drama, movie, movie review, sports

November 4th, 2018 Movie – Rudy

rudy

“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” Do you know how sick I got of hearing that chant over the years. Ever since this movie came out, that chant would start up sometimes at sporting events, and later anytime there was any sort of an underdog situation. The chant pretty much became a meme, even before memes were a thing. That is one of the reasons that I never saw this movie, the other being that I honestly didn’t really care about it. However, Vudu thinks that I should give this movie a shot so let’s go ahead and have our feel good moment as I watch today’s movie, Rudy.

The plot: Young Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger is growing up in Joilet, Il and tells his family that he plans on playing football for Notre Dame when he graduates high school but his family and friends tease him about it due to his small stature. As Rudy finishes his senior year in high school, he tries to get on the bus for students wanting to attend Notre Dame but his teacher stops him and tells him he doesn’t have the grades for it. 4 years later, Rudy has taken a job at the steel mill where his dad, Daniel, his brother, Frank, and his best friend, Pete, all work. Pete gives Rudy a Notre Dame jacket for his 22nd birthday and Rudy thanks him for being the only person that believed in his dream. Rudy has $1000 saved up to get into Notre Dame but his girlfriend Sherry wants him to use it for a down payment on a house. That night, as Rudy and Pete are in a bar with the other workers, Frank teases Rudy about his constant dreaming and Pete tells him that if he had half of Rudy’s heart, he would have been a better football player, causing a fight to break out between them. The next day, an accident occurs at the mill and Pete is killed in an explosion. At the funeral, Rudy tells Sherry that he has to go to South Bend, or else he will never leave and she tells him that he will have to go alone. As Rudy waits for the bus, Daniel shows up and tries to talk him out of it, telling him of their families history, but when he tries to tell him to be more like Frank, Rudy tells him that he isn’t Frank and gets on the bus. When he arrives at Notre Dame, he asks the security guard to see someone about enrolling and the guard has him meet with Father Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh thinks Rudy is there to become a priest but when Rudy explains that he wants to go to school there but his grades aren’t high enough, Cavanaugh tells him that he will help him get into Holy Cross College, the nearby junior college, for one semester and if he is able to keep his grades up, he may be able to transfer. Later, Rudy sneaks onto the football field but is confronted by Fortune, the groundskeeper, tells him he shouldn’t be there and when Rudy he plans on playing there, Fortune tells him to talk to the coach. Rudy goes to see Coach Ara Parseghian and tells him of his desire to play for the team but Parseghian dismisses him, thinking that he won’t see him again. Rudy begins attending his classes at Holy Cross and meets D-Bob, a graduate student at Notre Dame who is a teaching assistant at Holy Cross. D-Bob tells Rudy that he can help him with his studies and get his grades up, as he is a tutor, in exchange for Rudy’s help in meeting some of the girls on the campus and Rudy agrees. Later, Rudy goes back to the stadium and talks with Fortune about working for him, offering to do it for free, and Fortune refuses at first but when Rudy tells him that he just wants to be a part of the university, Fortune agrees to hire him at minimum wage. As time passes, D-Bob has Rudy tested and it is discovered that he dyslexia, which is why he did so bad in school. Rudy starts doing exercises and gets an A in a literature exam, which he happily shares with Fortune. As they get ready for work, Rudy notices the cot in Fortune’s office and he unlocks the window so he can sneak in and sleep on it, as he is homeless, but Fortune notices him and chooses not to say anything. Rudy continues to attend classes and do anything he can to get close to and be a part of the team. One night, Rudy finds a blanket and a key to the office on the cot and he thanks Fortune for them the next day but Fortune denies knowing anything about it. After finishing his first semester at college, Rudy applies for a transfer to Notre Dame but is rejected. Despite the rejection, Rudy goes home for the Christmas holiday and shows his dad his report card, and tells him that he didn’t get in this year but he will next year. Frank scoffs at his continued dreams and when their brother John shows up with Sherry, Frank tauntingly tells John to wish Rudy a Merry Christmas. John and Sherry both try to explain things to Rudy but he gets upset and leaves, heading back to South Bend. As the semesters pass, Rudy is rejected each time and he starts to feel discouraged that he will never make it into Notre Dame but on his last semester of transfer eligibility, he receives a letter saying that he has been accepted to Notre Dame. Rudy goes home and shows his father the acceptance letter, who is happy for him and announces it to everyone at the steel mill. Rudy heads back to South Bend and tries out for the team as a walk on, but the assistant coach warns all of the players that there are 95 scholarship athletes but only 60 students will be on the field so at least 35 of them will be watching from the stands. Rudy goes through the drills and he impresses the coaches enough with his drive and heart to make it onto the team. Rudy goes to see Fortune and thanks him for his help the past few years and reminds him of his promise to watch his first game if Rudy dresses out for the game and Fortune says that he will be there if it happens. As Rudy practices with the team, some of the other players criticize him for his trying too hard and tell him to dial it down but Rudy refuses to do it. When he makes a visit home, his father and John both congratulate him on making the team but Frank mocks him by saying they never see him when they watch the games on TV, a dig at Rudy just being on the practice squad. Rudy goes to see Parseghian about being able to dress out for one of the games and Parseghian agrees to let Rudy dress out during his senior year. Rudy is excited and calls his dad to let him know but as the Spring semester starts, Parseghian quits and former Green Bay Packers coach Dan Devine becomes the new head coach. D-Bob leaves town and tells Rudy that he will fly back to watch him when he dresses out and tells him not to lose hope but as the weeks go by and Rudy doesn’t see his name on the list, he begins to feel more and more dejected. At the next to last home game approaches and Rudy finds his name on the list, Rudy decides to quit the team. Fortune sees him in the stadium instead of on the practice field and when Rudy tells him that he quit, Fortune chastises him for the decision. Fortune then reveals that he never watched a game from the stands but he did watch from the bench when he was a player but he quit the team because he felt he wasn’t getting enough playing time due to his skin color, and tells Rudy not to make the same regretful choice he did. Rudy returns to the practice field, prompting his teammates to begin applauding him, much to Devine’s confusion. Later, most of the starting players tell Devine that the want Rudy to dress out in their place, laying their jerseys down on his desk in a show of Solidarity for Rudy. Devine relents and when Rudy is told the news that he will be dressing out for the game against Georgia Tech, he calls Frank and begs him to bring the family to the stadium to watch him be on the team. On game day, the team captain has Rudy lead them out of the tunnel and Rudy’s family, as well as D-Bob and his wife, cheer when they see Rudy, while Fortune smile as he watches from inside the tunnel. The game commences and as Notre Dame seems poised for victory, Devine refuses to put Rudy in the game. The players on the sideline start chanting Rudy’s name, which is picked up by the fans in the stands. With less than a minute to play, Devine orders the offence to go into victory formation but O’Hara, the tailback, refuses to do that and convinces the quarterback that they need to score quickly so Rudy has a chance to get on the field. Notre Dame scores and Rudy is sent out onto the field as part of the kick off team. With 7 seconds left to play, Rudy is left on the field for the last play and ends up sacking the quarterback. Rudy is carried off the field on his team’s shoulders and a post credits writing reveals that nobody has been carried off the field on their teammates shoulders since (though it has happened since the move came out). Rudy graduated from Notre Dame in 1976 and his younger brothers all ended up going to college and graduating.

