Blog Archives

The Crazy Jumping Man of Mars

So I finally got around to watching John Carter. This was supposed to be a HUGE summer blockbuster in 2012 and instead was a critical and financial failure. That said, a few friends insisted that the movie wasn’t that terrible and that I ought to give it a try. 

The movie felt like a mixture of Flash Gordon, Stargate, and prequel-era Star Wars (with a dash of Fringe‘s Observers thrown in). Sort of. Also, our hero leaps around Mars like a flea. A better description would be a flea in a bouncy castle. 

My favorite character is this lizard-dog called Woola that’s just freakin adorable. It sort of has Jabba the Hutt’s face had Jabba been a baby. I know I just used “Jabba the Hutt” and “adorable” in close proximity. It will never happen again.

Anyways, effects-wise, the movie looks really good. Story-wise (and yes, I know this was based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel) it’s a little predictable. At the same time, since I know Star Wars and Flash Gordon  and all the adventure serials spawned from the Burroughs novels, I can’t help but wonder what is echoing what?

During one scene, the green Martian Tharks are in some kind of arena to punish Carter and some other Tharks who helped him. The whole scene reminds me of the big arena climax on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. I half expected a barrage of lightsabers to appear at one point. Did this scene occur in one of Burroughs’ novels? If so, did Lucas base that whole scene after Burroughs or did the moviemakers look to Clones? Chicken or Egg? 

That’s my deep thought for this film which I did mostly enjoy. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again, but I’m glad I finally got around to it.

Afterthought: Both Ciaran Hinds and James Purefoy are in this movie. Anytime they were near each other, I kept thinking about how Julius Caesar and Mark Antony were going to get the band back together.  I see it as a sign to re-watch Rome

 

 

 

Advertisements

Legolas’ funky eyes and other mysteries of Middle Earth

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.

************

 

Here Be Dragons

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. 

Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi!

On October 30, I took a five-minute break at work to browse the headlines. What I read came as a horrible shock. George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney for 4 billion dollars. The sale included Star Wars and all the licenses, movies, TV options, games, etc and so on and so forth. I almost cried. Seriously. I was almost in tears. My co-workers, should they ever be interviewed for my reaction, would tell you that I sat there mumbling to myself for a good 5-10 minutes saying “No, nononononono noooooooooo” over and over again. I felt a dull sort of crack form in my cold little heart. Something stable and solid and foundation-like in my life had suddenly changed.

I didn’t know which part of the news headline upset me the most. The fact that Uncle George sold Lucasfilm was bad enough. He had Kathleen Kennedy on board as his heir to the kingdom. I thought things would just pass along to her. Then the Disney aspect upset me. Disney is, in many ways, the evil Empire. Yes, they bring good, but all I could see was High School Musical and the crazy Disneyfication of beloved characters. Would they now appear in a Kingdom Hearts video game alongside Mickey Mouse? I don’t think I could survive Han Solo sitting around with Donald Duck or Goofy. The next part that upset me was the 4 billion part. In my mind, Star Wars alone is worth much, much more. But I’m not a film executive. Maybe that was a hefty fee. Who knows? Also, I was and still am concerned about the other Lucas companies. From what I understand Lucasfilm Ltd. is the parent company for Industrial Light & Magic, LucasArts, and Skywalker Sound.  Does that mean that Disney now owns those as well? [Note: If someone can let me know, that would be super.]

So yeah, I was upset. For several days I pretty much felt like I had been betrayed. I don’t know a world without Star Wars. The original trilogy is this holy set of movies for me. To think that someone who isn’t George Lucas now has control over them is really scary to me.

