action, adventure, animation, comic book, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 5th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

batman mask of the phantasm

In September of 1992, a new cartoon would debut on Fox Kids that would change the face of cartoons for years to come. Yes, a new Batman cartoon would debut to entertain children, and adults alike. However, instead of some of the cheesy story lines and dialogue that was found in earlier superhero cartoons, these cartoons had a more serious tone and garnered a lot of attention for it. I loved watching Batman, and still do to be honest, and thought it was a great cartoon. So when they decided to make a movie I had no problem going to see it in theaters and was not disappointed. Now, let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm.

The plot: In Gotham, crime boss Chuckie Sol is showing some of his men the newest batch of counterfeit bills that he wants laundered through his casino when Batman crashes through the window and begins fighting with his men. Sol escapes and heads to his car in the adjacent parking garage but when he gets there, he is confronted by the Phantasm, a cloaked figure wearing a mask and a bladed gauntlet on his arm. Sol attempts to shoot the Phantasm but he slices Sol’s gun in half, then moves to kill Sol but is distracted by a car leaving the garage. Sol is able to get into his car and attempts to run the Phantasm down but the Phantasm disappears in a cloud of smoke and Sol ends up crashing through the barricade and landing in the building across the street. Batman arrives at the scene and looks at the wrecked car, where the crowd notices him and believes he is responsible. As Batman leaves, he grabs a piece of windshield with some residue on it when he notices the Phantasm nearby and he goes to pursue him but the Phantasm disappears out the rooftop exit. The next day, City Councilman Arthur Reeves is holding a press conference where he lambastes Batman as a killer vigilante, despite Commissioner Gordon’s protests of Batman being innocent. Later, Arthur is on the phone with an old female friend, who is flying into town after being away for 10 years, and he asks her if she plans on seeing anyone special but she says it’s ancient history, as she is looking at a magazine with Bruce Wayne on the cover. That night, Bruce is hosting a party at his home and as some girls tease him about when he is getting married, one of his exes walks up and throws her glass of wine in his face. As Bruce walks away to clean up, Arthur offers him a handkerchief and then teases Bruce about his love life, mentioning his ex, Andrea Beaumont and asking how he let her get away. Bruce thanks him for the handkerchief and walks off, heading into his study, where he starts remembering Andrea. In flashback, we see Bruce at his parent’s graves when he hears Andrea Beaumont talking to her mother, who is buried close by. The two talk for a bit and as she leaves, Andrea asks him why the man who has everything looks so sad, claiming her mother was curious. A few nights later, Bruce, using a ski mask to hide his identity, stops some men from robbing a warehouse, receiving some injuries in the process. The next day, Bruce is talking to Alfred about how things worked perfectly but the crooks weren’t scared of him but Alfred says they should discuss that later, as Andrea is seen to be approaching. Andrea approaches Bruce, who is practicing jiu-jitsu, and when Andrea uses the self defense moves she had learned to knock him down, Bruce laughs before sweeping her legs out from under her and then kissing her. Back in the present, crime boss Buzz Bronski heads to the cemetery to pay his respects to Sol when he is confronted by the Phantasm. Bronski attempts to defend himself, yelling out for his men to help him, then runs away, falling into an open grave as he runs and the Phantasm knocks the angel grave marker on top of him, killing him. Bronski’s men arrive and see the body and the Phantasm in the distance and mistake him for Batman, blaming him for Bronski’s death. The next day, aging crime boss Salvatore Valestra reads the story about Bronski’s death and has a panic attack, fearing he might be next. At police headquarters, Arthur is arguing with Gordon over his refusal to go after Batman for the crime boss murders and Gordon tells him that Batman doesn’t kill and he will have no part in the witch hunt. Batman, who was listening outside the window, heads to the cemetery to investigate Bronski’s death when he sees Andrea by her mother’s grave. Andrea notices him and as they stare in shock at each other, Batman quickly leaves and Andrea goes to follow but Batman is gone and as she notices the grave she is standing by, she realizes that Batman is Bruce. Later that night, Andrea is having dinner with Arthur, unaware that Batman is watching them from across the street. As he watches them, Batman starts reminiscing his time with Andrea. After they go on a date to the Gotham World Fair, Andrea convinces Bruce to go meet her father and as she sets it up, Bruce questions what he is doing, saying this isn’t part of the plan but Alfred feels like this might be better for him. They head over to meet Andrea’s father Carl, who introduces Bruce to Arthur, who is one of his lawyers. Bruce, Andrea, and Carl are talking for a bit before they are interrupted by Valestra, who is there to speak business with Carl. As they leave, Bruce and Andrea see some thugs trying to steal money from a street vendor and Bruce goes to stop them but he gets distracted when he notices Andrea’s concern for him and one of the thugs is able to strike him with a bat before they grab the money and run. That night, Bruce is arguing with himself over what he should do, as he feels torn between the promise he made his parents and the possible happiness he could have with Andrea. Heading to the cemetery, he talks to his parent’s grave and asks for a sign, only to have Andrea come up behind him and suggest that maybe they had sent her to him and the two embrace. Back in the present, Arthur is walking down the street when Valestra’s car pulls up and Valestra