action, adventure, drama, movie, movie review

December 10th, 2017 Movie – Superman

superman

As the year comes to a close, I find myself coming up on a week full of superhero movies. And not just any superhero, but movies featuring the man many people consider to be the first superhero, Superman. Now I remember first seeing this movie as a kind on TV and enjoyed the hell out of it. I have watched it several more times over the years whenever it would come on TV but never thought about buying it on DVD. Turns out that was a good thing as my mom ended up buying me the box set of movies for me for Christmas one year. So now it is time to go up, up, and away with today’s movie, Superman.

The plot: On the planet Krypton, Jor-El presents the evidence to the Council against General Zod, Ursa, and Non, a trio of Krptonians who attempted to overthrow the Council and rule in their stead. After being pronounced guilty, Zod asks Jor-El to join him or else he will get his vengeance on him and his heirs but Jor-El condemns them to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. Afterwards, Jor-El speaks with the council about his belief that the planet will be destroyed soon but they refuse to believe him and threaten to imprison him in the Phantom Zone if he causes a panic. Jor-El promises to keep quiet over the matters, then heads to his home, where he talks with his wife Lara about sending their son Kal-El to Earth so he will survive the planet’s destruction. Finishing construction of the crystalline life pod, Jor-El and Lara place Kal-El in the pod, as well as a crystal containing all of the known knowledge of Krypton, then sends the pod to Earth, just as the red sun expands and causes Krypton to explode. As Kal-El travels through space, Jor-El’s voice speaks to him, telling him about Earth and the differences he will face when he gets there. Kal-El’s ship crash lands in a field outside Smallville, Kansas, where a passing couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, see the spaceship crash and think it is a meteorite. When they check the site, they found Kal-El, now a toddler, starting to climb out of the hole in the ground and Martha, who had always wanted a child of her own, pleads with Jonathan to keep the boy to raise. Jonathan starts to argue against it but as he is changing a flat tire on their truck, the jack slips and and the truck starts to fal on him but he is saved by Kal-El, who is easily lifting up the front of the truck. The Kents decide to keep the boy and raise him as their own, calling him Clark. As years pass, Clark is now a teenager and has a crush on his classmate Lana Lang, but it is an unrequited love as she is dating someone else. After racing home after school one day, he talks with Jonathan, who is working on some farm equipment, about the struggles he is facing fitting in with everyone while he has to hide all the things he can do. As the two head back up to the house, Jonathan has a heart attack and collapses to the ground, with Martha’s scream alerting Clark to what happened. After the funeral, Clark agonizes to Martha over the fact that he has all of these powers but couldn’t save Jonathan’s life. That night, Clark hears a voice calling out to him, guiding him out to the barn, where he finds a glowing green crystal in the remains of his spaceship. The next day, Clark says goodbye to Martha, telling her that he spoke with a neighbor to make sure she had someone helping her, and she tells him both her and Jonathan knew the day would come and tells him he always has a home there before the two embrace. Clark makes his way up to the North Pole, and after being guided to a particular spot, he throws the crystal out into the frozen land, where it sinks into the snow and causes a massive, crystal structure to appear. Heading inside, Clark activates some of the crystal banks and is greeted by a holographic image of Jor-El, who tells him of who he is and proceeds to teach him about his powers and responsibilities over the course of 12 years, after which Clark is shown to be wearing a blue and red suit with a red cape and the House of El family crest on his chest. Clark heads to Metropolis, where he gets a job at the Daily Planet as a reporter, meeting his editor Perry White, photographer Jimmy Olsen, and fellow reporter Lois Lane. Lois isn’t too happy about Clark being assigned to her beat, attempting to embarrass Clark in front of Perry, but Clark starts to win her over with his good natured ways. After leaving work, Clark is talking with Lois when a man attempts to mug them and Clark tries to talk the man out of it. When Lois drops her purse and kicks the man when he goes to pick it up, the mugger accidentally fires his gun and Clark quickly catches the bullet, then pretends to faint so Lois won’t think anything strange occurred. Meanwhile, two police detectives follow a man named Otis, hoping he will lead them to his boss, the notorious Lex Luthor. As they separate, one of the detectives follows Otis down to some subway tracks, where Otis heads into a secret doorway, but when the detective tries to follow, Luthor, who was watching from hidden cameras, activates the hideout’s defenses to push him away from the door and into the path of an oncoming subway car. Inside his lair, Luthor’s girlfriend, Eve Teschmacher, isn’t happy with Luthor killing the cop or their living underneath the subway but Luthor says it is all part of his plan. Some time later, Lois heads up to the roof to catch a ride via the Daily Planet’s helicopter to the airport for a story but a cable becomes ensnared in the landing struts, causing the helicopter to crash back onto the roof and dangle over the edge. Clark is leaving the building when he notices the commotion on the street as everyone is looking up at the helicopter and, seeing Lois in danger, he quickly heads into a building’s revolving door, spinning ti faster than the eye can see as he changes into his costume and flies off. As Lois falls out of the helicopter, Clark saves her, the grabs the helicopter when it falls and places them both back on the roof. As he starts to fly off, Lois asks him who he is and he tells her he is a friend, then he flies off while Lois faints on the rooftop. Clark then heads off and stops some other crimes, as well as helping get a little girl’s cat out of a tree, then rescues Air Force One when a bolt of lightning takes out one of the engines. Later, Clark heads back to the Fortress of Solitude in the arctic, where he speaks with Jor-El about what he did and Jor-El cautions him to keep his secret identity intact, otherwise people would be asking for his help 24/7 while his enemies would try to hurt him by going after his loved ones. The next day, everyone is talking about the flying stranger and Perry orders his reporters to get details on the mystery person. While Perry is talking, Lois opens a card she received, asking to meet at her place that night and she realizes it is from the stranger. That night, Lois dresses up for her interview and when Clark appears, she asks him some question while also flirting with him. During the course of the interview, Clark lets slip that he has a problem seeing through lead, and reveals that he is from the Krypton. Clark then takes Lois flying through the sky before returning her back to her apartment and flying off. After he leaves, Lois decides to call him Superman, and starts working out the idea for her story when Clark shows up, reminding her that they were supposed to go on a date. After Lois’ interview is printed, Luthor, Otis, and Teschmacher read the article and Luthor realizes he knows how to stop Superman. He shows them an article about some meteorites that were found and tells them the meteorites are from Krypton, which would be toxic to Superman now, and they could hide them in a lead cigar box so that he can’t see inside. Some time later, Luthor and Teschmacher cause a distraction in front of a military convoy carrying a nuclear missile, allowing Otis to sneak on board the truck and reprogram the missile but when he meets back up with Luthor and Teschmacher, Luthor realizes that Otis screwed up so they cause a distraction on another convoy so that Teschmacher can reprogram that missile correctly. The next day, Lois is out on assignment in the West, doing a story on a land fraud scheme as someone is buying up a lot of worthless land, with Jimmy going with her. Perry calls Clark into his office to talk to him when Clark hears a high pitched sound, followed by a message from Luthor, telling him that he will be releasing a gas that will wipe out half the population of the city. Clark quickly changes into Superman and leaves, then flies over the city and searches for Luthor’s hideout. He eventually locates it and burrows underground into the subway tunnels and heads towards Luthor’s base, easily making his way through his defenses. When he arrives at Luthor’s base, Luthor explains his plan to Superman, telling him how he bought up the land out west, then plans to detonate a 500 megaton bomb inside the fault, setting off an earthquake that would destroy the West Coast of California while making his property the new West Coast. Luthor then explains that he hijacked the military missiles and has one of them heading to the fault while the other is heading towards Hackensack, NJ. Superman looks for the device to detonate the missiles and thinks Luthor has it hidden in a lead chest but when he opens, he discovers contains a piece of Kryptonite that Luthor had stolen from a museum. Luthor then attaches the chain with the Kyptonite around Superman’s neck and throws him in his pool to drown. As he walks off, Teschmacher says her mother lives in Hackensack and asks Luthor to stop the missile but he refuses. Teschmacher goes to the pool and tells Superman she will save him if he saves her mother first before saving the West Coast and when he agrees, she dives into the pool and saves him, kissing him before removing the Kryptonite from around his neck. Superman flies off and manages to catch the missile heading for Hackensack, flying it up into space to detonate harmlessly, but while he is doing that, the second missile strikes the fault and activates an earthquake. Superman rushes there and works on repairing the damaged fault, then deals with the disasters that were caused, including fixing the Golden Gate Bridge, and stopping the flood caused by the broken Hoover Dam. While this is going on, Lois’ car falls into a crevice and she ends up suffocating from the dirt falling into her car. When Superman finds her car and drags it out, he pulls her lifeless body from the car and after holding it for a few minutes, cries out in grief and quickly flies into the air. As he is flying, he hears the voices of both Jor-El and Jonathan speaking in his head, giving him conflicting thoughts on what he should do, but Superman refuses to let someone he cares about die again. Superman begins flying around the Earth, causing it’s rotation to reverse, which causes the recent damage to the area to be as if it never happened. Once that happens, Superman flies around the Earth to restore it’s rotation back to normal then flies down to ensure that Lois is safe. After speaking with Lois and Jimmy for a few minutes, Superman flies back to grab Luthor and Otis and take them to prison, then flies off to orbit the Earth, looking for more people to help.

