adventure, drama, horror, movie, movie review

August 12th, 2017 Movie – Shark Zone

shark zone

One thing that happens with B Movies or direct-to-video movies is that some studios will reuse footage from previous movies in newer releases as a way of cutting costs. My favorite example of this is Raptor, where all the dinosaur footage is from the three Carnosaur movies and makes for some hilarious script writing to explain some of it. Today’s movie is somewhat similar as it uses a lot of footage from the Shark Attack trilogy, as well as some generic shark footage from nature shows. Let’s see how well the utilize the recycled footage in today’s movie, Shark Zone.

The plot: In 1712, the Spanish trade ship, Santa Cruz, was sailing from Barcelona towards the New World but they encountered a terrible storm, which blew the ship off course and caused it to crash into an uncharted reef and sink off the coast of what will become San Francisco, carrying it’s cargo of diamonds to the bottom of the ocean. In 2003, retired Navy SEAL Andrew Wagner, along with his son Jimmy, is guiding a group of divers to the wreck, though they seem intent on ignoring his warnings, especially a cocky man named Tyler. Tyler and his wife, Riley, swim ahead of the others and enter the wreck but as they separate at the wreck, Tyler is killed by a great white. As more sharks appear and start killing the rest of the group, Andrew tells Jimmy to swim to the surface just before he is killed by a shark. Jimmy makes it to the surface and signals the helicopter to pick him up, being picked up by the winch just before a shark bites him. 10 years later, Jimmy is now married with a child of his own and works as the head lifeguard for San Francisco’s beaches but is constantly plagued by nightmares about sharks. Jimmy is called into the mayor’s office, where Mayor John Cortell introduces Jimmy to a man named Volkoff, who is interested in getting Jimmy’s help in locating the diamonds on the Santa Cruz. Jimmy refuses to do so, causing Volkoff to leave and Cortell argues with Jimmy about his decision, as Volkoff is a wealthy investor and the city could use the money he is spending. Changing subjects, Cortell talks with Jimmy about the safety measures for the beach next week and Jimmy says that everything is fine but Cortell doesn’t want Jimmy to cause a panic like he did last year concerning sharks near the beach. Later, Jimmy is patrolling the ocean in a helicopter when he sees some sharks heading towards the beach and warns the lifeguard station to get people out of the water but several people are still killed by the sharks. Jimmy takes some of the wreckage from the attacks to Cortell’s office and tells him that they need to close the beaches but Cortell refuses, saying that they can’t afford to have them closed. Jimmy goes to see three of his diver friends and asks if they want to help him get rid of the sharks and they all say yes, agreeing to meet at the marina in the morning to head out there. As they leave in the morning, they are observed by Volkoff, who is having breakfast with Cortell, and Volkoff asks if Jimmy will succeed, threatening to pull his funding of the upcoming festival. As the divers prepare to head into the cages, Jimmy tells them he wants to tag a couple of the sharks in order to see where they go and find out if there are any more out there. The divers head into the cages, with Jimmy keeping watch on the boat but when he sees several sharks approaching the cages, he warns the divers about them. The sharks begin attacking the cages, breaking into one of them and killing one of the divers. The other divers leave the cages and try swimming back to the boat but they are both killed by the sharks. Returning to the shore, Cortell meets with Jimmy as he is unloading his gear and Jimmy says that the beaches are closed until he says otherwise and Cortell agrees, for now. That night, as people are starting to celebrating the festival, Jimmy is getting drunk in the bar when Volkoff sits down next to him. Volkoff tries again to get Jimmy to take him to the Santa Cruz but Jimmy still refuses. After Volkoff leaves, Jordan, the bartender, offers to help Jimmy kill the sharks and Jimmy accepts his help. The next day, Jimmy and Jordan head out into the water to hunt the sharks when they encounter a group of windsurfers out on the ocean. When the sharks start attacking the surfers, Jimmy and Jordan manage to rescue one of them, while tagging several of the sharks as they get near the boat. Heading back to shore, they board a helicopter so they can track the sharks, then use explosives to kill them. That night, Jimmy and Jordan are celebrating killing the sharks and Cortell asks Jimmy if it is safe to open the beaches. Jimmy would like to ensure there are no more sharks out there but reluctantly gives the ok, and Cortell holds a press conference to announce the beaches are reopened. The next day, Volkoff tries one last time to get Jimmy to take him to the  Santa Cruz and when he refuses, Volkoff orders his men to kidnap Danny. Carrie, Jimmy’s wife, calls to tell him about Danny’s abduction just as Volkoff calls and tells him where to meet. When Jimmy gets on Vokoff’s ship, he tries to fight off Volkoff’s men but is easily overpowered. Vokoff then explains that his brother Igor was the pilot that worked with Andrew and rescued Jimmy, which is how he knew about the Santa Cruz. Jimmy then shows them where the Santa Cruz is located and explain how to get there. 3 of Volkoff’s men dive into the water and after reaching the ship, they report finding the diamonds but they are killed before they can bring them to the surface. Jimmy mocks Volkoff’s situation but Volkoff grabs Danny and threatens to throw him into the water unless Jimmy goes down there to get the diamonds. Jimmy does so, accompanied by the last of Volkoff’s men, and he finds the diamonds, then kills Volkoff’s man after he tries to kill him. Jimmy sneaks back onto the ship and attack’s Volkoff, knocking him into the water but Volkoff manages to shoot him in the side. Volkoff is killed by a shark while Jimmy manages to rescue Danny and they get off the ship before it explodes, due to an errant shot by Volkoff starting a fire. As they make their way back to the city, Danny comments that his grandfather would have been proud of how brave Jimmy was and Jimmy says the same about Danny. Some time later, Jimmy, Carrie, and Danny are on a cruise, with Danny having overcome his fear of the water and Jimmy is also doing better regarding his own fears, in spite of a brief moment where he imagined seeing a shark coming out of the pool.

This movie is about as original as the footage they recycled, which means not very original at all. Aside from that, this was a pretty boring movie to be honest. The acting was ok, with the only one really standing out being Velizar Binev (Volkoff), who was pretty good in his role. The story was a completely overused stereotype; a group of people trying to find a lost treasure and resorting to kidnapping to force someone to help them. This isn’t even original regarding the sharks aspect, as there are some other movies using this exact same premise. The used footage from the Shark Attack movies was kind of funny to watch, especially in my case as I had just watched those movies recently, but it felt like they had to work a little harder to work the old footage in sometimes. All in all, this is about as generic a low budget shark movie that you will ever find and you would be better off watching something else.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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

July 24th, 2017 Movie – Serenity

serenity

I think that just about everyone knows who Joss Whedon is by now. Even if you were not a fan of his shows, you have at least heard of his TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel, though more people might know him as the director of The Avengers and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. In 2002, Whedon had another show that some people might not know about called Firefly. Unfortunately, it aired on Fox and they did not know quite where to place it in their line-up, putting it on Friday nights and eventually cancelling it before it’s first season finished airing. However, the show had developed a massive following and, with the massive sells of the Firefly DVD as proof that there was consumer interest, a movie was green lit. So lets see how the final adventures of the Serenity’s crew fare as I watch today’s movie, Serenity.

