drama, movie, movie review, mystery, sci-fi

May 19th, 2018 Movie – Welcome To Blood City

welcome to blood city

You ever wake up in the morning and just have no motivation to get out of bed and go. That is kind of how I felt this morning. Luckily, that is an easy feeling to get over, well for me, as I simply rolled out of bed and went about my normal routine. Now today’s movie comes to us from the Sci-Fi Invasion box set but it is something I have never seen before. Only way to figure out if it actually belongs there is to give it a watch so let’s see what I am in store for with today’s movie, Welcome To Blood City.

The plot: 5 people (Lewis, Martine, Peter, and two other men ) find themselves in a desert dressed in similar clothes and with no memory as to how they got there. One of the men asks Lewis about his story, mentioning a card in the pocket of Lewis’ shirt, and as Lewis reads it, he asks how many people he killed. The others all say that their cards read that they are killers as well but Lewis chooses to rip his card up, saying not to believe everything they read. With only one canteen between the 5 of them, they start walking across the sand and eventually come to a wooded area with a river. As they start to drink some water, one of the group is shot and two men, Sarge and Webb, rise out of the bushes across the river and tell them to get on their knees. As the two men approach the group, they tell them to removie their boots, which Sarge places in a sack while Webb proceeds to rape Martine. After they leave, the group continues moving until they encounter Sheriff Friedlander, who had watched what had happened to them. Friedlander says that he knows their cards all say they are killers but says it’s ok because they are all killers there. Friedlander leads them to town and escorts them into a building, saying they will be safe there for the night and offers them some food and drink. He then explains that in the morning, the citizens will choose who they want to take and reveals that they are considered slaves. When a man named Gellor arrives with his men, he tells Friedlander that he wants Martine. Friedlander tries to argue that it isn’t the choosing time and that he gets first pick but Gellor counters that Friedlander already has a girl and Friedlander reluctantly concedes. As Gellor grabs Martine and starts examining her, one of the men tries to stop him and ends up being shot. Gellor’s man claims it was self defense but Friendlander yells at them and kicks them out. He apologizes and tells Martine having a girl like her in town is dangerous and decides to take her elsewhere so she will be safe. Meanwhile, two scientists, Katherine and Lyle, are watching some monitors, one of which says the subject is terminated and one of them comments about some people seem to look for ways to kill themselves and the other replies that that was the purpose of their experiment. Back in the town, Lewis goes to cover the body then decides to go outside and get some boots, though Peter says it is a bad idea. As Lewis wanders around town, he is followed by a group of men called the Black Guard, who laugh as he is rejected by the various store owners. Seeing a bootmaker’s shop, Lewis approaches it and the owner threatens to hit him with a hammer but Lewis dodges the attack and grabs the hammer from the man, then spares his life in exchange for the boots off his feet. With his new boots on, Lewis then heads to the gun store for a weapon but the owner kicks him out of the store. As he is leaving, Lewis is approached by a member of the Black Guard, who offers to buy him a drink, saying that he is his 9th. In the bar, Black Guard spills coffee on Lewis, hoping to get a rise out of him and when Lewis refuses to drink the second cup, the man says that Lewis insulted him and that gives him right to kill him. Lewis upends the table to avoid being shot and makes a run for it. theHe makes it to the sheriff’s office and asks Friedlander what is going on. Friedlander tells him that it is the law for a citizen to kill a new arrival that insults him, but if a new arrival kills a citizen, then he becomes a citizen and gets all of their rights. When Lewis asks Friedlander why everything revolves around killing, Friendlander has a sudden flashback of a time when he was a college professor, but shakes it off and tells Lewis it is kill or be killed there. Lewis asks for a gun to defend himself but Friedlander says it is against the law and forces Lewis to go back outside, threatening to shoot him himself if he doesn’t. When Lewis gets outside, he is soon confronted by the Black Guardsman, who goes to shoot Lewis, but a female Black Guard tosses a shotgun to the ground and Lewis quickly grabs it and shoots the man trying to kill him. The dead man’s friends reveal that they were merely working as the man’s bodyguards and that all of his possessions are now Lewis’s. As Lewis turns to thank the female Black Guard, he finds that she has suddenly disappeared. Back in the lab, Lyle says that Katherine shouldn’t have directly programmed herself into the game but Katherine says that she merely extended the options in the game. They are suddenly contacted by their supervisor, who says that they need to produce winners and Katherine argues that they are being unreasonable. After getting some new clothes, Lewis goes to see Martine and she begs for his help in helping her stay out of Gellor’s possession and Lewis tells her he will do what he can to help her. He then heads to the saloon, where he encounters the mystery woman, who is now dressed as one of the working girls. She tells him that she owns the place and she is tired of seeing the same old people every day, which is why she helped him, and the two eventually head upstairs and have sex. Back in the real world, Lyle approaches Katherine, who is attached to the simulation, and chastises her for her actions, saying it is almost like pornography. The next morning in town, Lewis is met by Peter, who tells him that Friedlander wants to see him. Lewis talks with Peter some and asks if he remembers how they got there, as Lewis starts to remember his past life. Back in the lab, alarms are sounding as the scientists rush to prevent Lewis from remembering his life and ruining their experiment. When they finally succeed, the scientists are shocked as that had never happened before and Katherine theorizes that Lewis must be more resistant to altered realities than their other subjects. Back in the town, Lewis meets with Friedlander, and discusses his options on what he can do. He then goes to see Martine, who is near hysterics over her worry about Gellor but Lewis assures her that Gellor would have to kill him first before he gets to her. Some time later, Katherine reappears in town and tries to talk Lewis out of challenging Gellor but he refuses to back down from challenging Gellor for Martine’s safety. When Gellor and his men arrive in town, Friedlander tells Gellor about Lewis’s challenge and Gellor laughs, saying that killing Lewis would make his 20th kill and make him immortal. In the lab, Katherine is upset at Lewis and he says that it looks like he is purposefully rewriting the situation so that Lewis would be killed but Lewis says it isn’t personal, he is just following the supervisor’s orders. In the town, Lewis heads to the saloon to try and reason with Gellor but Gellor want’s to go ahead and kill him. When Lewis’s bodyguards try to stop the fight, Lewis yells out about everyone in town seeming to want to be killed, while in the lab, Lyle remarks about him finally starting to figure things out. Back in the saloon, one of Gellor’s men kills one of Lewis’s bodyguards and Gellor marches Lewis out of the saloon, saying he will have Lewis watch him claim Martine, then kill Lewis in front of her. When they get outside, they learn that Friedlander has started the choosing already and an angered Gellor hurries over to the jail. They get there as the last man is auctioned off and as Gellor yells out for Martine, one of the Black Guard tells the crowd that Martine is gone. Checking for himself, Gellor accuses Friedlander of hiding her and when he threatens to kill him, Friedlander shoots Gellor. As everyone leaves, Lewis demands Friedlander tell him where Martine is but before Friedlander shoots him, Katherine says that he doesn’t know because she is the one who took her. Back in the lab, Lyle is arguing about Katherine’s continued involvement in the experiment but Katherine tells the supervisor that Lewis is a perfect candidate to become a killmaster. The Supervisor says that they have to prove it, as they are losing rapidly. Back in the town, Katherine explains she took Martine but they were ambushed by bandits, who took Martine to the old mine. Lewis asks Friedlander to go back to town and get some men while he has Katherine lead him to the mine. As they are riding along, Lewis tells Katherine that he knows they weren’t ambushed but she gave Martine to the bandits and Katherine says that she did it to save him, then rides off as Lewis is insisting on going to the mine. When Lewis gets there, he knows out the lookout, then begins firing at the bandits, killing several but he soon runs out of bullets. Before they can kill him, Katherine returns with some men and they start killing off the rest of the bandits. When the leader holds Martine hostage, Lewis yells at everyone to stop shooting but Katherine fires one last shot, killing Martine. In the lab, Lyle says that Katherine may have been right about Lewis but Katherine says that he disappointed her, as he merely played not to lose, and that he is about to be terminated. In the town, Friedlander heads to the bar and after talking to Lewis for a minute, moves to arrest him, saying he will think of a charge later. When one of the bystanders says he can’t do that, Friedlander shoots him and Lewis makes a run for it. Friedlander chases after him, constantly laughing as he shoots at him. He eventually catches up to Lewis as Lewis tries to grab a horse but instead of killing Lewis, Friedlander ends up killing himself. Lewis asks Friedlander why but when he gets no response, he walks away. As he heads to the center of town, he is met by Peter, who is wielding a shotgun, and told to stop. Lewis tries to reason with Peter, saying he is being set up just like he was, but Peter says he won’t waste his chance and when Lewis keeps moving towards him, he shoots him. In the lab, Katherine is happy to see Lewis died in the simulation but is shocked to see them reviving the real Lewis and learns it is under the supervisor’s orders. Katherine goes to see the supervisor and asks why Lewis is being revived and she is told she exceeded her authority and Lewis is exactly the kind of person they need. As they argue, Lewis regains consciousness and hears them talking about him. As he tries to figure out what is going on, he starts hitting buttons on the control panel next to his chair and opens a window that shows Martine, Gellor, Friedlander, and the other people that died in the simulation, now mindless shuffling bodies in a room. When Katherine and the supervisor return to the room, they find that Lewis had ripped up the controls for the chair and hotwired it to send him back into the simulation.

