horror, movie, movie review, Uncategorized

May 26th, 2017 Movie – The Ring (2002)

the ring

So here we are. This is the movie that started the trend of remaking Japanese horror movies so we have it to thank for The Grudge, Pulse, and Dark Water. Now when this came out in theaters, I honestly had no real intention to go see it. However, after hearing about how successful it ended up being, I decided to rent it when it became available on DVD. So let’s see if the hype stands up with today’s movie, The Ring (2002).

The plot: Katie and Becca are trying to watch TV but are bored because nothing good is on. Turning the TV off, Becca asks Katie if she heard the rumor of the cursed videotape, saying that when you watch it, you receive a phone call saying that you will die in 7 days. Katie asks Becca who told her that and admits that she had watched the tape with her boyfriend and two other friends last week. When the phone rings, Katie freaks out but it is only her mom so she talks with her while Katie heads back to her room. After hanging up the phone, Katie is frightened by the downstairs TV turning on by itself and when she unplugs it, she notices something moving behind her. After some other unexplained things occur, she heads back upstairs to her room to see the TV showing a scene from the video and she is killed by an unseen force. A few days later, Rachel, Katie’s aunt, is picking up her son Aiden and Aiden’s teacher talks to her about Aiden’s behavior, showing Rachel pictures he has drawn of a girl being buried and when Rachel says he is just reacting to Katie’s death, the teacher explains that he had started drawing them a week ago. At the memorial service for Katie, Rachel comforts her sister Ruth, who says she tried to figure out what could have happened to Katie and asks Rachel for her help. While outside smoking, Rachel learns about the tape and that Josh also died the same night that Rachel did. After picking up some pictures that Katie had taken to be developed, Rachel notices that a picture of the four kids has their faces all blurred. Learning that the other two kids died on the same day and the exact same time as Katie and Josh, Rachel heads up to the cabin to investigate. As she goes to rent the same cabin the kids did, Rachel notices an unmarked video tape in the video library and grabs it. When she gets to the cabin, she watches the tape, which shows some disturbing and surreal images, and when she ejects the tape after it’s done, the phone rings and a voice tells her “7 days”. The next day, Rachel has her ex-husband Noah, who works in photo and video editing, take her picture, revealing her face is also blurred. She has Noah watch the tape but he thinks it is some weird student film and when the phone rings, she refuses to answer it and deletes the message. Rachel makes a copy of the tape for Noah and they try to examine it further but when Noah’s assistant come into his studio, Rachel grabs the copy, as she doesn’t want anyone else to see it. Rachel examines the tape herself and notices a lighthouse in one of the images. After doing some research, Rachel finds out that the lighthouse is on Moesko Island and sees the woman featured in the video in a picture of a dedication for the lighthouse. Rachel learns that the woman’s name is Anna Morgan and that she had committed suicide after the majority of the horses on the Morgan family ranch died of a mysterious illness. Rachel begins having strange dreams involving a black haired girl in a white dress who is soaking wet and when she wakes up on Monday, she sees that Aidan has watched the tape. When Noah calls to say that he believes her, as his face is now blurred in pictures, Rachel tells him that Aidan watched the tape. Leaving Aidan with Ruth, Rachel asks Noah to try and get the records for Anna from the psychiatric hospital that she was committed to while she takes the ferry to Moesko Island and tries getting answers there. On the ferry, Rachel sees a horse in a trailer but as she tries to pet it, it freaks out, escapes the trailer, and runs around the ferry before jumping over the side and getting killed by the ferry’s propellers. Rachel heads to the Morgan ranch and speaks with Anna’s husband Richard about the horses and the tape but Richard is cryptic and denies that they had a daughter. When she goes to see the town doctor, the doctor admits that the Morgans could not conceive a child so the adopted Samara but says that the last she heard, Samara was at the psychiatric hospital and that things on the island have been better since she has been gone. Meanwhile, Noah breaks into the hospital and finds Anna’s records, but when he tries to call Rachel with what he knows, he doesn’t get an answer so he heads to the island himself. That night, Rachel sneaks into the Morgan’s house and finds the tape of Samara’s psychotherapy sessions, and learns how Samara had the ability to etch her thoughts onto objects and into the minds of people and animals. As she watches the tape, Richard sneaks up behind Rachel and strikes her, then grabs the TV. He takes it upstairs and tells Rachel that Samara will never stop, then electrocutes himself. Noah arrives at the house just as this happens and they head into the barn, where they find the loft that was converted into Samara’s room. Examining the room, Rachel and Noah find an image of a tree painted onto a wall that was covered by wallpaper and Rachel recognizes it not just as the tree in the tape, but from the cabin where she watched the tape. When they get to the cabin, Rachel starts to give up hope while Noah starts throwing things around but when they notice some glass beads rolling onto a particular spot on the floor, they tear up the floor boards to discover an old stone well. As they try to peer down into it, a swarm of flies fly out just as Rachel ends up getting knocked down into the well. As Noah goes to get some rope to help Rachel escape, the lid suddenly closes and Rachel sees how Anna had killed Samara and thrown her into the well but Samara had managed to survive and lived for 7 days before she finally died. Samara’s body floats to the surface and Rachel holds it and watches as it turns into a skeleton before she lets it sink back into the water. The authorities arrive and Noah tells Rachel that Samara will be buried next week and that it is over, as Rachel has survived the 7 days. Rachel and Noah go pick up Aidan and head back to Rachel’s place before Noah head home. The next morning, Rachel is talking with Aidan about Samara and she notices the hand prints on his arm that are similar to when Samara had grabbed her and Aidan tells her that Samara never sleeps. At his studio, Noah is looking over some pictures when his TV suddenly comes on and shows the image of the well. As Noah watches, he sees Samara climbing out of the well and then crawls out of the TV and approaches him. Rachel tries calling Noah but when he doesn’t answer, she rushes over to his studio only to find Noah dead in his chair, with a puddle of water on the floor around him. Returning to her apartment, Rachel burns the tape and tries to figure out why she was spared when she remembers the copy of the tape she made. Rachel takes Aidan with her and has him make a copy of the tape, which Rachel plans on showing to someone so that Aidan will be spared but Aidan asks what will happen to them and Rachel doesn’t have an answer for him.

The Ring (2002) met with mixed to positive results from the critics, holding a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “With little gore and a lot of creepy visuals, The Ring gets under your skin, thanks to director Gore Verbinski’s haunting sense of atmosphere and an impassioned performance from Naomi Watts.” The killer video in the movie was used in commercials for a month before any mention of the movie was made. The movie was a box office success, earning $249.3 million off of a $48 million budget.

This was a really good movie, and honestly just makes me want to watch the original movie that much more (I should really get on that). The acting was great, with Naomi Watts (Rachel), Martin Henderson (Noah), and Brian Cox (Richard) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was good, using a lot of suspense to help set the tone and keep you enthralled. The special effects were surprisingly better than I expected, and there were a couple of really great scenes in there. I especially liked the effects where Rachel was able to grab the fly out of the video and Samara exiting the TV. A great horror movie and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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drama, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review, Uncategorized

May 23rd, 2017 Movie – Rasen

rasen

Ok, now this is a perfect example of me completely falling asleep on the job. Back in the dying days of Blockbuster, I was buying dozens of movies for cheap at the nearby stores. Well, one day I noticed that they had almost all of the Ring movies, both the Japanese and American remakes, and decided to purchase them. Key word there is ALMOST. See, the one movie that the did not have was Ringu, the original Japanese version of The Ring (2002). No worries though, I said to myself, I will simply find it somewhere else or buy it online. Obviously, I never actually got around to doing that which is why I end up watching the original sequel to that movie today. Well, time to stop kicking myself for being a procrastinator and watch today’s movie, Rasen.