The plot: By the 26th Century, Earth had become so overpopulated that humanity was forced to find another planet to live on. They eventually found a new solar system and used terraforming to make the planets habitable. The central planets formed the Alliance and set about rules for all of the planets in the solar system but the outer planets value their independence and a war is fought over it. Some time in the future, River Tam is being experimented on and the Alliance scientists are trying to turn her into a psychic assassin but River’s brother Simon manages to sneak into the facility and break her out of there. Later, a man known as The Operative is examining the footage of the Tams’ escape and when the lead scientist arrives to question what he is doing, The operative replays the footage of the scientist saying key members of the Alliance had seen the project. The Operative says that it is possible that River had telepathically learned classified information from those members and his job is to ensure that nobody else learns it, then proceeds to kill the scientist and his guards for allowing it to happen. Meanwhile, Simon and River have taken refuge on the cargo ship Serenity, where Simon earns their keep by serving as the ship’s doctor. When they land on a planet to rob an Alliance payroll, Simon is upset that Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is taking River with him but Mal insists that he needs her due to her telepathic abilities. Mal, River, Zoe, and Jayne leave Simon, Wash (Zoe’s husband and the ship’s pilot), and Kaylee (the ship’s mechanic) on Serenity and head into the town to rob the payroll. As Mal and Zoe are in the vault, River has a vision of the Reavers, a savage and cannibalistic group of people that attack the outer planets. Mal tells the vault guard to get everyone inside the vault and seal it so they stay safe, then he and his group get on their mule and head out of town. A Reaver ship follows after them but Wash brings Serenity to them and they are able to board it on the run, killing the one Reaver that manages to get on board. As Mal and the others recover, Simon punches Mal for putting River in danger and tells him that they will be getting off at the next port and an angered Mal agrees to it. When they reach the next port, everyone leaves the ship, with Simon and River going their own way but Kaylee, who likes Simon, doesn’t like it and argues with Mal about this. As Mal and Jayne go to meet their contact and get paid for the payroll job, River walks into the bar and sees a commercial playing on the TV, causing her to whisper the word “Miranda” before she begins attacking the patrons of the bar. As Mal and Jayne try to stop her, River knocks out Jayne and goes to shoot Mal when Simon appears and says a phrase that causes River to fall asleep. Mal grabs River and takes her back onto Serenity and, after securing River into a room, grabs Simon and demands answers from him. Simon starts to explain what happened to River and Mal is upset that he had spent 8 months on the ship and never told anyone about what could happen. Realizing they need to find more information, they contact a hacker called Mr. Universe, who tells them that the video never made it to the news and was accessed by the military. Reviewing the footage, they see what set River off and Mr. Universe discovers a subliminal message hidden in the commercial which was intended to trigger River’s response. Mal and the others head to Haven, where their friend and former shipmate Shepherd has set up a community, and while they are resting there, Mal speaks to Shepherd about their situation and Shepherd warns him about what the Alliance will do. Mal receives a communication from Inara, another former shipmate and whom Mal has a romantic interest in, and even though they know it is a trap, Mal and the others go to save her. Mal manages to sneak into where Inara is but he encounters The Operative, who attempts to reason with Mal into giving River to him. Mal refuses and they start fighting but before the Operative can kill him, a flash grenade that Inara had secretly lit goes off, allowing Mal and Inara to escape. They make it back to Serenity and use decoys to keep The Operative from being able to track them. As they are flying back to Haven, Jayne argues with Mal about why they are keeping River on board the ship. When everyone goes off to separate areas of the ship, Jayne heads to River’s room to kill her but she knows he is coming and knocks him out. As the others search for River, she knocks out Simon so he can’t put her to sleep, then heads to the bridge. Mal finds her there and tries talking to her as she goes looking through the ship’s navigation system and she stops and points to a planet, calling it Miranda. Mal has the others join them on the bridge, while River apologizes to Simon for knocking him out, and they discuss Miranda, finding it odd that there doesn’t seem to be any record of it in the Alliance database. Mal suggests going there to investigate but Wash and Zoe point out that Miranda is in the heart of Reaver territory. The group heads to Haven to come up with a plan only to find that Haven has been razed. Mal manages to find Shepherd and calls for help but Shepherd dies before Simon can get there. Realizing that The Operative is attacking anywhere where they had hidden before, Zoe says to warn their friends but they find that they have all been killed. As Mal stares at the screens, The Operative comes on and says that Mal left him no choice, angering Mal. Mal orders the others to take some of the bodies and tie them to the ship so they can disguise themselves as Reavers and head to Miranda, though the crew is unhappy about doing it. They manage to make their way through the Reaver fleet and land on Miranda only to find that it has been terraformed and populated at one point, but all of the people are now dead. Following a beacon signal, they find a transmission from an Alliance scientist, who says that the chemical they used in the air to pacify the population made it where they stopped doing anything, including eating or anything necessary to live. However, a small percentage of the population had the opposite effect, making them more violent and crazed, and Mal and the others realize that the Alliance had created the Reavers. Mal decides to take the video and have Mr. Universe broadcast it to everyone and contact him to arrange it but unknown to them, The Operative was at Mr. Universe’s home and after he finishes speaking with Mal, The Operative kills Mr. Universe and has the transmitter destroyed while he prepares to ambush Mal and the others. Knowing that the Alliance will be waiting for them, Mal fires on the Reaver fleet as they leave Miranda, getting them to chase after them. When the Serenity emerges from the ion cloud above the planet, The Operative has his fleet target it but they are surprised when Reaver ships appear after it and they are forced to fight them. The Serenity makes it through the fleet in the confusion but a Reaver ship follows after them and causes them to crash. They manage to survive the crash but Wash is killed by the Reavers and Mal orders everyone to leave the ship. They make their way inside and Zoe tells Mal they will hold off the Reavers while Mal goes and gets the video to Mr. Universe. Mal heads to Mr. Universe’s chamber to find it trashed but Mr. Universe left a message with his sexbot, which tells Mal he had a back-up transmitter that is ready to transmit. Mal heads down to the back-up transmitter but unknown to him, The Operative, who was forced to eject from his ship as it was destroyed, had followed him and hears the message as well. Meanwhile, the Reavers start to attack the others and Zoe and Kaylee are injured, forcing them to fall back behind some blast doors but they don’t seal all the way. When Simon is shot, River goes through the opening and seals the blast doors, throwing Simon’s medical bag through before it closes, and then proceeds to fight with the Reavers. Mal reaches the transmitter but is attacked by the Operative, who attempts to paralyze Mal so he can kill him but Mal manages to get the upper hand and breaks the Operative’s back, then makes it so he has to watch as he plays the transmission that tells the entire solar system about how the Alliance made the Reavers. Mal rejoins the others and when he asks about River, they are surprised to see the doors open and River standing there, having killed all of the Reavers. Suddenly, the wall blasts open and Alliance soldiers arrive and threaten to shoot them but The Operative orders the soldiers to stand down. Sometime later, Mal and the others hold a funeral for Wash, Shepherd, and Mr. Universe then get to work repairing the ship. As they prepare to leave, Mal is approached by The Operative, who says he can’t guarantee that the Alliance won’t come after them, as the video weakened the Parliment’s power but did not remove it entirely. Mal heads up to the bridge and gets in the pilot’s chair, with River acting as his copilot, and they take off to their next adventure.

