action, comic book, crime, drama, movie, movie review

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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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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action, comic book, drama, movie, movie review, sci-fi, Uncategorized

June 15th, 2018 Movie – Logan

logan

Every story has it’s end, and for Hugh Jackman, his time playing Wolverine was fast approaching. Yes, the man Hugh Jackman had announced that the 3rd solo Wolverine movie was going to be his last one, though apparently he has since said that he would be willing to reprise the role if he was in the Avengers or a Deadpool crossover. Anyways, when I first the plot of this movie, I was immediately intrigued because I liked the “Old Man Logan” story line and thought that using some aspects of that for the movie would be pretty neat. Then I saw the trailers and I was even more intrigued when it was revealed that X-23 was going to be a main character as well, as I always thought it was funny that she, much like Harley Quinn, made her way into the comics after first debuting in a cartoon. So when this hit theaters, I decided to go to an early Sunday morning showing and I was not disappointed with today’s movie, Logan.

The plot: In the year 2029, an aging and weakened Wolverine, slowly dying from the adamantium in his bones poisoning his body, is resting in the limo that he drives when a gang attempts to steal his tires. When he confronts them, they shoot him and continue trying to steal the tires but he gets back up and tries again to talk them out of it. When they attack him, he is forced to defend himself, trying his best to avoid damaging his car but when it is accidentally shot, he becomes enraged and begins killing them. After slowly healing and changing his clothes, Logan begins carrying around passengers in the El Paso area. The next day, he encounters a woman in the cemetery where he is working who recognizes him and begs for his help but he tells her to leave him alone and she angrily gets in her car and drives off, with a young girl in the back of the car staring back at him as they pass. After finishing for the day, he heads to the hospital to buy some medicine off of an orderly but when he gets back into his car, he finds a man named Pierce inside. Pierce recognizes Logan and says he is looking for a woman named Gabriela but Logan tells him he doesn’t know any Gabriela. Pierce leaves him his card before leaving and when he learns that Pierce works for Alkali-Transigen, then he gets pissed. As Logan heads across the border into Mexico, he makes a call to someone about a boat he is trying to buy, urgent to get it now, but the seller raises the price when he senses Logan’s urgency. Returning to the junk yard that he lives in, Logan is greeted by Caliban, who tells him that Xavier has had a rough night and claims to be communicating with someone. Logan dismisses what Caliban said and heads into the tank where Xavier is kept, as he is suffering from a brain disease that causes him to have dangerous seizures. As Logan tries to give him his medicine, Xavier has another seizure, paralyzing Caliban in the other room and Logan is forced to struggle to inject Xavier with the medicine. When the seizure stops, Xavier speaks with Logan and chastises him for forcing him to live in the tank like he does. After getting some rest, Logan prepares to go to work and receives a fare at a motel, only to find that it is Gabriela. Gabriela pleads with him to take her and the little girl, Laura, to North Dakota, offering him $20k now and $30K when they get there, saying they have to be there by Friday in order to make their window and cross into Canada. Logan reluctantly decides to take the job and heads back to Mexico to tell Xavier and Caliban he will be gone for a few days but when he returns to the motel, he finds Gabriela dead and Laura missing. When he returns to the junk yard, Caliban discovers Laura’s bag and ball in the trunk of the limo and questions Logan about it, just as Pierce arrives. Pierce questions Logan about Laura’s whereabouts only to be knocked out by Laura, who had stowed away in Logan’s trunk. As Xavier comes out and speaks with Laura, then invites her inside to eat, Logan tells Caliban to take Pierce and dump him out in the ravine but when Caliban goes to do that, he finds Pierce has regained consciousness and