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

October 22nd, 2017 Movie – Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone

spacehunter - adventures in the forbidden zone

If you would like to know about how I came to own today’s movie, there is a simple explanation for that. My friends are enablers, plain and simple. See, a few months ago I was at a friends house and happened to be checking on the status of a delivery from Amazon when I noticed some of the recommended titles that they had listed. I saw this title as something soon to be released and mentioned it to them and they said that it was a movie that should definitely be in my collection. So, knowing how easily influenced I am on such matters, I went ahead and pre-ordered it. Now let’s see if this impulse buy was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone.

The plot: Out in space, a cruise liner is passing through a nebula cloud when it is struck by a bolt of lightning. damaging the ship and causing it to be destroyed. Everyone is killed except for three women (Meagan, Nova, and Reena), who manage to make it to an escape pod and head for the nearest habitable world, Terra XI. When the land, they are attacked by the scavenging natives before a group of people called Scavs drive them off and the women are taken on board a train, powered  by giant sails. Elsewhere, a salvage pilot named Wolff hears part of a mayday and has his engineer Chalmers fix the communicator so they can listen to the whole thing, where they learn about the missing women and the 3000 mega-credits reward. Wolff recalls hearing about Terra XI and how a colony was attempted but there was a plague and that one of the survivors had initiated some sort of martial law on the planet. Wolff and Chalmers land on the planet and head out in the Scrambler, a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and set off for the shuttle’s coordinates. When Chalmers notices that the shuttle is moving, they see the train and watch as it comes under attack by another group of people, called Zoners. Wolff has Chalmers stay with the Scrambler while he boards the trains and tries to rescue the women but he is too late as the women are captured by the Zoners and taken away via hang gliders. As he heads back to the Scrambler, the leader of the Scavs accuses Wolff of causing this but one of his people tells him he is mistaken, then speaks to Wolff for a bit but refuses to help him. Wolff returns to the Scrambler to find Chalmers, who was actually an android, has been killed so he initiates her self destruct, which begins melting her skin and circuitry, then drives off. Wolff comes to an old settlement and heads inside to find it abandoned, with nothing but the skeletons of people who died in the plague, when he suddenly hears someone trying to steal the Scrambler. He manages to stop the thief, a Scav girl named Niki, and he kicks her out of the Scrambler but she convinces him that she can help him find the gliders and he allows her to get back him and lead him towards the Zone. Meanwhile, the gliders land in the Zone and the three women are taken to see the Chemist, who uses drugs to pacify them and make them want to serve Overdog. Back in the canyons, Wolff and Niki make camp for the night but when Wolf discovers her in his sleeping bag in the morning, he grabs her and carries her to a nearby pond and forces her to get cleaned up. Suddenly, another vehicle with a large plow on the front shows up and when it tries to run over Wolff, he causes it to wreck and confronts the driver. The driver turns out to be Washington, a former soldier turned sector chief and an old associate of Wolff’s who says he is there for the same reason Wolff is but he crashed his ship. Washington asks about teaming up with Wolff but Niki says he already has a partner and Wolff tosses Washington’s gun into the pond and leaves him there. Wolff and Niki continue travelling and eventually reach the outskirts of the Zone, where they take shelter in an abandoned building but as they go to get some sleep, they find themselves attacked by some large, pig-like humans and are forced to get back in the Scrambler and leave. Meanwhile, the three women are taken to see Overdog, who has become a cyborg, and he demands the Chemist leave them so they can fill his basic needs. Wolff and Niki are traveling through a swamp, with Niki walking ahead to guide the Scrambler through the shallow areas, when Niki is grabbed by a member of an Amazon tribe. Wolff jumps into the water to save her and ends up captured as well but the Amazons run when a strange dragon-like eel appears out of the water. Wolff manages to kill it and free himself and Niki but when the Amazons start to head towards them again, they are forced to abandon the Scrambler and climb out of there. Making their way through the desert, they are about to die of dehydration when Washington appears, having followed their tracks and towed the Scrambler out of the swamp. Washington strikes a bargain with Wolff, giving him and Niki some water and they work together to rescue the women, then Wolff flies them out of there, with them splitting the reward money. When Wolff and Washington start discussing what they might do with their portion of the reward, Niki realizes they aren’t planning on giving her any of it and gets upset with Wolff, who says there was never an agreement that she would be leaving with them after they rescued the women. Washington tries to explain to Niki that Wolff is too much of a loner and offers to be her partner but she brushes him off, and is still angry when Wolff offers to take her to another planet if they succeed in their mission. Two Scavs from the train show up at their camp, intending to head too the Graveyard to kill Overdog when they come under attack by some children who have been mutated by the Chemist. They manage to escape but Washington’s vehicle is damaged and the two Scavs go on ahead to complete their mission. After repairing Washington’s vehicle, they head to the Graveyard and sneak inside to find that Overdog is entertaining his subject by forcing his prisoners to make their way through a deadly maze. They find one of the Scavs being chased by guards and learn that he and his brother had attempted to free the prisoners and use the distraction to kill Overdog but his brother was captured. Seeing the women in a cage behind Overdog, Wolff and Washington decide to use the Scav’s plan and Washington goes with the Scav to free the prisoners while Wolff waits so he can rescue the women. Wolff tells Niki to wait in the Scrambler but she gets bored and sneaks back inside only to be captured by Overdog’s soldiers. Washington frees the prisoners and blows up the slave pens while Wolff manages to rescue the women but Niki is sent into the maze. Wolff sees Niki trapped in the maze and despite Washington’s telling him to just leave her, Wolff tells him he is going down to save her. Wolff manages to help Niki make it through the maze but Overdog grabs her and has the Chemist prepare to transfer her life force into him. Wolff kills the Chemist and makes it inside the chamber, where he fights with Overdog and manages to kill him by electrocuting him with a fallen cable, causing explosions to occur throughout the Graveyard. Washington rescues them and they head back to Wolff’s ship, where they bandage up the two Scavs and the women thank them for their part in rescuing them. Niki gets upset and starts to leave, yelling at Wolff that he didn’t ask if she wanted to go with him and Wolff tells her that he does want her to come with him and the two hug and then leave with Washington and the women.

Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone met with mostly negative results from the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many felt that it could have been a better movie if it was more original. The movie was deliberately released a week before Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi, in order to cash in on everyone’s anticipation for that movie. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work as the movie only mad $16.5 million off of a $14.4 million budget.