Serenity met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.” The movie takes place 6 months after the final episode of Firefly and a three issue comic mini-series, written by Whedon, was released in the summer of 2005 to bridge the gap in the story. Despite the strong following, the movie did not do so well at the box office, earning $38.9 million off of a $39 million budget.

If you are a fan of the show, you will enjoy this movie. Even if you aren’t a fan, if you are a fan of sci-fi movies, you will probably like this movie, but just not understand as much of what is happening. This is a pretty good movie all told. The acting was good, with Nathan Fillion (Mal), Summer Glau (River), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative) doing great jobs in their roles. Whedon did a good job in writing the plot so that you could follow along without having any previous knowledge of the show, while adding some elements that would appeal to the die hard fans. The special effects and fight scenes were pretty good, especially the fight scenes with River, as they utilized some of Summer Glau’s abilities as a former ballerina into her choreography. A fun way to end a TV show and a fun movie to enjoy.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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

July 19th, 2017 Movie – Kong: Skull Island

kong skull island

Seriously, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that I bought today’s movie. After all, my love for giant monster movies is pretty well documented on this blog. Anyways, after the success of Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla, it was announced that two sequels would follow. However, Godzilla wasn’t the only monster that Legendary had their sites set on, as plans were made to do a remake starring America’s most famous giant monster, King Kong. When Universal Pictures allowed Legendary Pictures to have Warner Bros. distribute their King Kong movie, in order to facilitate a Godzilla vs. King Kong movie down the road. But that isn’t happening for three years so right now, let’s focus on today’s movie. I was already excited about this movie when I first heard it was being produced, with the cast announcement only fueling that excitement. When the first trailer for it dropped, I was all in and, along with my 2 youngest brothers, we eagerly hit the theater opening night to watch it, then I pre-ordered it on Amazon as soon as it was available. Now, let’s strap in and enjoy today’s movie, Kong: Skull Island.

The plot: During World War II, an American and Japanese plane are shot down over an uncharted island in the Pacific but both pilots manage to bail out. Seeing that they are enemies, the two pilots begin shooting at each other on the beach but when they run out of bullets, the Japanese pilot chases after the American with his sword. As the two fight on a cliff, they are startled when a pair of massive arms grab the cliff and a giant ape raises up and roars at them. 29 years later, Monarch official William “Bill” Randa and his assistant, Houston Brooks, arrive in DC, amidst the protests against the Vietnam War. As President Nixon announces the end of the war and his withdrawing the troops, Randa and Houston meet with Senator Al Willis about receiving funding for an expedition to Skull Island, which they were just able to get satellite photos of. Willis is reluctant to do so at first, believing Monarch to be a wast of government money, but when Houston says that the Soviets satellite will pass over the island in a few days and says they should know what is there first, Willis agrees to have them piggyback on a geological mission and Randa asks for a military escort. In Vietnam, the members of a helicopter squadron, The Sky Devils, are celebrating the end of the war and looking forward to going home in a few days. Their commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Preston Packard, feels differently and appears upset about leaving the war unfinished so when he receives a call from General Ward with new orders, he eagerly accepts them. Randa and Houston head to Singapore to meet with James Conrad, a former Captain in the British SAS, and hire him as a tracker/guide for their expedition, while photojournalist Mason Weaver is told that she has been given the assignment to document the expedition. The different groups all meet in Thailand and after boarding the expedition ship, they are briefed on the island and their mission of using seismic charges to help map the island. Later, Conrad and Mason meet up in the cargo hold, as both are suspicious of the true nature of the mission. As they reach the island, they see the storm system surrounding the island and the Landsat leader wants to abandon the mission but Randa and Packard overrule him and choose to proceed. The helicopters take off and make their way through the storm, eventually reaching the island. After setting up a base camp, the helicopters begin dropping the seismic charges to map the island, which Houston says is practically hollow, when a tree is suddenly thrown into one of the helicopters while a second one is swiped from the air by a giant hand. The rest of the helicopters are soon confronted by Kong, who begins knocking all of the helicopters out of the sky, killing several of the soldiers in the process. The group is scattered across the area and Conrad, along with Mason, Houston, San Lin (Monarch’s biologist), Victor Nieves (the Landsat leader), and Reg Slivko (the Sky Devils radio operator) decides to head towards the refueling drop in order to get off the island. Meanwhile, Packard gets in touch with Chapman, his second-in-command, and orders him to sit tight, as Chapman’s helicopter had all of the extra munitions. Packard then gathers his surviving soldiers, including Reles, Mills, and Cole, then asks where Randa is. Packard approaches Randa and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t tell him what he knows. Randa explains that monsters exist, citing his own experience, and how he spent the last 30 years in Monarch trying to prove it. Randa then asks that Packard help him get back home with proof so they can bring the cavalry but Packard says he is the cavalry, then orders his men to start moving. As they make their way through the jungle towards Chapman, one of the soldiers is impaled by the leg of a giant spider and as it tries to grab and eat Glenn, the others manage to kill it and save him. Meanwhile, Conrad’s group encounters a giant water buffalo-like creature but when they make no move to threaten it, it ignores them and walks away. They continue on their way and eventually come to some ruins, where they find themselves surrounded by Iwi natives. Suddenly, an American appears and introduces himself as Hank Marlow, the downed American pilot from WWII. Hank convinces the Iwi’s that the group means them no harm, then takes them to the wreckage of an old ship, which is considered hallowed ground by the Iwis. Inside, Marlow explains about how the natives worship Kong, who is considered their great protector, and how he fends off the creatures from below, lizard-like monsters which he calls Skullcrawlers. When Conrad tells Marlow about the refueling team, Marlow says they won’t be able to make it in time on foot, but shows them the boat that he and his friend, the Japanese Gunpei Ikari, had been working on before Gunpei was killed. As Conrad and Slivko help Marlow get it running, Mason is hears some cries from outside the wall and sees a buffalo trapped under a wrecked helicopter. She tries to help free it but is unable to move the wreckage when suddenly, Kong appears and lifts the helicopter, then stares at Mason as the buffalo leaves. Meanwhile, Chapman has his own encounter with Kong, having watched him kill a giant squid as he was drinking from a lake. As Chapman waits for Packard, he encounters a giant bug, which he manages to drive off, but he is then killed by a Skullcrawler. The group get the boat working and Marlow says goodbye to the Iwis, who have come to see them off. As they make their way along the river, Slivko manages to make contact with Packard’s group and Packard sends up a flare to show them where they are. As Slivko gets off the radio, a group of pterosaurs suddenly grab Nieves and tear him to pieces in the air. The two groups meet up and Conrad explains their plan but Packard refuses to leave Chapman, or the supplies, and tells Conrad that his job is to find lost men so he should do it. The group head west, where they reach a mass grave containing the remains of Kong’s family. Marlow warns them not to go through there but Packard overrules him and they head inside. Suddenly, a Skullcrawler appears and as they all hide, it spits up a human skull and Conrad sees it has Chapman’s dog-tags on it. When the Skullcrawler leaves, the group start to head out again but Randa is suddenly eaten by the Skullcrawler, which then begins attacking the soldiers. Several of them are eaten and killed before Mason manages to kill it by igniting a methane vent as it is over it. Marlow tells Packard that to continue on is suicide and Conrad shows him that Chapman is dead but Packard refuses to leave without killing Kong. Packard leads his soldiers towards the munitions and they make plans to ambush and kill Kong. Conrad, Mason, Marlow, Houston, and San make their way back towards the boat but as they stop for a rest, Conrad and Mason go on ahead and encounter Kong. Suddenly, they see explosions in the distance and Kong roars in anger and heads towards them. Conrad and Mason go back to the others and tell them to get the boat while they go try to save Kong and Marlow goes with them. Kong approaches Packard and his men and starts heading to attack them when Packard sets off the napalm they had laid out as a trap, engulfing Kong in flames and causing him to collapse. Packard orders his men to set charges on Kong so they can blow him up but Conrad, Mason, and Marlow show up and get him to stop. When Slivko turns his gun on Packard, the rest of the soldiers also lower their weapons. Suddenly, a giant Skullcrawler emerges from the water and approaches the fallen Kong. Conrad and the others leave but Packard stays behind and when he sees Kong has regained consciousness, he goes to set off the charges but Kong smashes him with his fist. Kong and the Skullcrawler begin fighting as Conrad leads the others to where the boat is. When the Skullcrawler comes after them, Cole tries to sacrifice himself to save the others by trying to get it to swallow him while he pops a grenade but the Skullcrawler simply swipes him with his tail, sending him into a cliff. As the Skullcrawler approaches them, Kong appears and continues to attack it but it knocks him into the remains of several boats. Kong ends up trapped in some chains and the Skullcrawler approaches to try and finish the job when Houston begins firing at it from the boat as he and San show up to get the others. The Skullcrawler turns towards them and Mason, who is on a nearby hilltop, fires a flare at it’s head to distract it. Kong manages to get free and uses the chains, along with the rudder attached to it, to attack the Skullcrawler again and starts to get the upper hand but their fight ends up knocking Mason off of the cliff and into the water. Kong grabs her from the water but the Skullcrawler bites down on his fist to try and eat her, and Kong’s hand, but Kong manages to rip it’s tongue and guts out from it’s mouth, finally killing it. Kong then sets Mason down on the ground and starts to walk off as Conrad goes to check that she is ok. The surviving group then head back to the refueling spot so they can leave and Kong watches as the helicopters appear. Marlow returns to his home and is reunited with his wife and meets his son for the first time before sitting down to watch a Cubs game for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, Conrad and Mason are detained by Monarch and Houston and San appear and explain to them that Kong is not the only “King” out there, showing them slides of cave drawings picturing 4 other monsters (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah), with a final drawing showing Godzilla and King Ghidorah locked in battle as people watch and as the screen cuts to black, Godzilla’s roar is heard.

