Category Archives: Reviews
My humble opinion which is usually right.
I went to the movies last night to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I must say that I greatly enjoyed this installment more than I did its predecessor, An Unexpected Journey. I’m not sure if it’s because we were knee-deep in plotline or because my favorite character, Smaug, was finally around (wonderfully voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Regardless, I had a great time watching this film. The spiders were a problem. I hate them and an only take comfort in the fact that at least I didn’t see the movie in 3D where the spiders would have been too close for comfort.
My main beef with the film was that every time Orlando Bloom was on the screen, I would be pulled out of the movie spell. Have you ever seen The First Wives Club? There’s a scene when Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn are all having drinks after the funeral of a mutual friend. Midler keeps staring at Hawn and finally asks her how much plastic surgery she’s actually had. I felt that way with Bloom in the movie. I kept mentally picking apart everything that didn’t look right with him as Legolas.
I know it’s been 10 years since The Return of the King. However, it looks like they used come computer technology to either de-age him, or redo his face somehow. His face seems much more filled out that normal. And his eyes…. Legolas had some kind of crazy, cloudy eyes going on. These were clearly not the same types of lenses they used in Lord of the Rings. In the LotR films, his eyes are way darker. Or maybe his pupils are just way dilated. In this movie, he had like crazy Underworld vampire eyes going on. It took so much away, that I couldn’t pay much attention to any of his scenes. Pity…
While we are on the subject of Legolas, why was he in the movie in the first place? WHY did Peter Jackson pull a George Lucas and start tinkering with the story? Adding the elf storyline (and original character of Tauriel–who was pretty cool, btw) felt like a disservice to the original text. Whatever. I’ve voiced my opinion. I still enjoyed the movie.
On a side note that is completely and wholly unrelated:
Bulletproof Monk is on the television right now. It’s not that great of a movie. This was Chow Yun-fat’s follow-up to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Seann William Scott was in the middle of his American Pie bro movie era. He might still be in that era. I’m not sure. I like him and feel he could do more. We’ll see. What makes Bulletproof Monk a noticeable movie to me is that it features a character with the delightful name of Mister Funktastic. The character is some East End street thug who remains shirtless so all can admire his chest tattoo which says…..wait for it…. “MisterFunktastic.” He’s a pointless character, yet the name is so ridiculous that I always stop to watch this movie just to catch his few scenes.
I started typing this about 3/4 of the way through 2011’s The Three Musketeers. Wow. It’s really not very good at all. Honestly, yeah. I keep waiting for it to improve, but it’s not happening.
It’s not bad acting or anything. There is an insanely good cast for this movie. Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, and Luke Evans play the titular characters. The fault, instead, lies with the insertion of a major steampunk element into the classic Dumas tale along with many a cheesy line or two. Honestly, the plot gets downright zany. The trailer (embedded above) says “not like before.” Ain’t that the truth. Let me list a few items of note:
1. Milla Jovovich as Milady de Winter. She’s like a cat burglar who knows kung fu and the finer points of swordplay.
2. King Louis XIII. Usually he’s portrayed as naive. This version has the inexperienced king as kind of stupid and a bit foppish. I love his little hats! Also, Freddie Fox, who plays the king, has such a resemblance to Vincent Caso, that I kept thinking he was Bladezz from The Guild.
3. There is a freakin’ flying ship in the movie. It looks like a pirate ship / zeppelin. No one in the movie thinks this is odd. Everyone’s cool with it. Here’s some perspective for you: Louis XIII ascended the French throne in 1610. This is the same year the bagel was invented. From bagel to flying ship—anything goes!
4. Orlando Bloom’s hair. It’s not so much a coiffure as a structure. It’s rather tall and steals every scene away from him.
5. Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu. One feels that he’s holding back from laughing and walking off the set. And don’t get me started on Mads Mikkelsen as Captain Rochefort. I can’t tell if he’s trying to be creepy or eccentric. Maybe a little bit of both? I get the feeling he’s winking at us from behind the eyepatch.
6. Wait, apparently one airship isn’t enough. There is a total aerial naval showdown in the sky. Huh? If it wasn’t so ridiculous, it would be kind of cool.
Now, I will say this. The sword fighting (when there is any) is pretty groovy. The costumes are nice and technicolorrific. Yes, that’s now a word I just made up. Feel free to use it.
Also, Paul W.S. Anderson directed this flick. He’s the same guy who directed all the Resident Evil movies. So I guess as ridiculous as this movie was, it could have been worse. Richelieu could have set up an army of undead in hopes of stealing the French throne. Now that would have been something to see.
I really don’t like ghosts or ghost stories. Ghostbusters left me traumatized for weeks. I was convinced that Slimer was going to ooze out of the faucet in the bathroom. I kid you not. Lady in White? Freaked me out. Poltergeist? Viewed the one and only time.
I think my thing about ghosts is that they can’t be killed. You can kill a vampire. You can kill a werewolf. Zombies? Them too. Ghosts? Nope. All you can do is move and hope they don’t follow. For this reason, there are many movies in the ghost/horror genre that I have avoided over the years. I rarely even read ghost stories.
Oddly enough, I recently watched a ghostie-type movie that I enjoyed enough to pause so I could take notes and also to suggest to a couple of people. This rare gem is titled InSight and stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Natalie Zea.
Zea plays an ER nurse named Kaitlyn. One night a stabbing victim is brought into the hospital. As she flatlines on the stretcher, the victim suddenly opens her eyes and speaks to Kaitlyn, saying “he loved me”—just as the defibrillator is applied. The electrical current zaps Kaitlyn too. Both die, but Kaitlyn is revived after a minute. Also, no one else remembers the girl regaining consciousness.
Pretty much from that point on, Kaitlyn starts seeing visions of the dead girl’s final moments. It’s almost like she’s experiencing memories that aren’t her own. Honestly, the way the spirit of the girl (or her memories at least) keep haunting, Kaitlyn, I was reminded of Prince Hamlet being led on by the ghost of his father. That sort of all-encompassing thing. You know… That said, Kaitlyn takes it upon herself to solve the murder even if that means getting in the way of Flanery’s police detective who is also investigating. The two eventually team up, and away we go. [Special Note: I love finding ways to work Hamlet into a conversation. This one practically fell into my lap. You’re welcome.]
