comedy, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

Flashback Review: April 23rd, 2014 Movie – Big Trouble

big trouble

This right here is how sometimes, real life can actually kill a movie. See, I remember seeing the previews and trailers for this movie back in 2001 and thinking that it looked pretty funny. I had actually been given the book for a birthday present earlier that year so I was eager to see what the differences might be between the two. Then, September 11th happened, and there was absolutely nothing funny about that event whatsoever. Now Big Trouble was supposed to come out on September 21st, but due to what had happened, the studio wisely felt that a movie featuring a scene with a nuclear bomb on a plane would not exactly sit well with most audiences. I admit that the selfish part of me wasn’t happy about having to wait for this movie to come out but I understood the reasoning for the delay and thought it was the right move to make. However, when they finally did decide to release it, they gave it almost know marketing or push whatsoever. I honestly didn’t know it had even been in theaters. I saw it in Blockbuster one day and thought that they had just decided to release it to video instead. Oh well. I still rented it, watched it, and ended up buying it so it didn’t make too much difference to me, just makes me feel bad for the people that worked on it.

The plot: Eliot Arnold was a columnist for the Miami Herald but was fired after putting his foot through the editor’s computer monitor after a disagreement about a story. Earlier that day, he had found out his wife had been having an affair and after the divorce was final, he bought a Geo, which makes his son Matt ashamed of him, and started an ad agency. One year later, Eliot is meeting with a client, Bruce, who is upset about the ad Eliot had designed to promote Bruce’s beer. As Bruce is leaving, he gets a call from his son Matt, who asks if he can borrow the Geo as he and his Andrew have to kill someone after school Figuring it is a joke, Eliot agrees to loan him his car. Meanwhile, a suitcase nuclear bomb arrives at the Miami airport and is smuggled onto a van. At the same time, two hitmen, Henry and Leonard, arrive in Miami and head out for their assignment while a homeless man named Puggy arrived in Miami, as he had read that Miami had great Cuban food and, having a love for Fritos and thinking they are close to Cuban food, had gone there to see for himself. Puggy heads to a dive bar run by two Russians and orders a beer and a bag of Fritos. As he is eating his Fritos, two former convicts, Snake and Eddie, enter the bar and the bartender threatens to kick them out, as they have caused problems before, but Eddie says they have some money and want to buy a drink. The two sit down necxt to Puggy and, while he is distracted watching TV, Snake steals his change. When Puggy notices his money is missing and asks them to give it back, Snake punches him and starts beating him while he is down. The bartender hits Snake with a bat and when he goes after Eddie, Snake moves to hit him with a bottle but Puggy trips him up. The bartender kicks Snake and Eddie out, with Snake vowing revenge on Puggy, but the owner tells Puggy he can stay and offers him free beer. When the van from the airport arrives, the bar owner pays Puggy to unload the suitcase and, seeing how strong he is, tells him to come back tomorrow for more work. That night, Puggy finds a nice tree to sleep in that happens to be on the property of Arthur Herk.As Puggy is in his tree, he sees Matt and Andrew arrive, as they are there for Matt to kill Arthur’s daughter Jenny, their classmate, as part of a game at school called “Killer”. Jenny is with her mom Anna watching TV while Arthur is busy trying to seduce their maid Nina, who hits him with a crucifix and hides in the bathroom. As Matt and Andrew get into position, Henry and Leonard show up, as they are there to kill Arthur for embezzling money from his company. When Anna opens the back door to let their dog in, Matt rushes into the house to squirt Jenny with a squirt gun, only for Anna to jump on his back, causing him to fall onto Jenny. During the confusion, Henry shoots at Arthur but misses and hits the TV, and Arthur runs towards Nina’s room, who gets scared when she sees him and rushes outside. Running through the backyard, she trips under the tree Puggy is in and Leonard trips over her as he tries to leave. When Henry shows up, Puggy jumps down on him and grabs his gun to keep him from hurting Nina, but then gives it back when they hear police sirens approaching and Henry and Leonard quickly leave. Officers Monica Romero and Walter Kramitz arrive and question Matt, Anna, Jenny, and Arthur about what happened when Eliot arrives, as Andrew had called and told him what happened. While everyone is talking, Walter finds the bullet in the TV and they ask who fired the gun, but they all had no idea. Romero and Walter leave, ignoring Arthur’s desire to press charges against Matt, and Anna and Jenny escort Eliot and Matt out of the house, with Anna and Eliot both becoming attracted to each other. The next day, Anna pays a visit to Eliot and they talk briefly before they start making out. Later, they are talking about their relationship with their kids, as Eliot wishes that he had a better one with Matt like Anna had with Jenny. Meanwhile, Henry and Leonard are meeting with the man that set up their hit on Arthur, asking him about who the other people were at the house. After a brief encounter with Bruce, where Henry breaks Bruce’s fingers for refusing to put out his cigar, Henry tells the client that it