Kong: Skull Island met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster’s mythos without ever matching up to the classic original. Jordan Vogt-Roberts cited Princess Mononoke as one of the influences in his creature design, saying that it was “a big reference, in the way that the spirit creatures sort of have their own domains and fit within that, so a big thing was trying to design creatures that felt realistic and could exist in an ecosystem that feels sort of wild and out there”. During the into credits, there is a drawing of a turtle with the word MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) written above it, which could be a slight nod to the Gamera movies or Kamoebas, the giant turtle from Toho’s Space Amoeba. The movie was a box office hit, earning $566.2 million off of a $185 million budget.

This was a great movie to watch on several levels. The acting was fantastic, with Tom Hiddleston (Conrad), Brie Larson (Mason) and John Goodman (Randa) doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked John C. Reilly (Marlow), who provided some great comic relief, and Samuel L. Jackson, who gave Packard an almost Ahab like character as he tried to take down Kong no matter what. The story was really good, putting a little bit of a new spin on the Kong story with the only big difference, aside from Kong not going to a mjor city, is the removal of the “Beauty and the Beast” story line that is in the other movies. The special effects were incredible, from the various explosions to the monsters themselves, and the scenery and location shots in the movie was absolutely breathtaking. The original King Kong is still the best version out there, but this is a great movie in it’s own right and worthy of carrying on the franchises namesake.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, comedy, fantasy, movie, movie review

July 13th, 2017 Movie – The Scorpion King

the scorpion king

When The Mummy Returns was in theaters, one of the selling points that all the trailers referenced was that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was in it, but his role actually ended up being pretty brief. Since his star power was beginning to break through outside of the wrestling world, it only made sense to do a spin-off with his character. Now while I am a wrestling fan and liked The Rock’s character, I honestly didn’t plan on going to see this movie. Honestly, the main thing I liked about the movie at the time was the soundtrack. Still, I did eventually end up watching it and it was more entertaining than I thought it would be so I wound up picking up a copy. Let’s see if that purchase was worth it as I watch The Scorpion King.