I’ve had a sweet spot in my heart for Sean Patrick Flanery ever since he appeared on the scene as Young Indiana Jones. I had several episodes of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles recorded on VHS once upon a time. About a year ago, I decided to rewatch some of these episodes from my adolescent years thinking they’d be just as awesome. Um…no. They are all fairly cheesy. But whatever. I had a great time watching them back in the day, and that’s all that matters. The point is that I’m always happy to see Mr. Flanery working.
I guess the best way to describe the movie is to call it a psychological ghost story. There were a few scary moments, but like Kaitlyn, I was all about finding out who the killer was. From early on, I was sucked into the story and held on for the ride. The movie had a cool noirish feel to it in places. For the most part this seemed to work.
InSight surprised me. I was expecting to watch a procedural murder mystery, and it turned out to be so much more. Just when I thought I had things figured out, another twist would come along, and I’d be back to square one. For that and other reasons, the movie was most enjoyable. I’d suggest it for a nice evening in. Also, Christopher Lloyd has a small role. That’s a bonus on its own.
Fun Fact: According to IMDB.com, the movie was shot in 15 days. That’s pretty groovy.
I’m going to just come out with it. Blood of Beasts was meh. Actually, it was more like bleh. I know that’s harsh, but yeah. Originally, I had decided to give Jane March a second chance seeing as I was very critical of her performance in Grimm’s Snow White. For her part in BoB, she was okay. The rest of the movie however…
BoB is a rather bland retelling of Beauty and the Beast only it’s set during the good old Viking times of olde. I think it’s Vikings. None of the men have facial hair(!!!!), but almost all of them have on bad wigs. Baaaad wigs, I tell you! Also, their waterfront Viking village looks like it may have been plundered from the Ewoks.
The “Beauty” of this story is played by Jane March. She is Freya, the Viking king’s daughter. It’s a tough world for Freya. She’s mourning the loss of her true love Agnar and at the same time, she’s having to deal with being promised to the village’s resident bully, Sven.
The “Beast” would be this bear/wolf man who lives on this distant land that the village men keep trying to reclaim. The costume for this guy does work. It’s like he’s wearing a bear head hoodie of sorts. This gives the appearance that his actual face is coming out of the mouth of a bear. Also, he’s got Darth Maul makeup on, so it’s kind of disturbing—which I gather is what the filmmakers were going for. Kudos!
So at one point, the Viking men do battle with the Beast (or as they refer to him, Odin’s Beast). Sven being the all-around groovy guy that he is, flees in fear and leaves the king to the mercy of the Beast. Of course Freya bravely travels to the Beast’s lair to beg her father’s release. She strikes a deal with the beast man to take her father’s place, and he accepts. You know the rest of the story.
While I’m glad the filmmakers tried to empower Freya by making her a Viking princess who has her own armor and can totally wield a sword, they failed to take into account one key point. Jane March is a really skinny chick. The armor sort of swallows her, and I have no idea how she’s seeing out of her helmet.
One nice thing in this movie is that the story is split between the goings on at Chez Beast and Viking Village. Justin Whalin (I know!) plays Eric. He was injured during the initial Beast fight, and feels a lot of guilt for leaving the king behind. He’s also one of the first people to start to stand up to Sven (who has appointed himself mayor of the village people).
Plot pacing, however, does not save this film. Most of the costumes look like they were picked up from Party City. Also,pretty much all the characters are one-dimensional. The king, is a well-meaning idiot. Sven has one setting: tool. March, while way better than she was in Grimm’s Snow White, wasn’t exactly wowing me here. Her character just seemed blah. Also, I think it’s now a proven fact that March cannot conjure up real tears. Whalin’s the best thing in this so….yeah.
The story was so-so. Honestly, I was bored through most of the viewing. It’s a different take on the fairy tale—particularly the ending, so I give the movie points for that. However, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. Points rescinded. It’s worth a watch if you enjoy love stories without the chemistry or if you are a fan of strawberry jam being used for fake blood. Most of the action sequences use the shakey-cam effect. I’ve come to realize from my numerous B-movie viewings, that the shakey-cam is used when the budget won’t allow for well-choreographed action sequences. Enough already! I didn’t enjoy it, but maybe someone else will.
Oh and sidenote: Justin Whalin! Last I saw you was in Dungeons and Dragons (yeesh). Ye of the promising acting career post TV’s Lois & Clark; where hath you been? Cause you shouldn’t have been here.
I have returned from my vacation! Miss me? While I’ve been traversing the globe, I’ve had a few good ideas for posts. One such idea came to me while I was trapped on a plane for a 10-hour transatlantic flight. But first, let me back up a bit.
The last time I flew from the US to Europe was two years ago. I flew Delta, and it was one of the older model planes. This meant that there were a series of monitors placed throughout the Economy cabin and we the passengers would watch whatever it was that was presented to us. We all had to watch the same thing. While an in-flight movie or TV show is most excellent, there was no choice in the matter. So in 2010, for my flight over the pond, these were the entertainments provided (per my journal notes):
- The King’s Speech (Oscar-winning and very good but alas edited for language which ruined one of the funniest sequences in the whole movie.)
- Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (meh)
- The Karate Kid (The new version with Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s kid. Luckily, I think I slept through most of this)
- One episode of The Office
- One episode of Glee (by this point, I wondered if we had all died and this was perhaps Hell.)
On the flight back home, which is a longer flight btw, we were horribly punished by way of in-flight entertainment:
- Little Fockers (Noooooo!!!!)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (eh…it was okay, but honestly I can’t remember much about it)
- Secretariat (This one was pretty good. High point of the flight home)
- One episode of The Big Bang Theory (a show I happen to enjoy)
Did you notice how there was less entertainment for the longer flight? I sure did. Anyways travel ahead to two years later (present day) and I’m on the plane again headed over the water. To my joy and surprise, Delta had upgraded their planes and now every passenger was given a personal screen with an array of film, television, and game choices!! Huzzah!
Choice! A fine thing unless you are watching the Matrix films in which the notion of choice becomes a HUGE philosophical cluster. But we aren’t at present, so let’s continue.
