Category Archives: Fantasy

This is Lucy. This is Lucy’s Brain on Drugs. Any Questions?

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LUCY (2014)

Director: Luc Besson

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked

Plot: An unwitting college student ingests a new synthetic drug that turns her into a major brainiac!

Rating: R for graphic violence, gunplay, some blood, some more blood, a little more gunplay…

Lucy opens with brilliant scientist and brain expert Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) informing a lecture hall full of students that humans only use about 10% of their brain.

10 percent? He’s probably right. Here’s how I use my 10:

1% – devoted to thinking about the construction of and/or acquisition of sandwiches.

1% – Star Wars. Actually, it’s more like 2% with The Force Awakens opening in 93 days.

5% – Stuff that keeps me alive; breathe in, breathe out, fire = hot, do not close eyes while driving, etc.

1% – Witty answers to hashtag games on Twitter.

1% – Brad and Angelina.

Fret not folks. Professor Norman informs us that as humans evolve and unlock more of their brains power, we will be able to do amazing things; like repair our sick bodies, speak to each other telepathically, and remember where you lost your retainer in the 8th grade.

Mom never let me hear the end of that.

Anyhoo, while it will take several hundred millennium for us to harness 100 percent of our brainpower, the hapless heroine of this movie manages to do it in just a few days thanks to a ruthless drug gang and a huge overdose of a powerful new club drug. And they say ruthless drug gangs never give back to their community.

In Taipei, college/party girl Lucy (Johansson) is tricked by her oily jerkass boyfriend into delivering a suitcase to a man in a swank hotel. Before you can say what could possibly go wrong, poor Lucy is grabbed by a well armed Korean drug cartel whose boss Mr. Jang (Choi Min-Sik) really enjoys killing people.

Turns out Lucy was carrying a suitcase full of a new drug all the kids will be jonesing for, and now she and three other poor dopes have been recruited as mules to deliver the drugs across Europe, which probably means Lucy won’t be going to her 2:00 French Lit class.

Lucy and the other mules have a bag of the drug surgically implanted in them and are sent on their way, but before she can hop a plane, one of her abusive captors – who gosh darn it just can’t stop himself from being abusive – assaults Lucy, causing the drug bag to rupture and flooding Lucy’s petite system with enough blue stuff to make Walter White freak out.

Rather than dying from a monumental drug overdose, Lucy finds herself alive and growing smarter by the minute. And I’m not talking “I just learned a fun new life hack on YouTube” smart, I mean “I can see cell phone signals and make shit float with my mind” smart. Lucy finds her way back to Mr. Jang and with a little mind reading (and a couple of knives) she finds where the other three bags of drugs are going and sets off to retrieve them leaving Jang alive, which just goes to show you that even the smartest person alive doesn’t know YOU NEVER LEAVE HOMICIDAL DRUG KINGPINS ALIVE SO THEY CAN COME AFTER YOU!!!!

Lucy realizes she needs the rest of the drugs to open all 100 percent of her mind so she enlists the help of a Parisian detective Del Rio (Waked) to have the other drug mules rounded up and sent to Paris, where she also meets Professor Norman so she can tell him in person she’s about to unlock the secrets of mans next step in evolution and to compliment him on his awesome speaking voice.

Lucy draws to an action packed conclusion as Lucy races to “download” all the secrets to human existence she has unlocked to Professor Norman while Jang and his heavily armed gang storm the building hoping to get what’s left of his drugs back only to run into Del Rio and his armed police pals.

Will Jang succeed? Will Lucy leave behind a path for human beings to follow into a new plane of existence? More importantly, now that she has evolved into a superbeing free of any corporeal shell, will her parents be able to get a refund on her tuition?

Lucy is a trippy little film by Luc Besson, who keeps the usual gunplay and violence of his films to a minimum to tell an interesting sci-fi tale about the human mind an how it will evolve as man evolves.

Heck, what’s going to happen to us when we finally unlock all the powers of our mind?

I don’t know. I was thinking about sandwiches. And Star Wars.

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Cinderella in Spaaaaaaaaaace!!!

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JUPITER ASCENDING (2015)

Directors: The Wachowskis

Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne

Plot: Mila Kunis is a lowly Chicago maid until she learns she owns the planet Earth, and Channing Tatum is a half wolf space soldier who, um…you know what, you’re on your own here buddy..

Rating: PG-13 for laser gun fights and CG space gore and one bare bottom. No, it’s not Mila’s.

Poor Jupiter Jones. Working her fingers to the bone day after day cleaning rich peoples homes while having to live with a cutesy comic book character name.