The plot: In the time before the pyramids, a barbarian tribe is in their main hut, where the leader is talking about all of the races they have fought and killed before approaching their prisoner, saying they have never killed an Akkadian before. The Akkadian, Jesup, warns them that his brother is coming for them, just as his half brother Mathayus enters the hut and begins killing the warriors in order to free his brother. Meanwhile, a warlord named Memnon leads his horde of invaders to conquer the ancient lands and only a few tribes are left to oppose him as he has a sorcerer that is able to predict the battles’ outcomes. King Pheron, one of the last leaders of the free tribes, is holding a meeting with the other leaders when Mathayus, Jesup, and Rama, the last of the Akkadians, appear and Pheron explains that he hired them to kill the sorcerer. While most of the assembled men are happy with the news, as the Akkadians are known for their assassination skills, Pheron’s son Takmet is upset that his father used the last of their treasure to hire them while another leader, King Balthazar, doesn’t like the Akkadians due to their mercenary nature. The Akkadians make their way to Memnon’s camp, taking out the sentry’s and saving a horse thief named Arpid from being executed. As they make their way towards the sorcerer’s tent, Mathayus notices movement in some of the other tents and calls out a warning just as the tents open to reveal Memnon’s men. Jesup and Rama are shot with arrows but Mathayus manages to escape and makes his way into the sorcerer’s tent. As he is about to kill the sorcerer, the sorcerer is revealed to be a sorceress named Cassandra, who says she knows why Mathayus is there and that he has been betrayed. Instead of killing her, Mathayus begins killing Memnon’s soldiers that appear but he is eventually captured. Mathayus then sees Takmet enter the tent, who admits to killing his father and swears his allegiance to Memnon. Memnon then has Jesup, who is still alive, brought to him and he proceeds to kill him in front of Mathayus but when he goes to kill Mathayus, Cassandra stops him. She says that the gods wish him to survive the night and that he won’t be killed by Memnon or any of his soldier’s hands so Memnon has Mathayus knocked out. When he regains consciousness, Mathayus finds himself buried up to his neck in the sand next to Aprid, as one of Memnon’s guards begins putting small torches down some ant hills to coax the fire ants out to kill them. Aprid manages to escape and knock out the guards, then rescues Mathayus after getting his word that he won’t kill him. They head towards Memnon’s city, and Mathayus knocks out Aprid and uses the bounty on his head to get access to the city. Once inside, Mathayus revives Aprid and buys him some wine to apologize for hitting him, then heads towards Memnon’s palace. Along the way, he encounters some street urchins, who steal the pouch with the blood rubies, but Mathayus is able to get it back, then offers one to the urchin he caught if he can get him inside the palace. The urchin leads him inside and the reach the workshop of Philos, Memnon’s court magician, who tells Mathayus where Memnon is. Mathayus pays the urchin then takes up a position to shoot Memnon but when he sees the urchin was captured and about to have his hand cut off, Mathayus saves him, exposing his position in the process. As the guards try to kill Mathayus, he runs back into Philos’ workshop, then uses a catapult that Philos built to escape the room. Mathayus ends up landing in Memnon’s harem room but as the women distract him, they secretly take all of his weapons and proceed to alert the guards. Mathayus is able to escape and ends up in Cassandra’s room, where he quickly takes her prisoner as he escapes the city. Mathayus rejoins Aprid, who was trying to take Mathayus’ camel, and they head towards the Valley of the Dead, with Cassandra explaining she was Memnon’s prisoner along the way. Meanwhile, Memnon sends his general Thorak to retrieve Cassandra and kill Mathayus, handing him an arrow laced with scorpion venom to kill him with. Mathayus, Cassandra, and Aprid reach the valley and when Mathayus sees Thorak approaching, he has Cassandra and Aprid take shelter, then rides out to face Thorak and his men, using an oncoming sandstorm as cover. Mathayus is able to kill several men in the storm and when they try to take shelter in a cave, starts picking them off one by one. He eventually fatally stabs Thorak but when he goes to kill the last of Thorak’s men, Thoraks stabs him in the leg with the poisoned arrow. When the storm passes, Cassandra and Aprid go to find Mathayus and Cassandra is able to use her powers to save Mathayus’ life. MAthayus and the others soon meet up with Philos, who had escaped the city after being accused of being a traitor, and he happily tells them he found the secret to his magic powder (gunpowder). As the group stop at an oasis to rest, they are captured by rebel forces and taken to the main camp. Once there, Balthazar plans on killing them but Mathayus is able to get free and fights Balthazar, eventually beating him. That night, Cassandra has a vision of the village being massacred by Memnon’s men and she goes to tell Mathayus what she saw. He sees this as a way to kill Memnon but she has a vision and tells him that he will die if he faces Memnon. Mathayus says that he chooses to make his own destiny and kisses her. Mathayus and Cassandra end up sleeping together, after which she wakes up and takes Mathayus’ camel and rides back to Memnon’s city in order to spare the village. When Mathayus wakes, he plans on going after her and Balthazar stops him at first but then accompanies him with some of his warriors. At the city, Memnon is having a feast to celebrate his army’s impending victory in the morning but one of his generals says the men are talking about Cassandra not being there as a sign the gods are not with them. When Cassandra appears, she tells the men that she sees victory for them and Memnon kills the general that questioned him, then says the feast is over. Memnon then tells Takmet to seal the city while he takes Cassandra into his chambers. Once there, he says he feels something is different about her and has his men place four cobras in some vases, then has them spun around before making her choose the two vases that are free from the cobras. Meanwhile, Mathayus and the others make their way into the city before separating to go on their own missions. In Memnon’s chamber, Cassandra correctly picks one vase but when she chooses the next one, she grabs the cobra that is in it and threatens Memnon with it. Memnon easily kills the cobra but when he goes to kill her, Mathayus bursts into the room and begins fighting with Memnon. Meanwhile, Philos and Aprid head underneath the city and place sacks of gunpowder around the main support column for the temple. On the palace grounds, Balthazar and the Amazon warriors fend off the palace guards, with Balthazar killing Takmet during the fights. Memnon manages to grab Cassandra and exits the chamber but Mathayus follows after him. When Memnon gets the upperhand on Mathayas and one of his guards shoots him in the back, just as Cassandra had seen. As the rest of Memnon’s soldiers arrive at the scene, Aprid sets the gunpowder on fire, just as Mathayus stands up, pulls the arrow from his back, and shoots Memnon with it. Memnon is consumed in the explosion before crashing to the ground in front of his army and as they see Mathayus standing atop the temple, they kneel and declare him their new king as per their tradition. The next day, Balthazar and his people leave, with Balthazar telling Mathayus he is a king now but they will be watching him. Cassandra says that she foresees a time of peace and prosperity for his kingdom and when he asks how long it will last, she says nothing lasts forever but Mathayus says that he will make his own destiny.

The Scorpion King met with mixed to negative reviews from the critics, holding a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Action adventure doesn’t get much cheesier than The Scorpion King.” Dwayne Johnson said that he intentionally shied away from using any of his signature moves as The Rock in the movie, with the only exception being “The People’s Eyebrow”, which he used after he landed in Memnon’s harem. The movie was a box office hit, earning $165.3 million off of a $60 million budget, and ended up spawning 3 direct to video sequels.

This is a pretty basic over-the-top action movie but it can be entertaining. The acting was good, with Dwayne Johnson (Mathayus), Kelly Hu (Cassandra), and Michael Clarke Duncan (Balthazar) doing good jobs in their roles, while Grant Heslov (Aprid) and Bernard Hill (Philos) making for some good comic relief. The story was interesting, since it was a prequel to a movie, which in turn was a sequel to another movie. As for the actual plot itself, it was pretty basic to be honest with nothing really special or original to it. The special effects were ok but I honestly thought they could have been better for a big budget picture like this. It is interesting to watch to learn about the character’s history but unless you are just in the mood for an mindless action movie, there isn’t much reason to watch this movie.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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adventure, horror, movie, movie review, Uncategorized

July 1st, 2017 Movie – Sasquatch

sasquatch

Wow. Three years. Three years since a friend of mine gave me the idea of writing a blog as I start going through all my movies. To be honest, I am surprised that I am still keeping with this but I seem to be doing a decent job with it and people are reading it, which is a plus. I plan on making a change or two to things on here and would appreciate any feedback on what you think I could do to make things more enjoyable.

Anyways, today I find myself dealing with a summer cold, which is not what I want to deal with over a holiday weekend. Well, whenever I was sick as a kid, that was basically an excuse to stay in bed and watch cheesy movies on TV and that’s pretty much what I plan on doing today. Now today’s movie is a Sasquatch movie, which is a type of movie I always enjoy watching, and it has honestly been too long since I have watched one. I guess I need to buy some more in the future but for right now, I’m going to lay down and watch today’s movie, Sasquatch.