will cost another $10 grand a piece to do the job. Elsewhere, Arthur confronts his boss about the hit, as he knows that they had arranged it, and threatens to spill the beans on their operation to the Feds if they don’t back off. Meanwhile, Matt and Andrew are approached by Jenny, who asks if he was given credit for the kill, and when he says no, she arranges to meet him that night so he can squirt her. They meet up that night at a strip mall and Matt goes to shoot her but a drunken security guard, mistaking Matt’s squirt gun for a real one, fires at them. Matt and Jenny run off and Andrew manages to grab the gun when the security guard trips and drops it, then he runs off. Romero and Walter are on patrol when they see Andrew with the gun and stop him, then arrest the drunken security guard. As they question Andrew, he tells them what happened and they decide to head to the Herk’s house to speak with Matt and Jenny. Meanwhile, Arthur heads to the bar, intending to buy a missile to deal with his bosses, but is shown the bomb and agrees to buy it instead.  As he is leaving, Snake and Eddie show up to rob the place only to find that the bar has no money, as it is really a front for arms smuggling. They then decide to rob Arthur and head back to his place to see what else he has to steal. At the Herk’s home, Eliot arrives after Anna calls him and after chastising Matt for the game, he calls the police to report what happened. Snake and Eddie show up with Arthur and Puggy, who is carrying the suitcase, and they proceed to tie up Anna, Matt, and Jenny with the phone cord. Eliot attempts to bluff Snake with the squirt gun and get them to leave but Snake notices the water dripping from the barrel and calls Eliot’s bluff, then ties him up as well as Walter and Romero when they arrive. After everyone is restrained, Snake and Eddie leave, taking Jenny as a hostage and Puggy, who is still carrying the suitcase. Back at the bar, FBI special agents Greer and Seitz show up looking for the suitcase and after shooting the owner in the foot, he tells them that Arthur has it. Back at the Herk house, Nina cuts Eliot, Anna, Matt, and Walter free and they head off to rescue Jenny, leaving Romero behind as she is handcuffed to a brass shelve with Arthur. Romero and Arthur drag the shelf to the back door and break through the glass to call for help, just as Henry, who had been watching the whole situation unfold with Leonard, fires at Arthur. Arthur lands in his dog’s food bowl, where a hallucinogenic toad had been living for the past month, and he ends up getting squirted by the toad. Greer and Seitz arrive and question Arthur, who is unable to answer as he is hallucinating that his dog is Martha Stewart and is after his soul. Romero tells them about Snake and the suitcase but refuses to tell them anything else until they free her. Snake and Eddie arrive at the airport and buy some tickets for the Bahamas but as they try to bluff their way through security, they accidentally activate the bomb, with the timer set for 45 minutes. Eliot, Anna, Matt, Nina, and Walter arrive at the airport and split up to try and find Jenny, with Walter going to alert airport security but when he insults the head of security, who is the twin brother of the drunken security guard, he ends up being given a strip search. At the Fly by Air gate, the go to board the plane but Puggy manages to slip away, where he manages to run into Matt and Nina. Matt finds his dad and Anna and he tells them about Jenny being on the plane and they tell him to find the cops while they go to try and get Jenny. When they arrive at the gate, Snake, who is trying to get the plane to take off, fires at them and Eliot tells Anna to go get help, then he runs off and manages to get on the plane. Romero, Greer, and Sietz arrive at the airport, just as Henry and Leonard arrive, and Romero pulls the bolt from Henry’s rifle, which Leonard had dropped, and follows the agents inside. When they see the plane taking off, the question Anna and the others about the bomb and Puggy tells them that it had been turned on, forcing Greer to make the call to have the plane shot down over the ocean. On the plane, Snake tells Eddie to close the rear door of the plane but Eliot knocks him out, then attacks Snake with the fire extinguisher. With Snake distracted, the pilots radio the tower and Greer is patched in and tells them to get the suitcase off the plane. The pilot tells Eliot and he shoves it out the door but Snake grabs it and then grabs onto the stairs to keep from falling. When he refuses to let go, Eliot pulls the lever to disengage the stairs, sending Snake and the bomb falling into the ocean, where the bomb explodes harmlessly, while the Air Force breaks away from attacking the plane. When the plane lands, Jenny hugs her mom and tells her about what Eliot did and Matt hugs his dad, having finally grown to respect him after almost losing him. Greer and Sietz tell Eliot that the President offers him his thanks, though nobody can ever know what happened. Romero sees Walter running naked through the airport and it is learned later that Walter would quit the force and become an exotic dancer. Henry and Leonard consider the Herk job the lowest point of their career and are stuck on a plane with a bunch of Florida Gator fans, as the runway is obstructed by a bunch of goats. Anna and Eliot get married a week after Anna’s divorce goes through, while Matt and Jenny, and Nina and Puggy start their own romances. Meanwhile, Arthur, still suffering from the hallucinogen, has been dragging the shelf down the street begging someone to help him save his soul from Martha Stewart.

