horror, movie, movie review

November 10th, 2019 Movie – Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

friday the 13th 8

We have now come to what is arguably the worst entry into the franchise. Now I am not saying this because of it’s low score on Rotten Tomatoes, but because many people, including the director, have stated that they do not like this movie. Now when you have the director apologizing to fans for the movie, you know it must be all kinds of terrible. Now myself, I have to admit that my initial viewing of this movie years ago would have me agree with the critics, but let’s see if the years have been a little kinder to this poor sequel and hope that maybe, just maybe, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan might have something redeeming in it.

The plot: One year after Tina Shephard sent Jason back to the bottom of Crystal Lake, Jim and Suzy are drifting along the lake in a boat on their way to meet up with the rest of their class for a graduation trip to New York City. With it getting late, and the two wanting to fool around, they decide to drop anchor but their anchor unknowingly severs a power cord, causing a surge of electricity to go through Jason’s body and revive him. Freeing himself from his chains, Jason climbs on board the boat and quickly kills the two kids. The next day, the S.S. Lazurus is preparing to depart with the graduating class from Lakeview High School. The two chaperones, Dr. Charles McCulloch and Colleen Van Deusen, are talking about Jim and Suzy not showing up and when Colleen says that one more student is going, McCulloch is upset to see that it is his niece Rennie, as she has aquaphobia. As the ship prepares to get underway, Jim and Suzy’s boat floats into the harbor and Jason is shown to have left the boat and grab onto the anchor chain of the Lazarus. Climbing on board the boat, Jason kills J.J. as she is playing her guitar down in the ship’s lower holds. As night falls, Rennie has a hallucination about a drowning boy and as she is walking along the deck talking to Colleen, she is knocked into the water by Tamara, who thinks that Rennie had told McCulloch about her using drugs. As Rennie struggles to stay afloat, she sees the drowning boy again, this time dragging her down by her legs, before her boyfriend Sean is able to rescue her. After Rennie makes it back on board, McCulloch chastises Sean and Colleen for what happened and takes Rennie back to her cabin. Later, Tamara tricks McCulloch into a compromising position, which fellow student Wayne had filmed, and after Tamara rejects Wayne’s advances, she goes to take a shower and is killed by Jason when she is done. Jason kills the captain, who is Sean’s father, and his first mate, and when Sean and Rennie head up to the bridge to talk to Sean’s father, they discover the bodies. Sean makes an announcement over the PA, then tries to call for help but Jason disables the radio antennae. When McCulloch, Colleen, and some of the students arrive on the bridge, they see the bodies and Sean explains about the radio being dead. A deck hand shows up, telling them that Jason is on the ship, but McCulloch thinks the man is crazy and is the one killing people. One of the students, Julius, decides to go looking for the killer and convinces several other students to help him. Meanwhile, Tamara’s friend Eva goes looking for Tamara only to discover her body. She then encounters Jason as she leaves the room and tries to run but Jason catches up to her in the disco room and strangles her. Wayne goes looking for J.J. and comes across another of Jason’s victims when Jason attacks him and tosses him into an electrical box, electrocuting Wayne and causing the engine room to catch fire. As the fire alarm sounds, and the boat starts taking on water, Jason continues to kill the students and crew. Rennie, Sean, McCulloch, Colleen, and Rennie’s dog Toby get into a life boat and cast off, where they are joined by Julius, who had been thrown overboard by Jason. The group sets off and eventually reach New York City, where they try to call for help, unaware that Jason has followed them. As the group walk along the dock, they are accosted by a pair of muggers, who take their wallets and then grab Rennie and take off. McCulloch says they should split up and look for help but Sean decides to chase after Rennie. The muggers drag Rennie into an alley and then inject her with some heroin to keep her calm before they rape her but before they get started, Jason appears and kills them while Rennie is able to get away. Julius finds a phone and tries to call for help when Jason attacks him but Julius is able to get away. Julius climbs up to the roof of a building and when Jason shows up, Julius starts boxing him but when Julius gets exhausted, Jason decapitates him with one punch. Elsewhere, Sean manages to find Rennie and the soon meet up with McCulloch and Colleen, who have found a police officer. Sean tries to tell McCulloch that Jason is there but McCulloch doesn’t believe him as he ushers everyone into the back of the police car. As the officer opens the driver door, they see Julius’ head on the dash board and the officer tries to radio for help only for Jason to grab him and kill him. Rennie climbs into the driver’s seat and starts the car, running into Jason as he stands in their way but when she has another hallucination of the child Jason, she ends up crashing the car. Rennie, Sean, and McCulloch climb out of the car but Colleen was knocked unconscious and is caught in the car when it explodes. As they stare at the fire, Rennie has a flashback of being on the lake with McCulloch and realizes he had pushed her into the lake when she was a child, causing her aquaphobia. McCulloch tries to explain his actions but Rennie runs off, with Sean following after her, and as McCulloch collects himself, Jason recovers and kills McCulloch by dumping him in a barrel of toxic waste. Jason then goes after Rennie and Sean, following them onto a subway and when Sean pulls the emergency brake so he and Rennie can get off, Jason follows them but Sean jumps on him and knocks him onto the third rail, electrocuting Jason. Thinking their nightmare is over, Rennie and Sean leave the subway and start to wander the streets of New York, only to find that Jason had survived and is still after them. The two continue to run, eventually making their way down into the sewers, where the run into a sewage worker. The worker tells them the sewers are about to be vented with toxic waste and goes to lead them out of there but Jason attacks them, killing the worker and knocking Sean unconscious. Rennie leads Jason away and as he chases after her, she manages to dump a barrel of toxic waste on him, causing Jason to become even more disfigured. Rennie then goes back to Sean and after waking him, the start to climb out of there but finds their way out blocked. Jason then shows up and grabs Rennie’s legs, trying to drag her down but he is caught by the flood of toxic waste, which dissolves his body back to a child. Rennie and Sean manage to get out of the sewer and as they embrace, they are joined by Toby, who had run off when the muggers attacked them.