So let’s fast-forward a few days. The news had sunk in a bit. A couple of friends of mine (who were also initially upset) pointed out that the prequels were pretty bad. I hate to say it, but it’s so true. Phantom Menace aside from the groovy Darth Maul and a cool light saber fight at the end, was a kids’ movie. And I HATE little kid Anakin Skywalker. I hate him and his “yay, I’m a slave!” mentality and his little bowl haircut. This kid does not deserve to grow up to be Darth Vader. Nope. Attack of the Clones wasn’t much better. We were stuck having to watch the lack of chemistry between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christiansen. When we weren’t doing that, we were stuck watching Christiansen’s teenage Anakin start to delve into his darker side. Not dark enough though. I saw no motivation. Revenge of the Sith wasn’t that bad. I enjoy parts of it—specifically any scene with Ewan McGregor. I’ve found that if you skillfully fast-forward the right scenes, you can enjoy what I like to call Star Wars Episode 3: The Adventures of Obi-Wan. 

Right, so the prequels were definitely not all they could have been. Most of the blame for that can be aimed at Lucas who wrote and directed all three films. Maybe if other directors had been brought in, the movies could have been so much more. But they weren’t. Oh, and Jar Jar Binks is just wrong!

I was conflicted. I was angry at Lucas for selling the company, but I was also upset about the way the prequels turned out. I was also sort of relieved that Lucas wouldn’t be able to hurt and tweak the movies any more. I prefer the original, hokey Ewok song. Special Edition versions of the movies still don’t feel necessary to me. But at the same time, Lucas is the man who created the Star Wars universe. Without him, we wouldn’t have Obi-Wan, or Luke, or Lando. There would be no Millennium Falcon or Death Star. I didn’t have a solid opinion. Confusion!!!

And then there was a beacon of hope in the form of my hero, Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill was interviewed about his opinion of the sale, and he was onboard with it. Well, if Luke Skywalker says it’s okay, then I’m okay. So I decided that since (obviously) there was nothing I could do, I might as well just get over myself and see what happens.

But wait! There’s more! Announcements were made about three more Star Wars films. Episodes VII, VIII and IX? How could it be done? Our three leads are still active in their professions, but it’s been 30 years! How far in the future would these sequels be set? And what will the story be about? For about a week now, I’ve been brainstorming plot ideas with a buddy of mine. We have a few good ideas but only time will tell. I just have to have faith that since Disney now owns Marvel Studios and they didn’t screw up any films out of that universe, they’ll treat the Star Wars universe with the same respect.

In some ways, I feel like a hypocrite. On October 30 I was ready to join the mob of angry villagers with my pitchfork and torch. Two and a half weeks later, I’m looking forward to 2015 (the year of Episode VII). Maybe the whole thing is one big Jedi mind trick. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  These new films could go in one of two ways. They could be super-awesome, most excellent sequels and live on as wonderful Star Wars films. They would be known as worthy successors to the franchise. OR…they could go the way of the prequels as highly anticipated yet ultimately disappointing to the masses who grew up with only Original Trilogy. [I do understand that there are whole populations of children and teenagers who know the prequels as the main films of the series.  *shudder*]  Now would be a really good time for Yoda to do a little bit of future-checking.

Humperdinck! Humperdinck! Humperdinck!

I had a movie to review for you guys. It was very much “meh” worthy what with its convoluted story, bad writing, so-so acting, and reckless disregard for the laws of space and time. But no worries. I’ll deliver that one next week. This week, I’m going to celebrate a film that is in my Top 5 of favorite movies. [Aside: I don’t know about you, but I can never answer the “what is your favorite movie” question without giving some sort of essay-length answer that satisfies neither the requestor nor me. So instead, I keep a top 5 that allows for regular movie rotations.]

This week’s blog entry shall celebrate what I consider to be the most quotable movie this side of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The movie I speak of has something for everyone: “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”

It’s The Princess Bride, and it just turned 25!!!  [Insert Kermit the Frog freak out here]  That’s right, my little R.O.U.Ses! The greatest fairy tale of all time just had a milestone anniversary, and I wanted to take part in the celebration.  So walk with me into (or out of) the Fire Swamp as I gush and swoon over this, my Top 5 favorite film of all time. Here’s the trailer, and I have no idea why there is smooth jazz playing in the background. Makes no sense.