his back up has arrived. Back in the junk yard, Logan is getting ready to leave with Xavier when Pierce and his men return and hold restrain Logan while Pierce sends some men to find Laura. As they wait outside, they hear screams and gunshots coming from within the building and Laura soon walks out, carrying one of the men’s head. As she approaches Pierce and the other men, Logan is shocked to see two claws extending from her hands and she attacks and kills two men, then leads the others away. As the men chase her, she manages to attack and kill some more of them but they finally capture her until Logan helps her. Seeing some men going after Xavier in the limo, Logan goes to kill them, then he gets in the limo and drives off, picking up Laura on the way. They manage to break out of the junk yard and lose their pursuers by cutting across a passing train, forcing Pierce and his men to wait until it passes to try to follow them but Pierce tortures Caliban to force him to tell him where they are. Pulling over at a gas station, Logan and Xavier watch some video that Gabriela took with her phone and learn that Laura, along with several other children, were created by Transigen to be used as mutant soldiers and Laura happened to have been created from Logan’s DNA, making him her father in a manner of speaking. When the children hit puberty, they started to rebel against Transigen’s wishes so Transigen decided to make a new weapon and dispose of the children but Gabriela and several other nurses decided to rescue as many as they could and help them get to Eden, a supposed safe haven for mutants in Canada. Charles says that they should help Laura, mentioning that she is just like Logan when he first came to the X-Men, but Logan doesn’t really want to get involved and would rather try to just disappear. Deciding to rest in Oklahoma City, Logan, Xavier, and Laura check into a casino and Logan heads out to get them a new car but as he gets rid of the limo, he discovers that Charles had hidden one of his pills in order to fool Logan into thinking he took it. As he waits for the new car to get tires put on it, he reads some of the comics Laura had brought with her and discovers that Eden was mentioned in the comic and he believes it is just a myth. Returning to the hotel, he finds Pierce’s men outside and he makes his way past them just as everyone suddenly freezes as Xavier has another seizure. Making his way towards the room, Logan sees Pierce’s men frozen in the attempt to capture Xavier and Laura and he kills them in their frozen state while Laura grabs Xavier’s medicine and hands it to Logan to give to him. They make their way out of the hotel as everyone else is still recovering from the event and leave. As they keep travelling, Logan chastises Xavier for not taking his medicine and as they argue, they are almost run off the road by a self driving truck. Seeing a truck carrying a trailer of horses also run off the road and Xavier convinces Logan to help the family, the Munsons, recapture the horses and get there truck out of the ditch and Kathryn Munson offers them dinner for their help, which Xavier accepts. Meanwhile, Dr. Zander Rice, the head of Transigen, meets up with Pierce and after chastising him for his failure in recapturing Laura, he goes to Caliban and begins talking to him to try and convince him to help them locate Laura. At the family’s house, Logan, Xavier, and Laura enjoy the meal and go to leave but Will Munson says the nearest hotel is 2 hours away and offers to put them up for the night. Suddenly, Kathryn says the water is shut off and Will goes to deal with the problem, saying it is some locals that are trying to run them off their land and Logan offers to help him. When they get there, they fix the problem only to be confronted by the major farm’s new owner, who argues with Will about the agreement Will had with the previous owner no longer being good. When he threatens Will, Logan intercedes and runs them off. Back at the house, Laura is sleeping and Xavier tells Logan to let her sleep but as the figure approaches Xavier, it is revealed to be a clone of Logan. The clone, X-24, stabs Xavier in the chest and Laura attacks him but he knocks her out and places her in restraints. The Munson’s son tries to stop 24 but he is stabbed as is Kathryn when she tries to shoot him. Will and Logan return and hear the commotion and Will is stabbed  in the chest and Logan sees 24 carrying Laura away and races upstairs to check on Xavier. In their truck, Rice and Pierce watch 24 bringing Laura back to them when he is confronted by the farmer and his men and when they shoot him, he begins attacking them. Meanwhile, Logan carries Xavier to their truck and tries to keep him alive but he ends up passing away. Rice goes out to try and get 24 to stop and bring Laura back to them only for Logan to attack 24 and try to rescue Laura. 