and crashes to the ground below, killing Straker as it explodes. Some time later, Hunter is leaving Clearwater Farm on a horse and Corlie is sad to see him leave but he tells her that he will be back sometime, then kisses her goodbye before riding off.

This wasn’t a bad movie but there honestly wasn’t much worth remembering about it. The acting was ok, with Michael Beck (Hunter) and James Wainwright (Straker) doing good jobs in their roles. Annie McEnroe (Corlie) was ok, but it seemed like it took a while to figure out how to play her character. The story felt kind of like a Mad Max rip off, but a lot of the post-apocalyptic B-movies that came out in the early 80’s had that feel to it. Still, this movie felt really boring and bland, with no real excitement showing up during the entire movie. The special effects were about average though I will say that the design for Straker’s truck was pretty decent. So another one of the multitude of 80’s B-movies that appeared and wound up being quickly forgotten.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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March 24th, 2019 Movie – Circle Of Iron

circle of iron

Another Sunday morning, another movie to watch from Shout Factory TV. Lucky for me, they have plenty of movies to choose from. Now I chose today’s movie because of the history behind it. See, today’s movie was originally co-written by Bruce Lee, who had intended to star in it but was unfortunately killed before he could start working on it. A couple of years after his death, Stirling Silliphant, one of the other co-writers, completed the screenplay and David Carradine was cast to play the role intended for Bruce Lee. So let’s see what kind of movie we have on out hands as I watch Circle Of Iron.

The plot: In a distant land, a martial arts tournament is held; with the final match coming down to Cord and Morthond. Cord ends up defeating Morthond but due to his dirty fighting tactics, he is disqualified and Morthond is declared the victor. After Morthond is awarded the medallion and the right to seek the Book of Knowledge from Zetan, Cord argues with the judge about why Morthond was chosen. The judge tells Cord that he had broken almost every rule in the tournament and is not worthy of going on the quest. Cord says that everyone they have sent to face Zetan has failed to return but he will defeat him and look into the Book of Enlightenment himself, then follows after Morthond when he leaves the city. Morthond is upset about Cord’s following him, breaking his vow of silence to challenge Cord to another fight, but Cord refuses, saying he wants to help him, not kill him. After travelling for most of the day, the two warriors stop to rest and notice a blind man, whom Cord had seen earlier in the city, making his way into some ruins. When loud voices are heard from the ruins, Cord decides to go and investigate while Morthond uses the opportunity to continue on his quest without Cord. Inside the ruins, Cord sees the blind man fighting with some bandits and easily defeats them, though Cord does kill one that was about to throw a knife at the blind man. Cord approaches the blind man and asks him to be his teacher and when the blind man refuses, Cord says he will follow him and learn by watching him. When the two men encounter a monkeyman, Cord doesn’t see the wisdom in how the blind man handles the encounter, arguing he will never need to fight a monkey, but when he turns to gether his gear, he finds the blind man has vanished. Suddenly, he sees a wounded Morthond stumble against some rocks and when Cord approaches him, Morthond tells him he had failed the first trial and asks Cord to help give him a warrior’s death, then take the medallion and finish the quest. Cord does as Morthond asks and after Morthond’s death, he takes the medallion and heads into the nearby caves. Inside, he finds a tribe of monkeymen and watches as their leader defeats another warrior. Recalling the words of the blind man, Cord heads down and confronts the monkeymen’s leader, eventually defeating him and learning the way to Zetan. After traveling for a while, Cord comes across a man in a giant cauldron of oil. Cord asks the man if he needs help but the man says no, as he had done this himself so that he can dissolve the lower half of his body as a way of ridding himself of his sexual urges and offers to let Cord join him but Cord refuses, saying his vow of celibacy is enough. Cord continues across the desert and eventually comes to an oasis, where he sees a group of travelers have set up camp and are holding a festival. As Cord makes his way into the camp and watches the festivities, he is invited to sit next to the travelers leader Chang-Sha inside his tent. The two men talk for a bit before Chang-Sha steps outside and battles another traveler who had sought to test his strength against him. After Chang-Sha defeats the warrior, Cord asks when they will fight but Chang-Sha tells him that they will fight in the morning. That night, one of Chang-Sha’s wives, Tara enters his tent and says that Chang-Sha sent her there to give him a rose, symbolizing his second trial, and after talking for a bit, the two end up having sex, after which Cord asks Tara to go with him. The next morning, Cord wakes up to find the camp has gone and Tara had been left crucified on the outskirts of the oasis. Cord goes looking for Chang-Sha and as he stops for the night, he has a vision of Death approaching him but Cord is able to dispel the vision by showing that he doesn’t fear Death. The next day, Cord comes to another oasis and encounters the blind man again, and after Cord asks again for him to teach him, the blind man agrees. As they continue on their way, the blind man asks a fisherman if they can use his boat to cross the river, but after they do so, the blind man kicks out the sides of the boat, damaging it. They then encounter some bandits and attempt to run from them, fighting them when they have to, and after dealing with the bandits, the blind man stops to repair a stone wall. As they continue on their way, the blind man strikes a young boy, breaking his nose. Cord tells the blind man that he is leaving him but demands answers for the things he did. When the blind man answers, Cord questions how he knew the things he did and realizes that the blind man had been through there before, which gave him the knowledge about things that Cord didn’t. Cord eventually comes across Chang-Sha and after admitting that he doesn’t hold Chang-Sha responsible for Tara’s death, he challenges him to a fight. Chang-Sha agrees and after the two men fight to a draw, Chang-Sha tells Cord where to find Zetan. Cord makes his way on a ferry to an island, where he finds the religious sect that protects the Book of Enlightenment. Cord is taken to see Zetan and Cord goes to fight him but Zetan says there is no need for violence. He tells Cord that he has passed the trials and is entitled to look at the Book of Enlightenment but as Cord turns the pages, he finds that they are nothing more than mirrors. Zetan explains that many have come to seek the book only to find that enlightenment comes from themselves. As Cord laughs at the result of his quest, Zetan says that otwhile most of those who looked in the book have stayed there, some have left to become part of the challenges or teachers in their own ways, and Cord realizes the blind man was one of those people. Zetan offers Cord his job as protector of the book but Cord continues laughing as he leaves the island. Cord eventually finds the blind man and after talking for a bit, they embrace and the blind man hands Cord his flute, passing on his role of teacher to Cord.