There were so many similarities to Star Wars in this, it’s hard to believe that this wasn’t some sort of early Asylum mockbuster. That being said, this wasn’t a terrible movie to watch. The acting was ok, with Peter Strauss (Wolff) and Ernie Hudson (Washington) doing a good job in their roles. I was a little surprised with Molly Ringwald’s playing of Niki but this was before she became John Hughes’ go to girl for his movies and she was just getting started in Hollywood. The story was pretty unoriginal and like I said, had a lot, and I mean A LOT, of similarities to Star Wars in this movie. In fact, Ernie Hudson was cast due to them wanting a resemblance to Lando Calrissian. The special effects were pretty weak looking, while Michael Ironside just looked weird as the cyborg Overdog. Good for a few laughs, but there are better sci-fi movies out there.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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October 21st, 2017 Movie – Spaceballs

spaceballs

There is no better way to start a Saturday than with some laughs. Ok, there might be one or two better ways but starting with a laugh does make the rest of the day seem better. Now this right here happens to be one of, if not my absolute favorite, Mel Brooks movie. I think part of that is because it was the first one of his movies I ever saw in theaters. The other part is the subject that it parodies, Star Wars. Either way, it took quite a while before I ended up buying this movie on DVD. Not entirely sure why but I did decide to rectify that decision as soon as I could. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Spaceballs.

The plot: The evil Spaceballs have squandered all of the clean air on their planet and come up with a plan to steal all of the air from the nearby planet Druidia. Dark Helmet, on board the massive starship Spaceball One, arrives at Druidia with the intention of kidnapping the Princess Vespa when she leaves for her honeymoon and ransoming her for the combination to Druidia’s air shield. On Druidia, Vespa doesn’t want to marry Prince Valium but King Roland says she has too; as he is the last prince and she must marry someone of noble blood. After walking down the aisle, Vespa races past the altar and heads to her car and leaves Druidia, taking Dot Matrix, her droid-of-honor, with her. On planet Spaceball, President Skroob denies reports about that planet’s limited air supply when he gets word that Helmet has spotted Princess Vespa. Skroob heads to the control room, choosing to walk after a transporter accident put his head on backwards, and after seeing Vespa’s position on the radar, orders Helmet to continue with the plan. Spaceball One begins firing on Vespa’s Mercedes and Vespa calls her father for help, while Helmet chastises the gunner and learns that he is surrounded by assholes. Roland contacts a mercenary called Lone Starr and his sidekick Barf, a Mog (half-man, half-dog), and begs them to save Vespa, offering them anything. Lone Starr asks for $1 million space bucks, which he needs to payback the notorious gangster Pizza the Hutt, and Roland agrees. Lone Starr and Barf locate Vespa, who has been caught in Spaceball One’s magna-beam, and they jam Spaceball One’s radar so they can approach the Mercedes undetected. Barf then climbs down a ladder to get Vespa and Dot but Vespa refuses to leave her matched luggage and so Barf is forced to carry it onto their Winnebago and they fly off just as the Mercedes is brought aboard Spaceball One. In the hangar, Helmet approaches the Mercedes only to find it empty and when the radar technician says the radar is repaired and they picked up a Winnebago, Helmet realizes that Lone Starr had saved her. The Spaceballs give chase and when Lone Starr tries to get away by going to light speed, Helmet orders Colonel Sandurz to go to “ludicrous speed”, which causes them to overshoot Lone Starr and when Sandurz pulls the emergency brake, Helmet goes flying into a control panel. Meanwhile, Lone Starr and Barf drop their Winnebago out of light speed only to find that the used up all of their fuel and are forced to crash onto the desert moon of Vega. Lone Starr and Vespa, who had been arguing over the intercom during their escape, finally come face to face and, after a brief hesitation, begin arguing again until Barf reminds them that Helmet will be coming back to look for them. Lone Starr says they should take only what they need to survive but Vespa insists they take all of her luggage. As Lone Starr and Barf carry the bulk of her bags, they stop and open up the giant trunk they are carrying to find a giant hair dryer inside and after arguing with Vespa about it, leaves it in the sand, as he and Barf pick up the now lighter trunk and continue carrying it. Back on Spaceball One, Dark Helmet and Sandurz can’t find any sign of Lone Starr or the others on their scanners so Sandurz tells a crew member to get a copy of Spaceballs. Helmet voices his confusion to Sandurz, as they are in the middle of filming it, but Sanderz tells him it is the latest in home video marketing. They watch the tape fast forwarding through everything that has already happened and, after a confusing moment where they are watching what is being filmed right that second, they soon find out where Lone Starr and Vespa are. On Vega, the group is camping for the night and Lone Starr and Vespa are talking about why Vespa ran from her wedding and the mystery surrounding Lone Starr’s parents, as his only clue is the medallion around his neck. As they get closer, the two are about to kiss when Dot Matrix’s “Virgin Alarm” goes off and she quickly breaks them apart. The next day, the group continues