This was an interesting, albeit confusing, movie to watch. The acting was honestly a little boring, as all of the characters really seemed to be to stiff and robotic in their delivery. I will say that the end scene with Jack Palance (Friedlander) laughing like a maniac as he kept popping up and shooting at Lewis was funny, in a WTF kind of way. The story was honestly pretty confusing in the sense that they really didn’t explain what the point of the simulation was. I mean, yes, the simulation is testing them for something but you never really know why or what Lewis is expected to do for them. I did like the idea of the people being in a simulated world and the whole dying in the simulation causes you to die, well mentally die, in the real world. I feel like The Matrix borrowed quite a bit from this idea. The special effects were ok but the camera work was just terrible, as there were times that they would randomly zoom close to someone’s face when they weren’t fully in the camera shot, so you would get a great view of someone’s cheek. A for effort….well, maybe a B+ because there was definitely some room for improvement.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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crime, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

April 13th, 2018 Movie – The Usual Suspects

the usual suspects

Some times, the best way to hear about a movie is word of mouth. If a movie gets a lot of good word of mouth among people, then their friends will be more likely to go see it. That is definitely the case with today’s movie. Everyone that I knew who had seen it had enjoyed it and I ended up seeing it myself. But that word of mouth extended even further when it came out on video, as even more people were talking about it who missed seeing it in theaters. I liked this movie and would always watch it when it came on TV, then finally decided to go ahead and get it on DVD after a while. So let’s enjoy today’s movie, The Usual Suspects.

The plot: On a freight ship docked in San Pedro, California, a badly wounded man, Dean Keaton, lights a match book and drops it to the ground, setting fire to a trail of gasoline. As the flames head towards the gas tanks, the flame is put out by a man urinating off of an upper deck. The man then approaches Keaton, who calls him “Keyser”, and the two talk briefly before Keyser shoots Keaton, then drops a lit cigarette onto the gasoline, reigniting it and causing the ship to explode as the man leaves. Some time later, Roger “Verbal” Kent, a con artist with cerebral palsey, is being interviewed by the police. Verbal tells them that the whole thing started 6 weeks ago when a shipment of guns was hijacked and while the drivers didn’t see anything, they heard one of the thieves speak. The New York Police Dept. pick up Verbal as well as Keaton, Michael McManus, Fred Fenster, and Todd Hockney, and placed in a police line up and each are made to read the line on a card before beginning to interrogate them. When they are placed in a holding cell, McManus and Hockney discuss the rumors about Keaton going straight since hooking up with a criminal defense attorney. They then all discuss why they are there and realize that they are being set up as the police have no real idea who stole the guns and  McManus wants to get back at the cops. Back in the present day, FBI Agent Jack Baer arrives at the dock and asks one of the officers if there were any survivors and learns that there were two; one who was badly burned and taken to the hospital, and one, Verbal, who was taken into custody by the police. Baer heads to the hospital and learns that the injured man had regained consciousness and as he goes in to try and speak to him, he recognizes him as Arkosh Kovash, a Hungarian Mobster. Baer makes a call to arrange for a security detail and an interpreter but as he is on the phone, Arkosh starts yelling out the name “Keyser Soze”, making Baer pause briefly before telling the person on the other phone to locate Dave Kujan. U.S. Customs Special Agent Dave Kujan has flown down to San Pedro to question Verbal but learns that he is going to be posting bail and released the next day. Kujan manages to get in to talk with Verbal before he is released and asks him what happened after the police line up in New York. Verbal explains that McManus had come up with a plan but they needed 5 men to pull it off and Verbal goes to try and convince Keaton to help them. The men all work together to rob some crooked cops that operate an illegal taxi service, robbing the recent customer of some jewels he was carrying, then torching the police car. Keaton calls in an anonymous tip and the media arrives and they end up bringing down the whole ringing, which extends all the way to the chief. McManus plans on heading to California with Fenster to meet with a fence that he knows but Hockney and the others don’t like the idea of them going alone and decide to go with him. Back in the present, Baer has his superior and the interpreter brought into the room and when he learns that Arkosh has seen Keyser Soze’s face, he has a sketch artist brought forward so they can get a sketch from Arkosh’s description. Back in the San Pedro Police Department, Kujan continues to question Verbal and Verbal tells him that after they arrived in California, they met with the fence, Redfoot, who paid them then offered another job. Keaton didn’t want to do it at first but finally relents and goes through with it. They go to steal a suitcase from a courier but unlike the police heist, this time they end up having to kill the men they were stealing from. When they open it, they find the suitcase contains heroin instead of jewels and McManus gets upset and when they meet with Redfoot, he accuses him of setting them up. Keaton calms him down and then questions Redfoot about who hired them and says he wants to meet him and Redfoot says the man has already said he wants to arrange a meeting. Back in the present, Baer heads to the station and meets with Kujan, telling him that according to Arkosh, the Hungarians were meeting with some Argentinians to buy some cocaine when Keyser Soze showed up and killed everyone. When Kujan returns back to the room and asks Verbal about Keyser Soze, he gets visibly upset. Verbal explains how they met with a lawyer named Kobayashi, who tells them he works for Keyser Soze. Kobayashi explains that Soze wants them to do a job for him, which could kill them but if they survive, they will get $91 million to split between them. When Keaton starts to refuse, Kobayashi explains that all of them have stolen from Soze at one point or another, and the only reason they are alive is because they didn’t know they were stealing from them. Soze feels this is simply making things even between them, and Kobayahsi leaves his suitcase on the table and leaves. When Keaton opens it, he finds envelopes with each of their names on them, with details of their lives contained in each one. Back in the present, Verbal tells Kujan a story he was told about how Soze was simply a low level dealer in Hungary when the mob wanted to expand into his territory. They held his wife and children hostage and killed his son in front of him, demanding he turn over his territory or else the others die. Soze proceeds to kill two of the mobsters, then kill his own family, telling the lone survivor he would rather see his family dead. After letting the man go and burying his family, Soze proceeds to go after the mob, killing their children and wives in retaliation, which led to him becoming a myth among criminals. After meeting with Kobayashi, Fenster decides to try and run but he is killed by Soze and Kobayashi tells the others where to find the body. As they argue over what to do, they bury Fenster, then decide to go after Kobayashi but he warns them against killing him, saying that their loved ones will end up dead, showing that he has brought Keaton’s girlfriend to be part of a trial and telling Keaton that the bodyguard he arranged will kill her if he turns up missing. Realizing they are trapped, Keaton and the others head out to the dock and await the meeting between the Hungarians and Argentinians. When the men show up, Keaton, McManus, and Hockney head out to deal with them, leaving Verbal, due to his disability, to cover them. The three men proceed to kill the guards outside and as Keaton and McManus head onto the boat, Hockney heads to a nearby van and finds it full of cash but ends up getting shot. Keaton and McManus make their way through the ship but find no sign of any cocaine on board. Verbal is tired of waiting and goes trying to help but when he finds Hockney’s body, he closes the van doors and goes to drive off but is unable to find the keys. Meanwhile, McManus is stabbed in the neck and as Keaton checks on him, he is shot in the back, which paralyzes him and brings us to the beginning of the movie. Back in the station, Kujan asks Verbal why he didn’t help his friends and he says he was too scared of Soze. Kujan then tells him that there were no drugs on the ship, but it was a witness who had knowledge of Soze, including who Soze really was. Kujan believes that Keaton was really Soze and tries to convince Verbal of that and turn state’s evidence but Verbal refuses and leaves, as his bail has been posted. After Verbal leaves, Kujan is talking with Sergeant Jeff Rabin about the situation and as he looks at the cork board behind Rabin, he realizes Verbal had lied to him, using names and elements from the cork board for his story. Kujan goes chasing after Verbal, just as a fax comes in from the hospital, with Verbal’s picture being listed as Keyser Soze. Outside, Verbal reveals that his disability was faked and he gets into a car that Kobayashi is driving and they drive off, leaving Kujan standing there frustrated at ebing unable to catch Verbal/Soze.

