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Flashback Review: April 7th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman

batman mystery of the batwoman

In 2003, DC still had a pretty strong presence on television. Batman: The Animated Series, Superman and Batman Beyond had all concluded their runs, while Teen Titans, Static Shock, Justice League, and a new Batman cartoon were going strong. Around this time, a new movie would come about, showing that DC wasn’t just content to have their characters on TV. I remember seeing the commercials for the movie and thought it was interesting so I rented it and watched it. I thought it was entertaining but didn’t consider buying it at the time. A couple of years ago, when I started buying some of the DC animated movies, I remembered this movie and made sure to pick up a copy of today’s movie, Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman.

The plot: Some crooks are attempting to smuggle some guns through Gotham when they see shadow of a bat overhead but instead of Batman, it is a woman dressed as Batman and flying on a bat-shaped glider. Batwoman lands on the truck carrying the guns and begins destroying the crates, taking out the crooks escort car in the process. The crook riding shotgun climbs back onto the trailer and begins fighting with Batwoman, but she manages to toss him off the truck and into the water below. Batman and Robin (Tim Drake) are alerted to the commotion and as they fly there in the Batwing, they see Batwoman grab one of the guns and get back on her glider, then fires at the truck, separating the trailer from the cab and sending the cab plunging off the overpass to the city below. Batman is able to use the Batwing to stop the cab from crashing and Batwoman flies towards him and stares at him through the cockpit before flying off. The next day, Rupert Thorne and Carlton Duquesne (pronounced Du-Kane) meet with Penguin, who is the third party in their arms consortium. Penguin wants to know how Batwoman found out about the shipment, saying that their international buyers will want their money back if they don’t deliver the guns. He tasks Duquesne, who was brought on as their “muscle”, to deal with Batwoman. Later that day, Duquesne is on the phone with his men telling them to find out who Batwoman is and deal with her when his daughter Kathy comes home from shopping and he chastises her for leaving without telling him where she was going, then continues his phone call. Meanwhile, Bruce is also trying to figure out who Batwoman could be and as the news reports discuss the new vigilante, Barbara Gordon calls Bruce and jealously asks if he had replaced her but Bruce quickly makes an excuse to leave before hanging up the phone. Later, Bruce is attending a meeting where one of his researchers, Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine, is showing a programmable and adaptable metal that she invented. Bruce takes Rocky out to dinner to discuss the metal and it’s applications further when they see the Batsignal in the sky and Bruce cuts the dinner short. On top of police headquarters, Batman finds Gordon, Detective Harvey Bullock, and his new partner Sonia Alcana waiting for him with some of the remains from the destroyed arms shipment. As they discuss the weapons, Bullock says the driver isn’t talking but Batman grabs the keys that he is tossing in the air and stares at them, then hands them back and tells Gordon he will be in touch before leaving. Later, Batman and Robin head to the shop that Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne own and as they approach the building, they hear a muffled explosion coming from within. Inside the building, Batwoman is dealing with some of the crooks guarding the place when Batman and Robin drop in and help her. As they are fighting, Batwoman warns them about the charge she placed in the lower level where the arms are being made and they quickly leave before the building explodes. Batwoman explains about the weapons being made and goes to leave when Batman tries to stop her but she quickly attacks him in order to get away on her glider. Batman uses a grapple to snag the glider and follow after her but she uses a batarang to cut the line. Batman uses another grapple to keep from falling and, using some binoculars, sees Batwoman heading towards Duquesne’s penthouse. When Batman gets there, he hears Duquesne yelling on the phone after hearing about what happened at the plant and when Batman has a confrontation with his bodyguards, he yells at him to get away from his home and family, as Kathy looks down from her window. Bruce, suspecting Kathy of being Batwoman, decides to follow her as she goes shopping and then decides to get a closer look. As he is keeping tabs on her, Kathy manages to slip away form her bodyguards, then asks Bruce to help her get out of the store. Bruce does so and they manage to drive off in her car and Kathy takes her to her favorite spot; a place on the cliffs that she used to go to with her mom before she was killed. Bruce ends up getting close to Kathy and they start to kiss when her bodyguards show up and she reluctantly heads off with them. Later that night, Batman meets with Gordon, Bullock, and Sonia and tells them he suspects Kathy Duquesne of being the Batwoman, and Gordon says that he will put a tail on her. Meanwhile, Penguin and Thorne are discussing Duquesne’s inability to protect the shipment and Penguin decides to bring in someone else to stop Batwoman. When they discover Batwoman in Penguin’s office, she is able to get away and Thorne agrees to Penguin’s plan. Later the next day, Bruce is at the office talking with Rocky when Kathy shows up, inviting him to dinner and Bruce accepts, knowing that the police will be watching them. They end up heading to Penguin’s lounge and Bruce asks her what she is playing at, causing Kathy to walk off. Meanwhile, Batwoman confronts Penguin in his office but his bodyguards show up and begin fighting with her. As Penguin joins the fight, Batman shows up to save her but as Batwoman gets away, Batman notices Kathy watching from the crowd. As Bruce takes Kathy home that night, she apologizes for the evening and he apologizes for misjudging her but the bodyguards interrupt them before they can kiss. Later, Batman meets with Sonia and hands her a fragment of the alloy Batwoman used to restrain Penguin and as he goes to leave, she comments that he had saved her life once when her parent’s building caught fire and Batman says he remembers the men being linked to Thorne but nobody could prove it. Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne meet with Bane, who Penguin had brought in to deal with Batwoman and Bane tells them he wants complete control to deal with Batwoman as he sees fit, unaware that Batwoman had snuck in and was listening to their plan. Back at the Batcave, Batman is trying to figure out who really is Batwoman, as both Kathy and Rocky have alibis for when she had appeared. Having Robin try to find any connection between the two, Batman heads to Duquesne’s place to see if he can find some information and finds the connection in Kathy’s sketchbook. Meanwhile, Batwoman returns to her lair and it is revealed that Kathy and Rocky were both Batwoman, as well as Sonia, as all three had reasons to take down the three crime bosses. Sonia explains what the criminals are planning and Kathy goes to blow up the ship smuggling the weapons but ends up getting caught by Bane. As Sonia watches from the police HQ roof, Batman confronts her about the connection between her, Kathy, and Rocky, and asks where Kathy is, just as Rocky contacts her and says she can’t reach Kathy. On the ship, Bane had contacted Penguin and when he, Thorne, and Duquesne arrive on the ship, Bane reveals Batwoman to be Kathy, which shocks her father. Penguin says he knows that she isn’t working alone and moves to torture her and when Duquesne tries to stop him, Bane grabs him and threatens to break his neck. Batman shows up and stops Bane, then rescues Kathy but as they are making their way off the ship, she sets the bomb, intending on making sure things end there. Bane captures Duquesne and uses him as bait to trap Batman and Kathy so he can kill them. Meanwhile, Penguin and Thorne attempt to escape but Sonia and Rocky show up to try and stop them just as the bomb goes off. Sonia and Rocky are knocked from the gliders and Sonia is knocked out but Rocky manages to keep her afloat only to see Penguin and Thorne bearing down on them. Robin, in the Batboat, saves them and as he helps Sonia onto the boat, Rocky goes after Penguin and Thorne and manages to stop them. Back on the ship, Kathy was thrown off the top decks of the ship and as she is suspended over the burning lower decks, Duquesne saves her and they make their way off the ship. Meanwhile, Bane and Batman continue fighting, with Bane using his Venom supplies to increase his strength. Batman uses Rocky’s restraining alloy to try and stop him and succeeds in severing the tubes for the venom. Bane is able to break free from the alloy but Batman, seeing the ship about to crash into the bridge, uses his grapple to climb up the underside of the bridge away from the ship as the ship hits the bridge, destroying the top portions of the ship and sending Bane falling into the fires below. Sonia, having recovered, uses her glider to fly up and rescue Batman, then drops him off on the police boat, revealing to Gordon and Bullock that she is Batwoman. Some time later, Sonia is shown to have been fired from the police force, as Gordon can condone vigilantism but can’t employ one. Batman stops by as she is cleaning out her desk and gives her the evidence that Rocky needs to free her fiance Kevin, who was framed by the Penguin for a crime. Later, Rocky and Kathy are talking outside the prison, as Kathy was there to visit her father while Rocky is waiting for Kevin to be released. As Rocky hugs Kevin, Kathy leaves them only to find Bruce waiting for outside. When she asks why he is there, Bruce, who had grown to have feelings for her, says that he missed her and the excitement her life provided and the two drive off together.