Rudy received mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.” In the movie, Rudy is portrayed as having largely gone into the steel industry after graduating high school. In reality, he served four years in the U.S. Navy as a yeoman on a communications ship, which is never mentioned, however the military duffel bag he carries in numerous scenes is stenciled with his name and “U.S.N.”. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $22.8 million off of a $12 million budget.

Ok, I think it is a bit over-hyped but I will admit that this is a good movie. The acting was good, with Sean Astin doing a great job as the title character, with Ned Beatty (Daniel), Charles S. Dutton (Fortune), and Jon Favreau (D-Bob) also doing good jobs in their roles. The story was very well written and even though it didn’t match exactly with the real events, they still managed to convey all of the emotions that Rudy went through in his quest to follow his dream. The drama involved was well done, as you felt Rudy’s constant excitement (which could be a bit sickening at times), as well as his depression and frustration as the setbacks continually pile on him. So it is a good movie and worth watching (but I still would have been fine not watching it).

Rating: 4 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review

April 6th, 2018 Movie – The Unholy

the unholy

Ahhh, the benefit of getting a box set or collection of movies. You buy them for one or more particular movies and end up getting all these bonus movies, for better or worse. Today’s movie was part of a horror movie collection I bought for the sole purpose of getting two movies in it, Chopping Mall and C.H.U.D. II: Bud The Chud, as at the time, it was the only way to get them on DVD (though I think that they have both since received individual releases). While I bought it because of those two movies, there were a couple others that I had seen before and didn’t mind watching again, while some others were going to be new for me. Today’s movie is one of the latter batch, so let’s see what we have with today’s movie, The Unholy.

The plot: In New Orleans, Father Dennis is praying before the altar at St. Agnes church when he is approached by a demon, disguised as an attractive woman in a sheer gown. The demon attempts to seduce the priest, but failing that, she ends up ripping his throat open, leaving him to bleed to death on the floor. Meanwhile, Father Michael is called to the scene of a hit and run accident and as he approaches the injured man, the man grabs him and warns him that a demon is coming for him before collapsing back onto the stretcher and being carried away. 3 years later, Michael is called to the scene of a potential jumper and he leans out the window to offer the man a cigarette when the jumper grabs Michael and drags him out the window to let him fall to the ground below. Elsewhere, Archbishop Mosley is talking with an elderly blind priest, Father Silva, about Michael’s fall, when he gets word of Michael having survived the 17 story fall and when he arrives at the hospital, the doctor tells him that Michael has miraculously suffered no injury at all from the fall. After Michael leaves the hospital, Mosely tells him that he is being placed in charge of St. Agnes and warns Michael that he will have his hands full with it, as it has not been opened since Father Dennis’ murder. After he leaves, Silva remarks to Mosely about Michael being young but he is definitely the chosen one. Michael arrives at St. Agnes and meets Teresa, the caretaker, and Francis, Father Dennis’ German Shepherd, and they work to get the church ready to reopen. One night, Lt. Stern shows up at the church to speak with Michael and tells him he doesn’t like unsolved cases. He tells Michael that another priest was murdered before Dennis and that a girl named Millie had been speaking with Dennis before he died. The next night, Michael heads to the Threshold, a club that features faux black magic/satanic rituals as performance acts. While there, he starts seeing images but shakes them off and goes looking for Millie. Michael tries to talk with her about what happened with Dennis and why she was talking to him but she chooses not to say anything. The next day after mass, Millie shows up at the church and admits to Michael that she saw Dennis for confession the night he was killed. She tells him that she believes that she sold her soul to Luke, the owner of the club, and that he is the devil incarnate. That night, Michael has a dream in which the female demon is dancing in the rain outside his window. The next day, Luke visits the church to speak with Michael about Millie. Luke tells him that the show is just an act, mainly to attract the tourists into the club, and there is nothing real about it but recently, he has been experiencing strange phenomenon at his apartment at night and asks