The plot: Mitsuo Ando, suffering from his own bout of depression, receives a phone call telling him that Ryuji Takayama, a friend from medical school, is dead and he is to perform an autopsy on the body. When Ando arrives at work, he finds several police there discussing the matter and how there are no signs of foul play but no sign as to why he died either. Ando performs the autopsy but as it is nearly finished, he has a vision of Ryuji’s body suddenly sitting up and commenting about how Ando can’t even slit his own wrists but he can cut up his body. As Ando is washing off after the autopsy, one of his assistants hands him a note that was found inside Ryuji’s stomach. Ando speaks with the detective assigned to the case, who tells him about Ryuji having reconnected with his ex-wife Reiko Asakawa but the day Ryuji died, she disappeared along with their son Yoichi. The detective has Ando try and speak with Ryuji’s girlfriend, Mai Takano, and Ando asks her some questions concerning Ryuji’s health before he died. When the detective starts asking her questions, Mai ends up fainting and wakes up to find Ando looking after her. The two talk and Mai says that Ryuji had mentioned Ando before and talked about how they came up with coded messages during med school. She mentions the video and then says that Ryuji told her that only Ando could figure out what is going on. Mai heads back to Ryuji’s apartment, where she has a vision of how Ryuji died as well as a flashback to when she found him and she breaks down and cries over the chalk outline left in the floor. The next day, Ando is discussing the case with his boss when they receive a phone call from the police saying that they found Reiko and Yoichi, as she had been involved in a car crash. When Ando and his boss show up at the scene, the detective tells him that it appears that Yoichi was already dead before the crash occurred. When a man, Yoshino, photographs the inside of the car, the detective yells at him and Yoshino explains that he was Reiko’s boss and points out a smashed video deck in the car, which draws Ando’s interest. Later, Ando is talking to Mai about the crash and she talks about how Ryuji was acting before he died. Yoshino shows up at the med school to speak to Ando and shows him Reiko’s diary, which describes a video tape that somehow kills people. Reiko first heard about it when 4 people watched the tape and then all died a week later from heart attacks. She went and found the tape and learned of Sadako Yamamura, the young woman that is on the tape. Yoshino says that Reiko believed if you made a copy of the tape and showed it to someone else, then you would be spared from the tape’s curse. Yoshino then hands Ando the dub of the tape that he found in Reiko’s apartment and hands it to him, saying it is a present. When Ando gets home, he works on trying to decipher the coded message that was found in Ryuji’s stomach and realizes it spells present. Figuring it means the tape, Ando watches it and ends up being visited by Sadako’s spirit and he quickly smashes the tape. The next day, he goes to see Yoshino and tells him not to report on Sadako and tells him to give him the copy of the tape that he made so that he can destroy it, so that he will be the last victim but Yoshino refuses and Ando ends up being knocked unconscious when he tries to attack Yoshino for the tape. Ando talks to Mai and says he believes Ryuji knew this would happen and he would ensure all of the copies of the tape were destroyed after he got what he wanted. When Mai asks what he means, he tells her about his son dying and how he wanted to kill himself but keeps chickening out so by watching the tape, he will get his wish but Mai says that Ryuji wouldn’t have wanted that. Ando goes to see Yoshino at his home and sees pictures of scenes from the tape and accuses Yoshino of watching it. Yoshino swears he didn’t and hands Ando the diary and the copy of the tape he had but as he heads to his room, he collapses to the floor. Ando checks on him and determines he is dead, just as Mai shows up and Ando quickly ushers her out of the room. Ando smashes the tape and says that he will be the curse’s last victim and Mai tries to console him as he admits that he is afraid of dying. Ando and Mai end up having sex and afterwards, Ando asks if Mai will stay with him when he dies but she tells him she is too scared. Ando then decides to figure out what the curse could actually be and thinks it could be smallpox, as there was a smallpox clinic in the area where Sadako was killed, and has some cultures taken from him to see if he has it. Meanwhile, Mai wakes up feeling sick and heads to her bathroom to vomit but when she looks in the mirror, she sees Sadako standing behind her and when Ando goes to see Mai later, she has vanished. The next day, Ando gets the results back from his cultures and is told that he shows no sign of the virus, but Ando notices that his friend Miyashita, is coughing much like Yoshino was. Ando sees Mai in the lobby and the two sneak off to a stairway to make out but Ando is shocked when Mai licks him much like Sadako did in his dream. When a body is fished out of an air shaft, Ando is called to the hospital and sees that it is Mai. The detective tells him that it looked like she had just given birth but there was no sign of the baby. As Ando heads back to his car, Miyashita approaches him, showing signs of infection, and says the diary also contains the virus, as both he and Yoshino never saw the video, and asks Ando how he cured himself but Ando says he didn’t do anything. Ando heads to the office to find the Mai look-a-like retrieving Reiko’s diary from his desk. She reveals herself to be Sadako, reborn when he had sex with Mai and explains how this came to be. She then tells Ando that the same process that allowed her to be reborn could let him bring his son back as well. Ando gets Miyashita to help him, though Miyashita says they are basically selling out the world to Sadako. Some time later, Ando is on the beach with his son when he is approached by Ryuji and Mai/Sadako. Ryuji says that Reiko’s diary is being turned into a novel and the virus will spread all over the world and after they leave, Ando feels guilty about what he did but chooses to accept it as he stares out into the ocean with his son.

Since I have not seen the original movie, I honestly can’t say how good of a sequel this is. On it’s own merits, this is a little weird and not quite what I expected. The acting was ok, with Koichi Sato (Ando) and Miki Nakatani (Mai) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was a bit confusing and tried to make this less of a supernatural horror movie and more of a medical/science style movie instead. From what I read, this is supposed to be closer to the book it is based on but it still just made it feel boring. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects but the camera work in the movie did a good job of giving this a more suspenseful tone than expected. A decent movie but definitely confusing and really serves to make me watch the first movie that much more.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, kaiju movie, movie, movie review, sci-fi, Uncategorized

April 20th, 2017 Movie – Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla)

shin godzilla

Sometimes, it is the little things that can absolutely make your day start, or end, on an incredible high note. Case in point, the package I received in the mail yesterday. Now, it has been well documented that I am a huge Godzilla fan and when I heard that Toho was making a new movie, I got excited and eagerly anticipated getting a chance to see it. When it was announced that there would be showings in the US, I immediately got tickets for myself and my two youngest brothers so we could go watch it. Towards the end of the year, I started searching online for a copy of the movie that was either a Region 1 DVD or All-Region so that it could watch it and after several weeks, finally found a copy. Granted, it took a while for shipping to get here but I was content with the knowledge that it was on it’s way. That brings us to today, as I finally get to watch Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla) again.