Jupiter Jones… Didn’t she date Peter Parker?

No. Jupiter Jones was a cub reporter for the Daily Planet, right?

I know! Jupiter Jones was Jughead’s sister!

No, that was Jellybean Jones. Is Archie Comics still around? Archie has to be in his seventies by now..

What were we talking about? Oh, yeah..

One day Jupiiter (Mila Kunis) is scrubbing toilets and thinking about some serious life changes when a bunch of alien bounty hunters try to kill her. She is saved from assassination by a human/wolf warrior named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum sporting Spock ears and guyliner) who flies around on rocket powered hover boots. Seriously.

Why do a bunch of bad guy aliens want to off the adorable little maid from Chicago? Is she a White Sox fan? No, she’s not that awful.

Let me esplain, No, there is too much, let me sum up:

Jupiter is the genetic double of the head of the House of Abrasax, one of many ancient families of humans that throughout time have colonized all humanoid planets in the universe and now covet them like so many green and red houses on a galactic monopoly board. The Abrasax matriarch “owned” Earth, but since Jupiter is an exact DNA match for the dead Mom, Jupiter now owns Earth, much to the chagrin of the other three Abrasax family members who each want Earth for their own because they plan to mine the entire planet and turn it into a magic elixir that extends the life of whomever drinks it, is the most valuable commodity in the universe, and looks like Crystal Pepsi.

Got it, Chachi? Good, I’m glad somebody does.

Jupiter is taken up to space where he meets the Abrasax children; Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) who takes a dip in the youth juice and shows Jupiter that 15,000 is the new 40!

Then she meets smooth talking Titus (Douglas Booth) who wants to take over the family by marrying Jupiter and take Earth for himself without acknowledging how creepy it is that he wants to marry the exact double of his Mother. Ew.

Caine saves Jupiter before she marries Titus, but they soon run afoul of Balem (Eddie Redmayne) the Abrasax sibling who cornered the family market on batshit crazy and homicidal. Balem and his hoard of CG minions kidnap Jupiter’s family and threatens to turn them into gazpacho unless she signs the earth to him, and that includes the entire earth, even the useless parts like Antarctica and Greenland. Can Jupiter save her family and her planet so she can fly off into the sunset with her man-wolf boytoy?

Between all the palace intrigue, Jupiter Ascending is packed with weird creatures, outlandish costumes, and people saying weird things. It’s kind of like Burning Man, minus the sand and hippies.

I give the Wachowskis credit for trying to give the movie audience an original sci-fi adventure in a world of sequels and remakes, but Jupiter Ascending didn’t rock my world.

I do like the idea of a magic drink that can make you young and healthy again. So get on that right away sort drink companies. Oh, it better not have a nasty after taste like Red Bull. Also, it should come in regular and diet.

I’m watching my figure.

This Movie was on my Netflix My List: I, Frankenstein!

Every February DVD Critics Corner takes a look at the movies that have been taking up space in the My List section of our Netflix page.

They could be movies that barely made it to the local multiplex. Or, movies that became “Direct to DVD” gems just waiting to be noticed.

Or movies that are so craptacular everyone involved has publically disavowed ever taking part in their creation.  You be the judge!

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I, Frankenstein (2014)

Director: Stuart Beattle

Starring: Aaron Ekhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney, and Bill Nighy

Plot: Dr. Frankenstein’s creation is alive and well in 2014 and battling demons in an unnamed European city because Mary Shelley is dead and can’t see what’s become of her beloved characters.

Rating: PG-13 for gargoyles killing demons and demons killing gargoyles and so on and so on….

Victor Frankenstein’s monster is alive and well and battling the forces of evil bent on tearing the modern world apart in I, Frankenstein. If you think the monster was angry when he was awakened in 1795, imagine what kind of a mood he’s in in after wandering the world for over 200 years keeping up with current fashions and learning how Tinder works.

Nobody should know how Tinder works!

As the movie opens, Dr. Victor Frankenstien is hunting his monstrous creation across the globe. It seems the monster wasn’t so happy about being born and killed Victor’s wife. The chase takes to the two all the way up the Artic where the frigid weather is just fine for an electric powered monster, but not so fine for Victor, who dies.

The Monster (Aaron Eckhart channeling Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine) takes Victor’s body back to the Frankenstein family plot for burial (even walking abominations have a sense of closure) where he is attacked by some demons who look human but morph into humans in ugly rubber masks. Before Monster Aaron can lay a beatdown on the demons, a couple of the gargoyle statues come to life and join the fight.

