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February 17th, 2019 Movie – The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation Of Toxie

the toxic avenger 3

So here is a question I must ask myself. Since I am basically free to pick whatever movie I want to watch for this blog now, why am I still choosing to do today’s movie. I mean, I hated the first sequel in the series so why would I go ahead and watch the next movie, when it is nothing more than the second half of the sequel. Unfortunately, I am somewhat of a completionist and tend to go through with such endeavors to the end. So let’s go ahead and get today’s movie over with as I watch The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation Of Toxie.

The plot: In Tromaville, NJ, a group of thugs working for Apocalypse Inc. enter the local video store and proceed to take the people inside hostage. Saying that there is too much variety in the store, the goons proceed to tell the hostages that they will only be allowed to watch the “Top 20” videos, including Apocalypse Inc’s self help videos, and proceed to destroy the other videos, including the Troma movies, and kill one of the hostages. While the goons are trashing the place, the Toxic Avenger arrives at the store and proceeds to kill the goons and as the hostages thank Toxie, he tells them he is back. A few months earlier, Toxie was feeling depressed as he had cleaned up all of the crime in Tromaville but was unable to do anything else. As he returns to his home with his fiance Claire, he receives a flyer for a surgery that could restore Claire’s eyesight but it cost $347,000. Toxie decides to get a job so he Claire can have the surgery but all of his attempts failed, causing him to become even more depressed and insecure. Meanwhile, the Chairman of Apocalypse Inc is still upset that Toxie managed to force them out of Tromaville but comes up with a new way to gain control of Tromaville, then take over the world. He sends a letter to Toxie, offering him a job with enough money to afford Claire’s surgery and Toxie accepts the job, with his blood mixing into his signature on the contract. Toxie happily shows his mom that he has a job and pays for Claire’s surgery. Meanwhile, Apocalypse Inc proceeds to take over Tromaville and after the Chairman speaks to the crowd, Toxie talks to the crowd to try and convince the townsfolk that this was for the best, but notes that the crowd, including his mother, don’t seem happy with what he is doing. Meanwhile, Claire’s surgery is a success and when she finally sees Toxie, she says he is beautiful and falls even more in love with him. However, Claire’s newfound sight allows her to see what has become of Tromaville and how Toxie has become “yuppified”. Claire tries to talk to Toxie and tell him that what he is doing is wrong and he argues that he signed the contract for her and leaves. After seeing some kids tearing down a poster of him and calling him a traitor, Toxie goes to his favorite place to think and realizes that he has been duped by the Chairman. Toxie returns to his trailer and apologizes to Claire, telling her that he will make things right. Back in the present, Toxie works on regaining the people’s trust again and taking the fight to the Chairman. Toxie heads to the church, which the Chairman has converted into his new headquarters, and confronts the Chairman but the Chairman suddenly changes into a green skinned demon and reveals that he is really The Devil. The Devil then challenges Toxie to his favorite game, The 5 Levels of Doom, in order to save Tromaville. The first level, Earth, causes Melvin to sink down into the ground and as hemanages to push his head back above the surface, Malfaire pays a man to run over Toxie with a lawn mower but Toxie catches the blade in his mouth and spits it back at an Apocalypse Inc. goon. The second level, Fire, has The Devil engulfed in flames and he proceeds to set Toxie on fire as well. The citizens of Tromaville help extinguish Toxie but with The Devil still on fire, and no water available, Toxie is forced to urinate on him to put him out. For the third level, Wind, The Devil has a bus full of children drive towards a cliff and perch on the edge. He then summons winds to blow the bus off the cliff but Toxie is able to get the kids out of the back of the bus before it falls, where it lands on Malfaire and kills her. The Devil repairs the bus and for the next level, Water, he drives off, with Toxie clinging to the hood, and crashes into a massive puddle of water in order to drown Toxie but Toxie uses a sumo trick he learned in Japan to save himself. For the final level, The Devil changes Toxie back into Melvin Junko and the Apocalypse Inc employees proceed to bully him. Claire attempts to help Melvin but The Devil causes her to become blind again and everyone takes cover as she begins blindly shooting around. As The Devil proceeds to taunt Melvin some more, Claire makes her way back to the trailer and finds the contract Melvin had signed and proceeds to find an escape clause in it, saying that the contract would be rendered null and void by an Act of God. As The Devil mocks that God isn’t there, a messenger named Angel arrives with a message for Melvin. As Melvin receives the letter, it suddenly starts raining and he is turned back into the Toxic Avenger. Toxie then proceeds to rip The Devil’s skin off, revealing a mass of rats and bugs covering his body. Toxie then decapitates The Devil and tosses the head into the air, where it ends up landing in Japan. In Tokyo, the TV announcer that kept running into Toxie is doing a broadcast about a hair growth product when The Devil’s head lands on his test subject, and the announcer excitedly keeps spraying the man. Back in Tromaville, Toxie and Claire celebrate his victory by getting married.