moving through the desert and end up passing out from dehydration (or lack of oil in Dot’s case) but they are rescued by the Dinks, a race of hooded desert dwellers, and taken to their home, the Temple of Yogurt, the Everlasting Know-It-All. Yogurt explains that he is the guardian of the Schwartz, while he and the Dinks sell Spacsballs merchandise from his temple. Later, Yogurt takes a look at Lone Starr’s medallion and is able to read the inscription but tells Lone Starr he can’t reveal what it says until the proper time. He then trains Lone Starr in using the Schwartz, having him lift up the giant statue, which Lone Starr succeeds in doing but then accidentally drops it on Barf’s foot. Outside, Helmet and Sandurz have their men combing the desert, literally, when Helmet senses the presence of the Schwartz. Sandurz locates the temple doorway and Helmet is upset to see the sign of Yogurt on the door, telling Sandurz that Yogurt has the upside of the Schwartz while he has the down side. Unable to go inside, Helmet disguises himself as King Roland and calls out to Vespa. Vespa runs out to her father only to find that it is really Helmet and both Vespa and Dot are captured. Yogurt gives Lone Starr some gas so he and Barf can go after them and as they say goodbye, he gives Lone Starr the Ring of the Schwartz and a fortune cookie, telling him to open it before he eats it. Meanwhile, Helmet takes Vespa to Spaceball City, where he contacts King Roland and threatens to have plastic surgery performed on Vespa to give her back her old nose unless Roland gives them the combination to the air shield. When Vespa faints, Roland agrees to give them the combination and once he does, Helmet comments on how “1,2,3,4,5” is the combination an idiot would use for his luggage. Skroob shows up and after hearing the combination, which he says is the same as his luggage, he orders Spaceball One prepped to leave and tells them to change the combination on his luggage. Lone Starr and Barf arrive at Spaceball City and knock out some guards so they can steal their uniforms and sneak inside. Once inside, they locate the Vespa and Dot but run into some more guards and are forced to fight their way out. As they run for it, the Spaceballs believe they have them captured but ended up capturing their stunt doubles instead. Outside, the group heads for the Winnebago only to have one of the Spaceballs fuse the lock with an errant blast. Lone Starr gives Vespa the gun while he works with Barf on getting the door open and Vespa quickly shoots the remaining guards after they singe her hair with a laser blast. They head to Druidia to find that Spaceball One has transformed into a giant robot maid and is using a vacuum cleaner to suck up all the air from Druidia. Lone Starr uses the Schwartz to flip the vacuum’s switch to reverse the air flow, restoring the air to Druidia, then flies inside the robot’s head to search for a self destruct button. After locating it, he heads outside to activate it, knocking out the guards along the way, but before he can press the button, he is confronted by Helmet. The two use their Schwartz rings to fashion lightsabers and begin fighting, with Helmet killing a cameraman and the two of them getting their Schwartz’s twisted, Helmet manages to trick Lone Starr and steal the ring then throw it down the drain. As Lone Starr dodges the blasts from Helmet’s ring, he is contacted telepathically by Yogurt, who tells him the ring was a fake and the Schwartz is within him. Lone Starr uses the Schwartz to grab a  mirror and uses it to reflect Helmet’s blast into Helmet’s groin, causing him to stumble back in pain and accidentally press the self destruct button. As the self destruct countsdown, Lone Starr races back to the Winnebago and they race out of there just before it explodes, while Helmet, Skroob, and Sandurz end up trapped on the robot after everyone else uses all of the escape pods and they are blasted into space inside the head. The group cheers over the robot’s destruction and head down towards Druidia and as they are landing, Lone Starr and Barf see a news report that Pizza the Hutt is dead and Barf gets excited at the thought of keeping all of the money. Landing at the palace, Roland is happy to see his daughter back and shows her that Valium is there waiting for her as well, which upsets Lone Starr and he quickly leaves with Barf. The two head to a Space fueling station and as they refuel, head into the diner to get some food but when a xenomorph bursts out of the chest of a nearby space traveler, then starts singing “Hello, My Baby” (ala Michigan J. Frog), they quickly leave. Barf complains about being hungry so Lone Starr gives him the fortune cookie Yogurt gave him but when Barf opens it, the image of Yogurt appears. Yogurt tells Lone Starr that the medallion is a royal birth certificate, making him a prince, then tells him to use the special fuel in the glove compartment in order to make it back to Druidia in time to stop Vespa from marrying Valium. Meanwhile, Vespa is upset that Lone Starr took the money and left but when Roland tells her he only took $248 dollars for “lunch, gas, and tolls”, she realizes that Lone Starr loved her. Just as the minister asks her if she takes Valium as her husband, Lone Starr and Barf appears and when she learns that Lone Starr is a prince, she shoves Valium aside and agrees to marry Lone Starr. The two are wed and fly off in the Winnebago while on a distant planet, the robot maid’s head and arm land on a remote beach, where two Chimpanzees from the Planet Of The Apes witness the three Spaceballs climbing out of her nose and one of them remarks, “Oh, shit. There goes the planet.”