24 is able to overpower Logan and moves to kill him when Will, who was still alive, drives his truck into 24, pinning him to a nearby tractor, then shoots him repeatedly before finally dying. Pierce goes to help get Laura but Caliban, having grabbed some grenades when nobody was looking, pulls the pins and drops them, sacrificing himself to try and stop them. Logan grabs Laura and drives off and they stop to bury Xavier by a lake but when Logan tries to start the truck again, it dies and he takes out his rage and frustration on the truck before collapsing to the ground. When he comes too, he finds himself in a doctor’s office, with the doctor saying that Laura had flagged down a motorist for help. The doctor wants Logan to check into a hospital to get treatment, saying something inside him is poisoning him, but Logan says for his own good, forget he saw them and they leave. Laura leads Logan to a jeep that she had acquired while he was passed out and as he thanks her for saving him, she says “de nada”, speaking to Logan for the first time. This causes an argument between her and Logan as she wants him to take her to North Dakota and he starts to refuse but finally relents. Logan drives as far as he can but as he starts to fall asleep at the wheel, Laura forces him to pull over and tells him to rest. When Logan wakes up, he finds that Laura had continued driving and reached a lokout station in the mountains. Logan passes out again and the kids that are there help bring him inside and treat his injuries, giving him some medicine that will help him heal if given in small doses. When Logan recovers enough to get out of bed, he tells Rictor, the kid’s leader, that they should leave before Transigen catches them and Rictor tells him that they will be leaving before dawn. He offers Logan the rest of the money he was promised but Logan refuses it, then argues with Laura again on his actions. The next morning, Logan wakes up to find the kids have all left but as he looks around the lookout station, he sees a bunch of drones flying towards the mountain border and sees some jeeps heading in that direction. Logan grabs the medicine and races towards the woods, injecting himself along the way with the medicine, which super charges his healing factor. As Transigen’s soldiers work on capturing the kids, Logan starts killing some of them, managing to rescue Laura but she notes that the medicine is wearing off as his wounds are not healing. The two sneak up to where Pierce and his remaining men are holding the captured kids and Logan tells Laura to wait for his signal to save her friends. He then approaches and Rice and Pierce move towards him, where it is revealed that Rice is the son of the doctor that helped Stryker put the adamantium into him. Pierce also tells Logan that Rice is the one that released the virus which prevented more mutants from being born, effectively wiping them out, and Logan ends up shooting Rice and injuring Pierce. Laura kills the guards, with some of the children using their powers to help but Pierce lets 24 loose to deal with Logan. As the two men fight, Laura moves to help Logan when he is overpowered and Pierce shoots Logan in the leg with a harpoon to restrain him but the kids all use their powers to kill Pierce. Logan gets free and goes to help Laura only for Rictor to use his powers to drop a truck onto 24. Logan tells Laura and the children to get out of their but 24 recovers and stabs Logan, then impales him onto a log. Laura grabs an adamantium bullet that Logan had kept, when he had contemplated killing himself, and uses it to kill 24. She then works on cutting off the branch and Logan tells her not to grow up to be a weapon like she was created to be before he dies. Laura cries out over his death, calling him daddy as she hugs him, and the kids bury him by a lake, much like Xavier was buried, and as they head to the border, Laura turns the cross they made onto it’s side to form an X, marking Logan’s passing as the last X-Man.