The plot: When an abandoned yacht is found drifting in Tokyo Bay, the Japanese Coast Guard is sent to investigate it but just as they determine that nobody is on board, a violent eruption occurs in the water, destroying the Coast Guard boat. At the same time, the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line tunnel suddenly springs a leak, with a strange red water pouring in and flooding the tunnel. As a huge geyser of steam continues to erupt from the bay, the Japanese government begins to discuss the appropriate response to what has occurred. As evacuations proceed for nearby islands and the rest of the tunnel, several people take videos that show a colossal creature moving about inside the steam. Rando Yaguchi, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, sees some of the videos and as the ministers are called into the Prime Minister’s office, he voices his opinion that a creature caused the incidents. Yaguchi’s opinion is scoffed at as the other ministers believe it is simply a volcanic eruption or a thermal vent. Later, as the ministers are gathered in the main conference room, news footage is shown on TV of a large tail emerging from the ocean. The ministers realize Yaguchi was right and quickly reconvene in the Prime Minister’s office. Inside, the ministers discuss the possible scenarios they have for dealing with the creature; leaving it alone, capturing it, or exterminating it. Several minsters vote for extermination, citing the financial losses that the country has already incurred. Several environmentalists and scientists have already called to say the creature should be captured for study, just as several biologists are summoned to help determine what the creature is. The Prime Minister decides that the creature should be destroyed, but as the work out the details of firing torpedoes inside the bay, the creature begins making it’s way inland via the rivers. After an unhelpful meeting with some scientists concerning what they creature is, the Prime Minister returns to his office and demands that they find out more about the creature. Yaguchi asks one of his aides if he has any ideas and he recommends his friend Hiromi Ogashira, a low level Deputy in the Environment Ministry’s Wildlife Division. Ogashira is brought in and after examining the footage they have, she says that it is aquatic but that it has the capability of moving on land. Her superior says she is mistaken and tells the Prime Minister that it can’t possibly support it’s weight on land and the Prime Minister chooses to go on TV and tell the people that the creature can’t possibly come on land but in the midst of his broadcast, an aide comes up to the Prime Minister that the creature has come ashore. The creature, a slow moving, quadrupedal, reptilian animal, begins plowing through the city as the Prime Minister is furious for being made a liar on TV. Returning to his office, the various ministers begin trying to figure out what to do now as an evacuation of the city is begun in preparation for a military strike. As any military response requires the PM’s authorization, the PM is reluctant to give it without knowing all the facts, as this is an unprecedented series of events. The PM gives his approval for declaring a national state of emergency, allowing the JSDF (Japanese Self Defense Force) to assist with evacuations while also attacking the creature. Suddenly, the creature stops moving forward briefly, causing everyone to wonder why, when the creature suddenly evolves into a bipedal creature. The JSDF assemble some attack helicopters to attack the creature but when civilians are seen still in the line of fire, the PM calls off the attack, while the creature roars out and heads back into Tokyo Bay. As the PM and ministers survey the damage, the JSDF begin searching the ocean for signs of the creature. Meanwhile, Yaguchi assembles a team of ministry officials and scientists who are all rebels, like himself, for the sole purpose of getting as much information on the creature as possible. When they try to figure out how the creature can sustain itself, Ogashira theorizes that the creature is powered by nuclear fission. Another member of the task force dismisses the idea but when geiger counters indicate radiation spikes along the creature’s path, they realize she is correct. Yaguchi goes to see the chief ministers and tell them this news and they agree to talk to the PM and warn the public about it. Meanwhile, a Kayoko Ann Patterson, a special envoy to the US Foreign Ambassador, requests a meeting with Yaguchi. Patterson asks for Yaguchi’s help in finding Goro Maki, a disgraced Japanese professor who predicted the arrival of the creature years ago. After a quick search, they learn that Maki’s boat was the one abandoned in the bay when the creature first appeared. Yaguchi informs Patterson of this and shows her the file that Maki had on board. Patterson shows Yaguchi her own copy of Maki’s work, where Yaguchi sees that Maki had called the creature Godzilla. Meeting with the rest of Yaguchi’s team, Patterson explains that 60 years ago, radioactive material was illegally dumped into the sea and Maki was one of the men assigned to find a way to handle it. Meanwhile, an unidentified aquatic creature managed to survive the radiation and thrive on it, mutating into the creature that would become Godzilla. Using this new information, Yaguchi’s team try to figure out how to stop Godzilla and when one member realizes that Godzilla has a blood-cooling system for all of the heat it gives off, they theorize that a blood coagulating agent might be able to immobilize him. When Godzilla resurfaces and is seen to be even larger than before, evacuations begin while the JSDF mobilize to attack him. The JSDF uses helicopters, tanks, and artillery to attack Godzilla but their weapons have no effect. When they begin using bombs on Godzilla, it appears to be working as Godzilla starts to turn away but Godzilla simply changed course to attack the JSDF, then continues making it’s way into Tokyo. With the JSDF unable to stop it, the Defense Minister suggests they ask the US for help in dealing with Godzilla. As Godzilla heads towards the capital, the PM and the other minsters are told to evacuate. While the PM and the senior ministers head to the roof to await a helicopter, Yaguchi and his team evacuate by car but due to gridlock, are forced to go by foot. The US sends some B2 bombers, which manage to injure Godzilla with their bombs on their initial run but Godzilla’s dorsal fins begin to glow and Godzilla begins spewing smoke, then fire, and finally a radioactive beam from his mouth, which he uses to destroy one of the bombers. As the other bombers begin a second run, Godzilla fires beams out from his dorsal fins, destroying the bombs as well as the bombers, plus the helicopter carrying the PM and the senior ministers, before the beams stop and Godzilla, having used up a large amount of energy, is rendered immobile. As the Japanese government names an acting PM and struggles to deal with the wounded, Yaguchi’s team is joined by US scientists, as a result of a deal struck by Patterson. While they continue to work on a way to freeze Godzilla, they study the genetic samples they obtained and learn that Godzilla can reproduce asexually, as well as evolve into a flying creature or a smaller creature if it so chooses. The US recommends using nuclear weapons to destroy Godzilla and the United Nations informs the acting PM that they will authorize the use of nuclear weapons if Japan can’t kill Godzilla themselves. When readings suggest that Godzilla will be mobile again in 15 days, Yaguchi’s team is racing against time to try and finally decipher Maki’s notes regarding Godzilla. Patterson uses her connections, at the risk of her career, to help Yaguchi with his plan to freeze Godzilla. Using unmanned trains as bombs, they send them crashing into Godzilla, then use drones to attack him as he starts moving, forcing Godzilla to expend his energy defending himself. Though the radiation levels exceed what they projected, they continue the attack until Godzilla is unable to fire his radioactive beam, then use controlled detonations to drop buildings on him, briefly immobilizing him and allowing cranes with spray nozzles to approach him and begin spraying the coagulant into his mouth. Godzilla recovers and destroys the cranes but the JSDF use the remaining train bombs to bring him down again, allowing more cranes to begin dispensing the rest of the coagulant. Godzilla destroys the cranes and gets back to his feet but as he starts to move, he freezes up and Yaguchi and the rest of the team breathe a sigh of relief as they managed to freeze Godzilla with one hour to spare before the nuclear bomb would have been deployed. As the government works on reorganizing and rebuilding itself, the UN calls off the strike against Japan, but gets the new Japanese government to agree that if Godzilla reawakens, they authorize the use of a thermonuclear strike against it. As Yaguchi and Patterson say their goodbyes, Godzilla is seen in the distance but a close up of his tail reveals humanoid figures frozen in place as they were beginning to emerge from his tail.

Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla) met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Godzilla Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi — and altogether entertaining — return to the monster’s classic creature-feature roots.” The 31st entry in the Godzilla franchise and the 29th movie produced by Toho Pictures, the movie was a re-imagining of Godzilla’s origins, while drawing some inspiration from the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The movie was a box office hit in Japan, debuting at #1 in it’s opening weekend, knocking Finding Dory from the top spot and out performing 2014’s Godzilla by 23%. The movie was given a one week limited release from October 11-18 in the U.S. and Canada but due to the demand, the release was extended to the 27th. Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla) would go on to earn $77.9 million off of a $15 million budget, making it the highest-grossing Japanese produced Godzilla movie in the franchise and the highest grossing live action Japanese film of 2016.

While this wasn’t what I initially expected, this was still a great movie to watch. The acting was good, with Hiroki Hasegawa (Yaguchi) and Satomi Ishihara (Patterson) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was interesting as instead of focusing on Godzilla, it focused more on how the government would respond to such an event. This was pretty interesting in it’s own way because it showed how sometimes all the red tape cause more inaction than actual action in an emergency. I also like the origin idea for Godzilla they had in this movie and I thought the premise that it could constantly evolve was an interesting twist. The special effects were pretty good but there were one or two moments that actually had me going “WTF”, such as when he starts shooting a radioactive beam out of his tail. Still, almost every Godzilla movie is a great movie to watch and this one is no exception.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, crime, movie, movie review, Uncategorized

April 12th, 2017 Movie – The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad!

the naked gun

Ahh, the memories from this movie. This movie reintroduced me to the comedic talents of Leslie Nielsen, who I had not seen since Airplane 2: The Sequel. When this movie came out, I didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters but I remember one of the TV stations started re-airing the original Police Squad! TV show, so I got a little dose of what I could expect from that. Then, when the movie aired on one of the premium channels, my grandmother taped it for me and I watched that movie countless times. So let’s get some laughs going with today’s movie, The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad!.

The plot: In Beirut, a secret meeting is held between some of America’s greatest enemies (including Muammar Gaddafi, Yasser Arafat, and Mikhail Gorbachev), who are plotting to commit an act of terrorism that will humiliate the U.S. Suddenly, a disguised Lt. Frank Drebin, who was vacationing in Beirut, reveals himself and proceeds to beat up all of the leaders in the room, then warns them not to let him catch them in America but as he goes to leave, he is hit in the face by the window shutters and ends up falling out the window. Back in Los Angeles, Officer Nordberg is doing surveillance on a ship named I Love You and overhears the people inside discussing the sale of heroin. Nordberg tries to make the bust but he finds himself out gunned and the leader of the group, Vincent Ludwig, orders his men to kill him. Nordberg is shot multiple times and ends up falling overboard. When Frank returns from Beirut, he is met at the airport by Captain Ed Hocken, who tell him about Nordberg as well as Frank’s girlfriend Victoria running off and getting married. Frank and Ed go to see Nordberg and Nordberg attempts to tell Frank about the drugs but Frank misunderstands what he is saying. When Nordberg’s wife shows them a picture of the boat, they realize what Nordberg was trying to tell them and make plans to head to the docks. Frank wants some more men placed on the case but Ed tells him he can’t as Police Squad is in charge of protecting Queen Elizabeth when she comes to town. Frank is sent to be the representative for the mayor’s press conference concerning the Queen’s visit and when his lapel microphone doesn’t work, he borrows one from the woman next to him in order to give his statement, then heads to the restroom as the mayor speaks, where he unknowingly broadcasts his urinating and farting for everyone at the press conference, and those watching at home, to hear. Frank and Ed go to the docks and Frank learns the Nordberg was working for Ludwig and supposedly selling heroin. Frank goes to see Ludwig and after Ludwig shows some of the priceless items in his office, they begin discussing the Nordberg’s shooting but while Ludwig’s back is turned, Frank accidentally ruins a priceless pen and kills an expensive fish with it. Frank asks to see the employment records for the dock and Ludwig summons his assistant, Jane Spencer, to help Frank. Frank and Jane are instantly attracted to each other and after getting the records, Frank asks her to dinner but Jane says she can’t that night and asks for a rain check. When Frank leaves, Ludwig goes to see Jane and asks her to get close to Frank so they can keep tabs on the investigation and find out if anything wrong is going on in the company. Frank heads back to headquarters and heads to the lab, where the head scientist, Ted, has tested the fibers from Nordberg’s coat and found traces of heroin in it. Ed tells Frank that they can’t have the story leak out with the Queen set to visit so he gives him 24 hours to clear Nordberg’s name. Meanwhile, Ludwig meets with a man named Pahpshmir, who was at the Beirut meeting, and they discuss assassinating Queen Elizabeth. After agreeing to Ludwig’s price of $20 million, Ludwig reveals his plan of using post hypnotic suggestion to have someone kill the Queen and then him/herself, showing how it would work when Ludwig has his secretary attempt to kill Pahpshmir. Frank goes to see Nordberg to see if he is able to tell them anything else and finds the doctor, under a hypnotic suggestion, attempting to kill Nordberg. Frank stops the assassination and chases after the doctor as he tries to escape. When the doctor grabs a car to flee, Frank commandeers a student driver car and the teenage driver chases after the doctor, who eventually crashes into a gas truck, then a ballistic missile transport, where he ends up riding the missile into a fireworks store and is killed in the explosion. Frank returns home and finds Jane there cooking dinner and during dinner, Frank asks her about the I Love You, as it doesn’t show up in the records. Jane says it is probably an oversight and the two continue talking before the end up having sex. The next day, Frank spends the day with Jane before leaving to go on a stakeout with Ed. The two wait outside Ludwig’s building, as Frank suspects Ludwig for attempting to have Nordberg killed, and when he leaves for the night, Frank breaks into his office and finds a note concerning the payment to be wired to a bank account but he accidentally sets it on fire and when he tries to put it out, he ends up setting the whole office on fire. Forced to go out the window to escape the blaze, Frank accidentally gropes a woman as he makes his way along the building, then accidentally breaks into her apartment as she calls the police. Frank is brought before the mayor, who lists all of the offences he committed and takes him off of the queen’s protective detail. Frank heads home to get some food when Jane shows up. Frank tries to warn Jane that he feels Ludwig is dirty but Jane says he is wrong, then tells Frank that Jane wants to meet with him at the stockyards that night. Frank heads to the meeting and is attacked by one of Ludwig’s men but Frank survives when the man accidentally falls into one of the vats used to process meat for hot dogs. Frank heads to the Queen’s reception and tells Ed what happened, then heads to the table where Ludwig and Jane are sitting. Ludwig is surprised to see Frank and tells him unless he has proof to back off. Frank then confronts Jane about the meeting and believes she set him up and that she was sent to seduce him, causing Jane to slap him. As Frank keeps watch, the Queen arrives and Frank is disoriented when the trumpets sound right next to his ears and, believing Ludwig is going to shoot the Queen with the musket he is presenting as a gift, Frank tackles the Queen and ends up embarrassing the department when the pictures are taken. Frank is kicked off the force and cleaning out his desk when Jane shows up at the station and tells him that she overheard Ludwig saying that one of the players at the baseball game will kill the Queen during the 7th inning stretch. Frank and Ed head to the ball park and Frank tries to figure out a way to search the players without being overly conspicuous, as the mayor would have him arrested, and he ends up taking the place of Enrico Pallazzo, the opera singer who will sing the National Anthem, but the police try to arrest him after he finishes singing. Frank then disguises himself as the home plate umpire and searches the players throughout the game but is unable to find a weapon on any of them. As the top of the seventh inning is almost over, Frank tries to stall it, interfering with the game in the process but the 7th inning stretch occurs and Ludwig activates the signal, causing Reggie Jackson. Jane alerts Frank but Ludwig grabs her, then watches Reggie approach the queen with a gun that was hidden under 3rd base. Frank tackles Reggie, causing a brawl to occur between the two teams. Reggie gets free and takes aim at the queen but Frank uses his stun cuffs on him, accidentally hitting a fan who falls on top of Reggie and saves the Queen. Frank sees Ludwig trying to escape with Jane as a hostage and after confronting him, uses his second cuff on Ludwig, who ends up falling from the top of the stadium and getting run over by a bus, a steam roller, and finally the USC marching band. Unfortunately, Ludwig’s signal is activated and Jane grabs his gun and moves to kill Frank but Frank manages to talk her out of it, showing her the engagement ring he bought for her and telling her he loves her. Jane breaks the hypnotic control and tells Frank she loves him, to the cheers of the crowd. The mayor and Ed approach Frank and the mayor thanks him and says he has his job back. Frank sees Nordberg arriving in a wheelchair, who says he should be able to return to work in a week, and Frank slaps him on the back in celebration, causing Nordberg’s wheelchair to roll down the stairs and he is catapulted out onto the field as Jane tells Frank everyone should have a friend like him.

