action, crime, martial arts, movie, movie review, thriller

December 1st, 2017 Movie – The Street Fighter

the street fighter

You know, as hit or miss as the Martial Arts box set has been, I will say that today’s movie is one of the reasons I am glad I got it. Now as odd as it may sound, this movie came to my attention by way of another movie. See, in the movie True Romance (which I will be reviewing sometime next year), Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette’s characters were watching a triple feature of the Street Fighter movies and my interest was piqued by it and decided to rent today’s movie one day. So let’s see what all the hype was about with today’s movie, The Street Fighter.

The plot:┬áTateki Shikenbaru (Junjo) is awaiting execution in his cell when the police bring a priest, Takuma Tsurugi (Terry), in to offer him last rites. Junjo refuses at first but after staring into the Terry’s eyes, Junjo asks to be left alone with the priest. The police agree and after they close the door, Junjo comments about Terry knowing karate and says he wishes he had the time to challenge him and Terry says he has the time so they begin fighting. Terry wins by using his oxygen coma punch, a technique which Junjo recognizes, and Terry tells him to hold on for 10 minutes before he falls victim to the punch. The police come to lead Junjo to his execution but before he reaches the noose, he collapses and the police send for an ambulance. As the ambulance makes it’s way to the hospital, they stop when a man (Ratnose) is standing in the street and as some of the officers go to move him, Ratnose attacks them. After he deals with the police and doctor, Ratnose is joined by Terry and they drive off in the ambulance. As Terry and Ratnose are watching the news about the ambulance theft, Gijun and Nachi, Junjo’s brother and sister, arrive and ask to see Junjo. When Terry refuses to tell them where Junjo is until they pay him the rest of the money they owe him, Gijun attacks Terry but Terry easily beats him. Nachi pleads with Terry to give him more time and Terry agrees, but says he will need some collateral, grabbing Nachi and kissing her. Gijun becomes enraged and attacks Terry again, joined by Nachi, and during the course of the fight, Gijun does a jump kick at Terry but Terry dodges and Terry ends up jumping through the window and falling to his death. Elsewhere, Kendo Masaoka, the owner of a karate dojo, informs his niece Sarai that her father, a wealthy oil tycoon, has just died while in Cairo and some people arrive to take her home but Kendo says that it is better if she stay there where he and his students can protect her. Meanwhile, Terry sells Nachi to Renzo Metaguchi, who proceeds to sell her to a sex trafficker. Renzo then introduces Terry to two of his associates, who want to hire him to kidnap Sarai but Terry refuses after learning that they are part of the Yakuza. Worried that Terry will be a threat to them since he knows their plans, the Yakuza send some men to kill him but Terry easily beats them and sends them back with a message for the Yakuza’s boss. Terry then heads to the dojo and after making his way to Sarai’s room, challenges Kendo and the rest of the dojo to a fight. Terry easily defeats Kendo’s students but Kendo is able to get the upper hand against Terry. After knocking Terry down, Kendo says he recognizes his name as belonging to a karate master from long ago who wanted to combine karate with Chinese boxing and asks Terry if he is his son. Terry, recalling the events of his childhood, is able to continue the fight and ends up battling Terry to a standstill. As the two men recover, Terry tells him what is going on and Kendo agrees to let Terry take over guarding Sarai, despite Sarai’s objections. Elsewhere, the Yakuza is coming up with plans to kill Terry and kidnap Sarai, planning on sending several of their strongest assassins to handle the job. Junjo happens to be in the same bar as the Yakuza boss and when he discovers that Nachi is one of his prostitutes, he quickly heads to her. Nachi is happy to see that Junjo is still alive and says that he has to avenge their brother’s death. The Yakuza boss, thinking it a coincidence that Junjo happened to be there and discover his sister, decides to take advantage of the situation and agrees to give Junjo a job so that he can get his revenge on Terry. Some time later, Sarai is preparing to head back home to deal with her father’s company, with two students from the dojo accompanying her. Terry and Ratnose follow in another car but the Yakuza box them in and use a crane to capture them, then drive to a ditch and drop the car into it. Two Yakuza members head down to ensure he is dead but Terry quickly manages to kill them. Heading after Sarai, Terry kills one of the Yakuza assassins that is waiting for him, then tells Ratnose to head back to the car and keep the motor running. Continuing to look for Sarai, Terry encounters Junjo and Nachi, who are there to kill Terry, and Junjo tells him he is too late, as Sarai is being taken to Renzo’s place as they speak. Junjo attempts to fight with and kill Terry but Terry jumps out the window, landing in the back of the truck and tells Ratnose to get them out of there. Meanwhile, Sarai and her escorts arrive at Renzo’s place, where Sarai’s father’s worker reveals he double crossed them. Sarai and her guards try to leave but they find their way blocked by a blind swordsman, who manages to kill both of the students, but the students kill his knife throwing companion before they die. The next day, Terry and Ratnose take a motorboat to Renzo’s place, where Sarai sees them and waves out the window to tell them where she is. Sarai is about to be raped but Terry climbs up to her room and kills her attempted rapist by castrating him by hand. Terry then has Sarai climb down the rope and he joins her but when Renzo’s men chase after them, he tells Ratnose to get Sarai to safety while he holds them off. Terry takes out several of the guards before Renzo faces him and the two battle to a stalemate when the other Yakuza bosses say they need to question Terry to learn where Sarai is. Terry is tied up and tortured but refuse to talk when Ratnose, disobeying Terry’s orders, shows up and attempts to free him but is captured. Ratnose gives up Sarai’s location to try and spare Terry’s life but the Yakuza end up knocking Terry off the cliff and into the water below. Ratnose heads down and manages to save Terry but Terry pushes him away, saying he betrayed their duty and are no longer friends. Terry heads out to rescue Sarai, who is being taken to a freighter out at sea but he encounters the blind swordsman on the docks. Terry and the swordsman fight, during the course of which a man on a motorbike interferes and is attacked by the swordsman. Terry manages to take advantage of the distraction and kills the swordsman, then discovers that the motorbiker was Ratnose, who was trying to make amends to Terry. On the freighter, Sarai learns that her father’s business partner was behind her kidnapping, as he wants her to sign over control of her father’s company to him, so the Yakuza will have a monopoly in the oil business. Meanwhile, Renzo speaks with Junjo and says that if he can defeat Terry, he will turn over control of his organization to him. Terry makes his way out to the freighter and begins taking out the guards as he tries to locate Sarai. Terry eventually finds Sarai but is unable to rescue her and Renzo says to let Junjo deal with him. Junjo and Terry head out to the deck and start fighting as a storm buffets the ship. During the course of the fight, the bodyguard of Sarai’s father’s business partner tries to shoot Terry and Renzo kills him and the business father for interrupting the fight. Nachi attempts to stab Terry but when she misses, she grabs onto Terry and tells Junjo to stab Terry through her. Junjo reluctantly agrees, killing his sister and severely injuring Terry, then continues to press the attack. When Terry is knocked down, Sarai rushes over and tells him to get up but Junjo pushes her aside and goes to finish off Terry. As Junjo attempts to strangle Terry, Terry manages to grab Junjo’s throat and rip it out, then get to his feet, where Sarai and Renzo both help him keep his balance.

