action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review

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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fantasy, horror, movie, movie review, mystery

September 24th, 2017 Movie – Sleepy Hollow (1999)

sleepy hollow (1999)

It may not feel like it in some places, but it is Fall and that means the weather is going to, hopefully, get colder, night will come sooner, and the movies will start getting a little darker as we get closer to Halloween. One director who is somewhat synonymous with dark movies, even if they have nothing to do with Halloween, is Tim Burton. I have always liked his movies, ever since Beetlejuice, and when I heard that he was making a live action movie of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, I was immediately on board and ready to see it. So lets see how good of a job he did with today’s movie, Sleepy Hollow.

The plot: In 1799 in the village of Sleepy Hollow, wealthy land owner Peter Van Garrett is writing a new will and testament and has it witnessed by Jonathan Masbath, one of his servants. Van Garrett rides off in his stage coach, driven by his son, to deliver the new will when he hears a horse pass by them followed by a strange sound. When Van Garrett looks out of the stage coach, he finds his son has been decapitated and he quickly jumps from the now out of control coach. Making his way through a field, he pauses when he comes to a scarecrow only to hear a sound and as he turns around, his head is cut off. In New York City, Constable Ichabod Crane discovers a body in the river but while Crane wants to determine the cause of death, the police chief says the cause of death is drowning and has the body burned. As Crane argues that with the new century almost upon them, they should work on using more accurate, scientific means to solve crimes, the Burgomaster decides to have him put his methods to the test. He tells Crane about Sleepy Hollow and how 3 people (the Van Garretts and the widow Emily Winship) have been killed there within the past fort night, with their heads cut off, and tells Crane to use his methods to find the killer and bring him to justice. Crane arrives in Sleepy Hollow and heads to the home of the Van Tassels, where a party is underway and Crane ends up caught up in a game where he is kissed by Katrina Van Tassel. When Katrina’s suitor, Brom van Brunt, gets jealous, Baltus Van Tassel and his wife appear to calm things down and Crane introduces himself. Lady Van Tassel invites Crane to stay at their house while he is there and after he gets settled in, Crane heads downstairs and meets with Van Tassel and the other leaders of the community; Doctor Thomas Lancaster, Reverend Steenwyck, Magistrate Samuel Phillipse, and Notary James Hardenbrook. As Crane goes over what he was told of the murders, they tell him that the heads were never recovered and Hardenbrook tells him that they were taken back to hell by the Headless Horseman. They explain that the horseman was a Hessian mercenary that fought for the British during the revolution but was killed by American soldiers and beheaded with his own sword, then buried in the Western Woods, which has since become a haunted place. Crane doesn’t believe their stories of a ghost being behind the deaths and claims a real person is responsible and he will find out who it is. That night, Jonathan Masbath is killed by the horseman and the next day, Crane makes his own examination of the body. At the funeral, Jonathan’s son, Young Masbath, approaches Crane and asks to help but Crane refuses at first until Phillipse approaches him and tells him that Masbath was the 5th victim even though there were only 4 graves, and Crane tells Young MAsbath to find a room in the servants quarters at the Van Tassel house. At dawn the next day, Crane has the bodies dug up and discovers that along with her decapitation, the widow Winship also has a sword thrust into her stomach. Crane takes her body to Dr. Lancaster’s office and performs an autopsy, which upsets Steenwyck, and discovers that the widow was pregnant when she died. That night, Brom plays a joke on Crane by pretending to be the Headless Horseman and scare him off and Crane ends up fainting after being hit in the face with a jack-o-lantern and begins dreaming of his mother. When he wakes up, he finds himself in his room and as he heads downstairs, he finds Katrina reading by herself. The two start talking and Katrina explains how her family came to be in the position they are now, then takes Crane to the remains of her childhood home. That night, Crane sees an argument between Lancaster, Steenwyck, Phillipse, and Hardenbrook and after Phillipse leaves, Crane questions him about the widow Winship’s child and who the father is when the Horseman appears and kills Phillipse and takes his head. Though cowering in fear at first, Crane has more dreams about his mother which causes him to overcome his initial fears and vow to find the Horseman’s grave and asks for volunteers to go with him into the Western Woods but only Young Masbath volunteers to go. They head into the woods and after Crane asks if his father had dealings with the Van Garretts and Young Masbath explains that his father worked for them and a week before the murders started, there was an argument between Van Garrett and his son, after which Van Garrett sent for Masbath. The two come to a cave in the woods and find a reclusive witch inside, who sends Young Masbath outside while keeping Crane inside and summons the spirit of the Horseman to tell him where the grave is. As they make their way to the grave, they see someone on a white horse ahead of them and when Crane approaches the horse, discovers it is Katrina. The three find the Tree of the Dead and as Crane cuts away some of the lower branches to clear out a hollow, he finds the missing heads. Suddenly, the Horseman and his steed emerge from within the tree and heads towards town and Crane follows after him. In the town, the Horseman enters the home of the town’s midwife and kills her, as well as her husband and child, and goes to leave. Brom, who is on watch with his friends, tries to stop him but is injured and as he moves to continue fighting, Crane