Michael for his help. Michael decides to go with Luke and stay the night at his apartment and he witnesses signs of supernatural activity occurring in the apartment. The next day he goes to see Mosely to report the incident and Mosely tells him that Dennis was approached by Millie and Luke in the same fashion and that he was killed 5 days later. That night, Michael is speaking with Teresa when they hear Francis barking and when they go to check on him, discover his throat cut and his body left on the altar. Michael pays a visit to Threshold and confronts Luke about the attack but Luke denies any involvement and tells Michael to stay away from the club and Millie. Michael goes to talk to Mosely about the incident and Silva tells him that he has been chosen to fight the devil but Michael has a hard time accepting that. When Michael returns to the church, he finds Stern waiting for him, who tells him that Millie has been taken to a nearby psychiatric hospital for attempting to kill Luke. Michael rides with Stern to go see her and she tells him that Luke had tried to rape her, which is why she tried to kill him, and that Dennis had been calling her from Hell and she threatens to kill him and send him to Hell as well. That night, Michael is plagued by visions and comes under a demonic assault and he starts to read a prayer that Silva gave him only for the paper to catch fire. Suddenly, the phone rings and when he answers it, he hears Dennis on the other end, saying he is waiting for him in Hell. The next night, Millie escapes the hospital and heads to the church and begs Michael to let her stay there and he reluctantly agrees and asks Teresa to fix a room for her. The next day, Millie is helping Teresa clean when she becomes fascinated by a statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Teresa tells her it was savaged from a foreign church that had burned down. Luke shows up at the church and questions Millie as to why she is there and wants her to come back to the club with her. When she refuses and Michael shows up to prevent Luke from forcibly taking her, Luke accuses Michael of wanting Millie for himself. Meanwhile, Stern goes to speak with Mosely, telling him of his fears for Michael’s safety and saying they should shut the church down before more blood is spilled in there but Mosely says they have faith in Michael. The next day, Millie approaches Michael with a book and tells him she believes she is being targeted because she is a virgin. She starts to remove her gown and asks Michael to make love to her but Michael says he will not break his vows and promises her that she won’t go to Hell. Michael goes to see Luke and confronts him about trying to manipulate Millie and accuses him of trying to rape her but Luke tells him he never touched Millie, as she has a hang up about men. Luke takes the book to see a psychic that frequents the club but when she looks at the book, she sees the demon motioning towards her on the cover and she starts screaming. Luke leaves and heads towards the church, where Michael finds his eviscerated body hanging in an upside crucifix pose above the altar in the morning. Michael is then approached by Claude, the man who dragged him out the window, and Claude tells him he was forced to do what he did, before suddenly vomiting out blood and then spontaneously combusting, as does the body of Luke. Michael goes to see Silva, who tells him that the Unholy has decided that his church shall be the battleground and warns him that the demon will attempt to seduce him and if he succumbs, he will be used as the Unholy’s vessel but if he resists, the Unholy’s powers of illusion will be banished and he will see it’s true form. That night, the demon approaches Michael in her female form and attempts to seduce Michael but he is able to resist her and tosses her aside. The woman cries out as she is engulfed in smoke and disappears in a flash of light. Suddenly, two small demons attack Michael, impaling his hands onto the altar and tying his legs to the far pews. The demon, in it’s true form, approaches Michael and pulling off part of it’s flesh, forces it into Michael’s mouth and makes him swallow it. As Michael sees visions of himself falling into Hell and the horrors that have happened and what might happen, he hears Millie calling out to him as she enters the chapel. Millie is shocked to see the demon and Michael nailed to the altar and as the demon approaches her, Michael calls out to God, asking for his strength, and he is able to free his hands and casts the Unholy back to hell. As the demon disappears, Michael collapses to the ground and Millie approaches him, to find that Michael has been blinded by the ordeal. Michael asks that she help him leave the church and as they walk away, they don’t notice the statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary begin to weep blood.