While there isn’t a critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, the average movie goes loved this movie, giving it an 81% score on the site. The Street Fighter is famous for being the first movie to receive an X-rating in the U.S. due solely because of the violence in the movie (primarily because of the scene where Terry castrated a man with his bare hands). The movie, and it’s sequels, gained a lot of mainstream exposure after it was featured in the movie True Romance. 16 minutes were cut from the movie to give it an R rating, which is the version that was first released on home video. The movie has since been released in it’s entirety but is now in the public domain, where it can be downloaded for free.

This is precisely the type of film that you expected to see during the martial arts craze of the 70’s. Violence, violence, and more violence makes this a great movie to watch if you are in the mood for some almost nonstop fighting and action. Sonny Chiba was really good in his role but I will admit that some of his facial features during the fights were absolutely hysterical. The story was a little confusing after Terry’s first fight with Junjo, but it seemed to correct itself as the movie continued. The fight scenes were as brutal as you would expect from the title and while I think some modern movies look a little smoother, the choreography between Sonny Chiba and his opponents was pretty good. If you are a fan of martial arts movies, this is definitely one of those movies that you should watch, if for no other reason than the cultural impact it had.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

November 28th, 2017 Movie – Storyville

storyville

Another day, another movie. Today I find myself watching a movie that I honestly never heard of before today. It is part of a collection of James Spader movies that my friend got me earlier in the year. So, brand new movie that I have never heard of, I am actually somewhat excited to see what I am getting into today. So let’s get right into the meat of things with today’s movie, Storyville.

The plot: Cray Fowler, a young candidate for congress, is hosting a campaign fundraiser at his family’s house in New Orleans. After speaking with his uncle Clifford for a minute, he meets with Nathan LeFleur, who talks to him about the stories concerning his family and the suicide of Cray’s father. As the party winds down, he is slipped a note from one of the waitresses, Lee, asking him to meet her at a club called Storyville later that night. Cray heads to the club and meets with Lee, who takes him back to her place, which happens to be her family’s dojo, and she briefly attacks him with Judo before seducing him and the two have sex in her hot tub, but Cray is unaware that he is being videotaped. The next day, Cray heads to the courthouse and speaks with his friend Natalie Tate, wo works in the District Attorney’s office, asking her to try and get some of the files from the federal case against his father. Briefly stopping at his campaign headquarters and speaking with his campaign manager, Cray is met by his wife Melanie, who talks to him about getting a new convertible, but Cray agrees to what she wants and leaves to go talk with LeFleur, apologizing for his reaction during the fundraiser and asking for his endorsement for congress but LeFleur doesn’t answer if he will or not. Returning to his campaign headquarters, Cray is shown a campaign ad for Avner Hollister, his congressional rival who has a 20 point lead in the race, and later decides to meet with Hollister. After going duck hunting with Clifford and his friend Pudge, he asks his mother if his dad kept any files about the case with him and she say they would be in his old desk. Cray finds the files and returns to his apartment to look at them, discovering that Hollister was one of the people in the case against his father. When Lee calls from the lobby, he invites her up but when she doesn’t show up, he finds she has been beaten and had collapsed on the stairs. Taking her back to his apartment, he starts to call an ambulance but stops when she tells him that her father had been paid to videotape them together. Lee convinces Cray to go back to her dojo, where Cray cuts his hand on the glass breaking into the place. Cray begins searching the place for her father or the videotape and ends up being attacked by her father where, after a struggle, Cray ends up being knocked out. When Cray comes too, he finds Lee’s father has been murdered, with his throat being slit, and Cray grabs the knife and quickly leaves before the cops get there. Returning back to his apartment, Cray tends to his injuries and hides the knife. The next day, Cray heads to his old law firm and pulls some strings to be assigned to defend Lee, who is being accused of killing her father. Cray goes to see Lee and asks how she is doing and what happened that night, then goes to see Natalie and tells her he is representing Lee in the case. Cray then goes to see LeFleur, showing him a list of names in the files that were supposed land owners his father cheated and tells him that they don’t seem to exist and figures that LeFleur should know about them. He then asks that LeFleur assist him in his case and LeFleur appears to accept. Later, Cray heads to a studio underneath Lee’s dojo to speak with the S&M photographer there, grabbing some photo’s of a model from his desk, but the photographer threatens Cray and tells him to leave. Cray asks his friend Fats, a local strip club owner, to see if he can find out any information about the model. When Cray returns to his apartment, he finds that someone sent him a copy of the video of him and Lee having sex. He quickly turns the tape off when he hears someone knocking on his door and finds Natalie standing outside. She comes in for a drink, revealing that they had a romantic history together, and she asks him why he is taking the Lee case. Some time later, Cray heads to St. Albans Parish, where the disputed land is in, and learns that every name on the list was actually the name of someone buried in the cemetery except for one, C. Sumter. As he is leaving, Cray is attacked by two men wearing clown masks but manages to get a look at the tattoo on one of their arms. Returning to his apartment, Cray meets with LeFleur and comes clean about how he is connected with Lee, as well as his hiding the knife and that someone sent him a copy of the tape. LeFleur is angry about what Cray has done and for dragging him into it but still agrees to help. Then LeFleur asks about the list and Cray tells him about the one name that is not found in the cemetery. At the trial, one witness says that she say Lee leaving the building in a hurry, and a few minutes later, a man left wearing a dark raincoat. When the photographer is called to testify, he says he heard arguing and he called the police to complain about the noise, then went to investigate when he saw Lee leaving. When Cray gets up to cross examine him, Cray asks about the music, as the first witness said it was loud enough to hear downstairs where she was working, and asks how he was able to hear the argument but not the sound of someone breaking into the dojo. He also asks if the photographer was alone, as he usually has the music playing when he is working, and the photographer swears he was alone. When court is recessed, LeFleur introduces Cray to his cousin, who is a police officer, and they head back out to St. Albans, where LeFleur has located C.Sumter. They speak with Sumter, who tells them that he gets $300 every month since the late 30’s, when he had signed something from someone who was supposedly from the bank. Cray asks if he could recognize the man but Sumter tells him he can barely see anything as his eyes have gotten too bad. As they are leaving, Sumter tells them that someone had asked him the same questions 3 years ago and when Cray asks who it was, Sumter tells him the man’s name was Raymond, Cray’s father. The next day in court, Cray cross examines the homicide detective that was first on the scene, asking him why they didn’t take fingerprints or investigate the matter closer as there was evidence of a break in. The detective says that he didn’t feel the need, as Lee had claimed to be responsible and showed a racists slant towards Vietnamese people, due to his experiences in the war. The next day, Lee is on stand and Cray questions her but when Natalie begins to cross examine her, Cray asks the judge for a meeting in chambers before she can say anything incriminating and the judge agrees to give Cray a short recess. Cray and LeFleur meet up with Fats, who has located the model that Cray was looking for and the model agrees to help them. Back in court, Lee is back on the stand and when Cray asks if she saw anyone in the photographer’s studio, she says she did and points out the model, which Cray had brought in. Cray then has the model take the stand and he explains that he cross dresses for photo shoots. The night of the murder, he says they heard a crash come from the dojo and Lee running downstairs. the photographer told her to wait in the studio while he went to check things out and he went to talk to the detective, who went upstairs and then came back down and the photographer gave him a switchblade. The detective yells out at the model and pulls out his gun, shooting Cray in the arm and attempts to shoot the model. A bailiff and a police officer shoot the detective, who falls and attempts to shoot Lee but hits LeFleur instead, then tries to shoot Cray before the judge kills him. Recovering in the hospital, Cray is shown a newspaper article saying that Hollister had dropped out of the race, due to his connection with the dertective, but LeFleur tells him that Hollister did not have the tape. As the results of the election comes in, Cray wins in a landslide and leaves the room, while his campaign manager shows Melanie photos of her affair and Cray’s lawyer has her sign the divorce papers. Later, Clifford returns to the family home to celebrate Cray’s victory and is shocked to see Sumter there. When Clifford enters the house, he goes to congratulate Cray but Cray stops him, knowing that not only was he the one who cheated people out of their land but that he also tried to blackmail him and killed his father to stop him from exposing him. Cray heads out to go to the victory celebration, seeing his soon to be ex-wife standing on the side of the stage before she leaves while Clifford heads out to the swamp and commits suicide. Some time later, Cray is at a bar before heading to Washington and notices Natalie at the other end of the bar, and the two stare at each other.