Yeh, this is just as bad as Part II, which makes perfect sense considering the circumstances regarding the movie. The acting was as bad as the first one, with Phoebe Legere almost seeming worst than she was in Part II, while the narration continued to be absolutely annoying. The story honestly didn’t feel all that original, and that is not just because of their playing up a Biblical aspect in the plot. I meant the whole aspect of the hero selling out to the bad guys for what he feels is a good cause just seemed completely played out so the whole movie just felt boring. The special effects regarding some of the blood and gore did seem a little better in this movie than the previous one, but was still not as good as the original movie. So it is a lot of the same with nothing new added to it, which does not make for a very good movie.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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action, comedy, horror, sci-fi

February 10th, 2019 Movie – The Toxic Avenger Part II

the toxic avenger 2

Back in the day, I could always count on Troma for my dose of B-movie goodness. That being said, as much as I like B-movies I can admit that there are times where the movies are not as good. That is the case with today’s movie. See, I have always enjoyed The Toxic Avenger but when I first watched the sequel, I honestly thought it was cheaper than the original. Granted, that has been several years since I watched it so it is possible that my opinion will have changed. Only way to find out is to go ahead and watch today’s movie, The Toxic Avenger Part II and find out.

The plot: Having killed the corrupt mayor and other criminals in Tromaville, Melvin, The Toxic Avenger, has made the city safe for the citizens. However, with no more evil to destroy, Melvin is at a loss for what to do so he takes a job at a Home for the Blind so he can spend more time with his girlfriend Claire (Sara in The Toxic Avenger), but he still finds himself depressed. One day, the Chairman of Apocalypse Inc. arrives in his limo and sends one of his underlings to deliver a bomb to Melvin while he is inside the Home. When the house explodes, some of the Chairman’s underlings begin putting a property development sign on the lot but Melvin emerges from the rubble and kills them. The Chairman sends out some more thugs to kill Melvin but Melvin easily kills them all, except for one that leaves to go to his piano lessons, and the Chairman drives away in disgust. At Apocalypse Incs corporate headquarters, the Chairman berates his underlings for losing Tromaville and failing to kill the Toxic Avenger, as it disrupts his plans for the company. The Chairman’s assistant Malfaire says that she has come up with a plan to remove Melvin from the equation. Malfaire tells the assembly that the Tromatons created when Melvin fell into the barrel of toxic waste are what causes him to seek out and destroy evil but their scientists in Japan have created an anti-Tromaton formula which will remove his strength. However, since they are unable to transport the formula to them, they will use Melvin’s psychiatrist, who is employed by Apocalypse Inc., to send Melvin to Japan instead. Melvin’s psychiatrist tells him that his problems are due to his father abandoning him and that he should go to Japan, where she says his father now lives, and confront him. Melvin is hesitant to leave Claire and his mother but Claire tells him that he should go so he hops onto a windboard and sails off to Japan, entering the country “Godzilla-style”. Unable to speak Japanese, Melvin had one of the workers at a Japanese restaurant from home write out his father’s name on a napkin so he can show it to people but doesn’t have any luck. One day, his Tromatons act up when a woman named Masami is attacked by a gang and he pursues and kills her attackers. Masami thanks Melvin for saving her and helps him to try and locate his dad but they have no luck. Meanwhile, Apocalypse Inc. has taken advantage of Melvin’s absence by taking over Tromaville and every aspect of the city, even changing the name of the town to Apocalypseville. The citizens tried to fight back against Apocalypse Inc. but they were powerless against the Chairman’s goons. Back in Japan, Melvin and Masami finally locate Melvin’s father, Big Mac Junko, at a fish market but Melvin is shocked to learn that his father is a drug smuggler and white slave trader. Big Mac shows Melvin that he has a bottle of Anti-Tromatons and dares him to come after him, allowing his men to attack Melvin and Masami. Melvin is able to defeat Big Mac’s men and the ends up fighting Big MAc, who dons a sumo outfit to battle his son. When Big Mac pulls out the bottle of anti-Tromatons, Melvin kicks it out of his hands, then throws Big Mac onto a chopping block, where a distracted worker chops him into pieces, but the bottle falls to the ground and breaks open, exposing Melvin to the anti-Tromatons. Masami takes Melvin to a sumo dojo, where Melvin is restored to health and after thanking Masami, he heads back home to Tromaville. When he arrives back in Tromaville, Melvin is shocked to see what has become of Tromaville and quickly races home, where he rescues Claire from being attacked by Malfaire and her “Bad Girls”. Melvin then begins cleaning up the city and removing Apocalypse Inc’s influence so the Chairman decides to simply destroy the city. Carrying 300 lbs of nitroglycerin, the Black Rider rides into town with the intention of crashing into city hall so Melvin gets into a cab and chases after him. Melvin is able to stop the Black Rider’s plan, making him crash into a house and explode. Later, as the people celebrate Melvin saving the city, Big Mac Junko appears and greets his son and wife. When Melvin asks who the guy was in Japan, his father explains that that was Big Mac Bunko, and that he had been mistaken for him for years. With his father back in his life and the city safe, Melvin is able to feel good about himself, while the Chairman and Malfaire are seen trying to hitch a ride away from the city.

