Category Archives: Netflix
Please note: This review contains spoilers. That’s right, I’m going to ruin the whole movie for you. You can’t stop me. I’m mad with power!
Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheehan, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Morten Tyldum
Rating: PG-13 for partial space nudity and space hanky panky.
Plot: Two passengers on a luxurious, long range space ship emerge from hibernation decades early and learn they will die before everyone else wakes up. It’s a love story!
In the future, Earthlings will travel through space to colonize far off planets.
They say this will happen because future Earth will be overcrowded and polluted, but I believe it will be because Amazon.com will become so powerful it will eventually need other planets to conquer.
As Passengers opens, the interplanetary space ship Avalon is 30 years into its 120 year trip to a planet called Homestead II. Thousands of passengers and crew are in hibernation pods aboard the massive automated vessel with an interior that looks like a cross between an Apple store, a Carnival cruise ship, and The Mall of America.
A freak meteor storm causes the ship to malfunction, and for some reason a single hibernation pod pops open and out pops affable engineer Jim Preston (Chris Star Lord Pratt).
Jim learns quickly that the Avalon has not reached Homestead II, mostly because he’s the only person to show up at the “Welcome back from Hibernation” seminar at the conference center. Then Jim discovers some horrible truths: his hibernation pod can’t be reactivated, the ship won’t reach its destination for another 90 years which means he will die alone long before the others wake up, and only first class passengers get unlimited bacon in the automated cafeteria!
Without a volleyball to talk to, Jim befriends Arthur (Michael Sheehan) an android who tends bar at a swanky lounge located on the Avalon’s massive promenade.
As a fair man of the bottle I can appreciate Jim and Aurthur’s relationship. There have been times in my life when I was in despair, desperate for some beacon of hope, and a bartender was there to offer me comfort and understanding with a kind word, some sage advice, and a shiny wall of booze. Treasure your bartenders, kids. They are special people.
After a year of moping about the ship, Jim spots pretty Aurora Lane (uber movie star Jennifer Lawrence) fast asleep in her pod. He becomes smitten with the pretty Aurora, an accomplished journalist and writer who would have been way out of his league back on earth.
Desperate to talk to someone other than a robot bartender who doesn’t know a single dirty joke, Jim does something that back on earth would be classified as a “dick move.” He breaks Aurora’s pod and when she wakes up he tells her a ship malfunction did it.
Yeah, the trailer for Passengers didn’t mention that plot twist did it?
Affable Jim is kind of a monster for sentencing poor Aurora to a life sentence alone on the Avalon with him and then lying about it, isn’t he? I bet Aurora is so distraught about the thought of dying alone with the handsome engineer with the washboard abs she doesn’t fall madly in love with him!
Oh wait, she does. Well, he is Star Lord.
Unfortunately Jim and Aurora’s little romance (which involves doing it on every flat surface on the ship; thank God the Aurora is swarming with little Roomba droids that clean everything) is interrupted when Arthur breaks the robot bro code and tells Aurora Jim deliberately sabotaged her pod and lied about it. Needless to say Aurora has an Academy Award actress level conniption fit and breaks things off with Jim, who really hopes Aurora can look past the whole “I ruined your life and then lied about it” thing so they can get back to snuggling in the observation lounge.
Things get even worse when systems start failing all over the Avalon, putting our space lovers and the thousands of sleeping passengers in mortal peril. Can Jim and Aurora put aside their issues and save everyone? More importantly, can they save their relationship, or will they have to work out a joint custody agreement for Arthur?
If you can overlook the whole Jim did something really horrible to an innocent woman thing, Passengers is a pretty interesting movie and a unique love story.
I’ve seen worse movies about the give and take of complicated relationships between a man and a woman:
Before Sunrise. Ghost. Eraserhead. The Devil’s Rejects. The Human Centipede. My Best Friend’s Wedding….
This review may contain spoilers. But you should read it anyway. It’s great. Trust me.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Byun-hun Lee
Director: Antione Fuqua
Rating: PG-13 for six gun fun and ‘splosions
Plot: Seven gunslingers are hired to protect a town from a greedy land grabber who really loves grabbing land and killing innocent townspeople.
The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a classic movie which is itself a remake of another movie.
I know, it’s confusing. Allow me to explain, then we’ll both know.
In 1954 acclaimed Japanese film director Akira Kurosowa brought us the acclaimed Japanese film Seven Samurai which starred Toshiro Mifune, an acclaimed Japanese actor and the only man on the planet allowed to wear a man bun.
In 1960 John Sturges remade Seven Samurai into The Magnificent Seven, with cowboys in place of samurais and guns in place of wicked awesome samurai swords. That movie starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, who were also very cool.
Without warning the 21st century arrived so it was time for another Magnificent Seven movie. This one is also set in the old west and stars Denzel Washington and some guy named Chris Pratt who was in that movie Passengers which everybody hated.