I have to say, this was a little confusing but a pretty decent movie all in all. The acting was good, with James Spader doing a good job in his role. The story was a little confusing, trying to tie in two different mysteries together, but they didn’t do the best job blending the stories smoothly. The drama honestly was a little weak, as the slow pacing of the movie just killed some of the tension they kept hoping to build. Worth a watch if you are a fan of James Spader but probably won’t be something everyone enjoys.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, crime, martial arts, movie, movie review, thriller

November 2nd, 2017 Movie – SPL: Kill Zone

spl

From a martial arts movie, to an anime movie, and back to another martial arts movie. I sense a pattern here. Now I remember first hearing about today’s movie years ago when I was going through a pretty rough patch in my life and, deciding on a change of pace from my usual sci-fi B-movies that I was drowning my sorrows in, decided to check it out. Needless to say, I obviously liked the movie as I own it so let’s see if SPL: Kill Zone is still as good of a movie as I felt it was back then.

The plot: In 1994, Inspector Chan Kwok-chung is escorting a witness and his family to court in order to testify against Wong Po, a notorious gangster. However, there car is t-boned by another car driven by an assassin named Jack, who ensures that the witness is dead. With the witness dead, the police do not have enough evidence to hold Wongin custody and he is released. Chan survived the crash, as did the witness’ young daughter Hoi-yee, and Chan decides to adopt her due to his guilt over her parents’ death. While visiting the hospital for a check-up, Chan is told that he has a brain tumor and while there is a chance to remove it with surgery, the odds of success are slim. Meanwhile, Hoi-yee had wandered off and encounters Wong, who was sitting in the hallway after being told of his wife’s second miscarriage. Hoi-yee offers Wong a piece of candy but as he speaks with her, Chan comes and pulls her away from Wong, then tells him that as long as he lives, he will come after him. Chan tells the members of his team (Inspectors Kwok Tze-sum, Lo-Kwun-wah, and Lee Wai-lok) about the cancer and they dedicate themselves to trying to bring Wong down, sending one officer undercover to infiltrate Wong’s gang. Three years later, Chan is set to retire in two days and turn over his unit to Inspector Ma Kwun and the police chief asks Chan not to cause problems before he retires. Chan and his team head out and one of Wong’s drug rings and afterwards, they head out to the beach with Hoi-yee. Ma meets up with them there and talks with Chan about his team while on the shore, Chan’s team are dismissive of their new boss and make plans to take care of Hoi-yee when Chan dies. That night, Chan is showing Ma the portion of the city that they are in charge and as they discipline a punk for throwing a bottle at a police officer, they encounter Wong, who taunts Chan by throwing his own bottle on the ground, causing several other thugs to do the same. The next day, Chan and the team arrive at the scene of a murder and discover that it is his undercover officer. At the station, a young man comes forward with a video tape showing the murder and Wah takes the tape to show Chan. Chan calls Lok and Sum into his office, excluding Ma, and they watch the tape to see Wong beating the officer with a golf club before he is shot by one of Wong’s henchmen. Knowing they can’t arrest Wong for murder, Wah suggests erasing the part of the tape showing who really killed the officer. Chan orders Wah to check on the witness, Lok to find the henchman who actually killed the officer, and Sum to come with him to arrest Wong. Ma enters the office to find out what is going on and they show him the altered tape and Ma goes with Chan to arrest Wong. They find Wong at the hospital heading up to see his one month old son and when they try to arrest him he starts fighting with them but they eventually overpower him and arrest him. Meanwhile, Wah is intimidating the witness to say that Wong was the one to kill the officer and ensuring that there isn’t another copy of the tape but after he leaves, the witness reveals he has another tape. Later, Chan and the others go to where the real killer is hiding and after chasing and beating him down, they kick him off a roof. Ma arrives in time to see them kill the man and after a brief fight, confront’s Chan about his framing Wong for the murder. Chan explains his reasoning for doing this, saying that they tried doing it by the books but were going nowhere, and leaves Ma. Ma is conflicted about what to do, as he had once beaten a drug dealer so bad that he is now a mentally handicapped homeless man and Ma’s guilt causes him to check up on him every week. Ma returns to the station to find several of Wong’s henchmen trying to confess to the murder and Ma tells the officers to take their statements but doesn’t turn in Chan or his team. Knowing they need a gun to frame Wong with, Lok contacts a dealer that is not associated with Wong and goes to get a gun from him and Ma accompanies him. Chan heads down to evidence to get the bullet from the crime scene while Sum goes to see his daughter and Wah comes with him. As Chan is in evidence, Wong’s men show up with the witness and the unaltered tape and the chief is forced to release Wong. The chief then goes to arrest Chan but Chan, sensing something went wrong, manages to avoid them with the help of Uncle Ba, an officer who is friends with Chan. Lok and Ma go to meet with Lok’s contact and when he demands more money, Ma goes to get it. While he is gone, another man shows up to talk with the dealer and after he leaves, the dealer and his friends suddenly race out of the area a few minutes later, locking Lok inside. Lok is approached by Jack, who proceeds to fight and stab Lok, but when Ma shows up and starts shooting at him to drive him off, Jack uses Lok as a shield, then slashes his throat before making his escape. Ma calls Chan to tell him what happened and Chan tells him to go check on Wah and Sum but he is too late as Jack shows up at the square where they are at and attacks them both. When Ma arrives there, Wah is still alive but barely and Wah tells Ma that they took the drug money from the raid and hid it in Lok’s car in order to help raise Chan’s daughter. Chan is finally able to sneak out of the station and meets up with Ma, who tells him what his friends did. Chan says if they give back the money, Wong will call off his men so Ma goes to get the money but Chan heads to Wong’s place with a bag full of newspaper clippings, claiming it is the money, and proceeds to attack Wong’s men but he is attacked and injured by Jack. Meanwhile, Ma gets the money from Lok’s car but as he goes to leave, he is confronted by the chief over Chan’s actions and Ma’s knowledge of them so Ma hands over his badge and gun, quitting the force. Ma then calls Wong and tells him he has the money and will turn it over so long as Chan is still alive and Wong tells him to hurry. When Ma gets to the building, he is met by Jack outside and the two start fighting, with Ma using a metal baton to counter Jack’s knife. After a brutal fight, Ma is able to beat Jack, killing him with his own knife. Ma heads inside and, seeing Chan’s body strung up, begins fighting with Wong. During the course of their fight, Wong’s wife calls and Ma, who has Wong in a choke hold, loosens his grip so that Wong can speak with her and Wong tells her to wait downstairs in the car. After she hangs up, the two continue fighting and Ma eventually wins, throwing Wong into the tower of liquor bottles and seemingly killing him. Wong then grabs a bottle of vodka and pours himself a drink then stares at Chan, who asks if he plans on cutting him down. Suddenly, Wong recovers and attacks Ma, pushing him out the window and Ma ends up landing on Wong’s car, killing his wife and and child when the roof collapses on them. Wong stares down the window and recognizes the car, just as his phone starts ringing with his wife’s ringtone, and Wong collapses into a chair. Some time later, Chan is seen at the beach with Hoi-yee and as she plays in the surf, Chan succumbs to his tumor and he ends up dying on the beach.