The Toxic Avenger Part II was absolutely panned by the critics, holding a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics felt that the movie lacked the energy of the original but did admit that the cheese factor would appeal to fans of that type of movie. The original edit of the movie was over 4 hours long so Troma decided to cut the film into two separate movies. John Altamura, who was hired to play The Toxic Avenger, was fired during production and Rick Fazio, who was asked to serve as a distant shot double, ended up taking over the role. Since John Altamura’s footage was used in the movie, as well as Part III, both men’s names are listed in the credits as paying The Toxic Avenger. The movie was a box office dud, earning $792,966 off of a $2.3 million budget.

Nope, I am going to stand by my original opinion. This movie is definitely a step down from the original movie. The acting was so over the top bad at times that it honestly made the movie less enjoyable for me. Having the voice over of Melvin serving as the narrator didn’t help matters, as it honestly just started irritating the hell out of me. The story honestly felt a little weak, which I admit might be due to the fact that the movie was basically cut in half due to it’s length. One thing that did annoy me was the name changes that occurred between the first movie and the second one. I can kind of understand the reason for changing Melvin’s last name from Ferd to Junko, as it made it easier to utilize the mistaken identity of his father for Big Mac Bunko in Japan. However, I don’t understand why they changed Melvin’s girlfriend’s name from Sara to Claire. I mean, how hard is it to look up what the character’s name was in the first movie and simply continue using it. The special effects were ok but I felt like they did a lot more in the first movie with a lot less money. All told, this is a let down of a sequel and not really worth watching unless you want to watch all of The Toxic Avenger movies.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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

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

the dark knight

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5 out of 5

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action, adventure, comedy, movie, movie review, superhero

January 28th, 2018 Movie – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze

teenage mutant ninja turtles 2

As expected of any superhero movie, if the first one is successful, then a sequel is sure to follow. That was definitely the case for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as it seemed like the studio almost immediately got to work on a sequel when they realized how big of a hit the first movie was. When I first saw the trailers for this movie, I remember thinking that it didn’t look as good as the first one, seeming to focus more on the comedy, and making it seem stupider as a result. I didn’t go to see this in theaters but I do remember renting it on video so my little brothers could watch it. So let’s see how today’s movie stands up as I watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze.