tries to stop him. Crane tells him that the horseman is only fighting because Brom attacked them and is not trying to kill them but Brom refuses to listen. As Brom begins fighting again, Crane joins in but soon realizes they are outmatched and convinces Brom to run but as they move through the bridge, the Horseman catches up to them and stabs Crane in the shoulder before cutting Brom in half. As Crane deals with his injuries, he tries to explain to Van Tassel and Lancaster that the Horseman is killing specific targets which means he is being controlled by whoever took the Horseman’s skull. Katrina gives him a drink to help him sleep and he ends up dreaming about his mother again and when he wakes, he tells Katrina about her death. The next morning, after he has recovered, Crane starts going over all of his notes and tries to figure out what the secret is that Phillipse and the other town leaders were keeping and decides to head to Hardenbrook’s shop. When they get there, they find Hardenbrook hiding and Young Masbath discovers his father’s satchel and they find the new will that Van Garrett had made, as well as the marriage certificate for Van Garrett and the widow Winship. Crane realizes that the new will left everything to the widow Winship but if nobody knew about it, then it would end up going to Baltus Van Tassel. When he returns to the Van Tassel house, he finds Katrina in his room and she says her father thinks it best that Crane head back to New York, as the notes crane wrote in his ledger upset him. After she leaves, Young Masbath discovers a design on the floor underneath Crane’s bed and says that someone is casting an evil spell on him. That night, Crane follows a cloaked figure out into the woods but discovers it is Lady Van Tassell, who is having an affair with Steenwyck. When Crane returns to his room, he finds all of the evidence is missing and heads to the Van Tassel’s former house, where he finds Katrina burning it. She admits she did so to prevent Crane from accusing her father and he tells her that he has no choice but to follow where the evidence leads him and the two argue over their feelings for each other before Katrina leaves. That night, a town meeting is called in the church and as Van Tassel is waiting on his wife to finish picking some flowers, he sees the Horseman approaching behind her and quickly flees. When he arrives at the church, he tells Katrina that her step-mother is dead but Steenwyck tries to force him back outside, telling him that he is the one the Horseman wants. As Crane notices that the Horseman can’t enter the church yard because it is holy ground, he goes to tell them but Van Tassel grabs Crane’s pistol and threatens Steenwyck. Lancaster starts to tell Van Tassel the truth about the conspiracy but Steenwyck kills him, prompting Van Tassel to shoot him. As some of the townfolk approach him, Van Tassel grabs another pistol and heads up to the balcony, declaring that there is a conspiracy against him. Outside, the Horseman has grabbed some rope and a fence post, which he uses as a make shift spear, and he throws it through the window and strikes Van Tassel, then drags him outside until his head is past the church yard, allowing him to cut it off. Seeing what happened, Katrina faints and as Crane stares at her, he looks up to see the same design that was under his bed drawn on the floor in the church where Katrina had been kneeling. Crane burns all of his notes and prepares to leave, with Young Masbath questioning why he thinks Katrina was the one to control the Horseman but Crane tells him that that can never be spoken. As his coach is leaving town, Crane notices them bringing the bodies of Baltus and Lady Van Tassel to the morgue and as he suddenly looks at the book of spells and charms Katrina had given him when he first came to town and discovers the design she had drawn was one of protection. Crane tells the driver to turn around and heads to the morgue, where he discovers that the body assumed to be Lady Van Tassel is not her, as the wound on her hand was inflicted after the body was dead, as opposed to the cut he saw Lady Van Tassel give herself. At the Van Tassel house, Katrina is approached by Lady Van Tassel and faints and it is revealed that she is the one who controls the Horseman and she summons it to kill Katrina. Lady Van Tassel takes Katrina to an old windmill and explains that she and her family lived in the cottage before the Van Tassels before her father died and Van Garrett kicked them out. Their mother was a witch and taught her and her sister her ways before she died and the two girls lived in the woods, where they saw the Hessian die and Lady Van Tassel swore her soul to Satan if he would resurrect the Hessian to help her get her revenge. She then explains why she had everyone killed, while also explaining why she killed the servant and her own sister. Young Masbath, who had followed Lady Van Tassel to the windmill, tries to knock out Lady Van Tassel but she knows he is there and he and Katrina run. Crane shows up with the stage coach just as the Horseman arrives and they lure the Horseman inside, then use the windmill blades to reach the ground while Crane lights a fire to blow up the windmill in order to slow it down. As it emerges from the wreckage, Crane and the others leave and head towards the Tree of the Dead, with the Horseman chasing after them and Crane does his best to slow it down. When they get there, they find Lady Van Tassel had beaten them there and Crane tells Katrina to run but Lady Van Tassel shoots him, then grabs Katrina and holds her for the Horseman. Crane didn’t die, as the bullet was stopped by Katrina’s book, and he tackles Lady Van Tassel and after Young Masbath knocks her out, he grabs the skull and throws it to the Horseman. The Horseman puts the skull back on his body and his face is restored and he then grabs Lady Van Tassel and, with the tree suddenly opening up, he takes her back to Hell with him, as her deal with him is finished since he has her head, and the tree closes around her as she screams, with only her arm sticking out among the bramble of roots. Crane heads back to New York City with Katrina and Young Masbeth, just in time for the new century.