tells him to get in. As they are driving, Valestra asks if it is true about Batman killing the others and when Arthur confirms it, Valestra wonders why before having another coughing fit, and Arthur asks to be let out. Meanwhile, Batman finds a connection between Sol and Bronski, noting that Valestra was the third partner in their dummy corporations, and he makes plans to go see Valestra. Alfred asks if he will see Andrea afterwards but Batman doesn’t answer him. Batman breaks into Carl Beaumont’s old office and as he stares at some of the pictures on the wall, he has another flashback. He recalls the day that he proposed to Andrea as they are walking along the grounds of Wayne Manor and she says yes but as they embrace, they are startled by a swarm of bats the fly out of an opening in the ground. As Bruce takes Andrea home, she sees that her father is apparently having a business meeting though thinks it is odd to have one this late. She tells Bruce that maybe they should wait until the morning to tell her father about the engagement and kisses him goodbye. The next day, Bruce explores the cave but when he comes back out, he finds Alfred holding the ring box with a note from Andrea, telling him she can’t marry him and she is leaving with her father and doesn’t know when she will return. Andrea’s departure is the catalyst that Bruce needs to focus full time on avenging his parent’s murder and leads him to becoming Batman. Back in the present, Valestra goes to see Joker, believing he is the only one that can stop Batman from killing him, saying his hands are even dirtier than theirs are, and Joker says he will do it. Meanwhile, Andrea returns to her hotel room and, noticing the balcony door is open, makes a show out of kissing Arthur goodbye. After closing the door and turning on the light, she sees Batman, who questions her about a photograph of Carl with the three crime bosses. The two argue over Carl before Batman leaves and Andrea ends up breaking down into tears when  he is gone. Later that night, the Phantasm heads to Valestra’s house to kill him only to find that Valestra has been killed by the Joker and left there as a trap. The house explodes but the Phantasm is able to get away only to be confronted by Batman. The two briefly fight on the roofs when the police show up and the Phantasm escapes while the police chase after Batman. He is able to escape to a construction site but one of the cops starts shooting at him and hits some fuel tanks, causing an explosion. Batman is injured in the blast and attaches his cape to a sawhorse and sends it flying towards the helicopter in order to distract the cops so he can escape. The cops give chase but Bruce is able to evade them when Andrea pulls up and helps him escape. Andrea takes Bruce back to Wayne Manor, where Alfred tends to his injuries. When he is done, Andrea tells Bruce about what happened the night they got engaged, and how Valestra, Sol, and Bronski were demanding money that he had embezzled and he convinces them that he will get them their money in the morning but after they leave, Carl tells Andrea they have to leave and forces her to come with him as he says they will kill her to get to him. She tells Bruce that they made their way through Europe and eventually settled off the Mediterranean coast, where Carl was able to use the money he embezzled to make a fortune and pay the men back but they wanted interest. Andrea apologizes and Bruce embraces her and kisses her. The next morning, Bruce hugs Andrea and tells her that he is going to have to confront her father but Andrea says he doesn’t matter, choosing Bruce over her father this time. After she leaves, Bruce takes another look at the picture when he notices Valestra’s body guard and realizes that the body guard is the Joker. Meanwhile, Joker pays a visit to Arthur, telling him that Batman wasn’t the one killing their old associates. Just then, Andrea calls Arthur telling him she can’t meet for lunch but will talk to him at dinner that night and Joker smiles before attacking Arthur, dosing him with Joker venom. Arthur is taken to the hospital and Batman confronts him there to find out what the Joker wanted with him. Arthur tells him that he helped Carl and Andrea escape the city but when he first ran for city councilman, he approached Arthur for some money and was refused so he sold him out to Valestra in order to get the money. Elsewhere, outside the abandoned World Fair, Andrea stares at the park and thinks back to when she had returned home one day to find Valestra’s body guard exiting her house and she rushes in to find her father dead. The Phantasm confronts the Joker, who knows that it is Andrea so she takes off her mask. The two begin fighting and Andrea appears to get the upper hand but Joker is able to escape. When Andrea chases after him, she gets caught in a trap when Joker activates the wind tunnel by Batman is able to rescue him. Batman confronts Andrea over her actions and she says she knows it isn’t right but they took everything from both of them and they deserved to pay. Batman tells her to leave, then goes after the Joker himself, but Joker activates some explosives he had set up all over the fair and then attempts to escape on a jet pack. Batman manages to grab onto him as he tries to fly out of there and they end up crashing to the ground, where Andrea appears before them. Batman tells her to leave before the place explodes but Andrea says that this ends tonight. As the place starts to explode, Andrea says “Goodbye, my love”, then disappears with Joker inside the explosions while Batman is blown clear. Later, in the Batcave, Alfred tries to comfort Bruce, saying there was nothing that he could have done to save Andrea, as her need for vengeance consumed her. As Alfred walks away, Bruce notices something glint in the light and he heads over to find Andrea had left her locket, with the picture of the two of them, in the Batcave for him to remember her by. Elsewhere, a cruise ship is sailing out of Gotham and Andrea is seen on the deck, crying over what she has lost while Batman returns to patrolling Gotham and keeping it’s citizens safe.