Superman was well received by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Superman deftly blends humor and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Christopher Reeve to craft a loving, nostalgic tribute to an American pop culture icon.” This movie marked the first time that the “S” on Superman’s chest stood for a Kryptonian family crest, an idea, along with several other aspects, which has since been integrated into the comics and subsequent adaptations. The movie was a box office success, earning $300.2 million off of a $55 million budget.

I will admit that it has lost some of it’s appeal to me over the years but this is still a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Christopher Reeve really turning in an iconic performance as the legendary character while Gene Hackman was almost as good as Luthor. Marlon Brando (Jor-El), Margot Kidder (Lois), and Jackie Cooper (Perry White) were also good. The story was good in regards to the origin story and Superman making his way to Metropolis, making the one change of having Superman never using his powers as Superboy and only using them when he gets to Metropolis as an adult. However, one aspect of the movie that I didn’t like, and even as a kid I knew didn’t make sense, was the whole Superman flying around the Earth and reversing it’s rotation. Even back then, I knew that what he was doing wasn’t going to be able to turn back time. That aspect aside, the rest of the story was good and very enjoyable. The special effects really were pretty good and they did a great job with the inside of the Krypton city, though the outside did look a little cheap. A good movie and one that really set the standard for all other films to follow.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Advertisements
Standard
action, crime, drama, martial arts, movie, movie review

December 2nd, 2017 Movie – Return Of The Street Fighter

return of the street fighter

Ahhh, a Saturday morning and I find myself watching a martial arts movie. That is really a flashback to my childhood, though the movies would usually come on in the afternoons, as I obviously needed to watch my Saturday morning cartoons first. Anyways, today’s movie is the first of two sequels to The Street Fighter and luckily for me, it happened to be a part of the Martial Arts box set. So let’s see what happens to Terry Tsurugi with today’s movie, Return Of The Street Fighter.

The plot: Terry Tsurugi is hired by Isamu Otaguro to kill two of his former business associates, one of whom is being held and questioned by the police. Terry speeds through town and fights the officers attempting to arrest him in order to get arrrested and taken to police headquarters. As he is being taken to his cell, Terry hears the man being questioned in the interrogation room and breaks free from his captors and smashes his way into the room. Once there, he takes out the guards and kills the witness, then fights off some more cops before making his escape out the window, where he gets into a car and drives off. As he drives, his assistant, Kitty, unlocks the handcuffs for him and then asks about when he will take out the next target. The next day, Shichiro Yamagami, the police inspector in charge of the case,  asks to be allowed to go after Terry but when he is turned down, he resigns. As he is leaving, the police get word that the man’s partner, who is also the second man Terry is to kill, has been spotted and they go to pick him up. The man is hiding in a movie theater while waiting for a flight to take him to Australia. When he sees the police looking for him, he tries to run but ends up running into Terry. Terry tries to stop him from leaving and the man ends up throwing the bag he is carrying at Terry so he can pull out a gun but ends up getting into a shootout with the police, while Terry escapes with the bag. Sometime later, Kitty takes the bag to Otaguro, where it is revealed to contain a priceless statue. At Masaoka’s dojo, Yamagami goes to speak with Kendo Masaoka and tells him what he knows of Otaguro’s martial arts academy and it’s ties to the Yakuza. He also asks Masaoka about Terry and Masaoka tells him that Terry is a skilled fighter and that they had fought once a few years ago. Masaoka goes to speak with Otaguro, saying he knows what is being said and if the rumors are true, that he should stop what he is planning and return the money but Otaguro gets angry and tells him to leave, summoning some of his stronger fighters to try and intimidate him. Meanwhile, Yamagami heads over the the building architect to ask him some questions about Otagura’s proposed building but the architect refuses to answer at first until Yamagami beats all of the security that had come to escort him out of the building. Elsewhere, Terry is working out in his gym with Kitty when they receive a secret message on an 8-track, telling them to head to a nearby subway station. Once there, a man gives them a key to a locker and when Terry opens it, he finds a suitcase of money from Otaguro and a note saying to kill Masaoka. Terry rips up the note and takes the money back to Otaguro, telling him he refuses to kill Masaoka, and after he leaves, Otaguro orders his men to kill Terry. Terry heads up to a snow covered mountain with Kitty and when she asks why he refused the job, he tells her he couldn’t kill Masaoka as he is the only person he can really trust. After riding a ski lift to the top of the mountain, Terry comes under attack from two of Otaguro’s assassins and manages to kill them. As he relaxes at a spa, Terry comes under attack again from a group of men but manages to beat them all, then places their unconscious bodies in a sauna and turns it on high while locking them inside. Back at his dojo, Masaoko is speaking with one of the men that runs another of his dojo and learns that Otaguro is forging his name to solicit donations for his organization. Terry returns to his hotel, where he ends up picking up a woman in the elevator. As they lay in bed together, the woman reaches into her purse to pull out a collapsible baton and tries to attack Terry only for him to easily disarm and beat her. Suddenly, the woman’s escort, an Arabian martial arts champion, breaks through the door and attacks Terry but Terry beats him and questions him, learning that the Mafia had sent him, before finally killing him. Kitty pleads with him not to go but Terry heads out to deal with Otaguro when he is confronted by Junjo, whom he had believed to have killed. Junjo, speaking through use of a voice box, tells Terry that he survived and the Mafia performed an operation to save his life in exchange for killing him and he eagerly agreed to it. Terry and Junjo fight and as Terry tries to fend off one of the sai that Junjo throws at him, he ends up falling off a building, crashing to the ground below, and Kitty cries over the body, pleading for him not to be dead before dragging the body away. The next day, Masaoka, Yamagami, and the heads of several other martial arts organizations, confront Otaguri about his crimes and his connections to the Mafia. A defeated Otaguri goes to see Don Costello and apologizes for what happened only for Costello to kill him, saying he will take over the operations. Costello sends some of his men to ambush Masaoka and the others as they have a celebratory dinner and shoot and kill most of them but Masaoka survives and manages to take out the men that had come to finish the job. Elsewhere, Kitty is tending to Terry’s injuries and is happy to see that he isn’t dead and pleads with him to keep fighting. Terry blacks out, where he dreams about when his father was executed for being a traitor and hears his father’s voice telling him to keep fighting and let nobody beat him. As he is eating and resting, Terry indicates that he knows Kitty was working for the Mafia the whole time and she admits that she betrayed them because she fell in love with him. She then tells him that Yamagami was killed and Masaoka injured and Terry makes plans to deal with the Mafia. As he heads out, Kitty is grabbed by the Mafia while she is walking and is tortured. When Terry arrives at Otaguri’s building, he finds Kitty lying on the stairs, and she warns him to run but he finds himself surrounded by Costello and his men. Costello tells Terry his plans for controlling the area, then kills Kitty but before he can kill Terry, Junjo stops him, saying he and Terry have to settle things. Terry lays Kitty’s body on a nearby table, using the time to slip two hidden blades into his hands, and as he faces off against Junjo, Terry throws the blades, killing one of the Mafia men while the other goes in Costello’s eye. Terry then begins attacking the men, making his way towards Costello, who is trying to escape. Terry eventually takes out all of the attackers, though he is wounded in the process, until the only people left are Junjo and Costello. As they continue to fight near an electrical transformer, Terry knocks Junjo into the leads, electrocuting him, then continues chasing after Costello. The two end up on the roof of a passing tanker truck and Costello pleads for his life but Terry strikes him, knocking him onto the hood of the truck, causing the driver to crash into the support for an overpass while Terry jumps to safety and watches as it explodes into flames.