Logan met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Hugh Jackman makes the most of his final outing as Wolverine with a gritty, nuanced performance in a violent but surprisingly thoughtful superhero action film that defies genre conventions.” In the UK, the first wide release showing of this film was at the unusual time of 10:23 p.m., rather than the usual midnight showing for a major release. This is a reference to the film including the character of X-23, as X is the Roman numeral for 10. The movie was a box office hit, earning $619 million off of a $127 million budget and served as a great send off for Hugh Jackman’s final movie in this role.

This was a great movie and honestly one of the best ones in the franchise. The acting was great, with Hugh Jackman putting in an incredible performance as Logan, while Patrick Stewart was equally good as Xavier, with the dynamic between them making for some pretty funny scenes in the otherwise pretty dramatic movie. Dafne Keen was also great in her role as Laura, especially her interaction with Logan, while Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant were good as Pierce and Rice respectively. The story was great, and while I knew that they couldn’t really do a full version of “Old Man Logan” due to the majority of the characters being licensed to other studios, they story they did create was very well written. Since no mutants had been born in 25 years in this movie, this seems like it is in a completely different universe from any of the other movies, though Xavier mentioning the fight on Liberty Island means it at least has some relevance to the original movie. One thing I did like was the odd family dynamic that came about during the movie, especially with Logan being forced into the father/caretaker role, which is something that he is obviously not used to doing or comfortable with. The special effects were pretty good and I liked some of the ways they used the effects to showcase Logan’s deteriorating condition, such as when one of his claws doesn’t fully extend when he is fighting the thugs. Definitely a great movie to watch and a worthy finale to the Wolverine story.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

May 19th, 2018 Movie – Welcome To Blood City

welcome to blood city

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

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

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

Rating: 3 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review

May 17th, 2018 Movie – Weekend With The Babysitter

weekend with the babysitter

Ok, with a title like this that can only mean one thing. I am most likely watching something that could come close to being a soft core porn that was shown in drive-ins. I think they could have given this title a different name. I mean, since almost every movie in this set has basically involved older men hooking up with younger women, and the occasional older woman with younger man, why not just call this the “We don’t want to make a porno but will get real close” box set. Then again, I guess that title might be a bit too long to fit on the cover art. Oh well, let’s see how good, or bad, today’s movie is as I watch Weekend With The Babysitter.

The plot: Teenage girl Candy Wilson arrives at the Carlton’s home and Jim Carlton is surprised to see her there. When he goes to talk to his wife Mona, she seems to have forgotten asking Candy to come over, as she is apparently taking their son Michael to her mother’s house for the weekend. This prompts an argument with Jim, as he was hoping to spend the weekend together and reconnect as they hardly seem to see each other recently. Mona apologizes to Candy as she and Michael leave and when Jim comes back inside from seeing them off, he finds Candy reading the script he is working on and the two end up talking about it. Candy fixes them some martinis and after having their drinks, invites Jim to go out with her and he agrees and they end up at