When I first heard about it, this movie was advertised as one of the best martial arts films of the century and I have to say, the claim isn’t far off. The acting was pretty good, with Donnie Yen (Ma), Simon Yan (Chan), and Sammo Hung (Wong) doing great jobs in their roles. The plot was really good, using a great deal of drama that only accented the brief times where the action scenes took place. The dilemma that Ma faced in deciding if he wanted to help Chan in his vendetta to bring down Wong under any circumstances was made even more poignant in the scene where he hung out with the drug dealer he crippled, as he deals with the results of his actions face to face. As for the fight scenes, they were great, with some of the fastest paced choreography I have seen in a long time. The fight between Ma and Jack (Jing Wu) was incredible and the weapon movement between the two was amazing. Whether you are a martial arts fan, a crime movie fan, or a combination of both, this movie is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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October 18th, 2017 Movie – A Sound Of Thunder

a sound of thunder

Now this was a movie I was excited to watch because it used one of the more famous cliches when it comes to time travel; what happens if you go back in time and step on a butterfly. I find it funny how many movies and stories make some reference to this concept and try to use some variation of it in their plot. Now, I never heard of this movie coming out in theaters, otherwise I would have gone to see it, but when I first saw it at Blockbuster, I decided to just go ahead and buy a used copy. Now let’s see if it was worth the impulse buy as I watch today’s movie, A Sound Of Thunder.

The plot: In the year 2055, the Time Safari company allows people to travel back in time and hunt dinosaurs. To keep from messing with the timeline, the group travels on a specialized path of hardened air molecules, use weapons that shoot hardened ice bullets, and only kill animals that are known to have died due to natural means. After the latest hunt, Dr. Travis Ryer is doing some research with the computer TAMI when the company’s owner, Charles Hatton, comes to remind him that he must mingle with the clients as part of his contract. Travis reluctantly heads up to the party, telling John Wallenbeck that the video disc of their hunt shows that he was the one to bring down the allosaurus. Suddenly, Dr. Sonia Rand interrupts the event, spraying the attendees with red wine while yelling that they will destroy the future if they keep messing with the past. As she is being escorted away by security, Travis stops them and talks with Sonia, learning that she was one of the people that developed TAMI but due to a clause in her contract and a nondisclosure agreement, didn’t receive any credit for it. Sonia is upset that her work is being used for people to kill dinosaurs and mad at Travis for going along with it but Travis shows her that he is working there for a different reason. Taking her to the zoo, Travis explains that since hunting and a mysterious virus wiped out most animal life on the planet, he has been using the jumps to get DNA recordings from animals before the virus occurred so that he can clone them. Back at Time Safari, Marcus Payne knocks over some liquid nitrogen tanks and after putting them back upright, goes to talk to Jenny Krase, unaware that one of the tanks is leaking onto Travis’ gun. The next day, Travis leads a new hunt with clients Eckels and Middleton, explaining all of the rules they need to follow for the hunt. As they proceed with the jump, Eckels is extremely nervous and jumpy, attempting to shoot a butterfly that startles him. When the allosaurus appears, Travis’ gun malfunctions, preventing anyone from firing their guns. Travis uses a flashlight to lure the allosaurus away from the group, telling the clients to hide while Marcus works on repairing the gun. Marcus eventually gets the gun repaired and Travis is able to kill the allosaurus and they all leave, unaware that one of the clients had stepped off the path while hiding, as evidenced by a muddy footprint left on the path. The next day, the city experiences an increase in temperature and humidity while fish suddenly start beaching themselves and plants are suddenly increasing their growth rate. Travis leads a new group on their hunt but they find that the allosaurus is still lying dead in the swamp from their last jump and the nearby volcano erupts sooner than it was supposed to. After making it back through the portal before the volcano kills them, Travis and the others try to figure out what is going on but Clay Derris, the federal agent that oversees the project, shuts them down so they are unable to access TAMI. As Hatton argues with Clay about shutting them down, Tyler goes to see Sonia and talk to her. After getting inside her apartment, Tyler tells Sonia what happened and after telling her when it occurred, Sonia has him look outside and he sees a time wave approaching the city, knocking him off his feet when it occurs. Sonia starts to explain about the time wave when they hear a scream and are suddenly attacked by a swarm of beetles, forcing them to run from the apartment. As they are heading back to Time Safari, Sonia explains that the time waves will change evolution in stages, starting with the climate and then lower life forms, with humanity being altered in the last wave. Convincing Clay to let them try and fix things, Travis attempts to jump back before the Eckels/Middleton hunt and turn them back but he finds himself in the old west just as another time wave is about to hit. Travis makes it back through the portal but the time wave knocks out power to the entire city and Sonia explains that they can’t make it past the “ripples” of the time wave. After checking the footage reveals no indication as to what happened, Marcus checks the logs and finds that they came back a few grams heavier. Hatton reveals that he had the bio-filters turned off in order to save money, though in reality it was to pay off Clay, and after searching all of their gear from the trip, realize that it must have been one of the clients. Figuring that Eckels was the likely suspect, Marcus modifies the weapons to fire individually and Travis, Sonia, Jenny, Marcus, and Dr. Lucas head out to find Eckels. As they make their way through the city, finding it completely overgrown with plants, they see evidence of some type of creature and hear it calling out in the distance. Marcus gets poisoned by a thorny vine and as they are helping him walk, Lucas is grabbed by a strange creature which is a cross between a baboon and a lizard. Travis chases after Dr. Lucas and manages to kill the baboonlizard and he and Lucas quickly run as more creatures appear. Marcus can’t walk so he chooses to stay behind and fend them off as long as he can, allowing the others to escape. They eventually make it to Eckel’s apartment, finding it barricaded by the inhabitants but after saving two people that had gone to get food, they convince the people to let them in. They make their way up to Eckels’ apartment and while Travis and Sonia talk to him, Jenny and Lucas scan his suit and find it is clean. Realizing it was Middleton, Eckels tells them that he has been staying in his office and where it is. Lucas hotwires a car and they make their way to his office, noticing a strange flying creature passing overhead. Reaching the office, Travis and Sonia head inside, leaving Jenny and Lucas to watch the car. They find that the people have killed themselves after being driven mad by the brambles’ poison and Middleton is infected as well, killing a security guard before killing himself. Travis and Sonia search his gear and find the remains of a butterfly so they quickly head back to the car to find Lucas and Jenny firing into the air. As they drive back to Time Safari, they are attacked by bat like creatures, which manage to peel off the roof of the car and grab Lucas. Another time wave hits, causing the car to crash into the building, and they find that the jump station is flooded and inoperable. Sonia says they can use the particle accelerator at the university to use as a substitute and goes to grab TAMI’s hard drive. Travis goes to get a jump suit and finds Clay hiding in one of the lockers. Clay tells him to be quiet and motions above them and they see the baboonlizards sleeping from the ceiling above them. Sonia grabs the hard drive and they leave and Clay decides at the last minute to try and follow but he is killed by the baboonlizards. Deciding to go through the subway tunnels to reach the university, they end up crawling through a damaged subway train when the tunnel suddenly floods, trapping them in the train. Travis goes to smash a window so they can swim to safety when something breaks through the window and grabs Jenny, dragging her away. As the train floods, Sonia and Travis go to escape but Travis is attacked by a strange, eel like creature but the tunnel collapses some more and kills the creature while Travis almost drowns but is saved by Sonia. They reach the university as the baboonlizards arrive and start to attack the building. Making their way to the particle accelerator, Sonia works on getting everything set up for a slingshot jump while Travis secures the room and then prepares for the jump. As the baboonlizards start to break in, Sonia activates the time jump just as another time wave occurs, with Sonia ending up transformed into a human/catfish hybrid. Travis jumps to 1 year beyond the normal jump time and then he bounce back to the time of the hunt. Seeing the group with the allosaurus, Travis yells at Jenny to record him, telling her what happened, then goes and stops Middleton before he steps on the butterfly, vanishing as the timeline is restored to normal. As the group returns through the portal, Jenny tells Clay she knows about the bio-filters and tells him to turn them back on, causing Clay to nervously talk to Hatton. Jenny then grabs Travis and hands him the recording, telling him she told Hatton that there was a malfunction and a disc doesn’t exist, and tells Travis he needs to watch it. The next day, Travis goes to see Sonia and tells her about the recording and asks her help in exposing the dangers with Time Safari and how to stop them.