Okay, he was in Guardians of the Galaxy, which is pretty great.
Jurassic World was okay, I guess.
Passengers bit donkeys.
That means it’s bad. I’m trying to make “bit donkeys” a thing so feel free to use it.
Things are not at all rosy in the mining town of Rose Creek. The nearby gold mine is owned by wealthy lunatic Bartholomew Bogue (an oily Peter Sarsgaard) who treats the miners like slaves and the townspeople like pawns in a chess game where beating and murdering the pawns is how the game is played.
Evil villain Bogue wants the townspeople out of Rose Creek in three weeks, and to prove how serious he is he kills a few who dare to stand up to him, like the husband of Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett). Determined to set things right, Emma sets out to find some gunslingers to stand up Bogue and his army of vicious gunmen.
Luckily Emma heads to the next town over and witnesses ace warrant officer Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) dispatch a bar room full of bad guys with his shiny six shooter. Chisolm is reluctant to help Emma because he’s allergic to suicide missions, but when she mentions the name Bartholomew Bogue he agrees to help with her save Rose Creek.
Hmm. Maybe Chisolm has an old score to settle with Bogue?
Hint: It’s a western. THE HERO ALWAYS HAS A SCORE TO SETTLE WITH SOMEONE.
Chisolm needs some help if he wants to take down Bogue, so on his way to Rose Creek he recruits six more gunslingers to get the job done.
Cowboy Roll Call!
Cocky gambler Faraday (Chris Pratt) who drinks a lot.
Ex Confederate Army sharpshooter Robichaeux (Ethan Hawk) who also drinks a lot.
Asian Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-Hung) who is really good with the knives and the stabbing.
Fugitive desperado Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) who is on Chisolm’s wanted list.
Mountain man Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) who speaks softly and carries a big tomahawk.
Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) A Comanche who rarely speaks and when he does it’s in subtitles.
The seven arrive in Rose Creek and easy dispatch two dozen of Bogue’s men, then tells one survivor to run and tell Bogue he’s a big stupidhead and nobody likes him.
Figuring that if he doesn’t stop in Santa Fe for their annual Chamber Music Festival, Bogue will return to Rose Creek in seven days with an even bigger army of hired killers. Chisolm and his gunslingers helps the citizens of Rose Creek dig trenches and set explosives to even the odds against the bad guys, and nothing brings neighbors closer together than preparing for a violent and bloody land war.
Bogue and his thugs do return and The Magnificent Seven concludes with a long and explosive gunfight between townspeople and desperado. Bullets fly, lots of guys die, and Rose Creek is reduced to a pile of splintered timber and smoldering ashes. But when the smoke clears, Bogue is vanquished, a couple of people survive to clean things up, and Chisolm rides off into the sunset because good guys always win and Denzel’s name is above the title.
While Denzel, Star Lord, and the rest of the cast look like they had fun playing cowboy, this new version of The Magnificent Seven is an uninspired remake that doesn’t hold a candle to the 1960 classic or the even more classic 1954 version.
And that’s too bad because this high falutin’ city boy loves a good western.
I went out West once. Stayed in Santa Fe for a spell. Yes siree…
They got an annual Chamber Music Festival ya know..
Let’s be honest here. Movie characters are way better than us.
They’re better looking, in better shape, and seem to attract equally attractive and fit people as their love interests. Plus they have great hair. Thick, luxurious beautiful hair..
Oh. I’m not referring to you, dear reader. I like your hair. Never change it.
Movie characters also have great jobs we regular folks don’t have or could never hope to have. I mean, if some guy was looking for globetrotting secret agent at my college job fair, I would have signed up immediately, even though I don’t like to travel and I can’t keep a secret.
Just ask my brother the bed wetter.
Without further adieu, here are some great jobs to have in movies.
As Seen In: Road House, Road House 2 (Yes, they made a sequel to Road House)
Pros: Those pretzels on the bar? Take as many as you want!
Cons: Is murdering drunk guys a bad thing?
The Deal: Being a bar bouncer combines two things that people love more than anything in the world: Hanging around in dive bars, and beating the crap out of someone. You go to a bar to have fun, not to get hassled by some overserved frat guys who use the word bro waaaaay too much. A bouncer can mean the difference between a fun night of karaoke with your work chums or a trip to the emergency room with a shot glass lodged in your right nostril. A good bouncer should also possess good diplomacy skills, the ability to smash kneecaps when necessary, and maybe bus tables when it gets really busy during happy hour.
Job Security? Pretty darn good. Drunken a-holes are everywhere!
Occupation: Secret Agent/Spy
As Seen In: The James Bond franchise.
Pros: Whenever you save the world, a famous recording artist writes and performs a special theme song just for you!
Cons: Every non friendly nation wants you dead, jet lag.
