comedy, fantasy, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 11th, 2014 Movie – Bruce Almighty

bruce almighty

Now here was a movie that I was honestly curious about when it first came out. I mean, who didn’t dream about having the powers of God at one point in their life, or at least the power to do whatever you wanted. There was only one problem with this movie that kept me from going to see it, Jim Carrey. I used to like watching Jim Carrey’s movies but after time, I started liking them less and less because he seemed to basically play the same character all the time. So I never went to see Bruce Almighty in the theaters but when it came out TV, I would catch it every now and then and decided to go ahead and pick a copy on the cheap after a few times.

The plot: Bruce Nolan is a field reporter for a television station in Buffalo, NY but has dreams of becoming the lead anchor. After doing a local story on a bakery trying to bake the largest cookie, Bruce’s girlfriend, Grace Connelly, tries to cheer him up but he continues to mope about his situation. After dropping Grace off at the daycare she works at, Bruce gets stuck in traffic and is late to work, where he learns that his story is being dropped in exchange for a story that his rival, Evan Baxter, had done. After the meeting, Bruce talks with Jack Baylor, the station manager, and tries to convince him to give him a shot at a major story instead of the small time daily stories he does that constantly get unaired, and Jack decides to send him to do a live report at Niagara Falls. Bruce calls Grace to let her know about his live broadcast, thinking it is a sign that he will be getting the upcoming promotion to the anchor position but as he is being introduced to the audience, he learns that Evan has been given the promotion. Evan decides to take a jab at Bruce during his acceptance by using Bruce’s own words from his unaired story in his speech. When they cut to Bruce, he is frozen in shock at first by the announcement but then proceeds to go through with his story, taking the time to criticize the station and Evan for his perceived slights. Bruce ends up being fired and as he is leaving, he sees a street gang harassing a homeless man and yells out at them, causing them to leave but after checking on the homeless man, Bruce taunts the thugs, making them turn around and beat him up and vandalize his car. When Bruce gets home, he complains about everything that happened to Grace and though she tries to calm him down, he refuses to stop, upsetting her when he says he is tired of his mediocre life. Bruce drives off and decides to try praying to God for a miracle to occur but ends up crashing into a light pole, causing him to start yelling at God and blaming him for his misfortunes. As he finishes ranting, Bruce receives a page from a number he doesn’t recognize but he decides to ignore it. The next morning, Bruce is woken up by a page from the same number, prompting him to throw the pager out the window, where it is destroyed and run over, but when he rushes their dog outside to keep it from peeing in the house, he hears the ruined pager going off again and decides to call the number. When he calls, he hears the announcement specifically calling him out about a job and is directed to an abandoned warehouse. Heading inside, he sees a janitor mopping the floor, who directs Bruce on where he needs to go then asks for help but Bruce says he is busy and asks for a rain check. When Bruce gets up to the 7th floor, he finds the janitor there fixing a light and as Bruce thinks he is being pranked, the janitor removes his work clothes to reveal a white suit underneath, telling Bruce he is the boss. The man tells Bruce that he is God and Bruce doesn’t believe him at first when God says he is offering him all of his powers, until he sees himself with 7 fingers on his hand when he tries to trick him. Bruce runs out of the warehouse and ends up at a diner, where after a few accidental uses of God’s powers, God reappears and asks Bruce to walk with him. Walking across the nearby lake, God explains that there are two rules Bruce must follow; don’t tell anyone he is God and don’t mess with free will. God then tells Bruce he is going on vacation, leaving Bruce to handle things while he is gone. As Bruce starts to have some fun with his new powers, he sees the gang that beat him up the day before and decides to get revenge on them. Bruce then heads home, apologizing to Grace for how he acted the night before and using his new powers to make their sex better. The next day, Bruce wakes up hearing several voices in his head but shakes it off as a recurring dream, then tells Grace he is going to get his job back. Bruce shows up at a K9 training center just as a rival network finishes their story, and Bruce is able to get the scoop over them, as their van mysteriously locked itself, when one of the dogs uncovers the body of Jimmy Hoffa. As Bruce films a report about Hoffa’s discovery, and the rival news crew being arrested for marijuana possession, he returns to his former studio and is given the job of lead field reporter, where he makes it so that even more strange things miraculously occur while he is reporting. Bruce then goes to the studio while Evan is on air and proceeds to use his powers to cause Evan to make a fool of himself on camera. That night, Bruce takes Grace to the restaurant where they had their first date and he tells her that has gotten the promotion to an anchor position after Evan’s debacle on air but while she congratulates him, Grace is disappointed as she thought he was going to propose to her. Suddenly, Bruce starts hearing voices again and rushes out of the restaurant, when he suddenly finds himself on Mt. Everest with God. After messing with Bruce for a bit, God explains that the voices Bruce has been hearing are people’s prayers, which he has been ignoring, and suggest that Bruce try using his powers to help others instead of himself. That night, Bruce starts trying to come up with a way to get rid of the voices and converts the prayers to emails, then auto answers yes to all of them, figuring that will make everyone happy. Friday night, a party is held for Bruce’s upcoming promotion and Bruce calls the house, hoping to get Grace and convince her to show up, then uses his powers to get their dog Sam to help him. After trying to call the house again, Bruce is surprised by Susan, who starts kissing him but as he pushes her away, Hesees Grace in the door way. Grace storms off and Bruce follows after her, trying to convince her that it was an accident but Grace tells him she is staying at her sister’s house. Bruce uses his powers to try and get Grace to forgive him, making several signs appear near her but she tells him she doesn’t love him anymore. As Bruce’s first night as anchor is about to go on, all of the various prayers Bruce answered and events that he caused to happen result in chaos and riots occurring in the streets. Bruce leaves the studio and when he sees what is occurring, he calls out for God and suddenly finds himself in the warehouse. Bruce looks for God, who appears behind Bruce and reminds him of the rain check for helping clean the place and Bruce starts cleaning with God. When they finish, God subtly offers Bruce advise about what to do before he leaves, telling Bruce he can handle it. The next day, Bruce turns off the auto answer program with his emails, while doing some good deeds to people he sees in need. When he gets to the office, Bruce approaches Evan, who is packing up his things, and tells him that he turned down the anchor position and congratulates him on getting the job, saying he deserved it. As Bruce continues doing small things to help people, Grace’s sister Debbie shows up to pick up Grace’s things. As she is finishing, Bruce hands her the photo album that Grace had been working and Debbie is surprised to find that it is full, then tells Bruce that Grace prays a lot for him. Bruce checks his emails to see all the times Grace has prayed for him when he suddenly sees a new notification and sees Grace praying, asking God to help her stop loving him. Despondent, Bruce walks down the highway where he had wrecked his car and tells God that he doesn’t want the powers anymore and will let him decide what is best for him, just as he gets hit by a truck. Bruce is confronted by God and told to pray for something and Bruce prays for Grace to find someone that will make her happy. God tells him he will get right on that, then pushes Bruce, shocking Bruce just as the EMT’s are shocking his body to try and revive him. Bruce wakes up in a hospital and sees Grace at the doorway and she goes over to him and embraces him as the two make up. Some time later, Bruce is doing an news story about a blood drive, introducing Grace as his fiance during the report, and as the report finishes and Grace moves Bruce over to donate some blood himself, they pass by the homeless man that Bruce had helped and had kept appearing around town, who suddenly reveals that he was God all along.