Not as extreme with the violence but this was still a pretty good movie. Sonny Chiba did a good job in his role and I feel like he actually had a lot more character development with this movie than he did in the first one. I also liked Masafumi Suzuki returning as Masaoka but felt like Masashi (Milton) Ishibashi’s return as Junjo was a little anti-climatic. The story was pretty good, with Terry still working as a mercenary but showing a little more honor in how he handles his contracts. There were a lot more fights in this movie than in the previous and they were pretty well choreographed (such as the fight in the spa)  but the violence was toned down some, such as leaving out the x-ray scenes of various broken bones and some of the more violent death scenes. However, they did decide to leave in one of the funniest scenes I have seen in a serious martial arts movie. When Terry was facing the assassins on the mountain top, he punched one of them in the back of the head and….welll…eye poping out

Needless to say, this had me cracking up for how ridiculous it was. That aside, this is a fun movie to watch and a great way to indulge in some mindless action cinema.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Standard
comedy, drama, fantasy, movie, movie review

November 30th, 2017 Movie – Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

stranger than fiction

It’s the last day of the month and it has already started off on an odd note. It started with what sound like someone screaming outside (which I actually had to pause the movie to try and figure out what I heard) and continued about an hour later with a pretty brief, but intense, sudden bout of rain. This has me wondering what else is in store for me today. Anyways, today’s movie was one that actually caught my interest when I saw the trailers for it. I didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters but rented it when it came out on video and liked it enough to buy a copy shortly afterwards. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Stranger Than Fiction (2006).

The plot: Harold Crick is a single man whose life is controlled by numbers; from the specific number of times he brushed his teeth, to the number of steps he took to the bus. Harold, a senior agent for the I.R.S., lives a rather lonely life, only taking a 45 minute lunch break and a 5 minute coffee break, which he times with his wristwatch, before going home, eating, and going to bed at the exact same time every day. One Wednesday, Harold hears a voice narrating his everyday life, which confuses him and causes some of his co-workers to become concerned about him. Harold is given the file for a banker named Ana Pascal, who has come under audit for not paying all of her taxes. As they talk, the voice continues narrating some of Harold’s thoughts, prompting Ana to comment on his staring at her. Harold denies it and leaves, telling Ana he will be back later to go over her past returns and heads outside, where he begins yelling at the voice to shut up. Meanwhile, novelist Karen Eiffel is standing on her desk wondering what it would be like to jump off a building when she is surprised by the arrival of her new assistant, Penny Escher. Karen is annoyed at Penny’s arrival, feeling like she is nothing more than a spy from the publishers as she is having a bout of writer’s block in finishing her book, but Penny tells her that she is there simply to help make sure that Karen finishes her latest book on time and will help her figure out how to kill Harold Crick. Back at the I.R.S., Harold is sent to HR, where the HR manager says some of his coworkers are getting concerned about him and suggests Harold take a vacation. As Harold leaves work that day, his watch suddenly starts acting up and Harold thinks it is just on the fritz, not realizing that it was trying to tell him that Ana was walking across the street. When his watch stops, Harold asks someone for the time so he can reset it and as he does, the voice tells him that his action will lead to his death. When Harold hears this, he starts questioning what is going on and tears apart his apartment, trying to get the voice to explain how or why he is going to die. Harold goes to see a psychiatrist, who believes he is suffering from schizophrenia, but when Harold swears he isn’t and says it feels like he is a character in a story, she suggest he speak to someone who knows literature. Harold goes to see Professor Jules Hilbert, a literary professor, and speaks to him about what is happening and Hilbert says he can’t help him but when Harold repeats verbatim what the voice said, Hilbert becomes intrigued at it’s usage of “Little did he know” and asks Harold to meet him the next day. As Harold is on the bus, the voice alerts him to Ana boarding and he attempts to talk to her, offering an apology for staring at her the other day. Ana accepts the apology and the two engage in some small talk but Harold, listening to the voice, decides to quit before he makes an ass of himself and gets off the bus, not realizing that he is 27 blocks from where he wanted to go. Harold meets up with Hilbert and Hilbert tries to figure out what kind of story Harold’s life is becoming, whether it is a comedy or a tragedy. Meanwhile, Karen and Penny are sitting in the rain, as Karen is trying to get an idea about a car crash during bad weather. Harold heads back to the bakery to begin Ana’s audit, and she shows him that she threw all her files and receipts into a box just to mess with him. After working through the day, Harold goes to leave but Ana convinces him to sit down and eat a cookie she just finished baking. As they sit and eat cookies, Harold asks her how she became a baker and she explains that she was in Harvard Law and would always bake things during her study sessions and at the end of the semester, she had a lot of great recipes and a D average so she decided to drop out and continue baking. As Harold goes to leave, she boxes up the rest of the cookies for him to take home but he refuses, saying that they could constitute a bribe. Ana gets offended and throws the cookies away and as he leaves, Harold apologizes, realizing that she had baked them for him to be nice and apologize for how she treated him during the day. At Hilbert’s suggestion, Harold decides to call out of work the next day and do absolutely nothing but as he is watching TV, his apartment is partially demolished due to a mixup from the construction crew, mistaking it for an abandoned building. Harold goes to see Hilbert, who tells Harold that he is not in control of his own destiny and he should just live his life. Harold goes to stay at his friend Dave’s place and asks him what he always wanted to do and Dave admits he wanted to go to space camp but never did. Harold, who always wanted to play the guitar, decides to go buy one and as the voice narrates the various choices, he finally picks one. As he goes to bed, his wristwatch highlights Ana’s name and he decides to go and apologize for his actions. Harold catches up to her as she closes her bakery, bring her some flours (the baking kind) as an apology, and says he knows he has been acting weird but admits that he wants her. Ana invites him back to her place and as the talk some, he notices her guitar and starts playing the song he learned, and after sitting next to him and listening for a bit, she promptly starts kissing him and they end up having sex. As he lies in bed with Ana, the voice tells him that she is falling love with him, prompting Harold to smile. Harold goes to see Hilbert and tells him he thinks he is in a comedy and Hilbert, who had been coming up with a list of authors who might be writing his story, says that that changes things. As Hilbert starts thinking of different authors, Harold hears the narrators voice coming from the TV and realizes that it is Karen Eiffel. When he tells Hilbert that she is the narrator, Hilbert apologizes, saying that she wasn’t on his list but also that all of her main characters die. Harold tries to get Karen’s contact information from the publisher and when that fails, he uses her tax records to find her phone number. As Harold tries calling her, Karen is writing that exact sequence, shocked when the phone rings each time she types it. After it occurs the third time, she answers the phone and is shocked to hear Harold talking to her. Harold goes to meet Karen, who is shocked that he looks exactly like she described him in her book. Harold pleads with her not to kill him and she admits that she already wrote the outline for her books ending but hasn’t typed it yet and when Harold argues with her about it, Penny suggests that she let him read it so Karen gives him her hand written copy of the book to read. Harold takes it to Hilbert and explains what happened and hands him the manuscript, saying he couldn’t bring himself to read it and asks that he do it. Hilbert reads it and tells Harold that he has to die, as this is probably Karen’s masterpiece. Meanwhile, Karen is wondering if all of the other characters in her books were actual people just like Harold before she killed them but Penny argues that they were not real. Harold takes the manuscript and reads it while riding on the bus and he goes to see Karen and tells her that he loved the book and she should finish it. Harold goes about his last day, spending the evening with Ana and the next morning, he wakes up and heads to work, not realizing that when he reset his watch, he had set it 3 minutes fast. As he waits for the bus, a little boy riding his bike falls in the street  right in front of the oncoming bus and Harold jumps out to push the boy to safety, getting struck by the bus himself while in her office, Karen cries out over what she had just written, knowing that she had just killed Harold. Harold comes too and finds that he had been severely injured but alive, as a piece of his watch had broken off and blocked an artery in his arm, keeping him from bleeding out. As Ana comes to visit him and he explains what happened, Karen goes to see Hilbert and shows him the finished work. Hilbert reads it and says that it is ok and asks why she changed it and she admits she couldn’t bring herself to kill Harold after having met her. When he tells her that the book felt weaker without Harold’s death, she tells him that the story was about a man unexpectedly dying and Harold sacrificing himself to save the boy would not have worked so she chose the wristwatch, which she had anthropomorphized throughout the book, was the one to die instead.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A fun, whimsical tale about an office drone trying to save his life from his narrator, Stranger Than Fiction features a subdued performances from Will Ferrell that contributes mightily to its quirky, mind-bending affect.” During filming, Will Ferrell wore an earpiece that fed him Emma Thompson’s narrative lines, allowing the other actors to react more naturally to Will’s seemingly non-sequitur lines. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $53.7 million off of a $30 million budget.