Worst funeral ever.

Anyhoo, the human looking gargoyles take the Monster to Lenore (Miranda Otto) who is Queen of the both the Gargoyles and plot exposition. She dubs the Monster Adam and tells him gargoyles have been protecting earth from demons for centuries using magic weapons and highly choreographed movie fighting. She asks Adam to help them battle demons but he refuses because Dr. Frankenstein didn’t build his kid to be a team player.

220 or so years later, Adam is still alive, and thankfully has traded in his tattered rags for a stylish hoodie and coat combo to better blend in with the other skateboarders and baristas. Unfortunately those pesky demons have not left Adam alone the past two centuries, so he has supplemented his lonely brooding with occasional demon killing.

While in some unnamed European city (maybe London, I’m not sure) to do some slaying, Adam’s bloody antics attract the attention of Lenore (who looks fabulous after 220 years) who wants to punish Adam for killing demons without a permit or something.

Meanwhile, Demon Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy) who is a bazillionaire in human form, is trying to unlock the secrets of reanimating the dead for reasons that can’t be good. When he learns that reanimated dead guy Adam just so happens to be in town, he dispatches every demon in the city (Paris? not really sure) to capture Adam to help unlock the secrets of Dr. Frankenstein’s science.

All heck breaks loose in the last half of I, Frankenstein as Adam and his Gargoyle pals wage a war to stop the Naberius from reanimating the dead with dead demon spirits thus causing a huge surge in the undead population in WHATEVER GODDAMN CITY THIS MOVIE TAKES PLACE IN.

WHY CAN’T THEY TELL US WHAT CITY IT IS?

I don’t ask for much.

If you watch I, Frankenstein and notice some major similarities between this movie and any of the Underworld movies, give yourself a high five because I, Frankenstein is basically Underworld with Gargoyles instead of vampires, demons instead of werewolves and Aaron Eckhart subbing for a rubber suited Kate Beckinsdale.  Even Bill Nighey plays basically the same character in both movies!

When I first noticed this movie was ripping off Underworld I thought the producers of the Underworld movies have grounds for a huge lawsuit, but then I learned Kevin Grevioux, creator of Underworld is behind I, Frankenstein as well.   

So, he basically ripped off his own idea and sold it to Lionsgate who made the exact same movie another studio made in 2003.

Bravo Kevin. Bravo.

Shell on Earth!

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Directed by: Jonathan Liebsman

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fitchner, Tohoro Masamune, and for some reason Whoopi Goldberg.

Plot: Genetically mutated turtles trained in the martial arts battle Shredder and his army who are terrorizing New York. Just like they did in the 80’s comic book. And the 80’s animated series. And the 90’s live action film series. And the 90’s live action TV series. And the second animated series. And the CGI animated movie in 2007. And the third animated series.

Rating: PG-13 for martial arts violence and the near death of a friggin talking CG rat.

Unless you’re a bear living in the pacific northwest for the past thirty years (and congratulations to you – most Grizzlies don’t live past 25) you’ve probably heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

These “heroes in a half shell” have been fighting bad guys and scarfing pizza for generations of fans on TV and in movies. Plus, the turtles have had their names slapped on tons of merchandise over the years. including toys, videogames, bed sheets:

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and breakfast cereal!

 Nothing says “you’re famous” like a sugar loaded cereal with pizza shaped marshmallows!

Their first live action movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) was a huge hit with fans. The two sequels that followed were moderate successes, which is amazing considering one of the films featured an appearance by everybody’s least favorite 1990’s white man – Vanilla Ice.

Pictured: The beginning of the end.

Pictured: The beginning of the end.

After a two decade break from the big screen, the TMNT returned big time in the big budget action movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This reboot is produced by Transformers guru Michael Bay, so it’s chockfull of explosions, destruction of property, slow motion explosions and slow motion destruction of property. Oh, and our teenage turtles (along with Master Splinter are now computer generated which makes them look even more freakish even for creatures that live in a New York City Sewer.

TV reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox, who looks about as Irish as a San Genaro festival) is looking for a great story that will make her top dog at her station, but her bosses want her to keep doing fluff stories while everyone else reports on the dangerous Foot Clan, an armed gang that has been looting and terrorizing New York City. Against the advice of her lunkheaded cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett, who really needs to start saying no to a script or two), April strikes out on her own to track down this powerful crime organization.