Bruce Almighty met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Carrey is hilarious in the slapstick scenes, but Bruce Almighty gets bogged down in treacle.” During the scenes where God pages Bruce, the studio used an actual phone number instead of the usual fictional 555 number most movies use. The studio admitted that while the number used was not in use in the 716 area code, which is used in Buffalo, they did not check to see if it was used in any other area codes. Several people that used that number began receiving calls from people wanting to talk to God and when it was released on video and for television, the number was changed to 55-0123. Despite the mixed reviews, Bruce Almighty was a box office success, earning $484.6 million off of an $81 million budget and would spawn a spin-off sequel, Evan Almighty

This was not going to be the greatest comedy of all times but it was actually a better movie than I thought it would be. The acting was good, with Jim Carrey doing a good job as Bruce but Morgan Freeman was fantastic as God, and I honestly couldn’t think of a better person to play him, while the interaction between the two was great. Jennifer Aniston did a good job as Grace while Steve Carell made for a great foil for Carrey with his portrayal of Evan. The story was pretty good, essentially playing out the fantasy most people have had at one point or another; what would you do with the power to do anything. The best thing though is that they actual showed a fair amount of growth in Bruce throughout the movie, allowing him to break from his focusing on helping himself and his career with his powers and then using them to help others and being more selfless in his actions. The comedy aspects were a decent mix of slap-stick, which were pretty much all Jim Carrey, and some play on words and situational comedy but it was done to a very good effect. So yes, it is a good movie and one worth giving a chance.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, drama, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 8th, 2014 Movie – The Breakfast Club

the breakfast club

If ever there was a movie that was synonymous with the 80’s, it is definitely this movie. I mean, you have some of the biggest names from the Brat Pack all in one movie, with high school being the sole focus. The fact that it is a John Hughes movie makes it even that much more of an 80’s icon. I remember seeing this movie on TV years ago as a kid and not really getting much of what was being said. I would then see it again years later in the mid-late 90’s and it seriously resonated with me a lot more. I had recorded a later showing of The Breakfast Club on TV but due to the editing for television, I decided to go buy a VHS copy of the movie and would later upgrade it to DVD. Not hard to say that this is one of my favorite movies from the 80’s, but does it still hold up?

The plot: On Saturday March 24th, 1984, 5 students (Pampered rich girl Claire Standish, champion wrestler Andrew Clark, geeky Brian Johnson, juvenile delinquent John Bender, and shy outcast Allison Reynolds) make their way to Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois to serve out there detention in Saturday school. Once they all assemble in the library, Assistant Principal Richard Vernon enters and tells them that they will be there until 3 in the afternoon, they will not leave their seats, they are not to talk or sleep, specifically calling out Bender for that. He then hands them all paper and pencils and tells them that he wants them to write a 1,000 word essay describing who they are. Warning them that his office is right across the hall, Vernon leaves the room, leaving the door open so that he can keep an ear out for them acting up, but has soon as he does, Bender starts harassing Andrew and Claire while picking on Brian. When Vernon leaves his office to use the restroom, Bender gets up and disables the door so that it won’t stay open. Andrew, Brian, and Claire all argue with Bender to fix the door but he refuses, just as Vernon returns and sees the door closed. Vernon heads inside and questions them about the door but though he knows Bender did something to it, the others choose not to rat him out. Vernon attempts to prop the door open with a chair and when that doesn’t work, has Andrew help him push a magazine rack in front of it to hold it open but when Bender points out it is a fire hazard, Vernon tells Andrew to put the rack back. Vernon then approaches Bender and asks him where the screw from the door is and when Bender mocks him instead, Vernon gives him another week of Saturday school. Bender continues to taunt and push Vernon, despite Claire telling him to stop, until Vernon gives him 8 more weeks of Saturday school before finally walking back to his office. The 5 kids continue sitting in the library and boredom quickly sets in, causing them to fall asleep until Vernon wakes them to go use the restroom. Returning to the library, Bender starts ripping up a book, while Andrew asks Claire if she is going to go to a party that night. When Claire says it depends on which of her parents says no, Bender asks her which one she likes better. Claire says that she doesn’t think either one of them really cares about her, prompting Allison, who had been silent up to this point, to loudly exclaim “Hah!”, and as everyone stares in shock at Allison, Claire tells her to shut up. Bender continues messing with people, questioning Andrew about his relationship with his parents and teasing Brian about his. After everyone learns Brian’s name, Claire asks Bender what his name is but he asks her for hers and when she tells him, he starts teasing her that it is a “fat girl’s name”. Bender then starts taunting her on if she is a virgin and how far she has gone with a boy. When Andrew tells him to stop, the two get into it briefly, with Andrew putting Bender in a hammerlock and forcing him to the ground. When Andrew lets him up, Bender taunts him by saying he doesn’t want to get into a fight with him because he would kill him, pulling out a switchblade to emphasize his point, and Andrew tells him to leave Claire alone. Later, Vernon tells the kids it’s time for lunch and sends Andrew and Allison to get some sodas for them to drink. As they are walking down the hall, Andrew attempts to start a conversation with Allison and she asks him why he is there, to which Andrew tells her but Allison doesn’t believe him. Back in the library, Bender is continuing to taunt Claire, comparing her to Brian as far as being a virgin. Brian tells Bender he isn’t a virgin, saying he slept with a girl from Canada and then motions to Claire when Bender asks if he did it with anyone locally. When Bender loudly says Claire’s name, she asks what they are talking about and Bender tells her. Claire tells Andrew she is disappointed in him but when he says he didn’t want Bender to pick on him for being a virgin, she tells him she doesn’t think it is a bad thing to be a virgin. After Andrew and Allison return and everyone starts eating their lunch, Bender continues teasing Claire and Brian, eventually deciding to do an impression of how he feels life at Brian’s house is. Andrew laughs at first but seeing the look on Brian’s face, he asks Bender about his own home and Bender fulfills his request, depicting his life as being in an abusive household. Andrew doesn’t believe Bender, prompting Bender to show him a burn mark on his arm, saying that was what he got for spilling paint in the garage, then rages out before climbing up the stairs and sitting with his back to the others, while Claire admonishes Andrew for what he did. When Vernon leaves his office after spilling coffee on himself and his desk, Bender uses the opportunity to go to his locker, followed by the others, and retrieve his stash of pot. As they head back to the library, they see Vernon walking ahead of them and quickly turn around and try to find another way back before Vernon gets there. Andrew and Bender argue over which way to go, with Andrew saying they are done following Bender and convincing Brian and Claire to go with him. Allison and Bender follow as well but when they end up trapped, Bender decides to sacrifice himself, as he didn’t want the others to be punished for simply following him. He shoves his pot down Brian’s pants, then goes running down the halls yelling out, luring Vernon away from the others and after him. Vernon catches up to Bender in the gym and takes him back to the library to gather his things, telling the others that they will have to do without Bender for the rest of the day. Vernon takes Bender into a supply closet and then threatens to beat the crap out of him when Bender gets out of high school, then tries to goad Bender into hitting him so he can go ahead and beat him then and there but Bender doesn’t do anything. After Vernon locks the door and heads to the restroom, Bender climbs through the air ducts back to the library but ends up crashing through the ceiling, shocking the others. When an enraged Vernon enters the library to find out what the noise was, the others choose not to rat out Bender, who is hiding under Claire’s table teasing her. After Vernon leaves, Claire slaps Bender as he comes up from under the table, as he had stuck his head up her skirt while he was under there. Bender then heads over to Brian and asks for his pot, then heads towards the back of the library to smoke it. Andrew tries to talk them out of it but Claire and Brian head back there as well, then Andrew decides to go back as well. After Brian, Andrew, Claire, and Bender all smoke some pot, Claire and Bender are sitting around discussing relationships while Andrew and Brian are joking around. Allison joins Brian and Andrew, where she reveals that she had stolen Brian’s wallet, then dumps out the contents of her bag. When they question why she has so much stuff in her bag, she tells them her home life is unsatisfying and she might run away, then refuses to say any more about it, getting angry when they press her. When Andrew approaches her alone, she yells at him to leave her alone and when he starts to walk off, she chastises him for doing whatever anyone asked him. The two talk some more about their problems and Allison reveals that her parents simply ignore her. Meanwhile, Vernon had gone down to the basement and is going over some of the faculty files when he is confronted by Carl, the janitor. The two end up talking about how the kids treat him and how scared he is for the future and what the kids will be like as adults. Back in the library, the kids are sitting around discussing things, with Andrew telling them that he was there for taping a student’s butt cheeks together while Brian had brought a flare gun to school to kill himself, as he had received a failing grade in shop, but it had gone off in his locker, while Allison, who is shown to be a compulsive liar and a kleptomaniac, says she simply had nothing better to do. As they are talking, Brian asks what will happen to them all on Monday, wondering if they will go back to ignoring each other and staying in their own social circles or if they will acknowledge their burgeoning friendship, and whether they will end up like their parents when they get older. After having some fun for a while, Bender crawls back through the air ducts into the supply closet. In the library, Claire and the others convince Brian to write the essay for all of them, then Claire pulls Allison aside and fixes her hair and applies some make up to her. The changed Allison hesitantly approaches Andrew, who she has developed feelings for and he tells her he likes the change, as he can see her face instead of it being hidden behind all of her hair. Meanwhile, Claire sneaks into the supply closet to talk with Bender, giving him a hickey before she heads back. The kids all leave, with Allison kissing Andrew before they get in their respective parent’s cars, while Claire gives Bender one of her diamond earrings, then they kiss before she leaves. Bender puts the earring in his ear, then leaves the school grounds while inside, Vernon reads the essay that Brian wrote for all of them, which is signed “The Breakfast Club”.