a club with some of Candy’s friends. Meanwhile, Mona drops Michael off at her mother’s, then heads over to see her dealer Rich Harris and pays him some money that she owes him. When he asks her to let him use Jim’s boat for some of his business deals, she refuses and so Rich decides to cut her off and keep her there until her addiction has her begging to let him use it so she can score some drugs. As she is suffering from withdrawls, she talks with one of Rich’s men, Sancho, until she is writhing on the floor in pain and finally relents to Rich’s request, and he allows Snitch to inject her with some heroin. Meanwhile, Jim goes with Candy and her friends to one of their houses and they all start smoking pot. Jim ends up getting high and Candy drives him home and helps him into bed. The next morning, Rich takes Mona and his men to the marina, and as they are getting Jim’s boat ready to sail, a dock worker, Smitty, sees them and asks if Jim is on board. Rich’s man says Mona is and Mona comes out from the cabin and speaks with Smitty briefly, saying Jim was busy at home, and they leave, but Smitty seems suspicious. Meanwhile, Jim wakes up somewhat confused and finds Candy in the kitchen making breakfast. Later, Candy convinces Jim to get a motorcycle and the ride out to a rally to watch her friend race. Afterwards, they return to the house and as Jim starts a fire, they talk for a bit and end up having sex. Meanwhile, Rich has Sancho pilot the boat towards Mexico and, under cover of darkness, they meet up with a small row boat and the two men sell Rich some drugs, which he tests on Mona. The next day, Mona calls to leave a message with Jim and her mother that she is ok, then Rich pushes her into having sex with another woman. Meanwhile, Jim takes Candy up to a cabin he owns in the mountains, where they continue their romance. The next day, as they are getting ready to leave, Jim calls the operator to see if any calls were left for him and he is told that Smitty had left a message for him. Jim calls Smitty and learns about Mona going out on the boat with some men and he gets jealous, then apologizes to Candy for snapping at her. When they return home, Candy tells Jim where she will be for the next couple of days and he tells her he will call her later. When Jim gets to his office, he finds Smitty waiting for him and Smitty tells him that the police and Treasury Department were asking about his boat, and searching several other boats at the harbor, and doing the same to other harbors along the coast. Jim has Smitty go with him and they take his plane out to try and find his boat. Meanwhile, another boat captained by a man named Morgan meets up with Rich but refuses to take the drugs, saying that the Coast Guard is searching boats all across the harbor and he simply came out to warn them. When Jim and Smitty fly overhead, Morgan gets spooked and takes off. Sancho decides to take the boat to an abandoned pier but Rich begins arguing with him and ends up fighting him before throwing him overboard, where he is killed by the prop. Overhead, Smitty recognizes the second boat and when they figure out where Jim’s boat is going, Jim calls the airfield and has them contact Candy and have her bring some help and meet him there. When Jim lands, he tells Smitty to give them a half hour before calling the police, then heads out with Candy and the biker friends to the abandoned pier. Mona pilots the boat to the pier but ends up crashing it into the pier and Rich, Leon, and the other girl get out, leaving Mona on board the boat. As they try to get away with the drugs, they run into Jim and the bikers. Jim goes off and swims out to his boat while the bikers grab Rich and chain him to a nearby pipe, then dump out the drugs onto the ground. When Jim reaches the boat, he finds Mona still alive and they embrace each other before Jim starts piloting the boat back to the harbor, while Candy watches them from her bike on the hill and says “Ciao baby” before driving off herself.