While observing a Foot Clan robbery at the docks, April sees a quartet of ninja warriors take out the Clan and foil he robbery. A few days later the same mysterious group lays a smackdown on a squad of Foot Clan soldiers who took hostages in a subway station. Intrepid April learns the identities of the four vigilantes who have the courage to stand up to the evil Foot Clan: They’re the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

and great googamoogle are they scary looking!

April befriends the freakish ninjas and learns from their Master Splinter that they were part of a lab experiment run by (surprise!) April’s late Father and his partner Eric Sack (William Fitchner) to test a miracle mutagen that would cure all diseases, even that toe fungus thing that makes your feet all gross.

A lab fire destroyed the research lab and killed April’s father, but young April rescued a lab rat and four tiny turtles and set them loose in the sewer, where they mutated into giant walking talking creatures who know ninjitsu and bicker like any other loveable sitcom family!

But Sachs, now an evil billionaire is hell-bent on making more evil billions by capturing the turtles and using their blood to make an antidote for a virus he’s about to unleash on the unsuspecting citizens of New York City!

Oh, did I mention that Sachs is in cahoots with Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), the maniacal  leader of the Foot Clan? He is. I told you – Sachs is evil!

TMNT as I said before, is loaded with plenty of action, violence, and mayhem, which can be expected from a Michael Bay production. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much you enjoy Michael Bay’s movies. I happen to enjoy Bay’s movies as much as I enjoy a trip to the dentist for a long slow root canal while fighting a very bad stomach flu, but your love of the Bayman might differ.

 But on a positive note, at the midway point of the movie there’s an extended chase down the side of a snow covered mountain that answers a question I’ve been pondering for two decades: can the shell of a mutant ninja turtle crush a Humvee?

The answer is yes. I can move on with my life now.

 

 

Ronin Holiday!

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47 Ronin (2013)

Directed by: Carl Rinsch

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Jin Akanishi

Plot: A few hundred years ago in Japan, a group of disgraced Samurai vow revenge when their lord is dishonored and murdered by the treacherous lord Kira.  And for some reason Keanu Reeves is there too.

Rating: PG-13 for swords and the stabbing and slashing that comes with swords.

The swords and samurai epic 47 Ronin takes place in medieval Japan, where according to the narrator, Emperors and Lords ruled the land, Samurais protected them with honor, and there was magic, witchcraft, and dragons.

Hey, you weren’t there. How do you know there weren’t any dragons? They probably rode them around like horses or kept them as pets. We really can’t be sure. Even Wikipedia doesn’t know. I checked.

One day Lord Asano, leader of the Ako domain, finds a little boy lost in the woods. The boy appears to possess magic powers, but Asano decides to take him home to his city, but since the boy is half English, his status among the townspeople and the Samurai is somewhere between village leper and a three legged dog. The half Japanese boy Kai grows up to be Keanu Reeves, who as an adult is still scorned by the Samurai, particularly Asano’s chief Samurai Oishi (Sanada) but is secretly dating Asano’s daughter Princess Miko (Shibasaki) because she’s attracted to unpopular bad boys her Dad won’t allow in the house and on the carpet.

Asano and Miko are pleased as punch because the big honcho of Japan – The Shogun is visiting Ako to inspect things and to make sure everyone is Japanese enough I guess. But evil Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) with the help of his sexy Witch (Rinko Kikuchi) has a plan to mess things up at the big Samurai duel and humiliate Asano. Kai tries to stop Kira’s treacherous plans, but since he’s half English he’s beaten like a drum at Burning Man and a disgraced Asano must commit seppuku (a real ugly form of suicide) because The Shogun is a real hardass.

Oishi and his warriors are now Ronin, master less Samurai who must live the rest of their lives in shame and never seek revenge against the man who dissed their master. Oishi is thrown in a dungeon to keep him from going all stabby on Lord Kira, who plans to marry Miko in a year and take over Ako.

Nearly a year later Oishi is released from captivity. Kira thinks he has broken Oishi’s will to seek revenge, but Oishi is determined now more than ever to go extra stabby on Kira before he can take over his kingdom.

Note to all bad guys out there – never release the man who wants to kill you from the dungeon a week before your big plan is about to come to fruition! Come on! That’s on page one of the bad guy manual! Get your head out of your back porch rookie!

Anyhoo, Oishi sets out to reassemble his army and stop Kira. He first sets free Kai who has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for an infielder and a minor league prospect and..

Oh. Sorry, Kai was sold to a band of pirates and spends his days fighting in an arena of death.

I think I would prefer the latter. I’ve seen the Pirates play.