When Circle Of Iron first came out, it received mainly negative reviews but has since garnered a cult following, causing some critics to reassess the movie, hence it’s current ranking of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, several critics felt that the lack of Bruce Lee’s charisma and guidance caused the movie to not reach it’s true potential. Bruce Lee envisioned Circle Of Iron to be an introduction for Western audiences to Eastern philosophy and the movie was originally supposed to be shot in 1969, with Steve McQueen offered the role of Cord but he turned it down. The flute that David Carradine plays throughout the movie is the same flute he plays in Kill Bill: Vol. 2. The movie made $1 million, but most of that was through video rentals and not the box office.

Well, the movie is definitely slow enough to fit being a philosophical movie, but didn’t exactly keep the interest peaked enough to make it good. I will be honest, even if Bruce Lee was in it, I don’t know if this movie would have been any better. The acting was good, with David Carradine doing a great job playing the multiple roles of the blind man, Monkeyman, Death, and Chang-Sha. I honestly think he had some fun playing the different roles. Jeff Cooper was also good as Cord and but I thought that Christopher Lee was a little wasted as Zetan, as his presence honestly felt a little anti-climactic to me. The plot was pretty slow paced and even the few fight scenes were pretty slow, making this movie a little boring and hard to pay attention too. The fight scenes were pretty well choreographed but the slow pacing just didn’t make them exciting at all. I know that the focus was supposed to be on the philosophical aspects but they still could have made the few fights that were included to be a little more exciting. It’s a decent intellectual movie but the slow pace is not going to attract to many people to watch it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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January 20th, 2019 Movie – Rampage (2018)

rampage

Man do I miss the good old days of spending hours upon hours, and tons of quarters, at the arcade, and one of my favorite games to play was Rampage. I mean, you get to go around as a giant monster and destroy a city while fighting other monsters. That is a kid’s playground fantasy come to digital life right there. When I first heard that they were making a movie based on the game, two thoughts went through my head; 1) this is going to be another terrible video game movie, and 2) it was definitely a movie that I would be interested in seeing/owning. Let’s face it, almost every movie that has been based on a video game has absolutely sucked so there is definitely a precedent that this will be a bad movie. However, this is also a movie involving giant monsters destroying a city, and those are some of my favorite movies to watch. With these two differing factors weighing in, I honestly didn’t feel like spending the money to go see this in theaters and waited till it came available to rent before watching it. Then I saw that there was a sale on the digital copy of the movie for $5 and decided that was a pretty decent price for some entertainment, which is what brings us to today’s movie, Rampage (2018).