The Breakfast Club was well received by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers.” The movie’s theme song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was originally written with the intention of Billy Idol to sing it but he passed on it, though he would eventually cover it as a bonus track on his Greatest Hits CD that was released in 2001. The song would later be pitched to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders but she also passed, though she suggested they offer it to Simple Minds, which was fronted by her husband at the time. The Breakfast Club was a box office smash hit, earning $51.5 million off of a $1 million budget, and would be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2016.

Don’t care what anyone thinks, I still love this movie. This is still a great movie and still holds up over the years. The acting was great, with Judd Nelson (Bender), Molly Ringwald (Claire), Emilio Estevez (Andrew), Ally Sheedy (Allison), and Anthony Michael Hall (Brian) all doing fantastic jobs in their roles. All 5 of them seemed to put a lot of realism into their characters, made even more effective as many of their lines were ad-libbed, especially during the scene where they were discussing what they did to end up in Saturday school. I also loved Paul Gleason, as his portrayal of Vernon is probably one of the most iconic roles he had and one of the characters that is most parodied in other movies and different media. The story was great, not going your usual teenage drama that Hughes is known for but taking a little darker, and deeper look into the pressures that high school students face; from school, their parents and home life, and their various social circles. This is part of the reason why this movie still holds up because these issues and pressures still exist in schools today. The drama had a lot of realism to it while the bits of comedy were interspersed well enough to keep it from becoming too dark or depressing. A great movie and one that I will watch any time it comes on TV.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

Flashback Review: May 25th, 2014 Movie – Blue Demon

blue demon

Tonight is going to be a long night, and an even longer day tomorrow. See, Dragoncon is tomorrow and I am already getting excited to have some fun. Of course, it is only fitting that on the eve of Dragoncon, I find myself watching a sci-fi B-movie. Now I bought this movie years ago because I was going through a shark movie buying phase. Honestly, you can never have enough shark movies so what is one more movie to add to the pile. Now I had never heard of Blue Demon before I picked it up, I just bought it on a whim. The question remains, was it worth the cost?