The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad! met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “The Naked Gun is chock full of gags that are goofy, unapologetically crass, and ultimately hilarious.” The movie was a big-screen version of the Police Squad! TV show but to avoid confusion with the Police Academy movies, the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams were given a list of titles to choose from and they chose The Naked Gun because, “it promised so much more than it could possibly deliver.” The movie was a box office hit, earning $78.8 million off of a $12 million budget.

This is such an incredibly funny movie to watch. Leslie Nielsen was fantastic, using equal parts slapstick and quick-witted dialogue to make for some very funny moments. George Kennedy (Ed), Priscilla Presley (Jane), and O.J. Simpson (Nordberg) also provided for some great comedy, while Ricardo Montalban (Ludwig) made for an excellent straight man and villain. The story was pretty good, but I honestly would expect nothing less from the Zucker brothers, doing a good job of not going too overboard with the comedy and allowing the plot to flow pretty smoothly throughout the movie. The comedy and special effects used for it were pretty good, though a few times they did look a little cheap, but I think that was intentional and actually made for some more laughs. Definitely a must watch movie and always good for some laughs.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, Uncategorized

March 26th, 2017 Movie – Dolls

dolls

So I find myself watching yet another movie featuring killer dolls. Now this is one of those movies that I remember seeing the VHS box on the shelf in video stores all the time, but I never saw it as a kid. I mean, there were a lot of killer doll movies floating around in the late 80’s and 90’s, like Child’s Play or Puppet Master, so this one kind of got lost in the shuffle among all of them. In fact, it was about 10 years ago before I finally got around to finally seeing this movie. Now the only question is…was it worth the wait when I finally watched today’s movie, Dolls.