Oishi, Kai, and Oishi’s son Chikara (Jin Akanishi) locate the other Ronin, who have conveniently been living in the woods about a mile outside of Ako and together form a plan to take out Kira or die trying.

47 Ronin moves along as Kai meets up with some mystical dudes he knew as a kid who inform him he’s got magic powers that enable him to do incredible things very much like another Character Reeves played in another action epic 15 years earlier minus the long dark coats, the endless gunfire, and that Morpheus “he’s the one” crap.

Oishi and the Ronin bluff their way back into their old castle where Kira and reluctant Bride to be Miko are having a party on the eve of their wedding. Swords are drawn, armies clash, witches do witch stuff, foes are vanquished, and the palace caterers have a lot of cleaning up to do when the smoke clears. Unfortunately Oishi, Kai, and the Ronin don’t ride off happily into the sunset because they signed an oath to kill themselves when they avenge their Master’s death.

Which they do.

And then the movie is over.

Um…yay?

47 Ronin is a valiant effort by everyone involved, but the results are more “direct to DVD” than “big time blockbuster.”

Plus, you see this menacing tattoo covered guy with the flintlock pistol who is featured prominently on the movie poster?

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Nice ink bro.

He’s in the movie for three seconds.

I kid you not. This freak has a smaller part in 47 Ronin than Stan Lee in every Marvel movie, and he’s hanging with Keanu on the one sheet. No, don’t put Oishi or Chikara on there, give the tattoo boy with one line second billing!

I guess it’s all about who you know. Typical Hollywood!

Movie Characters You Want on Your Side. Always. Part Four!

If superhero movies have taught us anything, it’s a team of awesome and capable characters are better than one when it comes to kicking butt.

Iron Man? Good. Iron Man plus Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow? Skadoosh.

Without teamwork, you are lost. And without Lost, we never would have known about the Dharma Initiative.

Actually, not sure if that’s a bad thing.

Anyhoo, here’s another list of badass movie characters you’d want on your team when trouble comes calling.

rocketgrootNames: Rocket and Groot

Occupation: Bounty Hunters, galactic lawbreakers

As Seen In: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Pros: Rocket is a technological genius, hacker, escape artist. Groot is Groot. Cons: Rocket is homicidal, Groot is….well he’s Groot.

The Deal: It would be hard as heck to find a duo that did more damage on screen in 2014 than Rocket the Racoon and his houseplant/muscle Groot. Rocket is feisty, murderous and angry, and Groot is kind, gentle and strong. They’re the Odd Couple for the new century! Who wouldn’t want them on the team? Plus Groot can really bust a move.

Shining Moment: We are Groot.

World-Of-Hunger-Games-katniss-everdeen-30213084-2560-1690Name: Katniss Everdeen

Occupation: Game Show Contestant, Over thrower of Evil Governments

As Seen In: A bunch of those Hunger Games movies.

Pros: Expert archer, brave and selfless. Cons: Dates idiots.

The Deal: Not just another pretty face, Katniss is a plucky gal who doesn’t like to play games; especially when  that game is a twisted reality show that’s a gory fight to the death. But Katniss took her first appearance on The Hunger Games and became a symbol of a strength and bravery, making her the perfect leader for a revolution. So if you need a team member to make a rousing speech, Katniss is the one to go to. Plus she can kill lots of bad guys with her bow and arrow. Winning!

Shining Moment: That flaming dress. All kinds of fabulous, girlfriend!

hellboyName: Hellboy

Occupation: Paranormal investigator, monster puncher

As Seen In: Hellboy (2004), Hellboy: The Golden Army (2008)

Pros: Practically indestructible. Cons: Smoker, eats a lot, cat person

The Deal: You want muscle? Hellboy has muscle to spare. It’s probably because he’s a demon from Hell. I hear most Hellspawn are pretty jacked. But it’s okay, he’s on our side. As a lead investigator for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, Hellboy has seen a lot of weird stuff, and has a huge assortment of weapons to combat weird stuff, so keep him fed and try to ignore his huge collection of pet cats, and things will be hunky and dory.

Shining Moment: Dropping a huge gear on Kroenen in Hellboy. Big time pwnage.

martin-riggsName: Martin Riggs

Occupation: LAPD Detective, suicidal loner

As Seen In: Lethal Weapon 1-4

Pros: Martial arts master, very good with guns. Cons: Uses lots of ammo, could be crazy, smoker.