I honestly felt like this was a rather boring, average, demonic possession/exorcism movie until the very end, where it just got completely ridiculous. The acting was ok, with Ben Cross (Michael) and Jill Carroll (Millie) doing good jobs in their roles, and I liked Ned Beatty in the small role he played as Stern but everyone else honestly felt like they were kind of phoning it in. The story was ok but I honestly felt like they could have done more with it. The special effects for the poltergeist scene were ok but the part at the end with the demon was just terrible, looking so absolutely fake that it just killed everything the movie had going for it up to that point. The 80’s were a time of boundless horror movies and this is just another one that deserves to be lost in the shuffle.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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

December 11th, 2017 Movie – Superman II

superman 2

As successful as Superman was, I don’t think there was any doubt that a sequel would be made. The funny thing is, the sequel was actually being filmed at the same time as the first movie but was put on hold before it was finished, as the studio wanted to get the first movie finished and see how it did before they completed work on the sequel. Now I don’t remember if I saw this in theaters but I do remember watching it on TV with my dad years ago and the kid in me thought it was awesome to see Superman fighting some other Kryptonians who were just as strong as him. So let’s see if this feeling still holds up with today’s movie, Superman II.

The plot: On Krypton, General Zod, Ursa, and Non break into a facility, killing the guard and breaking one of the crystals inside, but they are quickly captured, where a trial is held and they are banished to the Phantom Zone. Years later, Clark Kent arrives at the Daily Planet only to learn that a terrorist group has taken hostages at the Eiffel Tower and threaten to blow up Paris with a hydrogen bomb if their demands aren’t met. When he learns that Lois Lane has been sent there to cover the story, Clark quickly leaves the building before changing into Superman and flies off towards Paris. In Paris, Lois arrives at the Eiffel Tower but when she hears about the bomb, she sneaks into the Eiffel Tower and climbs underneath one of the elevators so she can get closer to the terrorists for a better story but her purse strap gets snagged on one of the struts, trapping her underneath. The terrorists release the hostages and send them down in one of the elevators while sending the bomb up on one of the others, which happens to be the one Lois is trapped underneath. When the terrorists leave the elevator, the police detonate explosives the placed in the junction box, sending the elevator crashing down but accidentally causing the bomb to be activated. Superman arrives in Paris and quickly flies down and stops the elevator from crashing, rescuing Lois, then flies the elevator car up into space to let it explode safely. When the bomb explodes, it sends shockwaves out that knock Superman back but he quickly recovers and flies back to Earth. However, the shockwaves also strike the Phantom Zone prism as it flies by Earth, freeing Zod, Ursa, and Non. The three Kryptonian fly to the moon, where they proceed to attack and kill three astronauts before flying down to Earth. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor and his henchman Otis, make plans to break out of prison, with Eve Teschmacher’s help by piloting a hot air balloon, but Otis’ weight is too much for the balloon so Luthor kicks the ladder off, leaving Otis behind as he and Teschmacher fly off. Clark and Lois are sent on assignment to Niagara Falls, posing as newlyweds to expose a honeymoon scam. While they are walking by the falls, Lois starts to get suspicious about Clark when Superman shows up to save a boy who fell off the railing and Clark is nowhere to be seen. At the same time, Luthor and Teschmacher head north and eventually reach the Fortress of Solitude, where Luthor learns of the existence of Zod, Ursa, and Non. Learning that there was a chance the three could escape the Phantom Zone, Luthor realizes that the strange alpha waves he had been detecting were the criminals and makes plans to contact them. Back at Niagara Falls, Lois voices her suspicions to Clark about his being Superman and decides to jump in the falls to prove her theory. As she makes her way down the river, Clark rushes along the bank and tries to save Lois without revealing his secret identity, eventually using his heat vision to sever a tree branch for her to use to stay afloat before she is able to get to shore. As she is chastising herself back in their hotel room, Lois asks Clark to hand her a brush and as he moves towards her, he trips over a bear-skin rug and his hand falls into the nearby fire. When Lois checks his hand and realizes it is unharmed, Clark finally comes clean and Lois says that he probably did so subconsciously. Realizing that they need to talk, especially after Lois says that she loves him, so he takes her to the Fortress of Solitude so he can explain everything. Meanwhile, Zod, Ursa, and Non arrive in the small town of East Houston, Idaho and quickly take over the town. When the military arrives to deal with them, the three Kryptonians easily defeat the military and then head to Washington to force the President to surrender. Back in the Fortress, Superman speaks with the image of his mother and learns there is a way to remove his powers and make him mortal, so he can live his life with Lois, but she cautions him that the process is irreversible. Clark agrees to go with it and enters a chamber that is filled with red solar radiation, removing his powers from him. Lois is shocked that he gave up his powers for her as the two end up sleeping together before making the journey back to Metropolis. When they stop at a diner to eat, Clark gets into a fight with a man harassing Lois and ends up getting beat up. As Lois helps him to his feet and tends to him, they see a televised broadcast of the President surrendering to Zod before pleading for Superman to help them. As Zod comes on camera and calls out Superman, Clark realizes the danger that he has placed on the Earth by surrendering his powers and decides to head back to the Fortress to see if there is anyway to get them back. Making his way up North, he finds the Fortress apparently destroyed by the process that removed his powers and calls out to his father, only to notice the green crystal that built the Fortress glowing on the ground. Meanwhile, Luthor arrives at the White House and informs Zod that Superman is the son of Jor-El, which angers Zod and the three Kryptonians head to Metropolis and attack the Daily Planet to draw him out. As they threaten Lois and Perry, Superman, having regained his powers, appears outside and draws the three villains outside to fight. The three Kryptonians battle with Superman throughout the city, and Zod takes advantage of Superman’s weakness by constantly attacking the people in the city. Realizing the battle couldn’t continue without hurting someone, Superman flies away, drawing reproach from the crowd below. Zod returns to the Daily Planet to declare his victory and tells Non to kill Luthor but Luthor says he knows where Superman is going and so Zod tells Non to stop and they take Luthor and Lois to follow after Superman. When they arrive at the Fortress, they renew their attack on Superman, who manages to use several tricks in order to grab Zod but Non and Ursa grab Lois and threaten to rip her in half unless Superman releases Zod. Superman reluctantly does so and Luthor approaches the group, only for Zod to say that he has outlived his usefulness. Luthor approaches Superman to ask for his help and Superman tells him to get the Kryptonian into the chamber so they can steal their powers. Luthor immediately warns Zod of the trap and Zod forces Superman to go into the chamber and then tells Luthor to activate the chamber. The room is bathed in light and when Superman exits the chamber, Zod orders Superman to kneel before him and swear fealty to him. Superman kneels but when he grabs Zod’s hand, Superman easily crushes it before picking him up and tossing him into a wall, where Zod falls into a crevice. Non tries to attack Superman but when he tries to fly, he fails and falls into another crevice while Lois knocks Ursa into a third crevice. Luthor realizes that Superman had switched things so that he was protected in the chamber while Zod and the others were exposed outside and Superman admits he knew that Luthor would try to double cross him which is why he didn’t tell him the truth. Superman flies Lois back home, and supposedly takes Luthor back to prison, and the next day, Clark goes to talk with Lois at work. Lois admits how hard it is knowing that he will always be flying off to save people and she can’t react any differently to him at work or outside without accidentally revealing who he is or how she feels about him. Clark kisses her and uses the kiss to wipe her memory of the last few days so that she doesn’t remember that he is Superman. Clark then leaves to go get Lois a hamburger and ends up running into the man who beat him up, where he easily beats the man this time. Superman then flies an American flag back to the top of the White House, apologizing to the President for being late and promising he will be there they next time they need help, then flies off to orbit the Earth.