Spaceballs met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, several critics enjoyed the movie but felt it was a far cry from some of Brook’s earlier works. Mel Brooks got George Lucas’ permission to parody any and all things Star Wars related on the condition that no merchandise be produced for the movie. George Lucas did love the script and had his special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic, help with making the film, had the Millennium Falcon appear in a cameo at the diner, and also allowed Brooks to use an unused escape pod clip from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $38.1 million off of a $22.7 million budget but received even more success when it hit home video, becoming one of Mel Brooks most popular movies.

This is such a funny, and quotable, movie to watch. The acting was really good, with Rick Moranis (Helmet), Bill Pullman (Lone Starr), John Candy (Barf), and Mel Brooks (Skroob/Yogurt) all doing great jobs in their roles. The story was well written and did a good job of parodying Star Wars, while also ripping briefly on Star Trek, Transformers, and Planet Of The Apes as well. I have to admit that, after learning about the deal Brooks and Lucas made about no merchandising from the film being produced, it makes that whole merchandising scene with Yogurt that much funnier (side note, I loved how the “Spaceballs coloring book and lunch box” were actually a Transformers coloring book and lunch box with a Spaceballs sticker slapped on them (also, I totally had that Transformers lunch box as a kid)). I will admit, some of the comedic timing and pacing didn’t seem as good as his previous movies but there were still a lot of laughs to be had, with the pairing of Candy and Pullman, as well as Moranis with George Wyner (Sandurz) and Brooks (Skroob) making for most of the laughs involved. A really funny movie that has me geared up for some movies coming down the road.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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October 20th, 2017 Movie – Space Battleship Yamato

space battleship yamato

Now this is going to be an interesting movie to watch because I am going into this with no knowledge of the source material. See, I enjoy watching anime and reading manga so I have heard several references to Space Battleship Yamato over the years, but I never got around to trying to watch it. Then a few years ago, I saw that today’s movie was “finally being released in the U.S.”. Now I honestly thought that this was the original series or original anime movie getting an actual release so I went ahead and bought it on an impulse buy only to learn later that this was actually a live action movie that was made back in 2010. Oh well, one of these days I will learn to actually read the description before buying something (probably not). Anyways, on with today’s movie, Space Battleship Yamato (2010).