The Deal: Look up loose cannon in Wikipedia, and you’ll see a picture of Martin Riggs firing hundreds of bullets at bad guys while destroying a ton of police and city property. He loves to break stuff. Like Hellboy, Riggs is pretty much indestructible. He’s been shot, stabbed, hit by cars, yet he keeps coming back for his weekly paycheck. Don’t let him show you that trick he does with his shoulder. Not pretty.

Shining Moment: Beating the crap out of Gary Busey in the first Lethal Weapon. You deserve a medal, dude.

And finally:

Morgan-Freeman-in-Universals-Bruce-Almighty-2003-1 Name: Any character played by Morgan Freeman

Occupation: Doesn’t matter. He’s Morgan Freeman.

As Seen In: Wherever he is needed.

Pros: Have you heard his voice? Cons: Shut up.

The Deal: Whatever character Morgan Freeman plays is really good at what he does. From outfitting Batman to fixing a crippled dolphin, the man has skills. Use them!

Shining Moment: Didn’t you get the memo?

This is DVD Critics Corner’s 100th post. Thanks for reading.

 

What if Godzilla was One of Us?

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 GODZILLA (2014)

Director: Gareth Edwards

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, and Bryan Cranston

Plot: A bunch of horrifying creatures terrorize a city and the world is powerless to stop them! Wait, that’s the plot of Smurfs 2.  

Rating: PG-13 for CG explosions and destruction of perfectly good real estate.

Godzilla is a gigantic lizard/dinosaur type creature who rises out of the ocean every once in a while to teach the children of Japan valuable lessons about friendship and love, and if time permitting, fight other monsters.

The original Godzilla films featured men in monster suits fighting on sets with miniaturized buildings that were stepped on and crushed while model planes on wires flew over their rubber heads, thus proving that early monster movies were really flipping fun to make.

In 1998 Godzilla was reborn as a fully computer generated monster in Roland Emmerich’s actioner Godzilla, unfortunately audiences didn’t warm up to this high tech addition to the franchise. Probably because the mighty Godzilla the king of the monsters was brought down by Matthew Broderick.

and his adorable little hat!

and his adorable little hat!

After a 16 year vacation the big green dinosaur we all know and love returned to the big screen earlier this year in a movie entitled (wait for it…) Godzilla. This modernized version doesn’t have rubber monster suits and hoards of Japanese extras running in terror.  But is does have the guy from Breaking Bad, Kick-Ass from Kick-Ass, and the Olsen sister who can actually act.

So that’s a good thing. Right?

In 1999, a mining expedition in the Philippines unearth some huge dinosaur like creatures. One of them swims towards Japan where it causes a nuclear powerplant to overload killing lots of scientists and the wife of plant manager Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, the guy from Breaking Bad). 15 years later Brody with the help of his Navy officer son Ford (the kid from Kick-Ass) return to the plant to find out what exactly happened and instead find a bunch of scientists from the top secret Project Monarch milling about. Before Brody can exclaim “I knew there was a conspiracy!” he’s killed when a giant creature explodes out of the ground and flies away, leaving Ford to be the lead actor for the rest of the movie.

Soon Ford, Project Monarch scientist Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and the United States Navy are racing across the globe to stop these giant creatures now dubbed MOTUS – yes there are two of them now as another one shows up and crushes the Vegas strip. I guess he couldn’t get Brittany Spears tickets.

Oh woe is us! If only there were a larger creature out there somewhere who could rise from the depths to battle these giant MOTUS and bring peace to the planet?

TA-DAAAH!!!

TA-DAAAH!!!

Godzilla turns into a battle royale as our title character steps into the ring against the two MOTUS who look like a praying mantis on a bad day.  Unfortunately the battle takes place in San Francisco, which gets flattened in the process. But don’t worry, it’s just a computer generated San Francisco so stomp those buildings Godzilla! It’s not like all those people are real or anything!

Godzilla is a well made update of the classic monster movies many of us watched on a Saturday afternoon when we were kids.  I’m all for a good updating of a classic film, but I miss the poorly dubbed dialogue andlow budget cheesiness that made those movies so special.

The miniature buildings, tiny pyrotechnics, and radio controlled tanks are gone. And so is the fun.

Sometimes the new isn’t as appealing as the old.

A DVD Critic’s Corner Back to School Quiz!

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lily, Orlando Bloom

Plot: Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf pals continue their journey to fight a dragon and kill things.

Rating: PG-13 for swords clashing and scary monsters monstering.

Good day, class!

It’s September, and that means it’s time for the little miscreants – sorry, students to return to school for another fun filled year of readin’, writin’, and that stuff you do with numbers that makes no sense whatsoever.