This was a pretty good movie and of the three early standalone Batman movies, I would probably place this in the middle as far as which one I liked best. The voice acting was pretty good and the cast from the show that returned to reprise their characters did a good job. The story was pretty interesting and I loved the somewhat Hitchcock motif involved with the identity of the Batwoman. The misdirection involved really felt inspired by Strangers On A Train, where each woman had their own reason for working together on taking out the crime bosses, and were constantly switching which one was wearing the costume so that it would throw suspicion off of the others. The animation mirrored that found in the later episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, which was ok but I felt wasn’t as good as the original animation style and design. It’s a solid animated movie and one that is well worth giving a watch if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, animation, comic book, crime, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 6th, 2014 Movie – Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero

batman & mr freeze subzero

1998 was some fun times for me. Nerf Wars, invading a friends house and ambushing him when he got home, having all my friends work with me at Dairy Queen and all the antics we had there. One of the things we used to do all the time was gather at one friend or another’s house and watch movies TV, especially during the summer. One day, we decided to watch this movie, as two of my friends are huge Batman fans, and besides, who doesn’t like watching a cartoon movie. Anyways, years later, when I decided to go out and get some of the animated Batman movies on DVD, I made sure to pick up a copy of today’s movie, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, so I can enjoy both the movie and the memories it invokes.

The plot: Mr. Freeze, after his last encounter with Batman, has escaped up to the Arctic and made a new home for himself; living there with his cyogenically frozen wife Nora, Koonak (an Inuit boy that he has adopted), and Hotchka and Shaka, two polar bears he has trained. After diving into the water with Hotchka and Shaka to get some fish for dinner, Freeze heads to the portion of his lair where his wife’s containment unit stands and stares at her, with Koonak joining him. Suddenly, a submarine surfaces through the floor of the lair, causing Nora’s containment unit to break open while Freeze is buried in the ice. Unaware of what has happened, a research team emerges from the sub and heads out into the ice and when they return, they find the sub and the entire crew completely frozen, just before they end up frozen themselves. Some time later, in Gotham, Batman and Robin manage to capture a pair of jewel thieves before Alfred picks them up so they can attend a charity fundraiser as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. While there, they run into Commissioner Gordon, who teases Dick about his relationship with his daughter Barbara, unaware that at that moment, Barbara, as Batgirl, is stopping some would-be rapists. When Barbara finally arrives at the party, Dick sees her and invites her out to the dance floor. Meanwhile, Dr. Gregory Belson is at the party and talks to his stockbroker, who had warned him about trading on the futures market and says he can’t help him now that he is almost financially ruined. Belson leaves the fundraiser but as he is leaving, the road and area are suddenly covered in snow and ice, causing him to lose control of his car. As he recovers from the wreck, he is approached by Freeze, who was an old colleague of his, and Freeze forces him to come with him. Some time later, Bruce leaves the party only to have his car stall in a massive puddle of water, next to Belson’s abandoned car. Meanwhile, Dick and Barbara head out onto the balcony to talk and Dick invites her out to attend a Jazz festival for the weekend, which Barbara accepts. Elsewhere, Belson examines Nora’s body and tells Freeze that she only has a few weeks to live due to the broken containment unit and the only way to save her life now is with a heart transplant. They head to the hospital but when there is no available organ, due to Nora’s rare blood type, Freeze tells him to find a live donor and they choose Barbara Gordon off of the list. Belson calls Barbara’s dorm room, saying there is an emergency, and her roommate tells him that she is at a restaurant before going out of town. Freeze and his two polar bears show up at the restaurant looking for Barbara, who surrenders so nobody gets hurt. Dick tries to stop Freeze but Freeze is able to get away with Barbara and Dick grabs a motorcycle and chases after them but Freeze uses his cold gun to cause Dick to wreck. Dick calls Bruce and Gordon, who meet him at the hospital where his injuries are being tended too. As Gordon organizes a search for Freeze and Barbara, Bruce waits until the nurse leaves to access the medical records and finds out the connection between Barbara and Freeze. Meanwhile, Barbara comes too and asks what they plan on doing with her. Belson attempts to give her a sedative but she attacks him and Belson chooses to wait and sedate her later but when they come back, they find that Barbara has managed to escape into the air ducts. Freeze and Belson go after her, and when Barbara finds herself in the room with Nora, they explain why she is there. Barbara attempts to escape but finds herself on an oil derrick in the middle of the ocean, with nowhere to go and is eventually recaptured. Back in Gotham, Batman and Robin continue trying to track Freeze and are pointed in the direction of Belson, and Batman remembers Belson’s car being abandoned in the puddle, which he now realizes was melted ice. They search his house, and then pay a visit to his broker for more information when Belson calls his broker. Batman and Robin record the conversation and after returning to the Batcave, Batman realizes where Freeze is holding Barbara. As the prepare to leave, Alfred tells them that the supplies Batman had given him to check on are for an organ transplant, and Batman realizes that the situation is more serious than they first thought. Back on the oil rig, Freeze and Belson go to take Barbara to the lab and prepare her for the surgery but Koonak, who had befriended Barbara, tries to stop them. As Belson shoves Koonak away, Barbara knocks Freeze into the bed holding Nora and is able to escape while he repairs the instruments keeping Nora alive. Belson chases after her and begins firing at her, puncturing some of the oil tanks on the rig. Suddenly, the Batwing appears and Robin jumps down to stop Belson but as he is knocked out, he reflexively fires another shot, which ignites the oil. As the oil rig starts to catch fire and explosions occur, Batman and Robin are forced to deal with Hotchka and Shaka, managing to lure them into jumping over the edge of the oil rig into the water below, and then attempt to rescue Barbara but Freeze shows up and traps them in the control room for the crane. Freeze attempts to recapture Barbara but an explosion pins him under some debris, breaking his leg. Belson attempts to escape as Barbara tries to help freeze, joined by Batman and Robin after they get free. Batman says they have to leave and Freeze says they have to save Nora, with Barbara saying they also need to save Koonak. Freeze uses his freeze gun to put out the fires in the stair well so Barbara can lead Batman to where Nora and Koonak are while Robin gets the Batwing ready for take off, barely managing to get airborne before the landing pad breaks apart, which crashes onto the escaping Belson. Batman and Barbara make it to the lab and rescue Nora and Koonak and try to make it out the stairs but the fires have started burning again and Freeze is unable to help as the fires are starting to overcome him. They head to the elevator and use it to get back onto the deck, with Freeze managing to help them. escape. Batman moves to help him up but Freeze tells him to rescue Nora and Koonak first, then come back for him. Batman does so and they manage to get onto the Batwing before the portion of the rig collapses beneath them, then Batman leaps down to try and rescue Freeze but Freeze ends up falling into the burning water below. As the fire consumes the oil rig, Batman uses a grapple to snag onto the Batwing and Robin flies them to safety, not noticing Hotchka and Shaka swimmign away, with Freeze clinging to their fur. Some time later, at a weather station in the Arctic, the researchers are watching a news story about Nora Fries successful heart transplant, which was funded by Wayne Enterprises. Unnoticed by the researchers, Freeze, with his leg in a ice cast, is watching the report and smiles as he cries tears of joy that his wife is alive, then he walks off to resume his solitary life with Hotchka and Shaka.

Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that the animation and story were both good and did a better job with the characters than the live action movie. The movie was actually supposed to be released in July of 1997 as a tie-in to Batman & Robin but due to the poor reception of the live action movie, the movie ended up being pushed back and released in March of 1998. With the success of this movie in video sales and rentals, Warner Bros. green lit a third movie titled Batman: Arkham, where Batman and Robin would face off against a collection of escapees from Arkham Asylum, but the movie ended up being cancelled in favor of Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker but the concept would later be turned into a series of successful video games.

This is a pretty fun movie to watch but I admit that it probably would have been better as a 2-part episode on the cartoon. The acting was good, with the voice actors from the show doing a good job reprising their roles. The story was decent but the plot was so compact and streamlined that made it feel more like a television episode rather than a movie. I know that sometimes less is more but in this case, I feel like a little more with the story could have made this a better movie. The animation was really good and did show some improvements at times from the TV show, especially in a lot of the background animation where they didn’t have to have a lot of action going around. A fun little diversion, and definitely better than Batman & Robin, but there was potential for it to be better.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 3rd, 2014 Movie – The Dark Knight

the dark knight

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine asked me what my top 5 comic book movies were and at the time, this was the only movie that starred a “major comic book character”. Years later, with all of the new comic book movies that have come out since this movie’s release, this movie would still be considered one of my top 5 comic book movies. I remember when they showed the first trailer for this movie, and then they showed the first few minutes of the movie as a teaser, I was immediately hooked. I ended up seeing this several times in the theaters and immediately bought it when it came out on DVD, and later upgraded it to Blu-Ray. So let’s try not to get soo serious (sorry, couldn’t resist) and have some fun with today’s movie, The Dark Knight.