The plot: Young Judy Bower is traveling in the English countryside with her father, David and her step-mother Rosemary. As it gets dark and a storm starts up, their car gets stuck in some mud and David gets out to try and get it free, and both David and Rosemary yell at Judy in their frustration, especially when she mentions her mother. Unable to get the car free, David suggests they get out and try to find help or shelter from the storm and so Rosemary and Judy reluctantly follow. As they are walking, Rosemary yells at Judy for lagging behind and throws her teddy bear into the bushes as punishment. Judy has a daydream about her teddy bear coming to life and attacking Rosemary and David, and when Rosemary snaps her out of it, David comes back and begins chastising Judy for daydreaming before noticing an old mansion and they make their way towards it. David knocks on the door but when they receive no answer, they sneak inside the basement. Judy gets scared and causes David to knock over some boxes , which attracts the attention of the owners of the mansion, Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke. Gabriel points a shotgun and asks why they didn’t knock and while David and Rosemary are frozen in shock, Judy politely apologizes and says they did knock but nobody answered and they were simply trying to get out of the storm. The elderly couple take pity on the family and invite them inside to get warm. As they head upstairs, Gabriel and Hilary speak with Judy when David says she has an active imagination, and Gabriel shows her a room full of dolls and says that he will get her some food and then give her a tour of the house, which Judy happily agrees to. As Hilary gives them some soup, and the group introduce themselves, Gabriel comments about Judy not having a doll with her. Rosemary says that Judy dropped her teddy bear in the forest, then kicks Judy’s chair to make her agree with her, and Gabriel gives her a Mr. Punch doll as a replacement, which Judy happily accepts. Suddenly, the kitchen door opens and Isabel and Enid, two punk girls which Rosemary almost ran over earlier, enter the house accompanied by a man named Ralph, who had offered them a ride since it was raining. As introductions are made, Ralph remarks fondly about Mr. Punch, saying he had one as a kid, and when Gabriel asks if he likes toys, Isabel and Enid try to make it sound dirty but Ralph replies that he liked toys as a kid but unfortunately he had to grow up. Hilary tells Gabriel to show their guests to their rooms for the night and he leads the group upstairs to their rooms. Gabriel shows David and Rosemary their room and when David notices one bed and asks where Judy will sleep, Gabriel says she will have her own room, as he sensed they did not want her around. In their room, Isabel and Enid are talking and Enid wonders how they are going to swipe Ralph’s wallet and car keys but Isabel says that she will figure out a way. Meanwhile, Gabriel is showing his workshop and Ralph get excited to see all of the dolls Gabriel has made, telling them about some of his own childhood as he plays with one of them. Hilary enters Isabel and Enid’s room and talks with them for a bit and Isabel asks if the old dolls are valuable antiques and Hilary replies that to some people they probably will be worth something. When she leaves, Isabel tells Enid that since Gabriel and Hilary sleep at the other end of the house, they could swipe some of the valuables and they wouldn’t notice it for days. She then tells Enid to keep the radio going so nobody will hear her sneaking around and Enid reluctantly agrees. Gabriel finishes showing Judy and Ralph around and shows Judy to her room and Judy says good night to her new friends as Gabriel shows Ralph to his room. Meanwhile, David and Rosemary are talking and David says as soon as they get back home, he is sending Judy back to Boston to be with her mother, saying they are both young and free to do whatever they want. Elsewhere, Isabel is wandering along the halls and starts grabbing some stuff when a music box keeps opening, forcing her to close it. As she continues going through the items, the music box opens again and when Judy closes it, she notices the dolls on the shelf have disappeared. As she looks to see if anyone is there, the music box starts playing again and when she turns towards the sound, something grabs her legs and she is dragged into the room before rammed face first into the floorboard repeatedly, before being thrown from the room. Isabel looks up and sees Judy staring at her and she reaches out for help but when Judy starts to reach out for her, something grabs Isabel and drags her away. Judy runs to tell her David and Rosemary what happened but they think she is making it up and yell at her to go back to bed. Judy goes to tell Ralph and he doesn’t believe her at first but when she turns to go away, he notices the blood on her slippers and has her show him where it happened. Finding the trail of blood, the two follow it up to the attic and see a stockade up there and Ralph decides to let the others know what is going on so they leave, not noticing Isabel restrained in a chair behind them. As Ralph starts to go down the stairs, some dolls on the floor bite his ankle and Judy goes to see if he is ok and tells him what happened. Ralph heads to Isabel and Enid’s room and starts banging on the door, waking up David and Rosemary in the process. Ralph and Judy start trying to explain what happened but nobody believes them and instead, Enid believes that Ralph did something to Isabel, prompting David to tell Ralph to stay away from Judy. Ralph tries to protest his innocence and says they should try to look for Isabel but David ignores him and tells Judy that she is staying in their room. Judy says she is staying with Ralph and runs off, with David chasing after her and Ralph tries again to convince Rosemary and Enid of his innocence but they quickly shut the doors in his face. David goes looking for Judy but only finds Mr. Punch, who she dropped while running from him. David threatens to tear up Mr. Punch but is unable to do so and when he tries burning it with a candle, the wax drops on his foot and he drops Mr. Punch and when he re-lights the candle, Mr. Punch has disappeared. Meanwhile, Ralph runs into Gabriel and tries to explain what is going on and Gabriel says that he had spilled a bucket of paint on the floor while he was touching up some of the dolls and when Ralph asks about Judy, Gabriel says she will be fine but if she is still missing in the morning, he will help look for her. Back in her room, Enid is pacing the floor worried about Isabel when suddenly, the radio is knocked off the mantel and the dolls are sitting back on there, causing Enid to freak out and quickly leave the room. Ralph is in the kitchen cleaning the blood off of his ankle when Judy shows up, finding Mr. Punch in the chair next to him. As the two talk, Mr. Punch responds to Ralph’s question but Ralph thinks it was Judy changing her voice. In her room, Rosemary is reading in bed when she is suddenly attacked by several dolls, who stab her and attempt to cut off her limbs. As she runs from the room, she is constantly attacked by dolls and ends up jumping out the window and falling to her death. Enid continues looking for Isabel when she sees Hilary coming down the hall and quickly hides from her. After she passes by, Enid continues looking for Isabel and eventually reaches the attic, where she finds Isabel and is horrified to find that she is in the process of being turned into a doll. When the dolls try attacking her, Enid fights back, using her lighter and belt to smash and burn the dolls, then runs from the attic but ends up being confronted by a group of toy soldiers, who proceed to shoot her. David returns to his room complaining about not being able to find Judy and reaches for Rosemary but thinks better of it and goes to take a shower. Meanwhile, Ralph and Judy head to a secret room and find it filled with all sorts of dolls and Ralph realizes that the dolls are alive. When Ralph tries to smash through the dolls to leave the room, Judy tells him to stop as he is hurting the dolls and making them angry. The dolls attack Ralph but Judy yells at them to stop hurting her friend and they stop, then start talking among themselves about what to do with them. Ralph is worried but Judy says it is alright as Mr. Punch will protect them. Meanwhile, David finishes his shower and goes to get into bed only to find Rosemary’s corpse in the bed. Thinking that Ralph killed her, David smashes a chair then grabs one of the broken legs and goes looking for Ralph. Back in the secret room, the dolls let Ralph and Judy go and Judy thanks them but as the leave, David finds them and starts attacking Ralph. Judy tries to plead with her dad to stop, saying Ralph is nicer than he will ever be but David knocks Ralph unconscious, then does the same to Judy. As David is about to kill Ralph, Mr. Punch comes to life and stops him, distracting David long enough for the other dolls to drag Ralph and Judy to safety in the secret room. David eventually smashes Mr. Punch but Gabriel and Hilary show up and David threatens them and demands they hand over Judy. When he goes to attack them, he is suddenly frozen in place and Gabriel reveals that he and Hilary are a wizard and witch repsectively. The believe that toys are the heart and soul of childhood and whenever people show up at their house, they test them to see if they can feel the goodwill that toys can provide but if they fail, they are turned into dolls themselves, as shown by David transforming into a new Mr. Punch. The next morning, Ralph and Judy wake up are convinced that what happened was just a dream. When Judy asks about her dad, Gabriel reads a letter supposedly from her father that says he is sending her to live with her mom and leaves enough money to get her a plane ticket to Boston, as well as a ticket for Ralph, who is asked to ensure she gets there safely. Ralph quickly wants to leave and Gabriel and Hilary say that they are welcome to stay as long as they want but Judy says her mom would be sad if she didn’t go there but asks if it is ok to visit them. As they go to get in Ralph’s car, they find Judy’s teddy bear in his car and Judy gives it to the couple as a gift and they say they will take care of it as if it is one of their own. As Ralph and Judy drive off, Judy asks Ralph if he is married, then says that he will like her mom. Meanwhile, David, Rosemary, Isabel, and Enid are shown to be in doll form as another car is seen getting stuck in the mud outside the house and the parents argue as they get out and get their things before heading to the house.

Dolls met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 58% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics praised the special effects but were mixed on their feelings towards the plot. Director Stuart Gordon was interested in directing a sequel, with the story line being that Ralph did end up marrying Judy’s mother and raising Judy when they received a package from England that contained Gabriel and Hilary, who had been turned into dolls, but the sequel never happened. The movie was considered a commercial failure, making $3.5 million off of a $2 million budget.

This had it’s odd moments, but it is actually a pretty decent movie to watch. The acting was ok for the most part, with Carrie Lorraine (Judy), Stephen Lee (Ralph), and Ian Patrick Williams (David) doing good jobs in their roles. On a side note, most people will recognize Bunty Bailey (Isabel) as the girl that starred in A-ha’s “Take On Me”. The story was honestly a little confusing, as even though they try to explain what was going on, it still didn’t really seem to make any sense. The special effects were pretty good for the most part but there were a couple of times where they felt a little weak. Like I said, there are a number of killer doll movies out there that are going to have more name recognition, but this at least has a chance to find some ground of it’s own to stand on.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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March 20th, 2017 Movie – Justice League Dark

justice league dark

Now when I first heard about this movie, I got pretty excited for a number of reasons. First off was because it has Constantine in it and they got Matt Ryan, who was great playing the role in the short lived series, to do the voice acting for it. The second reason was because it has Swamp Thing, who I always thought was one of the more interesting, yet underused, characters in DC comics. So with two characters that I like in this movie, it only made sense for me to pre-order it. So let’s see just how good DC’s latest animated movie as I watch Justice League Dark.