The plot: Late one night, 4 college girls break into a government complex on the beach in order to force the girl pledging the sorority to take a challenge. The pledge gets into the water and starts swimming out to the buoy but she says that something is in the water and quickly climbs up onto the buoy platform. As the sorority girls debate on leaving her, the military police show up and two of the girls try to escape in a nearby boat but as they push it out into the water and start to get in, one of the girls is suddenly dragged underwater. She surfaces close to the buoy and the pledge tries to help her up but as the girl is repeatedly dragged underwater, the pledge ends up pulling up her severed arm, causing her to start screaming. The next day, Dr. Marla and Dr. Nathan Collins, head researchers for the Blue Demon project, are called into Lawrence Van Allen’s, their boss, office, where he tells them that their project is being terminated due to the girl’s death. As Marla and Nathan argue about how that wasn’t possible, it is revealed that the sharks had chewed a hole in the wire net around their enclosure and that the electric fence had been turned off due to budget shortfalls. He then says that if they had brought him something he could bring to the Oversight Committee, they wouldn’t be in this predicament. Marla contacts Avery, their computer technician, and has him drive out to the pier with a chunk of meat to show Van Allen what they have accomplished with the project. As Lawrence watches, the 6 sharks, Red Dog, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo, move towards the meat but at a command from Marla, Avery activates the system that causes them to avoid it. Van Allen is impressed and asks if it can be made to have them target something instead of avoid it and Nathan says it’s possible but Marla argues against it. When Red Dog ignores the command and grabs the meat, Marla admits that for some reason, it is 50/50 with Red Dog and they haven’t figured out why. Van Allen tells them their is a budget review in 90 days and they need something concrete or else they will be unemployed. As they leave, Nathan receives a package from a courier, containing the divorce papers from Marla’s attorney and he signs them and hands them back to Marla. Nathan tells her that he wants the wedding ring back, as it was a family heirloom, and Marla tries taking it off but when she can’t, she leaves the room. Marla heads to the pier, where she comments to the sharks swimming nearby, and uses some soap to get the ring off but it ends up slipping off her hand and rolling onto the dock. When Marla goes to pick it up, she slips on the soap and ends up falling on the deck, knocking herself out in the process, then falls into the water. Nathan and Avery are talking when they notice Marla’s body in the water and they rush out to the dock, where Avery begins shooting at the shark that is approaching her. Avery misses and Nathan quickly heads to the computer and successfully turns the shark around, then they quickly grab Marla and drag her back onto the dock. 6 weeks later, three workers, Edd, Jimmy, and Katie, head out to repair the hole in the shark fence as part of their general maintenance. Meanwhile, Van Allen hosts a meeting where General Remora is introduced and informs everyone that he has taken command of the project. Remora explains that a terrorist organization has gotten a hold of a Soviet suitcase nuke and that they apparently plan on smuggling it into the country by sea. Van Allen then explains the purpose of Blue Demon and moves to show the assembled crowd their genetically altered sharks but when he opens the curtain, the sharks are nowhere to be seen. Marla, Nathan, Avery, and Van Allen head out to the dock and discover that the gate is open and they are unable to get the sharks to respond to their commands. Nathan pulls up the sonar and sees two blips on the far end of the lagoon and Avery says mentions the maintenance workers so Nathan tries contacting them but gets no response. Nathan and Avery and finally get a hold of Katie, who tries to warn Ed and Jimmy but they ignore her and dive into the water, where they end up being killed by the sharks. Nathan and Avery return to the lab and check the systems to find nothing wrong but they can’t explain why they aren’t able to regain control of the sharks. As the sharks head towards populated areas, Nathan wants to call the Coast Guard to warn people on the lake but Remora, who had entered the lab, stops him from making the call, as he doesn’t want people to learn that the military was involved in the sharks. Nathan disregards Remora and leaves the lab, starting to call the Coast Guard but Remora has his men arrest Nathan and charges him with a terrorist attack. When Van Allen asks what proof he has, Remora tells him that he pulled the logs and Nathan’s codes were the last ones used to open the gate. Out on the lake, a father and daughter are fishing on the lake when the daughter catches a large bass. As the father goes to take a picture, one of the shark leaps out of the water and almost lands on the dock. The daughter drops the fish and tells her dad about the shark, as he didn’t see it, but as he tells her to pick her fish back up so he can take the picture, he ends up falling off the dock and into the lake. The daughter and another fisherman rush to help him out as the sharks swim towards him and the daughter is able to save him by throwing her fish back into the lake away from her father, causing the sharks to chase after it. Back at the lab, Marla leaves the lab, telling Avery that she is going to the ladies room, and sneaks out to the holding area, where she shoots the guard watching Nathan with a tranquilizer dart. As Nathan asks what she is doing, Marla tells him that the program to control the sharks was actually a shadow program built on top of their system, allowing someone to hijack the program while they were unaware of losing control. When she says that the program was initiated from someone on the inside, Nathan suspects Avery but she tells him Avery wouldn’t risk his job and she believes Van Allen is behind it. Meanwhile, Van Allen discovers that Marla is missing and when he can’t reach the holding cell, he goes there and finds the unconscious guard. Van Allen calls security and orders them to stop both Dr. Collins but they manage to make it off the site. Back on the lake, a teenage couple go swimming in the lake when they spot a shark swimming towards them. As the rush back to the shore, the fisherman that helped save the girl’s father pulls up in a boat and starts shooting at the shark with a spear gun, eventually killing it. Nathan has Marla stop so he can use a pay phone to call the Coast Guard to warn them about the sharks but they don’t believe him and hang up. As he heads back to the car, Marla tells him that she might be able to use her cellphone and laptop, plus a prototype system disk, to track and control the sharks just as they hear about the manhunt that has been put out about them. Back at the lab, Avery is working on rebooting the system when he detects a second signal and Van Allen says it is them and orders him to try and track them. On the road, Marla and Nathan are talking when Marla gets a signal and sees the sharks heading towards the beach. When they get there and see the beach is packed, Nathan tells Marla to keep trying to get the program working while he goes to try and warn people off the beach. As Marla is working, a beach patrol officer approaches the car and asks her to step outside. Meanwhile, Nathan isn’t having much luck but when a surfer is attacked by a shark, the people start to panic. Nathan heads into the water to help get people out of there but as he gets knocked over by a wave, Marla has full signal strength on her computer and uses it to fry the chips in the sharks’ brains, killing them all. Nathan wakes up in the hospital to find Marla standing next to him and when Van Allen shows up asking about the sharks, Nathan tells him that there were only 4 sharks on the beach. Van Allen calls to check the number of shark carcasses recovered and confirms that there were 4 on the beach and 1 by the fisherman. Realizing that they were duped, the three head back to the lab to confront Avery and discover that he has a fake program running to make it look like all 6 sharks were together. When they ask him where the last shark is, Remora shows up, holding a gun on them. When they ask why they are doing this, Avery says the money while Remora says it is to keep the country from getting soft on terrorism and to stop wasting money on social programs like schools and the poor. Remora then explains that he has Red Dog programmed to deliver a bomb so as to keep the war on terror at the fore front of the government’s mind. Marla manages to throw a life preserver around Remora, knocking the gun from his hands, and Avery chooses to run, with Marla and Nathan following after him. Avery tries to escape in a truck but when Nathan chases him out of it, they discover that Avery has built a lab in the back of the truck. The two begin to access his computers and find Red Dog but notice he has something in his mouth. When they detect plutonium, they realize that Remora was the one to buy the Russian nuke, to use on the US and blame terrorists for it. Avery leaves the truck to let the authorities know but Avery hits him in the head with a shovel, then locks the back of the truck and drives off, with Marla still inside. As Nathan chases after them, Marla continues working on the computer and manages to access Red Dogs command files. Nathan manages to force Avery off the road, and after checking to make sure Avery is unconscious, Nathan heads to the back to check on Marla. Marla says she is fine, then rushes back to the computer to cancel Red Dog’s program. Red Dog, which had been heading to the Golden Gate Bridge, turns away and heads back to the facility. Van Allen is keeping watch over Remora in the viewing room when they see Red Dog approaching and Van Allen quickly leaps out of the room and seals the door, leaving Remora to be killed in the blast. Some time later, as the nuclear blast is being labeled as an accident by the press, Marla and Nathan are heading to testify in front of a Senate Commission. Before the enter the building, Nathan asks Marla what she had been trying to tell him earlier and she admits that she didn’t file the divorce papers. Smiling, Nathan holds out the wedding ring and Marla holds out her hand, letting Nathan put it back on her and the two kiss before Van Allen interrupts them and tells them they have to go, and the couple join Van Allen and head inside to give their testimony about what happened.

This was kind of a ridiculous movie that had it’s entertaining moments, but that wasn’t enough to make it a really good movie. The acting was ok among the main 5 characters but all of the minor characters were just terrible. Of the main characters, my favorites were honestly Josh Hammond (Avery) and Jeff Fahey (Remora), who went somewhat overboard with their characters which made them better. The story was interesting, though there was nothing about it that felt original except for the original intent of the Blue Demon project. That was actually somewhat original. The special effects in this movie were actually kind of laughable. The CGI with the sharks was pretty cheap looking while there were a couple of times where the fins/tails that were used for the surface water shots looked like they had fallen flat, making me laugh. Meanwhile, the comedy that the put in this movie did help make it a little less generic but there were times where it killed any sort of serious mood they were going for. It’s a time suck movie when you want to veg with some mindless entertainment, but it’s not worth searching for.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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comedy, movie, movie review, western

Flashback Review: May 15th, 2014 Movie – Blazing Saddles

blazing saddles

Ahh, one of my favorite westerns of all time. I remember the first time I saw this movie years ago as a kid and I will admit that I did not get many of the jokes. However, the farting scene for some reason stuck in my head and made me laugh. Now I would have the chance to watch this many times since then and as I got older, I was able to understand more of the jokes which made this movie even funnier. Now I had this movie on DVD but it was one of the movies my ex-wife had bought so when she left and took her DVD’s with her, I made sure to pick up my own copy of Blazing Saddles as soon as I could.