The plot: 5 men wearing clown masks split up into two teams, two men on the roof and three going in the front door, and proceed to hold up a bank in Gotham. On the roof, the man tasked with cutting the alarm is killed once his job is complete, then his partner heads down to crack open the vault. Meanwhile, the bank manager, who happens to work for the mob that owns the bank, grabs a shotgun and kills one of the robbers that came in the front door but when he runs out of shells, he is shot in the leg and incapacitated. One of the men heads down to the vault and takes out the safe cracker once he is done. He loads up all of the money into some bags and carries it out front, then pulls his gun on the remaining robber, asking if he was supposed to kill him. The robber replies that he is supposed to kill the bus driver, then steps aside as a school bus backs into the building, slamming into the robber. As the driver helps load the bags and asks about the other, the remaining robber shoots him then prepares to leave when the bank manager taunts him. The robber approaches him and stuffs a gas grenade in the man’s mouth, then takes off the mask to reveal himself to be the Joker, then gets in the school bus, trailing some string tied to the grenade’s pin as he does, and drives off, causing the pin to be pulled as Joker merges in with the other school buses driving down the road. That night, a meeting between the Chechen, head of the Russian mafia, and the Scarecrow and his men is interrupted by a group of vigilantes inspired by Batman and dressing like him. When the real Batman shows up, Scarecrow tries to escape as Batman deals with both the Russians and the vigilantes, but Batman is able to catch him before he escapes. The next day, Gordon heads over to the bank that was robbed and is soon met by Batman, where it is revealed that Batman had been providing the police with irradiated bills to use for tracking drug money. This bank, plus 4 others, appear to be the last sources of mob money in the city and Gordon tells Batman that they will have to bring the new D.A. in on this. Harvey Dent, the new D.A. is working on trying to bring down the remnants of the Falcone crime family, and also happens to be dating Rachel Dawes. After a court hearing where he punches a mobster who tries to kill him, Dent meets up with Gordon and after arguing with Gordon over some of the men in his unit, as he investigated them for being dirty back when he worked in Internal Affairs, he agrees to issue the warrants for Gordon, but tells him he wants to meet with Batman. Meanwhile, Wayne Enterprises is in talks with a Hong Kong company, represented by Mr. Lau, but while most of the board like the idea for the merger, Lucius Fox thinks some of Lau’s revenue is dirty as his company continues to show more growth than can be explained. Bruce says to cancel the deal, as he had figured Lau was crooked but wanted to look at his books to confirm it, then starts talking to Lucius about some alterations for the Batsuit. That night, Bruce runs into Rachel and Dent as they are having dinner and he and his join them. As they are talking, Bruce feels like Dent might be the person Gotham needs to deal with the criminals and allow him to stop being Batman so he tells Dent that he will throw him a fundraiser, stating that a fundraiser with his circle would mean he wouldn’t need to raise another cent for any of his reelection campaigns. The next day, Sal Maroni, the Chechen, and Gambol, the three largest crime bosses in the city, are holding a meeting where Lau joins in via video conference. Lau informs them about the police locating their banks and, since he was the only money launderer left in the city, he felt it prudent to take their money and leave the city before the police could raid the banks and seizing their funds. Lau says he is going to Hong Kong, where the Chinese would be reluctant to extradite one of their own countrymen back to the U.S. Suddenly, the Joker appears and tells them that Batman has no jurisdiction and would find Lau and bring him back to Gotham. As Lau ends his video call, Maroni asks what Joker is proposing and Joker tells them he will kill Batman for half of their money. An enraged Gambol wants to kill Joker for stealing form them but when Joker reveals that he is armed with some grenades prepared to explode if he dies, then Gambol opts to put a hit out on him instead. That night, Dent uses the Batsignal to summon Batman and when he gets there, tells them that they need Lau back or else they won’t be able to make a case against the mob and Batman agrees to get him back. Meanwhile, some men claim to have killed Joker and bring the body to Gambol’s home to collect the reward but it was a trick as Joker reveals that he is still alive and kills Gambol, then tells his men that there is room for one more man in his crew and makes them fight to the death to decide who gets it. The next day, Bruce is talking with Lucius about Lau leaving the city and makes plans for Lucius to head to Hong Kong to tell Lau in person that the deal is off. He then works with Lucius and Alfred on figuring out a way for him to get Lau out of his office and onto a plane without the plane landing before heading off himself, under cover of his taking the visiting Russian Ballet on a “love cruise”. In Hong Kong, Lucius meets with Lau to tell him the deal is off and after he leaves, he reveals to Bruce that he left a phone in the building that will act as a sonar to allow him to see everything going on in the building. That night, Batman breaks into the building and is able to get Lau out of there, using some smugglers flying a skyhook plane, and drops him off at police headquarters. The next day, Rachel is trying to get Lau to turn on the mafia and when Lau says that he handled all of their money as one giant pot, Dent realizes that he can charge everyone in the mafia under the Rico Act. Gordon and the police proceed to arrest Maroni, the Chechen, and all of their men, but are unaware that the Chechen had already hired the Joker to take out Lau and the Batman. The mayor speaks with Dent about his actions and warns him that everybody will be gunning for him now when a body dressed like Batman suddenly appears outside the window, with a video from Joker saying that he will kill people everyday until Batman reveals his true identity and turns himself in. That night at the fundraiser Bruce is throwing, he gives his speech praising Harvey for the good work he has done and says he believes in him. Afterwards, Rachel catches Bruce alone and thinks he was making fun of Harvey but Bruce says he is serious, stating that he feels Dent is the man that will let him stop being Batman. Rachel says he can’t put all his hopes on her but before they can say anything else, Dent shows up and asks to speak to Rachel alone. Meanwhile, the police discover DNA from Dent, Police Commissioner Loeb, and Judge Surrillo on the card pinned to the fake Batman’s body and Gordon realizes that they are the Joker’s targets. He sends men to place Surrillo and Dent into protective custody while he goes to guard Loeb but crooked cops end up killing Surrillo while Loeb is poisoned when he drinks some scotch he keeps in his desk. At Wayne’s party, Dent proposes to Rachel but when she doesn’t answer, he takes it as a no and asks if it is Bruce when Bruce suddenly comes up behind him and knocks him out. As Rachel questions what he is doing, he tells her that Joker is coming for Dent and tells her to hide, while he heads to a panic room to change clothes. Joker arrives and starts asking for Dent and when he starts threatening the guests, Rachel confronts him and when the Joker moves towards her, Batman appears and begins fighting him and his men. Joker manages to grab Rachel and threatens to kill her, then throws her out the window, forcing Batman to leap out after her in order to save her. The next night, Gordon is called to a murder scene, where the victims’ last names are Harvey and Dent. Batman grabs the remains of a bullet that was shot into the wall and Gordon tells him whatever he is doing, he should make it quick as Joker has targeted the mayor next. At Wayne Enterprises, Coleman Reese, one of Wayne’s lawyers, goes up to Lucius and reveals his theory that Bruce is Batman and tries to blackmail him into giving him $10 million for life but Lucius questions his reasoning for it. Later, Lucius helps Bruce digitally reconstruct the bullet in order to get the thumbprint and as he prints a copy for Bruce, asks him about his use of R&D, which Reese had brought up, and Bruce tells him it is something he is playing it close to the vest. Bruce is able to figure out the address for the print from the bullet and when he heads there, he finds a group of men bound and gagged. Questioning them, he realizes that they are the police honor guard and during the 21 gun salute, the Joker and his men, who had taken their uniforms, turn and fire at the mayor. Gordon saves the mayor but is killed instead and as Harvey sends Rachel to safety, he goes to question one of the men who was captured, only to see Rachel’s name listed on his name tag. Batman pays a visit to Maroni and questions him about the Joker but Maroni tells him that he has no idea where the Joker can be found. Meanwhile, Dent calls Rachel, who tells him that she is at Major Crimes and Dent tells her to get somewhere safe and she tells him that Bruce’s penthouse is the safest place for her so she heads there. Dent, having kidnapped the suspect in custody, attempts to scare him into talking when Batman stops him, saying if the city found out about this all the work he has done would be erased. Batman agrees to turn himself in in order to prevent further blood shed and tells Dent to hold a press conference for it but when the press conference is held, Dent claims he is the Batman and asks to be taken into custody. Rachel, having watched what happened on TV, questions Alfred as to why Bruce let Harvey do that and he tells her that perhaps Dent and Bruce both felt Batman was still needed to deal with the Joker. Rachel leaves Alfred a letter to give to Bruce when the time is right, then heads to the station to try and talk Harvey out of his plan but he kisses her and gets into the S.W.A.T. transport. As the convoy moves through the city, they find the road blocked by a burning fire engine and are forced onto the lower sections of the streets, where Joker and his men proceed to ambush them. Batman shows up in the Tumbler to stop them but when Joker attempts to shoot the van carrying Dent with an RPG, he drives the Tumbler in the rocket’s path to save it. The van makes it back onto the street so they can get some air support but the Joker’s men fire some wires that ensnare the police helicopter’s rotors and cause it to crash. Meanwhile, Batman ejects out of the Tumbler, with two of the wheels forming a modified motorcycle, and he takes off after the Joker and causes the semi he is driving to crash. As Joker gets out of the wreckage and goes to face Batman, who is barreling towards him, Batman swerves at the last minute and ends up crashing. Joker approaches Batman and prepares to kill him but the van’s driver, revealed to be Gordon, stops and arrests him. As they take Joker to his cell for booking, the Mayor approaches Gordon and tells him that he has been named the new Commissioner. However, shortly after Gordon goes home to let his wife and son know he is still alive, he is called back to the station. He begins interrogating Joker as to where Dent is, as he did not show up at the safe house, and Gordon mocks him by asking if he left Dent with his men or Maroni’s. Gordon exits the room, revealing Batman to be in there and he begins interrogating Joker, who reveals that he had captured both Dent and Rachel, as he realized Batman was in love with her, and says he can only save one of them. Batman heads out to save Rachel while Gordon and his men go to get Dent. Elsewhere, Dent comes to and hears Rachel speaking through a speakerphone and when she tells him that she overheard them say only one of them is going to survive, Dent begins struggling at his bonds to try and get free ending up spilling some of the fuel that he is surrounded by when he falls onto his side. Back at the station, one of Joker’s men begins complaining of chest pains and when he collapses, they find a contusion underneath his skin. Meanwhile, Joker taunts the cop that is guarding him and he is able to grab him and use him as a hostage, saying that he wants to make a phone call. When they hand him a cell phone, Joker places a call, which activates the phone bomb that was inside his henchman, causing it to explode. As everyone is recovering from the blast, Joker is able to free his men, then grab Lau and escape the station. Meanwhile, Dent continues to try and get free as Rachel says that she will marry him when Batman shows up and realizes that Joker lied and he had arrived at the location Dent was being held at. Batman manages to grab Dent and get him out of the building before it explodes but the blast ignites the fuel covering part of his face, severely burning it. Meanwhile, Gordon and his men are too late to save Rachel and when he learns that Joker escaped, he realizes that Joker had outsmarted them and wanted to get caught in order to get to Lau. Alfred reads Rachel’s letter to Bruce, explaining that she is going to marry Harvey, but chooses not to give it to him just then, as Bruce mistakenly thought she was going to marry him if he stopped being Batman and he didn’t want to disillusion him in his grief. Gordon pays a visit to Dent in the hospital and tries to ask Dent who in his force he can still trust but Dent, enraged at what he has lost, refuses to tell him. AS Gordon leaves, he sees Maroni outside the room and, tired of the craziness that has taken over the city, he tells Gordon where Joker will be. In a cargo container on the docks, Joker is sitting on a large pile of money, with Lau on top as well, and as he jumps down and approaches the Chechen, he proceeds to burn it, along with Lau, then has the Chechen killed. Elsewhere, Reese goes on TV and says he plans on revealing who Batman is but Joker calls in and says that he doesn’t want Batman unmasked. Claiming he wants the rest of Gotham to join in the game, he says that unless Reese is killed in the next 60 minutes, he will blow up a hospital. Hearing the broadcast, Gordon orders every hospital to be evacuated, giving priority to the one Dent is in, while he and some men head over to try and keep Reese safe. At the same time, Bruce tells Alfred to research Gordon’s men and see if any of them have family in the hospital, in case one of them decides to kill him. At Gotham General, the evacuation is underway but Joker, disguised as a nurse, kills his guards, then talks with Dent, telling him he had nothing to do with his and Rachel’s abduction, then places a gun in Dent’s hand and places the barrel against his head. Dent shows him his two-headed coin, with one side scarred much like his face, and tells him good side, he lives, bad side, he dies, causing the Joker to smile. Meanwhile, Gordon, receiving information from Alfred about the officer in the car with him, is able to keep him from killing Reese while Bruce drives his car into the path of an oncoming truck, saving him. Joker is shown to still be alive and he blows up the hospital and Gordon, after learning about 50 people are missing, feels that Joker has Dent and tries to get some help with the situation. Later, Joker sends a video message saying that he still plans on continuing his game and the city will be doing things by his rules by nightfall, with details to come later. At Wayne Enterprises, Lucius gets word of a break in at R&D and when he heads down there, he finds that Batman had adapted his sonar technology to work with every cell phone in the city in order to try and track the Joker. Lucius is appalled by what Bruce has done but Bruce says that it is encoded to work only for Lucius, as he felt Lucius would be able make the right decision regarding it and Lucius agrees to help but says that so long as that machine is there, he won’t be. As people are attempting to evacuate the city by nightfall, one of the ferries contains the prisoners arrested during Dent’s Rico case against Maroni and the others. Meanwhile, Dent confronts Detective Wuertz, who was the one that turned him over to the mob, and after learning that he doesn’t know who the other man in Gordon’s unit is, Dent flips the coin and kills him when it lands bad side up. Dent then ambushes Maroni, who tells him that Ramirez was the other cop and Dent spares his life but shoots his driver, causing the car they are in to crash. Dent then uses Ramirez to call Gordon’s family and have them meet him somewhere, then knocks her out. Back out on the water, the ferry with the criminals and a ferry containing regular citizens suddenly stop dead in the water. As the crew search for the problem, they find explosives in the lower decks and a detonator. Suddenly, the Joker’s voice is heard over the speakers and he tells them that each boat has the detonator for the explosives on the other ship. At midnight, or if anyone tries to escape, he will blow both ships up but if one ship chooses to blow up the other one, the one that doesn’t explode will live. Lucius is able to figure out where Joker is and tells Batman, who informs Gordon. Gordon and his men set up on the roof across the street and wonder why the Joker and his men chose the building they were in but Batman says that nothing is simple with the Joker. He asks for 5 minutes to go in ahead of them but Gordon refuses, feeling responsible for what happened to Dent but Batman goes anyways and Gordon tells his men to give him 2 minutes. Before the start their assault, Gordon receives a call from his wife saying they are in trouble, and she is replaced by Dent, who tells Gordon to meet him where Rachel died. As he reaches the building, Batman realizes that the hostages have been disguised as clowns, while Joker’s men are pretending to be the hostages and he is forced to fight the police in order to save the hostages until they realize the situation. As midnight draws closer, one of the prisoners approaches the man with the detonator and tells him to hand it to him so he can do what must be done and when he does, the prisoner throws it out the window and sits back down. On the other ferry, everyone is arguing and decide to have a vote on what to do. When they vote to use the detonator, the captain refuses, as the other boat hasn’t blown them up yet, and one man decides he is to afraid and grabs the detonator and prepares to use it but he finds that he can’t do it either. Batman makes it up to the Joker and they start fighting but Joker is able to get the upper hand, then pins him down so they can watch his experiment unfold. When neither ferry explodes, Joker goes to detonate the ferries himself but Batman is able to stop him and throw him out of the building, then uses his grapple to catch him. As he brings Joker back up to him, Joker comments about how Batman couldn’t kill him and taunts him that he will still break the city once they learn what Harvey did. As Batman stares in horror, Joker tells him that he brought Dent down to their level and turned him loose as his ace in the hole and Batman rushes off, leaving Joker laughing as the police move to collect him. At the site where Rachel died, Dent knocks Gordon down and then threatens to kill his son to make Gordon feel the same pain he felt. Batman shows up and tells Dent it wasn’t Joker’s fault or the mob’s, but their fault, as they were the ones who chose to walk that path. When Dent asks why he was the one who lost everything, Batman says it was because he was the best of them. Dent says that they should all pay then starts flipping his coin; shooting Batman after the first flip but sparing his own life. As he goes to flip the coin a third time, Batman rushes him and knocks himself, Dent, and Gordon’s son over the edge. Dent falls to his death but Batman is able to save Gordon’s son and Gordon is able to pull him to safety before Batman falls himself. Gordon rushes down to check on him and finds Batman is still alive, then laments about how all the work Dent did is gone now. Batman says it doesn’t have to be and says he will take the blame for what Dent did, and Gordon tries to talk him out of it but Batman says it is what he must do. As he rushes off, with the police now chasing after him, it is shown later that Gordon destroys the Batsignal, Alfred burns Rachel’s letter, while Lucius smiles as he discovers Bruce had built in a self destruct to the system so that it was destroyed after he was done using it.

