adventure, comedy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

October 21st, 2017 Movie – Spaceballs

spaceballs

There is no better way to start a Saturday than with some laughs. Ok, there might be one or two better ways but starting with a laugh does make the rest of the day seem better. Now this right here happens to be one of, if not my absolute favorite, Mel Brooks movie. I think part of that is because it was the first one of his movies I ever saw in theaters. The other part is the subject that it parodies, Star Wars. Either way, it took quite a while before I ended up buying this movie on DVD. Not entirely sure why but I did decide to rectify that decision as soon as I could. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Spaceballs.

The plot: The evil Spaceballs have squandered all of the clean air on their planet and come up with a plan to steal all of the air from the nearby planet Druidia. Dark Helmet, on board the massive starship Spaceball One, arrives at Druidia with the intention of kidnapping the Princess Vespa when she leaves for her honeymoon and ransoming her for the combination to Druidia’s air shield. On Druidia, Vespa doesn’t want to marry Prince Valium but King Roland says she has too; as he is the last prince and she must marry someone of noble blood. After walking down the aisle, Vespa races past the altar and heads to her car and leaves Druidia, taking Dot Matrix, her droid-of-honor, with her. On planet Spaceball, President Skroob denies reports about that planet’s limited air supply when he gets word that Helmet has spotted Princess Vespa. Skroob heads to the control room, choosing to walk after a transporter accident put his head on backwards, and after seeing Vespa’s position on the radar, orders Helmet to continue with the plan. Spaceball One begins firing on Vespa’s Mercedes and Vespa calls her father for help, while Helmet chastises the gunner and learns that he is surrounded by assholes. Roland contacts a mercenary called Lone Starr and his sidekick Barf, a Mog (half-man, half-dog), and begs them to save Vespa, offering them anything. Lone Starr asks for $1 million space bucks, which he needs to payback the notorious gangster Pizza the Hutt, and Roland agrees. Lone Starr and Barf locate Vespa, who has been caught in Spaceball One’s magna-beam, and they jam Spaceball One’s radar so they can approach the Mercedes undetected. Barf then climbs down a ladder to get Vespa and Dot but Vespa refuses to leave her matched luggage and so Barf is forced to carry it onto their Winnebago and they fly off just as the Mercedes is brought aboard Spaceball One. In the hangar, Helmet approaches the Mercedes only to find it empty and when the radar technician says the radar is repaired and they picked up a Winnebago, Helmet realizes that Lone Starr had saved her. The Spaceballs give chase and when Lone Starr tries to get away by going to light speed, Helmet orders Colonel Sandurz to go to “ludicrous speed”, which causes them to overshoot Lone Starr and when Sandurz pulls the emergency brake, Helmet goes flying into a control panel. Meanwhile, Lone Starr and Barf drop their Winnebago out of light speed only to find that the used up all of their fuel and are forced to crash onto the desert moon of Vega. Lone Starr and Vespa, who had been arguing over the intercom during their escape, finally come face to face and, after a brief hesitation, begin arguing again until Barf reminds them that Helmet will be coming back to look for them. Lone Starr says they should take only what they need to survive but Vespa insists they take all of her luggage. As Lone Starr and Barf carry the bulk of her bags, they stop and open up the giant trunk they are carrying to find a giant hair dryer inside and after arguing with Vespa about it, leaves it in the sand, as he and Barf pick up the now lighter trunk and continue carrying it. Back on Spaceball One, Dark Helmet and Sandurz can’t find any sign of Lone Starr or the others on their scanners so Sandurz tells a crew member to get a copy of Spaceballs. Helmet voices his confusion to Sandurz, as they are in the middle of filming it, but Sanderz tells him it is the latest in home video marketing. They watch the tape fast forwarding through everything that has already happened and, after a confusing moment where they are watching what is being filmed right that second, they soon find out where Lone Starr and Vespa are. On Vega, the group is camping for the night and Lone Starr and Vespa are talking about why Vespa ran from her wedding and the mystery surrounding Lone Starr’s parents, as his only clue is the medallion around his neck. As they get closer, the two are about to kiss when Dot Matrix’s “Virgin Alarm” goes off and she quickly breaks them apart. The next day, the group continues moving through the desert and end up passing out from dehydration (or lack of oil in Dot’s case) but they are rescued by the Dinks, a race of hooded desert dwellers, and taken to their home, the Temple of Yogurt, the Everlasting Know-It-All. Yogurt explains that he is the guardian of the Schwartz, while he and the Dinks sell Spacsballs merchandise from his temple. Later, Yogurt takes a look at Lone Starr’s medallion and is able to read the