The plot: In the Old West of 1874, a group of workers are busy laying down a new rail line but the workers aren’t too fond of the overly racist crew giving them orders. When the foreman, Taggart, sends two black workers, Bart and Charlie, ahead as there were reports of quicksand in the area. Bart and Charlie drive a hand cart down the line and end up stuck in quicksand and when they call out for help, Taggart and his assistant use a rope to save the hand cart, leaving Bart and Charlie to fend for themselves. As they manage to crawl to safety, Taggart figures out where they will need to re-route the railroad line and orders his assistant to send a telegram with the information but Bart grabs a shovel and hits him in the head. At the office of Attorney General Hedley Lamarr, Taggart is telling him of the new route through the town of Rock Ridge and Hedley decides to take advantage of the situation to try and grab the land for himself so he will be rich. When he tries to figure out a way to get rid of the townsfolk, Taggart says he and his men can ride through town, beating and raping everyone in town, and Hedley agrees to let him do it. When he notices Taggart is injured, Taggart tells him about Bart and Hedley speaks to the executioner and squeezes Bart in to be hanged on Monday. Taggart and his men do just as they say and the townsfolk hold a meeting to figure out what they should do. Roused by the gibberish of Gabby Johnson, they decide to stay in town and wire the governor to send them a new sheriff. At the Governor’s office, Governor Lepetomane is going over the days business and when his assistant hands him a telegram from Round Rock asking for a sheriff, he assigns Hedley to send them a sheriff. Not wanting to hinder his plan by sending someone competent, Hedley notices Bart in line to be executed and comes up with an idea. Sparing Bart, Hedley takes him to see the governor, who is shocked at Hedley’s suggestion but Hedley says that by being the first man to hire a black sheriff, Lepetomane would become famous and could manage to swing a cabinet position. Geared up for his new job, Bart heads out to Rock Ridge and the townsfolk start to give him a warm welcome until they realize what color his skin is. When Bart starts to read the notice from Lepetomane about his appointment, the townsfolk all pull guns out and point them at him and he is forced to pull out his own gun and hold himself hostage in order to fool the people into letting him get into the sheriff’s office alive. As the day passes and Bart gets settled in, the drunk in one of the cells starts moving and Bart introduces himself. As he helps the drunk out, the man introduces himself as Jim a gunslinger once known as “the Waco Kid”, and the two share a brief history of each other. Meanwhile, Taggart and his men learn about the new sheriff, but not his identity, and decide to send Mongo, a large, dim-witted brute, to kill him. The next day, Bart heads out to make the rounds, trying to win the town over, but is disheartened by their constant insults. When Mongo rides into town and starts beating up the people in the saloon, Bart heads out there to deal with him, using a box of exploding candy to knock Mondo unconscious. Later, Taggart is with Hedley saying he doesn’t know how Mongo failed to kill the sheriff and Hedley decides to use a different tactic to beat Bart. Back in Rock Ridge, the townfolks start to warm up to Bart, though they try to keep it secret from everyone else, and Jim decides to take him to see Lily Von Shtupp perform. Unknown to him, Hedley has approached Lili, whom he has used before to seduce people, and has told her to seduce and leave Bart in order to reduce him to an emotional wreck. After her performance, Bart is given a note to see Lili back stage and he ends up staying the night with her but the next day, it is revealed that Lili is the one that has become enamored with him and tries to get him to stay with her. When Bart returns to the sheriff’s office, Jim tells him that a telegram came ordering Mongo to be released per Hedley’s orders. Bart wakes up Mongo, he easily breaks the chains holding him, and tells him he is free to go but Mongo doesn’t want to leave, as he likes Bart since he is the first person to beat him in a fair fight. Bart and Jim asks Mongo if he knows why Hedley is interested in Rock Ridge and Mongo says it has to do with the “choo-choo”. Bart and Jim head to where the railroad tracks are being laid out and Charlie and the others are happy to see Bart is still alive but are shocked when he tells them that he is the sheriff of Rock Ridge, as Charlie tells him that the railroad is going through the town. When Taggart and some of his men show up and try to kill Bart, Jim quickly shoots their guns out of their hands and they are forced to run away. Hedley and Taggart tie up Lili to question her about what went wrong and when she says that Hedley will need an army to beat Bart and Hedley decides to do just that. In Rock Ridge, the townsfolk learn about the army recruitment and want to leave town but Bart convinces them to give him 24 hours to find a way out of this. Sneaking in to where Hedley is interviewing people, Bart and Jim disguise themselves as a pair of KKK members but when Bart’s skin tone is revealed, they are forced to run. Sneaking into the railroad camp, Bart and Jim tell Charlie to get all of the workers and gather supplies, then meet him outside of town. At the meeting place, Bart explains to the townsfolk that they are going to build an exact replica of the town in order to fool Taggart and his army, with the railroad workers helping in exchange for some land to call their own. The townsfolk don’t want to at first but realizing they have no choice if they want to survive, they agree. In the morning, the decoy is finished but they realize that they forgot to include people so Bart, Jim, and Mongo go to stall Taggart’s army while they quickly build some people. With the decoys finished, everyone watches as Taggert’s men head into the fake town. Bart goes to blow up the town but the detonator fails so he has Jim shoot the dynamite to set them off. With Taggart’s men disoriented by the explosions, Bart leads the townsfolk to fight with the ruffians as the camera pans up to show them in a Hollywood sound stage. On another stage, a musical number is being filmed when the fight breaks through the wall of their set. As the director yells at the men, Taggart punches him and the men in the musical join in the fight. The fight spills into the studio cafeteria, where people start throwing pies at each other. Hedley happens to be at the cafeteria and when he sees what is going on, he quickly ducks out of the building, though not without getting hit by a pie himself. Hailing a cab, Hedley heads to a theater and goes to watch a movie, only to see Bart riding up to the theater on the screen. Hedley tries to leave but Bart confronts him and after Hedley tricks him into dropping his gun, Bart manages to avoid getting shot and kills Hedley. Jim comes up and congratulates Bart on killing Hedley, and the two decide to get tickets to see how the movie ends. In the movie, Bart is leaving the town, much to the townsfolk’s dismay as they have grown to love Bart, but Bart says that With Hedley dead, the town has become boring and doesn’t really need a sheriff anymore. As Bart leaves town, Jim decides to go with him and the two ride off for a ways until the meet up with a limousine and hop inside and are driven away into the sunset.

Blazing Saddles met with mixed reviews initially but has since come to receive high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Daring, provocative, and laugh-out-loud funny, Blazing Saddles is a gleefully vulgar spoof of Westerns that marks a high point in Mel Brooks’ storied career.” CBS and Warner Brothers would produce a TV series titled Black Bart as a means to keep the broadcast rights for Blazing Saddles and any future sequels but the episodes were never aired (aside from the pilot that starred Louis Gossett Jr.) and when management changed within Warner Brothers, the plans for a sequel were dropped and the unaired show was canceled, though 4, 6-episode seasons had been filmed. The movie was a smash hit at the box office, earning $119.6 million off of a $2.6 million budget and would receive three Academy Award nominations. Widely considered to be one of the greatest comedies of all time, the movie would end up selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2006.

Let’s not mince words here, there is some racist humor in this movie but it is still an incredibly funny movie to watch. The acting was great, with Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder doing great jobs as Sheriff Bart and Jim respectively. I also thought that Harvey Korman was fantastic as Hedley Lamarr while Slim Pickens was great as Taggart. The story had a deeper meaning beyond the comedy, using satire to highlight the issue of racism that existed in the past and how it was “overlooked” when Hollywood made movies about the Old West. Yes, Mel Brooks was pretty blunt with the racism but that was to prove his point and actually did help with some of the comedy. The comedy was Mel Brooks usual blend of quick wit, play on words, and slapstick that worked to almost pure perfection in this movie. It may seem dated and is definitely crude but this is still a great comedy and one worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: May 13th, 2014 Movie – The Blair Thumb

the blair thumb

Well, I have a busy, and somewhat mixed up schedule for work this weekend, as I will be working all weekend but don’t go in today until 4:30. So that gives me time to try and get as much done over the weekend for the upcoming movies I have to watch. Now, let’s get right into today’s movie, as it is a pretty short movie. The last of the Thumb movies that I own, I remember buying this as a spur of the moment thing during a late night shopping excursion. Not sure why to be honest, but I just felt like it would be funny to own The Blair Thumb.