A Sound Of Thunder was panned by the critics, holding a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Choppy logic and uneven performances are overshadowed by not-so-special effects that makes the suspension of disbelief a nearly impossible task.” The movie was based off of a short story by Ray Bradbury and originally supposed to be directed by Renny Harlin but he was fired after having a disagreement with Bradbury. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $11.7 million off of an $80 million budget.

This was your classic case of a good idea bogged down with problems. The acting was ok, with Edward Burns (Travis), Catherine McCormack (Sonia), Jemima Rooper (Jenny), and Sir Ben Kingsley (Hatton) was pretty good. The story was very interesting but there was one VERY big flaw in the concept. If they keep going to the same time to hunt that allosaurus, the different hunting parties should overlap but of course, this is Hollywood and logic has no place whatsoever in a sci-fi movie. As for the whole evolution changing with each time wave concept, I thought that was kind of cool and made sense as a way to make the movie longer, though I am curious if that is actually what would happen if such a thing occurred. The special effects were a mixture of good and bad; with the creature designs actually being really good, but some of the background shots used some pretty poor blue screen effects. Problems aside, I enjoyed this movie but accept that it probably isn’t going to be for everyone.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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September 7th, 2017 Movie – Snakes On A Plane

snakes on a plane

In the summer of 2006, was there any movie that had a bigger buzz on the internet than today’s movie? All summer it seemed like there were memes and jokes coming out left and right about this movie. Personally, as soon as I heard about this movie I thought it was going to be some B-movie that would be debuting on Syfy but low and behold, this was going to be a big budget picture in theaters. Well this just screamed out for me to go watch it and of course, I did and enjoyed it immensely. Now it’s time to have some fun and watch today’s movie, Snakes On A Plane.