The plot: In New York City, a pizza delivery boy name Keno is delivering some pizzas to April O’Neil’s new apartment when he notices some vans with several boxes parked across the street. Heading to the shopping center, he finds 3 guys stealing some stuff and after attracting their attention, uses his martial arts skills to knock them out, only to see several more men show up. Suddenly, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show up and place Keno in a trash can to keep him out of trouble, then proceed to deal with the crooks. When they are finished, they send Keno to call the police and when he gets back, he finds the Turtles gone, as well as the pizzas but the money for them is placed in the bag. April returns to her apartment just as the Turtles come back and asks if they have had any luck finding a new place to live and Raphael suggests they go to their old home but Leonardo says that would not be smart since the Foot knows where that is. As Raphael and Leonardo argue over why that matters, since Raphael believes the Foot isn’t a problem since Shredder is dead, Splinter shows up and says that they must return to the underground. Meanwhile, the remains of the Foot Clan are meeting in the junkyard and Tatsu, expressing his anger over the situation, says he is in charge now but they are all shocked when the Shredder appears. The Shredder tells Tatsu to send his best ninja to follow April, as she will lead them to Splinter and the Turtles, so that he can get his revenge on them. The next day, April is doing a report on TGRI’s (Techno Global Research Institute) efforts in cleaning up a toxic spill and interviews the head scientist, Professor Jordan Perry. At the apartment, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are watching the news report and Raphael wants to change the channel but Splinter tells him not to touch the TV, as he stares intently at the screen. After the interview, some of the TGRI workers find some dandelions that have grown to gigantic proportions and go to alert Jordan, who says a canister must have been buried there and leaked, but unknown to them, Freddy, the Foot soldier that is undercover as part of April’s camera crew, finds one of the flowers and takes it to the junkyard to show Shredder. When Shredder sees the flower, he says that whatever caused this might be useful and orders Tatsu to gather his best men and grab Jordan. At April’s apartment, April returns to her apartment and the Turtles tell her that Splinter has been on the roof ever since he saw her report when Splinter comes down and asks that they join him. On the roof, Splinter reveals the broken canister that contained the ooze that transformed them and when he puts the pieces together, they learn that it came from TGRI, and Splinter says they have to find out if there are more canisters, as it could cause great trouble to the city. At TGRI, Jordan is working on getting rid of the remaining canisters of the ooze and as he prepares the last canister for disposal, Tatsu and the Foot show up and grab it and Jordan. The Turtles show up at TGRI and Donatello discovers that all of the canisters have been disposed of except for one. Suddenly, the see Tatsu and the Foot with the canister and they attempt to get it back from them but fail. Returning to April’s apartment, the Turtles decide to go ahead and move out, as they feel April isn’t safe if the Foot are still around and looking for them. Before they leave, Keno shows up with a free pizza and manages to get inside her apartment and discovers the Turtles and Splinter. Splinter explains how they came to be and Keno says that the Foot is recruiting any teenager that knows martial arts. He offers to infiltrate the Foot and find out where the ooze is and Raphael agrees with him but Splinter and the others say it is too dangerous. The Turtles head down into the sewers to find a new place to live but Raphael gets fed up and decides to leave. As the others keep looking for a new home, Michelangelo falls into an abandoned subway tunnel, which they feel will be perfect as their new home. Meanwhile, Shredder has Jordan use the ooze on a wolf and snapping turtle, causing them to mutate into giant creatures. However, the two creatures have the intelligence of infants, imprinting on Shredder as their surrogate mother. Shredder orders Tatsu to destroy them but Jordan appeals to Shredder, saying that they might not be smart but their great strength could be useful to him. The next day, Raphael meets with Keno and has him go try to sign up to be part of the Foot Clan, helping him pass the test to get in. Keno is taken to the Foot’s headquarters in the junkyard and Raphael says they should go tell the others when he sees the Shredder in a