The plot: In the year 2194, an alien race called the Gamilas, who fire meteorite bombs at the planet which irradiates the surface In the year 2199, the Earth Defense Force launches a counter offensive against the Gamilas and the two fleets battle near Mars but the Earth fleet’s weapons have no effect on the Gamilas ships. As the Gamilas fire back and begin destroying the fleet. Captain Okita realizes that they have no chance against the enemy and orders the fleet to escape and Mamoru Kodai, whose ship is badly damaged, sacrifices his own ship to ensure Okita’s ship escapes. On Earth, Kodai’s brother Susumu Kodai is scavenging for metal on the Earth’s surface when an object crashes to Earth near him and knock him unconscious. When he comes too, he is surprised to find that the radiation in the area has been cleaned and the crashed object is an alien message pod before passing out again, just as Okita’s ship returns to Earth. Okita’s ship picks up Kodai and the pod, discovering that the pod contains schematics for a warp drive that they can use to travel farther in space. Suddenly, Kodai makes his way to the bridge, accusing Okita of letting his brother die to save himself and moves to hit him but he ends up being knocked down by Yuki Mori, a top fighter pilot, who chastises him for not fighting. As Kodai is escorted from the bridge, Dr. Sado apologizes for what happened and they all wonder how he is still alive, believing him to have absorbed a lethal dose of radiation. As Okita is speaking with Heikuro Todo, the leader of the Defense Force, Todo wants to use their last ship to leave the Earth and find a new home but Okita says they should use it for one last chance in defeating the Gamilas. Todo goes on the air and explains that the message pod was from a planet called Iskandar and that they have a device that can cleanse the radiation from the Earth and revitalize it’s surface, as well as schematics for a new warp engine so they can make the journey. Todo requests volunteers for the mission and Kodai decides to reenlist, shocking Dr. Sado that he is still alive. As he is making his way through the ship, Kodai is approached by Yuki, who wonders why he signed up. Before Kodai can respond, an alarm sounds and Kodai heads to the bridge while telling Yuki to get her fighter ready to go in case she is needed. As he reaches the bridge, Kodai realizes that he is onboard the Yamato and takes his station only to learn that the Gamilas have fired a giant missile at the them. Okita orders the wave cannon the be fired, despite protests that it hasn’t been tested, but they manage to destroy the missile and head off to Iskandar. As they make their way through space, Kodai is reunited with his old fighter group but as they are reminiscing, Yuki gets annoyed with them and continues to attack Kodai’s quitting the fleet some years earlier. The Yamato tests out the warp engine and warp from Mars to Jupiter, but end up being attacked by a Gamilas fleet. Yuki goes out alone to disable the mothership’s while the Yamato and as she is beginning to be overwhelmed, she is rescued by the other members of her squadron. After Yuki and the others “paint the target”, Kodai fires the Yamato’s cannons and destroys the mothership’s engines, causing an implosion that wipes out the fleet. Yuki’s ship damaged during the fleets destruction and unable to make it back to the ship so Kodai abandons his post to go rescue her. when Gamilas fighters begin using kamikaze attacks on the Yamato, Okita orders some last minute evasive maneuvers to avoid them while allowing Kodai time to get back on board with Yuki, then they quickly warp out of there. Inside the hangar, Kodai is able to revive Yuki and Dr. Sado has her taken to sick bay for evaluation when they see Okita there with the commando team to escort Kodai to the brig. As the ship leaves the solar system, the crew is allowed one minute to say goodbye to their families on Earth. Meanwhile, Chief Engineer Tokugawa and Dr. Sado pay a visit to Kodai in the brig and as they are drinking, tell him about how Okita’s son was also killed during the Mars attack. Kodai is allowed to use the communicator and runs into Yuki as she is leaving, who is upset that he risked the ship to save her. Kodai asks that she just be a little nicer to him before entering the room but since he has no family, he simply talks to his analyzer. Meanwhile, Yuki is speaking with Shima about Kodai and learns that the reason that Kodai had quit flying was because he had tried to divert a meteor bomb from striking the Earth but it ended up hitting a space station, killing his parents. As the Yamato warps out of the solar system, they discover a Gamilas fighter adrift close by and Okita orders it brought on board for study but then falls ill. He is taken to his quarters and Dr. Sado tells him that he won’t last long. In the hangar, Kodai and the others are examining the Gamilas ship when it’s pilot attacks them before being shot by Saito, the commando leader. Saito is taken over by the alien’s consciousness and speaks with Kodai and the others, saying it’s name is Dessla and the Gamilas are terraforming the Earth to serve their purposes. Kodai stuns Saito, causing Dessla to leave his body and the other commandos shoot it when it is in it’s crystaline form. Kodai is summoned to see Okita, who asks him to be Acting Captain but when Kodai refuses, Okita forces the issue by making it an order and announcing it to the crew. Unknown to the crew, the alien fighter serves acts as a homing beacon for the Gamilas fleet and when the Yamato comes under attack, Kodai orders it ejected and destroyed while he heads back to the bridge. They manage to destroy the attackers but a stealth ship attaches itself to the third bridge and charges up to explode. Faced with no choice, Kodai orders Yuki to fire on the third bridge, severing it from the Yamato so the explosion doesn’t destroy the ship. Afterwards, Kodai goes to speak with Okita about what happened and says he shouldn’t be Acting Captain but Okita tells says that he made the right decision, difficult as it was, and he is doing a fine job. Kodai then goes to console Yuki, apologizing for giving her the order and the two end up kissing as the Yamato enters another warp. The Yamato finally reaches Iskandar, which resembles Earth before the attack, but they find a Gamilas fleet waiting for them and as they come under attack, the Gamilas fires a missile that blocks the wave motion cannon. Facing begin destroyed, Kodai orders an emergency warp and they manage to safely warp to the other side of the planet, finding it completely barren and realize that Iskandar and Gamilas are the same planet. As Kodai and the others discuss the situation, Saito feels like it is a trap while Sando, the Chief Science Officer, thinks the radiation cleansing technology was a false hope. Kodai says that the technology that was sent to them wasn’t meant as a trap and they will still go find the device and restore the Earth. Kodai comes up with a plan of attack and gives a speech to the crew of the Yamato before flying off for his part in the attack. They manage to make it to the surface but most of the Black Tiger squadron and commandos die during the attack, leaving Kodai, Yuki, Saido, and Sando to press on. As they approach the center, Yuki is possessed by the Iskandar, who explain that the Iskandar and Gamilas are two halves of the same race, having evolved into a hive mind. The Iskandar explain that their planet is dying and the Iskandar accept that but the Gamilas don’t, which is why they invaded Earth. They tell Kodai and the others that there is no device to cleanse the radiation, something Kodai knows is true as Okita told him that before he left, but the Iskandar say that their energy will be enough to cleanse the Earth. Kodai and the others start to head back to their ships when they see the Gamilas’ power core and Saito and Sando stay behind to blow it up, allowing Kodai and Yuki time to get to their ship and head back to the Yamato. As they make their way to Earth, Kodai tells Okita the news and he thanks him, then dismisses him and Dr. Sado from his room as he wishes to die alone. The Yamato arrives close to Earth and makes contact with Todo, who is happy to hear that they succeeded in their mission. Suddenly, they come under attack from a massive Gamilas ship and they are contacted by Dessla, who tells them that the Gamilas’ plans to colonize Earth has been stalled but they refuse to let them have the Earth either, and he disappears as the Gamilas ship opens up and prepares to perform a kamikaze attack on the Earth in order to destroy it. Kodai asks on the status of the weapons and hearing that they are all out of commission, decides to ask Okita for advise only to see Dr. Sado arrive on the bridge and indicate that Okita is dead. Trying to figure out what to do, Kodai asks if there is enough power to fire the wave-motion cannon, and when he is told that there is enough power for one shot, he orders everyone to abandon the ship. Yuki and Shima want to stay with Kodai but Kodai tells Shima he has to leave and ensure that Yuki makes it to Earth, or else their mission was all for naught. As the crew salutes and leaves the bridge, Yuki stays behind, asking what was the point of saving the Earth when he won’t be there with her. Kodai hugs her, telling her that all he wanted was to make a better world for her to live in. He then tells her he loves her and asks her to forgive him, before stunning her and telling Shima to take her, placing a picture of him and his brother in her jacket before he does. The surviving crew makes it to the escape ship and as they fly past the bridge, they all salute, with Yuki coming too and screaming at Kodai to get out there. Kodai pilots the Yamato towards the Gamilas ship, which begins firing on him, and he sees the spirits of all of his friends that died during the mission. Once he gets close enough to the ship, he activates the wave-motion cannon, which is still blocked, and the backlash results in an explosion that destroys both ships. Some time later, Yuki is standing on a hilltop looking out at the land, which has been cleansed of the radiation and plants are growing again, when she hears someone cry out “Mommy” and she is joined by the child she had with Kodai.