The Dark Knight met with almost universal praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Dark, complex and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.” The massive success at the box office, earning $1.005 billion off of a $185 million budget, making it the highest grossing movie in the franchise at the time as well as the first comic book movie to reach the $1 billion mark, and would go on to receive 8 Academy Award nominations, breaking the record for a comic book based movie that had been previously held by Dick Tracy. Heath Ledger’s posthumously winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar capped a sweeping list of awards his portrayal of the Joker garnered him, as he also won the SAG Award, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA Award as well.

This probably goes without saying but this is a fantastic movie. The acting was great, with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman doing great jobs reprising their roles of Batman, Gordon, Alfred, and Lucius respectively. Aaron Eckhart was great as Harvey Dent and while I still didn’t particularly care for the character, I thought that Maggie Gyllenhaal did a good job as Rachel. As for the man of the hour, I though Heath Ledger stole the show as Joker and honestly, I don’t think the movie would have been as good if they had someone else in the role, or a different character in general as the villain. I have had discussions about which Joker was better, Ledger or Nicholson, and I have always argued that it isn’t a fair comparison because both actors portrayed Joker as he was in the comics at the time but while he was always a sociopathic killer, much like Nicholson’s portrayal, by the time The Dark Knight came around, the Joker had evolved into a truly mad and psychotic character, which fit more into Ledger’s portrayal. The story was great, kind of picking up where Batman Begins left off in regards to his early exploits while mixing in some aspects of “The Killing Joke” to it, simply substituting Harvey Dent instead of Gordon for the subject of Joker’s attentions. The special effects were incredible, particularly the effects used to give Harvey Dent his post accident look. I also loved the cinematography and filming that was used, especially the portions shot using the Imax cameras. A great movie and definitely one of the top comic book movies out there.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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crime, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, romance

June 24th, 2018 Movie – Young And Innocent

young and innocent

Once again I wasn’t paying attention when I was entering the movie titles into my spreadsheet and put another movie out of order. Oh well, I am actually glad I got to watch this movie today as it feels a little appropriate to end the weekend like this. Today’s movie is the last movie in the Legends of Horror box set and, much like how I started off with this set, I find myself watching a Hitchcock movie to finish off the set. This is yet another movie that I have never heard of before buying this collection and I really haven’t been disappointed with these rare gems so let’s see if the trend finishes up the same as I watch today’s movie, Young And Innocent.