The Usual Suspects met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Expertly shot and edited, The Usual Suspects gives the audience a simple plot and then piles on layers of deceit, twists, and violence before pulling out the rug from underneath.” The line-up scene was scripted as a serious scene, but after a full day of filming takes where the actors couldn’t keep a straight face, director Bryan Singer decided to use the funniest takes. A making-of documentary shows Singer becoming furious at the actors for the constant cracking-up. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $34.4 million off of a $6 million budget and would win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and while Kevin Spacey would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

This is a great movie but I will admit that the ending was a little predictable. The acting was great, with Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, and Chazz Palminteri doing great jobs in the roles of Verbal/Soze, Keaton, and Kujan respectively. Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollack, and Benicio Del Toro were also good as McManus, Hockney, and Fenster while Pete Postlethwaite did a great job as Kobayashi. The story was interesting and I liked the concept of the mysterious puppet master pulling the strings for all of the events. However, I did think that it got predictable that Verbal was really Soze before the “big reveal”. I did like that they showed Kujan realizing that he had been played and chasing after him before the sketch of Verbal gets faxed in, as his reaction and the slow motion showing all of the names Verbal had used was revealed was definitely a good way to start the close of the movie. The drama was well choreographed and the special effects in the final fire fight and explosions were well done. This is definitely a solid thriller of a movie and one that everyone should watch at least once.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, mystery

April 12th, 2018 Movie – Urban Legend

urban legend

Urban Legends. Everyone has heard of at least one in their life time and probably told just as many to other people. The good thing about urban legends is that they can be the setup, and sometimes the basis, for a horror movie. Well, someone decided that why use just one urban legend when you can do a whole movie about a lot of them. Now I first heard about this movie and I will admit that my curiosity was piqued about it but I never went to see it in theaters, choosing to rent it when it came out on video. During the dying Blockbuster days, I picked up a copy on the cheap so let’s see if this was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Urban Legend.

The plot: A young woman named Michelle is driving on the highway when it starts raining. Finding herself low on gas, she stops at a run down gas station and is startled when the attendant suddenly appears at her window. Michelle hands him her credit card and after starting to pump her gas, the man looks inside her car then heads into the store. A few minutes later, the man returns and stutteringly tells her that her credit card company is on the phone and needs to speak with her. Nervous, Michelle grabs a can of mace from her purse and heads inside but when she picks up the phone, she hears the busy signal just as the attendant locks the door. The attendant tries to grab her but she fights him off, and tries to leave, macing him when he manages to grab her. Using the phone to break the window, Michelle climbs out and rushes to her car and drives off, leaving the attendant standing there screaming that someone was in her back seat. Michelle drives away, still freaked by the encounter when she sees someone rise up from her back seat and kill her with an axe. At Pendleton University, Parker Riley is telling the story of a supposed massacre that happened at Stanley Hall to Natalie Simons and Brenda Bates but their friend Paul Gardner, who works for the school newspaper, discredits the story as a hoax. Later, Brenda and Natalie walk by a hole in the wall of a dorm that supposedly is able to summon the dead and they try it only to be scared by another friend, Damon Brooks, before Natalie heads back to her dorm room. The next day, Brenda, Natalie, Parker, and Damon are attending Professor Wexler’s class on urban legends when he has Brenda and Damon come up to do a demonstration disproving the legend about pop rocks and soda. As they leave class, Brenda and Natalie see Dean Adams and security guard Reese Wilson removing all of the school newspapers in the bins due to Paul’s story about Michelle’s death. As everyone talks about Michelle’s death, Natalie appears to be especially freaked out by it but doesn’t say why. That night, Damon invites Natalie out to talk about Michelle’s death and he takes her out to the woods but apparently used it only as an excuse to try and hook up with her. Natalie punches him and tells him to take her back and he relents, stepping out of the car to use the restroom. As he is finishing up, someone sneaks up behind him and starts strangling him with a rope. As Natalie yells out for him to hurry up, she is confronted by someone wearing a hooded parka and quickly gets back in the car. As she tries to start the car, she hears something scraping on the roof, not realizing it is Damon, whose is hanging from a tree limb above her and his feet are barely touching the roof of the car. Natalie manages to start the car and drives off, unknowingly hanging Damon as the rope was tied to the car’s trailer hitch. Natalie tries to run the stranger over she finds the car can’t go forward any more due to the rope so she puts the car in reverse and ends up crashing into the tree, and Damon’s body falls onto the hood of the car. Natalie runs back to the college and tells Reese what happened but when they go back to the scene, they find the car and body missing and Reese thinks Natalie is on something. Natalie tries telling her friends but Parker says that it is probably Damon playing a practical joke like he always does. As they keep talking, Natalie realizes that Damon’s death and Michelle’s are similar to urban legends and she heads to the library to get a book on urban legends, running into Sasha, Parker’s girlfriend and campus radio DJ, as she does. Meanwhile, Natalie’s roommate Tosh is attempting to arrange a hookup only to be attacked in their room. Natalie walks in but, having turned on the lights to find Tosh having sex before, she mistakes Tosh’s muffled cries as her having sex and simply keeps the lights off before heading to bed. When she wakes up, Natalie notices a pool of blood near Tosh’s body and finds that she has been murdered and the killer had written “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights” in her blood above Natalie’s bed, mimicking another urban legend. As the paramedics are brought in to take away the body, Dean Adams and Reese talk with Natalie and Adams tries to convince her not to say anything to the police. Paul follows her out of there and asks her what is going on and shows her a picture of Michelle’s yearbook and asks why she didn’t say she knew Michelle. Natalie tells him her theory and Paul doesn’t really believe her but decides to help her check out the truth behind the Stanley Hall Massacre. They go to look at the school records only to find the records for 1973 are missing and when they ask the janitor if he knows anything, he says to talk with Wexler. They head to Wexler’s office and getting no answer, Paul breaks in. When they start looking around, Natalie finds a secret room with a hooded parka and an axe inside but they are caught by Wexler. Natalie and Paul are taken to Adams’ office and they asks him about the massacre but he doesn’t answer, telling NAtalie she is lucky to have gotten accepted as she has a reckless endangerment charge on her record and tells Paul that he has been kicked off of the school paper. Later, Natalie goes to see Brenda at the pool when she sees a parka clad person approaching her and she tries to warn her, breaking a window before the person is revealed to be another swimmer. As Brenda tries talking with Natalie, Natalie reveals to her that she knew Michelle and that when they were in high school, they played a joke based on an urban legend and ended up accidentally killing someone. Meanwhile, Adams is preparing to leave when he is spooked by Reese, who says they should get some more security for the weekend but Adams refuses, wanting to keep everything quiet and under wraps. As Reese leaves, Adams is attacked when someone underneath his car slashes his achilles tendon, then runs him over with his own car as he tries to crawl away, impaling him on the parking deck’s security spikes. At the newspaper, Paul is cleaning out his desk when he finds an old newspaper showing that the massacre did happen and Wexler is the only survivor. Brenda convinces Natalie to come to the Stanley Hall Massacre party when she runs into Paul, who tells her she was right. Paul explains his theory about Wexler and how he might be the killer and as Natalie gets frightened, he says he won’t let anything happen to her. Paul kisses Natalie but they are caught by Brenda, who has a crush on Paul, and she calls Natalie a slut and runs outside, where she sits on the steps and cries. Paul tries to convince Parker to stop the party but when Parker mocks him, he tells Natalie he is going to go get some help. Meanwhile, Parker gets a phone call from someone saying he is going to die but when Parker checks the caller ID, he notices it is coming from Damon’s room. Thinking it is Damon playing a joke, he asks if this is the legend about the babysitter and the call is coming from upstairs but the caller says it is the legend about the old woman that dries off her dog in the microwave. Parker checks the microwave to find his dog has exploded inside and when he goes to the bathroom to throw up, the killer attacks him and force feeds him some pop rocks and drain killer to kill him. Sasha leaves the party to work her shift on the radio and as she takes a call, the killer kills her producer and attacks her while she is on air. Natalie hears Sasha screaming and heads over to the station only to see the killer kill Sasha. She heads over to Paul’s dorm to get him and tells him what happened and he says they should leave, but Natalie is starting to get suspicious of him. The two run into Brenda and they tell her Sasha is dead and they all leave in Paul’s SUV. As they drive, Natalie complains about a smell and they stop at a gas station to see if the phones work there. Paul heads inside to try the phones while Natalie and Brenda wait in the car but the two hear Wexler’s alarm and find his dead body in the back. The two girls run through the woods back towards campus but get separated and Natalie ends up getting picked up by the janitor. As they are driving, Natalie sees his parka and thinks he might be the killer and tries to get out of the car but he tells her the doors won’t open from the outside. As they keep driving, they see a car approaching with it’s lights off and the janitor flashes his high beams to alert the other car but Natalie realizes it is the killer in Paul’s car, as the car turns around and follows them, constantly flashing it’s high beams at them and eventually forcing them off the road. The janitor dies in the crash and Natalie and manages to reach the campus, where she hears Brenda screaming. Going to find her friend, Natalie heads inside the abandoned Stanley Hall, only to be attacked by Brenda. When she comes to, Natalie finds herself tied to a bed and Brenda explains that the man that Natalie and Michelle killed was her boyfriend and she was getting her revenge. Brenda starts to cut into Natalie to mimic the kidney thief legend when Reese shows up to rescue her. As Natalie frees herself, Reese starts to frisk Brenda, who pulls out a switchblade and slashes her. Reese drops her gun and Brenda and Reese struggle for it before Brenda manages to shoot Reese, then points the gun at Natalie. Paul shows up and tries to talk Brenda out of shooting Natalie but Brenda points the gun at both of them. Reese shoots Brenda in the arm, causing her to drop the gun and Natalie picks it up and shoots her, knocking her out the window. Natalie and Paul check on Reese, who is bleeding but still alive, and they leave to get help but as they are driving down the road, Brenda appears in the back seat and tries attacking them with an axe but Paul slams into the side of a bridge and goes flying out the windshield and plunges into the river below. Some time later, at another college, some students are talking about the murders when Brenda, still alive and under a new identity, says that they are telling it wrong and says she will tell them how it really went.