This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it could have been better. The acting was ok, with George E. Carey (Jim) and Susan Romen (Candy) doing a good job in their roles and showing a pretty decent chemistry with each other. I also thought Luanne Roberts (Mona) did a good job but everyone else was kind of generic in their acting. The story was honestly a little confusing in regards to the timeline of events, as the going back and forth between Mona and Jim made it hard to determine when the events were occurring. The drama honestly felt a little weak and almost cliched to a degree which did not help matters in keeping this interesting. A pretty boring movie that is useful as a time killer but that’s about it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, drama, movie, movie review

May 15th, 2018 Movie – The Weather Man

the weather man

You know something? Looking back at it now, I really did have a bit of a self control problem when it came to buying movies while Blockbuster was going out of business. I say that because today’s movie is another Blockbuster purchase and one that I probably would not have bought had it not been on sale. Now I remember renting this when it came out on video one night over 10 years ago and thinking it was a decent movie but it honestly wasn’t something I would consider buying. But, I guess the first step in getting help is to admit you have a problem. Luckily, I have been able to overcome my Blockbuster addiction, but that still leaves me with the issue of owning today’s movie, The Weather Man.

The plot: David Spritz is a known weather man in the Chicago area but doesn’t get much respect from the people in the area. He is hoping to get a job at Hello America, a nationally syndicated show, to help get more respect. He picks up his daughter Shelly from dance recital but she doesn’t want him to take her home and instead, has him drop her off at a corner market and says she will walk the rest of the way, then heads inside to buy some cigarettes. David then goes to take his father, Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Spritzel, to the doctor’s office and tries to impress him with the letter from Hello America but his father doesn’t notice and instead shows disappointment at how David’s children are turning out. David’s son Mike is at the mall with his friend when they run into one of David’s rehab counselors, Don Bowden. David picks Mike up from the mall and when he drops him off at home, he stops to talk with his estranged wife Noreen, telling her about the job offer in New York and his dad’s doctors visit. The next day, David is talking on the phone with the producers for Hello America and as he hangs up, someone in a passing van throws a frosty at him. As David is cursing at the situation, he runs into his father, who tells him that he has lymphoma. Some time later, David makes a surprise visit to pick up his kids but Mike isn’t there, having gone to the movies with Don. He takes Shelly with him to a winter festival, where they compete in a ice skating sack race and they end up falling. David pushes Shelly to finish the race, but she ends up tearing up her MCL and ACL as a result. When David brings her home, he ends up getting into an argument with Noreen and her boyfriend Russ and is shocked to see Robert is there. As he is leaving, Robert talks to him about Shelly, and what some of the kids at school are calling her, and he tells David that he thinks that might be what’s causing her problems. Later, David calls Noreen to apologize and suggests they go to counseling to deal with their issues. Noreen agrees and she joins David at a couples’ counseling session but as they talk about it afterwards, they end up arguing again. Some time later, David decides to take up archery himself as a way to help get closer to Shelly but he learns that Shelly only wanted to take up archery to go hunting. As he drops her off, he invites her to go to New York with him if he gets called in for an interview and she agrees to go before getting out of the car. David goes to leave but stops across the street to stare at the house and Mike, who is just coming home, stops to talk to him. As Mike heads inside, David thinks about what happened to his life and his family and the arguments with Noreen that lead to their separation. David gets the call from Hello America and he takes Robert and Shelly with him. When they arrive in the city, David takes Shelly shopping and talks with her about the kids teasing her and buys her a new wardrobe that better suits her. When they return to the hotel, Robert tells David that Mike had been arrested for fighting with Don when he tried to perform oral sex on him but Don says that Mike tried to rob him. David takes Robert to see a specialist in the area and while he is waiting, he calls Noreen to find out what is going on and gets upset when she tells him that Russ is handling the situation. After returning to the hotel, David and Robert talk for a little while before Robert goes to bed, and David ends up drinking all night and dreaming that the move to New York will bring his family together. The next morning, David goes to his interview with Hello America and then he heads back to Chicago with Robert and Shelly. When he drops Shelly off, he goes inside to try and speak to Mike and when Russ starts talking to him about it, he slaps Russ and asks what he is doing there. David’s mother decides to hold a living funeral for Robert and as David is on his way there, a passerby throws some pie on him and David chases the man down to smear the pie on him. He receives a call from Hello America offering him the job and when he arrives at the funeral, he tells Noreen and asks her and the kids to move with him but she tells him that she plans on marrying Russ. Upset at the news, David grabs his bow from the trunk of his car and starts shooting arrows at a tree when he notices Russ standing outside smoking a cigarette and points the bow at him briefly but puts it down when Russ points him out to Noreen, Robert, and David’s mother. As David goes to speak at the living funeral, the power goes out and when it comes back on, everyone has moved on and forgotten that he was talking. The next day, David goes to see Don and starts beating him up for making advances on Mike and later tells Mike that he isn’t going to be in any trouble but not to put himself in adult situations, as he is still a kid. As David returns to his apartment, Robert stops him and has him get in the car with him. Robert starts playing Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock”, as David had started his speech comparing Robert to the song and David tells him the part he had meant and Robert is moved by the comparison. David then tells him that he got the job in New York and Robert says he is proud of him, and is happy to hear that he took care of the situation with Mike. Robert dies a short time later and David moves to New York, but comes back to Chicago on the weekends to see Mike and Shelly. David says that people don’t throw things at him anymore and believes it might be because he carries a bow around with him, as he still continues with his archery.

The Weather Man met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 59% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With fine performances and a dark, dry sense of humor, The Weather Man is mostly cloudy with occasional rays of sunshine.” All of the food that is thrown at Nicholas Cage throughout the movie was thrown at him by director Gore Verbinski. The plastic spoon stuck to his lapel was actually a metal spoon painted to look like plastic and held in place with a magnet. The movie ended up being a dud at the box office, earning only $19 million off of a $22 million budget.