Big Trouble met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With its large cast and frantic comic pacing, Big Trouble labors for slapstick-style hilarity, but it never really gains steam.” The interior shots at the Miami Herald office building were actually shot at the Miami Herald. The crew ran over a few hours but were allowed to stay and finish due to Dave Berry, who had written the book the movie was based on and was a columnist for the Herald at the time. The movie was a box office bomb, earning $8.5 million off of a $40 million budget.

This movie is one of those nonsensical comedies where a lot of things are happening all at once, but connect to form a pretty funny movie. The acting was good, but I personally liked a lot of the secondary characters over the main ones, with Jason Lee (Puggy), Dennis Farina (Henry), and Patrick Warburton (Walter) being my favorites. The story was a bit convoluted, which admittedly can make it hard for people to follow, but actually stayed fairly close to the book. Honestly, I thought that all of the different story arcs that were going on but managed to intersect and stay connected helped keep the movie more light hearted, so you aren’t just focusing on one thing. The comedy generally relied on some situational comedy, with a bit of slapstick antics at times but it actually worked out well for the most part. I know it’s not going to be for everyone but I think this is a pretty funny movie that is worth giving a chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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adventure, animation, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 18th, 2018 Movie – Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

vampire hunter d bloodlust

About the time that I picked up Vampire Hunter D on DVD, I learned that a sequel had been filmed and was to be released soon. Well, this was something that immediately piqued my interest and I made plans to buy it as soon as it came out. When it did come out, I happened to be on a weekend trip to Savannah but I still went to the local Best Buy and picked up a copy to watch. I was not disappointed in the least in this movie and enjoyed every second of it. So let’s get on with today’s movie, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.