The plot: On a stormy night, Christine Clay finds herself in an argument with her jealous ex-husband Guy, who doesn’t accept her Reno divorce as valid. Accusing her of having an affair, they continue arguing until Christine slaps Guy and demands he leave. As he walks out into the rain, Guy turns to look back at the door as his eyes begin twitching uncontrollably. The next day, Christine’s body washes ashore onto the beach, where she is spotted by Robert Tisdall as he is out for a walk. Going to check on the body, he recognizes her as Christine and then runs to get help, but two women heading to the beach spot him and the body and they believe he is running from the crime. When the authorities arrive and determine she was strangled with the belt from a rain coat, the women accuse Robert of killing her but he proclaims his innocence, only to find that nobody seems ready to believe him. Robert is taken to Scotland Yard for questioning all night and when the police ask him if he has a raincoat, he says it was stolen out of his car. Robert admits that he did know Christine, as he sold her a story 3 years ago, but the police believe he was having an affair with her and when they inform him that she left him £1200, he ends up fainting. Erica Burgoyne, the daughter of the local police’s Chief Constable, happens to be outside and is able to help revive him, then they take Robert to see his barrister before going to court. Robert tries to tell his barrister that the police are making a mistake and that if the police go to check the pub he was at the night his coat was stolen, they will verify what he told them but he realizes pretty quickly that his barrister is somewhat incompetent. Unsure on if he will get a fair trial against the circumstantial evidence against him, Robert takes advantage of the crowded courthouse to slip away from his guards and as they clear the courthouse to search for him, he is able to get outside by wearing his barrister’s glasses as a disguise. As the police start leaving the courthouse to look for him, Erica ends up having two officers ride with her, commandeering her car to help search. When the car runs out of gas, they start pushing it to the nearest station but Erica tells them to keep going and so the two officers hitch a ride with a passing farmer. As Erica works on continuing to push the car, she is surprised to find Robert helping her, as he had stowed away on the side running board, and she begrudgingly thanks him for the help. Reaching a fuel station, Robert ends up paying for Erica’s gas and they continue on the way for a little while before Erica pulls over and drops Robert off at an abandoned farm house, not wanting him to stay in her car any longer and as he watches her drive off, he sees her stop and speak with some policemen but when they drive by without stopping, she realizes that she didn’t tell them where he was. Erica returns home and is having lunch with her father and brothers and during the course of the meal, she learns that Robert had used all the money he had on him to pay for her gas. Feeling a little guilty, but also believing his claims of innocence, she heads back to the farm house with some food for him As the two talk, Robert starts eating the food Erica brought him but when he tosses the wrapper out the window, the policemen who were with Erica earlier spot it and go to investigate. As they approach, Erica’s dog starts barking at them, alerting Erica and Robert to their approach and they are able to slip out the window and get away. Erica is upset about the fact that she was forced to run from the cops like that and considers heading back to town but when she sees the road blocked, she resigns herself to going to the pub, saying she might as well see this through. When they reach the pub, Erica goes in and asks the bartender if someone had lost a coat and the bartender mentions a tramp named Old Will had come in with a new coat but quickly shuts up when some other tramps motion him to be quiet. Another customer says that he did recall Old Will coming in with a new coat that someone had given him and the tramps start a fight to keep him quiet. Hearing the commotion, Robert goes to check on Erica but when she says she is safely outside, he heads out as well but ends up getting hurt. Erica tends to his wound and the customer tells them where they can find Old Will and Robert chooses to walk there, not wanting to put Erica in any more trouble than she might already be in. However, Erica finds herself starting to fall for Robert and she decides to take him there but stops at her aunt’s house for a little bit to ask for some money. Having Robert wait in the car, Erica goes inside only to get trapped in her aunt’s party. Outside, Robert is writing her a note to explain his leaving and thanking her for her help when her uncle shows up and invites him in. The two try to make their excuses and leave but Erica’s aunt grows suspicious and keeps them around so she can question Robert. When Erica’s uncle helps them leave, her aunt chastises him and grows even more suspicious when they head in the opposite direction of Erica’s home and she calls the Chief Constable. After hearing about Erica and Robert, the Chief Constable calls the local station house in the direction they are heading and asks them to stop her and have her call him but when the officer stops her to relay the message, he recognizes Robert and Erica drives off. Panicking over what she did and what it will do to her father if she is arrested for aiding a fugitive, Erica says they have to find that coat and they head off to find Old Will. Arriving at the train station next to the shelter he is supposed to be staying at. Robert tells Erica this will all be over soon and she will never see him again and she grows sad and asks if that is true. Robert comforts her until she falls asleep, then heads to the shelter to look for Will but ends up falling asleep inside. He eventually finds Will and questions him about the raincoat but Will feigns ignorance. When Robert exclaims that it is a matter of life or death for him, one of the tramps realizes Robert is the escaped criminal and goes to tell the manager to call the police. Robert drags Will out of there and into Erica’s car and they rush off, managing to avoid the police by racing in front of a passing train. Robert discovers that Will is wearing his raincoat underneath his overcoat and when he examines it, realizes that the belt is missing and that it was his belt that killed Christine. When he asks about the belt, Will tells them that it didn’t have a belt when the man gave it to him and describes the man as having twitchy eyes. Robert thinks this will clear him but Erica says it won’t be enough unless they find the actual killer. Realizing the police will be after them soon, Will says there is an old mine they can hide in and they head there only to have Erica’s car fall into a hole when the ground collapses. Robert and Will manage to rescue her before her car falls deeper into the hole as the police arrive, and Erica moves to stall them so that Robert can get free. Later, Erica’s father speaks with her about the situation she is in and shows her his letter of resignation, as he refuses to arrest her. That night, Robert sneaks into Erica’s room to see her and she rushes to hug him. Robert tells her that he is going to turn himself in, and just wanted to see her first. She tells him that the police found his coat and the only thing in it was a box of matches from the Grand Hotel. Robert goes to leave but then goes back to her and says he has never been to the Grand Hotel and they realize the killer must have been there or still is. The next day, Erica meets with Will, who is there to see if he spots the man that gave him the coat, but Will is being watched by the police. As they look around the hotel, they head inside the ballroom as the police enter, having spotted Will with Erica and believing they could lead them to Robert. As they sit in the ballroom and look around, the drummer of the house band notices Will and his eyes start twitching. The drummer is actually Guy in black-face and when he sees the police are there as well, he starts acting suspiciously, causing the band leader to chastise him. Guy considers leaving but when he sees more police showing up, he heads back inside and goes to take some medicine to try and get his twitching under control. Erica’s father shows up with Scotland Yard and they catch Robert and go to get Erica as Guy’s increasingly erratic behavior causes him to pass out. The police are about to lead Erica, Robert, and Will away when they hear the commotion and Erica goes to offer her help. When she notices Guy’s eyes twitching, she calls for Will to come over, then asks someone to wipe off the black-face. When his face is clear, Will confirms that it is the man that gave him the coat and as Guy comes around, Erica asks him what he did with the belt. Guy starts laughing and says he twisted it around her neck, admitting that he killed Christine. As the authorities move to arrest Guy, Robert is released and he goes to embrace Erica, who then goes to her father and asks about inviting Robert over for dinner.

For an early Hitchcock movie, this is not as good as his later works but it is a good movie on it’s own and does show some flashes of his brilliance. The acting was good, with Derrick De Marney and Nova Pilbeam doing good jobs as Robert and Erica, as they had some great chemistry on screen and the banter between them was fantastic. I also liked Edward Rigby (Old Will) as he provided a good bit of comedic humor towards the end of the movie. The story was pretty basic, with the framed man trying to prove his innocence while avoiding being caught by the authorities. Still, Hitchcock was able to add some romance and humor to a serious plot, either intentionally or unintentionally. The scene with the policemen getting a ride from the farmer had me cracking up. I don’t know if the “pig” nickname for police had come about at this point or not but when they were talking to the farmer and he told them he was paid to move pigs around, plus when they asked if he had more room for them and he said he only had the room for 10 pigs, had me almost laughing at loud. While the chase sequences were pretty good for the time, the film quality was honestly kind of bad, particularly towards the end of the film, but it could have just been the source used for this DVD and not the original film itself. A fun movie to watch and definitely worth watching if you are a fan of Hitchcock.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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action, crime, drama, movie, movie review, western

June 22nd, 2018 Movie – Young Guns

young guns

So the Brat Pack decided to make a western movie. That was pretty much my opinion when I first heard about this movie. Anyways, I remember thinking that this would be an interesting movie to watch but never saw it while it was in theaters. I would end up catching bits and pieces of it on TV over the years before I finally decided to rent it one day so I could watch the whole thing. Westerns are not really my normal wheelhouse but I was entertained enough to end up getting both this and the sequel when the opportunity presented itself. So let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Young Guns.