Sleepy Hollow met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Sleepy Hollow entertains with its stunning visuals and creepy atmosphere.” In October of ’99, one month before the movie was to be released, the studio launched a website that featured live interviews with the filmmakers, a short behind the scenes featurette, view photos and trailers, and was described, at the time, as “the most ambitious online launch of a motion picture to date.” The movie would be a modest hit at the box office, earning $206.1 million off of a $100 million budget.

I always enjoy watching this movie, even if it does have some faults. The acting was pretty good and Burton gathered an incredible cast of talent to take part in this movie. Johnny Depp (Crane) and Christina Ricci (Katrina) were both great and I also liked how well Michael Gambon (Van Tassel), Miranda Richardson (Lady Van Tassel), and Richard Griffiths (Phillipse) did in their roles and how they would all be part of the Harry Potter world a few years later. The story was a bit of a departure from the source material but I think those changes were honestly necessary to make for a more compelling full length movie. I did think the change of Ichabod Crane to a police officer was interesting and they had an interesting bit of “science vs supernatural/superstition” theme going there. However, the whole flashback scenes regarding Ichabod’s mother really didn’t make a whole lot of sense, even if they were meant to show that Ichabod had some experience with the supernatural before coming to Sleepy Hollow. The special effects were very well done and I loved the visuals involved in the movie, as the colors were mostly dark while even some of the brighter colors seemed a little muted except for the color red, which seemed visibly brighter most times and seemed to pop off the screen to be noticed. I also liked the bit of a running gag that seemed to occur with Crane constantly getting blood squirted in his face. While I will always have a bit of a soft spot for the original animated short, this is a fun movie to watch and definitely something for the Halloween season.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

July 19th, 2017 Movie – Kong: Skull Island

kong skull island

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, comedy, fantasy, movie, movie review

July 14th, 2017 Movie – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

scott pilgrim vs the world

It’s Friday, and what better way to start the day than with a comic book movie. Now I remember seeing these books in Borders and Barnes & Noble all the time while wandering the graphic novel/manga area and always thought that they seemed pretty childish. When the trailer for the movie came out, it honestly looked pretty ridiculous, which meant I was more than likely going to enjoy it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters so when it came out on DVD, I picked up a copy. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