Urban Legend met with poor results from the critics, holding a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Elements of Scream reappear in a vastly inferior vehicle.” In keeping with the movie’s title and theme, 11 urban legends were reenacted and another 5 were referenced during the film. When Paul and Natalie walk into the hidden room in Professor William Wexler’s office, a puppet of Freddy Krueger can be seen just before they see the axe, which is a nod to Robert Englund, who plays Wexler in the movie but is most famous for playing Freddy in the Nightmare On Elm Street movies. The movie was a box office hit, earning $72.5 million off of a $14 million budget and would spawn 2 sequels.

I had high hopes for this movie but it honestly was kind of a let down. The acting was ok, with all of the main characters doing ok jobs, and I mean just that. They were ok but nobody really wowed me and in some cases, they could be embarrassingly bad. I personally liked Robert Englund as Wexler, who made for a great red herring in the movie. I also liked Loretta Devine, as her character of Security Officer Reese Wilson made for some unintentional comedic relief at times. The story was interesting and I did like how they tried using the urban legends to make unique kills instead of making it a stereotypical slasher movie. The special effects were ok, but I feel like they could have done more with some of the kills. Good idea but poor execution (no pun intended) make this just another average horror movie.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

February 18th, 2018 Movie – The Thirty-Nine Steps

the thirty nine steps

Sunday morning and I find myself in for a treat with today’s movie. Today I find myself watching another of Hitchcock’s early movies from the Legends Of Horror box set. Seriously, they should have just called this set “Hitchcock & Friends”, as it seems like a high percentage of movies from here are Hitchcock movies. Based on the novel by the same name, today’s movie is actually the first of several film versions and yet another Hitchcock movie that I have never seen. So let’s see if this movie is as good as most of his earlier works have been as I watch today’s movie, The 39 Steps.