This was a surprisingly good movie. The acting was good, with Will Ferrell (Harold) doing a surprisingly good job in a more dramatic role than people are used to seeing out of him. Emma Thompson also did a great job as Karen, especially during the scenes after she meets Harold as she really showcased the anguish she was feeling as she struggles with the choice of whether finishing her book is worth killing someone. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Ana) and Dustin Hoffman (Hilbert) were also really good in their performances. The story was very well written, which is fitting since the basis of the movie is about a book. I liked that good mix between drama and comedy that was in the movie, as well as the premise that sometimes you have no control over your life and it feels like you are simply a character in someone else’s story, a feeling that a lot of people have at one point or another. A good movie that is definitely worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Standard
drama, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

November 28th, 2017 Movie – Storyville

storyville

Another day, another movie. Today I find myself watching a movie that I honestly never heard of before today. It is part of a collection of James Spader movies that my friend got me earlier in the year. So, brand new movie that I have never heard of, I am actually somewhat excited to see what I am getting into today. So let’s get right into the meat of things with today’s movie, Storyville.

The plot: Cray Fowler, a young candidate for congress, is hosting a campaign fundraiser at his family’s house in New Orleans. After speaking with his uncle Clifford for a minute, he meets with Nathan LeFleur, who talks to him about the stories concerning his family and the suicide of Cray’s father. As the party winds down, he is slipped a note from one of the waitresses, Lee, asking him to meet her at a club called Storyville later that night. Cray heads to the club and meets with Lee, who takes him back to her place, which happens to be her family’s dojo, and she briefly attacks him with Judo before seducing him and the two have sex in her hot tub, but Cray is unaware that he is being videotaped. The next day, Cray heads to the courthouse and speaks with his friend Natalie Tate, wo works in the District Attorney’s office, asking her to try and get some of the files from the federal case against his father. Briefly stopping at his campaign headquarters and speaking with his campaign manager, Cray is met by his wife Melanie, who talks to him about getting a new convertible, but Cray agrees to what she wants and leaves to go talk with LeFleur, apologizing for his reaction during the fundraiser and asking for his endorsement for congress but LeFleur doesn’t answer if he will or not. Returning to his campaign headquarters, Cray is shown a campaign ad for Avner Hollister, his congressional rival who has a 20 point lead in the race, and later decides to meet with Hollister. After going duck hunting with Clifford and his friend Pudge, he asks his mother if his dad kept any files about the case with him and she say they would be in his old desk. Cray finds the files and returns to his apartment to look at them, discovering that Hollister was one of the people in the case against his father. When Lee calls from the lobby, he invites her up but when she doesn’t show up, he finds she has been beaten and had collapsed on the stairs. Taking her back to his apartment, he starts to call an ambulance but stops when she tells him that her father had been paid to videotape them together. Lee convinces Cray to go back to her dojo, where Cray cuts his hand on the glass breaking into the place. Cray begins searching the place for her father or the videotape and ends up being attacked by her father where, after a struggle, Cray ends up being knocked out. When Cray comes too, he finds Lee’s father has been murdered, with his throat being slit, and Cray grabs the knife and quickly leaves before the cops get there. Returning back to his apartment, Cray tends to his injuries and hides the knife. The next day, Cray heads to his old law firm and pulls some strings to be assigned to defend Lee, who is being accused of killing her father. Cray goes to see Lee and asks how she is doing and what happened that night, then goes to see Natalie and tells her he is representing Lee in the case. Cray then goes to see LeFleur, showing him a list of names in the files that were supposed land owners his father cheated and tells him that they don’t seem to exist and figures that LeFleur should know about them. He then asks that LeFleur assist him in his case and LeFleur appears to accept. Later, Cray heads to a studio underneath Lee’s dojo to speak with the S&M photographer there, grabbing some photo’s of a model from his desk, but the photographer threatens Cray and tells him to leave. Cray asks his friend Fats, a local strip club owner, to see if he can find out any information about the model. When Cray returns to his apartment, he finds that someone sent him a copy of the video of him and Lee having sex. He quickly turns the tape off when he hears someone knocking on his door and finds Natalie standing outside. She comes in for a drink, revealing that they had a romantic history together, and she asks him why he is taking the Lee case. Some time later, Cray heads to St. Albans Parish, where the disputed land is in, and learns that every name on the list was actually the name of someone buried in the cemetery except for one, C. Sumter. As he is leaving, Cray is attacked by two men wearing clown masks but manages to get a look at the tattoo on one of their arms. Returning to his apartment, Cray meets with LeFleur and comes clean about how he is connected with Lee, as well as his hiding the knife and that someone sent him a copy of the tape. LeFleur is angry about what Cray has done and for dragging him into it but still agrees to help. Then LeFleur asks about the list and Cray tells him about the one name that is not found in the cemetery. At the trial, one witness says that she say Lee leaving the building in a hurry, and a few minutes later, a man left wearing a dark raincoat. When the photographer is called to testify, he says he heard arguing and he called the police to complain about the noise, then went to investigate when he saw Lee leaving. When Cray gets up to cross examine him, Cray asks about the music, as the first witness said it was loud enough to hear downstairs where she was working, and asks how he was able to hear the argument but not the sound of someone breaking into the dojo. He also asks if the photographer was alone, as he usually has the music playing when he is working, and the photographer swears he was alone. When court is recessed, LeFleur introduces Cray to his cousin, who is a police officer, and they head back out to St. Albans, where LeFleur has located C.Sumter. They speak with Sumter, who tells them that he gets $300 every month since the late 30’s, when he had signed something from someone who was supposedly from the bank. Cray asks if he could recognize the man but Sumter tells him he can barely see anything as his eyes have gotten too bad. As they are leaving, Sumter tells them that someone had asked him the same questions 3 years ago and when Cray asks who it was, Sumter tells him the man’s name was Raymond, Cray’s father. The next day in court, Cray cross examines the homicide detective that was first on the scene, asking him why they didn’t take fingerprints or investigate the matter closer as there was evidence of a break in. The detective says that he didn’t feel the need, as Lee had claimed to be responsible and showed a racists slant towards Vietnamese people, due to his experiences in the war. The next day, Lee is on stand and Cray questions her but when Natalie begins to cross examine her, Cray asks the judge for a meeting in chambers before she can say anything incriminating and the judge agrees to give Cray a short recess. Cray and LeFleur meet up with Fats, who has located the model that Cray was looking for and the model agrees to help them. Back in court, Lee is back on the stand and when Cray asks if she saw anyone in the photographer’s studio, she says she did and points out the model, which Cray had brought in. Cray then has the model take the stand and he explains that he cross dresses for photo shoots. The night of the murder, he says they heard a crash come from the dojo and Lee running downstairs. the photographer told her to wait in the studio while he went to check things out and he went to talk to the detective, who went upstairs and then came back down and the photographer gave him a switchblade. The detective yells out at the model and pulls out his gun, shooting Cray in the arm and attempts to shoot the model. A bailiff and a police officer shoot the detective, who falls and attempts to shoot Lee but hits LeFleur instead, then tries to shoot Cray before the judge kills him. Recovering in the hospital, Cray is shown a newspaper article saying that Hollister had dropped out of the race, due to his connection with the dertective, but LeFleur tells him that Hollister did not have the tape. As the results of the election comes in, Cray wins in a landslide and leaves the room, while his campaign manager shows Melanie photos of her affair and Cray’s lawyer has her sign the divorce papers. Later, Clifford returns to the family home to celebrate Cray’s victory and is shocked to see Sumter there. When Clifford enters the house, he goes to congratulate Cray but Cray stops him, knowing that not only was he the one who cheated people out of their land but that he also tried to blackmail him and killed his father to stop him from exposing him. Cray heads out to go to the victory celebration, seeing his soon to be ex-wife standing on the side of the stage before she leaves while Clifford heads out to the swamp and commits suicide. Some time later, Cray is at a bar before heading to Washington and notices Natalie at the other end of the bar, and the two stare at each other.