TPB came out in 1987. I don’t remember seeing it in theaters, but I do remember watching it on video. I must have been in 5th or 6th grade at the time. It’s not important. What’s important was that I totally fell in love with that movie. I cheered for Westley and Buttercup. I booed Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen.  And how can I go on without mentioning the hilarious band of outlaws: ringleader Vizzini; Inigo Montoya, the Spanish swordfighter who seeks to avenge his father’s death; and the late, great Andre the Giant as the strong and lovable Fezzik? He is the Brute Squad!

At some point in high school, I had recorded TPB off of Showtime or HBO or some channel. It was one of the movies my friends and I would put into heavy rotation at sleepovers or for movie nights at each other’s houses.  At one point, I lent my beloved VHS recording to a friend of mine who kept it for almost two years. Those were cold and painful years without my movie, and let the record show that I never let him borrow a movie from me ever again.

By the time I went to college, TPB and I had taken a bit of a breather. I spent more and more time with other, newer movies while TPB remained sitting on the shelf with an ever-growing layer of dust on its worn-out VHS cover. It wasn’t until 2001 when the Special Edition DVD was released, that I replaced that old VHS tape. And that’s also when TPB once again, became a movie night mainstay. It’s been 11 years, and I still have that DVD. When it’s not in use, it rests in the place of honor on the top shelf of my DVD tower next to Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.

As I mentioned earlier, TPB has so many good lines.  I’ll just list a few of my favorites for you below, and you can toss me a comment if I’ve missed any that you love.

  • “Inconceivable!”
  • “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia.”
  • “True love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT: a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.”
  • “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
  • “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
  • “No more rhymes now, I mean it! (Anybody want a peanut?)”
  • “As you wish”  [duh!]
  • “Drop. Your. Sword.”
  •  “My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head-jiggle is supposed to make me happy?”

You might find it strange that I’m able to recount my entire history with this one movie. I can honestly say that there is no other movie on my shelf whose history I can remember any clearer. The Princess Bride is just one of those movies that’s always there for you. You can go years without watching it, but once the story begins, it’s like visiting an old friend. Like Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz, The Princess Bride never seems dated. Anyways, I just wanted to profess my love for a movie that I’ve always enjoyed and I hope some of you feel the same way. Actually, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like the movie, and only a few people who have never even seen it. I won’t be loaning them my copy though. I’m not that crazy.

PS: Here’s what’s more crazy. I haven’t even discussed the Cliffs of Insanity or how cool Cary Elwes was as Westley or how much I adore the Impressive Clergyman. I haven’t gone over the benefits of building an immunity to iocane powder or how ingenious the whole Dread Pirate Roberts scheme is. There’s been no mention of Peter Falk as the Grandfather or little Fred Savage as the Grandson. I left out all the sword fighting! That’s a whole other blog entry on its own. But that’s a story for another day.

Indiana Brolin and the Temple of Boone

Adventure films are sometimes the most fun to watch. Who out there hasn’t wanted to go on a treasure hunt with Indiana Jones, or follow the map from The Goonies? This week’s film is a fun little number from 2008 called Lost City Raiders. If you think that sounds like some ancient Mayan civilization with their own professional sports team, then you’d be wrong. Though that is what I think of first as well.

Nope, this story is about the earth in year 2048. Apparently after the polar ice caps melted an event known as “the Rising” occurred in which the water levels on the entire planet rose. I learned all this in the intro narrated by James Brolin. There are cool shots of major cities mostly under water. The Eiffel Tower looks like a giant buoy out at sea. The Hollywood Sign is right above water level in LA…and that’s where our story really begins.

Once James is done narrating, he starts in on the “acting.” He has a nice little operation going where he stays on a boat reminiscing about the good old days before the Rising, while one son named Jack (Ian Somerhalder) tomb raids the flooded cities below, and the other, less attractive son named Thomas does that handyman work on the boat. If this was an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I’d refer to that as “Charlie-work.” Apparently, if you are hot, you get to swim around, and the plain people get to do the work.