The plot: Three students, Stressy, Jish, and Vic, are heading out to the woods to work on Stressy’s film project about the Blair Thumb. Heading to the town of Thumbsville, formerly known as Die, they start by interviewing some of the towns folk about the Blair Thumb; with a woman carrying a possessed baby saying it’s an evil spirit in the woods, while an old man says that kids kept disappearing in the woods similar to a David Copperfield act. After interviewing a pirate and a one eyed man who were not helpful, the group get some supplies, with Jish and Vic becoming excited over getting a giant marshmallow, before heading to the local cemetery to film their first scene. After celebrating a successful shooting, they make their way into the woods, where a pair of fishermen tell them the story of thhe Blair Thumb capturing a pair of twins and switching their bodies around. Continuing into the woods, Jish and Vic get upset and start screaming when Stressy shows her map is hand drawn but Stressy calms them down when she shows them that the car is right where they left it, as they only started walking a few minutes ago. The group eventually reaches Hangnail Rock, where Stressy films her telling the next part of the legend. When it starts to rain, the group quickly set up camp and head inside the tent but are frightened by some strange noises just before a shark shows up in the tent and attacks them. The next day, Stressy tries to pass off what happened but Jish and Vic are still scared and when Stressy says that she lost the map, they both end up running screaming and crashing into a tree. As they wander around in circles, they eventually come to where they had parked only to find that Stressy’s car is missing. As Stressy goes to film what happened, she sees a giant symbol made of sticks hanging from the trees, just as it suddenly goes dark. That night, Jish is playing a joke on Stressy and Vic while trying to explain what had happened when something suddenly grabs him. Stressy and Vic chase after him but when they find no sign of him, Vic says they should turn off the lights and stay still so they aren’t grabbed as well, then uses the opportunity to feel up Stressy. The next day, Vic and Stressy find Jish’s body, or at least the lower half of him. As Stressy apologizes for what happened to the camera, they suddenly hear Jish’s voice crying out in the woods and they follow the sound to The Death House. Inside, they make their way to the basement and are shocked to discover Frankenthumb living there. Frankenthumb apologizes for killing Jish, saying he has a bad brain, and when Vic asks if he could let them go, he tells them no but says they can party first and they all party, with the top half of Jish floating over to join them.

This was a short and funny spoof and actually was not that bad of a parody. The voice acting was good, with Megan Cavanagh (Stressy), Jim Jackson (Jish), and Steve Oederkerk (Vic) doing good jobs in their roles. The story did a decent job of parodying The Blair Witch while adding their own bit of fun to it. I especially liked the fact that they had the running gag of the one eyed thumb who tended to just go “woo-hoo” in this movie as one of the people the interview. The green screen effects with the mouths were good but there were times where it seemed like the faces would accidentally be cut off on the edges somewhat due to the size difference between the thumbs and the faces being transposed. A funny bit of silliness and a good way to start off a busy weekend of work.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

Flashback Review: May 4th, 2014 Movie – Black Sheep (2006)

black sheep 2006

Ahh, the memories that this movie inspire. See, my friend Jason had woken up early one morning and, unable to go back to sleep, headed downstairs in his house to watch a movie. He saw that Black Sheep (1996) was on and decided to watch that but instead of the Chris Farley/David Spade movie that was listed in the guide, he discovered that it was this movie. Since it was already half over, he decided to watch it, then proceeded to tell me, as he knew my love of B-movies, all about the parts that he saw. Well, a few weeks later, I happened to find this movie, Black Sheep (2006) at MovieStop and decided to pick it up, then proceeded to tell him via Facebook what all happened at the beginning of the movie. This exchange between the two of us led to the formation of a campy movie night group among my friends so I can show them all sorts of various B-movies and it all started because of this particular movie.

The plot: In New Zealand, young Henry Oldfield is tending to his family’s sheep with his father and his best friend, Tucker. Meanwhile, Henry’s older brother Angus, whose leg is injured, is jealous of Henry, takes Henry’s pet lamb and kills it. Henry returns to the house and after calling out to the caretaker, Mrs. Mac, he goes looking for his sheep. When he hears something coming from the barn, he heads inside to look for it only to have Angus jump out, wearing his sheep’s skinned carcass, and scares Henry but Angus stop when Mrs. Mac yells out that their father was in an accident. 15 years later, Henry, now deathly afraid of sheep, is returning to the family farm, on the advice of his therapist, to sell of his share to his brother Angus, as well as deal with issues he has with Angus, his father’s death, and his fears. Meanwhile, two activists, Experience and Grant, sneak onto Angus’ farm just as Angus flies in on his plane, as he is prepping for a demonstration he is hosting. Experience and Grant see a woman, Dr. Rush, and some men loading a cage onto a truck and Grant decides to head down and steal some bio-waste marked for disposal, as evidence of Dr. Rush and Angus’ illegal experiments. As Dr. Rush’s men chase after Grant, he gets separated from Experience as she hides from the men herself. As he is running, Grant ends up tripping and breaking the container, and the fetal sheep that was inside crawls on him and bites him in the ear. Grant manages to get the fetus off of him and as he reacts in pain from the bite, the fetal sheep crawls off and ends up biting a regular sheep. Meanwhile, Angus writes Henry a check for his share of the farm and Henry reluctantly takes it but argues with Angus about how he is running things. As Henry speaks with Mrs. Mac, Tucker enters the house and decides to take Henry out for a ride around the farm before he leaves. As they are driving, they come across a sheep that doesn’t want to move from the road and they get out, with Tucker going to examine the sheep and noticing the bite on it’s nose. Suddenly, Experience appears, grabbing the rifle from Tucker’s truck, and forces them to help her look for Grant but when Tucker tells her the safety is on, he is able to get the gun away from her. As they head back to the truck, Experience apologizes but says she is there to get proof of Angus’ illegal experiments when Tucker notices smoke coming from a nearby farm house. The three head over there and as they start searching the house, a sheep enters the hallway and chases them into the bedroom. Inside, they find the mutilated body of the farmer and as the sheep starts to break through the door, Tucker shoots it but it doesn’t die right away, so he shoots it again in the head. Experience notices more sheep outside and as Tucker makes his way out to start the truck, Experience tries to help Henry overcome his fears enough to get in the truck. As the eventually get in the back, a sheep manages to get in the front with Tucker as he drives off and he works on preventing it from biting him but it ends up biting him through his boot. Tucker manages to climb out the window and into the back, then tells the others to jump to avoid going over the cliff they are approaching. Back at the farm, Dr. Rush’s men return, having found no sign of Grant, and Dr. Rush decides they should get rid of the rest of the waste and relocate the lab but when one of her men goes to dispose of the waste, he is killed by some infected sheep. Meanwhile, Angus notices Henry’s taxi is still there and goes looking for him when he runs into Grant, who is beginning to show some side effects from the bite. As Grant and Angus argue over what Angus is doing, Grant bites him in the hand before running off. In the fields, Tucker’s foot begins bothering him and when he takes off his boot, he discovers his foot has started to turn into a sheep’s hoof. When they see a stampede of sheep approaching them, they quickly head towards the farm and end up entering Dr. Rush’s lab. Inside, they see some more of Rush’s experiments just as Dr. Rush and Angus confront them. Henry is horrified at seeing what Angus is doing and when Dr. Rush uses a sedative on Tucker, Henry and Experience make a run for it. Outside, they see more sheep approaching them and head towards the nearby offal pit and quickly close the gate. Angus approaches them with Tucker’s rifle, with the sheep making no effort to attack him, and as Henry tries to convince Angus to stop what he is doing, he ends up falling into the pit with Experience. Inside, Experience lights a candle to help them see and they try to find a way out, with one of the sheep jumping down and chasing after them but Henry uses the candle to set it on fire. Meanwhile, Angus starts feeling a strange attraction to his genetically created sheep and tells Dr. Rush to stay behind in the lab while he presents the sheep, as he doesn’t want her reputation to take away from the presentation. Henry and Experience manage to find a passage out of the pit and head to a nearby corral to wash off. Hearing the sound of shearing coming from the corral, they head inside and find Grant, who has turned into a giant weresheep. Grant attacks Henry, as he is jealous of his apparent closeness to Experience, and when Experience tries distracting him, Henry grabs her and they manage to make their way through the stalls and escape. Back at the lab, Dr. Rush and her assistant are watching Tucker as he changes before Dr. Rush injects him with the amniotic fluid from another fetus, reversing the change. Dr. Rush then fills another syringe and goes to inject Angus, as she knows he is infected, but both her and her assistant are eaten by sheep. Angus begins his presentation and reveals the genetically created sheep he had made but the sheep starts calling out and all of the infected sheep descend on the demonstration and begin attacking the guests. Angus tries to get away but notices the sheep ignore him and when his genetic sheep follows after him, he takes it into his office to hide. Meanwhile, Henry and Experience see the carnage and before they can be attacked, Mrs. Mac rescues them. They head back to the house only to find Grant inside, who attacks Henry again but Experience uses an acupuncture pin to render him unconscious. Henry goes to Angus’ office to use the phone and finds Angus, minus his pants, inside with the sheep. Henry moves to shoot the sheep but Angus gets in his way and says it’s family, revealing he used his DNA to help create the sheep. The two argue before Henry, hearing Experience and Mrs. Mac saying that the sheep are getting inside, leaves the office. The three head to the balcony, where they see the people that had been attacked turning into weresheep. Experience sees Angus and his sheep leaving and Henry realizes that he is heading for his plane. Mrs. Mac notices that Henry has been bitten and he freaks out at first but then realizes that he has to stop Angus no matter what. He hands Experience Mrs. Mac’s shotgun, telling her to shoot him if he changes, then kisses her goodbye. Using the sheepskin cover from Mrs. Mac’s car seat, Henry attempts to sneak by the sheep and weresheep but when one of the sheep tries to have sex with him, removing his disguise when he gets rid of it, he realizes the sheep are ignoring him as he is infected. At the barn, Angus is preparing to fly off with his sheep when he begins changing into a weresheep. When Henry enters the barn, he is attacked by Angus and the two begin fighting but Henry is able to use the returning sheep dog to keep Angus at bay, where he ends up being struck by his plane’s propeller. Henry thinks Angus is dead but as he turns away, Angus gets back up and moves to attack him. Suddenly, Tucker rides up on an ATV and, using some tools from the lab to fashion a injection system, cures both Angus and Henry. Tucker and Henry, along with Experience, gather all of the infected sheep into the barn and try to figure out what to do with them when Angus staggers towards the flock, wishing to be infected again but the sheep attack and kill him instead. Noting the flatulence being emitted from the sheep, Henry uses Experience’s lighter to ignite their farts, causing the barn and sheep to explode. The next day, Tucker and Henry manage to cure Grant and all of the other people that had turned into weresheep, who are all huddling in the corral still in shock over what happened, while Experience tries to convince them to give organic farming a try. Meanwhile, the sheep dog is on a hill staring at them when it suddenly begins bleeting like a sheep.