I have to say, this was a little confusing but a pretty decent movie all in all. The acting was good, with James Spader doing a good job in his role. The story was a little confusing, trying to tie in two different mysteries together, but they didn’t do the best job blending the stories smoothly. The drama honestly was a little weak, as the slow pacing of the movie just killed some of the tension they kept hoping to build. Worth a watch if you are a fan of James Spader but probably won’t be something everyone enjoys.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

Standard
drama, movie, movie review

November 27th, 2017 Movie – The Stepmother (1972)

the stepmother 1972

Ok, there is a better than average chance that today’s movie is nothing more than a poor man’s porno. I mean, I think the stepmother seducing the stepson, or vice versa, is one of the more infamous porn plots to come about. Now, added that to the fact that this was made in the early 70’s, and is part of the Drive-In collection, and this adds up to being one of those skin flicks that the drive-ins were known for. So let’s see what I am getting out of this with today’s movie, The Stepmother (1972).

The plot: Margo Delgado is lying in bed when her lover Alan Richmond starts trying to have sex with her and despite her initial protests, she eventually just lies there and lets him have his way with her. After they finish, Alan gets dressed to leave while Margo takes a shower but unknown to them, Margo’s husband Frank arrived home and saw their silhouettes in the window. When Alan walks outside, he is surprised to see Frank there and goes to greet him but Frank attacks him and strangles him to death. Realizing what he has done, Frank grabs Alan’s body, places it in his car and drives him out to the beach to bury him. As he finishes burying him, Frank hears a couple ride up on a motorcycle and quickly leaves, ignoring the woman’s screams when the man gets violent with her. The next day, Frank and Margo are woken up by 4 of their friends, including Frank’s business partner Dick Hill, and they head to Alan’s beach house, though Frank is reluctant to go. While Frank sits by himself at first and talks some business with Dick, Everyone wonders what happened to Alan and where he is. Meanwhile, Inspector Darnezi is going over the autopsy of Alan and a young Mexican girl, who were both strangled at around the same time last night. Darnezi decides to go check out Alan’s townhouse in the city and after finding nothing there, he calls the Alan’s beach house pretending to look for Alan but one of the guys at the house says he isn’t there. Darnezi heads back to the police station to tell his boss that he found nothing at the townhouse and plans to head to beach house to question the people there. At the beach, Sonya, Dick’s wife, is sketching Frank and they are reminiscing about past times when she asks him why he is being so pensive all day and Frank decides to leave and runs down the beach, where he keeps having visions of Alan approaching him. He goes back to the beach house as Darnezi arrives and questions everyone about when they last saw Alan. After returning to the station, Darnezi voices his suspicions of Frank to the Chief Inspector, as Frank has 3 hours unaccounted for in his story, but the Chief says that they don’t have enough facts to rule anyone out so to watch the whole group. The next day, Margo and Sonya are talking and Mrago admits about what happened with Alan the last night he was alive and worries that Frank somehow found out about it as he hasn’t made love to her since. As Frank and Dick arrive at the house to eat, Margo tells Frank that he received a letter from his son Steve and he reads it, learning that Steve will be coming home in a few weeks. The next day, Frank and Dick are at the site of the home they were building for Alan when Darnezi arrives and asks them to come to the station, as they have a suspect for the woman’s murder and wonder if they recognize him. They do so but though Frank recognizes him, he says he doesn’t and Darnezi apologizes for wasting their time. Dick drops Frank off at the work site while he says he is going to the office and after he leaves, Sonya shows up and convinces Frank to go to lunch with her. They head to a steakhouse they are used to going to and are surprised to find Dick there with Margo. Frank initially wants to get another table but is too uncomfortable being in the same restaurant with Margo and leaves, telling Sonya that he can’t trust Margo anymore. Meanwhile, Margo is talking with Dick and trying to get him to help talk to Frank about what happened and convince him she wasn’t at fault. Sonya drops Frank off at the building site and he starts hallucinating that Darnezi is staring at him and judging him. Dick arrives and tells Frank he got the bank loan they needed but Frank questions him about where he was before that and says he knows he was with Margo. Dick says he was talking to her and he knows what Alan did to her but she loves Frank and didn’t do it willingly and as the two continue to argue, Franks shoves Dick away, causing Dick to accidentally fall off the roof of the building. Some time later, Frank is in church confessing to the priest about what he has done and how he can’t bring himself to forgive Margo. Meanwhile, Frank’s son Steve returns home and Margo speaks with him, as there is tension between the two of them, and says she didn’t want Frank to send him away but Steve tells her that he wants to keep going to school in Mexico City as that is where all his friends are. Meanwhile, Frank goes to see Sonya, who tells him that she is getting the money from Dick’s insurance policy and plans on investing it back into the company, despite Frank’s protests, and she is considering selling her half of the company. Darnezi shows up to speak with her and arranges to meet with Frank later. Darnezi speaks with Sonya about Frank and Dick’s relationship and if there were any problems with it. Later, Frank speaks with Darnezi, who asks him some questions about Sonya and Dick’s insurance, and as Frank goes to leave, Darnezi says he is close to solving Alan’s murder. Frank goes to see Sonya to ask her what Darnezi talked to her about and she tells him Darnezi thought that she and Frank were having an affair and Dick’s death was not an accident. Sonya then says that she wants to go with Frank to Acapulco tomorrow but Frank says that she shouldn’t as it would just make Darnezi believe his suspicions are right. That night, Frank tries talking with Steve and convince him to stay with them but Steve says he wants to go back to Mexico. As Frank packs for his trip, Margo kisses him and Frank kisses her back but pushes her away before the go any further. The next day, Frank boards his flight for Acapulco and is surprised to find that Sonya is on the plane with him. Meanwhile, Margo attempts to call Sonya but when she learns that she is going to Mexico, she gets upset and jealous. Margo continues to drink and, hearing Steve playing pool downstairs, heads downstairs and begins flirting with him. Steve resists at first and tries to help her get to bed but they end up tripping and falling to the ground and as a drunken Margo begins laughing and kissing his face, he gives in and they start kissing. The next morning, in Acapulco, Frank is woken up by Sonya and she asks him for a drink before they start talking. Meanwhile, back in the states, Steve is attempting to leave to go to the cabin in the woods but Margo asks him to come with her to the cabin so they can get it ready for the next weekend with Frank and she wants to talk with Steve about what happened but Steve just leaves. Margo then heads up to the cabin, telling Lupe and Jose where she is going and Lupe calls Frank in Mexico to tell him. Frank tells her that he will try to be home that night and goes back to his meeting, asking if they can have the contracts signed that afternoon. The client agrees and invites them to a party but Frank refuses and Sonya decides to head back as well. Meanwhile, Darnezi arrives at the Delgado house and speaks with Jose and Lupe, showing them a shovel that he discovered in Alan’s submerged car and Jose identifies it as his. Heading back to the station, Darnezi tells the Chief his theory and they argue over some of the specifics of it. Back in the mountains, Steve and Margo are both surprised to find the other person there, and they end up getting closer and wind up sleeping together. That night, Frank returns home and after Lupe tells him about Darnezi’s visit, he decides to head to the Cabin but is stopped by Darnezi, who says they have the shovel and are close to finding the murderer. Darnezi and the Chief question the man that killed the girl, who says he saw a car but couldn’t say that it was Frank inside. At the cabin, Frank arrives only to find Steve and Margo in bed together and as they stare in shock, he turns and heads back out to his car. Frank grabs a pistol from the glove compartment and he approaches Steve, who had gone to talk to him, and asks Steve how he could do this to him. Steve begs his father’s forgiveness and Frank says he can’t judge him as he killed a man and plans on going to the police to turn himself in. Frank tells Steve to put the gun away for him but just then, Darnezi and another officer arrive at the cabin and when Frank turns to face them, the officer sees the gun and shoots Frank. As Frank collapses to the ground, Steve goes to check on him while Margo watches in horror.