Side Note #1:  I was first introduced to Ian Somerhalder via Boone from the greatest TV show ever: Lost. I hated Boone. He was sort of a hot-tempered annoying boy scout type character, and I was totally cool with this exit from the show.  These days, Somerhalder can be seen on Vampire Diaries where he plays bad-boy, Damon. I’ve caught the odd episode of Vampire Diaries, and he’s pretty cool on it. He’s also easy on the eyes, so that’s helpful.  Back to the review, folks:

Jack is the reckless one. He stays underwater too long while recovering what I think is a Batman #1, and almost gets eaten by a shark. Thomas is the responsible one. He wears glasses and a shirt that buttons all the way up. I wanted to mention that since the filmmakers have taken such pains to show us how different the guys are.

Okay, I was wrong. Crap. It wasn’t a Batman #1. It’s some ancient text something or other.  The ancient text goes on about some scepter that’s possibly located in one of the underwater buildings near the New Vatican. However…there’s some secret conspiracy or something, and the Church wants the search of that building to be a secret squirrel affair. Brolin and sons plan their raid.

James Brolin seems kind of asleep during this movie. I’m not getting much other than line readings. Maybe that’s just how he is–flat. I’m not sure. But I keep yawning as soon as he starts opening his mouth. You want to hear something funny though? Listen to James Brolin speak Latin.

Thomas the Responsible stays on board the boat to monitor radar. Jack and Brolin dive to the mystery building which looks like it was stolen from Tomb Raider II: The Cradle of Life. There are lots of little traps and secret riddles protecting this mysterious scepter that everyone’s after. Well, I’m told everyone’s after it. So far, not many takers.  Brolin and Jack escape the traps and make it out with the scepter—but only by the skin of their teeth.

Oh wait! Spoke too soon. A mystery guy with a British accent (so he’s a villain) has his eye on the S.S. Minnow and it’s crew. He informs his minion to “not let that boat out of sight.” Mwha ha ha….

Question: Why oh why does the Vatican have buildings full of traps and riddles?

Spoke too soon on that scepter too. It turns out Brolin only retrieved the scepter case. No scepter inside. You know what? At this point, I’d tell Cardinal Richlieu to go fetch the scepter himself. I mean, what does it even do? No one will explain it’s point other than we have to find it!!!  We are now referring to the scepter as the Scepter of MacGuffin. Any problems with that, see the management.

Back to Brolin and sons. They are at the local greasy spoon, enjoying a meal when their waitress suddenly forces herself into their business, and asks them to take her on as crew. A drunken sea captain at a nearby table (if he’d say “yarr” a couple times, he’d be that guy on The Simpsons) tells a tale about how the waitress is bad luck on boats. She’s also probably going to lose her tip if she stands around any longer.

New character introductions: We cut away to some chick in a bikini, so she’s obviously a scientist. Her name is Giovanna, and she was working on some kind of ground radar theory whilst in her bathing costume.  She’s approached by a lady in business attire and then taken to see some dude played by Ben Cross. He’s got a British accent! I bet he’s the villainous voice we heard earlier! Boom!

Ben Cross was in Chariots of Fire which is a classic film and so we should probably feel respectful to him. The last thing I saw Mr. Cross in was Hulu reruns of the remake of Dark Shadows. If you want a good chuckle, definitely watch that.