On my flight over this time, I mainly planned to sleep. That was a stupid plan because I’ve never been able to relax and sleep on planes. Also, while the airline offers seats with more leg-room, really they should be focusing on the fact that their seat cushions (while supposedly useful as floatation devices) are about as comfortable as a wooden church pew. A severe case of flatt-butt makes it difficult to snuggle into the plane seat. I digress….
Here are the shows/movies I watched on the way over when I wasn’t attempting some mode of sleep:
- An episode of Top Gear in which they went over the history of the Bond car. Richard Hammond hosted and it was really fun.
- The Girl (The HBO movie about Tippi Hedron and Alfred Hitchcock while they made The Birds and Marnie. I love Hitchcock’s movies, and found this behind the scenes story to be pretty good. Toby Jones was really creepy as Hitch. This was also really fun to watch since the airplane cabin was dark)
- Most of Wreck It Ralph (I was fortunate to have a very pleasant passenger in the window seat next to me, so we actually conversed with each other during our meals and between movie choices. For that reason, by the time I started this film, there wasn’t enough time left in the flight to finish it. So far so good though…)
On the flight home, I had an idea. I decided to watch two very different type of movies to see which would be the best kind to watch on a flight. After all, this was a tiny screen (smaller than the iPad). Would an action film not play out as well? Or, seeing as the flight back was longer and seemed so, would a drama increase the tedium? As a result, the following were watched:
- The Avengers I had seen this in the theater, so this was the first time watching since. (Sadly, my view screen was selective in any settings actions. I had to watch half the movie with only one ear bud in since I couldn’t get the volume down from 11 to a kinder, gentler, NORMAL volume. At some point though, the volume went to normal or else my eardrum just gave up) Overall, I’d say that while I enjoyed the movie greatly, I would have preferred to see it on a much larger screen as most of the action is just lost due to the size of the viewing area.
- Anna Karenina (the Keira Knightley version). I’ve never been a big fan of this story, but this adaptation totally sucked me in. For two hours I forgot I was on the plane. So maybe a smaller movie plays better with the limited space.
- Brave (This is the Pixar one that came out last year.) I had never seen it before. Animated films play out well on the view screen too. However, I wasn’t overly crazy about this one. Maybe it’s me. It was funny, sweet, exciting, and yet felt a little predictable. I felt it could have been a wee bit more than what it was.
- Hitchcock (the Anthony Hopkins version). I thought I’d bookend my flights with yet another movie about Hitch and his moviemaking. This one follows the great director as he worked to get Psycho made. I have the film on my Netflix queue right now because about halfway though the movie, everyone’s view screens froze up, and the flight attendants had to reset the system. If I wanted to finish the movie, I would have had to fast-forward through it, but the system didn’t fast-forward very quickly. A huge flaw, if you ask me.
Hooray for choice even though it comes in the form of a tiny screen! While action films might not work out as well, many other film and TV type options did. Boo for flawed touch screen technology, however. While I mainly had volume problems, the lady across the aisle from me couldn’t get her screen to even work. She had to sit and stare out the window for most of the flight. Lesson learned? Always pack a backup entertainment device be it iPad, book, or crossword.
And darn pretty to look at! The land, I mean. Not the man. Though there is some kind of an appealing rascal look to James Franco. Hmm…
Let me start this off with a few things. First of all, I love, love, love The Wizard of Oz. I know all the songs, and I have a small collection of Christmas ornaments. For Christmas a couple of years ago, I was given the anniversary DVD box set that came with all the promotional material, a watch, and even a copy of the film’s budget. I freaked out.
I think, that even though I know the MGM film with Judy Garland takes liberties with the L. Frank Baum books, there is still something pure about it. It’s as if the film is protected in one of Glinda’s magic bubbles, and all other adaptations can’t seem to connect to it. There have been many attempts, and none have made it. I kind of hoped Oz the Great and Powerful would come the closest or at least be enough of its own movie that we wouldn’t need the connection. In some says, the movie latched on to its predecessor. But in many, many ways, it missed the target.
I didn’t go into Oz with the highest of expectations, but I had hopes. After all, Sam Raimi was at the helm. He’s a crazy cool director, and I’m a huge fan. While I hoped Raimi’s film would have a little more edge, instead it came across as more of a fairy tale. In my opinion, the movie is more aimed at the kiddies than adults. I felt that everyone in the cast was given direction to overact a bit. If someone was happy, they weren’t happy. They were happy! Characters weren’t sad or angry. They were devastated or wrathful. I felt that the overacting distracted me from the overall experience.
The story was pretty good, but it took a long time for the film to click into place. That could have been me though. I had been promised a Bruce Campbell cameo (as per tradition in Raimi films) and spent most scenes looking for him to pop up. Also, the motivations of some of the characters seemed odd. Franco’s Oscar Diggs just seemed disconnected from a lot going on around him. I don’t get it. Franco seemed more intense and connected when he spent an entire movie pinned by a rock in a canyon. In Oz, I felt like he was distracted for most of the time as if he wasn’t sure what his lines were or if there was something better going on off set. This wasn’t the case for the whole movie, mind you. Franco had some pretty cool scenes, and I enjoyed those scenes. However, he was really difficult to read for most of the movie.
There were also writing issues. I have a brother, but I rarely, if ever, call him “Brother” when addressing him. Two characters must call each other “sister” more times that not. It got kind of annoying. It’s a nit-picky thing, but it bothered me.
All these grievances aside, there were things I did enjoy. First of all, the movie was gorgeous to look at. A friend of mine saw it in 3D, and said the effects were pretty groovy. Also, Danny Elfman did the music. He’s the best film composer in my book. There were some pretty cool lines in the movie, but I can’t repeat my favorite ones because they contain spoilers. Just take my word for it. Characters such as Knuck the fanfare player and the China Girl made the movie enjoyable.
Also, I want Finley the monkey. Every close up on this adorable computer animated primate caused me to coo and awww over him. This film was my Oscar prize, so I saw it with Crint. He kept laughing at me whenever I’d melt over the adorable monkey. Seriously folks. He’s soooooo cute.
So yeah. I had fun watching Oz the Great and Powerful, but I don’t think it lived up to what I hoped for it. If I graded movies, I’d give it a B-. It gets points for good casting (Rachel Weisz’s tricky Evanora and Michelle Williams’ kindly Glinda), visuals (Oz the land was absolutely gorgeous), and music. It gets bonus points for an adorable monkey and Bruce Campbell. However, it loses points to questionable casting (Franco and maybe Mila Kunis), overacting, and unpolished writing.