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was absolutely panned by the critics, holding an 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Jason terrorizes a ship and nearly sinks the franchise in a clunky sequel that feels like self-parody without the charm.” Towards the end of the movie, as Jason chases Rennie and Sean through New York City, Jason tosses a man into the mirror of a diner. That man, Ken Kirzinger, would go on to play Jason in Freddy Vs. Jason. The movie earned $14.3 million off of a $5.5 million budget, making it not only the lowest rated movie in the franchise, but also the lowest earning movie as well.

Nope, I was right. This movie is absolute brain-agonizing terror that offered very few laughs or moments of entertainment to it. The acting was honestly pretty terrible, with nobody doing a particularly good job in their roles outside of Kane Hodder (Jason). The story was kind of a mess and I know that budget issues forced Rob Hedden to cut a lot of scenes he had planned to occur in New York City, but those cuts also hurt the story quite a bit. Honestly, there was only so much of “Jason on a cruise ship” that could happen before it got too ridiculous, and even the deaths that occurred on the ship felt somewhat uninspired. Also, there was a pretty glaring plot hole about the sheer number of kids that mysteriously disappeared, as you only saw Jason kill 6 kids on screen (as well as 4 crew members) so you have to wonder what happened to the other kids. Supposedly, they were all killed off screen, either by Jason during his rampage or when the ship sank. However, Colleen had located 4 kids and told them to wait for her there while she headed to the bridge, but when she got there and Sean said they had to evacuate, she didn’t even mention them or try to go back for them. In other words, she just left them to die without a care in the world. Then we get to New York City, and I have a couple issues with that regarding Jason’s behavior. Now, we all know that Jason has a pretty solid, single-minded focus when it comes to killing teenagers. However, as he was wondering through New York, there were plenty of times where he would somewhat interact with people in the city, but the only times he physically got involved was with the two muggers, the police officer, and the guy in the diner. When he kicked the punks stereo and they confronted him, he simply turned and scared them off by lifting his mask, which was honestly a bit out of character for Jason as in all honestly he would have probably just killed them for being a distraction, then continued after Reenie and Sean. Then we get to the end, where the toxic waste somehow turns Jason back into a child. I’m sorry, but that is the one of the biggest “WTF” moments I have ever seen in the hundreds of movies that I have watched. I mean, toxic waste is basically material that is dangerous when ingested or absorbed. It doesn’t magically turn an adult corpse into a child, not to mention removing the years of decay from the corpse so that it was a normal child’s body, not including the deformities Jason had as a child. (Sorry, but my brain can’t seem to function well enough to make that last sentence sound good grammatically.) The special effects were ok, though I will say that Jason’s decayed face looked the worse that it has ever looked after Rennie tossed the waste onto him. On the whole, this was a sad entry into the series and one that can honestly be skipped if you want to binge watch the series.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 8th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Under The Red Hood

batman under the red hood

The 80’s was an interesting time in the Batman universe. Dick Grayson, the original Robin, had grown up and began leading the Teen Titans, eventually changing costumes and becoming Nightwing. Eventually, Batman would find himself a new sidekick, Jason Todd. However, while Dick Grayson was loved by just about everyone, a lot of people didn’t think too fondly of him. In fact, DC gave their fans the opportunity to decide on if he lived or died and though it was close, the fans voted for him to be killed off. This death would have a rather profound effect on Batman for years to come, almost as big an impact as the death of his parents. However, there is one constant when it comes to death in the comics; and that is that Uncle Ben is the only person that can stay dead. Thus, Jason Todd would eventually come back to life in the comics in 2004 and 6 years later, an animated movie was made based off of that story line. I first saw this movie on Netflix several years ago and I immediately decided to grab a copy on DVD so I could enjoy watching Batman: Under The Red Hood whenever I wanted.