inscription but tells Lone Starr he can’t reveal what it says until the proper time. He then trains Lone Starr in using the Schwartz, having him lift up the giant statue, which Lone Starr succeeds in doing but then accidentally drops it on Barf’s foot. Outside, Helmet and Sandurz have their men combing the desert, literally, when Helmet senses the presence of the Schwartz. Sandurz locates the temple doorway and Helmet is upset to see the sign of Yogurt on the door, telling Sandurz that Yogurt has the upside of the Schwartz while he has the down side. Unable to go inside, Helmet disguises himself as King Roland and calls out to Vespa. Vespa runs out to her father only to find that it is really Helmet and both Vespa and Dot are captured. Yogurt gives Lone Starr some gas so he and Barf can go after them and as they say goodbye, he gives Lone Starr the Ring of the Schwartz and a fortune cookie, telling him to open it before he eats it. Meanwhile, Helmet takes Vespa to Spaceball City, where he contacts King Roland and threatens to have plastic surgery performed on Vespa to give her back her old nose unless Roland gives them the combination to the air shield. When Vespa faints, Roland agrees to give them the combination and once he does, Helmet comments on how “1,2,3,4,5” is the combination an idiot would use for his luggage. Skroob shows up and after hearing the combination, which he says is the same as his luggage, he orders Spaceball One prepped to leave and tells them to change the combination on his luggage. Lone Starr and Barf arrive at Spaceball City and knock out some guards so they can steal their uniforms and sneak inside. Once inside, they locate the Vespa and Dot but run into some more guards and are forced to fight their way out. As they run for it, the Spaceballs believe they have them captured but ended up capturing their stunt doubles instead. Outside, the group heads for the Winnebago only to have one of the Spaceballs fuse the lock with an errant blast. Lone Starr gives Vespa the gun while he works with Barf on getting the door open and Vespa quickly shoots the remaining guards after they singe her hair with a laser blast. They head to Druidia to find that Spaceball One has transformed into a giant robot maid and is using a vacuum cleaner to suck up all the air from Druidia. Lone Starr uses the Schwartz to flip the vacuum’s switch to reverse the air flow, restoring the air to Druidia, then flies inside the robot’s head to search for a self destruct button. After locating it, he heads outside to activate it, knocking out the guards along the way, but before he can press the button, he is confronted by Helmet. The two use their Schwartz rings to fashion lightsabers and begin fighting, with Helmet killing a cameraman and the two of them getting their Schwartz’s twisted, Helmet manages to trick Lone Starr and steal the ring then throw it down the drain. As Lone Starr dodges the blasts from Helmet’s ring, he is contacted telepathically by Yogurt, who tells him the ring was a fake and the Schwartz is within him. Lone Starr uses the Schwartz to grab a  mirror and uses it to reflect Helmet’s blast into Helmet’s groin, causing him to stumble back in pain and accidentally press the self destruct button. As the self destruct countsdown, Lone Starr races back to the Winnebago and they race out of there just before it explodes, while Helmet, Skroob, and Sandurz end up trapped on the robot after everyone else uses all of the escape pods and they are blasted into space inside the head. The group cheers over the robot’s destruction and head down towards Druidia and as they are landing, Lone Starr and Barf see a news report that Pizza the Hutt is dead and Barf gets excited at the thought of keeping all of the money. Landing at the palace, Roland is happy to see his daughter back and shows her that Valium is there waiting for her as well, which upsets Lone Starr and he quickly leaves with Barf. The two head to a Space fueling station and as they refuel, head into the diner to get some food but when a xenomorph bursts out of the chest of a nearby space traveler, then starts singing “Hello, My Baby” (ala Michigan J. Frog), they quickly leave. Barf complains about being hungry so Lone Starr gives him the fortune cookie Yogurt gave him but when Barf opens it, the image of Yogurt appears. Yogurt tells Lone Starr that the medallion is a royal birth certificate, making him a prince, then tells him to use the special fuel in the glove compartment in order to make it back to Druidia in time to stop Vespa from marrying Valium. Meanwhile, Vespa is upset that Lone Starr took the money and left but when Roland tells her he only took $248 dollars for “lunch, gas, and tolls”, she realizes that Lone Starr loved her. Just as the minister asks her if she takes Valium as her husband, Lone Starr and Barf appears and when she learns that Lone Starr is a prince, she shoves Valium aside and agrees to marry Lone Starr. The two are wed and fly off in the Winnebago while on a distant planet, the robot maid’s head and arm land on a remote beach, where two Chimpanzees from the Planet Of The Apes witness the three Spaceballs climbing out of her nose and one of them remarks, “Oh, shit. There goes the planet.”

