action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review

October 15th, 2017 Movie – Sorceress (1982)

sorceress 1982

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

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

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

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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September 6th, 2017 Movie – Snakeman

snakeman

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

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

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

Rating: 2 out of 5

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September 25th, 2017 Movie – Slipstream (1989)

slipstream

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

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

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

Rating: 2 out of 5

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August 12th, 2017 Movie – Shark Zone

shark zone

One thing that happens with B Movies or direct-to-video movies is that some studios will reuse footage from previous movies in newer releases as a way of cutting costs. My favorite example of this is Raptor, where all the dinosaur footage is from the three Carnosaur movies and makes for some hilarious script writing to explain some of it. Today’s movie is somewhat similar as it uses a lot of footage from the Shark Attack trilogy, as well as some generic shark footage from nature shows. Let’s see how well the utilize the recycled footage in today’s movie, Shark Zone.

The plot: In 1712, the Spanish trade ship, Santa Cruz, was sailing from Barcelona towards the New World but they encountered a terrible storm, which blew the ship off course and caused it to crash into an uncharted reef and sink off the coast of what will become San Francisco, carrying it’s cargo of diamonds to the bottom of the ocean. In 2003, retired Navy SEAL Andrew Wagner, along with his son Jimmy, is guiding a group of divers to the wreck, though they seem intent on ignoring his warnings, especially a cocky man named Tyler. Tyler and his wife, Riley, swim ahead of the others and enter the wreck but as they separate at the wreck, Tyler is killed by a great white. As more sharks appear and start killing the rest of the group, Andrew tells Jimmy to swim to the surface just before he is killed by a shark. Jimmy makes it to the surface and signals the helicopter to pick him up, being picked up by the winch just before a shark bites him. 10 years later, Jimmy is now married with a child of his own and works as the head lifeguard for San Francisco’s beaches but is constantly plagued by nightmares about sharks. Jimmy is called into the mayor’s office, where Mayor John Cortell introduces Jimmy to a man named Volkoff, who is interested in getting Jimmy’s help in locating the diamonds on the Santa Cruz. Jimmy refuses to do so, causing Volkoff to leave and Cortell argues with Jimmy about his decision, as Volkoff is a wealthy investor and the city could use the money he is spending. Changing subjects, Cortell talks with Jimmy about the safety measures for the beach next week and Jimmy says that everything is fine but Cortell doesn’t want Jimmy to cause a panic like he did last year concerning sharks near the beach. Later, Jimmy is patrolling the ocean in a helicopter when he sees some sharks heading towards the beach and warns the lifeguard station to get people out of the water but several people are still killed by the sharks. Jimmy takes some of the wreckage from the attacks to Cortell’s office and tells him that they need to close the beaches but Cortell refuses, saying that they can’t afford to have them closed. Jimmy goes to see three of his diver friends and asks if they want to help him get rid of the sharks and they all say yes, agreeing to meet at the marina in the morning to head out there. As they leave in the morning, they are observed by Volkoff, who is having breakfast with Cortell, and Volkoff asks if Jimmy will succeed, threatening to pull his funding of the upcoming festival. As the divers prepare to head into the cages, Jimmy tells them he wants to tag a couple of the sharks in order to see where they go and find out if there are any more out there. The divers head into the cages, with Jimmy keeping watch on the boat but when he sees several sharks approaching the cages, he warns the divers about them. The sharks begin attacking the cages, breaking into one of them and killing one of the divers. The other divers leave the cages and try swimming back to the boat but they are both killed by the sharks. Returning to the shore, Cortell meets with Jimmy as he is unloading his gear and Jimmy says that the beaches are closed until he says otherwise and Cortell agrees, for now. That night, as people are starting to celebrating the festival, Jimmy is getting drunk in the bar when Volkoff sits down next to him. Volkoff tries again to get Jimmy to take him to the Santa Cruz but Jimmy still refuses. After Volkoff leaves, Jordan, the bartender, offers to help Jimmy kill the sharks and Jimmy accepts his help. The next day, Jimmy and Jordan head out into the water to hunt the sharks when they encounter a group of windsurfers out on the ocean. When the sharks start attacking the surfers, Jimmy and Jordan manage to rescue one of them, while tagging several of the sharks as they get near the boat. Heading back to shore, they board a helicopter so they can track the sharks, then use explosives to kill them. That night, Jimmy and Jordan are celebrating killing the sharks and Cortell asks Jimmy if it is safe to open the beaches. Jimmy would like to ensure there are no more sharks out there but reluctantly gives the ok, and Cortell holds a press conference to announce the beaches are reopened. The next day, Volkoff tries one last time to get Jimmy to take him to the  Santa Cruz and when he refuses, Volkoff orders his men to kidnap Danny. Carrie, Jimmy’s wife, calls to tell him about Danny’s abduction just as Volkoff calls and tells him where to meet. When Jimmy gets on Vokoff’s ship, he tries to fight off Volkoff’s men but is easily overpowered. Vokoff then explains that his brother Igor was the pilot that worked with Andrew and rescued Jimmy, which is how he knew about the Santa Cruz. Jimmy then shows them where the Santa Cruz is located and explain how to get there. 3 of Volkoff’s men dive into the water and after reaching the ship, they report finding the diamonds but they are killed before they can bring them to the surface. Jimmy mocks Volkoff’s situation but Volkoff grabs Danny and threatens to throw him into the water unless Jimmy goes down there to get the diamonds. Jimmy does so, accompanied by the last of Volkoff’s men, and he finds the diamonds, then kills Volkoff’s man after he tries to kill him. Jimmy sneaks back onto the ship and attack’s Volkoff, knocking him into the water but Volkoff manages to shoot him in the side. Volkoff is killed by a shark while Jimmy manages to rescue Danny and they get off the ship before it explodes, due to an errant shot by Volkoff starting a fire. As they make their way back to the city, Danny comments that his grandfather would have been proud of how brave Jimmy was and Jimmy says the same about Danny. Some time later, Jimmy, Carrie, and Danny are on a cruise, with Danny having overcome his fear of the water and Jimmy is also doing better regarding his own fears, in spite of a brief moment where he imagined seeing a shark coming out of the pool.