The plot: In his hideout, Ra’s al Ghul says he regrets hiring the Joker to distract Batman when he learns that Joker has kidnapped Robin (Jason Todd) and Batman won’t reach him in time. In Sarajevo, Joker has Robin tied up and beats him mercilessly with a crowbar before leaving him to die in an explosion. Batman races through the streets of Sarajevo towards Robin’s location but is too late as he gets there just as the building explodes. 5 years later, 8 crime bosses are gathered for a meeting and as they argue over who set it up, they are confronted by a man wearing a red hooded helmet. The Red Hood, tells them that they will start kicking up 40% of their profits to him in exchange for protection from both Black Mask (the reigning main crime boss in Gotham) and Batman but warns them not to deal any drugs around schoolyards or to kids. When they ask why they should do that, he drops down a duffel bag containing the heads of their lieutenants, claiming to have done that in two hours, then leaves. Elsewhere, Batman is stopping some men from stealing some cargo but as he restrains them, the cargo activates, revealing itself to be Amazo, the super powered android that can copy the powers of other meta-humans. As Batman faces off against him, he is joined by Nightwing and together they are able to destroy Amazo. Afterwards, they go to question the crooks who say they work for the Red Hood but before they can say anything else, they are killed by the Red Hood. Batman chases after him, eventually tracking him to a factory where he confronted a previous criminal called the Red Hood and he had fallen into a vat of chemicals, transforming him into the Joker. As Batman stares at the chemicals, the Red Hood comments about this being the site of his greatest failure but it wasn’t his last, then he shoots at his crashed car, which ignites the chemicals and causes an explosion, covering his escape. Back at the Batcave, Nightwing was able to get a picture of the Red Hood and they comment about the previous criminals who used that name, then Batman decides to head to Arkham Asylum to question Joker. When they get there, Joker taunts both of them and says Nightwing is no more fun since he grew up and stopped being Robin, then taunts Batman some more over Jason’s death. Batman loses his temper and grabs Joker by the throat and he asks if he is really going to kill him this time or just put him in a body cast again and Batman drops him and they eventually leave. Meanwhile, Black Mask is yelling at his men for allowing Amazo to be stolen by the Red Hood and then destroyed by Batman. He then discusses their next arms shipment, unaware that Batman and Nightwing are listening in, as well as Red Hood. That night, Red Hood attempts to steal the helicopter with the next shipment of weapons when Batman and Nightwing show up to stop him. When they disable the helicopter, Red Hood maneuvers it to crash over the city, forcing Batman and Nightwing to stop it from hurting the people below, then they chase after him. Red Hood manages to elude them, even severing Batman’s grapple when he tries to ensnare him, and as they follow him to the train station, he uses a bomb to slow them down, injuring Nightwing in the process. As Batman and Nightwing recover from the blast, the Red Hood makes a comment to Batman but it is drowned out by sound of an oncoming train. Returning to the Batcave, Alfred tends to Nightwing’s injuries while Batman replays video he recorded of their encounter with the Red Hood. After sending Nightwing home to recover, Batman replays the audio and after removing the noise from the train, hears Red Hood call him Bruce, revealing he knows his identity. Shocked, Batman thinks back to Jason’s training as Robin and how he became more violent when he got older and he realizes that the Red Hood might be Jason somehow. Meanwhile, Black Mask is angered over another arms shipment destroyed and he orders his men to shake down the crime bosses working for Red Hood in order to force him out of hiding so he can have him killed. His men succeed and when Red Hood confronts Black Mask’s men, he is attacked by 4 cybernetic ninjas. He fends them off for a while until Batman shows up and helps him defeat them. When Red Hood kills one of the ninjas, Batman argues with him about his methods but Red Hood says he is doing a better job cleaning up the city than he ever did before leaving. Batman takes the sword one of the ninjas had cut Red Hood with and takes it back to the Batcave to analyze the blood, which confirms that Red Hood is Jason and as he stares at the screen, he hears a noise and turns to find a shocked Alfred had dropped the tray he was carrying when he saw the results on the screen. Meanwhile, after hearing of the latest failure to kill Red Hood, Black Mask is forced to break Joker out of Arkham and works out a deal with him to deal with Red Hood. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce digs up Jason’s grave and discovers the body in his coffin is a fake. Chastising himself for being careless and not checking the body when he brought it back, Batman head out to confront Ra’s al Ghul, knowing he was involved in Jason’s return. When he gets to Ra’s’s home, he confronts him and Ra’s admits that when he hired the Joker to distract Batman while he tried to topple Europe’s financial markets, he underestimated Joker’s madness and never intended for Robin to be killed. He figured Bruce would be too grief stricken to perform an autopsy and was able to replace the body with a fake. He intended to use the Lazarus Pit to restore Jason to life and send him back to Bruce but something went wrong and Jason returned deranged and had escaped his lair. Batman leaves Ra’s’s lair and as he is flying back to Gotham, Alfred alerts him to a situation on the bridge. Joker has the crime bosses that work for Red Hood, as well as Black Mask and his assistant, tied up in a truck and is pouring gasoline on them. As he goes to set them on fire, Red Hood shows up and reveals that he had antagonized Black Mask in the hopes he would break Joker out of Arkham, as he wanted to confront him face to face. Annoyed that the joke was on him, Joker goes ahead and lights the gasoline but Batman appears and douses the flames, then goes to capture the Joker but Red Hood grabs him and severs the cable, sending them both into the water below. As Batman searches for them, he receives a message from the Red Hood saying to meet him in Crime Alley. Red Hood takes Joker to am abandoned building and begins to pummel him with a crowbar, much like Joker did to him before he killed him. When Batman arrives in Crime Alley, he thinks back to his first encounter with Jason, where a young Jason had stolen the tires off of the Batmobile. Red Hood appears and the two begin fighting, with Jason eventually taking off the hood and revealing he is wearing Robin’s mask underneath. The two continue to fight until the reach the house, where Jason says that he forgives Bruce for not saving him but wants to know why he didn’t kill Joker afterwards. Joker, realizing who the Red Hood is, starts laughing and tells Batman that Robin has a point and as Jason and Batman argue over the matter until Jason throws a gun at Batman, telling him that the only way to stop him from killing Joker is to kill him. Batman drops the gun and walks away, and Jason fires at him but Batman dodges the bullet, then throws a Batarang at Jason’s gun, blocking the barrel and causing a misfire when he tries shooting again. Wounded, Jason activates some explosives he planted and Batman goes to disarm them but Joker stops him, wanting them all to blow up together. Batman knocks Joker out, the grabs Jason to try and save them as the bombs go off. When the dust settles, Batman finds Joker trapped underneath some rubble but there is no sign of Jason anywhere. As the news reports talk about the aftermath of the events, Alfred asks if he should remove Jason’s costume from where it is kept but Bruce says no, that the current situation doesn’t change anything. As he leaves to go on patrol, a flashback is shown of Batman and Alfred watching as Jason dons the Robin costume for the first time and how excited he was wearing it.

This was a great movie to watch and probably one of my favorite Batman movies out there. The voice acting was really good, with Bruce Greenwood doing a good job as Batman while Jensen Ackles was great as Red Hood. I also liked John DiMaggio, Jason Isaacs, and Neil Patrick Harris as Joker, Ra’s al Ghul, and Nightwing respectively. The story was good and did a good job of briefly recapping what happened in the past that set up the present events. I liked the brief inclusion of Nightwing in the movie to kind of showcase the differences between Dick and Jason, primarily in their character as they got older. I also liked the way they had the Joker portrayed, as they didn’t make him overly crazed but he simply had that mad unpredictability that made him really interesting. The animation was pretty good and the action scenes were well drawn while not taking away from any of the drama that was written into the scenes. Definitely not for little kids but a very well made movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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June 8th, 2018 Movie – X2: X-Men United

x2-xmen united

When you have a smash hit on your hands, it is usually a good idea to go ahead and strike while the iron is hot with regards to movie sequels. That was definitely the case for today’s movie. When I first heard that the plot was being based in part on the graphic novel “God Loves, Man Kills”, I was immediately on board because that was one of the more powerful one-shot stories that I read as a kid. Then I started to worry and wondered if they would be able to do the story justice, or if it would be completely butchered. In the end, there was only one way to figure it out and that was to go see it. Now to find out whether my fears were justified with today’s movie, X2: X-Men United.