There were many kids in the movie theater when I went. Most were okay, but I overheard two boys on my row ask their adult supervisor if they could go play in the lobby. That’s never a good thing. The little girl who sat a few seats away from me, however, was a like a little version of me. When the lights dimmed and the movie started, she gave a happy little squeal and did a sort of anticipatory dance in her seat. From what I can tell, she was happy when the end credits started rolling. I can only hope that she maintains her excitement for movies and good stories. I’m sure children like her were in Raimi’s mind when he made this movie. If that’s the case, then he definitely succeeded. But for this slightly disappointed adult…I’ll take what I enjoyed from Oz and be happy with that.
Kids, back in the day I watched a movie so strange and dumb and interesting and stupid that it inspired this very blog. It arrived one warmish day in May, and I put it in the dvd player. With a title like Dragon Wars I knew there would at least be a) dragons and b) possibly dragons at war with themselves, others, everyone, etc. It couldn’t be all bad, could it?
And now at long last, I have revisited this movie. So here we are again, and I feel the time is right to review this one for you. Enjoy.
You know a movie is gonna be one of “those” when the opening scene involves police hauling a man away while he shouts “the beast has risen!” You just know. While that happens, our hero emerges into the shot. Ethan Kendrick is a popular local news guy newly arrived on the scene of some horrible disaster. The problem is that it’s hard to tell what happened exactly. All I see is sand and some tarp. It looks more like a construction scene on a beach or something.
Anyways, now seems as good a time as any for Ethan to go into flashback mode. It all has something to do with the strange amulet he wears around his neck. Travel back in time with me, won’t you?
When Ethan was a little boy, he went with his dad to Jack’s Antiques. Young Ethan stumbles across a trunk that suddenly opens and starts to glow. Ah ha! Jack fakes a heart condition and convinces Ethan’s dad to go to the nearest pharmacy to pick up some meds for him. So…..that would leave the kid alone with the strange man. Whatever.
It was all a ruse. Once the dad is out the door, Jack turns to Ethan and says “finally, I’ve found you.” Now, any kid nowadays would high-tail it out of there. But this kid just says “the light from the box, sir?” Jack explains that Ethan saw was the scale of the Imoogi and the light was from Heaven.
Right, let’s nutshell. Imoogi are from Koran legend. They are sort of like dragons. Every 500 years an Imoogi was rewarded for good deed doing and gained the chance to level up and become a Celestial dragon. It would need, however, the gift of the Yuh Yi Joo.
The YYJ allows the Imoogi to turn into a dragon. But again, the YYJ only shows up every 500 years. Enter Buraki the evil serpent who wanted the YYJ. In 1507 Korea, Heaven sent a young boy named Haram and his master Bochun to protect the YYJ at all costs. Ethan asks Jack what on earth he’s talking about, and I’m thinking the same thing too. This is already a convoluted tale to tell a kid and an audience and expect us to still follow. Too many names. And this is a giant nutshell.
Basically, a baby girl is born bearing the mark of a red dragon on her shoulder. Congrats!. She’s the YYJ. When she’s 20, she’ll be sacrificed so the Imoogi level up. Sounds like a bum deal for the YYJ, but what can you do? Bochun takes the baby girl from her parents so he can raise her and protect her for that one big event in life. Her name is Narin. Haram and Narin grow up together and fall in love. Of course they do.
Are you confused yet? It’s annoying, but I have to tell you all this info because 1) it’s important, and 2) why should I be the only one to deal with it?
Anyhoo, all is wonderful in the land of young love and Good Imoogis. However, Narin turns 20 and the evil Buraki starts terrorizing villages looking for Narin so his Evil Imoogi can use the YYJ power for unlimited evilness.
Bochun gives Haram an amulet that will protect him from danger. He also instructs Haram to deliver Narin to the Good Imoogi. That’s all he has to do. Does he do it? No. He and his woman attempt to flee and end up falling to their deaths from a cliff whilst being pursued by the Evil Imoogi.
The Jack says, “I know it’s hard to believe all that, but you know what’s harder to believe?” And I’m thinking it doesn’t matter cause this kid obviously believes everything you tell him.
Jack tells Ethan that he is Bochun and that Ethan was in his first life, Haram. This is his second chance to protect the YYJ. It’s his destiny. He must find a girl named Sarah. She’ll have a mark on her shoulder and she must be taken to the Grand Cave by the day she’s 20. And that’s all the clues Ethan is given. Good thing he grows up to be an intrepid reporter.
Thus endeth the twenty-minute (!!!) flashback. That’s a lot to throw onto your audience, methinks. So now that we are all caught up on Ethan’s memories, he starts his search for the mysterious Sarah so they can save the world.
Ethan all but abandon’s his job and with his loyal cameraman Bruce (played by Craig Robinson of Hot Tub Time Machine fame), he searches for Sarah. Meanwhile, Sarah (a pretty blonde played by Amanda Brooks) is kicking in as the YYJ. She has crazy dragon dreams. She goes into trance like states and writes in Korean calligraphy. She also has what I think might be a panic attack only it just looks like she’s got bad cramps. She calls 911. For cramps? Maybe it was a panic attack after all.
And somewhere while Sarah is in the hospital and Ethan is looking for her in the hospital, the movie comes back online for me. It got kind of dull with the “what’s wrong with me?” and “how do we find her” stuff. You know she’ll figure it out and he’ll find her. So let’s get this thing moving along!
If you look at the movie from a certain angle, Dragon Wars is a lot like Terminator. Sarah is Sarah Connor. Ethan would be a hipster Kyle Reese. The Evil Imoogi would totally be Arnold. Where does the Imoogi go to first looking for Sarah? Her house. Who gets killed? The roommate and her boyfriend. Just like in The Terminator.
Ethan finds Sarah and does a whole “come with me if you want to live” spiel, and off they go. What we have next is a rather lengthy sequence of Evil Imoogi destroying everything in its path to find Sarah. And I mean everything. They try to outrun it. They try to outdrive it. Not happening. And if they manage to get away from the Imoogi, there’s the Imoogi’s henchman come back from the afterlife.