I have to admit, this was not what I expected. The acting was ok but nobody really stood out in the movie. The story was odd, as the majority of the story was focused on the murder of Alan and Frank’s guilt surrounding it. The stepmother portion of the movie only showed up in the last half hour, and honestly only accounted for maybe 15 minutes at best. They could have titled this something else and it might have come across better. The drama was ok, with it being a halfway decent murder drama, but again the misleading title made it feel like something else. A truly boring movie that is really not worth watching.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Standard
comedy, drama, movie, movie review

November 25th, 2017 Movie – State And Main

state and main

Sometimes, when you least expect it, a good movie will absolutely drop into your lap. That is the case with today’s movie. Years ago, my roommate had commented on this movie and how much she loved it. She had bought it on DVD and one night my wife and I ended up watching it with her. I had to agree that it was as funny as she said it was and I decided to get a copy of my own after she moved out. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, State And Main.

The plot: In the small town of Waterford, Vt, director Walt Price and his assistant Bill Smith are planning on shooting their movie in town after being kicked out of Vermont. When their camera asks if the mill set that the built had come in from New Hampshire, Walt says that the town in New Hampshire is holding it for ransom but Waterford has their own mill to use. After renting out the only hotel in, Walt has his people start coming in from New Hampshire and begins preparing to make the movie. The mayor shows up at the hotel to talk to Walt about the use of Main Street and says the town council will have to issue a permit but assures him it is merely a formality and invites Walt to have dinner at his house. As Walt is on the phone with Marty Rossen, the movie’s producer, Bill tells Walt that the old mill had burned down. Joseph “Joe” Turner White, the movie’s script writer, shows up and Walt tells him about the trouble with the mill and asks that he re-write the movie without the mill but Joseph says he can’t as he doesn’t have his typewriter. Meanwhile, everyone in town is excited about the movie being filmed here, and that Bob Barrenger is starring in it, except for Doug Mackenzie, a local politician. Joe spots a typewriter in a bookstore and asks the shopkeeper, Annie Black, about renting it until his typewriter is found. She offers to sell it to him, saying it has history, but Joe says his does too as he wrote his first play and is shocked to discover that Annie has a copy of his play in her shop. When Joe returns to the hotel, he meets with Bob and Walt, who are going over some of the scenes in the movie, and when they keep asking him to make changes, he quits the movie. As he is leaving, he passes by Annie, who was bringing him his typewriter, and he tells her he doesn’t need it. He then tells her about his dilemma and how he is currently suffering from writer’s block and she tries to convince him to stay on with the movie, as does Walt when he catches up to Joe at the train station. When Claire Wellesley, Bob’s co-star, arrives in town, she is excited to meet with Joe and thanks him for writing the part she is playing, but is upset to learn that the scene with the old mill is being changed, as that is why she agreed to do the movie. Joe meets with Annie, who had read his script and loved it so she helps him try to make changes to the scenery without losing anything from his script. Meanwhile, Claire is upset over the fact that she is supposed to do a topless scene and Walt manages to convince her to do it until she hears a crew member remarking about her, causing her to break down in tears and demand an additional $800,000 to do the scene. Joe and Annie end up getting closer to each other and after Joe leaves, Annie breaks things off with Doug, who was her fiance. Back at the hotel, Joe interrupts a meeting between Claire, Walt, and Marty, sticking up for Claire in the process, and after she leaves, Walt and Marty demand the rewrites for the script and Joe says he can’t type, as he injured his finger when he got a fish hook stuck in it while talking with Annie. Joe returns to his room and is surprised when Claire shows up to thank him for standing up for her, then attempts to seduce him but Joe tells her that he met someone and they couldn’t do this. When Joe answers a knock on the door, he is shocked to see Annie there and she explains that she was hired to be his typist but he tells her that now is not a good time, trying to get her to leave before she sees the naked Claire, who was hiding in the closet. Annie leaves but comes back to give Joe the fish hook as a memento and sees Claire in the room with Joe and Joe attempts to lie but then tells her the truth and Annie says she believes him and leaves, not seeing Carla, the underage daughter of the local diner owner, sneaking out of Bob Barrenger’s room. The next day, Joe is trying to figure out the re-writes to the script and Annie offers to help him and when she accidentally hits his injured finger, he gets an inspiration for how to do the scene. At the hotel, Claire is leaving after being insulted by Marty and Walt tells Marty to give her the money for the scene when Joe shows up and tells them that they can have her facing away from the camera, so the audience doesn’t see her tits, just Bob’s reaction to them. Walt and Marty think it is genius and Walt has a runner catch Claire at the airport before she makes her flight. Later that night, Joe is walking the town to get some more ideas when a car hits a pot hole and crashes into a traffic light. Joe goes over and helps Bob out of the car but Bob is concerned with Carla, who crawls out the other side, and he tells her to leave so she isn’t seen with him. Returning to the hotel, Bob is treated by the town doctor and afterwards, chastised by Walt and Marty for what happened. Joe leaves and ends up running into Annie and as the two keep getting closer, they try to kiss but are constantly interrupted. The next day, Joe is going over some of the script changes with Walt, Marty, Bob, and Claire, who are all happy about the changes, and want to celebrate but Joe says he can’t as he has a date. Meanwhile, Doug is drinking at the bar to get over Annie dumping him when the doctor comes in and comments about having to remove glass from three people’s heads. When Doug asks him about it, the doctor says Bob and one of the cameramen on the movie, who had broken the stained glass window at the firehouse so he could shoot inside, but doesn’t mention the third. However, Doug sees Carla, who is helping out at the bar, and realizes from her injuries that she was in the car with Bob. Doug takes Carla, her father, and the sheriff to the hotel to accuse Bob of statutory rape and when they encounter Marty, Carla swears that she wasn’t with Bob but when she sees Bob and Claire getting into an argument while they were having sex, she quickly accuses him of taking advantage of her. As Doug makes plans on how to handle this, Marty, who is serving as Bob’s lawyer, says that Carla’s statement won’t stand in court as she changed it from one minute to the next. Doug realizes they are right as he sits at the bar but one of the movie crew, upset that Walt wouldn’t give him time off to go be at the birth of his son, tells him the Joe saw the accident. Doug calls the mayor, who is upset that Walt and the others skipped out on the planned dinner (due to a gofer accidentally writing it on the wrong day on the calendar) calls the state police to help with the situation. As the media shows up due to the buzz surrounding Bob’s arrest, Marty tries to get Joe to lie about witnessing the accident and when Joe goes before the judge to give his deposition, he ends up lying. After leaving the courthouse, Joe can’t face Annie so he packs his bag to leave but when he gets to the train station, he learns that the court house had burned down years ago and the judge to hear his deposition was just arriving. Heading back to where he gave his deposition, he finds that it was simply a high school lab that had been made to look like a court room, and Annie sitting there, explaining she figured he needed to get the lie out of his system. The two head to where he is actually supposed to give the deposition only to find that Doug has dropped the case, after being bribed by Marty with the money that had initially been meant for Claire. Joe and Annie kiss while Doug gives a televised speech, talking about people deserving second chances and how he plans on heading to congress, all while keeping the bag full of cash out of view from the camera. With the situation resolved, work begins on the movie and as the whole town comes out to watch.

State And Main met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “State and Main offers plenty of wit and laughs in its lampoons of the movie industry.” In the movie, a fictional company called “Bazoomer.com” wanted to do some product placement within the movie (with a sign for a company called Bazoomercom, with a bullet hole serving as the period accomplishing this) and if you go to Bazoomer.com, you will see a white page with the phrase “Go You Huskies” in bold letters and a link to why the 1975 huskies didn’t win the state championship (which leads to a blank page as the reason was never mentioned in the movie). Despite the good reviews, the movie was a small hit at the box office, earning $9.2 million dollars worldwide.

This is a great movie and one that is well worth watching. The acting was fantastic, with everyone involved doing a great job in their roles, with Philip Seymour Hoffman (Joe) and Rebecca Pidgeon (Annie) showing great chemistry together. The story was great, with the dialogue showing some real whit and humor that is different from most comedies. There really wasn’t any physical comedy, more a matter of great writing and situational comedy setting the tone, while snarkiness and dry wit, as well as the crispness of the delivery, made for a lot of humor. Definitely something that is worth watching many, many times.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Standard
action, adventure, drama, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 23rd, 2017 Movie – War For The Planet Of The Apes

war for the planet of the apes

Happy Turkey Day everybody. I hope everyone is having fun spending time with family and going into food comas. Today’s movie is the latest installment in the rebooted Planet Of The Apes franchise. As soon as they announced the release date for this movie, I had it marked on my calendar to go see, as the first two installments were great. When the first trailer was released, that only whetted my appetite and made me even more impatient for the movie to come out. So let’s see how the adventures of Caesar and his tribe of intelligent apes plays out in the latest movie, War For The Planet Of The Apes.