The plot: In Honolulu, Hawaii, Sean Jones is riding his dirt bike through the mountains but as he stops for a break, he sees a man suddenly fall from a bridge, tied by his ankles to the top. Sean goes to help the man but he tells Sean to run as some men come down from the bridge. Sean hides and watches as Eddie Kim, a gang boss in Los Angeles, proceeds to beat the man, who is a federal prosecutor, to death with a bat. Sean makes a run for it and the next day, sees the news report about the murder. When he turns off the TV, he hears a noise coming from the front door and sees 3 men trying to break in. As he goes to hide on the balcony, he is grabbed by FBI Agent Neville Flynn, who shoots two of the assailants and helps Sean to escape. After introducing himself and driving off, he takes to the local FBI building where he and his partner, Agent John Sanders, try to convince Sean to testify to witnessing the murder and he finally agrees to go through with it. At Honolulu airport, flight attendants Claire Williams and Tiffany are talking about this being Claire’s last flight and she is surprised to see Grace and Ken are crewing the flight as well. In an airport waiting area, Sean and Flynn are watching the police guard a private plane that is set to leave for L.A., but that is a diversion hoping to fool Eddie Kim as Sean will be flying a commercial red-eye flight instead. As bomb dogs are sent through the plane, Claire is told by the pilot, Captain Sam McKeon, that the FBI is taking over first class to protect a witness and that she is responsible for telling the first class passengers that they are now flying coach. However, Kim’s men find out which plane Sean is flying on and plan a trap, spraying some leis with a pheremone which are then given to the passengers as they board the plane. Once the passengers are boarded, the plane takes off but unknown to everyone, Kim’s men have placed a crate full of dangerous snakes in the cargo hold with a time release set to trigger halfway through the flight. When the timer goes off, the crate opens and the snakes begin making their way through the cargo hold and into the cabin. Kyle and Kelly, a couple who snuck into the restroom to join the mile-high club, are the first people to die as some snakes enter the restroom through the smoke detector that Kyle had disable and bite them, as is another man in another restroom. As the plane starts flying through a storm, more snakes begin slithering through the cabin while some other snakes have managed to short out the avionics. Captain Sam heads down to reset the board while his co-pilot, Captain Rick, keeps the plane steady but while he is down in the hold, he is bit in the neck by a snake but Claire and Rick didn’t see the attack and think he had a heart attack. Claire informs Flynn and Sanders about what happened and Sanders suggests turning back but Rick tells him that it will take longer to fly back than to keep going, then heads back to pilot the plane, informing LAX of what has occurred. As the turbulence from the storm continues, some snakes begin crawling out of the console and when Rick sees them, he starts hitting them with his clipboard, causing the oxygen masks to deploy in the cabin and more snakes to fall onto the passengers. The snakes begin attacking the people and when Sanders goes to see what is going on, he freezes up due to a fear of snakes and ends up being bitten. Flynn heads down and starts directing people to the front of the plane, then has them make a barrier out of the luggage that is there. Mercedes, a rich socialite, had been knocked unconscious during the initial panic but she is saved by another passenger, Chen Leong. Meanwhile, Grace hears a baby crying and heads back to rescue the mother and baby but is bitten by a snake and dies from the venom. Flynn helps Sanders back up to first class but Sanders dies from the venom so Flynn calls Agent Hank Harris in L.A. to explain the situation. Claire and Flynn check on Tommy and Curtis, two kids that were flying solo on the plane and when they see that Curtis has been bitten, one of the passengers works to suck out the venom. Harris goes to see Dr. Stephen Price, an expert on snakes that customs uses for animal smuggling cases. Back on the plane, the passengers are getting angry and demand answers, forcing their way up to first class to get them and Sean tells them that the snakes are on the plane in an attempt to kill him before he can testify. Flynn speaks with Price on the phone and tries to describe the snakes to him but Mercedes suggest using her phone to take pictures and email them to him. Meanwhile, Rick is attacked by a viper and falls into the cargo hold and when Claire notices the plane tilting, she goes to check on him but is confronted by the snake. Claire manages to kill it as Flynn enters the cockpit and they work to try and pull the plane out of it’s dive. Unfortunately, the dive causes the drink trolley’s to crash through the barricades, sending the snakes into the front of the plane. Sean tells everyone to head up to first class, as the snakes begin killing more people but as everyone rushes up the stairs, a giant Burmese python crashes through the overhead lights and begins slithering around. The passengers overcrowd the stairs and several of them end up breaking through the rails and falling to the floor, with several of them being impaled on objects below. As the python heads towards them, a British businessman named Paul throws Mercedes’ chihuahua Mary Kate at the snake to distract it and Mercedes attacks him, but stops as the python encircles Paul and begins constricting him. Everyone makes it up to first class and they seal the opening using a life raft as Flynn and Claire finally manage to pull out of the dive. Rick emerges from the hold and Claire ties a tourniquet around his arm to slow the flow of venom and Rick continues flying the plane but they soon realize that the air conditioning is no longer working. Flynn decides to head down to reset the breakers and Claire makes him a makeshift flamethrower to use as a weapon. With Claire guiding him by walkie-talkie, Flynn makes his way to the breakers, killing snakes along the way, and resets them, restoring air flow to the plane. Meanwhile, Price figures out the dealer most likely to have sold the snakes to Kim and Harris takes him out to the desert to confront the man. When the man is bitten by one of his own snakes, Harris withholds the anti-venom until the dealer tells him which snakes were placed on the plane and confirming that Kim was the one to order them. Harris calls Flynn to tell him the good news but they discover that Rick has died and there are more snakes in the cockpit. When Claire asks if anyone can fly the plane, Three G’s, a famous rapper, says his bodyguard Troy can fly it. Flynn comes up with a plan to clear the snakes out of the cabin by shooting out a window and allowing the explosive decompression to clear the cabin, then he and Troy head into the cockpit, while the hole widens and ends up sucking the life raft out the hole and then clearing out all of the snakes in the plane. Troy contacts LAX to tell them he is landing and though his only experience is through flight simulator games, he manages to safely land the plane. The authorities arrive to help everyone off the plane and give anti-venom to those people still alive. Sean and Flynn are talking when Sean is struck in the chest by a snake that managed to survive. Flynn shoots the snake, knocking Sean down the emergency slide and then jumps down to help up Sean, who survived due to his wearing a bullet proof vest. Afterwards, Flynn asks out Claire while Sean ends up getting the phone number and a kiss from Tiffany, who he saved earlier. Some time later, Sean and Flynn are at the beach in Bali and Sean is helping to teach Flynn how to surf.

Snakes On A Plane met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snakes on a Plane┬álives up to its title, featuring snakes on a plane. It isn’t perfect, but then again, it doesn’t need to be.” Supposedly, Samuel Jackson’s agent wanted the movie title changed saying that Jackson could not work on a movie with that title but when he heard about it, Jackson demanded it be changed back saying, “That’s the only reason I took the job. I read the title.” The movie had finished shooting in 2005 but reshoots were made in March of 2006 to change it from a PG-13 to an R rating, including adding Jackson’s famed line, which was added due to it being used in an anticipatory Internet parody of the movie. With all of the buzz surrounding the movie, the studio thought it would be a big hit but it ended up being only mildly successful, earning $62 million off of a $33 million budget but would become a cult hit when it was released on video and began airing on TV.

This is one of the most honest movies you will ever see because it gives you exactly what it says it will; snakes on a plane. The acting is pretty good, with Samuel L. Jackson (Flynn), Julianna Margulies (Claire), and Nathan Phillips (Sean) all doing good jobs in their roles. I also like Kenan Thompson (Troy) and David Koechner (Rick) as they added a good bit of humor to the movie in the scenes they were in. The story was as simple as it was ridiculous and made for some very entertaining viewing. I will give them props for trying to explain how the snakes suddenly started attacking people instead of just leaving it to people’s imagination. The special effects regarding the snakes were pretty good, though there were plenty of times that the snakes looked a little too fake as they were slithering around or attacking people but that just added to the humor of the movie. Make no mistake about it, this is not a good movie in the classic sense of the word, but this is definitely an entertaining movie and one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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September 18th, 2017 Movie – Slashed Dreams

slashed dreams

I have to say that this year really seems to have flown by. I mean, can you believe that it is almost October. That has absolutely nothing to do with today’s movie, I am just amazed at how quickly time flies. Now, today’s movie comes from the Chilling Classics box set, so there is no telling how good of a movie I will be watching. So let’s see how the day is going to start out with today’s movie, Slashed Dreams.