While they run for their lives in whatever transportation is available, Ethan and Sarah manager to fall in love. Just like in The Terminator.
Meanwhile, the Feds are also searching for Sarah. They found the Korean legend and for some reason know she’s the key to the whole thing. So let’s see now. Giant dragon serpent thing is chasing them. Evil henchman is chasing them. Feds are chasing them. Not good.
I have got to tell you. Most of the rest of the movie is one action sequence after another with armies clashing, Imoogi destroying, Hulk smashing… (just checking to see you are paying attention). Also, to make things more fun, evil henchman’s evil army of Middle Earth creatures suddenly invade the city. So if you are having a hard time picturing this, use Power Rangers, Middle Earth battle creatures, a huge dragony serpent, and then visualize the usual Michael Bay / Roland Emerich movie magic destructiveness. You get the picture. Crazy, but it looks really good and kept me interested in the movie.
There is one image in particular that’s stayed with me. At one point in the melee, Ethan, Sarah and Bruce are all trying to make it to the helicopter at the top of the news building. The Imoogi has slithered up the building like a snake. Its long body is wrapped all around the tall building, and it’s quietly making its way up. It was a really groovy visual.
And just when you think they’ll find a way to fully escape or maybe defeat the Imoogi…..the film switches gears and we find ourselves at the Grand Cave for the grand finale.
I’ll stop there. I’ve skipped over a lot, but the cool points and crazy have all been brought to light. Dragon Wars, I think, would work really well as a video game. I’m being serious. Some of the music and dialog felt very Final Fantasy to me, and I could so see this as either an RPG or better yet maybe an action/adventure 3rd-person shooter type game. Think about it. You could play as both Ethan and Haram in two parallel adventures. You could do all your initial tutorial levels in the “500 years ago” section. Then, once the game goes into present day, it’s dragon’s ahoy! But that’s the game.
As a movie Dragon Wars is silly, but with enough action to keep me paying attention. The dragons/Imoogis look really good and I was kind of creeped out by them. I’ll probably revisit it waaay down the road. After all, it’s crazy “quick! Learn these volumes of back story in the next 10 minutes” plot made me sit up and take notice. No one else I knew had seen or even heard of this movie. But now you have.
Next week, I’ll return with my Oscar picks. This year it has been really difficult making predictions. I’ve changed my ballot around countless times. My deadline for final picks is Friday, so I’ll try to have my picks up by that night or early Saturday.
I found another! This morning a delightful 1987 Cannon Group adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes was on my local television channel. And like all the other movies in this grouping, this was sing-songy too. One number of note was the jaunty “The Clothes Make the Man.”
Yet again, we get another strange yet impressive cast. Robert Morse (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) is the tailor who is really more of a con man. Sid Caesar is the Emperor. Clive Revill is his bumbling Prime Minister (he was also the king in The Frog Prince).
The set up for the story is that the Emperor has invited tailors from all over to design his clothes for the princess’s forthcoming wedding. Sensing an opportunity, the tailor comes up with a scheme. His nephew, Nicolas is a reluctant partner in all this. He admits he loves a good con, but he has reservations about the illegal part. Ha! Meanwhile, the princess doesn’t want to get married.
Yeah, yeah. Not the same story we all know, but in its basic outline, yes. So anyways, of the fairy tale adaptations I’ve seen so far from the Cannon folks, this one isn’t that great. Morse kind of overdoes it. He practically winks at the audience whenever he’s up to no good. Caesar, however, is fun but he’s pretty much playing himself.
Maybe I’m biased because I’ve never really been a fan of The Emperor’s New Clothes. It always seemed like a silly story to me. I don’t suggest this one, but it’s nice to know I can cross another off my list. Onwards to the next fairy tale!!!
PS: One can always enjoy The Emperor’s New Groove.
I’m working on my next review for you guys, and while that’s being polished up real purty-like, I thought I’d take the time to share my latest strange movie obsession: Bad fairy tale adaptations. Okay. Maybe not super bad, but iffy. Very much meh-worthy.
The local This-TV channel shows family films on Saturday mornings. Lately, they’ve been fairy tales, and of course, I’ve been enjoying them whilst sipping on my coffee. So here are a couple quick thoughts on the two I’ve recently watched:
Puss in Boots (1988) starring Jason Connery, and Christopher Walken (I know!!!!!). I know I gave Connery a hard time when I reviewed his performance in the lackluster Lightspeed, but he more than makes up for it in this. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t Death of a Salesman or anything, but Connery’s performance of the miller’s son who pretends to be a nobleman in order to win the heart of the princess is a good one. And because the movie is a musical, Connery gets to sing (just like dear old dad did in Darby O’Gill and the Little People). He carries a tune nicely.
Now that we’ve got that out-of-the-way, let’s discuss Walken. First of all, how ever did he find his way into this movie? Secondly, he’s great as the cat who coaches Connery’s character and sweet talks his way into the king’s good graces. And he sings as well! In fact, he gets five songs in this movie. I really enjoyed watching Walken take over any scene he was in. He’s just so cool.
The Frog Prince (1986) starring Aileen Quinn (Annie) and Helen Hunt. In this version of the classic fairy tale, Quinn and Hunt play sisters who are being raised by their uncle the king. The sisters are vying for the title of “Princess” and an official judge is on his way to decide who gets the honor. Hunt’s character is the older, more beautiful sister. She’s also cold-hearted and very vain. Quinn’s character is the younger, awkward sister. She tries really heard to be beautiful and poised like Hunt, but usually fails. However, due to her goodness, she’s her uncle’s favorite. The frog prince is actually a full-grown man in pretty interesting frog makeup. He befriends Quinn and decides to help her prepare for the judging.
I saw this version of the story many years ago, and remember enjoying it. I just rewatched it last week, and though it’s very dated and I think my eyes might have rolled out of my head a few times, I found it to be a good waste of two hours. Like Puss in Boots, The Frog Prince was also sing-songy. Quinn sings a lot (which is fine, cause she’s Annie after all) and Hunt doesn’t sing once (which is also fine because I’ve never heard her sing and there might be a good reason for that). The frog prince guy gets his fair share of musical numbers too.