The plot: At a London theater, the audience is being entertained by the act of “Mr. Memory”, a man with an exceptional talent for recall, when a fight breaks out among the crowd. As the stage manager calls for everyone to calm down, shots ring out and the crowd panics and starts to flee. Richard Hannay, a man from Canada who is in town on business, ends up leaving the theater with a young woman named Miss Smith, who asks to come back to his place. When they get there, Smith acts very nervous, staying clear of the windows and asking Hannay not to answer the phone when it rings. Making their way to the kitchen, with Smith pulling the curtains closed before allowing Hannay to turn on the lights, she tells him she is a spy named Annabella and believes that assassins were after her in the theater. She tells him that she uncovered a plot to steal British military information, with the man in charge missing the tip of one of his fingers. She tells him that she plans to leave for Scotland in the morning, as there is a man there that can help her and Hannay offers to let her stay the night. That night, Smith bursts into Hannay’s bedroom and warns him to run or he will be next, then collapses onto the bed, having been stabbed in the back. Suddenly, the phone starts ringing and Hannay moves to pick it up when, recalling Smith’s words, he checks out the window and sees a man outside at the payphone across the street. Hannay goes over to Smith’s body and takes the piece of paper she was holding, discovering it is a map of the Killin area of Scotland, with a particular farm house circled on it. Feeling paranoid that someone might try to kill him too, Hannay convinces the milkman to trade jackets and hats with him so he can slup out unnoticed, then boards a train heading for Scotland. As the train stops at a station, one of the passengers in the car Hannay is in buys a newspaper, which has a story about the murder. Hannay asks to see the paper and after reading the story, he gets off the train and attempts to talk to a police officer but when he overhears the officer saying that there was enough evidence to hang him, he changes his mind and heads back to the train. Realizing that the police might be searching the train, Hannay ducks into another compartment and kisses the woman inside as they pass, then apologizes to her, but the police return and she tells them that Hannay is who they are looking for. HAnnay manages to give the police the slip and as the train is stopped on a bridge, manages to get off and cling to one of the bridge supports in order to avoid being seen until the train starts moving again. Making his way on foot, Hannay eventually reaches a farm house and learns that there is a professor staying at the house he is heading towards. Since he still has 40 miles to travel, Hannay pays the crofter to let him stay there the night and the crofter agrees and introduces Hannay to his young wife. As the wife gets Hannay’s bed ready and starts preparing for supper, Hannay asks to read the newspaper and sees a story about his escape from the police on the bridge. The crofter has him sit down for dinner and as he says grace, his wife notices the story in the paper and stares at Hannay but he mouths to her that he is innocent. Noticing the glances between Hannay and his wife, the crofter goes outside and looks in the window to see them talking. The next morning, the crofter’s wife notices a police car approaching down the road and she sneaks downstairs to warn Hannay, as he told her the situation. Before he can leave, the crofter enters the room, suspecting his wife of cheating on him, but they argue that it isn’t the case. Hannay offers the crofter some money to stall the police but as he goes to sneak out the back, the crofter’s wife says his light colored coat will stand out in the dark and gives him the crofter’s dark coat to wear. Thanking her, Hannay slips out the back and makes his way across the hillside, putting some distance between himself and the police before they find him. With the police hot on his tail, Hannay makes his way to the home of Professor Jordan, telling the maid that answers the door that he is there on behalf of Annabella Smith. After conferring with Jordan, the maid lets him in and when the police arrive, she tells them that they have guests there but no one has entered the house in the last half hour. Inside, Jordan tells Hannay to give him a few minutes to get rid of his guests and then they prepare to talk. Hannay tells him what Smith learned and the spy ring stealing the secrets and Jordan shows that he is missing the top half of his pinky, revealing himself to be the leader of the spy ring called the 39 steps. Jordan discusses what he should do with Hannay and ends up shooting him in the chest. However, it is revealed that the crofter’s coat that Hannay was wearing contained his hymn book, which ended up stopping the bullet. After Jordan had Hannay’s body moved, Hannay escaped out the window and made his way to the local sheriff’s station to tell him what happened. The sheriff doesn’t believe him, as Jordan is his best friend, and had summoned the London police to pick up Hannay. As they start to handcuff him, Hannay manages to get away and jump out the window, hiding among a Salvation Army march in order to avoid the police. After the bulk of the police pass him, he leaves the march but is forced to duck into a building in order to avoid some stragglers. Inside, Hannay is mistaken for a introductory speaker for a political candidate. As he is giving his speech, Pamela, the woman he had kissed on the train, enters the room and, recognizing him, goes to summon the police. After giving a rousing speech, Hannay is grabbed by the police when he heads offstage and he confronts Pamela about her turning him in and bags her to place a call to warn London about the secrets being stolen but she refuses. The police ask Pamela to accompany them to the station so she can formally identify Hannay and she reluctantly agrees but as they head out of town, she voices her displeasure when they say that they have orders to take Hannay to another station 2 hours away. When they reach a crossroads and proceed to go the wrong way, Hannay gets suspicious about the police actually being police. When a flock of sheep block the car, the “police” handcuff Pamela to Hannay while they leave the car to clear the sheep from the road. Hannay drags Pamela with him as he leaves the car and carries her with him, where they hide from the police. Making their way down the road, with Hannay constantly whistling a tune that is stuck in his head, Hannay plays upon Pamela’s suspicions about him to scare her into cooperating. The soon reach an inn and get a room for the night, doing their best to hide the handcuffs around their wrists. When they get to their room, Hannay tries to accommodate Pamela to the best of his ability and they talk briefly before they both end up falling asleep. During the night, Pamela wakes up and manages to slip her hand out of the handcuffs. She sneaks downstairs and, noticing the “police” starts to call out to them but she overhears them talking and realizes that Hannay was right. After the innkeeper’s wife kicks the men out for being there after hours, Pamela heads back to the room and lays down on the sofa. When Hannay wakes up, he is shocked to find Pamela no longer handcuffed to him but she sits up from the sofa and dissuades his fears. When Hannay asks why she didn’t run away, she tells him she was originally but heard the “police” talking and realized that Hannay was telling the truth. She tells him everything she overheard, about Jordan meeting someone at the London Palladium, and Hannay heads there to catch Jordan, telling Pamela to go to the police and tell them of the theft. Pamela tells the London police but they say they called the military and learned that no papers were missing so they dismiss her story and want to question her about Hannay’s location. Pamela says she doesn’t know and leaves the station but the chief has some men follow her, believing she will lead them to Hannay. As Hannay sits in the theater, he spots Jordan sitting in a balcony just as Pamela spots him and sits next to him. As they discuss what they should do, the orchestra plays the tune for the next act and Hannay recognizes it as the act for Mr. Memory, which was the tune he had stuck in his head. Realizing that they plan on using Mr. Memory to sneak the secrets out, Hannay approaches the police to tell them but they refuse to listen. Hannay yells out to Mr. Memory to tell him what the 39 Steps are and Mr. Memory, out of reflex, says that they are a spy organization working on behalf of a Foreign Office. Before he can say which country, Jordan shoots Mr. Memory, then tries to escape but he ends up being captured by the police. Hannay approaches the dying Mr. Memory and asks him about the secret he was carrying. Mr. Memory recites the specs for a silent aircraft engine, saying that he is glad to get it off his mind, then dies. As a dance line entertains the crowd, Hannay and Pamela watch from the side of the stage and their hands move towards each other until they are holding hands.

The 39 Steps met with high praise from modern critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Packed with twists and turns, this essential early Alfred Hitchcock feature hints at the dazzling heights he’d reach later in his career.” Coming off the success of The Man Who Knew Too Much, the movie was just as much an international success and would cement Hitchcock as a true box office draw. Since it’s release, the movie has been listed as one of the top British films of all time, and, even though there are some changes between the two formats, it is considered one of the best book-to-film adaptations of all times.

This is such a great movie, having all of the suspense and intrigue that you have come to expect out of a Hitchcock movie. The acting was really good, with Robert Donat (Hanay) and Madeleine Carroll (Pamela) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was great, with a lot of intrigue following around Hannay from the moment a dying Smith stumbles into his bedroom, as you wonder how he will be able to escape the police while alert the authorities to Smith’s mission. The suspense and drama in the movie were incredible and really helped propel the movie forward while keeping the viewer invested in the movie. Definitely a must see movie for any fan of cinema.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, mystery, sci-fi

February 16th, 2018 Movie – The Thing (1982)

the thing

So I had a pretty rough night last night which is why I am getting a late start on today’s blog. So this is the second John Carpenter movie this week and I am almost certain that it has the distinction of being the first horror movie that I ever saw. This is one of those movie, that I tend to watch whenever it comes on and it would be years before I learned that it was something of a remake (which makes me wonder why I have not watched the original The Thing From Another World yet). Anyways, I bought a copy of it on on DVD as a “cheering myself up over getting a divorce” gift to myself and will pop it in anytime the mood hit’s me. Now lets have a nice dose of terror to kick off the weekend as I watch today’s movie, The Thing (1982).