The plot: In Toronto, Canada, Scott Pilgrim is a 22 year old bassist for a band called Sex Bob-Omb. One morning he tells his band mates Stephen Stills and Kim Pine, as well as Stephen’s roommate Young Neil, that he is dating a 17 year old high schooler named Knives Chou and invites her over to listen to them practice. After she leaves, Stephen and Neil seem to like her but Kim, who is one of Scott’s ex-girlfriends, asks Scott if he is really happy dating her. When Scott tells his roommate Wallace about Knives, Wallace tells Scott’s sister Stacey, who proceeds to berate Scott for doing this to get over his ex Envy. Scott has a dream about an unknown girl and as he accompanies Knives to the library, he sees the girl delivering a package. At a party hosted by Stephen’s on/off girlfriend Julie, Scott learns that the girl, Ramona Flowers, will be there and eventually finds her and tries to talk to her but she doesn’t seem interested. Deciding to try to get to know her, Scott orders a package from Amazon so that Ramona has to deliver it and convinces her to go out with him. That night, the two walk and talk in the snow and after going back to Ramona’s place to warm up, they start making out, though Ramona says she won’t sleep with him that night. The next day, Scott invites her to a battle of the bands that he is playing in and Ramona agrees to go. Wallace tells Scott that he needs to break up with Knives but Scott doesn’t, then gets nervous when both Ramona and Knives show up at the concert. When Sex Bob-Omb start playing, they are interrupted by Matthew Patel, who starts fighting with Scott and says that he is the first of Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes. Despite Patel’s ability to summon demon hipster chicks, fly, and shoot fireballs, Scott is able to defeat Patel, who bursts into coins, and Ramona drags him out of the venue as the DJ announces that Sex-Bob-Omb won. On the bus, Ramona explains that if Scott wants to date her then he will have to date all of her exes, but Scott is happy with the fact that Ramona said they were dating and the two kiss. The next day, Wallace pressures Scott to break up with Knives if he wants to be with Ramona so Scott meets up with Knives and breaks up with her. Scott invites Ramona over for dinner and after an awkward conversation about Scott’s ex, they head over to the Castle to join Wallace in watching a movie that is being filmed there. When the lead actor, Lucas Lee, comes out of his trailer, Ramona says that he is one of her exes, just as Lucas challenges Scott. Lucas starts attacking Scott but when he goes to fight back, he ends up fighting Lucas’ stunt doubles. After Scott beats them, Lucas beats up Scott but Scott tricks him into doing a grind down a stair rail and Lucas ends up going to fast and crashes at the bottom of the stairs. Lucas explodes into a shower of coins but when Scott turns around, he finds that Ramona has disappeared. The next day, Scott is trying to get in touch with Ramona when his ex, Envy, calls and Scott lets slip that he is dating Ramona. Later, Scott goes to get some coffee when he is attacked by a strange girl, who is able to teleport, but when Scott says he doesn’t have time for this, the girl says she will see him later. Scott reaches the coffee shop, hoping to talk to his sister but she has already left and he sees Ramona there. She apologizes for leaving the night before but before they can say anything else, Envy shows up and admits to Scott she is jealous before saying she will see him again. Scott learns that Envy has asked Sex Bob-Omb to open for her band that night and Stephen had accepted and Scott worries about it but after talking with Ramona, says that he will be ok with it. Meanwhile, Knives believes that Ramona stole Scott from her and so she dyes her hair to try and emulate Ramona, then asks Neil out to try and make Scott jealous. After Sex Bob-Omb finishes their set, Scott and Ramona are talking as Envy’s band comes on stage and Ramona says that the bassist, Todd Ingram, is one of her exes. After the show, Scott and the others are invited back stage and after Todd punches Knives so hard that it knocks out her highlights, Scott tries to punch him but is stopped by Todd’s telekinetic powers. Todd says that he is a vegan, which gave him super powers, and begins using them to throw Scott up in the air and through walls. When Scott ends up back in the venue, he grabs a bass guitar and challenges Todd to a Bass Battle but Todd ends up winning it. Scott then grabs two cups of coffee and hands one to Todd but Todd says he can read Scott’s mind and knows he tried to trick him into drinking half & half so he grabs the other cup instead. Scott says that he actually put the half and half in the cup that Todd drank from, but thought really hard about putting it in the cup he is holding. The Vegan Police show up and since this is Todd’s third strike, as he previously ate gelato and a chicken parmesan, they strip Todd of his powers and then Scott headbutts him, causing him to explode into coins. Scott and Ramona leave, meeting up with the others at a pizza place before heading to an after party. At the after party, Scott is attacked by the mystery girl again, Roxanne “Roxy” Richter, who is revealed to be Ramona’s 4th ex. When Roxy goes to attack Scott again, Ramona stops her and the two end up fighting, as Scott doesn’t feel comfortable fighting a girl. When Roxy says that Scott has to beat her with his own fists, Ramona grabs Scott and moves his arms in order to guide him in his fight but Roxy separates them. As she goes to finish off Scott, Ramona tells Scott her weakness and he touches the back of Roxy’s knee, causing Roxy to collapse to the floor and explode into coins. Scott heads to the bar and starts drinking and ends up complaining to Ramona about her exes and so she breaks up with him, then hands him a list of her exes. Scott learns that her next to exes are the Katayanagi twins, who happen to be their opponents in the next part of the competition. At the competition, the two bands face off, with the Katayanagi twins using their music to summon mystical creatures to attack Scott. Seeing Ramona at the concert with Gideon, her last ex, Scott uses the anger to power his band and summon a monster of his own to battle their creatures and win, defeating the twins and gaining a 1-up. Afterwards, Scott chases after Ramona and tells her he loves her but she says that she is getting back with Gideon. Gideon then says that he doesn’t want to fight and offers Sex Bob-Omb a 3 album contract. Scott refuses to sell out to Gideon but the rest of the band sign the deal, getting Neil to become the new bassist. As Scott mopes at the house, he receives a phone call from Gideon inviting him to the grand opening of his club, Chaos Theater. Scott heads there to try and win Ramona back and as he professes his love for her, he gains “The Power Of Love” and a sword emerges out of his chest. Scott uses the sword to fight Gideon’s security forces, then goes after Gideon but Gideon easily knocks him back. As he goes for the final blow, Knives stops him, then challenges Ramona to a fight, claiming she stole Scott. As the two girls begin fighting, Scott continues fighting Gideon and manages to knock Gideon down, then stops the fight between the two girls, admitting that he started dating Ramona while he was still dating Knives, basically cheating on both of them, when Gideon stabs Scott in the back and kills him. Scott ends up in Limbo, where Ramona shows up and apologizes to Scott for dragging him into this and explains that Gideon has her under mind control. When she disappears, Scott remembers his 1-up and restores his life then heads back to the club, apologizing to his friends as he passes them. Scott gains the “Power Of Self Respect” and a new sword, which he uses to beat Gideon and free Ramona from his control. Knives attacks Ramona but Scott stops her and says that he is the one that hurt her, not Ramona. Gideon recovers and challenges Scott again and Knives and Ramona help Scott but Gideon knocks Ramona down. Scott and Knives team up to defeat Gideon and Scott ends up kicking his head off, causing a shower of coins to fall on everyone. As Scott, Ramona, and Knives catch their breath, Scott is confronted by his evil half, Nega-Scott, and he tells Ramona and Knives that he has to face him himself and they head outside. After some time passes, Scott and Nega-Scott emerge from the club and go their separate ways, with Scott saying they had a lot in common and were going to get brunch next week. Ramona tells Scott she is going to leave and after thanking him for being the nicest guy she ever dated, starts to walk away. Knives tells Scott to go after her and after he makes sure she is ok with it, he chases after Ramona and asks if he can go with her. Ramona smiles and takes his hand before leading him towards a doorway to their future.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Its script may not be as dazzling as its eye-popping visuals, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is fast, funny, and inventive.” When the first volume of “Scott Pilgrim” was finished, the publisher, Oni Press, contacted Marc Platt about making a film adaptation. When the film was finally ready to start shooting, the final volumes of the comic were not finished and while Bryan Lee O’Malley, the artist, gave some suggestions for the ending, he said the movie’s ending was “their ending.” The movie wound up being a failure at the box office, only earning $47.7 million off of a $60-$90 million budget.