This is honestly a very slow and somewhat depressing movie but it is pretty decent. Nicolas Cage did a good job in his role as David and he had some great chemistry with Michael Caine, who I really liked in his role of Robert. I also thought the relationship David had with his kids was pretty realistic, as his awkwardness with them matched the relationships that some parents have with their kids. The movie was well written, with some mild comedic moments scattered throughout the movie to keep it from being too depressing but not bogging it down with jokes so it doesn’t take away from the story. David’s mid-life crisis and his feeling that everything is out of his control was the main driving force in the movie and his finding a way to regain control of his life does it’s job in keeping you invested in the movie. It’s a slow movie, but worth giving a watch if you get the chance.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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action, drama, martial arts, movie, movie review

May 13th, 2018 Movie – Weapons Of Death

weapons of death

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. I hope every takes the time to thank their mother for everything she has done for you in your life, or if your mother has passed on, take the time to remember the times you shared with her. Today’s movie has a slight Mother’s Day theme to it, in that a mother is willing to go to any lengths to get her daughter back, or get revenge if she is dead. Of course, a movie like this is going to be found in the Martial Arts box set so there is no telling how good it will be. Guess we will find out soon enough as I watch Weapons Of Death.

The plot: At a bar in San Francisco, a fight breaks out between a man named Carter and a group of thugs. A second man, Bishop, enters the bar and helps fight off the thugs, then offers Carter a job, which he agrees to take. The two men, along with two others, head outside the city and meet up with a large group of Chinese warriors in the hills led by Foon, who tells Bishop to take one of his men, Chong, with them as they head into Chinatown, to look after their interests. As they head to Chinatown, Bishop points out a house as they drive by and when Carter sees it, he recognizes it and asks if that is the reason he took the job and Bishop says that 18 years is a long time to wait for revenge. In Chinatown, Eric is teaching weapons training to his students, warning them not to get sloppy or bored in their focus as they will be unable to master the training. After class, Eric’s sister Angela is getting ready to go out with Paul, one of Eric’s students, but her mother, Sue-Lin, stops them, as she feels they are moving too fast. When Eric taunts his brother, David, for lacking focus during his class, Paul, who is going to pick up an order for Angela’s mother, convinces David to go with him. While David and Paul are out, Bishop and his men arrive at the dojo and attack Eric and his students, grabbing Angela and Sue-Lin before knocking them out. Curt hands Sue-Lin a note explaining everything before locking her in a room while they leave with Angela. Josh, another student, sees them leave with Angela and tells David and Paul when they return. The three head inside the dojo to find Eric’s mother tending to an injury Eric received while fighting Chong. Paul wants to call the police but Eric’s mom tells them know, as she will just pay the ransom, saying that they are dangerous men. Eric agrees to take the money and David, Paul, and Josh say they will go with him but his mother says that they will have a fifth member go as well, her husband. She calls her husband Curt and tells him about Angela being kidnapped and Bishop’s involvement, just as some men attack Curt. Curt is able to defeat them and after learning that Bishop had sent them, he tells Sue-Lin that he will meet her at Eric’s place. Meanwhile, Bishop and his men get a flat tire and while they are changing it, Angela grabs a sword from the van and attempts to escape and one of the men go after her, only for Angela to stab him with a sword and continue running. Back at the dojo, Curt arrives and briefly speaks with Eric, who is not happy to see him as Curt had walked out on them years ago. Curt then goes to see Sue-Lin and after they talk, she tells them that if Angela is dead, she expects Curt to kill everyone responsible, as Angela is his daughter. Back in the woods, Angela is still running when she is grabbed by a gang of bikers. Carter sees Angela with the bikers and, grabbing a heavy branch to use as a club, he approaches the gang and attempts to get her back peacefully, offering to buy her from them. When the bikers attack him instead, Carter starts fighting back and, when he grabs Angela’s sword, begins killing all of them. After grabbing Angela, he takes her to an abandoned mine to rest for a minute and Angela convinces him to help