As far as a sci-fi movie goes, this is pretty good, though it does kind of follow a somewhat typical plot. The acting was pretty good and I did like the character development that Kodai went through throughout the movie. Since I have never seen any of the other versions, I can’t say how this compares to them but I thought the story was pretty good, but not entirely original. However, I feel this has more to do with when the original story took place, as there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of sci-fi movies following a similar plot line so the subject just felt boring. The special effects were pretty good and did help make some of the scenes pretty impressive. I also liked the crystaline consciousness of the Galimas and how they would possess people to communicate, except for the last time Dessla spoke with Kodai and the others. A fun movie to watch and worth giving a shot if you are interested.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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October 15th, 2017 Movie – Sorceress (1982)

sorceress 1982

Ahhh, the early 80’s. A time where the sword and sorcery genre of movies had reached it’s height of popularity. The problem with this is that there tends to be an overabundance of such movies and studios would start looking to make them fast and cheap in order to cash in on the popularity. Enter Roger Corman, the man who is known for making movies quickly and on a limited budget. Now I had heard of this movie but never got around to actually watching it until a few years ago, when I bought a batch of Corman movies during an Amazon binge. So let’s see how this stacks up to some of his other works as I watch today’s movie, Sorceress (1982).

The plot: The evil wizard Traigon and his men ride through the woods and attack a camp full of people, where his wife was hiding. The wife tries to flee with her midwife to the house of Krona to seek his protection but she is cut off and everyone in the camp is killed except for the wife. Traigon approaches with the intent of sacrificing his first born child to honor a promise to his god Caligara but he is shocked to discover that she had given birth to twin girls, Mara and Mira. Traigon demands that she tell him which was the first born but when his wife refuses, he has her tortured. Krona suddenly appears and quickly kills Traigon’s men but when he goes to confront Traigon, Traigon uses his magic to stop Krona. Suddenly, Traigon’s wife stabs him in the back and kills him, then begs Krona to watch after her babies. Krona tells her that he will teach them to be great warriors and she tells him that they are “girl children” before she dies. Krona passes on his sorcery and fighting skills to the babies, then takes them to the home of a nearby farmer, Dargo, and asks him to raise the two children as his own, warning him that someday people will come looking for the girl children so he should raise them as boys. After 20 years, Traigon has been resurrected and sends his men out to find his twin daughters. Meanwhile, Mara and Mira have grown up into two women, but don’t know that they are women. As they are bathing, they spy a satyr watching them and are curious about the “horn” between it’s legs, and quickly climb out of the stream and attack it causing it to run off. After getting dressed, they head home only to find that Traigon’s soldiers have killed their family and set their home on fire. Mara and Mira quickly begin attacking Traigon’s soldiers and easily kill them all, then shoots the general Khrakannon in the back with an arrow as he tries to escape but he survives. When the battle is over, they are greeted by the viking Baldar who is accompanied by Pando, the satyr they saw earlier. Baldar offers praise for their victory and condolences on the loss of their family and helps them to arrange a funeral pyre. As they light the fire, Krona arrives and after taking their hands, gives them the last of his power and tells them that Traigon was the one to cause this. After giving them a last piece of advice by saying to remember the name “Vittal”, Krona then steps into the funeral pyre and burns himself alive. As he is on a quest of his own, Baldar suggest they work together and Mara and Mira agree to travel together. They head to the city, where Baldar looks for Erlick, a barbarian he is friends with. They find gambling in a back alley filled with prostitutes and when a fight breaks out, they help him defeat the men that he was cheating out of their money. When soldiers head towards the fight, Erlick helps hide Baldar, Mara, Mira, and Pando, and they take refuge in an abandoned house but once inside, Baldar and Elrick discover that Mara and Mira are women. They question the twins on if they never noticed that they weren’t boys and Mara and Mira show their naivety on the differences between the sexes. Baldar, Elrick, and Pando leave the twins to wash up but after they leave, one of the prostitutes tricks the girls into following her into a trap, where Traigon’s soldiers capture them. Pando sees this and goes to tell Baldar and Elrick, who agrees to help Baldar rescue them. Meanwhile, the twins are taken to the center of town, where a test is performed to determine which one is the first born. After determining which one it is, the girl is fitted with a slave collar but before anything else happens, Baldar and Elrick save them and they ride off, with Pando causing the soldier’s horses to stop obeying orders before following after them. As the soldiers try to regain control of their horses, Delissia, Traigon’s chief priestess, orders Hunnu, her ape-man servant, to find out more about Elrick. Mara, Mira, Baldar, Elrick, and Pando take refuge in the forbidden forest but they are attacked by Hunnu and several other ape-men, who use gas-filled fruit to cause them to laugh uncontrollably. Mara and Elrick are taken captive but Baldar is able to rescue Mira. Mara and Elrick are taken to see Traigon, who explains to MAra that he is her father and says that she has been lied to about his intentions. Confused over what he said, Mara pleads with him to spare Elrick’s life but when it is discovered that he has loaded dice in his possession, Elrick is sentenced to death. As his execution is about to commence, Hunnu finds a medallion which causes Delissia to halt the execution, as she recognizes it as being from an ancient house and Traigon order him to be taken back inside the temple. Elsewhere, Mira has visions of what Mara is seeing and tries to explain it to Baldar as they figure out how to rescue their friends. Back in the temple, Delissia has her servants tend to Elrick, then bewitches him into helping her by saying that he needs to sleep with Mara and then sacrifice her but as he leaves, Traigon appears and Delissia tells him that she was able to get Elrick to help them. Elrick heads to Mara’s chambers and ends up seducing her while at the same time, Mira feels the sensations that Mara is feeling, causing Baldar to become uncomfortable watching her writhe on the ground as he realizes that Elrick is with Mara. Baldar and Mira continue to rescue their friends but unknown to them, Delissia has bewitched Mara as well as Elrick, and uses Mara’s ability to see what Mira sees to lay a trap for them. When Mira and Baldar approach the temple, they find themselves surrounded by Traigon’s men while a bewitched Mara and Elrick exiting the temple. Baldar ends up getting an arrow shot into his arm as Traigon appears and uses his magic to send both Baldar and Mira down into the catacombs, collapsing a wall over the opening to trap them there. As Traigon goes to perform the sacrifice, he is grabbed by Hunnu and Delissia explains that he was promised Mira but Traigon strikes him to the ground and walks away, with his guards laughing as they follow. Hunnu grabs Baldar’s sword and heads off into the forest, meeting up with several others of his kind, who tell him where to find Pando. Meanwhile, Mira tends to Baldar’s injury and then they explore the catacombs to try and find a way out, unaware that the skeletons inside are starting to move. Hunnu eventually finds Pando and hands him Baldar’s sword and after explaining what happened, Pando takes the sword and heads to the temple, with several of the farmers and villagers taking up arms and following him. At the temple, the planets reach the necessary alignment and Traigon calls out to Caligara as Delissia hands Elrick a dagger to use for the sacrifice. Back in the catacombs, Mira and Baldar are attacked by the undead and as they start to become overwhelmed, Mira recalls Krona’s words and shouts out “Vittal”, causing the undead to freeze. When Mira shouts it out again, Mara shouts out “Vittal” as well, freeing her and Elrick from Delissa’s control. As the two begin fighting Traigon’s guards, Vittal taking the form of a giant winged lion, appears in the sky above the temple. Seeing his plans going awry, Traigon grabs Delissia and sacrifices her to Caligara, who appears in the sky and unleashes energy blasts into the ground, creating openings to the catacombs that allow the undead warriors to emerge. Baldar and Mira crawl out of one of the holes and help Mara and Elrick, just as Pando arrives with the villagers to help with the fight as well. Elrick confronts Khrakannon and manages to kill him but when he confronts Traigon, he uses his power of illusion to get Elrick to drop his weapon. Traigon picks up the sword and goes to kill Elrick but he is shot in the back by both Mara and Mira and disappears in a flash of energy. With the battle over, the villagers all disperse and Baldar jokes with Elrick when he sees Elrick exiting the temple with his arms around both Mara and Mira.

So this is one of those so bad it’s good movies, except that it is really bad and only marginally good. The acting was ok, with Leigh and Lynette Harris doing decent jobs in their roles of Mara and Mira while Roberto Ballesteros was somewhat over the top with his delivery, making his portrayal of Traigon a little more humorous than intended. The basic premise of the story was just that; pretty basic and about what you would expect from this type of movie. However, the details that were added to flesh out the movie and make it more interesting actually tended to make it more confusing. The main source of humor in this movie tended to revolve around the twins naivety about the different sexes and some mild adult themed humor. The special effects were laughable bad, as were the fight scenes, and were one of the reasons why the director asked for his name to be written out of the film. If you enjoy bad movies, then you might like this movie but it is definitely not going to be for everyone.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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

September 6th, 2017 Movie – Snakeman

snakeman

Ahh, another movie that seems to have changed it’s name from it’s initial airing. When I first saw this movie on Syfy, I don’t recall the exact title but I remember it was something along the lines of Naga: The Snake King. I remember it being a rather ridiculous bit of a movie but I had no problem enjoying it. This wound up being yet another Blockbuster purchase on the cheap so let’s see if Snakeman is as ridiculous as I remember.