It may be silly, and a little confusing, but this is a lot of fun to watch. The acting was pretty good, with Michael Cera doing a good job as Scott Pilgrim, though it honestly seemed like he was just playing the same character he always plays. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona) and Ellen Wong (Knives) were also really good, as were all of the Exes. I don’t know how well this follows the comics but I personally thought that the story was pretty entertaining. My only problem was that it honestly felt too long, but considering they were trying to squeeze several graphic novels into one movie, this could have been a lot longer. The special effects were pretty good and just made the movie seem a lot more like a comic book, which only enhanced the entertainment value. Might not be what you were expecting, but it can be a ridiculously enjoyable movie to watch.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

July 13th, 2017 Movie – The Scorpion King

the scorpion king

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

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

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

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

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review

June 18th, 2017 Movie – Rubber

rubber

Today’s movie is one of those movies where you honestly have to wonder how on Earth this thing got made. Now I was first told of this movie by several of my friends, who knew that I love B-movies and kept telling me about the movie involving a killer tire. Seriously, a killer tire? Well that obviously got my attention so I looked it up and sure enough, there was a movie where the killer was nothing but a tire. Now I have to admit, that is definitely an original concept. So I did what comes naturally in such a situation and bought this movie, which brings us to today’s movie, Rubber.

The plot: A bunch of chairs are set up out on a desert road while nearby, a man wearing a pair of glasses stands holding a bunch of binoculars. Suddenly, a car appears and proceeds to run over all of the chairs in the road before it stops and pops the trunk. A man Lt. Chad Ballard exits the trunk and begins talking to the camera about how some elements in movies, as well as in life itself, have no reason, then says this film is an homage to “No Reason”. As he gets in the car and drives away, the man with the binoculars begins handing them out to a group of spectators that were standing there, then tells them to turn around and enjoy before he rides off on his bike. The group of people use the binoculars to look in the direction he indicated and one of them says she sees a dump nearby. In the dump, a half buried tire suddenly begins moving all on it’s own, eventually managing to stand up right and start rolling through the desert. When the tire comes across a plastic bottle, it hesitantly touches it at first but then happily crushes it, then crushes a scorpion a little while later. When it comes across a glass bottle, the tire tries to crush it but it is unable too. The tire begins shaking violently and manages to shatter the bottle with some sort of psychokinetic power. The spectators starts commenting about what the tire did before telling one man who was videotaping the events that he should stop as it is considered piracy. Back in the desert, the tire uses it’s powers to shatter a can, then continues rolling across the desert until night falls and it lays down and apparently falls asleep. The next morning, the man in glasses shows up where the spectators had fallen asleep and, after rummaging through some of their things and stealing their money, he wakes them all up to continue watching the movie. Some of the spectators members start complaining about being hungry as they start watching the tire wake up. The tire heads to a puddle and appears to drink some of the water when it notices a rabbit nearby and uses it’s powers to kill it. When the tire reaches the highway, it notices a woman, Shelia, driving by in a car and it uses it’s powers to cause the car to stall. As Shelia tries to get her car started, the tire starts rolling towards her and is prepared to kill her when it is suddenly struck by a man in truck and knocked to the side of the road. With the tire’s attention distracted, Shelia is able to get her car started and head back down the road, flipping off the man in the truck as he is stopped for gas. Meanwhile, the tire rights itself and after killing a crow, it heads off down the highway, eventually reaching the gas station and killing the man in the truck by making his head explode. The tire continues down the highway until it comes to a small inn, where it sees Shelia’s car in the parking lot. Seeing an open door, the tire approaches it and sees Shelia undressing and getting in the shower. Out in the desert, the several members of the spectators start making sexual jokes and a pair of teenage girls start complaining about them talking during the movie. Back at the hotel, Shelia finishes her shower and, noticing the open door, quickly shuts it so the tire heads into the room next door, where it proceeds to start watching TV, while out in the desert, various members of the spectators start to go to sleep as well. That night, the man in the glasses receives a phone call from someone he refers to as “Master”, and he says that he will do what he is ordered in the morning and as he hangs up the phone, a turkey is seen to be in the room with him. The man opens up a suitcase, which is full of various blades and equipment, and proceeds to kill the turkey. The next morning, the man leaves and a maid asks if he would like her to clean his room and he tells her sure, before he gets on his bike and rides off. The man head out into the desert and yells out “Food” before dropping the cooked turkey onto the ground. A feeding frenzy occurs as all of the spectators, except for a man in a wheelchair, begin ripping apart the turkey and eating whatever they can grab. Back at the inn, the maid begins cleaning the room that the tire was in when she hears the shower running and sees the tire inside the tub. The maid grabs the tire and throws it out of the room, thinking some freaks brought it in there, but the tire gets up and rolls back into the room and shutting the door. The owner’s son sees this and tries to tell his dad what he saw but his dad doesn’t believe him and sends him to get a pizza. Back in it’s hotel room, the tire had killed the maid and is watching TV when it notices Shelia heading towards the pool and it follows her there and watches as she swims for a while and then leaves. Meanwhile, the owner’s son is on his way back with the pizza when he sees the dead crow and places some of the exploded meat onto the pizza. Meanwhile, the tire rolls into the pool and proceeds to sink to the bottom. Back in the desert, some members of the spectators start debating on if tires can sink or float when suddenly they all start complaining of pain in their stomachs. When one of them asks what is going on, the man in the wheelchair explains that they poisoned the turkey in the hopes that it would kill off all of the spectators so they wouldn’t have to finish the movie but he plans on continuing watching the show. Back at the inn, the boy returns and knocks on the door to the tire’s room when it suddenly opens and he sees the maid’s body. The police arrive as Shelia finishes eating and leaves the inn. The son shows his father and the Ballard the tire in the pool and his father yells at him for telling stories and then tells him to get the tire out of the pool. When the boy tries to convince them about the tire, the owner yells at him to leave, then throws the tire after him. Ballard proceeds to ask the owner a few questions when an alarm goes off and he says that they can stop as the poison has done it’s work. Gathering the paramedics and other officers over to him, Ballard proceeds to tell them to go home as the movie is over but they all react with confusion. Ballard tells them that none of this is real, then has one of the officers shoot him to reveal that it is merely blanks and fake blood. When they question him about the body, he tells them to check the bag but when they tell him it is still a corpse, Ballard looks confused. The man in glasses approaches and tells Ballard that one of the spectators survived and they have to go on, so Ballard apologizes to the other officers. He heads back to the owner to ask him some more questions but the tire rights itself and kills the owner, then rolls away. The tire rolls on and encounters the son, who tries to talk to it but it ignores him and rolls away and the son quickly tells Ballard and the other officers where he went. Meanwhile, the man in glasses brings up some various items of food to the man in the wheelchair, who ignores him and continues watching the movie and the man in glasses starts watching, then begins eating the food himself, falling victim to the poison intended for the spectator. The tire is chased by a police car but it kills the driver, then keeps rolling until it comes to a group of men that are burning a large mound of tires. 3 days later, the tire has gone on a rampage and killed dozens of people. The police find the tire hiding inside a house watching Nascar, after it has killed the family. Using Shelia to help them, the police set up a dummy and have her broadcast through a speaker to try and lure the tire out of the house. As Shelia and Ballard argue over what he she is supposed to say, they are surprised when the man in the wheelchair knocks on the door to the van and tells them the scene makes no sense. One of the other officers says they wouldn’t even be there if he had eaten the turkey and the spectator apologizes for that and asks that they try and speed things up. The tire eventually blow the head off the dummy but it doesn’t trigger the dynamite like it was supposed to. Ballard grabs a shotgun and heads inside to kill the tire himself, then throws the shredded tire at the spectator, saying “The end. Good-bye.” The spectator complains about the ending when he sees a tricycle rolling out of the house and tells them to come back as it’s not over yet. The spectator then tries reasoning with the tricycle, saying he isn’t an actor, but it blows him up, then heads off down the road. Shelia is dropped off at her car and as she prepares to leave, she sees the tricycle riding past her. As it makes it’s way though the city, other tires begin rising up and following after it

Rubber met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 68% review on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A clever premise gets plenty of comic blood and violence, but its hampered by some questionable storytelling techniques from director Quentin Dupieux.” In a bit of irony, one of the spectators was played by Daniel Quinn, who starred in a movie called Scanner Cop where he had psionic powers and could make people’s head’s explode, just like the tire. The movie had a limited release, making about $100k off of a $500k budget.