The plot: In Washington DC, a woman believes everyone is a monster and starts running them down until Wonder Woman stops her. In Metropolis, a man threatens to shoot his family, believing they are monsters but Superman stops him only to learn the man has also killed his neighbors. In Gotham, a woman stands on top of the church and prepares to throw her baby off the roof, believing that she gave birth to the devil. Batman tries to talk her out of it but when she throws the baby, he manages to rescue it but is unable to stop the woman from throwing herself off the roof. Back at Justice League headquarters, the League go over what has happened and notice that the pattern is happening all over the world. When Wonder Woman suggest magic might be the cause, Batman gets annoyed at the suggestion and leaves but when he is shaving at Wayne manor, he temporarily blacks out and finds the name Constantine written in the steam on the mirror, as well as all over the wall of his bedroom. One week earlier, Constantine and Jason Blood are playing poker with The Demons Three in Las Vegas. When he doesn’t have enough money to cover the final bet, Constantine bets the House of Mystery and all the contents inside so the demons summon up a treasure chest of magical artifacts to match it. Constantine wins the bet after cancelling the magic that the demons were using to cheat and they attack him. When Jason refuses to help, Constantine uses magic to temporarily possess Jason, forcing him to summon the demon Etrigan to defeat the demons. After the battle, Etrigan changes back into Jason, who proceeds to punch Constantine and chastise him for letting Etrigan loose. Back in the present, Batman goes to see Zatanna after one of her shows and asks her how to find Constantine, as he knows they used to date. As they are talking, Batman is temporarily possessed by Boston Brand (a.k.a. Deadman), who tells Zatanna that both Batman and her need to find Constantine, before Batman kicks Boston out of his body. Zatanna agrees to help Batman find Constantine and along the way, tells him the story of what happened with Boston. As they head for the house of mystery, a tornado suddenly appears and Zatanna uses her magic to help protect the Batmobile as they make it to the House of Mystery and Constantine ushers them inside. Once they are safe, Constantine uses his magic to make it so Batman can see and speak to Boston, just as Black Orchid appears and Constantine explains that the magic of the house decided to give itself a body in order to understand humanity better. Orchid seems fascinated with Boston, commenting that he is just like her, and also reveals that Zatanna still has feelings for Constantine, which shocks Constantine and embarrasses Zatanna. After Batman explains what is going on, Constantine uses magic to see what had happened and Boston tells him that Rama Kushna, the Hindu god that gave Boston’s spirit the power to possess the living in order to seek vengeance, says that even the afterlife will be affected. Constantine wants to handle it alone, but says he could use Zatanna’s magic as well but Zatanna refuses to go unless they all go and Constantine reluctantly agrees. Constantine takes them to see an old friend named Ritchie Simpson but as they approach Ritchie’s house, they see a group of Shrouds there waiting to take Ritchie’s soul and Constantine chases them away. Inside, Ritchie is upset that Constantine isn’t there to apologize for what happened to him but only to get the Keshanti Key from him but eventually gives it to Batman. The group head to the hospital in Metropolis where the man Superman stopped is being held, and Constantine and Zatanna use the key to enter the man’s mind and look through his memories in order to find out what possessed him. Meanwhile, someone summons an excremental ( a demon made of fecal matter) to attack them and Boston and Batman do their best to stop it but it manages to grab the body and starts to dissolve it. Constantine and Zatanna find the memory they were looking for and Constantine grabs the fragment showing a strange ring before they leave the body and Zatanna is able to get rid of the demon. Unable to identify the ring, the group heads back to Ritchie’s place only to find him almost dead, with Jason Blood standing over him while the Shrouds are trying to collect his soul. Batman manages to revive Ritchie while Constantine captures Jason and they head back to the house. At the house, Constantine questions Jason and Jason says that he had gone to Ritchie’s to see if he had an artifact that could get him inside the House of Mystery. He then explains that one of the artifacts that Constantine won from the demons is actually the Stone of Destiny, a gem full of dark magic that was used by an evil magician named Destiny back in the time of Camelot. Jason, who was a knight in King Arthur’s court at the time, had died in battle fighting Destiny but after Merlin’s pet demon Etrigan defeated Destiny, Merlin bonds Jason to Etrigan as a precaution against Destiny’s return. Ritchie regains consciousness and identifies the ring as belonging to Felix Faust but Constantine is unable to locate him. With no other choice, Constantine takes the group into the swamp to locate Swamp Thing, who is convinced to help them locate Faust by Zatanna. Swamp Thing uses his elemental powers to transport them to Faust’s location but refuses to help them any further. Jason changes into Etrigan, who bursts into Faust observatory but Faust easily deflects the attack and summons three demons to fight him. When Zatanna enters, she finds that Faust has made it so she can not speak, thereby cancelling her ability to cast spells so while Constantine, Batman, and Boston face off against Faust, she tries to locate the object that is keeping her from speaking. She manages to find it just as Faust is about to kill her and uses her magic to save herself, then defeat Faust but when she goes to kill Faust, Constantine stops her and helps her regain control of her magic. Faust questions why they attacked him and Jason realizes that he is not the one behind things, recognizing the three demons Etrigan faced as the demons he and Constantine played poker against. Realizing that Faust could have had the Stone fo Destiny at any time, Batman says that Ritchie was the one that sent them after Faust, indicating that he is behind what happened. Back at the house, Ritchie awakens and reveals that he has the missing piece of the Stone of Destiny hidden in his cane and uses it to help keep himself alive. Black Orchid tries to stop him but he reminds her that Constantine said to help him in whatever way and uses her to get the other part of the gem. When Constantine and the others arrive at the house, they find Ritchie with both parts of the gem and saying he is now super charged but Constantine says that Ritchie has been played for a fool. Suddenly, the piece that Ritchie had used to save his life is ripped from his body and attaches to the main gem, and Ritchie is suddenly taken over by a reformed Destiny. Destiny blows up the house and heads off to the city in order to cause chaos so he can get stronger. Zatanna manages to save the group but falls unconscious due to all the magic she has used and Constantine places a charm on her to help her heal and keep her safe, then takes the others to fight Destiny. When they get to the city, they find people attacking each other and even the Justice League become infected, with John Stewart, filling in for Hal Jordan on Earth, attacking Batman. Jason summons Etrigan and attacks Destiny but Destiny uses his powers to separate Jason and Etrigan. Constantine uses magic to damage a tree near Destiny, which causes Swamp Thing to appear and begin fighting Destiny but Destiny is able to get the upper hand and rips Alec Holland’s body from Swamp Thing, causing him to revert back into swamp vegetation. Batman is able to defeat John Stewart and Zatanna arrives to defeat Wonder Woman, then keeps Superman at bay while Batman helps take on Destiny. Constantine has Boston inhabit his body, then allows himself to be captured by Destiny and taken into his protective sphere, where Boston then leaps into Destiny’s body. Boston is able to dispel the protective sphere before Destiny kicks him out of his body but when Destiny goes to attack Boston and Constantine, Jason Blood runs Etrigan’s sword through Destiny’s chest. As Constantine uses his magic to exorcise Destiny, Batman destroys the crystal to keep him from regaining his powers and Destiny is defeated, leaving Ritchie standing there and the Shrouds appear and drag his soul to Hell. With Destiny defeated, Jason succumbs to the wound he received back in Medieval times and dies. Constantine, Zatanna, and Etrigan take Jason’s body and bury it where his village once stood, then Etrigan disappears. Zatanna tells Constantine that she is joining the Justice League and that the have extended an offer to Constantine, who scoffs until she tells him Batman was the one that suggested he join. Constantine refuses at first but when Zatanna goes to leave, he stops her and says they can talk about it, then invites her back to the restored house for a drink. The two enter the house, where Black Orchid hands them both a pint and as they head inside, Boston is seen to have been watching them and he heads inside the house as well to spend time with Black Orchid.