Black Sheep (2006) met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With an outrageous premise played completely straight, Black Sheep is a violent, grotesque, and very funny movie that takes B-movie lunacy to a delirious extreme.” The scene with the sheep driving the Land Rover took several days to film. The scene with the Land Rover going over the cliff was done in one take. The movie had a limited release in the U.S. but ended up making $4.9 million worldwide at the box office.

This movie is surprisingly funny, while possessing a couple of good gore scenes to make it a compelling horror/comedy. The acting was pretty good, with Nathan Meister (Henry), Danielle Mason (Experience), and Tammy Davis (Tucker) doing good jobs in their roles. The plot was pretty good, with a splattering of the usual sheep jokes you would expect to see in here. The bit where Henry enters Angus’ office to find him and the sheep together about had me do a spit take the first time I saw it because I couldn’t believe they would have been that blatant with it, while the end scene with Angus getting killed added bit of irony to the situation. The horror aspects were pretty good, with the idea of killer sheep kind of being a throwback to movies like Night Of The Lepus in a way. However, the addition of the weresheep added a bit of uniqueness to the situation that was a nice change of pace but I wish they had done a little more with them. A fun horror/comedy that is definitely worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 24th, 2014 Movie – Big Trouble In Little China

big trouble in little china

Ok. I have been a fan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for a long time, both as a wrestler and as an actor. That being said, I will never forgive him if his plans of remaking this movie ever come to fruition. I wish Hollywood would stop with the whole remaking everything possible instead of trying to come up with more original ideas. When it comes to this movie, this is one of those movies that I have always loved watching because it is so ridiculous. Ever since I first saw the trailer, where Kurt Russell’s character knocked himself out, I decided that this was a movie I had to see. I managed to watch it on HBO years ago and every time it came on TV, I would watch it. So of course I had to pick up a copy on DVD so I could watch Big Trouble In Little China whenever I wanted.