The plot: In 1993, the breakthrough gene editing technology known as CRISPR allowed scientists a way to treat incurable diseases but by the year 2016, gene editing had been deemed a “Weapon of Mass Destruction and Proliferation.” In 2018, the space station Athena-1, owned by the Energyme corporation, is doing illegal tests when the test subject, a rat, breaks free and attacks and kills the crew. Dr. Kerry Atkins, the lone survivor, tries to make it to the escape pod but finds the hatch sealed remotely. She is told by Claire Wyden, the CEO of Energyme, that they won’t unlock the hatch until she retrieves the canisters of the pathogen they were testing from the lab. Atkins makes her way to the lab and begins retrieving the canisters when an alarm sounds that the space station’s hull integrity has gone critical, just as the rat appears down the corridor. With the rat chasing after her, Atkins makes it to the hatch with the canisters and is allowed inside, then jettisons the escape pod before the station explodes but the damage done by the rat causes the pod to break apart as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere. At the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary, Davis Okoye, along with his friend Nelson, are leading new team members Amy and Connor into the gorilla habitat to see how Paavo, a new arrival, is integrating into the enclosure. When Paavo sees them, he gets agitated but Davis is able to calm him down until George, a large albino gorilla, appears. Paavo gets agitated again, frightening Connor and causing him to run, with Paavo chasing after him but before Paavo can attack him, George knocks Paavo aside and roars at him, cowing the younger gorilla. Davis goes to check on Connor as George roars at them, but then starts laughing and Davis realizes he is joking with them. Davis then signs to George and tells him tobe nice, welcome and protect Paavo, as his family had been killed by poachers, and George agrees to do so. That night, the debris from the escape pod crashes to Earth, with one landing in the Wyoming desert, where a wolf investigates it and is engulfed in a green gas, and a second one landing in the Florida Everglades, where an alligator swallows it. A third canister lands inside George’s gorilla habitat and when George touches the canister, it breaks open and envelops him in a green gas, causing him to roar out. The next day, Davis is summoned to work by a call from Nelson about George and when he gets there, Nelson tells Davis that George is in the grizzly enclosure. The two head over there and find that the grizzly is dead and a wounded George is sitting in a cave and when Davis convinces him to come out, they are shocked to see that George has grown considerably. Connor radios Nelson and tells them to come to the gorilla habitat, where he and Amy show Nelson and Davis the canister that was still in it’s crater and Davis uses a sample bag to grab it and says they need to figure out what it is. At Energyme’s corporate headquarters in Willis Tower in Chicago, Claire’s brother Brett is upset about the space station’s destruction and the hit that their company took on the stock market but Claire tells him that everything will be ok. She tells him that Atkins had gotten the research canisters off the space station and even though the escape pod blew up, the canisters were designed to survive reentry, and one of them had landed in Wyoming. Claire tells Brett to deal with the press while she uses a private military unit, led by a man named Burke, to retrieve the canister. When they arrive at the crash site, Burke contacts Claire and tells her they found the canister but whatever was inside was gone or destroyed. He then tells her they found a pack of wolves that had apparently been killed by a single wolf and Claire, realizing that the wolf had been infected with Project Rampage, tells Burke to bring her the wolf dead or alive. In Los Angeles, a genetic engineer named Dr. Kate Caldwell sees the news report about Athena-1’s destruction, and the story about George “escaping” his enclosure, and she quickly heads to San Diego. In San Diego, Davis is looking over the lab results for George when Kate arrives and tells him she can explain. Davis takes Kate to see George and Kate explains that she worked for Energyne and had developed a way to advance CRISPR so that instead of altering one cell at a time, her system allowed entire DNA strands to be edited at once. Suddenly, George breaks free from the containment cell and breaks out of the lab, terrorizing the visitors to the sanctuary. As police show up and threaten to shoot George, Davis is able to calm George down but a Homeland Security helicopter arrives and shoots George with multiple tranquilizer darts, bringing the large gorilla down. Back in Wyoming, Burke and his men spot the wolf, which has grown to giant size, and attempt to kill it but the wolf kills them all. Back in San Diego, Davis and Kate are taken into government custody by Agent Harvey Russell, who loads them onto a plane along with George. As they are flying, Russell reads Davis’ file out, revealing that he was former Special Forces and is now part of the UN’s Anti-Poaching Task Force. Russell then shows them the video of the giant wolf, who has been named Ralph, and when Davis says that Kate can cure the animals, Russell reveals that Kate used to work for Energyne and had been fired two years ago, then sent to prison for 13 months for stealing company hard drives. In Chicago, Brett shows Claire surveillance photos of Davis and Kate being loaded onto the plane with George and Claire says that they should have killed Kate when they had the chance. She then tells Brett that there is a pill that can halt the growth and aggression in someone exposed to Project Rampage, and that the pathogen also rewired the host to respond to low level radio signals. Claire activates a radio transmitter that her team modified atop Willis Tower, which will lure the animals to Chicago, and in the case of George, destroy the plane and kill Kate in the process. When the signal is activated, George, who had been sedated, wakes up and breaks free from his enclosure and begins attacking the agents when they try to shoot him. During the fight, some explosives are detonated, blowing a hole in the plane and causing it to crash. Davis and Kate parachute to safety, with Davis rescuing Russell as well, while George goes down with the plane but George survives the crash and makes his way to Chicago. In Chicago, the FBI arrive at Energyne and after serving Claire the warrant, begin taking all of the hard drives and servers while Claire begins trying to pass the blame onto Kate. Back at the crash site, Russell tries to secure transport for the three of them while Kate tries to explain herself to Davis. Davis isn’t interested at first but Kate tells him that she had joined Energyne to try and use CRISPR to save her brother but when she learned that Energyne was using her research to weaponize DNA, she tried to destroy it but got arrested for it, and her brother died while she was in prison. Russell manages to get military transport to a base outside of Chicago, where the base commander is coordinating an assault on George and Ralph before they reach the city. Davis and Kate try to explain that Energyne must be luring the animals to the city and that the attack won’t work but the commander has them taken away, saying the FBI wants to speak with them. Davis knocks out their guards and he and Kate head to an unguarded medevac helicopter when they are stopped by Russell, who hands Davis the keys and a satellite phone and says that they are on the same side. Russell returns to the operations room just as the attack on George and Ralph commences and when it fails, he contacts Davis to let him know what happened. Davis and Kate reach Chicago just as George and Ralph begin attacking the military in the city, and are shocked to see a giant alligator, Lizzy, emerge from the river and join in the attack. Realizing that the military won’t be able to stop the giant creatures, Davis and Kate head to Energyne to try and find the antidote, being contacted by Russell and told that Blake is ordering a MOAB to be dropped on the city to destroy the creatures. When they reach the labs, Kate finds that the system has been completely scrubbed clean by the Wydens but the keep looking and eventually find the cure, only to be confronted by Claire and Brett. Claire tells them that the R-19 doesn’t return the animals to their original size, merely removes the growth and aggressiveness in them, then demands that Kate hand them over but Kate secretly sneaks one into her coat. Claire then tells Davis and Kate to move and when Davis refuses, Claire shoots him, then forces Kate to head to the roof. They head for the waiting helicopter but George arrives on the roof and destroys the helicopter, then begins smashing the transmitter. Davis, who only wounded, rescues Kate from the debris and when she reveals she still has a cure, Davis says they should give it to George and hope that he will help them deal with the other two monsters. The two head down the stairs to get off the roof but are stopped by Claire, who wants them to distract George so she can escape. Davis appears to agree, but then yells out for George while Kate throws the cure into Kate’s bag, where the other two vials are, and shoves her back into George, who grabs her and swallows her. In the building’s lobby, Brett is trying to call for an escape when he encounters Russell, who tells him that he will let him escape if he hands over the laptop he is carrying. Brett quickly agrees, but as he walks outside, he is crushed by some falling debris. Back on the roof, Davis realizes that the building is about to come down and quickly gets into the Wyden’s damaged helicopter with Kate and powers it up, managing to stay just above the building as it falls before they crash to the ground. Davis and Kate walk away from the wreck just as George emerges from the debris, and they are happy to see that his gentle personalite has returned. When Ralph and Lizzy emerge as well, Davis sees a Humvee and tells Kate to use it to find Russell and get him to call off the air strike while he and George deal with the creatures. Using a grenade launcher, Davis fires on the animals while George attacks them, and they manage to lure Ralph into flying towards Lizzie, who grabs his throat in it’s jaws and decapitates him. George and Davis then turn their attention to Lizzie, just as Kate reaches Russell and tells him what is going on. George is overpowered by Lizzie and tossed into some debris, ending up impaled on rebar. As Lizzie closes in to finish off George, Davis gets into a downed Apache and begins firing at Lizzie, taking it’s attention off of George. As Lizzie goes to kill Davis, George takes the rebar and impales Lizzie through the eye, piercing the brain, and finally killing the giant alligator. Colonel Blake, who had been alerted to the situation by Russell, calls off the airstrike and as Davis tells George that they saved the city and George saved him, George collapses from his injuries. Davis cries for his friend’s death just as Kate and Russell show up and as they see the military helping the survivors, Davis sees George move and realizes that George had been playing a joke on him. After talking with Kate and Russell, Davis says that they should help get the people to safety, then find George a new home.

Rampage (2018) met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but contrary to appearances, this makes it the highest reviewed movie based on a video game of all time. The critical consensus on the site is, “Rampage isn’t as fun as its source material, but the movie’s sheer button-mashing abandon might satisfy audiences in the mood for a brainless blockbuster.” During the movie when Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) signs to the young gorilla Paavo to calm him down, the sign he makes while saying “It’s me” is for”rock”, a reference to his WWE days as The Rock. The mutated rat at the beginning of the movie is likely a reference to Larry, a character that was only available in the Atari Lynx version of the game. The film was a success at the box office, earning $428 million off of a $140 million budget.