Since the younglings will be facing a whole bunch of tests in the coming weeks, I though it would be a hoot if we took a quiz based on a DVD I recently viewed – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, directed by Peter Jackson.

So take out a sheet of paper and a pencil and we will begin. Keep your eyes on your own papers please, and no cheating or you’ll have to eat the food in the cafeteria as punishment.

Let’s begin!

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a continuation of an epic movie saga based on a series of books by:

A) J.R.R. Tolkian

B) R.J.R Nabisco

C) J.R.J.R.R. Tolllkiann Jr.

D) That fat guy with the hat who writes Game of Thrones.

2. In this movie, Bilbo and his Dwarf companions:

A) Continue their journey to Lonely Mountain to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom.

B) Fight deadly adversaries at every turn.

C) Resist the urge to stop and bathe once in a while.

D) All of the above.

3. When giant spiders capture the dwarves and wrap them up in their webs, Bilbo frees them by using:

A) A huge rolled up newspaper.

B)  The magical One Ring Bilbo stole from Gollum in the previous movie.

C) A can of Raid Giant CG Ant, Roach, and Spider Killer.

D) His glorious singing voice, which charmed the spiders into making Bilbo their King!

4. The Wood Elves:

A) Have a long standing animosity for the Dwarf race.

B) Are unwilling to help the Dwarves in their quest to defeat Smaug.

C) All dress like they’re in some 1970’s glam rock band.

5. Evangeline Lily plays Tauriel, an elf warrior who:

A) Is Chief of the Elvenking’s guards.

B) Goes against the Elvenking’s wishes and helps Bilbo and the Dwarves

C) Is one of only two chicks in all of Middle Earth! Seriously, this movie is one giant sausage fest!

6. Azog and his Orc army are still chasing our heroes because:

A) Azog wants to kill Thorin like he killed Thorin’s father decades earlier.

B) He wants to destroy all Darves.

C) He’s just a giant, evil, asshole.

D) All of the above.

7. At the climax of the movie, Bilbo sneaks into Lonely Mountain and meets Smaug. Smaug:

A) is a fierce dragon with immense powers.

B) holds captive the vast treasure of the Dwarf kingdom – a literal mountain of gold!

C) is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the popular BBC series Sherlock.

D) Which is totally awesome, by the way. I cant wait for the next series.

E) Martin Freeman is great in that show too. They make a great team.

F) Wait, what are we talking about?

8. While watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I thought:

A) This is another well made film by Peter Jackson.

B) The fight scenes were exciting and the effects were amazing!

C) Did everyone in New Zealand work on this movie?

D) Orlando Bloom is the prettiest elf of them all!

Please pass your papers forward. I will grade them sometime between Friday and never.

If You Build It, Everything Will Be Awesome!

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THE LEGO MOVIE (2014)

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, and Will Ferrell

Synopsis: Everything is awesome.

Rating: PG for Lego type violence and brick on brick action.

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that shakes the very foundation of your being and rocks you to your very core.

The Lego Movie is such a movie.

What exactly makes The Lego Movie such an exceptional standout in a sea of lesser movies?

Is it the wonderful visuals? The funny voice work by a very funny cast? The perfect blending of story and humor with a thoughtful message about learning to put down the instruction manual from time to time and follow your own path?

Nope. it’s the Legos.  Every movie should have Legos. And every movie that has been made would be better if it had Legos.

The Hunger Games? Decent movie. The Hunger Games with Legos? Super awesome!

Jaws? Great movie. Jaws with Legos? Boom.

R.I.P.D? You know what, let’s skip that one…

If you haven’t seen The Lego Movie yet, then for Heaven sake screw it together and buy a copy! I mean, here’s a brief synopsis lf this charming tale of fun and adventure:

In the all Lego universe, happy go lucky Emmet (Chris Pratt) happily goes about his life in the city of Bricksburg, getting up early, driving safely, and doing his construction job with a positive attitude and a smile on his face.  One day Emmet catches the pretty and mysterious Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) snooping around the construction site, and while chasing her discovers the mysterious Piece of Resistance, an object that has been prophesized to save the Lego universe.

Now Emmet the ordinary becomes Emmet “The Special,” the being destined to stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who wants to used his Kragle superweapon to freeze everyone and everything in the universe.

I know what you’re thinking – is Emmet truly “The Special?” Well…maybe. Not quite. Sort of. Not really. But thankfully he has a team of Master Builders in his corner to help guide our goofy but lovable protagonist along to find his courage and train him to become The Special. They are the aforementioned Wyldestyle, the mysterious blind wizard Vitruvious (Morgan Freeman) who offers all kinds of wisdom and advice, and superhero extraordinaire Batman (Will Arnett) who offers no help whatsoever.