The plot: Centuries ago, a flying saucer crash lands in Antarctica and ends up being buried underneath the snow and ice. In 1982, a helicopter piloted by two members of a Norwegian expedition is chasing after a Malamute, attempting to shoot it as it makes it’s way across the snow. Their chase leads them to a US research station, and the Norwegians attempt to use explosives to keep the dog away. from there. The commotion bring out several of the American researchers and as the helicopter lands, the dog runs up to one of the men. One of the Norwegians grabs another grenade but accidentally drops it in the snow and as he tries to dig it out, he ends up dying when it explodes, taking out the helicopter as well. The other Norwegian fires his rifle at the dog, hitting Bennings in the leg. As the Norwegian continues after the dog, he is eventually shot and killed by Garry, the base commander. After tending to Benning’s leg, Dr. Copper wants to go check on the Norwegian camp, as they have been unable to raise them and they are the closest people to them if there is an emergency. Taking advantage of the slight break in the weather, Copper convinces their helicopter pilot R.J. Macready to use their helicopter to head to the Norwegian camp. While they are gone, the Malamute wanders around the station and eventually heads into a room with a single occupant inside. MacReady and Copper arrive at the Norwegian camp to find it has been burned and the rest of the team killed. Exploring further into the ruins, they find a hole where something had been dug out of the ice but find no signs of it. Heading back outside, they soon find the body of something that had been burnt and take it back to the station, where Copper orders Blair to perform an autopsy on it. As Blair performs the autopsy, he discovers that the strange body has a normal set of human organs inside it. As night falls, Bennings has Clark place the Malamute in the kennel with the other sled dogs but once he leaves, the Malamute transforms into a strange creature and begins attacking the other dogs, absorbing them into it’s body. Clark hears the dogs barking and goes to check on them and after opening the door, he gets knocked down by two dogs that quickly run away before seeing the creature and quickly slamming the kennel door shut. MacReady hears the commotion and sounds the fire alarm to alert everyone else in the station, then grabs a shotgun and heads to the kennel. Seeing the creature, he yells for Childs to grab the flamethrower, then he and Garry begin firing at the creature before Childs arrives and finally burns it. The next morning, Blair works on performing an autopsy on the creature and discovers that it is perfectly able to mimic any creature. As he goes with Clark to check on the other dogs, he is surprised to learn that the Malamute had free reign of the camp all day and had only been placed in a kennel that night. Meanwhile, MacReady, Norris, Garry, and Copper are going over the Norwegian data Copper brought back and determine that the Norwegians had been focusing on a site a few miles north of their camp. MacReady, Norris, and Garry fly out to the site and discover the Norwegians have unearthed a flying saucer and apparently dug something up that had been buried nearby. Returning to the station, MacReady explains what they saw to everyone and theorizes that something had crawled out of the crashed saucer and been frozen in the ice, which was what the Norwegian’s had dug up. It somehow was thawed out and began to attack the Norwegians before turning into the Malamute and running from the survivors when they tried to kill it. Blair conducts some tests of the alien’s blood and cells and theorizes that if the alien creature got to a civilized area, then humanity would be completely overrun by the creature in a matter of months, with the whole planet being assimilated within a few years. Bennings and Windows move the creature’s body into storage chamber and Windows leaves while Bennings stays behind to gather a few supplies. Meanwhile, Fuchs asks to speak with MacReady in private and voices his concerns about Blair, saying he locked himself in his room. Fuchs then says he found Blair’s notes and reads some of them to MacReady, noting that the creature has to be in close proximity to it’s prey and strikes when it is alone, and that it’s cells are not dead within the body. Meanwhile, Windows returns to the room to see what is keeping Bennings only to find him being absorbed by the creature. Windows goes and gets MacReady and Fuchs and when they return, they find Bennings had escaped out the window. Macready sounds the alarm and they chase after him and as everyone gathers around him, they see he is really one of the creatures. MacReady dumps a nearby barrel of fuel onto Bennings and sets him on fire, then has everyone gather the other bodies and pour fuel on them before he sets them on fire with the flamethrower. As they watch the bodies burn, Garry asks where Blair is and Fuchs goes to look for him while Windows tries calling for help on the radio. MacReady notices Blair leaving his helicopter and when he checks it, finds that Blair has destroyed the console. Suddenly, a shot rings out and MacReady heads inside the nearby building to find Blair trashing the radio and computers, shooting at anyone that tries to stop him. MacReady and the others eventually subdue him and learn that he also disabled the other vehicles and killed the remaining sled dogs. The group lock him in the tool shed and as MacReady talks to him, Blair says he doesn’t know who to trust and warns MacReady to watch Clark, as he was alone with the dog for quite a while. Outside, MacReady talks with Childs, Garry, Copper, and Fuchs and ask if there is any way to determine who is human. Copper suggests taking a blood sample and comparing it to old samples they have in storage but when they go to get the old blood, they find that it is all ruined. Tempers start flaring, with Garry and Copper arguing as they were the only ones who had the key to the storage fridge, and Garry ends up stepping down as leader so MacReady takes over. MacReady has Garry, Copper, and Clark shot up with Morphine and isolated from the others, with Childs and Norris keeping watch. MacReady makes a recording detailing what is happening, which he plans to hide so that there is a record of events in case none of them make it, then goes to check on Fuchs, who is trying to come up with a new test to determine who is human and who might be a creature. After MacReady leaves, the lights suddenly goes out in the lab and as Fuchs lights a candle so he can see, he sees someone move past the doorway. Leaving the lab and walking outside, Fuchs calls out to see if anyone is there, then discovers a ripped jacket with MacReady’s name on it. Inside the rec room, MacReady tells the others that Fuchs is missing and they decide to split up and go looking for him, with MacReady, Windows, and Nauls checking on Blair outside while Palmer and Childs check inside. MacReady speaks with Blair, who asks to be brought back inside and promises that he wont hurt anyone but Macready leaves him in the shed. They then discover Fuchs burned body and theorize that he was attacked and tried to burn the creature with a flare, or killed himself to avoid being assimilated. MacReady sends Windows back inside to tell the others about Fuchs while he and Nauls check his cabin, as he had turned the lights off when he left the day before but they are suddenly on now. After 40 minutes with no sign of MacReady or Nauls, Childs and the others start boarding up the windows and doors when Norris sees someone coming back. Nauls enters the building and tells them he cut the tow line, leaving MacReady outside to freeze to death, after he found a ripped up jacket with MacReady’s name on it, believing that he is one of those things. As they all argue on whether MacReady really is one of those things, they hear him break into the supply room. Childs breaks down the door to discover MacReady holding a bundle of dynamite and threatening to blow them all up. Nauls and Norris attempt to jump MacReady but he throws them aside and Norris collapses to the ground, appearing to have a heart attack. MacReady has Windows untie Copper and bring him in there to tend to Norris but as he goes to use the defibrillator, Norris’ stomach opens up and transforms into a mouth, biting off Copper’s hands. As Copper dies from shock and blood loss, MacReady burns Norris’ body with the blow torch but the see his head separate and move attempt to get away so he burns it too. Clark attempts to stab MacReady, who shoots him, then he has Windows tie everyone up, then draw a sample of blood from them. MacReady then heats up a wire and begins poking it into the blood, figuring that if they were one of the aliens, their blood would react and attempt get away from the fire. MacReady tests Windows first, who is proven to be human, then has him grab another flamethrower while he checks his own blood, then Copper and Clark, proving that they are all humans. When MacReady tests Palmer’s blood, it reacts and Palmer transforms into a creature and breaks free of it’s bonds, then kills Windows before MacReady is able to set him on fire. Palmer smashes through a wall and collapses to the ground and MacReady lights a stick of dynamite and throws it at him, blowing up the body to ensure he is dead. MacReady then burns Windows’ body, then begins testing the others blood and determines that they are all human. Realizing the only person left to check is Blair, MacReady, Nauls, and Garry head to the tool shed only to find that the door is open and when they check inside, they find a tunnel underneath the shed. Following the tunnel, they find that Blair had been working on building himself a spaceship in secret. Making there way back to the shed, Nauls sees someone moving around outside just as the generators go out, plunging the base into darkness. Realizing that the creature knows there is no way out now and is trying to freeze itself and wait for a rescue team, MacReady tells the others that they aren’t going to survive so they might as well ensure that the creature doesn’t as well. Blowing up the shed, and the alien ship, they then make their way to the main building and begin blowing up all of the rooms. Reaching the generator room, they head inside to look for the creature and discover the generator is gone. They start planting more dynamite in the room but Blair appears and secretly kills Garry, then kills Nauls when he goes to check on him. MacReady asks if they are set and discovers they are missing and as he moves to check, something begins burrowing through the ground and grabs the detonator. The creature then emerges from the ground but MacReady grabs a stick of dynamite and throws it at him. The dynamite ignites the rest of the dynamite and the creature explodes, destroying the room as well. As MacReady recovers from the blast, Childs approaches, saying he though he had seen Blair moving around outside and had gone to check but gotten lost in the storm. Realizing that there is no point in distrusting each other, the two men sit back and watch the fires burn as they pass a bottle of scotch between them and wait to freeze to death.