The plot: Tara Knowles is flying in a Bio-Comp Industries company plane over the Pacific Northwest when something happens and the plane ends up crashing. As Tara uses a video camera to document what happened, the wreckage begins shaking and the surviving passengers hear a roaring coming from outside the plane. Some time later, Tara is seen running through the snow covered mountain, firing a flare gun so she can see, as something chases after her and when she tries to use the flare gun to defend herself, she ends up being killed. Bio-Comp CEO Harlan Knowles is hit hard by the news of the rescue search being called off, both by the loss of his daughter as well as the loss of the biotech project that was being transported on the plane. Harlan decides to fund and head up his own team to go searching for the wreck and hires local guide Clayton Tyne, wilderness expert and author Winston Burg, forensic investigator Nikki Adams, Marla Lawson (an insurance underwriter for Browning and Burroughs), and Plazz (a tech expert from Bio-Comp). As they make their way up the mountain, Plazz continually talks about cryptozoology and legendary creatures that supposedly live in the area, much to the annoyance of Winston. During their second day in the woods, they hear a strange knocking sound in the woods and when Clayton goes to see what is causing it, he finds an antler that was used for wood knocking, as well as some foul smelling hair snagged on a tree, but chooses not to say anything. When they make camp for the night, something grabs Marla and drags her out of her tent and through the woods but Clayton, Winston, and Harlan chase after her and find her after Winston starts shooting into the woods. Later, as Clayton is tending to Marla’s injuries and they all wondered what happened, they hear a roaring in the woods. The next morning, they find a crippled bear roaring in pain and Winston believes he had shot it the night before but after Clayton puts it out of it’s misery, he discovers that it’s neck is broken and sees a large, blood covered rock that is too heavy for him to lift. As the group keeps going, they argue over which direction they should go when Winston finds some footprints leading to a cave with some cave paintings drawn on the walls. Nikki determines that the paintings are only a couple of months old and Winston finds a shell that Tara wore around her neck, indicating she was in the area so they decide to search the area in the morning but find no sign of anyone. That night, Harlan keeps watch as Marla takes a bath in a hot spring and she asks him about the Huxley Project, saying she had quit her job and was offered money by his competitors for it but Harlan decides to match their offer for her not to say anything about it. The next day, they continue searching for the plane and reach the spot where it should be but find no sign of it. Clayton finds a piece of the fuselage in a tree and sees scratches along the trees where the plane had been moved. They eventually find the plane and Harlan goes inside but doesn’t see any signs of survivors except for a skeletal limb. As they realize that there are no sign of survivors, Harlan says they need to find a metal box, which Winston finds outside the wreckage. Harlan has Plazz check the machine and Clayton gets upset as he believes Harlan is more concerned with the machine than the survivors, including his daughter. When Clayton goes to leave, Harlan convinces him to stay and begins to explain what the machine does. Using some of Marla’s hair as an example, he tells them that the Huxley Project is able to examine and test DNA in a matter of minutes, which would be revolutionary for medical and law enforcement purposes. Plazz then notices that the device was used shortly after the crash and the resulting sample came from an unknown animal, which Plazz says is impossible as the data for every animal known to man is listed in it’s databanks. That night, as they try to figure out how the plane wound up moved to it’s present location, Clayton and Plazz both give voice to the possibility that Sasquatch might be real. When they hear a roaring in the woods, Winston begins firing blindly into the woods, almost hitting members of the group. After Clayton and Harlan disarm him, Harlan fires Winston and says that Clayton is leading the group now and Winston says he will sue Harlan for defamation of character if he tells anyone what happened. Finding a video camera in the wreckage, Plazz manages to get it working so they can see what happened and watch the events that Tara had filmed. Meanwhile, Winston is getting drunk by the fire when he notices some blood dripping down onto his hand and when he looks up, something in the trees grabs him. Clayton goes looking for Winston and finds his body, as well as the bodies of the people from the plane. He goes back to tell the others just as Nikki realizes the cave drawings depict the plane crashing and killing one of the creatures and theorizes that they killed the survivors for revenge. Harlan goes to see the bodies himself and then chooses to bury them before they get ready to leave and head down the mountain. As they sleep in the plane, planning to head down in the morning, Marla grabs the Huxley Project and decides to head down without the others, intending to sell it to Harlan’s competitors, but she ends up being attacked and killed by the Sasquatch. When Harlan and the others wake up, they realize that Marla and the machine are gone and grab what gear they can find and go looking for her. The eventually find her body and Harlan grabs the machine and they continue down the mountain but the Sasquatch follows after them. When the reach a steep drop, Clayton says the Sasquatch is following them in order to get the machine, due to it being able to provide proof they really exist, but Harlan refuses to give up the machine and chooses to make it down the mountain on his own. Harlan makes his way down the mountain but is soon attacked by the Sasquatch, which knocks him out and drags him away. When Harlan regains consciousness, he sees the device nearby as well as the body of the Sasquatch that the plane had hit. When he sees the Sasquatch that attacked him watching him, he aims his revolver at it but then shoots the device instead and the Sasquatch leaves without killing him. Harlan and the others make it safely down the mountain and Plazz tells the authorities they were attacked by a Sasquatch but when the others refuse to confirm his story, Plazz ends up taken to a psychiatric hospital for observation as the authorities fear he is delusional.

Well, this had an interesting story idea but it kind of flopped on the delivery. The acting was decent, with Russell Ferrier (Clayton) and Andrea Roth (Marla) doing good jobs in their roles but Lance Henriksen just seemed uninspired and flat as Harlan. The story was actually pretty interesting, with the concept of the machine that could prove the existence of Sasquatch being a nice twist from the typical “rescue party searching for people encounter Sasquatch” theme. For me, the thing that honestly killed this movie was the camera editing. There were several times where they would pan around the characters, which seemed to do nothing more than kill time in the movie. They also would bounce back and forth between different conversations at different time periods which made things confusing. I’m not talking about Harlan’s flashbacks of his daughter but conversations that obviously happened minutes to an hour apart and yet they were going back and forth between them like it was just occurring. I will say that the whole thermal vision to indicate how the Sasquatch saw the group was an interesting idea but the actual Sasquatch honestly looked kinda stupid, looking like a cross between Tarman from Return Of The Living Dead and a drowned cat. I know Sasquatch movies can be somewhat hit or miss but this one is definitely a miss.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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action, adventure, comedy, movie, movie review

June 21st, 2017 Movie – The Rundown

the rundown

Folks, have you ever wanted to go out to the movies with your significant other but couldn’t agree on what movie to see? Well, allow me to introduce you to how my ex-wife and I used to solve this problem back when we were married. First, each of you pick  two movies that you want to see. If both of you pick the same movie then obviously, you go see that movie. However, if you both pick two different movies, then you look up the reviews for those movies on Rotten Tomatoes and whoever’s picks have the highest combined rating, then that person wins but the loser picks which of the two movies you go watch. If you are wondering why I am bringing this up, that is because the first time we did this, I wound up winning so we went to go see today’s movie, The Rundown.