Ok, this was not what I would consider a great movie but it was a pretty entertaining movie. Dwayne Johnson was pretty good in his role and the interaction his character had with George felt pretty natural. Naomie Harris (Kate), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Russell) and Malin Akerman (Claire) were also good in there roles as well. The story was pretty good and did a decent job in sticking to the basic premise of the video game, but instead of humans being the subject to the experiments and turning into monsters, the movie chose to simply have animals accidentally be exposed to the pathogen that turns them into giant monsters. The special effects with the creature designs were pretty interesting, well Ralph and Lizzie’s design, as George was simply a big gorilla. One thing I didn’t particularly care for the consistent power-ups that they seemed to give Ralph. First it was the projectile spines that he fired at one of the helicopters, but then he was able to fly, which was just weird. Another thing that I thought was interesting was that Lizzie seemed so much more massive than George or Ralph. The only reason I can think as to why this was is because Lizzie had swallowed the canister with that pathogen, receivng a larger concentration of it, as opposed to what happened to George and Ralph, who had simply been exposed to a portion of the gas. A nice bit of mindless, city trashing entertainment that can be fun to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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November 8th, 2018 Movie – Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

star wars episode vii - the last jedi

It’s funny, but I just realized that it is almost exactly 1 year since I started reviewing the Star Wars movies, and I now find myself watching the most recent one. Now there was a lot of buzz about this movie but the biggest surprise was what happened after it came out. People went absolutely ape-shit on the internet over this movie, for all sorts of reasons. I can kind of understand the one bit about Princess Leia but the trolls that attacked Kelly Marie Tran really took things too far. Anyways, all of the negative media buzz concerning this movie weighed in on my mind when I finally went and saw Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, but I refused to let it ruin my day and set back to enjoy the movie.