Superman II met with high praise from the critics, holding an 87% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The humor occasionally stumbles into slapstick territory, and the special effects are dated, but Superman II meets, if not exceeds, the standard set by its predecessor.” The movie was about 75% filmed at the same time that Superman was filmed but when the studio went to finish the movie, director Richard Donner was no longer directing it as he was fired over disagreements with the studio. However, there were roughly 24 minutes of unused footage that Donner shot which were incorporated into an alternate DVD release titled the Richard Donner cut. While not as successful as it’s predecessor, the movie was still a box office success, earning $190.4 million off of a $50 million budget.

Ok, child me kind of died a little inside because this didn’t really hold up over time. Still, it wasn’t that bad of a movie. The acting was good, with Christopher Reeve (Clark), Margot Kidder (Lois), and Gene Hackman (Luthor) doing great jobs reprising their roles. I also liked Terrence Stamp (Zod) and Sarah Douglas (Ursa) but my favorite was Jack O’Halloran (Non), as his child-like innocence mixed with the Kryptonian powers made for some great, and sometimes funny, scenes. The story was pretty good though, as I haven’t seen the Donner cut, I am curious to see how the two versions compare and differ. However, one thing I didn’t like is the additional powers they seemed to give Zod and the others, such as the finger beams or the somewhat telekinetic powers they had. Also, and I apologize if this upsets anyone, but what was up with the stupid expanding chest shield thing that Superman threw at Non? The special effects honestly didn’t stand up to the test of time, as they truly look dated when watching it now. Still, this is a fun movie to watch and honestly better than some of the more recent efforts.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, drama, movie, movie review

December 10th, 2017 Movie – Superman

superman

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

August 30th, 2017 Movie – Shooter

shooter

Once again, I find myself watching a movie that is based off of a book that I never read. I remember seeing the trailers for this movie and thinking it was just another generic action movie. At some point I got bored and ended up getting a used copy of it as a spur of the moment purchase. So I ended up watching it and almost immediately afterwards, decided to buy the book that the movie was based on just to compare the two. As is usually the case, I liked the book better than the movie but you can judge for yourself as I watch today’s movie, Shooter.