The plot: Deep in the Amazon, two farmers are making their way through the jungle when they come across an ancient totem of a monstrous snake and as they stare at it, a giant snake appears and kills them both. Elsewhere, an expedition have discovered the remains of an ancient man, unaware that they are being observed by a tribe of people. The tribe appear ready to kill the expedition but they hear the roar of the giant snake and back away into the jungle. The remains are taken back to New York City and during a press conference at the International Institute of Science, it is announced that the “Amazon Man” was over 300 years old when he died. Gentech International, the pharmaceutical company that funded the expedition, says that they are funding a second expedition to the jungle in search of a supposed lost tribe that is descended from the Amazon Man in the hopes of finding the secret to eternal youth. Dr. Susan Elters and Dr. Rick Gordon head to Brazil, where they meet up with the rest of their team; Jonathan Rodgers, Sid, Will Bahia, Rush Fernandez, and their guide Matt Ford. Elsewhere, an advanced team is making their way through the jungle when they come across a skeleton tied to a tree. One of the men decides to head back but the other approaches the skeleton only to be attacked by the mysterious tribe. The man is shot in the arm but manages to shoot one of the attackers as he makes his escape only to be killed by the giant snake. Back at the airport, Matt sees an approaching storm and recommends waiting for it to pass but Rick wants to push ahead so they take off in Matt’s helicopter but end up getting brought down by landing. Rick manages to get in touch with Dr. John Simon, the head of Gentech, and tells him what happened and John says to make their way to the camp site, not telling them that the members of the advanced team had been killed. Matt says that the Jaguar Tribe is nearby and he can get them to help them but when they appear, Rick pulls out a gun and points it at him, forcing John to attack him before the Jaguar Tribe killed them. Matt then talks with the Jaguar Tribe in their language and they agree to help them but as they make their way through the jungle, they come across the snake totem. The Jaguar Tribe are scared to proceed further and after Matt talks with them, the chief Tika and his son Bada will stay and continue on if they are allowed to say a prayer first but the others must leave. Rick tries to force them all to leave but Susan reminds him that they are both in charge and she agrees to what Matt says, arguing that two is better than none. When they reach a spot to set up camp, Rush goes out to hunt for some food but he ends up being killed by the snake. Matt and the others hear Rush’s screams and decide to go look for him but Rick and Jonathan refuse to go into the jungle so Matt tells them to build a fire while the rest join him to look for Rush. As night falls, Matt, Susan, and Tika find Rush’s body but they also see the giant snake, which the Jaguar chief calls Naga, and they run for it, joining the others in camp and telling them to run as well. The group ends up being separated and Sid and Will end up being killed by Naga, who is revealed to have multiple heads. Matt and Susan witness the attack and make their way back to the camp to meet up with the others and they try to call for help but Susan’s phone doesn’t work and Rick lost his so they are forced to head to the base camp in order to use the satellite up-link to call out for help. They make their way to the camp but Matt, Rick, and Susan end up getting ahead of the others. Jonathan tries to catch up but he ends up being killed by Naga and Matt and Rick head back to try and help him while they send Susan ahead to call for help but Susan ends up encountering the Snake People, who capture her. Rick and Matt meet up with Tika and Bada but Naga attacks them and kills Bada before they drive it away. The three reach the base camp and find no sign of Susan so they go looking for her only to encounter Timothy, who had survived and has been driven half mad. Meanwhile, Susan is taken to the camp and Dahar, the chief of the Snake People, tells her that Naga is angry and demands that they return the body that was taken. Back in the jungle, Matt is bitten by a snake and shoots it before he collapses and Rick and Timothy decide to leave him while Tika chooses to stay with Matt. When the Snake people appear, Tika tries to fend them off but he is killed while Matt, Rick, and Timothy are taken prisoner. They are brought to the village and Rick and Timothy are forced to run a gauntlet and Dahar plans on killing them afterwards but Susan stops him. Dahar says that Timothy is the one that stole the body of his father and Susan convinces him to let her try to get him back. Susan manages to get in contact with John and explains what is going on and he says that he will bring the body back in 36 hours. Dahar lets them live and they are brought into the hut Susan was in but she can’t find any anti-venom in her first aid kit to help Matt. Later, Dahar yells at Susan and brings her to his son, who is sick from when Susan sneezed on him earlier. Susan says she can help him and gives him some medicine but when it doesn’t work fast enough, Dahar makes plans to sacrifice Susan to Naga but at the last minute, Dahar’s son is shown to have recovered and she is spared. Matt recovers from the snake bite and Susan tends to him but Rick and Timothy, who are in another hut, kill their guard and escape. They head through the jungle back to the base camp but Timothy is killed by Naga. Back at the village, Dahar tells Susan about Rick and Timothy’s escape and asks her about the body coming back. Susan says soon and asks Dahar about the secret and he says it is forbidden to speak of to anyone outside the tribe. When Matt asks if it is true that when someone from one tribe saves someone from another tribe, they become part of that tribe, Dahar says it is true and Matt asks if Susan is part of the Snake People since she saved his son. Dahar agrees and then shows Susan the secret of their eternal youth, a pool of water that Naga rests in and says that if Naga dies, then the gift is gone and the Snake People will die as well. John arrives in a helicopter and encounters Rick, who tells him what he learned about the gift. When Susan encounters John, she asks about the body but John tells her that he didn’t bring it, instead bringing a group of mercenaries to take the gift by force. When John threatens to kill Susan, Matt and the Snake People attack the mercenaries, killing several of them and wounding John but Dahar is injured in the fight. Matt and Susan drag Dahar away and he asks that they save Naga before he dies. Rick, John, and the remaining mercenaries make their way into the cave only to encounter Naga, who kills several mercenaries before it is forced to back away from it’s injuries. Susan and Matt confront John and Rick at the pool and Matt is shot but Naga appears and kills the remaining mercenaries, Rick, and John. As Naga leaves the pool, Susan tells Matt the secret and says that Dahar was right and the secret should stay there When Matt agrees, the two kiss while Naga watches them.

Yup, this movie was as ridiculous as I remember it being. The acting was ok, with Jayne Heitmeyer (Susan) being the best out of the bunch while Stephen Baldwin (Matt) was almost robotic in his delivery. The story was interesting, a nice twist on the whole Fountain of Youth story by adding a giant monster to it. Just about everything else was pretty generic in regards to plot and character development. The special effects were pretty laughable but this is what I would expect from a Syfy original movie. Good for some silly fun but not a great movie to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

September 25th, 2017 Movie – Slipstream (1989)

slipstream

I am going to apologize for the lateness of this post because I fell asleep while watching this movie this morning. This was entirely due to the fact that I got next to no sleep last night and is in now way an indication that today’s movie was bad or boring, which I honestly wouldn’t know since I WAS ASLEEP while it was on. I will say that this is not my first time hearing of today’s movie, as I had heard about it on a B-movie fan page I am  on, where one of the members was trying to choose between watching this movie and another one (which I honestly can’t remember what it was now). So let’s see what kind of a movie I have on my hands as I finish watching today’s movie, Slipstream (1989).