The plot: During a tour of the White House, the mutant Nightcrawler teleports away from the group and makes his way towards the Oval Office, taking out secret service guards along the way. He eventually manages to reach the President and prepares to stab him when one of the agents manages to fire a shot and wound his arm, causing him to drop the knife and teleport away. Meanwhile, Wolverine makes his way to an abandoned military base at Alkali Lake in Alberta, Canada, hoping to find something there that will help him remember the missing pieces of his past but he has no luck. Elsewhere, Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm are taking some of the students from the school to a field trip at the New York Science Museum. During the trip, Jean starts having trouble with her telepathy, hearing thoughts from everyone in the building, as well as thoughts from the Secret Service in the White House. Cyclops questions her about and she admits that she has been losing control of both her telepathy and telekinesis and doesn’t know what’s going on. Meanwhile, Rogue, Bobby Drake, and John Allerdyce (Pyro) are hanging out in the food court when two guys ask Pyro for a light, as he is messing around with his lighter. Pyro refuses but the guy grabs the lighter and lights a cigarette and when he asks Pyro what he is going to do about it, Pyro causes the cigarette to flare up, catching the guy’s arm on fire. As the guy flails around, Pyro simply laughs and Bobby is forced to use his power to put out the fire. Suddenly, everyone in the museum freezes as Professor Xavier uses his powers to stop them so he can chastise Pyro but when they notice the report about the attack on the White House, they all quickly leave. At the White House, Colonel William Stryker meets with the President and they are joined by Senator Robert Kelly, who is actually Mystique in disguise. Stryker wants the President to authorize a special op to take out Xavier’s school, claiming that it is a mutant training center due to information he obtained from interrogating Magneto. Kelly argues that it is a school but when Stryker shows a picture of a plane seen leaving the school, the President agrees, but warns Stryker only to detain and question but do not kill any kids, as he doesn’t want a picture of that to appear on the news. As Stryker leaves the Oval Office, Kelly chases after him and asks to arrange a visit to question Magneto but Stryker refuses, causing Kelly to question Stryker’s zeal for waging a war against mutants. Some time later, Stryker pays another visit to Magneto, using a special serum applied to a wound on his neck to render him passive and unable to refuse to answer any questions he is asked. At the mansion, Cyclops, Jean, Storm, and Xavier are discussing the ramifications of the attack on the President and Xavier asks Jean and Storm to capture the mutant and bring him back to the mansion. At the same time, Logan returns to the mansion, where Rogue greets him and introduces him to Bobby, her boyfriend. Storm and Jean then talk with Logan, asking him to keep a watch on the mansion while they go to find the mutant. Logan heads down to see Xavier, who is using Cerebro to try and locate the mutant that attacked the President. When he is finished, Logan asks Xavier to read his mind again but Xavier says it won’t help and that sometimes, the mind simply must remember things on it’s own, but promises to talk with him more about the matter when he and Cyclops return. Back in D.C., Mystique changes into Stryker’s aide, Yuriko, and makes his way into Stryker’s office, where she locates the information on Magneto’s prison and guard detail. While she prints up the information, she notices a folder marked Cerebro and when she opens it, she finds Stryker has details on the device, as well as plans for alterations. Before she can do anything further, the real Yuriko enters the room and Mystique quickly changes into a janitor and leaves. Jean and Storm locate Nightcrawler in a church in Boston, where they learn that he is teleporter, explaining Xavier’s difficulty tracking him. After subduing talking with him, they learn that he has no recollection of attacking the President and when Jean wants to take him back to the mansion to further treat his injury, they notice the circular mark on his neck. Meanwhile, Xavier and Cyclops head to Magneto’s prison and while Cyclops stays back with the guards, Xavier goes on alone into the cell, where he notices the bruising on Magneto’s face. When he questions him about it, Magneto tells him that he has had frequent visits by Stryker. Xavier remembers him, as his son Jason was a former student at the school, but he couldn’t help Jason the way that Stryker wanted him too. When Magneto questions Xavier about Logan, mocking Xavier’s reluctance to pry into his mind for fear of losing another of his precious X-Men, Xavier asks Magneto what he told Stryker and Magneto says everything. As gas begins to fill the chamber, Magneto tells Xavier that he should have killed him when he had the chance and Xavier turns and yells out for Cyclops. In the guard’s area, Yuriko appears and attempts to tranquilize Cyclops but he blasts her with his eye beam, then fights off the guards. He heads to the door to free Xavier but Yuriko recovers and quickly knocks him out as Xavier slumps to the ground. Back at the mansion, Wolverine wakes up from a nightmare regarding his past and finds Bobby in the kitchen eating some ice cream. As the two talk, Stryker’s team begins infiltrating the mansion and starts tranquilizing the students. Wolverine hears something and goes to check it out, returning in time to save Bobby from being attacked by one of Stryker’s men. One of the students, Shadowcat, sees the men and is able to phase through her bed and escape from them. Another student, Siryn, wakes up and begins screaming when she sees the men, alerting the rest of the students to the danger before she is knocked out. Colossus heads to her room, changing to his steel form, and knocks out the men attempting to capture Siryn, then leads some of the other students to safety. Wolverine kills the man he is fighting with, then starts killing some of the other soldiers, rescuing another student and giving him to Colossus to take out of there with the other students. Bobby goes looking for Rogue, getting Pyro to help him and when they find her, they attempt to escape from the soldiers, eventually being rescued by Wolverine. Wolverine leads them to another escape passage and closes it behind them, then goes to face the soldiers only to be confronted by Stryker, who remarks that it has been 15 years since he last saw Wolverine. As Stryker continues to talk to Wolverine, an ice wall suddenly separates them and Wolverine turns to see Rogue and Bobby had returned. Rogue pleads with him to come with them and Wolverine reluctantly does so, taking Cyclops’s car to make their escape. As they drive off, Rogue asks where they are going and when Wolverine says they are heading to Boston, as that is where Jean and Storm are, Bobby says his