The plot: Egg Shen is talking with his lawyer, who asks him if he knows the whereabouts of Jack Burton, but Egg tells him to leave Jack alone, as they were in his debt. The lawyer persists in finding out what happened, as Egg is being blamed for the destruction of a city block in a ball of green flame, and Egg says it was magic, revealing himself to be a sorcerer himself, and starts telling the lawyer what all happened. Some time earlier, Jack Burton is driving his truck, The Pork Chop Express, outside of San Francisco to make a delivery and as it is being unloaded, he gambles outside of the warehouses with his friend Wang Chi and several other people. Jack ends up winning $1148 over the course of the night and as morning breaks, everyone else leaves to start work but Wang convinces Jack to stay for one more bet, offering double or nothing. Wang proposes to cut a bottle in half with a large knife and Jack takes the bet but when Wang goes to cut the bottle, the bottle ends up flying towards Jack, who quickly catches it, citing his reflexes. Jack asks Wang to pay up but Wang says he doesn’t have the money on him and asks Jack to stop by his restaurant later, as he has to go to the airport first, but Jack says he will give Wang a lift, as he wants to ensure he gets paid. At the airport, Wang is there to pick up his childhood sweetheart Miao Yin, who he intends to marry, but as they are waiting for her, Jack notices a woman, Gracie Law, and heads over to talk with her. As they are talking, members of a Chinese street gang called the Lords of Death push by them and Gracie gets nervous about why they are there. Gracie moves away from Jack and spots her friend, another Chinese girl, and calls out to her but the Lords of Death move to grab her. When Jack tries to intervene, one of them pulls out a knife and baton and moves to attack him, allowing a second member to sweep Jack’s legs out from under him. Miao Yin shows up but ends up being grabbed by the Lords of Death, who escape from the airport. A pissed off Jack decides to go after them and Wang tells him that they have a club in Chinatown. After following Wang’s directions through some alleys, they find their path blocked by a funeral procession of the Chang Sing. Jack starts to back up when he notices some other figures approaching and Wang says they are the Wing Kong, the rivals of the Chang Sing. A massive fight breaks out between the two gangs when suddenly, a burst of green fire erupts from the ground and the Three Storms (Thunder, Lightning, and Rain) appear and kill three members of the Chang Sing, before moving forward to continue fighting. Wang tells Jack to get out of there and as Jack drives forward, the Three Storms move out of the way but Jack ends up running over David Lo Pan. Stopping his truck to inspect the body, Jack discovers that Lo Pan is still alive and hsi eyes and mouth suddenly start glowing, temporarily blinding Jack. Wang helps him get away and splashes water on Jack’s eyes to restore his vision when they find themselves approached by the Lords of Death and are forced to run, only to discover that Jack’s truck has been stolen while the Three storms are slaughtering the Chang Sing. Making their way back to Wang’s restaurant, Jack is on the phone with his insurance company about his truck when Wang’s friend Eddie Lee shows up and tells him that the Lords of Death stole his truck. Gracie shows up, saying she feels bad as the reason Miao Yin was taken was because of her and tells them that She was taken to the White Tiger, an illegal brothel the the Lords of Death run. Jack, Wang, Gracie, and Eddie head over to the White Tiger and Jack heads inside on his own, leaving the others waiting outside. As they are waiting, Gracie sees another car pull up and heads over to it, as it is her reporter friend Margo, and she tells her what is going on. Inside, Jack tries to find out if Miao Yin is there when suddenly, the building starts shaking while outside, Wang and Eddie see a giant green cloud over the building. Suddenly, the Three Storms appear, blowing a hole through the roof and they grab Miao Yin, who was being held in a secret room, and fly off with her. Realizing that Miao Yin must have been taken to Lo Pan’s place, Jack and Wang head in there disguised as telephone repair men and attempt to locate her only to be captured by the Rain. Rain tortures them briefly before tying them up and taking them to see Lo Pan, who appears as a decrepit old man. Lo Pan asks Wang about Miao Yin, and Wang realizes that Lo Pan intends to marry Miao Yin in order to appease the God of the East, then sacrifice her in order to remove the curse that he was inflicted with. Suddenly, Lo Pan sees Gracie, Eddie, and Margo on the monitors and he has Jack and Wang taken away, while Thunder ends up capturing the others. Jack and Wang are taken to a cell but Jack manages to free himself and Wang, then quickly pretend to be tied up again when Thunder enters with Eddie. Jack jumps onto Thunder, holding his knife to his throat, while Wang helps Eddie down and they go to leave when Thunder suddenly starts expanding, sending Jack flying off of him and into one of the wheelchairs he and Wang were tied to. Jack goes rolling backwards down the hall, knocking out some Wing Kong fighters that were coming to deal with them, and Wang and Eddie quickly lock Thunder in the room and head out after Jack before Thunder gets free. The three go looking for Gracie and Margo and find them locked in cages along with several other girls and as Wang and Eddie deal with the guards, Jack frees all of the women. When Thunder arrives with more Wing Kong warriors, they all make a run for it, diving into a pool of water and making their way through the sewers. After climbing back up to the warehouse that Jack and Wang first entered, they go to leave only to find their way blocked by more Wing Kong warriors but Jack and Wang manage to deal with them. Jack and Wang create a distraction so they cna lead everyone past the front guards but Gracie ends up being captured by a strange, orange furred monster. Outside, Jack and the others find Egg and Wang’s uncle Chu waiting for them in Egg’s tour bus and the manage to get away but realize that Gracie is missing. Gracie is taken to the room where Miao Yen is being held and Lo Pan approaches her and uses his powers to mesmerize her, just as Miao Yin is, as Gracie has green colored eyes like Miao Yin. Back at Wang’s restaurant, Egg shows up with the surviving members of the Chang Sing and they head out with Jack and Wang to stop Lo Pan, making their way through the underground sections of the city and deep under the earth towards Lo Pan’s temple. Meanwhile, Lo Pan has the Three Storms initiate the test for Miao Yin and Gracie, both of him pass, and he has them prepared to be married to him to appease the God of the East, then will sacrifice Gracie and keep Miao Yin for himself. Jack and the others reach Lo Pan’s temple and encounter a beholder, which Lo Pan uses to watch for intruders. Seeing what the beholder sees, Lo Pan taunts Egg Shen until Jack shoots at the beholder, driving it away. Jack and the others reach Lo Pan’s office, wondering where everyone is, and after finding the secret elevator, Egg gives everyone a magic potion to help them in the upcoming battle. They take the elevator down and see Lo Pan in the midst of the wedding ceremony and Egg tells them all to wait until the wedding is completed, as Lo Pan would be mortal and able to be killed. When they spot the wounded beholder nearby, Wang stabs it with his sword but Lo Pan sees them and has the Wing Kong attack them. Wang and the others rush to meet them while Jack ends up knocking himself out briefly before joining the fight. As Wang fights with Rain, Egg uses his magic to save Jack from Thunder, then begins battling Lo Pan. Their battle ends in a stalemate and Egg leaves with Miao Yin and Thunder, while Lightning attempts to seal the door behind them, then leaves himself. Wang manages to kill Rain then chases after Miao Yin, while Gracie, having snapped out of the trance, gets Jack and the go after him, dealing with the orange furred creature in the process. Taking the elevator back to Lo Pan’s office, Jack and Gracie end up kissing before the doors open, and they go looking for Miao Yin. They find Lo Pan talking with her and Thunder and Jack approaches them, joined by Wang. Jack and Wang attack Thunder and Thunder ends up chasing after Wang, leaving Jack to deal with Lo pan. Jack throws his boot knife at Lo Pan but misses and Lo Pan lets go of Miao Yin and picks up the knife. Complimenting Jack on the knife, Lo Pan throws it at him but Jack manages to catch it and throw it straight back, embedding the blade in Lo Pan’s head and killing him. Jack then goes to help Wang, who returns to the room with Thunder in tow and when Thunder sees Lo Pan’s body, he begins swelling up and ends up exploding. Thunder appears and Jack and the others run away, getting help from Egg to escape while Egg ends up killing Lightning by dropping a statue on him. Making their way through Lo Pan’s building, they find Jack’s truck and get in, driving through the warehouse doors and getting away, as Miao Yin and Wang kiss. Back at Wang’s restaurant, Jack, Wang, Gracie, Miao Yin, Egg, Eddie, Margo, and Chu are celebrating their success and Egg leaves, telling Jack he had promised himself a vacation when he finally defeated Lo Pan. Wang hands Jack a check for triple the money he owed him, saying he earned it and Jack approaches Gracie and talks to her about selling his truck and settling down. She offers an alternative of his getting a bigger truck with a sleeper compartment big enough for two and he says he will think about it, then leaves. As Jack heads down the road, he is talking on his CB about his experiences, unaware that the orange furred creature had stowed away underneath his truck.

Big Trouble In Little China met with mixed reviews from the critics on it’s release but has since received more positive results, holding an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Brimming with energy and packed with humor, Big Trouble in Little China distills kung fu B-movies as affectionately as it subverts them.” 20th Century Fox hired James Carpenter to direct the movie and rushed it into production, as they wanted to release it before a similarly themed movie, The Golden Child, came out. This fulfilled Carpenter’s wish to direct a martial arts movie but the mixed reviews from the critics left Carpenter disillusioned with Hollywood and influenced his decision to return to independent film making. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $11.1 million off of a reported $25 million but has since become a cult classic.

This movie is so fantastically ridiculous to watch and so much fun as a result. Kurt Russell was great as Jack Burton, while Kim Cattrall (Gracie), Dennis Dun (Wang), and Victor Wong (Egg) were also good. The story was interesting, trying to mix a martial arts movie with a fantasy/sorcery movie and it made for an interesting blend of styles. I also loved how Jack was trying to make sense of everything that was going on before finally just accepting it, while Wang was struggling with the fact that all of the stories and fairy tales he was told as a kid were coming true. The special effects were pretty cheesy at times but a lot of the fight scenes were decent and helped make them enjoyable. This really is a fun movie and one that is worth watching if you are in the mood for some not so serious entertainment.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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