This movie, though entertaining, errs on the side of cheesy many, many times. For example, Quinn’s golden ball (the one the frog fetches for her early in the story) isn’t just lucky. Nay! It’s magical! So several times we hear the frog-man request of it things such as “Oh lucky ball, please help us find a way into the palace.” Also, once the frog is a dude again, he looks funny. But again, that could be because it’s so dated.
The studio that made both of these movies is The Cannon Group (the series listed as Cannon Movie Tales). According to Wikipedia there are seven other fairy tale movies that they’ve released in the 1980s. I know I’ve caught a few minutes of Beauty and the Beast starring Rebecca De Mornay and also part of Sleeping Beauty starring the delightful Kenny Baker as a kindly elf and Morgan Fairchild (of all people) as the queen. She sings.
Netflix doesn’t seem to have these in their dvd collection (unsure about streaming) so I guess I’ll have to find these on TV as they come along. Now that I’ve discovered them, I must see them all regardless of stupid songs and 80s hair. It’s a quest!
Remember when Twister came out? I saw it in a THX theater, and with the a/c blasting away, it felt like we were in the middle of the action. Or at least, that’s how my brain remembers it. This week’s movie kind of sort of reminds me of Twister only without the storm chasing. Instead there’s storm fleeing. AND, just because this is the first review of the year, I’m giving you a recap. It’s my new year’s gift to you.
Ice Twisters. The name just says “disaster.” The film opens with the shot of an empty road more or less situated in or near the Rockies (due to all the mountain shots in the background) Movies that open this way tell me that somewhere, a science team in a sleepy mountain town is about to either start and/or save end of the world. I haven’t been disappointed yet.
A science team of sorts (I can tell because they are all in tents and everyone has a computer) has unleashed something called “the hive” which are some kind of flying robots. They look sort of like robot wasps or something. Don’t hold me to that. The entire movie we never get a nice lingering shot on one of them. Maybe the writer didn’t know what it looked like either. Hmm. Anyways, these flying robot thingies have just formed a cloud.
Cut to outside a bookstore. Charlie Price (played by Mark Moses from Desperate Housewives) has a new book out “Jonas Fear.” His book is about end o’ the world something or other. He notices that only men are in line for the signing. (ha ha) Charlie asks his assistant to remind him to write his next book on relationships or something so more women show up to signings. His assistant (Nora) is very familiar and I’ve just figured out who she is. Aha! She’s Chelan Simmons who was Gretchen Speck-Horowitz on Wonderfalls. Now that’s a show that should have been on the air much longer. Go find it and watch. Excellent show.
Okay, a faithful reader shows up and says that he’s read all Price’s books, and that he (Price, not the fan) is a hypocrite since he writes about all these save the world scenarios and none of them are in practice or something. He kind of rants a bit and it makes no sense. Price reminds his fan (antifan?) that he’s just a writer and whether or not the “save the world solutions” in his books work, don’t matter.
Meanwhile, the science team checks on their robot formed cloud and see that it’s raining from said cloud. So…they’ve made a rain cloud and not just a Pooh Bear cloud. And it’s a HUGE, perfect storm kind of cloud. HUGE, I tell you. By the way, the book store for the signing is in a sleepy little town. Go figure.
Gary the cute computer guy who looks like a younger London brother says that there’s a situation 14 miles away in the sleepy town of Harrisford (book town). I guess that’s where the science cloud is. Charlie Price steps out of the bookstore and says “that’s not good.” I like him already. Now the winds have picked up crazy like and a car flies through the air and causes chaos and craziness.
Cut to a man and a woman on some country road. She’s peeing in someone’s yard, or behind some shrubs whatever. The guy sees the freakish cloud and says that it’s not normal. He gets his camera out. It turns out they are college reporters on their way to cover the book signing. I think they might be a couple as well.
Cut to Federal Project Oversight Agency in West Virginia. A man is handed a file and is alerted to a blip on the radar showing that ginormous cloud (now storm) near Project Raindance (the science cloud). Okay, so that’s a cloud that formed on its own apart from the science cloud? I’m confused. Le’ts just assume that’s the case.
Science team lady (Joanne) and a guy I referred to in my notes as Beard Man (Damon) show up in town and check out the destruction. Charlie has Nora (who is a little injured after the storm rolled through town) loaded into an ambulance. Charlie then sees that the naysayer antifan died in the storm attack. You can tell he’s vowing to avenge this death. He’s on the job!
Charlie approaches Joanne. They know each other since Joanne was Charlie’s research assistance back in the day. Damon’s kind of an ass about Charlie. I wonder if he and Joanne have something going on or if he just wishes. Why not be polite?
Frank, the fed guy at the desk job is on the phone with Damon and tells him that when they figure out what caused the pop-up storm, make sure it wasn’t caused by their “experiments.” And he doesn’t say it in a “better not be you” kind of way. He says it in a “cook the books” kind of way. So Frank is evil and Damon is his toady. Awesome.
Charlie asks Joanne to have dinner so they can catch up but she rain checks him. Charlie heard Damon said Frank’s name when he was on the phone so he asks who Frank is. So Charlie at this point, went from polite conversation to man on the job, ace reporter. Joanne tells Damon that in order to control the situation, they should keep Charlie close.
Cut to images of the cloud wasp thingies flying all over the place. Gary wants to know where they are drawing their energy. He also sees that they’ve formed another storm cell. I think it’s safe to say that these wasp thingies have gone “Skynet” on us. Does everyone agree? Robots are evil, people.
So we get another shot of crazy storm sky. A farmer is on his tractor when it hits his field. The field stars icing over and the man is flash frozen…just like those peas he was growing.
The names of the ace reporters are Eric and Ashley. They find out the book signing ended early due to the freak storm. They bicker some more and we learn that they are in college though they look way older and better dressed than college kids. They decide to try to catch up with Charlie a little later.
Meanwhile, in the storm chaser SUV… It stops at the field of the frozen farmer. Per Gary, this was where the storm formed. While Damon pouts and Joanne chats with Gary, Charlie finds Farmer Dead. Okay. not Farmer Dead. He finds part of a flying robot and notices that the puddle around it has nearly freezing water. I hope someone finds the farmer. I want to use the phrase Farmer Dead!!!!! Okay, so the technology makes a cloud and then seeds it. Damon can’t stand that Charlie a) found the robot piece, and b) learned what it was.