The plot: At college, Jenny gets a letter from her friend Michael and is reading it when one of her classmates, Robert, sits down next to her on the bench. Jenny starts to tell Robert about what Michael wrote, how he built a cabin in the woods and has never been happier, when her boyfriend, Marshall, shows up and jealously pulls Jenny off the bench and walks away with her. During a philosophy class, Marshall and Robert get into an argument and later, Jenny tells Marshall that she isn’t happy with what he is saying and is finding herself unhappy with her life. At a party at Marshall’s house, where he is hazing a pledge for his fraternity, Marshall complains to another girl, Tina, about Jenny and Robert being too close and Tina tells him that they have been friends since they were in grade school. As Jenny and Robert talk about Michael and discuss going to see him, Marshall gets jealous and yells at them, telling them to get out of his house. Robert and Jenny decide to go ahead and head out to see Michael but as they are driving along the highway, Marshall, Tina, and another kid drive past them and throw something on their windshield, causing them to pull over. When Marshall turns around and drives right towards them, then swerves at the last minute, Robert gets out of his car to yell at Marshall but the other guy tries to calm him down. Marshall tries pleading with Jenny to come back with him but she tells him it is over between them and tells him to leave. Robert and Jenny continue driving and eventually reach the county store that Michael had mailed the letter from. When they ask the store’s owner about Michael, he tells them that he knows Michael but hasn’t seen him for quite some time. When they ask for directions to where Michael is staying, the owner tries to talk them out of going but eventually tells them the area and offers them a knife, saying that strange things have been going on there, but they refuse it and head out. Robert and Jenny begin hiking along the mountain and make camp for the night but in the morning, they find a bear has entered their campsite and are forced to lie still as it proceeds to eat some of their food before eventually walking away. As they scrounge for food in the woods, Robert and Jenny have some fun and end up getting closer to each other. As Jenny goes to use the bathroom, she finds a cabin in the woods and quickly approaches it, looking inside to see if Michael is there. Robert soon joins her and as they look around for a bit before Jenny decides to get cleaned up in the nearby pond and convinces Robert to join her when he shows up. As they are fooling around in the water, two men, Levon and Danker, are watching them and Danker eventually calls out to them. As the surprised couple face the strangers, Levon apologizes and introduces themselves to the two, then asks what they are doing up there. Robert explains that they are there to see Michael and ask if they know him. Levon says he does and asks if they have a gun, as they are hunting poachers. After the two leave, Robert and Jenny head back to the cabin and settle in for the night, deciding that if Michael doesn’t show up in the morning that they will head back. Jenny says she doesn’t care if Michael shows up as she is glad to be there with Robert and they two start kissing and eventually have sex. That night, Robert wakes up when he notices that the fire has gone out when Levon and Danker suddenly burst into the cabin, knock Robert unconscious and proceed to rape and beat Jenny. When Robert comes too, he tries to comfort Jenny, then heads outside to give her some time to herself. As he is waiting outside, he sees Michael walking up and greets his friend. Michael is happy to see him and when he hears Jenny is here too, he starts to head inside and go see her but Robert stops him and tells him about the rape. After asking Robert if he is ok, Michael heads inside the the cabin and tries to tend to Jenny and help her deal with what happened. Meanwhile, Robert is walking through the woods and comes across Levon and Danker arguing, as Danker wants to head back up to the cabin and attack Jenny again but Levon is trying to stop him. When Levon cut’s Danker’s leg and moves to finish him off, Robert leaps out of the bushes and starts to attack Levon. Michael and Jenny hear the commotion and run out of the cabin, stopping Robert from killing Levon. As Levon and Danker make their escape, Robert apologizes to Jenny as she holds him and Michael soon joins them. As Robert and Jenny both deal with what happened, Jenny reads an excerpt from a book in Michael’s cabin, as the two are seen walking through a field hand in hand.

Well that was an interesting, and slightly disturbing movie. The acting was ok, with Peter Hooten (Robert) and Kathrine Baumann (Jenny) doing good jobs in their roles while Robert Englund (Michael) put in a brief but very well done performance. The story felt pretty disjointed, starting off with Jenny dealing with her jealous and possessive boyfriend, then moves to the trip to the mountain by Robert and Jenny, then ending with the rape and everyone dealing with it afterwards. Honestly, I feel like the writer wasn’t sure what kind of movie he wanted to make so he just put in every idea he had brainstormed. There was a decent amount of drama involved in the movie, particularly centered around Jenny; first with he relationship with Marshall and his jealousy and then later with her being raped and dealing with it afterwards. Most likely, this was prime material for a drive in but I don’t know if that many people will want to watch it.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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September 17th, 2017 Movie – The Skulls

the skulls

Ahh, the turn of the century and a time when you could actually go out on a date to the movies and get some snacks for the cost of one ticket now a days. I know in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I watched a lot of movies in the theaters, honestly more movies than I can remember off hand. I do remember going to see this movie in the theaters down in Savannah on a date with my girlfriend at the time. Even though I bought it on DVD (another Blockbuster purchase), I honestly haven’t watched this movie in years but I do remember liking this movie when I first saw it. Now let’s see if it still holds up as I watch today’s movie, The Skulls.