Spaceballs met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, several critics enjoyed the movie but felt it was a far cry from some of Brook’s earlier works. Mel Brooks got George Lucas’ permission to parody any and all things Star Wars related on the condition that no merchandise be produced for the movie. George Lucas did love the script and had his special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic, help with making the film, had the Millennium Falcon appear in a cameo at the diner, and also allowed Brooks to use an unused escape pod clip from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $38.1 million off of a $22.7 million budget but received even more success when it hit home video, becoming one of Mel Brooks most popular movies.

This is such a funny, and quotable, movie to watch. The acting was really good, with Rick Moranis (Helmet), Bill Pullman (Lone Starr), John Candy (Barf), and Mel Brooks (Skroob/Yogurt) all doing great jobs in their roles. The story was well written and did a good job of parodying Star Wars, while also ripping briefly on Star Trek, Transformers, and Planet Of The Apes as well. I have to admit that, after learning about the deal Brooks and Lucas made about no merchandising from the film being produced, it makes that whole merchandising scene with Yogurt that much funnier (side note, I loved how the “Spaceballs coloring book and lunch box” were actually a Transformers coloring book and lunch box with a Spaceballs sticker slapped on them (also, I totally had that Transformers lunch box as a kid)). I will admit, some of the comedic timing and pacing didn’t seem as good as his previous movies but there were still a lot of laughs to be had, with the pairing of Candy and Pullman, as well as Moranis with George Wyner (Sandurz) and Brooks (Skroob) making for most of the laughs involved. A really funny movie that has me geared up for some movies coming down the road.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 17th, 2017 Movie – Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

sharknado 3

My apologies for being late with today’s post. I had to go in to work early today and spent 75% of the day in one meeting after another. Not exactly the best way to start off the day. So now I get to come home, fairly exhausted, and try and finish watching today’s movie (because I managed to watch a little bit of it this morning) and write up my review before I pass out on the couch. I know, this is not exactly a funny or endearing story about today’s movie. Well, to borrow the tagline from yesterday’s movie, Shark Happens. Now, onto today’s movie, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!.