Yes!!!! Farmer Dead! Joanne finds him. Also, he’s sort of purple blue which Charlie says is because he’s pumped full of silver iodide. This is never, ever explained completely. Joanne says they need to abort the test since you know…people are dying. Damon is all “WHAT?” Cause he’s a tool. Joanne says abort regardless.
Cut to evil Frank hiding in a mens room stall. Damon is on the other side of that call. He says that the storms are totally the science team’s fault. He also says that Joanne suggested a full abort. Frank says no way Jose and says that Damon works for him, not Joanne. Cause apparently human casualties are just an annoyance in the face of scientific progress.
Cut to Ashley and Eric driving in the car. Ashley has to pee again. What on earth has she been drinking? Apple juice? Cranberry juice? Her kidneys are definitely working. All of a sudden, a funnel cloud appears. It’s totally white and ice-like. Eric and Ashley decide to film it while driving away from it as fast as they can–cause that’s safe. Meanwhile, Nora has been discharged from the hospital and is on her way back to Los Angeles. She is driving from the opposite direction on the very same road. She’s just watching the cloud and drives into the oncoming lane, narrowly missing Ashley and Eric. In avoiding their car, Nora cuts straight into the funnel cloud. We hear a lot of noise, none of which is positive sounding.
Eric and Ashley wind up in a ditch. It’s cold outside. Ashley wonders what happened to the other car. Eric notices that there’s no cell service. They decide the only thing to do is walk to the TV station. (I love how they are committed to their project. I know I wasn’t that dedicated when I was doing journalism in college.) Eric grabs the camera and they head off on foot.
Gary says there’s no pattern to the storms and per Charlie, therein lies the pattern. Huh? Charlie then says that they aren’t looking in the right place. He says something along the lines of vertical weather. This is crazy-talk apparently. Per Charlie, the storms are starting higher in the atmosphere and forcing their way down. Damon is all no way and btw, the project is still on. Franks says no abort. Charlie just looks smug. Jo calls Frank who puts her to voicemail. Ouch. I love how the fiction writer bests the scientists. This is like a sciencey version of Castle.
Damon tells Jo that since Frank finances their project, he owns it so he’s in charge. Whatever. Jo says to take the robots down regardless, but it can’t be done from where their base camp is. Jo says they need to reverse the ionization process if that works.
All of a sudden, the radar shows a drastic drop in temperature. Can radar show that? Charlie announces they’ve got a twister. It’s like right there on top of them and headed their way. Everyone can see it, Charlie. There’s no need to announce. The funnel cloud is freezing everything in its path. The group abandon base camp. There are at least three twisters now. Everyone runs for their cars. Bill (another tech)and his SUV get pulled in by a twister. Charlie and Jo run for cover and hide in a drainage pipe thingy that’s in the ground. Gary and Damon floor it in their SUV and zoom off.
Frank sees new radar images of crazy storm cells. There are like 10 now–all red and huge in the area. But that’s okay. He’s safe and sound in his government office.
The storm passes. Eric and Ashley managed to film the whole thing from their road of safety. They have lots of discussions of government testing and conspiracy theories. Despite nearly dying a few times, Ashley is still concerned they are going to fail their class since they didn’t get to interview Charlie. Eric is all “reporters cover the news while it’s happening” and suggests they abandon their assignment to cover the storms. Smart boy.
Charlie and Jo survived (how??) and are now walking down the road chatting about their past or lack thereof. Damon and Gary pick them up. Gary is sad about Bill not making it.
Gary says they need a good broadband connection in order to contact the robots and shut them down. They stop at a motel with free Wifi and a continental breakfast. Yay breakfast! Since the National Weather Service had issued mandatory town evacs, the motel is empty.
Our rag-tag team searches the motel to get the power back on so they can get a connection. Charlie and Jo head for the basement of the motel to find a generator because Charlie says there just has to be one. There’s the generator. It’s out of fuel (of course it is!!!) so they plan to siphon some out of the SUV.
Meanwhile, Ashley and Eric arrive at the TV station which is locked and looks abandoned. Eric decides to look for a way in. Ashley’s journalistic ethics say breaking and entering is wrong. Eric’s–not so much. They sneak into the station which from the outside, just looks like garages or storage units. Budget filmmaking, folks.
Gas in the generator. Generator on..Free wifi activated!!! Per the doppler data, the storms are getting stronger and headed towards Portland. That’s what storms, aliens, meteors, earthquakes, etc do. They head for the nearest major city. It’s a movie rule.
Frank orders a plane to check out the damage or the storms or something. The plan is trying to make it through the storm cell, and it’s not good. Also, Gary and company are locked out of the data. Frank is trying to override them. They can’t link in with their robots to shut them down. And then the power goes out. Meanwhile, Frank is informed that they’ve lost contact with the plane. He shouts “Where’s our eye in the sky!!!!” and hangs up the phone. It’s soooo dramatic, I giggled a little. Poor Frank. Being the bad guy isn’t easy.
The gas tank on the generator is cracked, so yeah, that’s bad. Gary says he has to have a solid signal in order to hack the robots to land them. Damon continues being a naysayer. Charlie’s phone chirps a reminder that Nora set up for him. He’s got an appointment at the TV station for that interview with Eric and Ashley. The gang decide to visit the station.
As they travel to the station, Gary notices something and they stop to see. The camera moves reeeally slooow and doesn’t pan all the way so we can see what they’ve seen. I understand building suspense, but this is way too slow. It’s a train wreck–literally. They assume the train must have been in the storm’s path. They search for survivors. It looks like the train was pulling some industrial stuff, so any personnel would be few. But, we do find Nora’s body.
Special Note: When Nora drove into the funnel cloud, I heard a train sound, but when people tell stories of tornadoes hitting their homes, they always say, it sounded like a freight train or something so I thought it was sound effects to that nature. But no, it was an actual train.
Joanne is sad because their experiment caused all this. She also blames Damon since he let Frank take over the project. After screaming at Damon a little more, she gets in the car with a grieving Charlie. He’s sad, but not crying upset or anything. I guess he and Nora weren’t that close then.
Our gang sees another storm cell forming overhead. Gary and Damon rush towards the car as a funnel cloud travels downwards toward them. They jump into the car and floor it. I don’t know about Charlie, but I would have the heat blasting just in case.