The plot: In Lincoln County, New Mexico, local ranch owner John Tunstall is in town with Doc Scurlock, one of the young men he has hired to help work the ranch, when they hear the sound of a gun shot and see a young man, Billy, running down the street, being chased by some men who work for Lawrence Murphy, a well connected Irishman who Tunstall is at odds with. Tunstall decides to help Billy get out of town and takes him back to his place, where Billy sees the other Regulators (Jose Chavez y Chavez, Richard M. “Dick” Brewer, Steve Stephens, and Charlie Bowdre) and Tunstall offers to let him stay there provided he earn his keep. The next day, Billy works at tending to the pigs as Charlie explains what it is they do around there and after supper, Tunstall works at teaching everyone how to read and write. The next day, Billy hides when he sees Murphy, ride up with the sheriff and some of his men. Tunstall and the Regulators go to meet them and when the sheriff says that Murphy is accusing Tunstall of stealing some of his land but Tunstall denies the claim, causing Tunstall and Murphy to argue over their place in town. The next day, a former worker for Murphy, J. McCloskey, shows up looking for work and Tunstall agrees to let him in. That night, they head into town for the New Year’s Eve dance and while he is there, Tunstall speaks to his lawyer, Alexander McSween, about trying to expose Murphy’s corruption to the governor only to be told that Murphy had given a large donation to the governor’s election campaign. During the course of the night, Billy meets a man named Pat Garrett and Doc dances with Yen Sun, a Chinese girl under Murphy’s care only to later be told that she is actually his house slave. As Tunstall and the Regulators head home in the morning, Murphy’s men kill Tunstall and chase after the Regulators but they manage to get away. Later, Alex goes to the Justice of the Peace and asks if he is going to serve warrants on the men responsible for Tunstall’s death and he says no but does deputize the Regulators so they can issue the warrants and arrest the men. When they go to arrest Henry Hill, they send Billy in to the shack he tends to hide out in but when Billy hears that Hill is going to the outhouse, he heads over there and ends up shooting Hill, causing a gun fight to erupt. The next day, Doc reads a newspaper article about the gunfight and Billy, who they nickname The Kid, to the others when he notices Yen Sun walking by and goes to talk to her, but when she refuses to take the flowers he offers her then he tells her to give Murphy a message that they are coming for him. The Regulators manage to capture two of Murphy’s men that they have warrants for but Billy wants to kill them. When McCloskey says that they should go a different route than the one Dick wants to go but Billy notices McCloskey and one of the men sharing a glance and realizes that McCloskey is a traitor and kills him, prompting the Regulators to kill the other men when they try to escape. As they try to figure out there next move, and Billy and Dick argue over who should be leading the group, they see Buckshot Roberts approaching them, as he wants to collect the bounty on Billy’s head. A shoot out occurs, with Chavez and Doc both being wounded as Roberts takes shelter in an outhouse. The Regulators fire into the outhouse and when they don’t hear anything, Dick goes to check it out only to be killed by Roberts. The Regulators agin fire into the outhouse, then leave before more of Murphy’s men can arrive. Later, Doc heads off to write to Dick’s family about his death and get some fresh wrappings for his and Chavez’s wounds. Though Billy warns him to stay out of Lincoln, he heads there anyways and sneaks in to see Yen Sun, trying to convince her to leave with him but she refuses and he is forced to leave when Murphy heads up to her room. When Doc returns, Billy convinces the group that they need to go after Sheriff Brady, as he helped Murphy get away with Tunstall’s murder, and they head into Lincoln and kill him and some of his men. When they go to see Alex, he is furious with them as the governor has revoked their deputization and now the military will be after them. He says they were just supposed to serve the warrants and expose Murphy’s corruption but Billy argues that by killing Brady and bringing more attention to the situation, that President Hayes will have to take notice of what is going on out there. As they go to leave, Alex tells them that he is going to reopen Tunstall’s store and tells them to be careful. As they go to hide out, Charlie wants to spend the night with a woman so they head into a town and give him money for a prostitute. While they wait for him, Billy overhears a man at the bar looking for him and he taunts the man briefly, as he doesn’t know what Billy looks like, before revealing himself and killing him. Suddenly, Charlie bursts into the bar and tells them that John Kinney, an ex soldier turned bounty hunter, and his men are coming and they all quickly ride off, hiding in some thorn bushes to escape detection. As they rest for a while, Billy wants to head back to Lincoln to take out Murphy but the others all want to head to Mexico to get away and Billy, describing the risk it will entail to get to Mexico, decides to go with them. They reach a border town and rest up for the night only to be surprised when Charlie falls in love and decides to marry a local girl. As they celebrate the wedding, Pat Garrett shows up and approaches Billy, telling him that their mutual friend Alex is in danger, as Murphy is planning on killing him on his return to Lincoln. Billy calls out for the Regulators to get ready to ride out and both he and Doc tell Charlie that he should stay, as he has a wife now, but Charlie refuses to let his friends ride off without him. The Regulators head back to Lincoln and go to get Alex and his wife Susan out of town but they realize that it is trap as Murphy’s men begin setting up barricades in front of the house. Kinney and his men show up as well and the Regulators find themselves trapped in the house. As Murphy and Kinney’s men begin shooting at the house, Billy and the others take refuge on the second floor. Murphy arrives to oversee the events just as some soldiers arrive from the nearest army camp, and Murphy tries to get them to leave as he doesn’t want too much attention brought on them. While he argues with the colonel, Yen Sun leaves his wagon and races into the house, choosing to be with Doc. Murphy orders his men to set fire to the house in an attempt to smoke out Billy and the others and Alex yells down that he is sending his wife out so she can get away. Chavez sneaks out of the house and when Steve discovers he is missing, he starts ranting that he went and saved his own skin. Coming up with a plan to try and get away, they all start throwing items out of the windows to avoid having them catch fire, including a large trunk. Suddenly, Billy bursts out of the trunk and begins shooting at the men, while Doc and the others head out the side door. They see Chavez riding towards them with some horses he procured and they move to get on the horses but Billy is wounded. Charlie ends up getting into a shootout with Kinney and they end up killing each other. Doc is wounded but manages to get both him and Yen on a horse so they can ride off. Chavez is shot but Steve helps him back onto the horse, only to be killed as well. Billy is able to get on a horse and escape as well and Alex heads out and yells good luck after them only to be gunned down by a Gatling gun. Murphy starts ranting for everyone to go after them when Billy rides back and shoots Murphy in the head, then leaves town. In a voice over, Doc says that Chavez headed to California, changing his name in the process, and began working on a farm. Doc and Yen moved to New York and got married while Susan stayed in town and continued Alex and Tunstall’s work, resulting in the governor being forced to step down. Billy the kid continued to ride in the New Mexico area until he was eventually killed by Pat Garrett after he was made sheriff. He was buried next to Charlie in Fort Sumner and one night, someone inscribed the word “Pals” on his tombstone.

Young Guns met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that despite the star power it had, it fell flat as a whole. Much like almost every other movie about the Lincoln County War, John Tunstall is depicted as an older gentleman when he was actually 24 when he was killed. In fact, he was younger than most of the Regulators, with Billy the Kid being one of the only ones younger than him, as he was 20 at the time. Despite the mixed reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $45.6 million off of an $11 million budget and would spawn a sequel two years later.

So, I may be in the minority on this one but I find this movie pretty entertaining in a guilty pleasure type of way. The acting was good, with Emilio Estevez doing a good job as Billy the Kid. I also liked Keifer Sutherland (Doc), Casey Siemaszko (Charlie) and Lou Diamond Phillips (Chavez) but was kind of indifferent to the others. The story was based on the real events of the Lincoln County Wars, which helped make Billy the Kid famous and they had some fun with their version of it. I thought the scene where Chavez had them drink some mescaline to guide them on a spirit journey was pretty funny. Some of the gun fights seemed a little out there in the sense that nobody was getting hit, while they had an affinity with the slow motion shots when some of the guns were firing and people were actually shot. It’s not the greatest western ever but it is an entertaining movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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crime, horror, movie, movie review, thriller

May 10th, 2018 Movie – The Watcher

the watcher

You ever have those movies that really seem to come and go out of theaters in the blink of an eye. I mean, you see a trailer for it and it piques your interest but you completely miss it when it is in theaters because it disappears almost the moment it shows up. That is kind of how I feel about today’s movie. I recall seeing a trailer for it and thinking it might be worth going to see but I honestly don’t remember it being in theaters. Unfortunately, interest can be fleeting as when it ended up on video, I never got around to renting it but years later, I finally decided to pick up a copy during the dying days of Blockbuster. So let’s see whether this was worth it as I watch today’s movie, The Watcher.