This is one of the most honest movies you will ever watch because they tell you at the beginning of the movie that it makes no sense. So as long as you are fully aware of that, this movie can be entertaining to watch in a “so good it’s bad” kind of way. The acting was ok for the most part, though I admit that Roxane Mesquida, Shelia, could have done a better job. The story was complete nonsense and never explained, which is exactly it was supposed to be. I did think it was funny when Ballard was half-heartedly interviewing the inn’s owner when his alarm went off and he basically was like “Quitting time. I am so out of here.” The special effects were pretty good, especially in regarding the remote control tire, as I guess that was probably harder than you would expect to try and hide the hardware inside an empty, rolling tire. This is not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but it is worth a watch for the spectacle if nothing else.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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fantasy, horror, Maneater series, movie, movie review, sci-fi

June 1st, 2017 Movie – Roadkill (2011)

roadkill

Man, here I was thinking that it had been a while since I had watched one of the Maneater series of movie, and now I get my second one in less than a week. Now by the time this movie came out, I no longer had cable so I didn’t necessarily catch when a lot of these movie would air on Syfy. So my options were to try and find it online, or wait to pick it up on DVD. Naturally, I would do both but there were times that it got to be a bit tricky finding safe sites to watch the movie on so I pretty much got tired of it and started just buying them on DVD, usually when they were released in a 3-pack of movies. So let’s get right into today’s movie, Roadkill (2011).