The plot: On a mission in Africa in a country they are not supposed to be in, Gunnery Sergeant Bob Lee Swagger and his spotter Donnie Fenn are keeping watch over a US team as they head back to Ethiopia, taking out a military patrol vehicle when as it approaches them. When a second, larger force is spotted chasing after the US team, Swagger begins shooting at them, taking out several of the men/drivers and forcing the enemy force to focus on trying to attack them, rather than chasing after the other soldiers. They call in what is happening but the base in Ethiopia shuts down the channel, as the base commander deems them expendable. When a helicopter shows up to help the opposing forces, Donnie is killed but Swagger uses a CheyTac Intervention to take out the helicopter. 3 years later, Swagger is living in a self-imposed exile in the Wind River Range portion of the Rockies in Wyoming with only his dog as company when he is approached by Colonel Isaac Johnson. Swagger is dismissive and tells them to leave but after Johnson shows him his Congressional Medal of Honor, he convinces Swagger to give him 5 minutes to talk. Inside Swagger’s home, Johnson tells him that he needs Swagger to plan a presidential assassination, explaining that the received intel on a possible assassination attempt that will occur in one of three cities and they want Swagger’s help in preventing it. Bob tells them he won’t do it and takes a picture of their vehicle’s license plate to check their identity. After the seeing if the shot that Johnson talked about was possible, Swagger decides to help out and after going to the three cities given to him, tells Johnson that Philadelphia is the likely location. Johnson convinces Swagger to help him in spotting the possible sniper’s location and they head to Philadelphia, where the arch bishop of Ethiopia is giving the President a medal. As the President arrives, local police officer Stanley Timmons arrives at Johnson’s command post and introduces himself to Swagger, who comments about Timmons’ holster being unsnapped. When the President gets up to the podium to speak, Swagger tells them the sniper is loaded and about to fire so they should take him out now but as he turns to face Johnson, Timmons shoots Swagger. At the same time, the sniper fires but hits the arch bishop, not the President, causing a panic at the scene. Swagger falls out of the window and manages to escape, while Jack Payne, one of Johnson’s men, berates Timmons for missing him. The injured Swagger makes his way to the street, where he encounters FBI Agent Nick Memphis. Memphis draws his gun on Swagger but Swagger manages to disarm him and after telling Memphis he didn’t shoot the President, he restrains Memphis then takes his gun and car. As Timmons calls in a manhunt on Swagger, Swagger ducks into a car wash to try and stall being detected while he works on stopping the bleeding from his injuries. When the reports come in on his location, Swagger attempts to escape and after a collision with a truck, crashes into the river. Divers are called in and find the car but there is no sign of Swagger, who holds onto a rope on the side of a barge to get out of the manhunt zone and get ashore on the other side of the river, where he steals a truck and drives out of the city. After stopping in a small town, Swagger knocks out the power to a local shop so that he can buy some supplies and not get caught. After buying the supplies, he sneaks into a auto garage and uses the supplies as a makeshift field medical kit, then does his best to patch himself up in order to stay alive. Meanwhile, Agent Memphis is demoted by his superior for “embarrassing the agency” and placed in the tipline call center. When he receives a call from the clerk about what Swagger bought, he tries to tell another agent but the are dismissive of his theory. Swagger makes his way to Kentucky and pays a visit to Donnie’s widow, Sarah, to ask for her help. Though she is reluctant at first, Sarah agrees to help Swagger, who had gone there thinking she was a nurse but learns she had given up on that idea after Donnie died. Back in Philadelphia, Memphis is talking with fellow agent Alourdes Galindo and telling her his suspicions about Swagger’s guilt and says he wants to speak with Timmons, as he doesn’t believe his story, but Galindo tells him that Timmons was killed by a mugger. As Memphis continues to investigate, he checks out the church and notices some holes in the floor, which he learns were from a tripod mounted remote controlled sniper weapons system. Back in Kentucky, Sarah performs the necessary