The plot: Luke McNamara is a local “townie” that is able to attend Yale on scholarships while also working in the cafeteria to help cover the costs. As he tries to figure out how to afford to go to law school, Luke heads to a rowing competition, where he is the captain of the team and has lead them to 3 championships. As they prepare for the race, Luke is unaware that he is being observed by two men, who are considering recruiting him to be in The Skulls. After winning the competition, Luke is celebrating at a bar with his friend/roommate Will, who is also the coxswain of the rowing team, and Chloe, who Luke has feelings towards. Will tries to convince Luke that he should tell Chloe how he feels but Luke says that he can’t, as he feels like he has nothing to offer her since she comes from a wealthy family. As Luke complains about how much all of his tuition is costing and how much he will end up and how the Skulls will supposedly help him pay for all of that if he is selected to join but Will warns him that if it’s secret, it might not always be a good thing as they walk by the Skull’s campus house. As they are eating pizza up in Chloe’s dorm room, Luke receives a phone call asking if he is ready to be reborn and instructing him to another payphone. Luke rushes off, with Will and Chloe trying to figure out where he is going, and after following a series of instructions, Luke drinks a drugged drink and ends up passing out. Luke regains consciousness and finds himself inside a coffin and finds several other people also exiting coffins. Suddenly, two hooded figures welcome the new members to The Skulls and assigns them a test to steal the mascot from a rival secret society. The group head to the society’s building and one kid, Caleb Mandrake, quickly jumps over the moat to reach the door. When he says it is locked, Luke jumps over and manages to pick the lock and the two manage to climb the tower and steal the mascot, a weather vane shaped like a python. When Luke returns to his dorm room the next morning, Will and Chloe start asking him questions about what happened but Luke says he doesn’t want to talk about it. When Will asks him point blank if he is a Skull, Luke tells him he doesn’t know but Will doesn’t believe him. The two start arguing and Chloe tries to get them to calm down but when Caleb calls for Luke, Will gets even more upset that Luke is picking his new friends over his old ones. Chloe leaves as well, looking hurt over Luke’s actions and when Luke talks to Caleb, Caleb tells him to look under his pillow and Luke finds a box containing a Skull medallion. Luke, Caleb, and the other recruits arrive at the Skull’s ritual room and are paired off into “soulmates”, with Luke and Caleb being paired together, and inducted into the Skulls by the Chairman of the order, Judge Litten Mandrake , Caleb’s father. After leaving the room, Luke heads to Chloe’s room to apologize and asks her to dinner but when he finds that he has an additional $20,000 in his bank account, Chloe realizes that he is a Skull but Luke tries to convince her to be happy for him. The next day, Luke, Caleb and the other Skulls are invited to the Skull’s island retreat and Litten introduces Luke to his soulmate, Senator Ames Levritt, who takes a liking to Luke due to their similar backgrounds and hands him a card, saying to call him if he needs anything. Luke then goes to talk with Caleb and comments on the tension between him and his father and Caleb says that Litten is ambitious and wants to be on the Supreme Court and has been trying to pass on that ambition to him but Caleb doesn’t know what he wants yet. After returning from the island, the new Skulls find gifts in the form of new cars waiting for them and they all quickly speed off. The next day, Luke sees Will in between classes and comments on his missing practice and Will tells him he is working on something secret. Elsewhere, Caleb is at boxing practice and when he heads to his car, he finds the window is smashed and someone has stolen his key to the Skull’s building. Caleb goes to find Luke and asks to borrow his key, saying he left his key inside the building, and Luke hands it to him. When Caleb gets to the ritual room, he finds Will in there taking pictures and accuses him of taking his stuff and Will admits to it and goes to hand him his key but says he doesn’t have the rule book on him. Later that night, Luke feels bad about his argument with Will and heads to the newspaper room to apologize only to find Will’s body hanging from one of the beams. The detective in charge of the case, Detective Sparrow, starts to question Luke about Will’s death but is stopped by the University Provost, Martin Lombard, and Luke leaves with Chloe, while Caleb offers his condolences. As movers are packing up Will’s stuff to send back to his home, they uncover a secret drawer in his desk and Luke realizes that Will was doing an article about the Skulls and had Caleb’s book. After the funeral, Chloe tells Luke she knew Will was doing the article but had been asked to keep it a secret and asks Luke if the story got Will killed. Luke tells her he doesn’t know but she can tell that he is not being completely honest and calls him out for lying as she leaves in tears. The next day, Sparrow talks with Luke about the case and tells him that Will had a contusion on the back of his head, indicating something violent happened before he died and that his suicide was possibly staged. At a meeting with the Skulls, the group are brought to a room to reveal their deepest secrets and Luke volunteers himself and Caleb to go first. After they are sealed into the cage and lowered into the well, Luke subtly questions Caleb about what happened to Will but Caleb refuses to answer it. Afterwards, Luke and Caleb are brought to see Litten and Litten forces Caleb to tell him the truth. Caleb explains that he went to the room and found Will taking pictures and after confronting him, they struggled and Will ended up falling and breaking his neck so he called Litten and Litten covered up the accident in order to protect his future as well as the Skulls. Luke isn’t happy about it but Litten offers him a pre-approved acceptance to any law school he wishes in order to keep the secret. Luke gets in touch with Levritt to try and figure out what he should do and Levritt give Luke the idea about checking the security tapes, as everything that happened would be recorded and comments on how the Council is putting everything into getting Litten onto a Federal Bench, as a precursor to the Supreme Court, and it would be a shame to see anything happen that would ruin his chances. Luke goes to see his old high school friends, who he used to commit crimes with, and convinces them to help him in exchange for giving them his car. They find out the tapes are switched out twice a day and try to follow where the man takes them but Luke loses him in the school’s library. When Luke returns to his room, he is attacked by Caleb, who reveals that Luke’s room is bugged, as is Caleb’s and Chloe’s, and begs Luke to stop digging into the matter. Luke goes to see Chloe and apologizes for what he has done and proceeds to tell her everything. Meanwhile, Litten calls the Council and wants to kick Luke out of the Skulls but Levritt votes against the measure until Litten pulls him aside and shows him photos of Levritt with his 19 year old mistress, blackmailing him into voting for the measure. The next day, Chloe yells at Luke in the cafeteria for writing him a letter breaking up with her and tells him to never talk to her again. After she leaves, Caleb, who was sitting behind Luke, tells him it was a good call, as he feels Luke did it to keep Chloe away from him. Luke then heads up to Chloe’s room, revealing it was an act, and after turning up the music and her shower to insure nobody can hear them, he tries to get her to stay clear of any further involvement but she tells him she is involved because she loves him, and the two embrace and kiss. That night, Luke assaults the security guard as he enters a secret room in the library and steals the tape of the ritual room from the night Will was killed. As he leaves, he is chased down by Lombard and another man but his friends, wearing masks to hide their identities, show up and beat them down, then they all escape with Chloe. Heading back to his friends’ place, they watch the tape and see Will fall and Caleb call his dad and tell him what happened. Caleb wants to call the police but Litten apparently tells him to leave the room. As the continue watching the tape, the see that Will was still alive but Lombard and his men enter and after talking with Litten, they kill him and then take the body to stage the suicide. Luke heads to the police to speak with Sparrow only to find that Caleb is there, having told Sparrow that Luke killed Will. Luke hands Sparrow the tape saying that it proves who killed Will but when Sparrow, Luke, and the D.A. watches the tape, they find it is blank and Luke realizes that Sparrow switched the tapes as he is carried off and placed into an ambulance, where he is sedated and transported to a psychiatric institute that is run by a member of the Skulls. Back at the school, Chloe goes to speak with Caleb and ask for his help in getting Luke out of the mental hospital but Caleb refuses to help her and tells her to leave and she does, but tells him that Will was still alive when he left the room. Chloe is assaulted by Lombard and his men but manages to get away from them and runs into Levritt, who takes her to the hospital. They get Luke out of the hospital and Ames tells her to tell Luke there is only one way out of this and to remind Luke that, “they live by the rules and they die by the rules.” As they leave, they are attacked by another car, which forces them off the road, causing them to crash on an unfinished railroad bridge. Lombard goes to shoot Luke but he is killed by Sparrow, who hands Luke his rule book and tells them to leave. At a motel, Luke tries to figure out what Levritt meant and when Chloe tells him about what Levritt told her, he checks the rule book and figures out what Levritt meant. Luke rows over to the island and as Litten is toasting the new Skulls on ending their Period of Revelation, Luke enters the room and challenges Caleb to a duel. Litten wants Luke to be arrested but when he is reminded that the Skulls’ laws supersede the outside laws, he offers to take Caleb’s place, only for Luke to tell him it is forbidden for the Council members to interfere when the matter concerns their kin. As they prepare to face off in the duel, Luke tries to convince Caleb to tell everyone the truth of what happened, refusing to fire on Caleb but Caleb can’t tell them, but also can’t shoot Luke. Litten grabs another pistol and prepares to shoot Luke but he is shot in the shoulder by Caleb. As everyone rushes to tend to Litten, Caleb grabs another pistol and prepares to shoot himself but he is stopped by Luke, he says it is over. Later, Luke is talking with Levritt and tells him that he knows he orchestrated things to play out as they did in order to remove Litten as Chairman. Levritt admits it and tells Luke he looks forward to working with him but Luke says he is leaving the Skulls. When Levritt says they will find him and call on him but Luke ignores him and leaves, prompting Levritt to watch him and say, “Well done son, well done”, as Luke rows back to the mainland and joins up with Chloe, who was waiting for him.

The Skulls was pretty much panned by the critics, holding a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Skulls is full of nonsense and empty of good script and plot.” The movie is based on conspiracy theories concerning Yale’s Skull & Bones Society and though the school is not mentioned by name, there are several references to Yale throughout the film, primarily them referring to the rowing team as The Bulldogs. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a hit at the box office, earning $50.8 million off of a $15 million budget and would spawn two direct to video sequels.

Yeh, this movie didn’t quite hold up as well as I thought it would. The acting was ok, with Joshua Jackson (Luke) and Leslie Bibb (Chloe) doing a good job in their roles and showing some decent chemistry together. I also liked Craig T. Nelson (Litten) and William Petersen (Levritt) but I thought Paul Walker (Caleb) seemed rather bland. The story was honestly a little weak, with them trying to make a good suspense/thriller but basically threw a bunch of dramatic cliches up against the drawing board and hoping they would stick. The really annoying thing was the hinted familial relationship between Levritt and Luke, as they try and hint that Levritt is Luke’s dad, but waited till the end to drop that dud of a bombshell and did absolutely nothing with it. Honestly, the thing I liked the best about this movie was the soundtrack and while it can sometimes help carry a movie, that is definitely not the case this time. It might be worth watching for some people but this was really a disappointment to me.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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