The plot: In rural Ireland, a cop is hiding in a barn while waiting for his partner to show up but before his partner arrives, a large creature smashes through the roof of the barn and flies off with the cop, leaving his partner staring at a hole in the ceiling when he finally gets there. Sometime later, Kate is unpacking some boxes after just moving to Ireland and her friend Anita is helping her when Kate’s brother Joel shows up. Meanwhile, Kate’s ex Ryan and their friends Tommy and Chuck are pulling up in an RV, with Chuck and Tommy giving Ryan a hard time about still having feelings for Kate. As they pull up to Kate’s apartment and start loading the bags, another friend, Hailey, shows up and they set off for a tour of Ireland. After a couple of hours on the road, they make a pit stop at a small shop and while everyone heads inside, Kate takes the opportunity to try and talk to Ryan alone for a few minutes. When Ryan goes looking around, a one-eyed woman approaches Kate and offers to tell her fortune. Kate says no at first but when the woman says that Ryan is Kate’s true love, she asks if they will get back together, the woman freaks out as Ryan approaches and says that they should leave right now. Back inside the shop, Anita notices the necklace that the shop owner, Luca, is wearing and asks how much it is and he tells her it is not for sale but when she offers him 100 euros, he agrees to sell it to her but as they are leaving, she opens the box to find a different necklace inside. Chuck takes the box and confronts Luca about the switch but Luca dismisses him so Chuck grabs the necklace off of Luca and has everyone run back into the RV. Chuck starts to drive off but the accidentally hits the one-eyed woman with the RV and when they get out to check on her, they find her barely alive and she curses them, saying that the roc will kill them all, before she dies. As Luca and the others exit the shop, the kids quickly get back in the RV and drive off, arguing over whose fault this was. As they are driving, a thick fog suddenly envelopes them and as they make their way through it, they hear the sounds of something scraping against the roof of the car. When they finally break out of the fog, they find themselves completely lost and are shocked to see a kid standing in front of them, making the throat slash gesture towards them. Realizing that they need directions, Anita goes outside to ask the kid only for him to run off and before she can get back in the car, the roc swoops down and grabs Anita in it’s claws and flies off. As the others cry out in shock, Anita’s body suddenly drops from the sky and as she stands up, the others are horrified to see that her face is all slashed up, just as the roc returns and flies off with her again. As they drive off, they keep trying to call for help while the roc continuously flies at them and it eventually causes them to blow a tire when they swerve to avoid it. Ryan and Tommy play rock paper scissors to see who goes out there and when Tommy loses, Ryan hands him a walkie talkie and a flare, saying it is the only thing they have to use as a weapon. As Tommy works on changing the tire, the others keep watch and try to warn Tommy when they think it is getting close. Tommy finishes with the tire but looks up to find the roc perched on top of the RV and he pops the flare as it lunges at him. The others hear the noise and go outside only to see Tommy with half of his face ripped off and Ryan tries to help him but the others drag him back inside as the roc grabs Tommy and flies off, ripping his head off in the process. As Ryan and Chuck argue over what happened to Tommy, the roc attacks the RV again and they start driving again and see a house in the distance. As the roc flies away, they quickly drive up to the house and head inside, asking the inhabitants if they can use the phone. A woman, Drina, points them towards the phone but as Ryan starts dialing, Luca shows up. Seeing the kids, Luca tells Drina that they killed Nadine (the old woman) and when asks them for the medallion. When he asks where Anita is, Kate tells him that she is dead, as is Tommy, and they ask him to lift the curse but he says only the one who cast the curse can remove it. Luca escorts them outside at gunpoint and plans on taking them into the forest so the roc can kill them but when Kate says she knows where the medallion is, he has Drina go with Kate while he takes the others, promising to let them go when he gets the medallion back. Luca leads Ryan and the others to a spot int the woods where they find the remains of other people tied up to stakes and Luca and his friend proceed to tie them up to the stakes. Meanwhile, Kate leads Drina inside and opens the safe in the RV but when Drina sees that it is empty, she tells the man that accompanied them to shoot Kate but Kate grabs the shotgun and shoots the man, then knocks out Drina. As the roc approaches the others, Kate shows up and frees Ryan and they proceed to free the Joel, Hailey, and Chuck but when the roc swoops down towards them, it catches sight of the medallion, which Kate