surgery on Swagger to remove the bullets and then agrees to help him in his plan to flush out Johnson. Sarah goes to Philadelphia with Swagger and he tells her to meet with Memphis and hand him the photos of the plate and VIN number for Johnson’s car. Swagger is watching their meeting but as Memphis leaves, Swagger is approached by two cops and forced to incapacitate them and escape. Memphis begins looking into the information that Sarah gave him and, with Galindo’s help, learns that they are connected to some high end military contractors but as Galindo is telling Memphis this, he ends up being kidnapped by a team of contractors. They torture him for information, then attach a device to his arm to make him shoot himself but Swagger rescues Memphis and after the two talk, Memphis agrees to help Swagger. They travel to Athens, TN to speak with a gun expert and ask him how to fire a bullet from one rifle and make it match the grooves from a different one. He then asks if anyone else could have taken the shot and the expert tells him of one other man, Michael Sandor, and Swagger realizes that he met the man. Memphis calls Galindo to ask for her help in tracking down Sander, just as Johnson decides to draw Swagger and Memphis out by offering him up. Johnson then meets with Senator Charles F. Meachum, who is in on Johnson’s operation, and Meachum tells him to make sure Swagger is killed so Johnson has Payne go and grab Sarah as insurance. When Galindo gives Memphis Sandor’s location, Swagger and Memphis go buy some supplies to make some homemade explosives, then Swagger gives Memphis a crash course in being a sniper/spotter. They head to Sandor’s house, and Swagger makes his way inside, taking out the guards along the way. When he finds Sandor and questions him, Sandor tells him about how military contractors had killed a village in Africa for the purpose of allowing an oil pipeline to go through it, then buried the bodies under a pumping station. He then informs Swagger that he was assigned to cover their escape but he wasn’t supposed to survive. Outside, a team arrives to kill Swagger and Memphis warns him while inside, Sandor tells Swagger that Johnson has Sarah before he kills himself. Swagger tells Memphis to get to a pre-arranged position and start detonating the explosives as Swagger shoots his way out of the house and the two manage to kill the team sent after them. Memphis calls the FBI to tell them he has Swagger in custody but that he can’t bring him in just yet. As soon as he hangs up, Swagger receives a call from Johnson, who had been listening in on the phone call and they arrange to meet, with Johnson agreeing to bring Meachum to the meeting and Swagger will give him the recording of Sandor’s confession in exchange for Sarah. Johnson, Payne, Sarah, and Meachum arrive on the mountain and they see a figure approaching when the figure is shot. Suddenly, a second shot rings out as Swagger kills the sniper, then kills two more counter snipers, while the figure, revealed to be Memphis, continues up to the mountain and removes the metal plate that protected him from being killed. As Payne yells out that Swagger can’t shoot him without risking his shooting Sarah, Swagger shoots the shotgun from his hand, then shoots his arm off. Swagger then approaches the group and after having Memphis disarm Meachum and Johnson, Sarah grabs Meachum’s gun and kills Payne. Swagger and Meachum then talk and as the FBI approaches, due to Memphis telling them where they would be, Swagger burns the recording, as if it was still out there then he, Sarah, and Memphis would be killed over it. Swagger is taken into custody and brought before a meeting with the Attorney General, Memphis, Memphis’ superior, and Johnson. Swagger admits that the gun the FBI found was his but after he places a bullet in it and shows that it won’t fire, he explains that he swapped the firing pin in all of his guns before he left, making it so that none of them would fire if stolen. Memphis then shows the Attorney General images from the file of the mass grave, but the Attorney General says that since the crimes occurred in another country, he had no jurisdiction over the matter and Johnson walks out of the room. The Attorney General approaches Swagger and speaks with him briefly before telling him he is free to go and orders him released. Some time later, Meachum and Johnson are talking in Meachum’s hunting cabin when Swagger kills them and causes the cabin to explode. Swagger then makes his way down the mountain, where Sarah is waiting in a car, and they drive off together.