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm met with mostly praise form the critics, holding an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Stylish and admirably respectful of the source material, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm succeeds where many of the live-action Batman adaptations have failed.” The majority of this movie’s plot is based off of the comic story line “Batman: Year Two”; with the Phantasm (who is never referred to by name) being patterned after the Reaper, who was the main villain in the comic. The movie unfortunately did not fare well at the box office, only earning $5.6 million off of a $6 million budget but did get a cult following and had more success when it hit home video. As a result, every subsequent release of a Batman, or any D.C. animated movie, was released direct to video (not counting the limited theatrical release of Batman: The Killing Joke).

This movie is still so much fun to watch, even 25 years after it came out. The voice acting was great, getting the same characters from the TV cartoon to reprise their roles and they all delivered great performances. The story was great, and I didn’t even know until years later that it was based off of an actual comic, which makes me want to go out and get a copy of the trade that they released of it. From what I gather, it is relatively close to the original story, though the toned down Batman’s going further down the dark side of vengeance and pushing the limit on his no killing policy that was in the comic. I did like the character of the Phantasm but the big twist that Andrea was the killer was honestly pretty easy to figure out early on into the movie so I feel like they could have done a better job of leading up to that reveal and making it more of a surprise. The animation was incredible and was a step up from the TV show in some aspect, but still kept the same feel from the show. A great movie and one well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Standard
action, drama, movie, movie review, western

February 27th, 2018 Movie – Tombstone

tombstone

It’s been a while since I have watched a western. This is probably due to the fact that it is not a genre of movies that I particularly care for as a whole, but there are several standout movies that do catch my interest. I mean, there are a couple of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies that I have watched and enjoyed, while some more recent movies and remakes have also been entertaining. However, today’s movie is somewhat a first because it is the first western that I actually liked enough to buy on video/DVD, well maybe the second because I did buy Blazing Saddles first. Anyways, I remember going to see this movie in theaters and thinking it was a lot of fun and even though I own it on DVD, it has been a while since I have watched it. Now let’s see if the teenage memories do today’s movie justice as I watch Tombstone.