was wearing, and suddenly flies off. As everyone wanders what happened, Hailey is shot in the stomach by Luca and the others quickly make a run for it through the forest. Ryan, Kate, Chuck, and Joel find a place to hide as Luca and his family search for them but they end up getting separated when they are shot at. Ryan and Chuck run through the forest and come to a hunting camp when Chuck notices that Ryan was shot. Realizing that the blood will leave a trail, Ryan grabs some dead rabbits and uses their blood to lure Luca and the other man away. Kate and Joel run into Ryan and Chuck and they head back to the RV but Kate trips and is confronted by Drina. Drina demands the medallion and when Kate throws it to the side, she knocks Drina down when she reaches for it and quickly puts it back on while Ryan grabs Drina’s shotgun. Drina begs them for the medallion and as the roc approaches, Kate realizes it is some sort of protection from the roc as she and Ryan run inside the RV while Drina is killed by the roc. As Chuck drives down the road, Joel tends to Ryan’s wounds and then tells Chuck to stop when he sees a rest stop nearby. Ryan comes up with a plan to have the others use the RV to lure the roc away while he makes his way through the woods to the rest stop to try and call for help. As he steps out of the RV, Kate hands him the medallion but Ryan kisses her goodbye and secretly slips the medallion back in her pocket. As the roc approaches, Chuck starts driving and it begins following them, allowing Ryan to make it to the rest stop and try to call for help. When the roc heads towards the rest stop, Kate and the others go back to try and rescue him and distract the roc, managing to chase it away when Kate uses some hairspray and a lighter to make a flamethrower but when they check on Ryan, they find the phone damaged and covered in blood. As they hide in the bathroom, they hear a cop car approaching and go out to ask if Ryan called him but the cop pulls a gun on them. After getting the medallion from Kate, the cop has them lie on the ground and starts to bind their wrists, explaining that they can’t lift their curse but he can lift his by making sure the roc kills them and he brings the medallion back. Kate manages to grab his billy club and knock him down, then frees the others but as she goes to get the medallion, the cop grabs her. Joel and Chuck save her and Chuck knocks her out, then they head back to the RV while Kate heads to the police car to try and radio for help. When the roc attacks the police car, Joel goes to save Kate but drops the medallion and as he grabs it, the roc flies towards them, he quickly throws it to Kate just before the roc grabs him and flies off. Chuck manages to get Kate back in the RV and when he sees the police officer getting up, runs him over and then drives away. As they are driving, they get a call from Ryan’s cell but when Kate answers it, they can’t hear anything. They try calling Ryan and hear his phone ringing in the woods so Kate runs off looking for him, with Chuck following after her with the cop’s shotgun. Kate runs into Luca, who is holding Ryan’s phone, and he tells Kate that Ryan is inside the roc’s nest but is already dead. As Kate jumps into the nest and sees Ryan’s body, as well as those of their friends, Chuck chases off Luca and tries to get Kate to leave with him. Kate hands him the medallion and grabs the shotgun, telling Chuck to leave her and after he does, she begins firing wildly into the air in an attempt to kill the roc but when she runs out of shells, she turns to see the roc behind her and it quickly kills her. Chuck drives away and makes a call to his parents, leaving a voicemail for them, when he sees a sign for Dublin and starts to celebrate. Realizing he is almost of gas, he manages to find a gas station and starts pumping gas only to see Luca there. Luca asks him for the medallion and Chuck sets the gas pump down, with it still pumping gas, and tosses the medallion to him. As the roc approaches, Chuck races back into the RV, then ducks out the back as the roc crashes through the windshield to try and get him. Pulling out a lighter, Chuck lights it and then throws it into the pool of gas, causing an explosion that kills Luca and blows up the RV, knocking Chuck to the ground but as Chuck recovers, he sees the roc flying towards him and realizes he failed to kill it.

This movie had a lot of promise but kind of flaked out towards the end. The acting was ok, with Kacey Clarke (Kate) and Ned Dennehy (Luca) doing the best jobs. The story wasn’t entirely original, with the idea of a gypsy cursing people being used plenty of times before, but the idea of the gypsy family somewhat worshiping and caring for the roc being an added twist to the story. The special effects were about what you would expect, but I actually did like how the roc looked, giving it a somewhat unique look instead of making it look like just another giant bird. A fun movie to watch and a good entry into the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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