The plot: 15 years after the rise of intelligent apes, and the subsequent devastation of mankind from the Simian Flu, Caesar and his tribe were trying to peacefully coexist with a nearby group of humans in San Francisco until Koba led a coup against Caesar and attacked the humans. Caesar had overthrown Koba and regained leadership of his tribe but the humans had contacted a military base up in the North and explained what had happened so Caesar was forced to go into hiding. Two years later, a military special forces unit called Alpha-Omega are in the woods in California and see an ape patrol and a fortified trench, which they believe is a sign that Caesar’s base is nearby. Along with the human soldiers, Alpha-Omega also has several captured apes that had followed Koba, which they call “donkeys” working for them. After getting into position, the soldiers take out two members of the ape patrol and blow up the trench, attacking the apes inside, but the surviving patrol member rides off on a horse and begins calling out for reinforcements, which arrive and begin launching a counter attack on the soldiers. As the soldiers are being killed, one of them, Preacher, radios to the Colonel to tell him what is happening just before he is captured. Preacher, along with 3 other soldiers and a gorilla named Red, are taken inside the structure, where Caesar approaches them and says that he did not start the war but killed the ape that did and only fights to defend other apes. When one of the soldiers points out they attacked Red, and Caesar says that Red was one of Koba’s followers and they were scared about what he might do to them so they chose to work for humans in order to spare their life. Red speaks and tells Caesar that he is not afraid of him but warns that Caesar should be afraid of the humans and Caesar orders an albino gorilla named Winter to take Red away. Caesar then ties the soldiers back to back onto a pair of horse and tells them to deliver a message to the Colonel, saying to leave the forest to the apes and there will be no more fighting. As the horses ride off, Maurice, Caesars orangutan friend and adviser, asks if he thinks they will deliver the message and Caesar says the soldiers themselves are the message, hoping that the Colonel will see that they don’t want to kill all of the humans. Later, Blue Eyes (Caesar’s son) and Rocket return to the camp and they head to the apes secret lair behind a waterfall. At a meeting, Rocket and Blue Eyes tells Caesar that they found a safe place for them to live out in the desert on the other side of the mountains. Winter wants to leave that night but Blue Eyes says that is impossible and Caesar agrees, saying Rocket and Blue Eyes made it because there were only two of them but they must find a safe way for all of the apes to make it out of the forest. That night, Caesar is laying in his nest staring at his wife Cornelia and his young son Cornelius when he notices men repelling down the waterfall. Telling Blue Eyes to stay and watch over his mother and brother, Caesar heads down to the lower levels, where he encounters a gorilla sentry named Luca and tells him to gather the rest of the patrols and Rocket. They take out one of the soldiers but as Caesar listens to the radio chatter, he hears the Colonel say that “King Kong is dead” and order his men to pull back. Rushing back to his nest, Caesar finds Cornelia and Blue Eyes had been killed and the Colonel is preparing to ascend the rope and leave the lair. Caesar rushes out to attack the Colonel, grabbing onto the rope and climbing after him but the Colonel cuts the rope, causing Caesar to fall into the water below while he climbs to the top and escapes. When Caesar returns to the camp, Luca tells him that they can’t find Winter and believes he might have betrayed them to the soldiers. After finding that Cornelius had survived the Colonel’s attack, Caesar has the tribe prepared to move to the safe haven they hope to find in the desert but tells Maurice that he is not going, planning on going after the Colonel in the hopes that he will focus his attention on him, leaving the apes free to go. After leaving Cornelius with Lake, Blue Eyes’ girlfriend, Caesar rides off but is soon joined by Luca, Maurice, and Rocket, who all refuse to let him go alone. They make their way to an abandoned town, where Luca’s scouts have spotted fires burning constantly and believe it to be the soldier’s base. When they reach the town, they start searching the place and find a single soldier carrying a stack of wood for the fire. The soldier goes to put the wood down and grab a gun but Caesar kills him, and the apes wonder why he is alone. Hearing a noise from another cabin, they search it and discover a young girl cowering in the bed and Caesar, Luca, and Rocket go to search the other cabins. Maurice stays behind and hands the girl a ragdoll, who tries to thank him but she can’t speak. As they go to leave, Maurice says the girl will die if she is left alone, since they had killed her guardian, and despite Caesar saying they can’t take her with them, Maurice ignores him and brings the girl. Continuing on, they soon find the soldiers camp and spot Winter serving as one of their donkeys. Sneaking into the camp that night, Caesar, Luca, and Rocket confront Winter when he is alone in a tent washing dishes and ask where the Colonel is. Winter says he went to the border to meet with some soldiers coming down from the North, saying the other donkeys said that they are coming to finish off the apes. When the silhouettes of some guards are seen outside the tent, Winter starts to cry out to alert the soldiers but Caesar and the others quickly restrain him to keep him from making a sound but during the course of the struggle, Caesar accidentally smothers Winter and kills him. Returning to their camp for the night, they try to figure out their next move but Caesar sees the image of Koba taunting him for killing Winter and Caesar worries his quest for vengeance might be turning him like Koba. The next morning, the soldiers leave to meet up with the Colonel and the apes follow them but as it starts snowing, they hear gunshots and quickly take cover only to notice they are not the ones being fired upon and wonder who the soldiers are shooting at. Advancing cautiously, they find three bodies lying in the snow and as Caesar pulls back to hood on one of the bodies, he discovers they are human. One of the men is still alive and when Caesar asks what happened, the man is only able to croak out noises, and Caesar and Maurice realize the men were mute like the little girl Maurice is caring for. Caesar puts the man out of his misery and then the four apes climb up a nearby tower to try and figure out where the soldiers went, leaving the little girl sitting on Maurice’s horse. Suddenly, a hooded figure makes his way over to the horses and starts examining the saddle bags of the closest one. When Luca spots the stranger and roars out, the stranger jumps on the horse and rides off, with Caesar and the others leaping down and giving pursuit. The eventually catch up to the stranger, who is revealed to be an intelligent chimpanzee named “Bad Ape”, and has learned to speak by listening to humans. Bad Ape tells them that he came from the Sierra Zoo and is the only one to survive when the humans attempted to kill all of them in the zoo. Bad Ape brings them some preserved food to eat and when Caesar sees it is from a Border Quarantine Facility, he asks Bad Ape about it. Bad Ape explains it was a “human zoo” where all the humans were sick but they are all dead now and when Caesar asks if he will take them there, Bad Ape refuses, saying it is snowing now and they should stay there and rest for the night. As they rest for the night, Bad Ape and Caesar talk for a while, with Bad Ape asking Caesar about the girl that is travelling with them, and as they discuss how they both lost children, Bad Ape agrees to take them to the facility. When they reach the facility, Caesar and Luca go closer to get a better look at the facility but they are attacked by a patrol and Rocket helps them kill the patrol but Luca is stabbed in the gut by a bayonet. Caesar and Rocket carry Luca back to their camp, where they all mourn his death, including the girl, and Maurice says they should leave and meet up with the rest of their tribe but Caesar blames himself for Luca’s death and tells the others to leave while he goes on alone. Heading to a nearby cliff to observe the camp, Caesar finds that there are hundreds of captured apes inside the facility and several apes tied up onto X-shaped crucifixes close to him. Hearing one of the apes groan in pain, Caesar releases him and recognizes him as an ape from his tribe and asks what happened. The ape tells him they were ambushed and taken their to build something but dies before he can say anything further and Caesar ends up being knocked out by an approaching patrol. When Caesar comes too, he finds the Colonel taunting him and asking him how he found this place. Caesar is taken out into the courtyard and sees Cornelius calling out to him from a pen with some other young apes. Caesar is thrown into another cage, where the ape there shun him, and when he sees Lake, she says to forgive them as they have been through much. The next day, Caesar and the apes are taken from the cages and are forced to work on building a wall, and Caesar questions why the Colonel needs one. When a weakened orangutan causes an accident, the Colonel has Red start whipping him in punishment but Caesar yells at him to leave him alone. The other apes, seeing Caesar standing up for them, start to cheer for Caesar so the Colonel has Red whip Caesar instead. The Colonel then tells Caesar to order the other apes to get back to work and when Caesar refuses, demanding that the Colonel give the apes food and water, the Colonel puts the gun to Caesar’s head and starts counting down. Before he reaches “1”, Lake picks up a boulder and tells the other apes to get back to work and as they continue working, the Colonel has Red tie Caesar onto a crucifix. On a cliff overlooking the camp, Maurice, Rocket, Bad Ape, and the girl see what is happening and wonder how they can rescue Caesar and the others. That night, Caesar is brought before the Colonel, who threatens to start slaughtering the apes if he disrupts the work again. Caesar tells the Colonel again that the apes need food and water, but the Colonel says they will get it after they finish building the wall. Caesar tells the Colonel he knows the soldiers are not coming to join him, but to stop him, and the Colonel is impressed by Caesar’s intelligence and then tells him that the simian flu, which all of the surviving humans still carry in them, has begun to mutate and begin devolving humans into a more primitive state. The first to suffer from it was the Colonel’s own son, and as the others in his unit begin to fall victim, the Colonel realized that he had to stop the virus from spreading or else all of humanity would essentially be wiped from existence. The Colonel then began to execute anyone infected, including his son, but one of the infected had managed to escape and make his way North to the survivors up there, which is why they find themselves in the situation they are in now. Caesar is tied back onto the crucifix but witnesses the donkeys bringing food and water for all of the apes, however Red throws a bucket of water onto Caesar’s head, leaving him to freeze to death. Maurice and the others see what is happening and want to help but Bad Ape doesn’t want to go into the facility. As they are forced to hide from a patrol, Bad Ape falls discovers a tunnel and they begin exploring it. Maurice and Rocket figure it was used by the sick humans to escape the facility and realize it leads directly under the facility. Meanwhile, the girl heads down another tunnel and climbs up the ladder, where she Caesar tied to the crucifix and starts moving towards him while Bad Ape convinces her to come back. As night falls, Caesar again hallucinates that Koba is taunting him for getting the apes killed as The Colonel has Red cut Caesar down and put him in a cage, saying if he survives the night he will be put back to work. Nova sneaks into the camp and gives Caesar her ragdoll, then brings a bucket of water for him to drink out of. When the other apes call out to her, she heads over there and the apes give her food to give to Caesar. As Caesar stares at the food, he sees Lake and the other apes make the sign that they are stronger together, which the girl mimics. Seeing some guards approaching, Caesar tells the girl to hide but as they get closer, he fears she will be found. Outside, Maurice, Rocket, and Bad Ape sees this and realize they will kill the girl if they find her so Rocket heads to the facility and allows himself to be captured, then starts a fight with Red, providing a distraction that allows her to escape. After the Colonel breaks up the fight and has Rocket placed in a cage, Rocket signs to Caesar that they have a plan to escape. The next day, the Colonel, Red, and Preacher approach Caesar’s cage and are surprised to see him still alive. The Colonel has Caesar taken to the quarry but before he can leave, the Colonel sees the ragdoll and asks how it got there but Caesar doesn’t answer. The apes count out the steps to the different holding pens and tell Caesar and he signs the information to Maurice, who is watching them from the cliff. Maurice hands the binoculars to the girl and then heads down into the tunnel with Bad Ape. As night falls, Red takes Caesar back to his cage and tells Caesar that the Colonel plans on killing all of the apes once the wall is finished and Caesar tells him he will be killed as well. The girl goes into the tunnel and tells Maurice that the apes are back in the cages and Maurice tells her that she is very brave. When the girl asks if she is an ape, Maurice looks at her and pulls at an emblem that Bad Ape had given her, telling her that she is Nova, bringing a smile to her face. Bad Ape digs through to the cage where the adult apes are being kept but Nova notices water coming from further down the tunnel and as Maurice examines it, he is forced to close the sewer hatch. Signing what is going on to Rocket and the others, Rocket tells Caesar that they can’t keep digging or else the tunnel will flood. Caesar says that they have to leave tonight or else they will be caught in the crossfire between the two armies and killed so they will have to rescue the children above ground. Rocket flings poop at a sentry, prompting him to enter the cage to kill him but Maurice tunnels up from the ground to grab the guard and drag him into the tunnel, then throws Rocket the keys and hands him his gun. Rocket frees Caesar and they both head into the children’s cage, where Caesar is reunited with Cornelius, and they then have the children climb along a wire above the cages and drop down into the adults cage. The apes then send the children through the tunnel, where Maurice, Nova, and Bad Ape lead them to safety, and then the adults follow. Caesar and Rocket are the last two to leave but Caesar tells Rocket to leave without him, saying that Maurice was right and he has become like Koba as he can’t let go of his hate for the Colonel. As Caesar makes his way to the Colonel’s barrack, the Northern army launches their attack on the facility. As the Colonel’s troops begin fighting back, Caesar enters the barrack only to find that the Colonel has fallen victim to the mutated virus and can no longer speak. Seeing Caesar holding his pistol, the Colonel grabs the barrel and places it against his head, begging Caesar to kill him but Caesar refuses and sets the gun down so the Colonel grabs it and kills himself. Back outside, the soldiers are still attacking the other army when some of them notice the apes trying to escape and begin firing on them. Seeing this, Red starts to feel bad about the slaughter of his own people and sees Caesar going to blow up the fuel tanks nearby but he is shot by Preacher. Red grabs a grenade launcher and uses it to kill Preacher but he is killed by a nearby soldier, who then begins firing on Caesar. Caesar manages to grab the grenades he had been carrying and blow up the fuel tanks, then barely manage to make it down into the tunnel. As the enemy soldiers swarm into the facility and finish off the rest of the soldiers, they begin cheering in victory but stop when they see Caesar standing up by some rocks. One of the soldiers goes to shoot Caesar, who stares at them then stares back up the mountain, and the soldiers turn as well to see that the explosions had caused an avalanche. As the avalanche makes it’s way down the mountain, the soldiers are swept away and killed while Caesar and the other apes (and Nova) manage to climb to safety in the trees. The apes then begin making their way through the desert to find a new home and eventually come across an oasis  with a lake hidden inside a canyon. As the apes all head down to the lake but Caesar and Maurice stay behind. Caesar, having grown weak from his injuries, knows he is dying and tells Maurice not to worry, as the apes will be strong without him. Maurice tells Caesar that Cornelius will know who his father was and what he did for the apes. Caesar smiles and looks down at the apes, seeing Nova and Cornelius playing together, and then finally dies from his injuries as Maurice strokes his leg and weeps, alerting the other apes to Caesar’s passing.