The plot: Late one night, the vampire lord Meier Link drives his carriage through a city, causing all the crucifixes in the town to be twisted and ruined. The carriage stops at one house and Meier heads inside and grabs a young woman, Charlotte, carrying her away with him. Some time later, D arrives at a meeting with Charlotte’s brother Alan and her father John, as well as several armed men with their guns drawn on D. Alan offers D a down payment of $500,000 with a finished reward of $10 million for the safe return of Charlotte but warns that they also hired the Marcus brothers, a group of vampire hunters, to do the mission. When D asks what should happen if Charlotte is already turned, Alan says he has to get her before that happens but John tells D to kill her as humanely as possible if that is the case, doubling the reward so long as D brings proof, one way or the other. That night, the Marcus Brothers (Borgoth, Nolt, Kyle, Grove, and a female hunter Leila) arrive at a small town searching for signs of Meier and Charlotte only to discover that the entire population has been turned into zombies/ghouls. They attempt to drive through but when some of the villagers pull a giant crucifix down to block the road, Borgoth, Nolt, Kyle, and Leila head out of their armored transport to kill the swarming villagers. After killing the last of them, they hear the sound of approaching hoofbeats and Borgoth fires a crossbow bolt at where the rider should appear but D manages to snatch the bolt out of the air and break it. Borgoth applauds the feat and attempts to get D to join them but D simply rides off and Leila grabs a mechanical unicycle and follows after him. Coming to the desert, D allows the symbiote in his left hand to examine the tracks, then makes his way across a school of sand mantas to continue after Meier. The eventually reach a vampire resting house and the Symbiote says he can see two people inside but before they are able to locate the door, they are distracted by the arrival of Leila. Leila makes her way past the resting house’s defenses and rides up the resting house, just as the door opens and Meier drives the carriage from the resting house. Leila fires a shot at Meier but he is able to deflect the shell and send the shrapnel back towards her, which hits her in the chest and sends her crashing to the ground. D manages to drop onto the carriage as it enters a tunnel and faces off with Meier, who tells D that Charlotte is there by choice. As the two face off against each other, Charlotte cries out Meier’s name when it appears D has the upper hand, distracting D long enough for Meier to knock him from the carriage. D questions if Meier was telling the truth and heads back to his horse. As he goes to leave, he hears the wounded Leila call out for her mother and, despite the symbiote’s protests, stops to tend to Leila’s injury. When Leila regains consciousness, she questions why D did that as he leaves her, just as Borgoth and the others show up. The Marcus Brothers make their way towards the Barbarois, a territory full of mutants that are used by vampires as mercenaries and bodyguards, as Borgoth suspects Meier is heading there. When they spot the carriage in a clearing, Borgoth, Nolt, and Kyle head out to investigate only to discover it is a cloth decoy. Suddenly, they hear the sound of laughter and the Barbarois known as Benge, someone who can manipulate shadows, taunts them. Benge, creeping out of the shadows on the ground, stabs the shadow of Nolt, who cries out in pain and, seeing Benge jumping towards a cliff, swings his massive hammer at him. When Borgoth and Kyle ask what is going on, Nolt warns them to be careful of the shadows, just before he dies from the wound Benge gave him. D reaches the lair of the Barbarois and meets with their leader, an small old man on a unicycle. D asks that the Barbarois stop their protection of Meier and the Old Man says that the Barbarois have been serving the vampires for 5000 years and are not ready to break their record, though the Old Man adds they might be inclined to do so for D. When D comments about the fairness of having him face all of the Barbarois, Benge comments from the carriage, where he, Caroline, and Machira are sitting, and says he can face them. Meanwhile, Kyle is watching the meeting from a cliff while Leila monitors Grove’s vital signs as Borgoth gives him an injection, allowing Grove to send his astral self out to attack the Barbarois. Firing beams of energy, Grove’s astral form is able to kill several of the Barbarois but his beams have no affect on Benge, who simply absorbs them. Meanwhile, D chases after the carriage, slicing Grove’s astral form in half when it tries to stop him and the pieces return to Grove, who gasps out for breath at the experience. As D follows after the carriage but ends up getting caught in Benge’s shadow trap, which kills D’s horse before absorbing D. The Marcus Brothers chase after the carriage and Kyle fires a bazooka at it, knocking Caroline from the back. As their transport runs her down, Caroline manages to grab onto the undercarriage and uses her elemental shifting powers to send metalloic spikes through the transport, causing Borgoth to crash. Leaving Benge to deal with them, Caroline rejoins Machira while Borgoth, Kyle, and Leila check on each other. In the shadow trap, D has the symbiote dispel the spell so D can free himself, which distracts Benge. Benge goes to attack Kyle when Borgoth, remembering Nolt’s warning, fires several bolts into the nearby shadows, eventually hitting Benge and allowing Kyle to kill him as he tries to escape. Kyle and Leila go to get some fuel for their transport while Borgoth makes repairs and as they finish, they see D approaching the town. Leila sends Kyle back to Borgoth while she stays behind and tells the local sheriff about D. D heads to the town’s stable and buys a new horse from the stable owner but as D saddles the horse, the sheriff and some men show up and tell D to leave without the horse. The owner argues with the sheriff and tells him about how years ago, vampires kidnapped 10 children and a dhampir hunter managed to rescue them but was then run out of town by the townspeople. The owner then reveals that he was one of the kids and recognized D as the one who had saved them and holds the sheriff at bay so D can ride off. The carriage is stopped at a lake so the horses can rest and get water and Charlotte exits the carriage so she can enjoy the sun. D approaches her and Charlotte tells him that she is in love with Meier and as they argue, Leila appears and smacks Charlotte. Leila pulls her gun on D and tells him to keep back but D draws his sword and shouts a warning to Leila, just as Caroline attacks her and knocks her down. D faces off against Caroline but begins suffering from heat syndrome