parents live there and Wolverine decides to head there to hide. Back in the mansion, Stryker is told that most of the mutants escaped but they managed to capture 6 of them, as his men work on breaking into Cerebro’s chamber. Elsewhere, Mystique, disguised as a hooker, picks up one of the guards in Magneto’s prison and after giving him a laced drink, injects some iron directly into his bloodstream. At Stryker’s facility, Xavier regains consciousness to find Styker watching him. When Stryker tries talking to him about his son, Stryker tells Xavier that after he returned from Xavier’s school, he started placing images into the heads of him and his wife and his wife eventually took a power drill and committed suicide by trying to drill the images out. Xavier realizes that Styker arranged the attack on the President and Stryker says that he has plans for Xavier to help him in dealing with the mutant problem, leaving Xavier there with his son, Jason, who begins using his powers to weaken Xavier’s willpower. In Boston, Bobby lets everyone into his parent’s house and he heads to his parent’s room to get some clothes for Rogue. After she changes, they kiss briefly and when it doesn’t have a bad effect on Bobby, they kiss even more but Rogue starts absorbing too much of Bobby’s energy and she quickly apologizes. Meanwhile, Wolverine tries using the communicator he found in Cyclops’s car to get in touch with Jean when Bobby’s family returns home and Bobby quickly comes downstairs to talk with them. In Magneto’s prison, the guard Mystique drugged goes to bring Magneto his food but Magneto, sensing the additional iron in the guard, rips it from his body, killing the guard. Fashioning the iron into ball bearings, Magneto uses them to destroy his cell and kill the other guards while making his escape. In Boston, Bobby’s parents are having a hard time coming to grips with Bobby telling them he is a mutant and his brother Ronny runs off and secretly calls the police. In the Blackbird, Storm and Jean can’t make contact with anyone at the mansion and eventually manage to contact Wolverine, who tells them where they are and tells them to hurry as the police show up. Wolverine heads outside to speak with the cops and ends up getting shot in the head. As the police tell Rogue, Bobby, and Pyro to get on  the ground, Rogue and Bobby comply but Pyro decides to attack the cops. When he sets one of the police cars on fire and refuses to stop, Rogue uses her powers to absorb his and put the fires out, just as Jean and Storm arrive. Wolverine recovers from the bullet and leads the kids onto the jet, with Bobby taking one last look at his family before boarding, and they quickly leave. Back in Stryker’s base, Jason continues using his powers and eventually manages to overcome Xavier’s will, tricking him into thinking he is a little girl and Xavier leads her away towards Cerebro. Back on the jet, Storm alerts everyone that two fighter jets are approaching them, just as the jets order them to follow them to a nearby air force base. When they don’t respond, the two jets fall back and move to fire on them so Storm uses her powers to summon some funnel clouds. The twisters manage to destroy the planes but not before one of the pilots is able to fire two missiles at them. Jean is able to stop one of them but the second one hits them, opening a hole in the tail section and causing them to plummet to the ground. Rogue, whose harness wasn’t fastened properly, gets sucked out of the hole but she is rescued by Nightcrawler. As the plane drops to the ground, it suddenly repairs itself before coming to a stop, and the surprised X-Men see Magneto and Mystique below them. That night, Jean, Storm, and Wolverine speak with Magneto and Mystique, who tells them about Styker and his plans. Informing them that with Cerebro and Xavier, Stryker could manage to get Xavier to kill every mutant on Earth, then comments about how Stryker was the one that bonded the adamantium to Wolverine. When they ask why he helped them, Magneto tells them that Mystique downloaded the plans for the base but not it’s location and he believes one of them does, looking up to indicate Nightcrawler, who had been snooping on their conversation. Jean uses her telepathy to learn that Stryker’s base is at Alkali Lake and when Logan says he didn’t see anything there, she says it is underneath the lake. With final repairs still taking several hours to complete, the group prepare to make camp for the night and Wolverine talks with Jean for a bit, bringing up the tension between them. Jean tells him that girls want someone that is willing to stick around, not just leave whenever they feel like it and Wolverine says he could find a reason to stay before kissing her but Jean asks him to stop and not to make her choose between Cyclops and him. Later that night, Jean goes to Wolverine’s tent and starts kissing him but as he moves his hands up her shirt, he feels three scars on her chest and realizes it is Mystique, who taunts him by changing into Storm, Rogue, and back into Jean before turning into Stryker and asking him what he really wants. The next day, they fly to Alkali Lake and Magneto and Mystique tease Rogue about her hair, prompting Bobby to lead Rogue away from them before she tries anything. Magneto then speaks with Pyro some and begins to bond with him, as Pyro has been feeling stifled with having to keep his powers hidden all the time. Back in their base, Stryker is told that the machine is finished and one of his soldiers asks why he is keeping the children there and Stryker tells him it is to see if his machine works. Outside the base, Storm and the others are discussing the best way to enter the base and stop Styker. Wolverine says he should go, as he feels Stryker would want to keep him alive, but Magneto says Wolverine won’t be able to manage the controls for the spillway. Mystique, disguised as Wolverine, goes instead and is let inside but when Stryker gets a closer look at him, he realizes this Wolverine is a fake and orders his men to shoot him. Mystique manages to get away and lock herself into the control room, opening the spillway so that Magneto and the others can enter. Realizing that time is running out, Stryker and Yuriko head to the Cerebro room, where he orders Jason to tell the mesmerized Xavier to start searching for all of the mutants all over the world, knowing that if Xavier focuses hard enough on them, he will inadvertently kill them all. When Magneto and the X-Men join Mystique in the control room, they start discussing plans and Wolveirne notices a monitor showing Styker and Yuriko trying to escape and he secretly goes off after him. Meanwhile, Storm notices the monitor showing the children and asks Nightcrawler to help her rescue them but is worried about leaving Jean and Wolverine with Magneto. When she asks where Wolverine is, Jean looks and sees his communicator lying on the table and says disappointedly that he is gone. Storm and Nightcrawler reach the children and Nightcrawler begins teleporting down to their cell to rescue