The plot: After the destruction of the First Order’s Starkiller base, General Leia Organa orders the Resistance base on D’Qar to evacuate but a fleet of First Order Star Destroyers arrives before they can flee. General Hux, the former leader of Starkiller base, prepares to open fire on the base when Poe Dameron approaches his flag ship and opens a communication with it. As Hux speaks with Poe, Poe acts like he can’t hear him in an effort to stall for time, then he makes an attack on the First Order’s dreadnought, taking out it’s surface cannons. The ruse works as the Resistance is able to escape the base before it is destroyed and Leia orders Poe back to the fleet but Poe disobeys her orders, saying that they need to destroy the dreadnought while they have the chance. With the last of the dreadnought’s surface cannons destroyed, Resistance bombers head towards it, with Poe and other fighter craft covering them. As the bombers get close to the dreadnought, most of them are destroyed when a tie fighter crashes into one of them, causing it to explode and take most of the others with it. The last surviving bomber makes it over to the dreadnought and though badly damaged, manages to drop it’s bombs and destroy it, which brings a cheer to the Resistance members but Leia is saddened by the massive loss of life that the victory cost them. As the fleet escapes into hyperspace, Finn awakens from the injuries he sustained fighting Kylo Ren and wanders out of the med bay, only to be spotted by Poe and as Poe goes to help him get dressed, Finn asks where Rey is. On the planet Ahch-To, Rey hands Luke Skywalker his old lightsaber and he stares at it before tossing it over a cliff. Rey is shocked by his actions and after retrieving it, goes to try and speak to Skywalker but he refuses to open the door to his cabin. Rey gets Chewbacca, who knocks down the door and roars at Luke and when Rey says that Luke is coming back to the Falcon with them, Luke asks where Han is. Elsewhere, Supreme Leader Snoke hears Hux’s plan for how they will destroy the Resistance and is pleased to hear what it is. As Hux leaves to carry out his plan, Kylo Ren approaches Snoke and Snoke admonishes him for his defeat against Rey, causing Kylo to get upset after he leaves the throne room. Back on Ahch-To, Rey explains why she is there to Luke but he refuses to help her and goes about his day. Rey refuses to give up and follows him around but after a bit, she senses something with the Force and is drawn to an old tree, where she finds some ancient books inside. Luke confronts her and reveals that the books are the original Jedi texts and then questions Rey again about why she is there and when she tells him about what is happening with her, Luke tells her that she needs a teacher but he refuses to teach another generation of Jedi as he had come to the planet to die. The Resistance fleet comes out of hyperspace and as Leia chastises Poe, then discusses what their next plan should be, the First Order fleet appears behind them and starts opening fire. Finn says they should do another jump but Leia realizes that they tracked them through hyperspace, which should have been impossible, and if they did another jump they will be stuck with no fuel and at the First Order’s mercy. Poe goes to lead an attack squad against the Star Destroyers but Kylo and his squadron attack the Resistance flagship, destroying their fighter bay and all of the fighters in it. Kylo then goes to attack the bridge but when he senses Leia’s presence on board, he hesitates but his wingmen don’t and blow up the bridge, sending Leia hurtling into space. Kylo is called back as the Resistance ships have moved out of range for the Star Destroyers to cover him, but they continue chasing the fleet, picking away at their shields. Meanwhile, Leia uses the force to head back to the flagship but the effort leaves her exhausted and she is taken to the medbay, while Finn picks up the signal/tracking device Leia had to contact Rey. Back on Ahch-To, Luke sneaks onto the Falcon and is surprised to see R2-D2 on board. When Luke tells R2 that he won’t be going back, R2 plays the old message of Leia begging Obi-Wan Kenobi to help her, and Luke reluctantly agrees to train Rey. Back on the Resistance flagship, with Leia incapacitated and the rest of the leadership dead, command of the fleet has fallen to Vice Admiral Holdo and when Poe approaches her to find out what the plan is, she refuses to tell him. Meanwhile, Finn attempts to escape with the biotracker in an escape pod but he is stunned by a technician named Rose. As Finn recovers, Rose is taking him to the brig when they start arguing about the First Order being able to track them through hyperspace, which causes them to come up with an idea. Finn and Rose tell Poe their idea about sneaking on the lead Star Destroyer and taking out the tracking system long enough for them to get away. Poe contacts Maz Kanata to see if she can help them crack the First Order’s security codes but she is tied up in a labor dispute but recommends a first class hacker that can be found on Canto Bight. Meanwhile, Rey wakes up to begin her training only to see a vision of Kylo, who is also able to see her. Rey tries to attack Kylo and Kylo speaks to her but when Luke appears, the connection is severed. Luke takes Rey up to a cliff and teaches her the first lesson about the Force but as she opens herself up to it, a darkness within the island calls out to her, causing her to react via the force. As Rey stops her efforts, she comments that Luke has closed himself off from the force and Luke tells her that he has seen this much power once before and he wasn’t scared then but he is now. Meanwhile, Finn, Rose, and BB-8 head to Canto Bight to locate the master hacker but as they search for him, they end up being captured for illegally parking their shuttle on a private beach. Back on Ahch-To, Rey has another vision of Kylo, who wonders why the Force is connecting them and when she tells him she found Luke, he taunts her by asking her if he told her what happened the night the temple was burned. Luke continues the lessons and tells Rey how in the end, the Jedi were failures due to their own pride in their abilities with the Force. Rey disputes the notion but Luke tells her about how the Jedi allowed Darth Sidious to rise to power and create the Empire, and how his own pride allowed his nephew Ben to become Kylo Ren and slaughter his students. Back on Canto Bight, Finn and Rose try to figure out a way out of the cell when DJ, a hacker who is in the cell with them offers to help them. They refuse his offer but when DJ picks the lock and leaves, they leave as well, escaping into the sewers, while DJ encounters BB-8, who is knocking out the guards with coins he acquired. Finn and Rose find themselves in a stable and as the kids working in the stable move to sound the alarm, Finn and Rose tell them they are with the resistance and the kids help them escape by opening the stables and letting the racing fathiers out. Finn and Rose ride on the back of one through the city and out to the beach but the police blow up their shuttle before they can get on board so they continue riding up the cliffs. They manage to elide the police and set their mount free when BB-8 appears in a shuttle, driven by DJ, and they quickly get on board and speed off. Back on Ahch-To, Luke finally opens himself up to the Force and uses it to reach out to Leia, who calls out his name. Meanwhile, Rey continues to have conversations with Kylo and he tells her that Luke had attempted to kill him because he feared Kylo’s strength in the Force. Shaken by what Kylo told her, Rey heads to the hole that is strong in the Dark Side of the Force and ends up falling in. Inside, she finds a strange, cracked mirror, which shows myriad reflections of herself and when she tries to see her parents, she only sees herself again. Rey talks with Kylo about her experience and as they continue talking, they tell each other they are not alone and touch each other through the Force. Luke enters Rey’s cabin and seeing what is happening, yells out for them to stop, destroying the cabin in the process. Luke angrily yells at Rey to leave the island and Rey asks if what Kylo told her is true. The two end up fighting and Rey ends up besting Luke when she uses the Force to grab Anakin’s old lightsaber and uses it on him, causing him to stumble and fall to the ground. Luke tells her that he had sensed a darkness in Kylo and when he looked into his mind, realized that Snoke had already turned him. Luke reacted on instinct and activated his lightsaber but couldn’t bring himself to kill Kylo but Kylo realized Luke’s initial intention and struck down Luke and destroyed his school. Rey tells Luke that she had sensed Kylo’s turmoil and feels that she could bring him back to the light and despite Luke telling her not to leave, she takes off with Chewie and R2-D2. After they leave, Luke goes to destroy the ancient Jedi texts and the tree/temple when he sees the Force Spirit of Yoda watching him. When Luke can’t bring himself to do it, Yoda summons a lightning bolt to destroy the tree and texts and when Luke argues about it, Yoda tells him that they offered nothing that Rey didn’t already know. Yoda then tells Luke that he needed to pass on what he had learned, and that included his failures as they were more important to learn from. Meanwhile, Finn and Rose are making their way to the First Order fleet and when DJ tells them he expects to be paid for his services, they tell him the Resistance will pay him when they are done and Rose gives him her necklace as a down payment. Elsewhere, the Resistance fleet has lost both of it’s escort craft and when Poe goes to see Holdo to demand to know what their plan is, he discovers that she is fueling the escape craft and plans on having everyone abandon ship. Poe is angry that she is willing to risk everyone’s lives in unarmed ships and tells her about his plan with Finn and Rose and when Holdo refuses to change her plan, Poe leads a mutiny and takes command of the ship. As Finn, Rose, DJ, and BB-8 sneak onto Snoke’s ship, Rey tells Chewie to jetison her in the escape pod and wait for her signal to return, then leaves the ship and heads to Snoke’s ship as well. She is met by Kylo, who places her in manacles and takes her up to see Snoke. Finn, Rose, DJ, and BB-8 make it to the tracking system but are captured by Captain Phasma and as Poe, who was in contact with them, despairs over their capture, he is shocked to see Leia break through the door to the bridge and stun him. Lei has Poe loaded onto one of the escape shuttles and as she discusses the plan with Holdo, Holdo says she has to stay aboard and pilot the flagship to make sure the shuttles are able to escape and though Leia is saddened by the sacrifice, she knows Holdo is right. When Poe recovers, Leia points out the nearby planet Crait and explains that there is a former Rebellion base on the planet that is heavily fortified and should allow them to contact their allies in the Outer Rim while the First Order passes them by. On Snoke’s ship, Snoke reveals that he had facilitated the connection between Rey and Kylo, as he knew Rey would fall into his trap so he could either kill her or turn her. Meanwhile, DJ is revealed to have cut a deal with the First Order and told them of the Resistance’s plan and they begin firing on the escape shuttles. Meanwhile, Snoke continues to taunt Rey and reveals the Resistance shuttles being destroyed. Snoke orders Kylo to kill Rey but as Kylo moves to do so, he secretly maneuvers Anakin’s lightsaber so that it is facing Snoke, then activates it, cutting Snoke in half. Rey and Kylo then proceed to fight off Snoke’s guards and after killing them, Rey tells Kylo to call off the attack on the shuttles but he refuses, saying that they should get rid of the old and she should rule at his side. Rey refuses and they end up fighting over Anakin’s lightsaber, eventually causing it to be split in two, knocking them both out. Meanwhile, Holdo maneuvers the flagship towards the First Order fleet and jumps to light speed, sacrificing herself by crashing into Snoke’s ship and destroying or damaging several of the smaller Star Destroyers while buying time for the remaining shuttles to make it to the surface. Finn and Rose, who were about to be executed, attempt to escape in shuttle but are forced to deal with Phasma and her stormtroopers but manage to escape with BB-8’s help, who had taken over an AT-ST. Meanwhile, Hux heads to the throne room and sees Snoke dead and Kylo lying unconscious on the floor. Hux moves to kill Kylo when Kylo regains consciousness, saying that Rey killed Snoke and demanding to know where she is. When Hux tells Kylo that she escaped in Snoke’s escape pod, Kylo orders their troops to the planet’s surface to finish off the Resistance and when Hux questions Kylo’s authority, Kylo force chokes him into accepting Kylo as the new Supreme Commander. On Crait, the Resistance prepare to hold off the First Order, Finn sees that the First Order has a battering order cannon with them and warns that it will crack open the shield door in seconds. The Resistance starts to lose hope, especially when they learn the shield door is the only way in or out, but Finn says they have to have hope that their allies will come and they should hold out until then. The Resistance forces head out to the surface, while Poe, Finn, and Rose lead a squad of pilots in ancient Rebellion speeders to take out the battering ram cannon. AS Kylo orders the support Tie-Fighters to take out the speeders and ground troopers, the Tie-Fighters come under fire by the Millennium Falcon, with Rey and Chewie on board, and the fighters all go after it. Poe leads the speeders towards the cannon but as they start getting picked off, he tells everyone to break off the attack. Finn refuses to listen and continues towards the cannon, intending to sacrifice himself to destroy it, but Rose crashes her ship into his, knocking them both out of the way as the cannon fires and blasts a hole in the door. Finn rushes over to Rose’s ship to see if she is still alive and asks why she did that and she tells him that the way they will beat them is not by destroying what they hate, but saving what they love. Inside the base, the Resistance learns that their distress signal has been received in numerous systems but nobody is coming to help them and Leia says that they must have finally run out of hope. Suddenly, Luke appears in the base and speaks with Leia, apologizing for what happened to Ben (Kylo) and saying that he is there to face him. Luke heads outside to confront Kylo and when he sees him, Kylo orders his troops to open fire on him but Luke is seemingly unfazed by their attack so Kylo orders his shuttle to land so he can confront him. Poe and the remaining Resistance troops watch Luke and Finn wants to help him but Poe realizes that Luke is stalling so that they can escape. As Poe tells everyone to try and find another way out, he notices that the crystal foxes that were in the base have vanished. Bringing that to everyone’s attention, they all see one last fox staring at them before making it’s way down a tunnel and they all follow after it. They eventually catch up to it at the site of a recent landslide and Poe starts to give up hope when Rey, who had been searching for them, uses the Force to lift the boulders away, allowing the Resistance to escape. Meanwhile, Luke and Kylo are fighting when Luke suddenly stops, as he knows his stalling has worked, and when Kylo moves to kill him, his blade goes right through Luke, revealing that Luke was simply a Force projection all along. As Luke disappears, Kylo realizes he has been tricked and sends his forces into the base but they find it empty. On Ahch-To, Luke ends up dying from his exertion battling Kylo, with both Leia and Rey feeling him pass. Kylo senses Rey and the two stare at each other through the Force before Rey closes the door to the Falcon and they leave. As the surviving members congratulate each other on surviving, Leia and Rey speak about feeling Luke’s passing, With Leia saying that the Rebellion is reborn. On Canto Bight, The children that helped Finn and Rose escape are reenacting Luke Skywalker’s stand against Kylo and the First Order when the stable manager yells at them. As they rush off to get back to work, one of them uses the Force to summon a broom to his hand and starts sweeping before staring up into the stars.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi honors the saga’s rich legacy while adding some surprising twists — and delivering all the emotion-rich action fans could hope for.” When filming, Laura Dern said “pew” every time she shot her blaster. Although not audible, one such instance even made it into the finished film. It can be noticed in the close-up shot when Holdo is stunning her opponents. With the passing of Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels is the only actor to appear in all 8 of the main Star Wars films. Though it didn’t earn as much as it’s predecessor, the movie was a box office smash, earning $1.333 billion off of a $317 million budget.