I’d like to interrupt myself at this point to mention that I feel Mr. Brolin might have called in his performance. Yes, the rest of the cast is so-so, but you don’t see Ben Cross lamenting his poor film choice. He’s probably just happy for the work. In fact, he seems to snack on the scenery every time he gets the chance. I wonder if he’s friends with Julian Sands. Hmmm… My reason for calling out James Brolin is because just the other day I watched a rerun of Psych with him in a guest-starring role. He was pretty darn fun in that episode. So that’s how I know this isn’t just a case of bad acting—it’s a case of lazy acting

Back to Giovanna and Ben Cross’s character whose name I haven’t properly caught.  He’s invited her to his office so they can discuss the fact that the water is still rising. Ben wants to fund Giovanna’s seismology/geography research. All he wants in return is her soul.  No, just kidding. He wants her to assist in finding artifacts that could be used to stop the Rising. Sure he does…

Just like in Tom Raider and Tomb Raider II, we have competitive salvage jobs going on. Giovanna is with all the high tech folks, and Jack is going old school. (BTW, the two used to have a thing) Once again Brolin and boys are searching some ancient building in search for the Scepter of MacGuffin. First, we have to find the tomb of a Templar knight. If this was the tomb of Sir Richard, we’d have rats, fire, and Indiana Jones. But alas, this isn’t that tomb. This tomb just has some junk and a scroll.

Jack and Thomas crash the Vatican and deliver the scroll. And we finally learn about the  Scepter of MacGuffin. So here’s the story. Moses had the scepter. It originally belonged to an Egyptian god, and it had the power to raise/lower water levels. So let me get this straight. The Roman Catholic Vatican gang are looking for an artifact that belonged to another god. You’d think they’d be out to destroy it or maybe wouldn’t even believe in such a thing? But no! Go figure. Anyhoo, now the MacGuffin is with Richard the Lionhearted The problem is that bits of Richard are buried in three different places. Time for another quest!!!

Let’s review a little here.  Aside from Lazyboy Brolin, the acting is okay. Somerhalder and Cross are cool. The Giovanna chick plays her part well and the Waitress is pretty cool except for the fact that I think her voice  has been dubbed. I was about halfway through the movie before I realized that the filmmakers have dubbed a lot of folks in the movie.  People’s voices aren’t quite working with their faces/mouths.

My favorite character in the movie is the Vatican dude who can not only sight read the ancient text on all the artifacts that come his way, but he also knows all information right as it happens. He’s like a ninja showing up at opportune moments to add extra tidbits of useful info to our heroes. However, he does come across a little bit of a Nancy Know-It-All. I half wonder if the other priests sometimes wish he’d shut his trap. Also, are there only like a dozen or so priests at the New Vatican? And where’s the Pope? It seems to me that something as important as the Scepter of Another God (new name) or whatever might need to involve him. Of course, since we are having to appeal to a different god, then maybe it’s good for him to have some plausible deniability. Hmm…

Lost City Raiders tries to be some kind of adventure film, and there’s a little adventure. There’s also a lot of “huh?” and a little bit of “seriously?” in the movie. It’s eh…enjoyable if you go in knowing it’s not going to be a super awesome kind of film. But for an hour and a half, I was very entertained. The movie is part Tomb Raider, part Waterworld, and part something else–Fifth Element maybe? I don’t know. If you have any guesses, I’d love to hear, because this is the zaniest plot I’ve ever seen. It’s just hard to believe that the thing to save the world is some ancient yet very futuristic looking tech set on certain tectonic points around the globe that can only be automated using an ancient scepter created by an Egyptian god.

Makes no sense, but whatever, it seems to work for this movie. Willing suspension of disbelief…willing suspension of disbelief. I can do this, and so can you.

Final Side Note:  What is with the BAD music on dvd menu screens?  I know Lost City Raiders is a Made-for-TV movie, but seriously! The lyrics to the song are:  closer to heaven / not so far away from how it could be….here we are / both at first knowing that the stars won’t shine the way they used to be.  Huh??? That makes no sense, and the tune is like the kind that plays at the end of independent PSA’s. I expect to see rich prom kids donating their clothes to poor kids so they can enjoy the prom, and the rich prom kids then do do community service. IT’s just that bad. I’ve let it replay about 20 times now, and 3 days after watching this movie, the song is still in my head.