them. Meanwhile, Jean, Magneto, and Mystique head towards the Cerebro chamber but when Jean senses the mesmerized Cyclops about to attack them, she telekineticaly shoves Magneto and Mystique to safety, then yells at them to keep going while she deals with Cyclops. After knocking him down to a lower level, Jean goes looking for him only for Cyclops to try and blast her again. Jean uses her powers to block his blast and, with a sudden surge of power (and a flash of fire in her eyes) she causes a massive feedback wave, knocking both of them back but also damaging the dam. As Jean lays dazed on the floor, Cyclops approaches her but as she readies to defend herself again, he says he is ok and apologizes for attacking her. The two embrace and Cyclops helps her to his feet but Jean suddenly says that something is wrong. Meanwhile, Stryker and Yuriko are making their way out of the base when Stryker feels water dripping from the ceiling and looking up, he notices cracks in the foundation. Heading to a bank of panels, he checks the readings and yells out as he realizes his plans might come to naught. Wolverine reaches the chamber where the adamantium was bonded to him and he starts having flashback of the experience. As shakes off the memories, Stryker appears and starts talking to him before exiting the room, leaving Yuriko there to handle Wolverine. Wolverine tries to go past her but she attacks him, revealing that she also had adamantium bonded to her and a healing factor. As the two keep fighting, Yuriko appears to get the upper hand and is about to kill him but Wolverine grabs an injection gun for the liquid adamantium and stabs her with it, injecting her body full of the liquid metal and sending her sinking to the bottom of the tank. Back on the jet, Pyro gets tired of waiting around and decides to head into the base to see what is happening, taunting Rogue and Bobby for always doing what they are told. Outside the Cerebro chamber, Magneto pulls the pins for the grenades that all of the soldiers are carrying, killing all of them, then approaches the door. Inside, Jason has Xavier concentrate on finding all of the mutants causing all of the mutants on Earth to start writhing in pain. Magneto, protected from the psychic attack by his helmet, uses his powers to open the door, disrupting power to Cerebro. He then heads inside and decides to change the pattern of the Cerebro plating, so that it will kill all of the humans, instead of the mutants. Mystique, who has recovered from the attack, changes into Stryker and tells Jason to kill all of the human instead. Outside, Stryker attempts to get away on his helicopter but he is stopped by Logan, who stabs him and asks about his past. Stryker tells him he volunteered for the project and if he remembered all of the things they had done, he would consider not knowing them a blessing. Suddenly, they hear a siren going off and Stryker tells him the dam is about to burst and the whole base will be flooded. He offers to tell Wolverine everything if he helps him get out of here but Wolverine chains Stryker to the landing gear then heads back to save his friends. As Stryker works on getting free of his bonds, he is suddenly struck by Xavier’s psychic attack and he starts writhing in pain. Outside the Cerebro chamber, Storm, Nightcrawler, and the students are joined by Jean and Cyclops, and Jean explains what is going on. Realizing they can’t open the door without killing Xavier, Storm asks Nightcrawler to teleport her inside the chamber. Nightcrawler does so and they are confronted by Jason, sending them the same illusion of the little girl he is using on Xavier, but Storm doesn’t fall for his deceptions and when she can’t make contact with Xavier, she uses her powers to lower the temperature in the room. Outside, Magneto and Mystique reach Stryker’s helicopter, with Magneto forcefully removing Stryker from the landing gear, and as they go to leave, they see Pyro outside watching them and they take him with them. Back in the Cerebro chamber, Storm’s efforts are rewarded as Jason looses his hold on Xavier, who is able to stop Cerebro, just as the dam starts to break and the base floods. Nightcrawler teleports Storm and Xavier to safety before the debris crushes them and they all head towards the exit to leave the spillway but they are stopped when Logan seals the doors just as the spillway floods and he leads them outside. Logan leads them outside to where the helicopter was only to find it missing but suddenly, the Blackbird appears, as Bobby and Rogue attempted to fly it to them. Everyone heads for the Blackbird but before he goes there, Wolverine discovers Striker trapped against some rocks where Magneto left him. Stryker asks Wolverine if he will find the answers he seeks with them and Wolverine says he will take his chances with them and walks away, as Stryker yells out that one day, someone will finish what he started. On board the plane, Xavier tells Cyclops that they have to head to Washington, as he fears this isn’t over yet. As they attempt to leave, Storm asks where Pyro is and Jean is able to tell that he is with Magneto. As the plane isn’t able to start, Jean senses that the dam has broke and she quietly walks off the plane. Wishing to keep her loved ones safe, she closes the loading ramp and and prevents Nightcrawler from teleporting to save her. She then telekineticaly lifts the plane into air while holding back the wave of water from crushing them. Speaking telepathically through Xavier, she tells them that this is the only way and wishes them goodbye. With her body surrounded by a glowing flame, she easily lifts the plane to safety and sends them flying, then allows the wave to crash down around her, as Cyclops cries out in grief over her death. In D.C., the President is preparing to give a live broadcast to discuss the phenomenon that affected the world when the power fluctuates and he notices everyone but him is frozen. As a storm suddenly occurs outside, darkening the room, a bolt of lightning reveals Xavier and the X-Men in the room. Xavier addresses the President and has Rogue hand him files that Shadowcat retrieved from Stryker’s office, revealing he was behind the attack on the President. Xavier explains that there are people, both human and mutant, that want feel that a war is coming between the two species but the President has been presented an opportunity to try and work towards peace instead, which is what they want as well. Another bolt of lightning occurs and Xavier and everyone is gone, and the President is left with the folder to prove that he didn’t imagine what happened. Back at the mansion, Xavier, Cyclops, and Wolverine are discussing Jean and as Cyclops and Wolverine leave so Xavier can teach his class, Wolverine tells Cyclops that Jean made a choice and choose him (Cyclops). In the class room, Xavier is about to address the children when he suddenly looks away for a minute before getting a smile on his face and turning back to the children, while in Alkali Lake, the flaming outline of a phoenix can be seen moving underneath the water.