The plot: Fin Shepherd is racing through the streets of Washington DC until he is met by a pair of Secret Service Agents, who are there to take him to the White House. As he is en route, Fin calls April, who is pregnant and currently in Orlando with her mother May and their daughter Claudia. As the car gets stuck in traffic, Fin chooses to get out and continue running to the White House, where security stops him until White House Chief of Staff Gary Martin Hayes shows up and escorts him inside, where President Marcus Robbins awards him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At the banquet afterwards, Fin is making the rounds, stopping to say hello to his brother-in-law Martin, who is there as a guest, when he is surprised to see the Mayor of New York City there, who awards Fin with a golden chainsaw for his efforts in saving New York. Stepping outside, Fin checks some weather data he asked for and when the President joins him, Fin says he can sense when a sharknado is going to form and says that DC isn’t safe. Fin and President Robbins head back inside just as a sharknado forms and begins attacking DC. As the storm hits the White House, Martin manages to save Vice President Sonia Buck, while Fin and President Robbins are forced to shoot their way out after all of the President’s Secret Service are killed. As they make it outside, the storm suddenly dissipates and before Fin can wonder about it, he and the others quickly lift up a fallen flag to kill a shark that is falling towards them. With flights grounded in DC, Fin rents a car and starts driving to Orlando, calling April and Claudia on the way to tell them he will be there tomorrow. April, Claudia and May are at Universal Studios Resort and May for Claudia’s birthday and May gives Claudia some money as she leaves to go have fun with her friend Jess. Claudia is met by an employee and given VIP passes that allow her and Jess to skip to the front of the line on rides but Jess sees a boy, Chad, that she starts flirting with so Claudia ends up riding on the roller coaster with his friend Billy but as she leaves the roller coaster, Claudia accidentally forgets her phone. Meanwhile, Fin is driving when he encounters a dense fog and as people start running out of the fog in a panic, he realizes the fog is actually a “fognado”, with sharks swimming inside. As Fin fights off a shark that smashes through the window, an armored RV shows up and two masked people emerge, with one fighting off the sharks while the other takes out the fognado. As the fog clears, one of the people approaches the car and takes off the mask and Fin is surprised to see that it is Nova. As the two talk, Nova introduces Fin to her partner, Lucas Stevens, and she explains that the collect all the data they can on the sharknadoes in order to be better prepared, showing him a dead shark and explaining that they are finding birds in their stomachs now as well as ice crystals in their blood, indicating that they are staying in the atmosphere longer and able to survive. Nova asks Fin to help her but Fin says he can’t as he needs to get to Orlando, and Nova is upset to learn that he and April are back together and having a child but offers to give Fin a lift there. Lucas is upset at first but Nova tells him that they have been tracking the storm’s epicenter and it has been heading south so it is on their way. In Orlando, April and May are discussing baby names when a shark lands in a nearby pool. April goes to save a lifeguard, with her robotic hand able to turn into a chainsaw, but May stops her from doing so. Fin calls to check on April after hearing about the entire East Coast of the US is in jeopardy and April is not surprised to learn that Nova is with him. After hearing about the shark attack, tells her to get Claudia and get somewhere safe, then tells Nova that they need to hurry but they find the bridge is washed out. Since they are near Charleston, Fin tells Lucas to head towards the Charleston Air Force Base, where General Gottlieb, the base commanding officer, is a family friend. After being cleared to go inside, Fin talks with Gottlieb, who agrees to let him take their training plane to Orlando and Nova tells him that she can fly, as Fin’s son Matt had trained her how to fly before he deployed. As Fin and Nova get in the plane, a sharknado hits and Lucas heads towards the Beast to take car of it but he is severely wounded by sharks, which bite off one of his legs and arms. Crawling towards the fail safe device on the roof of the Beast, he loses his other arm and leg and is forced to hit the button with his chin, blowing up the RV and dispersing the sharknado. Nova sees what happens and cries out but Fin tells her that they have to leave or else Lucas would have died in vain. As they make their way towards Orlando, Nova asks Fin how he handles dealing with the sharks and he tells her he thinks about his family, which includes friends like her. As they pass over Daytona, they see a sharknado forming over the Daytona 500 and they use the extra fuel tank as a means to destroy the sharknado, or at least kill the sharks, but once they succeed, an errant shark hits the plane and they end up crashing into a lake but emerge unscathed (and without their clothes (seriously R.A.F.)). They head into the park to try and find April and Claudia, just as more sharks begin falling from the sky and attacking people. Meanwhile, April uses a tracking app to track Claudia’s phone to the roller coaster, and goes with the operator, Bruce, to see if she is stuck in the cars. Elsewhere, Claudia, Billy, Jess, and Chad are riding the “Disaster” ride when Chad is killed by a shark, while Jess gets killed as they run from the ride. Fin uses his app and meet April on the roller coaster but they find no sign of Claudia. Bruce realizes that they are talking about Claudia’s phone, which he hands to them, but a shark ends up killing him and activating the roller coaster. Fin is trapped in one of the cars and ends up flying off the course and crashing into the “Twister” ride, where he kills another shark before leaving. Fin meets back up with April and May, and they are then joined by Claudia, Billy, and Nova. Seeing the sharknado approaching, Fin has them all take shelter inside the Universal Globe, which is sent rolling around by the sharknado before landing on a nearby tower. Everyone is ok except for May, who had hit her head during the globes’ spinning, and she is taken away in an ambulance. Nova shows Fin and the others Lucas’ theories on dispersing the merged sharknadoes and rather than using several nuclear explosions, he chooses to call his father, Colonel Gil Shepard, and try to get him to use his contacts with NASA to help. Fin heads to the diner that Gil owns and works on convincing him to help by launching a space shuttle and detonating the fuel tanks to create a column of heat big enough to destroy the sharknadoes. As the sharknadoes form a massive storm wall that ranges the entire East Coast, Fin and Gil get ready to board the shuttle but April, who didn’t know Fin was going on the shuttle, pleads with him not to go but the sharknado destroys the gang plank and April is forced to board the shuttle with Fin. With more sharks falling, the national guard works on keeping the sharks away from the shuttle and when two guardsmen are killed, Claudia and Billy take up their weapons and start killing the sharks while Nova uses a jet to help clear a path. As the shuttle goes to launch, Claudia and Billy head back inside mission control but Billy is killed after he pushes Claudia inside to avoid a falling shark. The shuttle launches and they detonate the tanks but it does not dissipate the sharknado wall. Gil then says he has a Plan B, and heads towards a nearby satellite, which is a cover for part of the fabled Star Wars program, planning to use the laser to vaporize the storm wall. When they are unable to remotely activate the satellite, Gil does a space walk to the satellite in order to manually reboot the system and fire the laser. The laser succeeds in destroying the storm wall but Gil tells Fin that they only have enough fuel to either come get him, or enter re-orbit, but not both. Suddenly, some sharks that were blown up into space by the laser begin attacking the shuttle, and Fin works on killing them but one of the sharks swallows April, while a second one destroys the shuttle. Fin ends up swallowed as well but as the shark drops back to Earth, Fin is able to punch a hole into the charred flesh and use his emergency chute to safely land. Crawling out of the shark, Fin sees more sharks falling from the sky and hears a chainsaw coming from one of them. Heading towards the shark, Fin reaches inside to pull out April and instead sees his new born baby emerging from the shark. Fin grabs his baby, then pulls April out of the shark as well and the two hug each other and their newborn son. Claudia and Nova come running up to them and Fin introduces them to the baby, calling him Gil after his dad. They all look up towards the sky and Fin throws a salute at the moon, where unknown to them, Colonel Shepard has managed to make it to the moon’s surface. Fin looks for his dad’s wings that he had given him before they left and April sees them nearby and goes to pick them up when a piece of the shuttle falls towards her and as they all scream out, the debris lands on top of April as the screen goes black and the word “Fin?” appears on the screen.