her escape. As they go to leave, they run into some of Foon’s men, who were looking for them, and Carter refuses to turn Angela over to them, saying he only answers to Bishop. Some of Foon’s men go to find Bishop so they can all go to Foon together and Carter goes with them but once they are out of sight from the group, he shoots them. Pretending to be wounded, he staggers back to the group and tells them someone is out there and shouts to head into the mine for cover but once there, he begins killing them all. With all of the men dead, Carter tells Angela that the gunshots will attract people so she should head for the road, where someone will help get her out of there. Carter heads back to where the bikers were and finds Bishop, Chong, and the other member of the gang there wondering what happened. Suddenly, they are met by Foon’s female fighters, who had been sent to look for them, and they say that they will find the girl and intercept the ransom while Bishop and his crew are free to leave. Back at the dojo, Curt, Eric, and Paul are finishing getting ready while David talks with Josh, who admits he saw everything happen but was too scared to act. The 5 men head out and soon come to where the van had stopped but as they investigate, they are attacked by Foon’s female fighters. Josh freezes up again while Curt and the others fight and kill the women while Paul takes the leader hostage. After the fight is over, Curt berates Josh for not fighting, yelling at him that he won’t be going with them, when the female leader manages to get away from Paul. Curt chases after her and as he makes his way through the woods, he sees Angela and calls out to her. Suddenly, Curt is struck from behind while the female leader grabs Angela and takes her to Foon. Josh manages to rescue Curt but as the two argue and begin fighting as Eric and the others arrive and Eric is forced to break them up. When David finds a picture of Sue-Lin in Curt’s wallet, Eric questions him about it and Curt tells him that when he was on a job out of town, Bishop and his men attacked and raped Sue-Lin and got her pregnant, with Bishop being the father. When she was born, he couldn’t deal with the thought and so that was why he left but now he wants to try and make amends. When they get close to the area, Curt and Eric continue to the meeting, sending David, Paul, and Josh to circle around to attack from behind. When they get there, the start talking with Foon and hand him the money but when Foon prepares to have Angela injured or killed to send back to Sue-Lin as a message, Curt kills the man holding her and then he and Eric begin fighting Foon’s men. David, Paul, and Josh join in and they start killing off Foon’s men, while helping to get Angela to safety. Angela eventually runs to where Bishop and his men are watching the fight and while his man grabs Angela, Bishop goes to kill her only to be stopped by Carter. Carter and Bishop begin fighting and as they do, Paul rescues Angela and the run off, with Carter eventually getting thrown off the cliff and Bishop chasing after them. Meanwhile, Eric eventually is confronted by Chong and the two continue their fight from the dojo but this time, Eric gets the upper hand and kills Chong. Angela is grabbed by Foon and when Curt goes to confront him, Bishop intercepts him and as Foon leaves with Angela, Bishop taunts Curt into fighting him. Curt kills Bishop and goes after Foon with Paul and when they catch up with them, Foon threatens to kill Angela but David, who sees them from a nearby hilltop, shoots Foon with several arrows. As David and Eric meet up with Curt, Angela, and Paul, they wonder what happened to Josh. Suddenly, the last of Bishop’s men comes staggering up before dropping dead, with a sword stuck in his back, and Josh drives up in the jeep and holds up the bag of money.

Honestly, this is kind of a boring movie. The acting was ok, with the characters doing pretty good in their roles. I especially liked Louis Bailey, as he had some great character development during the movie in struggling with his conscience over kidnapping Angela and attempting to help her escape. The story was kind of straight forward, with the various revenge aspects merging into one big storyline. The random gathering of bikers was honestly pretty odd and seemed to serve no real purpose except to help push Carter towards helping Angela instead of helping Bishop. The fight scenes were honestly pretty boring and not at all what I was hoping for. I did like the final fight between Eric Lee (Eric) and Gerald Okamura (Chong), mainly because of all the various weapons Chong was using. I especially liked the use of the twin hooks by Chong, as they were always an interesting weapon in real life and in the movies. A generic movie that is a time killer but that is about it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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