War For The Planet Of The Apes met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “War for the Planet of the Apes combines breathtaking special effects and a powerful, poignant narrative to conclude this rebooted trilogy on a powerful — and truly blockbuster — note.” There were numerous allusions to the original series of movies in this movie, from the Colonel’s unit being called Alpha-Omega )the same name as the bombs that the cult worships), to Maurice naming the girl Nova (the same name as the slave that fell in love with Taylor), and Caesar naming his son Cornelius (just as Caesar named his son Cornelius in Battle For The Planet Of The Apes). While the movie was the most highly rated movie according to critics, it did not perform as well as the previous installment but was still a box office success, earning $490.6 million off of a $150 million budget.

Man, this may not be the last installment in the series (as a 4th movie is being considered), but this was definitely one of the most powerfully, emotional movies in the series. This was an incredible movie and if this is how the reboot ends, then it went out on an incredible high note. The acting was incredible, with Andy Serkis delivering an absolutely amazing performance as Caesar. Woody Harrelson was equally good as the Colonel and the interaction between the Colonel and Caesar was really good. Karin Konoval (Maurice), Terry Notary (Rocket), Ty Olsson (Red), were also great in their roles, while Steve Zahn was pretty funny as Bad Ape. The story really was emotionally riveting, with Caesar constantly being haunted by Koba’s actions and worrying about his becoming just like him. The interaction with Maurice and Nova was also incredibly endearing, while Red’s conflict with Caesar and his eventual change of heart was also pretty pivotal and also helped to play a role in Caesar’s hallucinations regarding Koba. The final scene with Caesar and Maurice speaking, and Maurice actually vocalizing instead of signing, was incredibly emotional and appears to set up for the original Planet Of The Apes movie was incredible; especially the ending, where it seemed like Maurice was being primed for becoming the “Lawgiver”, the orangutan that passed down the history of how the apes rose to power and who has statues dedicated to him in the original movie. The special effects and motion capture effects were astounding and made the apes look incredibly realistic. I am serious, this is a fantastic movie and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Standard