The Thing (1982) met with mostly negative reviews from the critics when it first came out but has since gained more positive remarks from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950’s take, John Carpenter’s The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.” The movie was unfortunately a disappointment at the box office, only earning $19.6 million at the box office in North America off of a $15 million budget but would gain more views and a cult following once it was released on home media, with critics and fans alike reappraising it and considering it to be one of the best sci-fi/horror films of all time. John Carpenter has stated that this movie was his favorite of all his films and he took it’s failure at the box office, and the criticism about the gory effects and bleak tone particularly hard.

Yes, this is a bit graphic, but this is a fantastic movie to watch. The acting was really good, with Kurt Russell doing a great job as MacReady. I also liked Keith David (Childs), Donald Moffat (Garry), Thomas G. Waites (Windows), and Richard Dysart (Copper), but the biggest surprise was Wilford Brimley, as the lack of his famous mustache actually made his paranoia seem even more disturbing. The story was great, playing up the alien invasion aspect to a new level while making the focus more on the paranoia that people faced trying to figure out who was human and who was alien. The end scene was especially powerful, as you really had no idea if MacReady or Childs were human or alien, and they knew it as well and knew that there was nothing to do to stop them if they were so they might as well just wait to freeze to death. The special effects were incredible, especially considering the year this was made and can match up, and even top, a lot of modern movies in how well they were done. Definitely a must see movie for sci-fi and horror fans alike and one that deserves every bit of praise it received.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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crime, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

December 27th, 2017 Movie – Taking Lives (2004)

taking lives

The year is almost over and I am finishing things with a new letter. Now when it comes to this movie, this one kind of falls into a category that some other movies fell into at the beginning of the century; that being movies which used Angelina Jolie as their main marketing ploy. I understand the reasoning, as most of these movies are geared towards the male audience and she is one of the more attractive females in Hollywood. Still, the tactic can only get people to consider the movie but the actual movie itself has to do it’s job in keeping the audience interested. Let’s see if that pans out with today’s movie, Taking Lives.

The plot: In St. Jovite, Canada in 1983, a teenager named Martin Asher buys a bus ticket out of town and ends up meeting another teenage drifter named Matt Soulsby. When the bus breaks down, Matt rents a car and he and Matt continue driving down the road, with Matt telling Martin why he is on the road. When the car gets a flat tire, Matt goes to change it but Martin comments on them being the same height and when Matt looks up in confusion, Martin kicks Matt into the path of an oncoming car. The car hits Matt and ends up wrecking, killing the driver, and Martin approaches Matt, who is barely alive, and proceeds to bash in his head with a rock before grabbing Matt’s belongings and walking away through the fields. 19 years later, in Montreal, a construction crew is doing some excavating on a site when they unearth a human body that was buried there. At the same time, a woman hurriedly locates a police officer and explains that she saw her son, who had been dead for 19 years. The woman is taken to the police station and she gives her statement, saying that her son is dangerous but she knows it was him. The Montreal police take her statement but are more concerned with capturing a serial killer that has been in the area. Chief Inspector Hugo Leclair calls in FBI profiler Illeana Scott to assist with the case, introducing her to detectives Joseph Paquette and Emil Duval, though Paquette is not happy with her being there. When another murder occurs, Illeana is taken to the station where James Costa, a witness to the crime, is describing what he saw. As James works on sketching a profile of the man he saw, Illeana questions him about what he saw. The police get a hit on James’ sketch and head to the suspect’s apartment, where Illeana discovers a body chained up in the rafters. Paquette gets an ID on the victim and Illeana says not to mention anything to the press, as she hopes the killer will get upset over the lack of media coverage and make a mistake. That night, Illeana is at a bar close to James’ apartment and speaks with him when he comes in. The next day, Illeana goes to speak with Rebecca Asher about her son and while there, learns that Rebecca has two sons but one of them had died and Rebecca feels that Martin killed his brother. As Illeana continues to search the house, she finds a hidden room where Martin was kept as a child but as she looks around, she is attacked by an unknown assailant, who manages to escape. As she is relaxing in a bath, Illeana gets a call from Duval about a break-in at James’ studio and as she is looking at the file, notices something about the victims. She then explains her theory to the police that the killer is Martin, who is stealing the victim’s identities and living their lives until he finds someone with a better life for him and she believes James is the Martin’s next target. They decide to fit James with a wire and try to use him as bait to lure out Martin but nothing happens and James refuses to cooperate further as he fears for his own life. Illeana finds herself being drawn closer to James and she wants to leave, telling Leclair that they have a witness and a working profile so there is no need for her to be there but Leclair convinces her to stay until they catch Martin. That night, James holds an exhibit for his paintings and while there, he sees a man staring at him. James catches Illeana’s eye and says that the man is the killer and Illeana and Paquette give chase when he runs but they end up losing him in the festival crowd that is on the streets. The next day, they go to place James into witness protection but as Duval is packing James’ things into the car, the killer appears in James’ apartment and begins attacking him, saying that James has something he wants. James tries to get away and grab a gun but the killer knocks the gun away but James is able to yell for help, sending Duval rushing back inside the apartment. Meanwhile, Illeana arrives at the apartment to say goodbye to James when she hears gunshots coming from the apartment. When she gets there, she sees Duval lying dead on the ground but no sign of James or the assailant. Hearing James yelling for help outside, she sees James being held at gunpoint and being forced to drive away and so she gets into her car and gives chase. James eventually crashes his car into a median, which sends the attacker crashing through the windshield. James crawls out and quickly grabs the gun and begins wildly firing it into the car in the hopes of killing his attacker but his shots end up catching the car on fire just as Illeana gets there and she quickly pushes him to safety so he can avoid the blast. James is taken to the hospital to get his injuries taken care of and afterwards, he heads to Illeana’s hotel room, where the two give in to their mutual attraction and end up having sex. The next morning, Illeana wakes up to find herself and James covered in blood and at first she thinks he is dead but when he rouses, they discover that his stitches had popped. Illeana takes James to the hospital to get his stitches redone and learns that Rebecca is there to identify the body so she heads down to the morgue to meet Leclair and Paquette. Rebecca looks at the body but doesn’t say that it is Martin and walks away. Illeana chases after her but is unable to catch Rebecca before she gets on the elevator and the door closes. Inside the elevator, Rebecca hears someone say “Hello, Mother” and she turns to find James in the elevator with her. Rebecca recognizes him as Martin and speaks with him, saying she isn’t afraid of him but James moves towards her and kills her. Illeana had raced down the stairs to catch Rebecca as she leaves but when the elevator doors open, she sees James ripping Rebecca’s head off and realizes that he is Martin. She is able to tell Leclair and Paquette about James before she faints but they are unable to stop him from escaping. The police search James’ studio and Paquette yells at Leclair over Illeana’s sleeping with James and slaps Illeana in his anger. Meanwhile, Martin heads to the train station and picks out his next victim, throwing him off the train as it is moving. Martin then calls Illeana and speaks with her, telling her that she didn’t fall in love with James Costa but instead, fell in love with Martin Asher. The police discover he bought a train ticket and head out to try and catch him when he reaches the station while Illeana heads back to her hotel and proceeds to cleanse herself to the point of rubbing her skin raw in an act of disgust over her actions. Illeana is fired from the FBI for her actions and she ends up moving to Carlisle, PA, where seven months have passed and she is shown to be heavily pregnant. After running some errands, she returns home and puts her things away but as she goes to pull her tea kettle off of the stove, she finds Martin in her house. She goes for a gun she had hidden only to find that Martin had found all of the guns she had hidden throughout the house and taken them. Martin talks with her some but then attacks her when she says the babies are not his, but James Costa’s. Illeana grabs a pair of scissors to try and attack Martin with but Martin grabs her and then stabs her in the stomach with the scissors. Illeana is shocked that he did that but then grabs the scissors and stabs Martin in the chest with them. As he drops to his knees in shock, Illeana explains that everything he saw was what she wanted him to see, then removes the prosthetic stomach she was wearing to simulate being pregnant. As Martin drops dead onto the floor, Illeana calls Leclair and tells him that it is over.