Emmet and his pals travel from one amazing Lego world to another, trying to stay one step ahead of Lord Business and his Super Secret Police which is lead by Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), a cop with personality issues. Can Emmet become a Master Builder and put an end to Lord Business’ plans to really mess up Taco Tuesday?

The Lego Movie is a glorious, enjoyable action fantasy with lots of humor and a heartwarming ending.  If you watch this movie and aren’t charmed down to your shorts by this movie, we can no longer be friends.  Seriously, I will un-friend you on the spot if you don’t love this movie. This is what it’s come down to. I am drawing a line in the sand here compadre.

But I wouldn’t worry. You’re going to love The Lego Movie, and we’re going to be friends for a long, long time.  Can I crash at your place for a few weeks?

 

The Smith Family Vacation!

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AFTER EARTH (2013)

DIRECTOR: M. Knight Shyamalan

STARRING: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoe Kravitz

PLOT: Father and son do some bonding on a fierce planet that used to  be earth.

RATING: PG-13 for intense scenes with CG animals and a big ass alien bug!

2013 was not a good year for movies set on earth in the future.

In Oblivion, earth 63 years in the future is a desolate wasteland populated by creepy robots and Tom Cruise, who is also a creepy robot.

In Elysium, earth circa 2157 is so messed up the only person the poor people can turn to is Matt Damon!

Yes, Matt Daaaaamon.

Matt Daaaaamon.

After Earth, starring Will Smith and his son Jaden is set over 1,000 years in the future, where a long abandoned earth has been reclaimed by nature.  The streets and highways have been replaced by green fields, the skyscrapers replaced by towering trees, and the adorable woodland creatures that used to populate earth have been replaced by bloodthirsty animals who are as vicious as they are computer generated. But there is no longer a Starbucks on every corner, so I’d say new earth is pretty damn great!

As the movie opens, human kind abandons earth because we forgot to pick up after ourselves and we left the water running or something.

They relocate to a planet called Nova Prime where everything is peaches and cream for about one thousand years until an alien race attacks, determined to wipe out mankind with huge six legged beasts called Ursa who hunt humans by smelling their fear.

But General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) of the United Ranger Corps has learned to mask his fear using a method that in no way involves the use of Axe body spray. The Rangers defeat the Ursa thanks to Cypher’s mind control trick, and Cypher is elevated to Fresh Prince levels of famous, but he’s become estranged from his family, especially his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) who wants to be a Ranger just like his awesome but neglectful Dad.

Hoping to reconnect with his boy, Cypher takes Kitai along on a Ranger Corps business trip to a neighboring planet, but things take a turn for the sucky when the ship is damaged in an asteroid storm, sucked into a wormhole and crash lands on earth.

Cypher and son survive the crash, but Cypher is severely injured and the only way to call for help is to find a distress beacon located in the tail section of the ship which is now miles away.

A brief aside: it’s comforting to know that designers and engineers 1,000 years into the future will still make ships with only one distress beacon that will still be located in the tail section of the craft – the one freaking thing that always breaks off and hits the ground miles away from where the rest of the ship will crash!

Kitai agrees to take on the dangerous mission to hike to the tail wreckage and signal for help.

Can the young Ranger in training survive the harsh flora and fauna of the planet of earth?

Can Kitai defeat the Ursa creature that escaped from the wreckage and is now stalking the jungle?

Why are Will and his son talking in some kind of weird Australian/Jamaican/ New Zealand accent?

Did you know the Six Sense guy directed this? Man, remember what a good movie that was?

Contrary to what you may have heard, After Earth is not the worst movie ever made. Not by a long shot.

As a person who loves watching, studying and absorbing bad movies since the cable company plugged the box into the house over 30 years ago, you can believe me when I tell you After Earth no danger of being added to the list of cinematic abominations that are in fact the worst movies ever made.

Smokey and the Bandit III is on this list.  The Ghost Rider movies are on the list. Charlies Angels: Full Throttle is on the list. Twice if I had my way.

The only thing After Earth is guilty of is being a boring vanity project Will Smith cooked up to introduce us to his son Jaden in the hopes that the movie going public we will embrace him like a new puppy we will hug, cuddle, take for longs walks in the park and love unconditionally even though the puppy in question has very little acting experience and practically zero on screen charisma.

What a waste of a puppy.