Frank is on the phone with someone superior and is denying that the weather is not being caused by his project. Frank then tells his assistant that they have all the data they need. Time to unplug the robots and shut them down. Assistant says they won’t respond. Frank says to shoot them out of the sky. Wow. He’s so CYA on this whole thing.
Meanwhile, Charlie and company pull in to the TV station which from the angle they just showed is so very much a storage building. It’s just a row of garages. I love this!!!
Eric and Ashley see the vehicle pull in and hide cause they aren’t supposed to be there. (But the funny thing was that they were! They had an appointment with Charlie to follow-up after the initial footage they were supposed to do at the bookstore. Come on!) Anyways they think again and answer the door. After introductions, the gang sets up shop. Damon also tries to steal Eric’s storm footage. Meanwhile Gary attempts to hack the system to shut down the robots.
Charlie and Jo get Frank on audio chat. Frank covers his rear by saying that he’s sorry but he has no choice but to terminate the project. Fighter jets take down a bunch of flying robots. Frank gets a call that it’s a success. Then he shreds personnel files for the project along with some data. Doesn’t he know that’s all backed up on computers now?
Gary sees on the screen that the robots are down. They keep calling them “seraphs” so I will too. I shall refer to them as robots no more. From now on, they are “seraphs” except now that they are down, I can’t refer to them anymore. Oh well…
Charlie says that Frank hijacked their research to see how strong the storms could get. But get this….the storms aren’t breaking up. Instead they are getting worse and zeroing in on Portland. Charlie thinks that this storm will grow and grow and become like the Eye of Jupiter. And that’s a big storm. Cool theory though. Best part of the movie.
Frank is upset the storm isn’t stopping. He calls the team and offers help. Eric chimes in that in Charlie’s previous book, holes were shot into the ionosphere to heat up the atmosphere to help dissipate the storms or some kind of weather science. This also involves using some kind of laser and satellite access. Gary says he can do it sooner if Frank gives him satellite access codes.
Frank says he can help but he wants assurances. Charlie says Frank has to give the project back to Jo to start with, and there are no other assurances. They are going to the university to use their something ray or whatever. Gary says they’ll be heading into the heart of the storm area. Joanne tells the reporters to get on the air to warn people to take precautions and cover. Get on the air to what? All the surrounding towns have been evacuated, and I hardly think that the good people of Portland will be watching the Storage Unit TV Channel. But that might just be my opinion.
Gary works his computer geek thing and waits for Frank to send the sat codes. Ashley goes on the air to report on the weather.
Cheap!!! I’m calling it! The filmmakers just used a shot from earlier when there were 3 funnel clouds! Same shot, same formation!!! Charlie tells Joanne that she’s a beautiful woman and now’s as good a time as any for confessions. Odd time, but okay. I think it’s supposed to take our attention away from the budget filmmaking.
Frank finally delivers the sat codes. Gary loads them up. Charlie uses some kind of physics theory to sling shot the SUV through all the funnel clouds. He and Jo plow right through. Wow. Meanwhile, the storm is trudging onward to Portland.
Charlie, Jo, and Damon arrive at the university. That’s what it’s called. The “university.” It really looks like a series of warehouses. Might be another storage facility. I digress…Damon has trouble getting out of the car and when he finally egresses, a hailstorm starts up. He’s pelted with ice rocks. Ouch. Bye Damon. Sorry you were such a jerk the whole time.
There are scientists in white coats in the laser building or whatever it is. Charlie gives them the short version of their story and scientist chick agrees to help. That was easy!
Meanwhile Gary can’t get the codes to work. Eric suggests that he check to see if the codes are case-sensitive. Gary is all “I’m a computer expert, you think I haven’t thought of that?” and sends Eric away. Turns out it was the cases. He looks a little sheepish before announcing “well, I’m in!” ha ha ha
Gary gets the satellite in order, and the university scientists get the laser ready to fire. Meanwhile, storms are at critical mass. But uh oh! More trouble. The power goes out at the university, and the backup generators kick in. Also, the doors have opened and the storm is hitting the laser building.
The laser gets powered up but isn’t warming up fast enough to fight off the storm. It’s gonna be down to the wire. At the crucial moment, the scientist lady fires the lasers and a huge blast is seen from space. The beam is breaching the ozone layer. Gary sets up the satellite to fire back through the breach.
Meanwhile the university building is starting to flash freeze on the inside. I can’t believe the computers are still working!!! And it works!!!!!!!! The sky turns blue and the clouds dissipate. The temperature starts to climb to normal. The giant red storm splotches vanish on the radar. Yay!! Everyone is happy except for Frank who is probably worrying about his job. The university science lady looks like she needs a vacation. Jo looks relieved and Frank does too. They comfort each other. Maybe dinner is back on now. Portland is safe from harm.
We exit the movie with those same peaceful shots of nature. Wait, sorry. False alarm. This is like the end of Return of the King. Eric and Ashley meet up with Charlie and Joanne in a pretty field. They are going to do the interview there where it’s pretty. Joanne says that after this, she’ll have to go back to being Charlie’s research assistant. Oh ha ha…
Frank’s assistant delivers a disc called A Day in the Life of Charlie Price. Copies were sent to the Senate Investigation Committee. The note on Frank’s personal copy says “Good luck in Prison.” As soon as the audience has had a chance to read the note, Frank gets a call from his secretary that federal agents are waiting to see him. Buh bye, Frank!
And that’s it. The credits roll right after that scene. For once, the title works with the movie. Ice Twisters really has freezing temperature, icy twisters! Thank you, movie title people! I’m still upset over Ice Quake and Snowmageddon–both of which didn’t exactly go with their titles. Oh well.
The movie was really silly, but I have to say despite the cheap excuses for exterior sets and repeated use of special effects shots, and confusing tech writing, the acting was pretty good. Mark Moses was a great leading man, and I almost want to see more adventures of Charlie Price. I can’t believe I just typed that! But it’s true, so I’ll keep that sentence in there. Also, the movie was kind of fun. I wouldn’t suggest it to everyone, but if it’s a rainy day, and it’s on the tube, go ahead and give it a shot.
And that’s the first review for the year, folks. My next review should have dragons in it. It’s been a while. I miss them.