Taking Lives was panned by the critics, holding a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A stylish, but predictable thriller where the only thrills are offered by the sensuous Angelina Jolie.” Despite having third billing in the movie, Kiefer Sutherland only had a total of 17 lines and 3 minutes of screen time. The movie was barely a hit at the box office, earning $65.4 million off of a $45 million budget.

This was an ok thriller but it was too slow paced to really be effective. The acting was good, with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke doing good jobs in their roles of Illeana and Martin respectively. The story was actually pretty interesting but, as I said earlier, the slow pacing actually kind of killed some of the tension that it had going for it. I also felt that the ending was about as cliched and predictable as you could expect it to be. The dark lighting and tones of the movie worked well together and did their job in helping to carry the story. It is predictable but still a decent movie to kill some time with.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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comedy, crime, movie, movie review, mystery

December 8th, 2017 Movie – Super Troopers

super troopers

Ahh, a fun movie to start the day with. In 2001, a movie came out that would soon become an instant classic in the comedy world. Now I honestly didn’t get a chance to see it when it came out in theaters but after hearing several friends talking about it, I decided I had to rent it. When I first watched it, I will admit that I didn’t get all of the appeal and thought it was just another in a line of stupid comedies. However, after watching it a couple of more times, as well as some of the other Broken Lizard movies, It started to grow on me so I ended up buying a copy. So let’s have a few laughs with today’s movie, Super Troopers.

The plot: Near the Canadian border of Vermont, 3 kids are smoking pot while driving down the highway when they notice a State Patrol car next to them. They quickly have one of the guys eat the pot, as well as some shrooms one guy had on him, then throw a second bag of pot out the window as they start to pull over. When the patrol car speeds by with it’s sirens flashing, the guys start laughing at their good fortune only to be shocked when the patrol car appears behind them. Trooper Arcot “Thorny” Ramathorn and rookie Trooper Robert “Rabbit” Roto exit their car and question the kids then quickly leave in their car, only to go in reverse and go back behind them. As they start to bust the three kids for possession, a car speeds by yelling at them so the two troopers throw the kids in the back of their car and take off after the man. The speeder passes by another patrol car, taking out the head of the dummy that Trooper Jeff Foster had in his car, then gets off the highway and heads into a bar. The three troopers follow after him only to realize that it was Trooper MacIntyre “Mac” Womac pulling a prank on them. Mac teases the guys for falling for his prank, then puts his disguise back on and leaves the bar, shooting his gun in the air before getting in the patrol car the three guys are in and taking off. Later that day, the troopers are informed by their C.O., Captain John O’Hagen, that their station is being under consideration to be shut down so they need to cut back on the pranks and try to get along with the local police department. Meanwhile, Trooper Rodney “Rod” Farva, is constantly trying to prank Rabbit, as he is upset that he is under suspension for getting in a fight with some school kids during a traffic stop. When a murder occurs in a winnebago on a deserted highway, the Highway Patrol and local PD get in a fist fight over who is taking the case, which causes the Highway Patrol to look even worse. As the two law enforcement agencies continue to mess with each other at a kids little league game, Foster attempts to hit on Officer Ursula Hanson, the local PD radio operator who wants to get out in the field. The next day, Mac and Foster pull over a semi when it fails to pull into the weigh station but as they head into the trailer to inspect the cargo, the driver locks them inside. They are eventually let out by Thorny and Rabbit, who discover that the truck was carrying 150 kilos of marijuana. At the station, O’Hagen asks about the driver and they tell him that he was using a fake name and that the company is also fake. Rabbit comments on how the John Chimpo sticker on the bales of marijuana is the same as a tattoo the dead woman in the winnebago had and suggest they might be related so O’Hagen says he will talk to Chief Grady about taking over the investigation but Grady mocks his theory and refuses to turn it over. The mayor shows up as the newspaper is taking photos and tells them that the governor will be stopping by the town on her way to Burlington later in the week. Thorny and Rabbit pull over a German couple driving a Porsche only to learn that it is stolen so the arrest the couple. Later that night, Rabbit decides to go for a joyride in the stolen car only to get pulled over and arrested by Mac and an off duty Farva. As a result, Farva’s suspension is lifted and he is partnered with Thorny while Rabbit is stuck on radio dispatch. Meanwhile, Foster continues hitting on Ursula and they eventually decide to have sex in the winnebago but while they do, the bed breaks and they discover some more bricks of marijuana with the John Chimpo sticker on them. Foster takes the bricks to his station and while O’Hagen doesn’t believe his story on how he found them, agrees to talk to Grady again about taking over the investigation. O’Hagen tells Mac and Foster to go check the truck stops for information but they are unable to get any info on the mystery driver. Meanwhile, Farva gets into an altercation with some fast food workers and is arrested. As the local PD haze him, Grady speaks with Farva about coming to work with him after the Highway Patrol is shut down, asking him about how their drug bust is going but Farva refuses. Later, O’Hagen gets upset at the position Farva’s incident placed them in and says they are most likely going to be shut down unless some miracle occurs. Meanwhile, Foster and Ursula are continuing to see each other in secret and Ursula comes up with a way to help Foster save the station by getting the marijuana hidden in the winnebago and bringing it to the function that the Governor will be at. Foster and Thorny go get the winnebago while Rabbit distracts the cops but when they get there, they find that Grady has shown up with the drugs while they have bags full of cardboard. Foster confronts Ursula about what happened and she denies having anything to do with the trick, then tazes him when he suggests she was sleeping with Grady. That night, O’Hagen and the other troopers all get drunk and discover that Farva was the one who ratted them out and taken a job as a local cop. The 5 troopers gang up on Farva and strip him of his uniform, then steal his patrol car and proceed to have some fun. Foster contacts Ursula over the radio to apologize and she tells him a way to get back at the guys. When they go to where Ursula said to meet them, they see the truck driver pass by them and they start to follow only to be stopped by Farva. Farva plans to arrest them all but they convince him to go with them and see what is going on. When they get there, they find the truck driver meeting with the pilot of a small plane that flew in from Canada. When they see Grady and the other officers arrive at the scene, Farva gets upset at them and heads off to meet with Grady, but after he leaves, Thorny and the others see that Grady and the officers are in on the drug smuggling. Ursula arrives and tells them she knew about the drug smuggling but couldn’t do anything about it. Using some flares and a blow-up doll from Farva’s car, the troopers cause a distraction that saves Farva life, then take down the drug dealers and crooked cops. After the dust settles, the Highway Patrol is commended for bringing down the smuggling ring but their station is still shut down. A few months later, Thorny and Rabbit deliver a keg to a house party being thrown by the three kids they harassed. As the kids mess with them, thinking they are no longer cops, they take off their delivery uniforms to reveal that they, and the others are now serving as the local Spurbury police department.

Super Troopers didn’t fare well with the critics, only scoring a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A more-miss -than-hit affair, Super Troopers will most likely appeal to those looking for something silly.” The “bullet-proof cup” scene was filmed outside an actual prison, with the prisoners pressed against the fence yelling at Steve Lemme as he was standing there in just a cup. The movie was a big hit at the box office, earning $23.1 million off of a $1.2 million budget, and after a crowdfunding effort, a sequel has been produced to be released in 2018.

This isn’t the best comedy work but it is a really funny movie. The acting was good, with all of the Broken Lizard troupe turning in a great performance, while Brian Cox (O’Hagen) was surprisingly funny with his character. The basic premise of the movie was honestly a little unoriginal, as it was the basic goofball group clashing with the “authority” regime. Wow the basic premise was unoriginal, the story was pretty good as they added their own unique twist to it. The comedy was a mixture of slapstick, play-on-words, and some general adult humor but it all blended together pretty well. I did think it was funny that the couple that Farva said “chicken fucker” too was actually Kevin Hefferman’s parents. A funny movie that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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