This movie is about as original as the footage they recycled, which means not very original at all. Aside from that, this was a pretty boring movie to be honest. The acting was ok, with the only one really standing out being Velizar Binev (Volkoff), who was pretty good in his role. The story was a completely overused stereotype; a group of people trying to find a lost treasure and resorting to kidnapping to force someone to help them. This isn’t even original regarding the sharks aspect, as there are some other movies using this exact same premise. The used footage from the Shark Attack movies was kind of funny to watch, especially in my case as I had just watched those movies recently, but it felt like they had to work a little harder to work the old footage in sometimes. All in all, this is about as generic a low budget shark movie that you will ever find and you would be better off watching something else.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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July 24th, 2017 Movie – Serenity

serenity

I think that just about everyone knows who Joss Whedon is by now. Even if you were not a fan of his shows, you have at least heard of his TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel, though more people might know him as the director of The Avengers and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. In 2002, Whedon had another show that some people might not know about called Firefly. Unfortunately, it aired on Fox and they did not know quite where to place it in their line-up, putting it on Friday nights and eventually cancelling it before it’s first season finished airing. However, the show had developed a massive following and, with the massive sells of the Firefly DVD as proof that there was consumer interest, a movie was green lit. So lets see how the final adventures of the Serenity’s crew fare as I watch today’s movie, Serenity.