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! met with negative reviews from the critics, holding a 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! bites off more than it can chew, leaving viewers with an overlong mess that isn’t even bad enough to be good.” Once again, the movie featured several references to Jaws, but also had people make references to what they are most well known for, such as Lou Ferrigno telling someone “Don’t make me angry.”, or George R.R. Martin being killed next to a bride during a wedding. Sharknado 4 was announced during the premier of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! and fans were asked to use Twitter to vote on if April would survive for the 4th movie, using the hashtags #AprilLives or #AprilDies to cast their votes.

The Sharknado movies are still a lot of fun to watch, but I will admit that this one was a little lacking compared to the previous one. The acting was good, with Ian Ziering (Fin) and Cassandra Scerbo (Nova) doing a good job reprising their roles, while I actually liked Tara Reid (April) in this outing. Ryan Newman did a good job in taking over the role of Claudia Shepard, while David Hasselhoff and Bo Derek were great playing Fin’s father Gil and April’s mother May respectively. The story was honestly a little weak, as I felt like they could have done a better job in setting things up instead of just blatantly making it a doomsday scenario almost right from the start. The cameos definitely added a lot of humor to the movie; either by who they were or what they were doing in the movie, or an inside joke or reference to previous roles the people had. The cliffhanger at the end was actually a good way to keep people invested in the franchise, as I don’t recall as much hype over this movie compared to the previous two. The special effects were pretty good and I liked a lot of the shark scenes but there were definitely a couple of times where they looked too fake, with sometimes it being really funny, such as the guy being eaten by a shark hanging from a sign thinking it was the fake shark for the Jaws photo op, but a few times the fakeness hurt the scene. Still, everything together added up to a solid entry in the series and is well worth watching and laughing at.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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