for being out in the sun too long. He finally manages to cut Caroline into pieces but as he works to dig himself a hole to heal himself, Caroline’s head is shown to still be alive. Leila observes D and when she is contacted by Borgoth, she tells him where the carriage is heading but lies about seeing D. As D rests, Leila is attacked by Caroline and Leila throws a knife into her head, which has no affect on her but when lightning starts to strike, the knife serves as a lightning rod and kills Caroline. Leila takes shelter from the rain in the same grove that D is in and starts talking to him, revealing that her mother was kidnapped and turned by a vampire, which is what led her to becoming a hunter. She says she worries about no one remembering her when she is gone and says they should make a pact to put flowers on the others grave if they survive. D agrees to do so and when she asks why he would do that, D says that because he is a dhampir, he doesn’t have the opportunity for a normal life like she could have. Borgoth and Kyle ambush the carriage on a bridge, with Borgoth shooting Machira off the bridge when he tries to stop them. Kyle grabs Charlotte from the carriage and as she struggles with them, they are all shocked to see Meier emerge from the carriage and head towards them. As Meier begins to smolder and catch fire, Borgoth shoots him in the shoulder and knees, taunting him and increasing the agony he is feeling. As Leila watches all of this from afar, Charlotte manages to get free of Kyle and rushes forward to embrace Meier, then pulls out one of the bolts and says she will kill herself so she doesn’t have to live without Meier. Kyle goes to grab Charlotte but is killed by Machira, who has turned into his werewolf form, and Borgoth is wounded and goes to detonate the charges in the bridge only to discover that Machira removed them and placed them in the river below. Machira helps Charlotte and Meier back into the carriage and drives off towards the Castle of Chaythe, home of the vampire Countess Carmilla. Sensing D’s approach, Machira leaves the carriage on it’s course and goes to delay him but is easily killed. At the castle, Carmilla greets Meier and Charlotte and says she is happy for their love, then shows them the rocket that will take them to the City in the Stars, a vampiric refuge on an orbiting satellite, though she isn’t sure if the rocket will still fly. As she shows them to their room, Charlotte tells Meier she wants him to turn her but he refuses, saying she doesn’t know what she is asking. Meier heads out, as he senses D nearby, but when he locates D, he is shocked to find that D has Charlotte with him. D says that Charlotte wants to go back and as Meier approaches in disbelief, an axe from one of the suits of armor suddenly cuts him in half and as he falls, it is revealed that D and Charlotte were merely an illusion cast by Carmilla. Meanwhile, D enters the castle and is soon confronted by Carmilla’s ghost, who says she loved D’s father and that he reminds her of him. Borgoth, Leila, and Grove arrive at the castle and despite Grove saying they should leave, Borgoth and Leila enter the castle and separate to find Charlotte. Borgoth sees two coffins flying towards him and shoots them but sees Kyle and Nolt emerging from them, distracting him long enough to be killed by his own crossbow bolts. Leila is confronted by an illusion of her younger self kneeling by the grave of her mother and Leila tries to comfort the little girl. D is able to dispel the illusion he is met by, then saves Leila from being killed but he is shot by Borgoth, who has been turned by Carmilla. Borgoth grabs Leila and threatens to kill Leila unless D drops his sword but he is attacked by Grove, who had injected himself with the drug, and uses the last of his life to kill Borgoth and save Leila. Meanwhile, Charlotte approaches an illusion of Meier, who embraces and bites her, then drops her to the ground. Charlotte’s blood runs across the ground and merges with Carmilla’s corpse, allowing her to start to revive but D fights with her ghost and manages to slay it, while a revived Meier destroys her corpse before it can reach Charlotte. As the symbiote absorbs the last of Carmilla’s spirit, Meier approaches Charlotte and holds her as she dies in his arms. As the castle begins crumbling around them, Meier moves to take Charlotte with him to the rocket but D stops him, saying he needs to return the body to her family. As the two begin fighting, Leila approaches Charlotte’s body and, having grown tired of all the fighting and death, takes the ring from Charlotte’s finger and tosses it to the ground. D gets the upper hand on Meier and stabs him, missing his heart. When Meier questions why, D picks up the ring and says that Charlotte is dead and the ring will serve as proof of her death. D leaves, with Leila following after him while Meier takes Chalotte’s body and boards the rocket. Outside, Leila asks D for a lift into town, joking that the reward should be hers since she grabbed the ring first, but as she goes to mount onto the horse, she stops to watch the rocket blasting into space, willing it to make it. Some time later, a funeral is held and a little girl spots D observing from the shade of a tree on a nearby hilltop. The girl approaches D and asks if she is here for her grandmother Leila’s funeral and when D turns to her, she recognizes him from her grandmother’s stories. She invites D to their home for dinner but D declines, saying he was merely there to keep a promise to his friend and is happy to see that she was wrong about not being missed. The little girl is sad that D won’t come for dinner but thanks him for coming to the funeral and D smiles at the girl before riding off.

This is definitely a worthy sequel to the original movie and a great movie in it’s own right. The voice acting was pretty good, with several known actors and voice actors being attached to the film. The story was interesting, adding a touch more sci-fi elements to it, primarily the rocket ships and vampiric cities in orbit around the planet, than in the original. I will say that there were some changes from the novel this was based on but some of them were definitely for the better, as there was some rape involved in the novel that was rather disturbing, not like any sort of rape isn’t disturbing on it’s own. The animation was great and had a much more gothic style to it than the original that really helped give the movie more of a fantasy/horror feel to it. It also felt like the character designs fit more with some of the original artwork used in the novels, which was pretty great on it’s own. A great movie and definitely something that is worth giving a shot.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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