The plot: By the 26th Century, Earth had become so overpopulated that humanity was forced to find another planet to live on. They eventually found a new solar system and used terraforming to make the planets habitable. The central planets formed the Alliance and set about rules for all of the planets in the solar system but the outer planets value their independence and a war is fought over it. Some time in the future, River Tam is being experimented on and the Alliance scientists are trying to turn her into a psychic assassin but River’s brother Simon manages to sneak into the facility and break her out of there. Later, a man known as The Operative is examining the footage of the Tams’ escape and when the lead scientist arrives to question what he is doing, The operative replays the footage of the scientist saying key members of the Alliance had seen the project. The Operative says that it is possible that River had telepathically learned classified information from those members and his job is to ensure that nobody else learns it, then proceeds to kill the scientist and his guards for allowing it to happen. Meanwhile, Simon and River have taken refuge on the cargo ship Serenity, where Simon earns their keep by serving as the ship’s doctor. When they land on a planet to rob an Alliance payroll, Simon is upset that Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is taking River with him but Mal insists that he needs her due to her telepathic abilities. Mal, River, Zoe, and Jayne leave Simon, Wash (Zoe’s husband and the ship’s pilot), and Kaylee (the ship’s mechanic) on Serenity and head into the town to rob the payroll. As Mal and Zoe are in the vault, River has a vision of the Reavers, a savage and cannibalistic group of people that attack the outer planets. Mal tells the vault guard to get everyone inside the vault and seal it so they stay safe, then he and his group get on their mule and head out of town. A Reaver ship follows after them but Wash brings Serenity to them and they are able to board it on the run, killing the one Reaver that manages to get on board. As Mal and the others recover, Simon punches Mal for putting River in danger and tells him that they will be getting off at the next port and an angered Mal agrees to it. When they reach the next port, everyone leaves the ship, with Simon and River going their own way but Kaylee, who likes Simon, doesn’t like it and argues with Mal about this. As Mal and Jayne go to meet their contact and get paid for the payroll job, River walks into the bar and sees a commercial playing on the TV, causing her to whisper the word “Miranda” before she begins attacking the patrons of the bar. As Mal and Jayne try to stop her, River knocks out Jayne and goes to shoot Mal when Simon appears and says a phrase that causes River to fall asleep. Mal grabs River and takes her back onto Serenity and, after securing River into a room, grabs Simon and demands answers from him. Simon starts to explain what happened to River and Mal is upset that he had spent 8 months on the ship and never told anyone about what could happen. Realizing they need to find more information, they contact a hacker called Mr. Universe, who tells them that the video never made it to the news and was accessed by the military. Reviewing the footage, they see what set River off and Mr. Universe discovers a subliminal message hidden in the commercial which was intended to trigger River’s response. Mal and the others head to Haven, where their friend and former shipmate Shepherd has set up a community, and while they are resting there, Mal speaks to Shepherd about their situation and Shepherd warns him about what the Alliance will do. Mal receives a communication from Inara, another former shipmate and whom Mal has a romantic interest in, and even though they know it is a trap, Mal and the others go to save her. Mal manages to sneak into where Inara is but he encounters The Operative, who attempts to reason with Mal into giving River to him. Mal refuses and they start fighting but before the Operative can kill him, a flash grenade that Inara had secretly lit goes off, allowing Mal and Inara to escape. They make it back to Serenity and use decoys to keep The Operative from being able to track them. As they are flying back to Haven, Jayne argues with Mal about why they are keeping River on board the ship. When everyone goes off to separate areas of the ship, Jayne heads to River’s room to kill her but she knows he is coming and knocks him out. As the others search for River, she knocks out Simon so he can’t put her to sleep, then heads to the bridge. Mal finds her there and tries talking to her as she goes looking through the ship’s navigation system and she stops and points to a planet, calling it Miranda. Mal has the others join them on the bridge, while River apologizes to Simon for knocking him out, and they discuss Miranda, finding it odd that there doesn’t seem to be any record of it in the Alliance database. Mal suggests going there to investigate but Wash and Zoe point out that Miranda is in the heart of Reaver territory. The group heads to Haven to come up with a plan only to find that Haven has been razed. Mal manages to find Shepherd and calls for help but Shepherd dies before Simon can get there. Realizing that The Operative is attacking anywhere where they had hidden before, Zoe says to warn their friends but they find that they have all been killed. As Mal stares at the screens, The