nearby building. Not believing what he saw, Raphael goes to take a closer look but they end up being spotted by Tatsu, so Raphael starts fighting the Foot to allow Keno to escape and tell the others, but Raphael ends up getting captured. Keno runs back to April’s apartment, where he meets her outside and tells her about Raphael being captured. The Turtles head to the junkyard to rescue Raphael but end up getting captured, and Shredder reveals himself and has them maneuvered over a bed of sharpened metal scraps. Splinter uses a bow and arrow to free the Turtles from the net, and they begin fighting the Foot to rescue Raphael when Shredder yells out for his new creations, Tokka and Rahzar. The two creatures easily overpower the Turtles and during the fight, Donatello is thrown into the building where Jordan is being held and he manages to rescue him. Michelangelo finds a manhole cover and the Turtles and Jordan manage to get away from Tokka and Rahzar. Afterwards, Shredder decides to send Tokka and Rahzar out into the city and have them begin destroying the area. The next day, April is interviewing Police Chief Sterns and afterwards, she is grabbed by a Foot soldier and dragged into an alley, where Freddy reveals himself and gives her a message for the Turtles. April contacts the Turtles, who bring her to their new home, and explains that Shredder wants them to head to a construction yard to face Tokka and Rahzar or else Shredder will unleash them on Central Park. Realizing they have no choice, the Turtles prepare to head to the construction yard but Jordan stops them, saying he has an idea. Having Keno go pick up some supplies, Jordan fashions an anti-mutagen to use against Tokka and Rahzar but says that they have to eat it. Michelangelo comes up with an idea and the Turtles head to the construction yard, where they find the Foot surrounding the open area. Shredder calls out Tokka and Rahzar but before they start fighting, Michelangelo offers them a pre-fight doughnut. Tokka and Rahzar each eat one but when Tokka grabs a second one, he discovers the frozen anti-mutagen inside it and begins fighting the Turtles. The Turtles are thrown out of the construction yard and into a nearby club, where Vanilla Ice is performing. As the crowd reacts in shock at the fight, Vanilla Ice begins singing about what is going on, calling it the Ninja Rap. Jordan shows up and speaks with Donatello, and realizes that Tokka and Rahzar’s burping is slowing the anti-mutagen’s affect but grabs a fire extinguisher, saying they can use that to introduce more CO2 into their system to speed up the anti-mutagen. The Turtles manage to knock Tokka and Rahzar down, then spray the extinguishers into their mouths, rendering the two unconscious. The Foot shows up and the Turtles easily defeat them, as well as Tatsu, then start dancing and make their way on stage. Shredder appears and holds up the last container of ooze, saying that he will make more mutants to fight the Turtles but Keno shows up and kicks the ooze out of his hand, which Jordan quickly grabs and leaves the club with it.. Shredder grabs a hostage and threatens to douse her with the small vial of ooze that he has but Raphael throws Keno into him, causing Shredder to release his hostage, and Michelangelo uses a keytar, with the speakers turned up, to send Shredder flying out of the club. The Turtles follow after him only to discover that Shredder has drank the ooze, turning him into a Super Shredder. Super Shredder begins to tear down the docks that they are on, sending it crashing down on top of him but the Turtles dive into the water and mange to swim to safety. Later, Splinter is watching the news, where April reads a note from Jordan thanking the Turtles by name. When the Turtles return home, Splinter asks if they were seen and they tell him no, as they practice the art of invisibility, but he holds up a newspaper, with their picture on the front page, and tells them to practice harder, quoting the Ninja Rap song as they start their punishment.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze met with negative results from the critics, holding a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Not only is the movie’s juvenile dialogue unbearable for adults, but the turtles’ dopey and casual attitude towards physical violence makes them poor kids’ role models.” Ernie Reyes Jr. was the fight double for Donatello in the original movie and the producers liked him so much that they wrote the character of Keno into the sequel just so they could have him in it and replace Casey Jones, who they felt was too violent. While it had a bigger budget, the movie was not as successful as it’s predecessor, earning $78.6 million off of a $25 million budget.