I know that many of the DC animated movies have taken on a darker edge to them but this one took it to a different level. I don’t know how different this is from the comic series but this is a really good movie. The voice acting was really good, with Matt Ryan (Constantine), Jason O’Mara (Batman), and Camilla Luddington (Zatanna) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good and while I was glad to see that it ended with some magic users being added to the Justice League, I was sad that they killed Swamp Thing and Jason Blood (which essentially sent Etrigan back to Hell) as they had potential to be used a lot more in future movies. As much as Batman gets overused in movies (I know that may be sacrilegious to most but it is kind of true), I did like his use in this movie as he himself is closer to the darker aspects of humanity than most of the Justice League but he also helped keep things somewhat grounded. The animation was incredible, with the overall color scheme of the movie being pretty dark while the various magic used was bright, the contrast and effect that much more effective. A great movie to watch and a great way to showcase some under used characters.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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February 17th, 2017 Movie – The Expendables 3

the-expendables-3

Sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing. That is kind of how I felt when I saw that a third Expendables movie was coming out. Don’t get me wrong, the first two were great movies and I totally enjoyed watching them. But when you have the basic story happening over and over, it gets a little old. Yes, I know that can be a little hypocritical of me considering the types of movies I own but when it comes to big-budget action movies, it is kind of true. Still, I had no problem going to go see today’s movie, The Expendables 3, when it came in theaters.

The plot: The Expendables (Barney, Christmas, Gunner, and Toll) are in Serbia and using a helicopter to attack a prison transport train. After taking out the guards on the outside of the train, Christmas, Gunner, and Toll board the train and free it’s sole prisoner, an old member of the team named Doctor “Doc” Death. As they are leaving, Doc heads to the engine, killing the last few guards on the way, then sets the train to max speed and causes it to ram into the prison, killing the warden and destroying the prison that he was held captive in for the last 8 years. The team flies out of Serbia and Doc comments about how the original team is no longer around, pointing out the dog tags from the dead teammates that Barney hangs on the plane. After telling Doc to thank the others for rescuing him, Barney informs him that they have a mission and head to Somalia to meet up with Caesar. In Somalia, the team heads to a port warehouse to break up an arms deal when Barney realizes that the man brokering the deal is Conrad Stonebanks, the co-founder of the Expendables and a man he believed was dead. Barney tries to kill Stonebanks but Stonebanks gets away as the team is forced to fend off the soldiers of the Somalian warlord. Just when they manage to escape the soldiers, Stonebanks appears in a helicopter and shoots Caesar twice before dropping a bomb on the team. The Expendables manage to survive the blast and Doc works on keeping Caesar alive while Barney flies them back to the states. At the hospital, Trench shows up as Barney is looking in on Caesar and seems surprised that Stonebanks is still alive, believing Barney had killed him, and offers to help if Barney needs it. Barney leaves the hospital and runs into CIA Operations Director Drummer, who is taking over for Church. Drummer asks what happened and Barney tells him the target they were given was not who the CIA says he was, and Drummer says that they didn’t know his real name but will find him again so Barney can get another shot at him. Barney meets up with the rest of the team at Rusty’s Bar and tells them that he is breaking up the team, not wanting them to end up hurt or dead. Christmas gets upset and says that they want to get Stonebanks too but Barney refuses to budge. Barney heads to Las Vegas to meet with Bonaparte, a talent scout for mercenaries, and tells him that he needs a new team in order to go after Stonebanks. Bonaparte takes him to check out the potential candidates and Barney hires an ex-marine named John Smilee, a computer and drone expert named named Thorn, a weapons expert named Mars, and a night club bouncer named Luna. A former sharpshooter named Galgo tries to join but Barney turns him down. After assembling the new team, Drummer meets with Barney and tells him that Stonebanks is making a deal in Budapest but the mission has now changed and he is wanted alive. Barney meets the new team at the hangar, with Trench accompanying them as a favor to Barney. Christmas, Doc, Gunner, and Toll show up and tensions flare between the old and new team before Christmas and the others leave. In Budapest, Barney and the new team scout out Stonebanks’ defenses and Barney wants to go in guns blazing but Smilee and the others come up with a better plan that is less risky. Thorn takes control of the building’s security systems and allows them to sneak in undetected and take out the guards, then they manage to take out the arms dealer and lure Stonebanks into a trap, where Luna captures him. As they are heading back to meet with Trench, Stonebanks starts taunting Barney and the new team about how he killed 3 memebers of the original Expendables when they discover a GPS tracker on Stonebanks’ watch, just as a helicopter with Stonebanks’ men attacks the van. Barney and Stonebanks are thrown clear of the van in the wreck and when Barney tries to shoot Stonebanks, he is blown off the bridge by an explosion and falls into the river below. Stonebanks has his men capture the other team members and sends a search party out to find Barney but when they find him, he manages to kill them and escape. Barney heads back to the plane and meets back up with Trench, who shows him a video that Stonebanks had sent him, saying that Barney has 48 hours to try and find him before he kills the new Expendables team. Barney decides to go after Stonebanks alone, despite Trench saying he should get his old team to help him. As he starts loading supplies onto the plane, Galgo shows up and offers to help him and Barney reluctantly lets him help but is annoyed by Galgo’s constant talking. As they get ready to leave, they see Christmas, Doc, Gunner, and Toll with their gear standing on the runway and Barney tells them to get on board. As they are flying, Drummer calls them and tells them where Stonebanks is taking the hostages, a country called Azmenistan where Stonebanks trains his personal army and has the local army in his pockets. Drummer reminds Barney that he is to capture Stonebanks alive but Barney breaks the phone, so Drummer decides to head there himself, taking Trench and Yin Yang in an off the books mission. When the Expendables arrive in Azmenistan and start heading to where Stonebanks is holding the prisoners, Barney asks Galgo about why his team let him go and Galgo admits that his team is dead, having been in Benghazi when it was attacked. The Expendables reach the run down building and make their way inside to rescue the kids when Stonebanks starts talking to them over a video link and tells them that he has the building wired to blow. Thorn uses the mini computer that Gunner has to jam the signal triggering the explosion but warns them that they only have about 25 minutes before the battery runs out and the signal continues. The two teams start to argue until Barney gets them to calm down and work together if they want to live. Stonebanks sends the local army, as well as his personal mercenary army to kill them all and the team works together to fend off the soldiers. Drummer, Trench, and Yang arrive and help take out the tanks and helicopters attacking the building while Barney and the others deal with the soldiers storming the building. When a second wave of soldiers approaches, Barney tells Drummer to pick them up on the roof and they start heading up there but Stonebanks shows up and taunts Barney over the radio just before he shoots him in the chest. The two start fighting, with Thorn and the others yelling over the radio that the bombs are about to explode, and Barney eventually gets the upper hand and shoots Stonebanks, then manages to make it to the roof as the building explodes and grab onto the helicopter’s tow wench to get away. Later, the combined team of Expendables meet up at Rusty’s to toast Caesar, who has recovered and join them at the bar. Drummer shows up, as do Trench and Yang, and as Barney looks on at the young members of the team, Christmas comments about him looking like a “proud, demented father”, and the two friends laugh.

The Expendables 3 met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Like its predecessors, Expendables 3 offers a modicum of all-star thrills for old-school action thriller aficionados — but given all the talent assembled, it should have been a lot more fun.” Wesley Snipes was originally cast in the first movie but was unable to film due to his tax issues and being unable to leave the US without court approval but after he was released from prison, he agreed to take part in the movie. The movie was not as big a hit as it’s predecessors, only earning $214.6 million off of a $90 million budget.

Yeh, this was a good movie but it could have been soo much better. The acting was good, and I liked the dynamic and tensions between the older team members and the newer ones. I also thought that Antonio Banderas’ constant talking was a good bit of comedic humor among all of the action. The story was a little more convoluted than it needed to be, which kind of hurt the movie. The action and fight scenes were just as good as the previous movies, but with more people involved, there was less time to showcase individual people in bigger spotlights. A good entry to the series but it does seem to be losing steam.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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