The plot: In Chicago, former FBI Special Agent Joel Campbell is speaking with therapist Dr. Polly Bellman about the serial killer he failed to catch in Los Angeles, resulting in him having guilt induced migraines. After his session, Campbell returns home and lays down on his couch but wakes up some time later after having another nightmare and, after injecting himself with some medicine to deal with the migraine, heads out to get some dinner, unaware that he is being watched. When he returns home, he finds the police have one of the apartments in his building taped off and Detective Hollis Mackie briefly questions Campbell, as a girl had been murdered. The next day, Campbell is going through his mail when he finds a FedEx envelope with a picture of the murdered girl inside. After finding another FedEx envelope he had discarded that contains another picture of a different girl, he contacts Mackie, who is in the midst of a car chase, and tells him about the pictures. Campbell meets Mackie at the station, showing him the pictures of the two girls and Mackie said he wondered if the two cases were connected. Campbell tells Mackie that he spent 3 1/2 years tracking the killer, who went by the alias of David Allen Griffin in Los Angeles, where he was connected to 11 homicides, and Mackie asks what makes him think it is the same killer here in Chicago. Campbell goes to see FBI Special Agent in Charge Mike Ibby and talks to him about the matter and Ibby says that they are putting together a joint task force with the Chicago P.D. to catch the guy and offers Campbell the chance to lead it but Campbell turns it down. Meanwhile, Griffin is at a mall photo shop asking the girl working there, Ellie, about some film. He then takes a couple of pictures of Ellie, saying he wants to test the film, and asks her to develop them. That night, Griffin calls Campbell and asks him why he moved to Chicago. He then says he tried to make things work with his replacement but they didn’t have the same connection so he wants to rekindle the bond he had with Campbell. He tells him that he will send him a picture of a girl and he has until 9 the next night to find her or else she will die. When Campbell receives a card with Ellie’s picture in it, he goes to Ibby and tells him he wants in on the case and Ibby agrees. Campbell is given the lead and he starts telling the team what to do and has Mackie go talk to the press to try and get some help in identifying Ellie. As the deadline gets closer, they get a tip that she was spotted at the mall and head there to try and see if she is there, just missing her as Ellie leaves right as they get there. As they search the mall for Ellie, Campbell recognizes the nearby photoshop as being where the picture was taken and when they ask the clerk if she recognizes Ellie, she admits that she works there. Getting her phone number and address, Campbell tries calling Ellie to warn her but Griffin answers the phone, telling him it is too late. Heading to Ellie’s home, they examine the crime scene and afterwards, Campbell and Mackie are discussing the case while they eat. When Mackie complains about the restaurant, Campbell says that he eats here all the time, then whispers that Griffin might be watching them right now. Campbell sneaks out the back of the restaurant and goes around the block, then starts checking some of the cars across the street. When one of them suddenly starts up and rushes out of there, Campbell and Mackie give chase but the car manages to drive away. Some time later, Griffin is walking along the street and comes across a young girl, Jessica, begging for change and he offers to give her some money if she dances with him. The next day, Campbell goes to see Polly and as he gets in the elevator, he is joined by Griffin, though he doesn’t realize he is the killer. Griffin gets off on the same floor as Campbell and, pretending he is unsure of where he needs to go, he follows him and to learn where Campbell was going. Returning to the FBI building, Campbell and the others go over the picture of the Jessica that Griffin sent them and they begin searching for her. Meanwhile, Griffin makes an appointment with Polly and tries to learn why Campbell is seeing her. When the photo of Jessica is broadcast over the news, Jessica’s mother sees it and calls in the hotline. Based on what the mother tells him and some of the back ground imagery, Campbell deduces that the photo was taken near a coffee shop and they find a clerk that recognizes Jessica but learn that she is homeless. They start canvassing the neighborhood asking people if they have seen her and when Campbell unknowingly speaks to Jessica’s boyfriend, he runs from him and Campbell gives chase. Meanwhile, Jessica is getting ready to sleep in the abandoned building she is squatting in when Griffin shows up and she hits him with her radio and runs for it but Griffin eventually catches her and kills her. Campbell eventually catches up to the boyfriend and convinces him that they are trying to save the girl so they head to the building, getting there just as Griffin is attempting to leave. Campbell spots him and gives chase, running across the roof tops before they end up in a high speed car chase but Griffin is able to escape when he plows through a gas station and fires prevent Campbell from following. The events take their toll on Campbell as he ends up collapsing in his apartment and is hospitalized. Polly goes to visit him in the hospital but while she is there, Griffin breaks into Polly’s office and steals her file on Campbell. Later, an envelope is sent to the FBI building for Campbell and Special Agent Mitch Casper takes it and Mackie talks to the press about the latest picture. Campbell is watching the news conference and recognizes the picture as the woman he was sleeping with in L.A. that Griffin killed. Checking himself out of the hospital, Campbell heads to her grave to find Griffin sitting there, saying that he wants to talk. When Campbell threatens to shoot him, Griffin tells him if he does, then Polly will end up being killed and Campbell tells Griffin to take him to her. As they are driving, Campbell talks with Griffin and secretly calls Mackie on his cell phone, which Mackie begins to trace the call. Campbell and Griffin arrive at where he is keeping Polly and Griffin leads him inside, disarming the booby trap he had placed, and when he shows Campbell that Polly is still alive, he knocks him out. As the SWAT teams and FBi approach the building, Griffin revives Campbell and then talks with her and Polly. Griffin wants Campbell to thank him for giving his life meaning and when Campbell refuses he begins to strangle Polly. Campbell says thank you, causing Griffin to stop and approach Campbell and when he asks him to say it again, Campbell says thank you again, then stabs Griffin in the neck with his pen. As Griffin stumbles in pain, he knocks over a candle, igniting the pools of gasoline that are all around the room. Campbell grabs the shotgun from Griffin’s booby-trap and shoots Griffin in the shoulder when Griffin tries to shoot him. Campbell then frees Polly and as the flames reach the containers of fuel and the gas pump, they jump out the window to avoid the explosion, followed by Griffin, who is engulfed in flames. As the authorities pull Polly out of the water, Campbell swims over to Griffin’s body, then heads back to the dock so he can be pulled from the water and he goes to check on Polly as the two walk off to get their injuries checked out.

The Watcher was panned by the critics, holding a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Watcher has Keanu Reeves cast against type, but the movie is short on thrills, suspense, and believability.” According to Keanu Reeves, he had no interest in doing the film but his assistant had forged his signature and he ended up taking on the role rather than get involved in a lengthy legal battle and couldn’t say anything for 12 months due to his contract preventing him from speaking negatively about the movie for a year after the movie’s US release. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $47.3 million off of a $33 million budget.

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting way back when I first saw the trailers for this movie, but today, I find myself a little disappointed. The acting was ok, with James Spader (Campbell) and Marisa Tomei (Polly) did good jobs in their roles. Keanu Reeves was interesting as the villainous Griffin, as it was definitely something a little different for him, but he really didn’t seem to be that enthused with the character as he just played him rather bland. The story was honestly a little weak, with the whole idea of a serial killer messing with the agent assigned to catch him not feeling very original. It also felt like they had too many characters that they tried to get you interested in but aside from Campbell, Polly, and Griffin, the only character they gave half-assed attempt at some development too is Mackie, played by Chris Ellis. The couple of chase scenes were coordinated pretty well but the real driving force in the movie was the tension, which honestly felt tame compared to some other thrillers. It’s a decent movie but not something that I would call a must see.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

May 8th, 2018 Movie – The Warriors

the warriors

There are some movies that you might see as a kid that just stick with you over the years. Today’s movie is definitely one such movie for me. I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid but honestly could only recall a couple of scenes. I would occasionally think about watching it when I would see the video on the shelf at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video but never did rent it. Then, in 2005, I saw a commercial for The Warriors video game and my first thought was that this should be fun. I decided that if I was going to get the game, I should go ahead and get the movie as well and rewatch it so I went ahead and bought the directors cut, which had come out that year as well. So let’s get ready to rumble with today’s movie, The Warriors.