Shooter received mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With an implausible story and numerous plot holes, Shooter fails to distinguish itself from other mindless action-thrillers.” The scene where Swagger shoots a counter-sniper through the rifle scope and hits him in the head is based on an infamous kill by U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, who killed a counter-sniper in Vietnam by shooting him through the scope and hitting him in the eye. Shooter was a modest hit at the box office, earning $95.7 million off of a $61 million budget and years later, would spawn a TV show based off of the movie.

I still think the book was better than the movie, but this was a decent movie in itself, despite the general feeling of being a generic action flick. The acting was good, with Mark Wahlberg (Swagger) and Michael Pena (Memphis) doing great in their roles and showed great chemistry acting off of each other. I also thought that Danny Glover (Johnson), Ned Beatty (Meachum), and Elias Koteas (Payne) did a great job in their roles. The plot was a pretty good thriller, feeling a little bit like The Fugitive in the whole innocent man trying to prove his innocence, just with more guns involved. The aspect of Swagger finding out that he unknowingly helped cover for black ops contractors doing something illegal added more motivation to his actions and helped give a better sense of purpose to his wanting to prove his innocence. The special effects in the gun fights were good for the most part, though in some cases they were toned down according to the sniper expert involved in the film. It is fairly generic movie but good enough to keep you entertained if you want to give it a shot.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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