Here’s the deal. When you watch any of the new Star Wars movies, you have to ask yourself one question before you start; Was this movie worse than Episode I? With that being said, this wasn’t what I would consider a great follow up but it was a good movie, and definitely better than The Phantom Menace. The acting was good, with Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), and Adam Driver (Kylo) doing good jobs reprising their roles. I also thought that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were good reprising the roles of Luke and Leia respectively, while Kelly Marie Tran did a good job as Rose. The story was honestly a little disappointing because you had so many side things going on at once. Granted, the movie seemed to resemble Empire Strikes Back in some regards but while George Lucas did a good job keeping the different sub-plots flowing smoothly, the sub-plots in The Last Jedi seemed to keep jumping around at random in such a way that they felt disjointed with each other, until the last 30 minutes or so where they started to rejoin each other. Speaking of resembling Empire, the last battle on Crait really did feel like it was the Battle of Hoth, just with different equipment. Now, for the scene that brought about so much anger. Seeing as how she was the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, there was always a chance that Leia would be Force sensitive. In fact, she showed her abilities starting to emerge at the end of Return Of The Jedi. So to assume that in the years after the fall of the Empire, that she would not have undergone at least some basic training with Luke is pretty silly notion (in the old Star Wars books, Leia was actually trained by another Jedi, as she felt Luke was going to soft on her). Now, I will admit that the scene itself was quite a bit over the top, okay it was REALLY over the top, but it wasn’t as far fetched of a thing as the haters claimed it to be. The special effects were incredible and the colors and imagery in the scenes were amazing to see. I loved the battle in Snoke’s throne room, where Kylo and Ren fight the guards against the solid red backdrop of the walls and curtains, with the curtains catching fire and falling among them adding to the raw emotion in the scene. I also liked the sand that turned red on Crait, as it made for a nice way to liven up the otherwise barren battle scene. So it is a good movie and did do a good job in being the midpoint in a trilogy but it needed to nail down a couple of issues to be considered truly great.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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October 29th, 2018 Movie – Ant-Man And The Wasp

ant man and the wasp

Ok, I feel kind of bad for this but for the first time since 2008, I did not see one of the MCU movies in the theaters. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed Ant-Man quite a bit but when the sequel came out, there was just too much going on in my life for me to take the time to go see it. So I had to wait patiently for this movie to come out on video before I could watch it. As soon as I got it, I had to put it in because there was one burning question that needed to be answered; how does this movie tie in to Avengers: Infinity War. Well, let’s find out as I watch today’s movie, Ant-Man And The Wasp.