This movie is such a disappointment compared to the original one. I did like Paige Turco, who replaced Judith Hoag as April O’Neil, and I loved Ernie Reyes Jr. (Keno), who matched up incredibly well with Raphael in attitude and personality. The story honestly felt a little weak, as if they wanted to try and create Rocksteady and Bebop, the mutated villains from the cartoon, without actually using those characters. The fight scenes with the ninjas was pretty good, and Ernie Reyes Jr. was fantastic in his fight scenes, but the scenes with Tokka and Rahzar were just so slow paced in comparison that it wasn’t even funny. And of course, we have the whole scene in the club and “Ninja Rap”. Pardon my language for a minute but, fuck this movie for giving us that fucking song. Ok, got that out of my system. Anyways, there are some good parts but on the whole, it doesn’t come close to the original.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, horror, movie, movie review

October 23rd, 2017 Movie – Spawn

spawn

Today marks the beginning of almost a solid week of superhero movies. Unfortunately, we start off with one that was a real disappointment. See, back in the early 90’s, there was a breakaway from Marvel of several of their top illustrators, who had wanted to maintain the copyrights for characters they created, thus giving birth to Image comics. One of the most popular comics in that new company was “Spawn”, created by Todd McFarlane. Now Spawn was a definitely a darker, and bloodier, comic than what most fans expected (similar to the Punisher) and it made sense that someone might try to make a movie off based of the comics. Unfortunately, the end result was a little less than desired and I, having a tendency to torture myself with my movie choices at times, decided to buy it just to work on my superhero movie collection. So let’s get this headache over with as I watch today’s movie, Spawn.