The plot: In 1879, a group of outlaws known as the Cochise County Cowboys ride into a Mexican town and interrupt a police officer’s wedding. Holding up two red sashes, which the Cowboys are known for wearing, their leader, William “Curly Bill” Brocius, tells the assembled officers that they killed two of his men, then he and his men proceed to kill all of the police officers there, including the newly married groom and his wife. When the priest starts saying that their acts will be avenged, quoting Revelations and it’s passage of Death riding on a pale horse, he is shot as well. Meanwhile, retired sheriff Wyatt Earp arrives in Tucson Arizona and is approached by two U.S. Marshals but he turns down their offer to work for them. He is then met by his brothers Morgan and Virgil and their wives Allie and Louisa. Wyatt introduces them to Mattie Blaylock, his common–law wife, and then starts putting his suitcases in the wagon for their trip, while Allie gives Mattie a bottle laudanum, which she says is for her headaches. Wyatt and his family eventually reach Tombstone, Arizona and are greeted by Johnny Behan, the town sheriff, who speaks with Wyatt and offers him the use of three cabins that just came up for rent. Later, Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil are talking with Marshall Fred White, who points out some Cowboys nearby and says they are really the “law” around there. He then talks about the various casinos in town and mentions one, the Oriental, that has fallen on hard times. Wyatt heads over to the Oriental and speaks with the bar tender, commenting on how nice it is and wondering why it is so dead. The bartender explains that a dealer had shown up and taken over one of the tables and essentially run everyone out so Wyatt confronts the man and gets rid of him, then offers his own services for 25% of the house. Wyatt rejoins his brothers to tell them about his good fortunes, not noticing the dealer coming up behind them with a shotgun. Suddenly, Doc Holliday appears, calling out the dealer, who he knows, then shakes hands with his friend Wyatt and the others. After chasing off the dealer, Wyatt introduces Doc to Behan just as a gunshot is heard at a nearby saloon and they see two associates, Texas Jack Vermillion and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, involved. The two Jack’s say hello to their friends but Fred tells them they have to turn over their guns. When a theater troupe arrives in town, Wyatt finds himself attracted to Josephine Marcus, an actress in the troupe and attends the show that night with the rest of his family as well as Doc and his companion. After the show, Wyatt heads off to work and has an encounter with Curly Bill and his lieutenant Johnny Ringo. Ringo’s attention is focused on Doc, wanting to test his skill against Doc’s but Doc refuses to take the bait and things end up settling down as Curly Bill, Ringo, and the other Cowboys leave. The next day, Wyatt is on his way home when he runs into Josephine and the two end up riding together and talking, where Josephine asks him if he is happy with his life. The next night, Curly Bill gets drunk and ends up shooting his gun around town and when Behan refuses to do anything about it, Fred heads out and tells Curly Bill to turn in his guns but ends up getting shot. Wyatt knocks Curly Bill out and starts taking him to the jail but Ike and Billy Canton, and some of the other Cowboys tell him to let Curly Bill go. Wyatt refuses, saying Curly Bill will stand trial, then holds a gun to Ike’s head while Doc, Morgan, and Virgil back him up. The next day, Curly Bill is let go due to a lack of witnesses to the shooting and the U.S. Marshalls ask Wyatt and his brothers to become the new marshalls but they turn them down at first but later, after rescuing a boy from getting trampled by the Cowboys as they leave town, Virgil becomes the new marshall, and Morgan joins him. Virgil’s first act is to forbid guns from being carried in town, forcing people to check them when they enter. That night, a drunken Ike loses to Doc in a poker game and as he cusses him out, Doc collapses to the ground and Wyatt and Morgan carry him to the hotel. Ike gets his guns from the bartender and drunkenly declares he will kill Wyatt and Doc the next time he sees them but Virgil knocks him out and locks him in a cell. When some Cowboys show up to pick up Ike and get his weapons, they threaten retaliation and Wyatt has Virgil swear him in as a Marshall. Later, 6 Cowboys, including Billy and Ike, ride into town and head over to the O.K. Corral. Doc joins up with the Earps and Wyatt wants to just let them simmer down but Virgil wants to arrest them for carrying weapons as a show that they can’t break the law so Wyatt relents. The four men head over to the corral and are met by Behan, who says that he disarmed the Cowboys but when they continue, he quickly hides inside a nearby building. When they get to the corral, they discover that Behan lied and a gunfight ensues, with Morgan and Virgil getting wounded, Billy and most of the Cowboys getting killed while Ike manages to escape. The next day, a drunken Ringo tries calling out Wyatt and his brothers to fight but they refuse and Curly Bill pulls him away before he starts a fight with Doc, saying that the time isn’t right. A few nights later, Behan tells Josephine, whom he has been seeing, that he knows of the attraction between her and Wyatt but after tonight, he will be the only law in town. Josephine heads over to Virgil’s house to warn Mattie, Allie, and Louisa, then saves them when a Cowboy attempts to kill them. Meanwhile, Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil are eating dinner and Virgil leaves to go home but is ambushed by the Cowboys and stumbles back into the bar. Wyatt and Morgan carry him to his home and the doctor says he will lose his arm, prompting Morgan to storm off while Allie blames Wyatt for what happened. As Wyatt leaves, he runs into Sherman McMaster, who says he had no part in what happened and is no longer with the Cowboys, throwing his sash on the ground. Sherman is accompanied by the two Jacks, who tell Wyatt that if he needs them to let them know, then the three ride off. Morgan had gone to shoot pool but is shot in the back and ends up dying from the wound. The next day, Wyatt and Doc place Morgan’s coffin in a wagon and ride out of town, with Virgil and the wives following behind them. Wyatt stops to tell Curly Bill that it is over between them but after they leave, Curly Bill sends Ike and Stillwell to follow after them to kill Wyatt. Wyatt has Virgil and the women get on the train but when Stillwell and Ike show up to kill them, Wyatt kills Stillwell, then sends Ike with a message to the other Cowboys, saying that he is coming for anyone wearing a red sash and will kill them. Swearing in Doc, Sherman, and the two Jacks, Wyatt and his posse begin riding out and killing every Cowboy they find. When they come to a river, they get in an ambush set up by Curly Bill but Wyatt walks out into the river, untouched by any of the bullets, and kills Curly Bill, but afterwards Sherman says that Ringo will be coming out for blood. Some time later, Behan has deputized Ringo and the other cowboys to arrest Wyatt and his posse and they come across a stage coach containing Josephine and Mr. Fabian, who was shot by one of the Cowboys while preventing them from robbing them. Josephine chastises Behan for his actions and Behan’s deputy leaves, saying that there has to be some sort of law around there. When Doc’s condition worsens, Wyatt’s posse takes refuge at a farmhouse but a Cowboy appears, dragging Sherman’s body behind him, and tells Wyatt that Ringo is calling him out for a duel. Wyatt agrees and he and the two Jacks ride off, leaving Doc in the care of the rancher. When they get to the meeting place, Wyatt is told where Ringo is and before he leaves, he tells the two Jacks to take off for Mexico if things go south. At the oak tree, Ringo sees a figure approaching but is surprised to find that it is Doc, who had ridden there ahead of Wyatt. Ringo agrees to fight Doc but Doc quickly shoots him in the head then turns as Wyatt approaches and Wyatt says they should finish it. Wyatt and his posse head off to finish killing the Cowboys, with Ike being spared when he removes his sash and leaves the group. Some time later, Doc is placed in the Glenwood Sanatorium where he tells Wyatt to start a new life with Josephine before he ends up dying of his tuberculosis. Wyatt heads to the town that Josephine has moved to and speaks with her after her performance, asking her to go with him and she kisses him and they dance outside in the snow.