The plot: Sometime after Scott Lang stopped Darren Cross (Yellowjacket), Hank Pym is talking with his daughter Hope about when her mother had gone sub-atomic to stop a missile and never came back. When Scott did the same thing to stop Cross but came back, Hank wonders if maybe his wife Janet is still alive, and shows Hope some old plans he had developed for a Quantum Tunnel, which he plans on building to try and find her. In the present, Scott Lang is finishing up his last days on being under house arrest for his role in helping Captain America. As he entertains his daughter Cassie, he is also helping his partner Luis go over the plans for their security system proposal when he accidentally triggers the perimeter alarm for his house arrest. FBI Agent Jimmy Woo and his team search the house, as part of the terms of the deal Scott signed. As his team searches the house, Woo asks if Scott has had any contact with Hank or Hope, as it was his tech that Scott used, but Scott tells him that Hank hates him for getting involved with the Avengers and neither of them have spoken to him in the past two years. That night, Scott has a dream where he is back in the quantum realm and sees Janet, then finds himself in one of Janet’s memories. Waking up, Scott uses a secret phone to contact Hank and leaves a message about the dream but realizes how stupid it sounds and hangs up, then breaks the phone. The next day, Scott is eating when something buzzes by him and stings him, causing him to pass out. When he comes too, he finds himself in a car with Hope driving. Hope explains that they have left a decoy with his ankle monitor to fool the FBI, then explains that they are still mad at him but the only reason they are talking is because they need what is in his head. Hope takes Scott to their secret lab, and Hank explains that they had been building the tunnel for the past two years and had tested it the night before when a part overloaded. % minutes after the tested it, Scott called them which makes Hank believe that Janet had placed a message inside his head that they need to get. Scott still thinks it was just a dream he had but when Hope says the dream he described was how she and her mom always played hide and seek, Hank and Hope get excited. Saying Hank owes them for going to Germany and destroying the Ant-Man suit, Hank and Hope shrink down the lab and go to see a man named Sonny Burch, with Scott reluctantly going along but as they drive off, an almost invisible figure is watching them. When they reach the meeting spot, Hope heads inside, with Hank and Scott watching via ants that Hank is controlling, but as Hope speaks with Burch, he reveals that he knows who she really is and wants to change the deal they have. Burch figured out that they are involved in quantum technology and, knowing that it is the future in energy, has arranged for some buyers for their lab but when Hope refuses, he refuses to give her the part. Hope leaves but as Burch goes to leave, Hope returns wearing he Wasp armor and begins attacking Burch’s men, reclaiming the part they needed. As Hope goes to leave, the mysterious figure appears, constantly fading in and out of sight and tangibility. Realizing Hope is in trouble, Hank gives Scott a prototype Ant-Man suit and Scott goes in to help Hope but the figure disappears, then reappears in Hank’s van and steals his lab. Needing a place to hide, Scott takes them to his business office and they discuss what they can do. With all of the equipment they could possibly use to find the lab inside the lab, Hank says there is only one man that might be able to help; his former partner Bill Foster. Meanwhile, Ghost, as Scott and the others called her, takes the lab to an abandoned house, then gets inside a special chamber to help stabilize her condition. Scott, Hope, and Hank head to the college that Bill teaches at and meet with Bill, who continually makes snide remarks to Hank while they talk. When Scott notices that Woo is there, he realizes someone must have spotted them and they leave but Bill tells them a way to find the lab as they leave. In the car, Hank says that the problem with Bill’s idea of using their suit’s regulators is that he got rid of the regulators in the new suits but Scott reveals that he did not destroy his suit like he originally told them. Scott had mailed it to Luis before he was imprisoned, then placed it in a trophy that Cassie had gotten him but when Luis can’t find the trophy, Scott realizes that Cassie had taken it for show-and-tell. Scott and Hope head to Cassie’s school but while they are there, Scott’s suit malfunctions, causing him to change sizes randomly. Scott and Hope are able to retrieve the suit and after trying Bill’s idea, they get a signal from the lab and track it down. As Scott and Hope prepare to head inside, they discuss their former relationship and Hope tells Scott that had she been there, he would not have been captured. The two head inside the house and discover the lab, as well as Ghost in her chamber, but when they go to grab the lab, Ghost awakens and knocks them out. Scott comes too and finds himself strapped to a chair, with Hope and Hank still unconscious and tied up next to him. The ghost appears and says her name is Ava and she won’t hurt him but needs what is in his head. As she goes intangible again, she gets upset and wakes Hope and Hank up, just as Bill appears and reveals that he was working with Ava. Ava explains that her father was a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist that was working with Hank but when they had a disagreement, Hank had him fired and discredited. Her father continued his work to restore his name but due to thae lack of proper safeguards, there was an explosion and her parents were killed while Ava was left in her noncorporeal state. Bill was still working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and worked to help Ava, but S.H.E.L.D. wanted to use her as a spy and assassin, then kill her. When S.H.I.E.L.D. collapsed, Bill helped Ava escape, and they had been watching Hank to see if he could help them when they learned of Scott’s message from Janet. Bill says that he wants to harvest the quantum energy that Janet has been soaking up to restore Ava’s body but Hank says that it will kill her if they do that. Bill goes to leave but Hank fakes a heart attack and Hope says his medicine is in the altoids container her carries. Bill goes to get the altoids container but when he opens it, a bunch of ants pop out and grow to human size. Then ants free Scott, Hope, and Hank, who are able to escape with the lab. As Hank, Hope, and Scott prepare to activate the tunnel and learn where Janet is, Ava wants to use Cassie to get Scott to get the lab back but Bill refuses to help her if she hurts Cassie so she says there are other options and leaves. Meanwhile, Burch shows up at Luis’ business and gives him some truth serum to learn where Scott is, only for Ghost to show up and disable his vehicle. Burch calls his contact at the FBI to tell him where Hank, Hope, and Scott are but tells him to give him the lab. At the lab, Hank and Hope activate the machine and Janet’s consciousness takes over Scott’s body, allowing her to help them locate where she is but she warns them that they only have 2 hours or else it will be another century before they will be able to try again. Luis calls and warns Scott about what happened and Scott tells Hank and Hope, who are upset and quickly work on powering down the lab so they can shrink it and leave while Scott grabs the Ant-Man suit and heads home so Woo doesn’t catch him. At Scott’s house, Cassie, along with her mother and stepfather, show up at Scott’s house and Cassie discovers the giant ant pretending to be Scott but keeps it a secret. When Woo shows up, Cassie stalls him and Scott is able to get back in time but Hank and Hope are captured. As they are being placed in a car, Burch’s man grabs the lab and puts it in the trunk of his car but Ghost appears and knocks him out and steals the lab. At Scott’s house, Cassie talks with Scott and asks if he is going to help Hope and Hank and Scott says he wants to but doesn’t want to hurt her and she tells him that he should help them. At the FBI office, Hope picks the lock to her and Hank’s restraints and they try to figure out a way out of there when Scott uses some ants to bring Hope’s Wasp suit, as well as an FBI uniform for Hank, and then cover the camera so they can escape, unaware that Burch’s men are following them. Scott, Hope, and Hank head to the lab, thanks to Hank placing a new tracker on it. When they get there, Hank tells them that he will be the one to head into the tunnel, as he needs them to protect the tunnel and deal with Ghost. Scott uses the ants to disrupt the machine, drawing Ghost out and Hank heads inside, using some large ants to keep Bill at bay. As Bill explains his reasoning, Hank tells him that he will help Bill find a cure as soon as he gets back from rescuing Janet and Bill wishes him luck. Ghost attacks Scott and as she does, Hank heads through the Quantum Tunnel while Hope shrinks the lab, allowing her and Luis to grab it. They go to leave but Burch and his men show up and they are forced to drive from them, with Hope shrinking and growing the van to deal with the pursuers. Scott catches up to them while Hope deals with the last of Burch’s men but Ghost shows up and steals the lab, while causing Scott to crash the van. Hope and Scott work on getting the lab back but as they deal with Ghost, Burch manages to grab the lab. Hope chases after her and Scott, still having issues with his suit, follows after them. Meanwhile, Hank makes it to the quantum realm and goes searching for Janet but as he collapses from the strain of the realm on his mind, Janet shows up and helps him but as they go to return to the surface, the learn that the lab is still shrunk down and they can’t ascend. Back on the surface, Luis finds the remote for the lab in the van and grabs another car to drive and meet with Hope and Scott. When he comes under fire form Burch’s men, Hope rescues him while Scott continues chasing after Burch. When Burch gets onto a ferry to escape, Scott grows to giant size in order to get the lab back from him but as he places it back on the dock, he passes out from the strain on his body. Hope and Luis arrive and Hope dives into the water to save Scott while Luis goes to get the lab but Ghost shows up and knocks him out, then enlarges the lab. Seeing the lab has returned to normal, Hank and Janet begin the journey back, unaware as to what is going on. Luis is confronted by Burch and his men but Kurt and Dave show up and uses tasers to incapacitate Burch’s men while Luis knocks out Burch. Inside the lab, Bill tries to talk Ghost out of harvesting Janet’s energy but Ghost shoves him aside and starts the process, which starts tearing Janet apart. Scott and Hope enter the lab and stop Ghost, then begin fighting with her until Hank and Janet return, with Scott rescuing Hope while Ghost is struck by the vehicle. Hank, Janet, and Hope all embrace each other and when Janet sees Ghost, she approaches her and gives her some of her energy to temporarily stabilize her. When Luis warns them that the cops and FBI are approaching, Scott uses his suit to create a decoy so that they can get away, while he rushes home, where a suspicious Woo can’t prove he had left and takes off the ankle monitor, warning him that he will be keeping an eye out for him. Burch and his men are arrested, and since Luis, Kurt, and Dave were credited with the arrest, their company gets a huge contract that they had been working on. Ava tells Bill to leave her, as she had hurt so many people trying to save her life, but Bill says he won’t leave her and she embraces him. Hank and Janet are shown to be on a tropical beach, where Hank reveals he had shrunk their house and brought it with them for them to live in. Scott, Hope, and Cassie are enjoying a makeshift drive-in movie night, where Cassie reveals to Hope that Scott wants her to be his partner. Some time later, Hank, Hope, and Janet have made a smaller Quantum Tunnel and Scott travels into it in order to get some quantum healing particles for Ava but as they prepare to bring him back, Hope, Hank, and Janet are disintegrated, courtesy of Thanos and the Infinity Stones, leaving Scott stranded in the quantum realm.