The plot: A “retrieval expert” named Beck is in his car listening to a cooking show on the radio until his associate yells for him to come into the club. As his associate points out the man Beck is there to collect from, a professional quarterback named Knappmiller, Beck notices that he has his team’s offensive line with him. Beck goes down and tries talking to Knappmiller, telling him he needs his championship ring as collateral but Knappmiller throws some drinks in Beck’s face and tells him to leave. After heading to the restroom to clean up, Beck calls his boss, Billy Walker, and asks to do it another night as he doesn’t want to hurt the other football players but Billy demands he get the ring so Beck heads back out to the club and proceeds to beat down the other players before grabbing Knappmiller and taking the ring from him. As Billy heads out to his car, he is shot by a man with a bean bag, who then grabs the ring from him. Beck heads to Billy’s house, upset that he sent another retriever to steal from him and demands his money. Beck tells Billy he wants out, as he plans to open a restaurant, and Billy says he will give him one last job and if he complete is, he will walk out a free man and with the money for his restaurant. Billy hands Beck a folder and tells him to bring his son Travis back from a mining town in Brazil and his slate will be wiped clean. Beck heads down to the Amazon and is driven to the mining town by Declan, who explains the dangers in the area. In the town, Declan takes Beck to see Hatcher, the man who runs the town, and Beck asks Hatcher if he has seen Travis and Hatcher says he allowed him to do some excavating around the mine, then gets curious as to why Beck is there. Meanwhile, Travis is at the town’s bar, trying to flatter the bartender Mariana into letting her borrow her uncle’s boat so he can find a priceless artifact called El Gato do Diablo. Leaving Hatcher’s office, Beck borrows Declan’s jeep, telling Declan to head back to the airfield and get the plane ready to fly out. Beck heads to the bar and confronts Travis, who tries to resist when Beck says he is taking him back to his father, but Beck easily overpowers him. As they are about to leave, Hatcher and his men enter the bar and Hatcher tells Beck that Travis is staying, as he wants Travis to lead him to El Gato. Beck manages to beat several of Hatcher’s men and then get into the jeep with Travis and drive off but Travis, refusing to go back to his father, kicks the steering wheel and causes them to crash off a cliff.  After tumbling down the cliff and falling into a lake, Travis tries to get away but Beck captures him again and they start walking through the jungle. When Travis notices a rebel snare, he tricks Beck into triggering it and Beck finds himself dangling from a tree. Travis is able to grab the key that falls from Beck’s pocket and free himself from the handcuffs but as he taunts Beck, he accidentally triggers another snare and ends up hanging next to Beck. The two try to work together to free themselves but as they cling to a tree, a group of monkeys appear and attempt to hump them but are quickly chased off by the rebels. Beck and Travis are taken to the rebel camp and Travis speaks with the rebels and tricks them into thinking Beck is an assassin sent by Hatcher. The rebels release Beck so that they can fight him but Beck is able to mount a comeback and almost gets the upper hand. Suddenly, Mariana appears and stops the fight, revealing herself to be the rebel leader. That night, Mariana explains to Beck why she is leading the rebels to stop Hatcher’s exploitation of the workers and why she needs Travis to find El Gato. Suddenly, Hatcher’s men show up and attack the camp, killing most of the rebels and capturing the others but Beck, Travis, and Mariana manage to escape. As they travel down the river, Beck agrees to help Travis find El Gato so Mariana can sell it as long as she tells him how to get out of the jungle, though Travis isn’t happy about the deal. Travis leads them into the jungle towards a waterfall, which they swim under to find a hidden cave. Inside the cave, they find a series of booby traps but Travis is able to figure them out and grabs the statue before the roof collapses. As they make camp for the night, Mariana feeds Beck and Travis some Konlobos, which temporarily paralyzes them, and she thanks Travis for finding the statue, then tells Beck that he kept his word so she will keep hers and tells him how to get to the airfield. Beck and Travis recover from the paralysis in the morning, just in time to scare away some monkeys that had approached them, and make their way to the airfield. When they reach it, Beck is in a hurry to leave, as he doesn’t want to run into Hatcher or his men, but Declan says that Hatcher doesn’t care about them as he captured Mariana and took the statue from her earlier in the morning. Beck plans on going back to save Mariana but Travis says he will die if he goes in on his own and convinces Beck to let him help. Declan heads into town playing a set of bagpipes, which serves as a distraction as Beck and Travis make their way into town and start taking out Hatcher’s men. When Travis ends up pinned down by gunfire in a bus, Beck, who has avoided using guns before, finds himself forced to use guns to kill Hatcher’s men and save Travis. Hatcher tells his brother to take Mariana and the statue and head to the airfield but Travis crashes a car into them, saving Mariana and grabbing the statue. Beck finally beats the rest of Hatcher’s men, then shoots Hatcher’s gun out of his hand before he can shoot him but Travis uses the opportunity to disappear. As the town folk surround Hatcher, he yells that they would be nothing without him but he ends up being shot by them. Beck releases Mariana and they are surprised to see Travis has returned and hands the statue to Mariana to sell. Beck takes Travis back to L.A., and walks Travis into Billy’s house and asks if they are square. Billy says they are good and Beck tells him they should celebrate by having some Konlobos. After handing the fruit to Billy and his bodyguards, the three men fall victim to the paralysis and Beck frees Travis and they leave the house, with Travis jokingly messing with Beck the entire time.

The Rundown met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Rundown doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s a smart, funny buddy action picture with terrific comic chemistry between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Seann William Scott.” The film’s original title was called “Helldorado”, and then changed to “Welcome To The Jungle” before eventually changing to the final title, and references to the previous titles can be found throughout the film. The Arnold Schwazeneggar cameo had many people feeling like it was a metaphorical passing of the torch to the next generation of action stars. Despite the critical praise, the movie failed at the box office, earning $80.9 million off of a $85 million budget.

This is a great movie to watch. Dwayne Johnson (Beck) used his time in the WWE to create a great blend of action and comedy in the movie. Seann William Scott (Travis) tried to break out of the “Stifler” stereotype somewhat and the dynamic between him and Johnson was a good bit of adversarial camaraderie, while Rosario Dawson (Mariana) and Christopher Walken (Hatcher) both were fantastic as well. The story was a pretty interesting mix of treasure hunting and bounty hunting that worked very well together. The comedy aspects of the film were a little juvenile, or adult depending on how you look at it, but they did work as effective tension breakers to keep the movie from becoming too overly serious. The special effects were ok but the fight scenes were definitely well done, especially the fight between Dwayne Johnson and Ernie Reyes Jr. (of The Last Dragon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame). An entertaining movie that is worth watching any time you get the chance to watch it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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adventure, horror, movie, movie review

June 16th, 2017 Movie – Rogue

rogue 2007

Ending the work week with a killer crocodile movie. Aside from Monday, this has been a pretty good week of movie watching for me. Now I had an interesting time with this DVD when I bought it. See, I picked this up at a Blockbuster during it’s out of business sell because I always need another killer crocodile movie to watch. Unfortunately, the disk I had was scratched up to the point that the end of the movie was unwatchable. So I wound up going to MovieStop and purchasing a copy there. However, that movie was also messed up but, unlike Blockbuster, I could return it and get another copy. So after three attempts at purchasing this movie, let’s see if it was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Rogue (2007).