X2: X-Men United met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor — and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.” The Sentinels, the mutant hunter/killer robots from the comics, were initially supposed to be used in this movie but due to budgeting and rewrites, they ended up being scrapped. They would make a somewhat brief appearance in X-Men: The Last Stand, though they weren’t referenced by name, and would be a central plot line for X-Men: Days Of Future Past. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $407.7 million off of a $125 million budget and set up way for a sequel.

This was a really good movie and definitely showed some improvement from the first one. The acting was pretty good, with all of the returning character doing good jobs in their roles. I thought that Brian Cox was great as Stryker and Kelly Hu was decent as Yuriko (Lady Deathstrike) but I really wish they could have given her at least a little bit of character instead of making her nothing more than a robotic slave. The story was great, sticking fairly close to the graphic novel, but with some changes necessitated by the previous movie, as well as a little creative licensing. The minor change of making Stryker a black ops colonel, as opposed to a religious figurehead like he was in the comic, actually played out better in the movie and I liked how they made Magneto even more ruthless in this, as instead of simply leaving with Xavier and the X-Men like in the comic, he chose to alter Stryker’s plans in an attempt to kill all of the humans on Earth, which is a rather twisted sense of irony in that Magneto, a survivor of the Holocaust, would actively attempt to cause widespread genocide. I also liked how they dealt with Jean and her powers, slowly giving hints to the phoenix persona beginning to emerge by showing glimpses of fire in her eyes as she uses her powers. The special effects were really good throughout the whole move, especially during the jet chase scene amidst all of the funnel clouds as that was an incredible bit of artistic work. All in all, this is a great comic book movie and definitely something worth watching whenever it comes on.