Ant-Man And The Wasp met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A lighter, brighter superhero movie powered by the effortless charisma of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, Ant-Man and The Wasp offers a much-needed MCU palate cleanser.” During the scene where Hank, Hope, and Scott first meet with Bill Foster, Bill says that he worked on the “Goliath Project” with Hank and had grown to 21 feet. In the comics, Bill Foster was Hank Pym’s assistant and would indeed become a super hero known as Goliath, who took part in Civil War as one of Cap’s allies but would be killed by a robotic version of Thor. The movie was a box office success, earning $622.4 million off of a $195 million budget.

I really feel bad for not seeing this in theaters because this movie was just as funny as the original. The acting was good, with Paul Rudd (Scott), Evangeline Lilly (Hope) and Michael Douglas (Hank) doing great jobs in their roles. Michelle Pfeiffer (Janet) and Laurence Fishburne (Bill) were also good, while Hannah John-Kamen and Walton Goggins (Burch) made for some interesting villains in Ghost and Burch respectively. The story was pretty good as, aside from the aspect of Scott bing under house arrest, it was essentially a stand alone movie that did not need to rely on anything from the other movies. There was simply the part at the end where the Hank, Hope, and Janet disintegrated that showed the events were occurring roughly at the same time as Thanos’ attack on the universe. One thing about the movie I did like was the various moral decisions that constantly came into play during the movie. I mean, you had Scott wanting to stay on the straight and narrow so he wouldn’t get his chance at probation revoked and losing the chance to spend time with his daughter, but also wanting to help Hope and Hank rescue Janet. Then you have Bill Foster, who wants to save Ava but in the end, doesn’t want her to risk harming Janet, though Ava is willing to do whatever it takes to save herself, including threatening Cassie until Bill warns her against it. The special effects were great, with the constant size changing during the fight scenes, as well as the car chase scenes, were incredible to watch and really well timed. The visual imagery during Hank’s journey into the quantum realm was also incredibly beautiful, even the tardigrades (water bears). A fun movie to watch and a good way to ease back from the emotions of Infinity War.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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