The plot: In Hong Kong, Special Forces operative Al Simmons takes over an airport control tower, where he then fires a missile to take out his target before detonating the launcher to remove all traces of his being there, unaware that he is being observed by a man named Cogliostro. Back in the US, Jason Wynn, the head of the agency that Al works for, is meeting with a demon known as Violator, who has promised to give Wynn world domination in exchange of certain favors and asks for one last favor, kill Al Simmons. Some time later, Al and his friend/partner Terry Fitzgerald are heading to work and after showing Al the paper discussing the civilian deaths in the latest operation, Terry comments about how several of Wynn’s ops seem to have more civilian casualties and that he is going to keep an eye on Wynn. Al goes to Wynn’s office and tells him he wants out, causing him to be taunted by Wynn’s bodyguard/assassin Jessica Priest, and Wynn tells him he will have him transferred after completing one last mission. Al is sent to North Korea to destroy a bioweapon facility but when he gets there, he finds the place is already prepared to blow and Wynn waiting for him. Al tries to stop Wynn from releasing the gas, as there is a village nearby, but he is shot by Priest, who then pours an accelerant onto him and Wynn sets him on fire. Al calls out his wife Wanda’s name before collapsing to the ground just as the plant explodes. 5 years later, a horribly burned Al is shown to be alive and in the top of an old church, where Violator is watching him. Al climbs down from the church and finds himself in an alley where the homeless live, and Cogliostro attempts to talk to him but Al shoves him aside so Cogliostro gives him a coat to help hide his burned face and skin. Al heads to his home to find Wanda is now married to Terry and they have a daughter, Cyan. When Cyan chases after her dog Spaz, who had recognized Al, and offers Al some candy but Wanda sees them and grabs her away from him. Wanda yells for Terry, who tells Al to leave and Violator, who was dressed up to perform for the party, grabs Al and leaves with him. Returning to the alley, Violator explains that Al promised to lead the Demon Malebolgia’s army in exchange for getting to be with Wanda again, taking Al to his grave to show him that he died. The pain causes Al’s necroplasm armor to emerge and Violator dubs him Spawn. Back in the alley, Spawn realizes the usefulness of his armor in getting his revenge on Wynn and he heads for Wynn’s new company only to be confronted by Cogliostro, who tries to stop him but when Spawn continues on his path, Cogliostro summons a blade and debates on if he needs to use it. Al breaks into Wynn’s new company, A-6, and steals some of their weapons, then follows Wynn and Terry to a reception at a nearby embassy. Spawn breaks in and confronts Wynn, who is shocked to see what Al has become. Spawn then confronts Terry and asks him how he could betray him and Terry, shocked at see Al there, tells him that Wanda was devastated when Al died and he was taking care of her when they fell in love. Priest and a security team arrive and attack Spawn and though he is shot, his wounds heal and he manages to kill Priest before being blasted out of a window, where he uses his armor to escape from the police. As Wynn watches Priest’s body being taken away, he sees Violator nearby and goes to talk with him, angry at what had happened. Violator calms him down and tells him that he should get a device attached to his heart which will release the Heat-16, the new bioweapon Wynn has developed, worldwide if his heart stops beating, which will serve as a deterrent from anyone killing him. Spawn heads to where Wanda is giving a lecture about the effects of Heat 16, realizing how Wynn has been using him all this time. When Cyan runs off after Spaz and falls, Spawn helps her up and carries her to where Wanda can find her, just as Terry shows up and takes them home but Spaz ends up staying with Spawn and returns to the alley with him. In the alley, Spawn starts to befriend a homeless boy name Zack when Violator shows up and Spawn attacks him. Violator then transforms into his demonic form and easily beats Spawn, eventually throwing him into the bent spires of an iron fence. Violator changes back into the clown and taunts Spawn about going to see Wanda before he leaves. Cogliostro appears and pulls off of the fence, then threatens to kill Spawn but when Spawn seems to have calmed down, he retracts his blade. Cogliostro then starts training Spawn in how to use his armor and abilities. Spawn then goes to save Wanda and Cyan from Violator, who stalls Spawn as he makes his way there. Meanwhile, Terry had made copies of Wynn’s files and was sending them to a local news channel in order to take down Wynn when Wynn shows up and takes them hostage. When Spawn shows up, he finds Wanda held captive, with Wynn threatening to kill her unless Spawn agrees to lead Hell’s armies. When Spawn refuses, Wynn stabs Wanda and Spawn proceeds to attack Wynn, threatening to kill him. Wynn says if he dies then everyone dies, including Cyan, and Spawn uses his powers to remove the device from Wynn’s heart, preventing the Heat 16 from being dispersed. As Spawn approaches Wanda’s body, she suddenly comes to life and attacks him, slashing his throat and revealing that she was actually a disguised Violator. Cogliostro appears and saves Spawn, chasing Violator back to Hell, and after Spawn heals himself, Violator grabs them both and drags them back to Hell. Cogliostro attacks Violator but he is easily beaten and thrown aside before Spawn starts attacking him and manages to stab him in the neck, causing Violator to retreat. Spawn is then confronted by Malebolgia and his army of hellspawn, who tells Spawn to lead his army or die. Spawn refuses, then uses his powers to attack the hellspawn but when he finds himself about to be overrun, he grabs Cogliostro and returns to Earth. As the two rest form their adventures, Cogliostro explains that he had been fighting the war for centuries and was waiting for a new Hellspawn to take his place and believed Al was that one. When Violator reappears and attacks Spawn, Spawn uses his chains to cut of Violators head, who taunts them one last time before disappearing back to Hell. Outside, Terry gives an interview to the press concerning Wynn’s activities while back in the alley, Spawn has taken up residence there as the homeless’s protector.

Spawn was panned by the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Spawn is an overbearing, over-violent film that adds little to the comic book adaptation genre.” The movie originally had a budget of $20 million but due to all of the special effects needed in the movie, New Line cinemas decided to double the budget to $40 million. Despite the low ratings from the critics, the movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $87.8 million worldwide and a sequel was planned but it fell into “developmental hell” and ended up being cancelled but a reboot has been announced and is scheduled to start filming in 2018.

This was an absolute disappointment of a movie, made even more so by the fact that there was a successful animated series on HBO that was way better. The acting was ok, with Michael Jai White (Spawn) and John Leguizamo doing decent jobs in their roles. The plot was essentially an origin story and I know there were some changes compared to the comics but it has been so long since I read them that I don’t know what they all were. I do think the changes that they made to the movie to drop it from an R-rating to a PG-13 did hurt it a lot, as the HBO series did a much better job with the subject material. The special effects that they spent so much money on honestly looked terrible, which is surprising as the effects in some other movies that came out that year were much better with a smaller budget. I’m hoping that the reboot might be better but in the meantime, I will watch the animated series if I want to get my fix.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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