Rating 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, movie, movie review, thriller

March 2nd, 2018 Movie – The Tournament

the tournament

It’s March and if there is one thing March is known for, it is tournaments, particularly in basketball. So I think it is funny that today’s movie is about a tournament. Now this movie is another Blockbuster purchase and one that I had never even heard of before. The only reason I bought it is because the premise of it sounded somewhat like Battle Royale, which was a good movie. So I bought this and found it pretty entertaining in it’s own right so let’s get some excitement to start the day with today’s movie, The Tournament.

The plot: Every seven years, the worlds wealthiest individuals organize a secret, underground tournament in a random city; one in which they bring in special forces, athletes, hitmen, and psychopaths to participate in a 24 hour free-for-all fight to the death. The winner will receive £10 million while the wealthy elite, observing the tournament, make their own money placing bets on who will win and who will die. The organizers jam the city’s communications so that nobody can dial the authorities, while the violence and destruction is passed off as terrorist attacks, riots, or a lone madman. Seven years ago in Brazil, a man named Joshua Harlow ducks into a meat processing plant as he is being pursued by another competitor, who fires a machine gun at him. Harlow manages to get a bolt gun and uses it to kill the assassin, then kills his friend, who is another competitor and mortally wounded, and as he looks into a nearby camera, a room is shown filled with money as the organizers declare him the winner. In the present day, the tournament has been selected to take place in Middlesbrough, Unikted Kingdom and the organizers begin making preparations and tapping into the city’s surveillance system. Lai Lai Zhen, a contract killer, arrives at her hotel room and drinks a vial, which she is told to drink at 9pm, only to end up passing out from the drugged cocktail and some men enter her room and proceed to implant the tracking device in her. The next morning, Mr. Powers, this years tournament organizer, welcomes the other elite to the viewing room and begins showing all of this year’s competitors. He then tells them they have a late entry, Joshua Harlow, who is there for revenge; as his wife was murdered 4 months ago and her killer is one of the competitors. Lai Lai wakes up and sees the tracking monitor on the table, welcoming her to the tournament while outside her room, another competitor is killing the bellhop and stealing his uniform. As the elite watch from the security cameras, the competitor knocks on Lai Lai’s door and leaves the room service tray there but as she investigates it, he sneaks in through her balcony window and attempts to kill her with a garrote but Lai Lai is able to fend him off and kill him, while Powers tells the assembled viewers that her odds have now gone up to 7-1. Anton Bogart, a French acrobatic killer, heads into a diner’s restroom and proceeds to remove his tracking device, then tosses it into a pot of coffee. Keeping tabs on the pot, Anton watches as Father MacAvoy, a priest who has suffered a crisis of faith and become an alcoholic, drinks the coffee and as he leaves, Anton follows from the rooftops. Unknown to MacAvoy, two competitors, a sniper and a man in a car, are tracking the tracking device and taking aim at him. The sniper kills the man in the car and as she is taking aim at MacAvoy, Anton jumps down on the roof behind her and breaks her neck, then takes her rifle. The organizers start to suspect something is up when they track Anton’s signal but see no sign of him, only MacAvoy. MacAvoy heads into his church and kneels down in prayer when he is confronted by Lai Lai, who wonders why he isn’t defending himself. Suddenly, the church doors explodes and as Lai LAi’s attention turns to it, another competitor bursts through the window, tossing grenades at Lai Lai and MacAvoy. MacAvoy is knocked down when a church pew is knocked into him while LAi Lai begins fighting with the killer. When the killer gets the upper hand and attempts to drown Lai Lai in the holy water, MacAvoy grabs the killer’s shotgun and threatens him with it but the killer simply kicks MacAvoy away. Sensing the distraction, Lai Lai is able to free herself and renew her attack on the man, pulling the pin on a grenade on his vest and letting him blow up. Afterwards, Lai Lai questions MacAvoy only to realize that he really is an innocent civilian. Meanwhile, Harlow finally shows up on the game board as another assassin tries to kill him. As the assassin tries to shoot Harlow, he tells him he heard about his wife and says that Miles Slade had bragged about the hit and Harlow thanks him before killing him. Lai Lai contacts Powers to tell him about MacAvoy somehow getting someone’s tracker and he tells her that she knows the rules, she can either keep him with her or kill him but not to contact him again. As she hangs up the phone, they are attacked by another player, who attempts to run them over. Lai Lai shoots out the tires of the car, causing it to crash, then tells MacAvoy to follow her but when he hears the woman screaming for help, MacAvoy stops to try and help her. As he frees her from her seatbelt, the woman pulls a gun on him but Lai Lai shoots her, then chastises MacAvoy for not listening to her. Lai Lai attempts to get MacAvoy to regurgitate the tracker but he is unable to. When a police officer shows up, MacAvoy want to tell him what is going on but Lai Lai warns him that the officer is a player, just as Anton kills him. As Anton continues to shoot at them, Lai Lai and MacAvoy get into the police car and drive off, with Anton chasing after them on foot but they eventually manage to get away. Meanwhile, the organizers start watching as 9 players, including Slade, are converging on a strip club. When Slade sees another killer entering the club, he pulls out his shotgun and shoots him, initiating a fierce gun battle. As the players start killing each other, Harlow enters the club and joins in, until it is only him and Slade left. As Slade holds a girl hostage, Harlow asks him if he did kill his wife, just as another killer, posing as a stripper, attacks him. Slade manages to shoot Harlow, knocking him down, then kills the stripper before knocking Harlow unconscious. When Harlow comes too, he finds that Slade has him tied to the stripper pole and as he tries to free himself, questions Slade about his wife. Slade tells him that it was Lai Lai, not him, that killed Harlow’s wife and then cuts off Harlow’s finger, which he keeps as a trophy. Slade then offers Harlow a drink and pours some liquor into his mouth but as Slade goes to light a cigar before killing him, Harlow spits the liquor into his face, setting Slade on fire. Harlow kicks the bottle onto him, causing the fire to spread along Slade’s body, then frees himself and goes to kill him only to find Slade had escaped out of a hidden passage behind the bar. As the game’s progress, the field narrows down until there are only 6 people remaining. Lai Lai and MacAvoy, who have been driving all night, stop at a gas station and Lai Lai heads inside to get some food and drinks. As MacAvoy waits for her, he is confronted by Slade, but Lai Lai saves him and starts fighting with Slade. As the fight makes it’s way back into the station, Sade comments to Lai Lai about her killing Harlow’s wife and Lai Lai breaks his arm, then pins his other arm to the floor with Slade’s knife. As she goes to kill Slade, MacAvoy pleads with Lai Lai to spare his life and after a tense few minutes, Lai Lai lowers her weapon. Watching this occur via the security cameras, Powers orders Slade’s device to be activated and Lai Lai and MacAvoy hear a beep coming from Slade and back away just before he explodes. Suddenly, the phone rings and the gas station attendant, who has been staring in shock at what happened, answers it, then says it’s for MacAvoy. MacAvoy picks up the phone and Powers talks with him, telling him about the game and what will happen if there isn’t a winner. As Lai Lai tries to get MacAvoy to get the device out of him, one way or another, Anton, Harlow, and the last competitor are all converging on the gas station. Seeing them approaching, Lai Lai tells MacAvoy that they have to leave but as they leave the store, they see the competitor arrive on a motorcycle and aim a bazooka at them. As he goes to fire, he is run over by a double-decker bus but the rocket is fired and ends up blowing up the police car. Seeing Harlow approaching them, Lai Lai gets into the bus and tells MacAvoy to drive. Harlow, driving a tanker truck, engages in a gun battle with Lai Lai but when he runs out of shells for the shotgun, attempts to cause the bus to crash. As they keep driving, MacAvoy sees Anton on a nearby overpass and as they drive under it, Anton jumps onto the roof of the bus. He makes his way inside and begins fighting with Lai Lai, as Harlow continues to try and ram the bus off the road. When Anton knocks Lai Lai out of the bus, she manages to grab onto the rail and MacAvoy opens the doors so she can come back in. Lai Lai, on the lower level, shoots up through the ceiling at Anton, who attempts to shoot back through the floor at her. When Anton leaps out the upper window and hangs down to shoot at Lai Lai through the lower window, MacAvoy slams on the breaks, causing Harlow to slam into the back of the bus, killing Anton. The collision causes the tanker’s tires to explode and Harlow ends up wrecking, with the tanker exploding but Harlow survives. Lai Lai and MacAvoy, who had thrown up the tracker during the crash, make their way to a church outside of town but Harlow follows them and confronts them. Meanwhile, the organizers discover that there are no surveillance cameras in the church so they send someone there to see what is going on. Inside the church, Harlow asks why Lai Lai killed his wife when she was after him and she tells him that she was hired to kill his wife. Meanwhile, MacAvoy pleads with Harlow to spare Lai Lai’s life, telling him of the explosives in the trackers, but Harlow stabs Lai Lai in the stomach. As the elite all cheer at Harlow’s victory, Harlow steps out of the church to find a limo waiting for him. Harlow is taken to the viewing room and as Powers congratulates him, Harlow asks him why he had his wife killed. When Powers says that Harlow refused to play the game again and so he did it to motivate him into playing, Harlow grabs Powers and places the tracking device he removed from Lai Lai, into Powers’ mouth, which restarts the clock with only 3 seconds left and as the elite try to run from the room, Harlow and Powers both explode. Lai Lai is shown to have survived and she shows up at MacAvoy’s church, where he has had his faith restored and preaches to his congregation about recent events and smiles when he sees her.

This is a pretty good thriller of a movie. The acting was good, with Robert Carlyle (MacAvoy), and Kelly Hu (Lai Lai) doing a good job in their roles and I liked the chemistry they had while they are trying to survive. I also liked Ian Somerhalder (Slade) and Liam Cunningham (Powers) but was a little disappointed that Ving Rhames (Harlow) didn’t have a bigger part. The story was good, though I will say that it still feels like it borrowed from Battle Royale, especially the explosives in the tracker. The special effects were pretty decent but the action scenes were better than I expected, especially involving Anton, whose use of parkour made for some incredible stunt scenes, especially when he was chasing after Lai Lai and MacAvoy and the bus fight. It’s not necessarily going to blow your socks off but it is a decent job in keeping you entertained, or just killing time.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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