Operative comes on and says that Mal left him no choice, angering Mal. Mal orders the others to take some of the bodies and tie them to the ship so they can disguise themselves as Reavers and head to Miranda, though the crew is unhappy about doing it. They manage to make their way through the Reaver fleet and land on Miranda only to find that it has been terraformed and populated at one point, but all of the people are now dead. Following a beacon signal, they find a transmission from an Alliance scientist, who says that the chemical they used in the air to pacify the population made it where they stopped doing anything, including eating or anything necessary to live. However, a small percentage of the population had the opposite effect, making them more violent and crazed, and Mal and the others realize that the Alliance had created the Reavers. Mal decides to take the video and have Mr. Universe broadcast it to everyone and contact him to arrange it but unknown to them, The Operative was at Mr. Universe’s home and after he finishes speaking with Mal, The Operative kills Mr. Universe and has the transmitter destroyed while he prepares to ambush Mal and the others. Knowing that the Alliance will be waiting for them, Mal fires on the Reaver fleet as they leave Miranda, getting them to chase after them. When the Serenity emerges from the ion cloud above the planet, The Operative has his fleet target it but they are surprised when Reaver ships appear after it and they are forced to fight them. The Serenity makes it through the fleet in the confusion but a Reaver ship follows after them and causes them to crash. They manage to survive the crash but Wash is killed by the Reavers and Mal orders everyone to leave the ship. They make their way inside and Zoe tells Mal they will hold off the Reavers while Mal goes and gets the video to Mr. Universe. Mal heads to Mr. Universe’s chamber to find it trashed but Mr. Universe left a message with his sexbot, which tells Mal he had a back-up transmitter that is ready to transmit. Mal heads down to the back-up transmitter but unknown to him, The Operative, who was forced to eject from his ship as it was destroyed, had followed him and hears the message as well. Meanwhile, the Reavers start to attack the others and Zoe and Kaylee are injured, forcing them to fall back behind some blast doors but they don’t seal all the way. When Simon is shot, River goes through the opening and seals the blast doors, throwing Simon’s medical bag through before it closes, and then proceeds to fight with the Reavers. Mal reaches the transmitter but is attacked by the Operative, who attempts to paralyze Mal so he can kill him but Mal manages to get the upper hand and breaks the Operative’s back, then makes it so he has to watch as he plays the transmission that tells the entire solar system about how the Alliance made the Reavers. Mal rejoins the others and when he asks about River, they are surprised to see the doors open and River standing there, having killed all of the Reavers. Suddenly, the wall blasts open and Alliance soldiers arrive and threaten to shoot them but The Operative orders the soldiers to stand down. Sometime later, Mal and the others hold a funeral for Wash, Shepherd, and Mr. Universe then get to work repairing the ship. As they prepare to leave, Mal is approached by The Operative, who says he can’t guarantee that the Alliance won’t come after them, as the video weakened the Parliment’s power but did not remove it entirely. Mal heads up to the bridge and gets in the pilot’s chair, with River acting as his copilot, and they take off to their next adventure.

Serenity met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.” The movie takes place 6 months after the final episode of Firefly and a three issue comic mini-series, written by Whedon, was released in the summer of 2005 to bridge the gap in the story. Despite the strong following, the movie did not do so well at the box office, earning $38.9 million off of a $39 million budget.

If you are a fan of the show, you will enjoy this movie. Even if you aren’t a fan, if you are a fan of sci-fi movies, you will probably like this movie, but just not understand as much of what is happening. This is a pretty good movie all told. The acting was good, with Nathan Fillion (Mal), Summer Glau (River), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative) doing great jobs in their roles. Whedon did a good job in writing the plot so that you could follow along without having any previous knowledge of the show, while adding some elements that would appeal to the die hard fans. The special effects and fight scenes were pretty good, especially the fight scenes with River, as they utilized some of Summer Glau’s abilities as a former ballerina into her choreography. A fun way to end a TV show and a fun movie to enjoy.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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

July 19th, 2017 Movie – Kong: Skull Island

kong skull island

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

July 13th, 2017 Movie – The Scorpion King

the scorpion king

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

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

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

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

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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