Tombstone met with positive results from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many critics felt it was one of the best Westerns to come out in years but others felt that there were too many characters to try and focus on  plot was unfocused while the plot was unfocused. The gunfight scene in the river is supposedly true, with Wyatt Earp actually walking out into the water unscathed and shooting Curly Bill point blank with a shotgun, then shooting a second person in the stomach. Unlike the movie, Johnny Barnes (the man that was gut shot) did not die right away but managed to escape and make it to a farmhouse, where he reported what happened and how Earp walked up to Curly Bill unscathed before killing him. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $56.5 million off of a $25 million budget.

This is still a great Western and a highly enjoyable movie, but I will say that it does have it’s faults. The acting was really good, with Kurt Russel doing a really good job as Wyatt Earp, but I think Val Kilmer stole the show as Doc Holiday (in fact it might be his best performance in my opinion). Powers Boothe (Curly Bill), Michael Biehn (Ringo), Sam Eliott (Virgil), and Dana Delany (Josephine) were also very good in their roles as well. The story was pretty good and I liked how they tried to keep it fairly accurate to the events. However, one of my favorite, somewhat underrated scenes, was after Doc killed Ringo and placed his badge on top of him, telling Wyatt that his hypocricy can only go so far. This is because he knew what they were doing had nothing to do with the law or justice, but was simply revenge for the Cowboys killing Morgan, but was going along with it to help out his only friend, Wyatt. The one thing I didn’t like was that they had soo many characters that they introduced, that they couldn’t really do half of them any justice. There were several times a character would show up briefly, then you wouldn’t see him again till the very end but he is given a poignant moment in the movie (like the deputy). The special effects regarding the gun fights were pretty good, though a little flashy at times. A great movie and definitely something that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Standard