The plot: Cyrus, the charismatic leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the largest gang in New York, calls a midnight meeting and invites every gang in New York to send 9 unarmed representatives to attend the meeting in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Cleon, leader of the Warriors from Coney Island, says they will attend and he heads out on the subway with Swan, Ajax, Snow, Cochise, Cowboy, Vermin, Rembrandt, and Fox. At the meeting, Cyrus speaks out to the assembled gang members and tells them that if they consolidate their forces, instead of fighting each other over their respective turfs, they could run New York City, as the total number of gang members outnumber the cops. As Cyrus continues to lay out his plan to the cheering crowd, Luther, the leader of the Rogues, is handed a pistol and he shoots Cyrus. Fox, who had moved closer to where Cyrus was speaking, saw Luther shoot Cyrus and when Luther spots him, he points the gun at Fox. Suddenly spotlights turn on, as the police had quietly been surrounding the park to break up the gang meeting, and Luther is blinded by the spotlights and Fox uses the chance to get away. Cleon tells the rest of the warriors to get out of there while he goes to check on Cyrus. As Cleon stares at Cyrus’ body, Luther screams out to the Riffs that the Warriors were the ones to shoot Cyrus and he attacks Cleon, who easily knocks Luther but then gets beat down by the Riffs. As the police start arresting any gang members they catch, the Warriors manage to break through a section of fence and hide out in a cemetery. After the heat dies down some, Swan, Cleon’s second-in-commnad, assesses the situation and decides they are heading back to Coney Island. Vermin is worried about the fact that the cops will be out in force looking for any gang members but Swan says they have a bigger problem; whether or not the temporary truce between all of the gangs is still on. Swan tells the group that if they get separated, they should meet up at Union Square, as that is the station where they switch trains to get to Coney. Meanwhile, with Cyrus dead, Masai is now the leader of the Riffs and he tells them that he wants the Warriors, alive or wasted, and tells them to send the word out. As a radio D.J. relays Masai’s message out over the air, all of the various gangs in the city hear the message and go looking for the Warriors in their respective turfs. As the Warriors wait for a subway train, they spot the Turnbull AC’s, a gang of skin heads, cruising around in a bus and they take cover as the bus passes them. When the train shows up, the Warriors make a run for the platform just as the Turnbull AC’s turn around and give chase but the Warriors manage to get on the train before the Turnbulls get to them and it leaves the station. Meanwhile, the Rogues stop off at a corner shop and Luther makes a quick phone call, explaining what happened to the person on the other end. Afterwards, one of Luther’s men is worried about the Riffs finding out that they were the ones to shoot Cyrus but Luther tells him not to worry, as every gang in the city is looking for the Warriors and they can look as well, just to make sure they are dead. Back on the subway, a fire on the tracks forces the Warriors off the train and the end up in a neighborhood run by the Orphans, a low level gang that wasn’t invited to Cyrus’ summit. Swan and Fox go to talk with Sully, the Orphans’ leader, and convince him they aren’t there to cause trouble and just passing through to the next station. Sully is content to let them through but Mercy, a girl that hangs out with the Orphans, causes trouble when she asks for one of the Warriors’ vests and when they refuse, she asks Sully if he is going to let just any gang march through his territory. Sully tells them to take off their vests and “go as civilians” or else he will have to waste them but Swan refuses, then leads the Warriors down the street. Mercy follows after them and is grabbed by Ajax but Swan tells him to let her go and asks why she is following them. As they talk, Sully and the rest of the Orphans show up looking for a fight but Snow hands Cowboy a bottle he was carrying around his neck and Swan rips part of Mercy’s dress to use as a wick, fashioning a moltov cocktail. Swan throws it at a car next to the Orphans and as the car catches on fire, he leads the Warriors and Mercy to the station as the car explodes, killing one Orphan and chasing off the others. The gang is stuck on the 96th Street Platform waiting for the next train to show up when the cops show up, forcing them to run. The gang gets separated, with Swan, Snow, Ajax, and Cowboy making it out onto the street, while Vermin, Cochise, and Rembrandt manage to avoid the police and jump onto another train. Fox has Mercy with him but when he gets attacked by a cop, he yells at her to run as he struggles with the cop, only to be thrown off the platform into the path of an oncoming train. Out on the street, Swan, Snow, Ajax, and Cowboy are confronted by the Baseball Furies and make a run for it, heading into the nearby park. As the Furies chase after them, Swan and Snow split off, then double back and take on one of the slower members of the Furies as the others continue chasing after Ajax and Cowboy. When Cowboy can’t run anymore, they stop to fight and Cowboy gets knocked down by the leader. Ajax confronts him and manages to beat him while Swan and Snow show up to help fight off the Furies. After beating them, the Warriors grab some of their bats and head off but as they pass by a woman sitting on a bench, Ajax decides to stop and try to hook up with her. The others try to convince him not to leave but Ajax dismisses their concerns and heads back to the woman while Swan and the others continue back to the station but after a while, Cowboy and Snow decide to head back to keep an eye on him. As Ajax starts talking with the woman, he starts trying to grab and kiss her but as she struggles with him, she manages to handcuff him to the bench and reveals that she is a cop. She then whistles for back up and when more officers arrive, Ajax manages to knock one down but the other hits him with his night stick and Cowboy and Snow get there just in time to see him placed in the back of the squad car and taken away. Swan heads back to the station and encounters Mercy, who warns him that cops are still all over the place and tells him what happened to Fox. As they go to try and get the train to Union Station, they encounter the police and Swan grabs Mercy and they run down the tracks to avoid being arrested. Meanwhile, Vermin, Cochise, and Rembrandt arrive at Union Station and see no sign of the others but do see a group of women hanging near the stairs. They approach them and the women, a female gang called the Lizzies, invite them back to their place to party and Vermin and Cochise eagerly accept, with Rembrandt reluctantly going with them. At the Lizzies’ clubhouse, Vermin and Cochise both find a girl and start making out with them while Rembrandt nervously wanders around. When one of the Lizzies suddenly locks the door, another confronts Rembrandt about the Warriors shooting Cyrus and Rembrandt shouts out a warning to the others. The Lizzies start attacking the Warriors and Rembrandt’s arm is cut but they manage to get away from the Lizzies and make it back onto the street. As they catch their breaths, Rembrandt tells Vermin and Cochise that the Lizzies think they killed Cyrus and every gang in the city probably thinks the same thing so they head back to Union Station to meet the others. Meanwhile, Swan and Mercy are walking down the tunnel and Mercy asks why he keeps picking on her. Swan says he doesn’t like her lifestyle and Mercy says she does what she needs to to survive. The two end up kissing but before it goes any farther, Swan stops and says that they should keep going to Union Station, then gets upset with Mercy when she wants to keep going and have sex. At Union Station, Vermin, Cochise, and Rembrandt see Snow and Cowboy approaching and ask about the others. They tell them about Ajax being busted by the cops and they decide to go looking for Swan. Meanwhile, Swan reaches the station and Mercy soon joins him on the platform, warning him about a gang, the Punks, that is watching him. Swan tells her he knows they are there and when the other Warriors arrive at the platform, Swan motions to let them know about the Punks, then nods in the direction of the restroom. The Warriors head inside and Swan takes Mercy in there with them so they can get ready for the Punks. The Punks enter the restroom and a fight breaks out between the two gangs but the Warriors come out on top. After the fight, the Warriors and Mercy get on the train to Coney Island, with Vermin, Snow, and Cochise talking about Cyrus’ big plan. When two prom couples get on the train, they end up sitting across from Swan and Mercy and as they stare at them, Mercy feels embarrassed by her appearance and start to fidget with her hair but Swan grabs her hand and stops her, then stares at the 2 couples and makes them uncomfortable enough to get off the train at the next stop. When the Warriors finally reach Coney Island, Swan comments about how they were fighting to get back here and wonders if it was worth it. As they head back to their clubhouse, Luther and the Rogues follow them in their car so the Warriors stop to arm themselves as Luther begins linking some bottles together and taunting them by yelling out, “Warriors, come out to play!”. Swan leads them out onto the beach and when the Rogues follow, he confronts Luther and asks why he shot Cyrus. Luther says he just felt like it and Swan challenges him to a fight, then throws a switchblade into Luther’s arm before he can shoot him. As Luther cries out in pain, Swan grabs the knife out of his arm and uses Luther’s hair to wipe the blood off of it. Suddenly, Masai and the Riffs appear and approach the group and Swan asks if they are still looking for them. Masai tells him that they found what they are after, as they were told who really shot Cyrus, and as Luther tries to say it was the Warriors, Masai tells Swan that they will deal with them and Swan nods his head and leaves with Mercy and the others, while Luther screams out as the Riffs surround the Rogues. As the Warriors make their way down the beach to their home, Swan and Mercy end up staring at each other for a while before walking off together, having bonded over their night together.

The Warriors initially had a negative reception from the critics but over the years, has gained a more favorable response in recent years, holding an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics liked the gritty portrayal of the gang’s and the styling of the movie. The movie was expected to be a big hit after coming in at #1 on it’s opening weekend but unfortunately, in a case of reality mimicking fiction, some gangs had gone to see the movie and encountered rival gangs at the theaters, resulting in several fights and violent incidents to occur. As a result, Paramount Pictures decided to pull the movie from theaters. Despite all this, the movie still was a hit, earning $22.5 million off of a $4 million budget, and would become a cult hit, spawning several spin-offs including a video game and a comic book series.

This is such a fun movie to watch. The acting was good, with Michael Beck (Swan), James Remar (Ajax), and DeborahVan Valkenburgh (Mercy) doing good jobs in their roles. However, David Patrick Kelly definitely stole the show, as his portrayal of Luther really shot him up to stardom, while his “Warriors” taunt has been parodied and mimicked in movies for years afterwards. The story was interesting, loosely based on the novel by Sol Yurick by the same name. The dark lighting used in the movie kind of helped show off the “gritty” aspect of the gangs during that time. The fight scenes were pretty well choreographed but there were times where they would reshow the same strike, which actually stunted the momentum a little. A definite cult classic and worth giving a shot.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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