The plot: At the end of the end of the 20th Century, an event known as The Convergence caused the Earth’s weather patterns to change as natural disasters occurred around the world . Earthquakes and floods broke apart continents while a massive river of wind known as The Slipstream encircles the planet and the surviving people have learned how to travel along it. A man named Byron is running along a canyon while being chased by an air glider. The man makes it to the edge of the cliff and reaches out to the sky but the two occupants of the glider, law officers Will Tasker and Belitski, land and follow after him. Tasker shoots Byron through the arm with a grapple, then pulls him off the cliff and they arrest him and take off. They stop at a diner to get some food and Belitski is hit on by a smuggler named Matt Owens but she quickly knocks him down and steps over him. Tasker had seen the whole thing and offers Owens a cup of coffee, not telling him that he works with Belitski. The two talk and Owens says he is a business man, meaning he is a smuggler, and shows the items he has on him. When Tasker picks up a grenade and says that is illegal, then shows Owens his badge, Owens hands him his pack and quickly leaves. Some guys at another table have Owens sit with them and they tell him about how the prisoner Tasker has with him had killed a man and there is a reward out for him. When Tasker leaves, Owens pulls a gun on him and takes Byron and his gear back but when he gets distracted by Belitski, Tasker hits Owens with a dart, telling him it was poisoned. Owens doesn’t believe him and whenTasker is distracted by an arriving glider hitting him, Owens manages to get away with Byron but Tasker reveals the dart was a tracker dart and they can follow him. As they are flying away, Owens starts trying to talk with Byron and learns Byron’s name. Owens makes a stop at a mountain cave settlement called Hell’s Kitchen, where he has set up his home, and he tells his smuggler friends there that he is leaving and setting up shop elsewhere and giving some of them some of his items. He looses site of Byron but soon finds him and discovers that Byron has healed a young boy suffering from cataracts. Tasker and Belitski are tracking Owens but find themselves running into Montclaire and his group of smugglers and end up killing them when Montclaire’s group shoot at them. After burying the smugglers and burning their cargo, Tasker continue to track Owen but Belitski starts questioning what they are doing and considers quitting. Owens and Byron continue flying down the Slipstream and come to another settlement of cave dwellers and see that they have been attacked by bandits. Byron tries to help one of the members by lifting a rock off of his legs but the man, Avatar, is the leader of the cult that lives there and curses Byron as being one of the machines that brought the destruction of the world. After Avatar dies, his followers tie up Owens, then tie Byron to a large kite and set him sailing high into the sky, saying the winds will judge him. That night, as a windstorm rages, Tasker and Belitski find Owens and ask him about Byron and Owens tells them where he is and says they need to work together to bring him down. Tasker reluctantly agrees and has Belitski cut him loose and they head outside into the storm. Owens holds onto the guide line and uses a parachute to slide up the rope to the kite and works on freeing Byron, yelling at him for not telling him he is an android. When Belitski realizes that Owens is attempting a double cross, she uses a parachute to slide up the rope to stop him but is too late as Owens cuts the rope and the kite ends up falling towards the ground, crashing into Tasker. Owens survives and finds himself dragged into the shelter of a cave by Byron, who had also saved Belitski and dragged her inside there. Byron then heads out to see if he can locate Tasker for Belitski, leaving Owens and Belitski to start talking. Outside, Byron finds Ariel, who was there to visiting the cult, and Tasker’s broken grapple but no sign of Tasker. As the storm passes, Ariel leads them out of the caves and Belitski parts ways with them, saying she is going to find Tasker and that this is only a head start for them. Owens, Byron, and Ariel work on fixing Owens’ glider and they head to Ariel’s settlement, where they plan on getting supplies before heading back out but the glider ends up crashing and they are forced to walk the last of the way. Ariels people are hedonists who inhabit an underground museum and Byron is fascinated by the history inside, which draws Ariel closer to him. As night falls, they end up dancing, with Byron partnering up with a local girl, with the two pairs each ending up sleeping together. The next day, Ariel is speaking with the group’s leaders about her bringing Byron and Owens there, with some people feeling that she never should have brought them there as they can’t trust outsiders. Ariel tries to convince them that they need Byron and Owens, particularly Byron, for their technical expertise but the group’s leader and curator of the museum, says that since Ariel brought the men here under false pretenses, she might be lying for her reasons to keep them here. Elsewhere, Owens goes looking for Byron and finds him working on fixing things in the museum and Byron excitedly tells Owens that he fell asleep and dreamed, something that androids should not be able to do. Byron tells Owens that he dreamed of a place at the end of the Slipstream, where others of his kind live. Owens then tells Byron that he is free to go, as he decided not to turn Byron in for the reward as he feels they have become friends and Byron asks if that means he is free to stay with Ariel. Meanwhile, Tasker and Belitski have followed Byron and Owens to the museum, killing the guards in order to gain entry. They make their way to the conference room and demand the group turn over Byron, with Tasker threatening to kill everyone there to get what he wants. The hedonists head towards the lower level and grab Byron, knocking Owens down in the process and as Owens gets up, he sees Belitski watching him. As Owens tries talking to her, Belitski pulls out a gun and shoots him but he knocks her out. As he is handcuffing her to a bed, Belitski comes too and tells him she shot him with the antidote and he kisses her before heading off to try and save Byron. The hedonists bring Byron to Tasker but Owens shows up and tries to shoot Tasker. Byron stands in front of Tasker and takes the shot, as he doesn’t want anyone else to die for him. Tasker shoots the shotgun, causing a shell inside to explode and injure Owens and when Ariel grabs a gun and tries to shoot Tasker, Tasker kills her. Byron runs over to cradle Ariel while Tasker leaves and Byron goes after him, though Owens tries to get him to stop. Outside, Tasker heads to his plane, shooting Byron when he follows and when that doesn’t stop him, he tries running him over as he takes off. Byron manages to hold onto the plane and smashes through the control panel to get to Tasker but as he starts to strangle him, Tasker recites a quote he often says and Byron changes his mind. With the plane out of control, Byron tries to use the wires from the panel to try and land the plane but they end up crashing, with Byron surviving but Tasker dies in the flames. Byron heads back to the museum and sees Owens outside waiting for him. Byron approaches him and says that he is too dangerous to be human but Owens tells him he is wrong. Some time later, Byron leaves to go find the place in his dreams while Owens has started a relationship with Belitski and they go off to start a balloon shop that Owens has dreamed of.

Ok, this actually was a pretty boring movie, which is sad because the story actually had some potential. The acting was ok, with Bill Paxton (Owens) and Bob Peck (Byron) making for a pretty good duo, while Mark Hamill (Tasker) was an interesting villain but I have to admit, he looks a little more like Kiefer Sutherland than Luke Skywalker. The story was interesting and seemed to borrow a little from Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” (and there was actually a brief reference to that book when Ownes and Byron are talking and Byron says he dreamed. The special effect were on the weak side, with a lot of green screen used during some of the flying scenes, while some other scenes that required stunt work or special effects, like the kite crashing or the plane crash, just felt cheap. Good for some laughs on how bad it is, but not something I would watch repeatedly.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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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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