The plot: In Australia’s Northern Territory, American Pete McKell arrives in a small town as part of his job as a travel journalist. After talking to his boss, where Pete complains about the airline losing his bags so he can’t finish his article, Pete boards a crocodile watching tour run by Kate Ryan, a wildlife researcher that works in Kakadu National Park. As they observe the crocodiles, Kate starts telling the group details about the saltwater crocodile but when some of the group get nervous, she assures them that the crocodiles won’t attack anything bigger than them. Suddenly a couple of locals, Neil and Collin, buzz the cruise in their own boat before pulling up next to it, and Neil partially stands on the boat in order to talk to Kate, as they have a history. After Pete and another passenger, Everett, ask Neil to leave, Kate starts to throttle forward, causing Collin so suddenly jerk his boat to the side and dumping Neil into the river and Kate and the tour group laugh as he is forced to swim over to his boat. After a couple more hours on the river, Kate is preparing to head back when Preston notices a flare in the distance. After several other members of the group see a second one, Kate tries to radio her base but is unable to reach them due to their being in a canyon so, despite the protests of some of the group, she tells the group that they have to investigate the flare and off assistance if needed. Kate steers the boat towards the location of the flare and they start looking but don’t see any signs of people. Just before they turn back and head for home, Kate spies a boat that has recently been sunk when suddenly, something large strikes their boat, causing it to start leaking. Kate steers the boat towards a nearby island and everybody disembarks but several of the group begin arguing and complaining about what happened. Kate grabs some of the survival bags from the boat and looks for the radio but she doesn’t get a signal from the hand held or the boat. One of the passengers, Russell, realizes that they are on a tidal island and that it will be underwater soon. He starts getting belligerent and wants to swim to the main land but Kate and Everett stop him. As they get a signal from the radio, they head back to shore but Everett is suddenly grabbed and dragged underwater while nobody is looking. Everyone is in shock at what happened and Kate heads back to the boat to look for some flares but they have floated off into the middle of the river. Neil and Collin show up and buzz the group but when they notice they are in trouble, they turn around and start to head towards them when their boat is knocked into the air and crashes back into the water. Neil surfaces and swims to the island but as he looks around, there is no sign of Collin. Realizing that they are in the territory of a large crocodile and they won’t last long when the tide comes in, Neil ties some ropes together and swims across to the other side, then ties the rope to a tree to serve as a suspension bridge, so they can make their way across. Mary Ellen, Everett’s wife, is the first person to attempt to cross but she ends up panicking and freezes half way. Allen, who is there with his sick wife Gwen and their daughter, Sherry, gets impatient and has Sherry climb onto the rope and he follows her, then starts yelling at Mary Ellen to move. Pete and Kate yell at Neil to try and help Mary Ellen move but when Neil goes to grab the flashlight that he dropped, he is killed by the crocodile. As the tree Neil tied the rope too falls into the water, Mary Ellen, Sherry, and Russell all swim back to the island but as Allen apologizes to Kate for his actions, he is suddenly grabbed by the crocodile and flung into the river and it then grabs him and drags him away. As everyone is in shock at what happened and fearing for the worst, Pete goes on the boat for the first aid kit and notices the anchor. Grabbing the anchor, Pete says that he plans on hooking the crocodile, giving them enough time to swim to shore. Realizing that it is their only chance, the others agree and want to use Kevin, Kate’s dog, as bait but Kate refuses to let them. As Gwen yells at Kate for refusing to sacrifice Kevin for their well being, Simon pulls some dead ducks from the shoreline that they can use as bait. After setting the trap, Pete chooses to stay behind and man the hook and Kate leaves Kevin with him while she leads the others across the river. When the crocodile takes the bait, Pete yells out to the others and Kate has them start swimming across, with Russell helping Gwen across. As Pete prepares to go, the line suddenly goes slack and he warns Kate, who is the last one to swim across. Kate yells at the others to run and after they do, Pete, holding onto Kevin’s leash, starts swimming towards her, just as the crocodile grabs her and drags her away. Pete tries looking for Kate but when he finds no sign of her, he tries to locate the others when Kevin suddenly runs off. When Pete runs after him, he ends up falling down into the crocodile’s lair, where he finds Neil’s body floating in the water. Pete sees Kevin sitting near Kate’s body and when he goes to check on her, he discovers that she is alive, though badly wounded. Suddenly, Kevin runs back up to the entrance to the lair and as Pete grabs Kate’s body, he hears Kevin yelp in pain before a crunching sound is heard. Pete manages to hide with Kate as the crocodile makes it’s way into the lair, swallowing what’s left of Kevin before appearing to fall asleep. Grabbing Kate, Pete quietly tries to make his way out of the lair, checking on the crocodile every now and then. When Pete notices the crocodile has disappeared, he barely has enough time to get out of the way as it lunges out of the water at him. Taking shelter beneath the roots of a large tree, Pete tries to lure the crocodile away from Kate, forcing it to chase after him. He tries to fend it off with a large branch but the crocodile bites it and snaps it in two. Pete hides between some rocks but the crocodile lunges after him and as Pete tries pushing it’s head away from him, it bites off two of his fingers. Pete is able to grab a bone shard and jab it into the crocodile’s eye, driving it away from him but it simply swims over to block the entrance to the lair as it watches him. When Kate suddenly groans in pain, the crocodile turns it’s attention towards her and tries to get her. Pete throws a rock at it to lure it away from Kate, then grabs the branch, which now has a pointed tip, and braces it against the rock as the crocodile approaches him. The crocodile leaps out of the water to attack Pete and ends up spearing itself in the head with the branch, killing it. Pete crawls out from the crocodile’s body and, after grabbing Kate, makes his way out of the lair. After catching his breath, Pete starts carrying through the marsh until he comes across the rescue party that had found the others. After getting his wounds tended too, Pete approaches the stretcher that Kate is on and after a brief bit of small talk, Kate thanks him for saving her life before she is airlifted away to the hospital. As the credits roll, the screen focuses on the wall of the bar Pete entered at the beginning of the movie, where a news article of Pete killing the crocodile is pinned to the wall.

Rogue (2007) met with high praise from the critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all felt that the movie was well shot while praising the location for adding to the tension in the film. The crocodile in the movie was based on a the true story of Sweetheart, a 5.1 meter saltwater crocodile that was responsible for attacks on numerous boats during a 5 year period but never killed anyone. Though it received plenty of critical acclaim, the movie was a failure at the box office, earning $4.6 million off of a $26.9 million budget.

This is one of the better killer crocodile movies that I have seen, and I have seen quite a few. The acting was pretty good, with Michael Vartan (Pete) and Radha Mitchell (Kate) doing great jobs in their roles, while all of the supporting cast were equally good portraying the various emotions and stresses that the group was suffering. The story was really good and did a good job in expressing the desperation and panic that the group was in, ratcheting up the tension in the film right up to the very end. The special effects were pretty good and the crocodile itself, aside from the large size, was pretty realistic looking, though the end scene of Pete killing the crocodile was a little weak compared to the rest of the film. A well done movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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