The Deal: Before Jason Bourne came along and ruined things with his “They stole my memories” whining, being a globetrotting secret agent was glamourous and exciting. Fancy cars, beautiful women, playing baccarat and sipping martinis in Monte Carlo because that was somehow crucial to your mission. Sure, from time to time you may have to battle a gigantic henchman with metal teeth at some mountain fortress, but who cares? Your car can turn into a submarine and your Rolex shoots laser beams. LASER. BEAMS.
Job Security? If crazy billionaire megalomaniacs keep building death rays, you got a job.
As Seen in: The Transporter movies.
Pros: You always get to pick the radio station.
Cons: Criminal clients always double cross you, butt gets numb from all that sitting in the car.
The Deal: Do you like being your own boss? Got a thing for fast cars? Do you own a pair of driving gloves? Then maybe a Transporter is the perfect job for you! Okay, your clients are criminals and you’re probably breaking a crapload of laws every time you get behind the wheel, but you were never a play by the rules person anyway. A good transporter must have extensive martial arts and weapons training because – and I hate to keep bringing this up – your clients are criminals will more than likely try to kill you or even worse – not pay you!
Job Security? Heck yeah! Just don’t drive too fast and don’t look at what you’re transporting.
Your. Clients. Are. Criminals.
Occupation: Whatever the cast does in the Fast and the Furious movies.
As Seen In: The Fast and the Furious franchise.
Pros: Like the smell of burning rubber? Who doesn’t?
Cons: Illegal street racing is illegal, having Vin Diesel for a boss.
The Deal: Truth be told, I have not seen any of the Fast and Furious films so I’m not really sure what it is the motley crew of car enthusiasts featured in the movie do. I believe they are street racers who steal things and occasionally work for the government using said street racing skills. They are often called upon to do impossible things because in the world of action films only Vin Diesel and a tricked out Dodge Charger can accomplish more on a good day than a squad of Navy SEALS can. I know in one movie Vin and his team parachuted with their cars out of the back of a cargo plane, so that’s pretty cool. Most of us have to use a boring old normal plane when we go on a business trip. I bet the Fast and Furious crew doesn’t have to save their lunch receipts!
Job Security? As long as the CIA is so busy that they have to subcontract their missions out to a bunch of adrenalin junkies in drift cars, you’re good!
Pedal to the metal my friend!
Part two of It’s A Living: Best Jobs to Have in a Movie coming soon!
Please note: This review does contain spoilers.
THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (2016)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Rating: PG-13 for violence and CG scary stuff.
Plot: Eric the Huntsman is back! So is Queen Ravenna! One of the dwarfs is back too! Is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? No, it’s both! I’m so freakin confused.
The Huntsman: Winters War is a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman.
Hey, I reviewed that 2012 movie here at DVD Critics Corner! I know! Weird, right?
Click here to read the review if you care.
Spoiler Alert: It’s really good. The review, I mean. The movie? Not so much.
Apparently the movie making folks out there in Hollywood know better than we do what we want to see in the theaters, so they gathered up the cast of Snow White and the Huntsman and made a sequel!
Well, most of the cast. Kristen Stewart, who played Snow White, wasn’t invited back.
I know what you’re thinking. How can they possibly make a sequel to a movie without including the main character from the first one?
Quite easily, actually.
Winter’s War features the characters that made the first movie bearable – the evil sorceress/Queen Ravenna and Eric the ass kicking Huntsman plus a new hero and a second evil sorceress/Queen!
Sorry, Snow. There’s no room for you in this movie.
Winter’s War introduces us to Ravenna’s sister Freya (Emily Blunt), an evil sorceress/Queen who can turn things to ice and thankfully doesn’t feel the need to sing “Let It Go” at the drop of a hat. Freya’s soldiers kidnap children from conquered villages to turn them into vicious Huntsman because it’s cheaper than setting up a decent school system in the castle. Two of her prized young soldiers Eric and Sara are in love with each other, but love is forbidden in Freya’s kingdom because the Queen had a monumentally bad breakup at the very beginning of the movie, so if she can’t be happy then no one can!
Eric and Sara’s relationship is discovered by Freya. They are pummeled by the other Huntsman and Eric is banished and left for dead. Thinking Sara was killed, Eric moves on with his life and several years later he helps Snow White defeat Ravenna in the 2012 fantasy epic Snow White and the Huntsman, available on Blu Ray and DVD!
The movie then jumps ahead to a time after the first movie. Eric (Chris “Mighty Thor” Hemsworth) is chilling in the forest when Snow White’s husband William informs Eric that Ravenna’s magic mirror has gone missing, and asks him to go find it. Eric sets off on his mission with a pair of dwarfs; Nion (Nick Frost, reprising his role from the first movie) and Gryff (Rob Brydon) who bicker like comic relief sidekicks are expected to do.
Ten minutes into their quest Eric and his pals are attacked by a gang of Freya’s men, but they are saved by Sara, who is not dead after all!
Sara is played to butt kicking warrior woman perfection by Jessica Chastain, who is not, repeat NOT Bryce Dallas Howard!
Although it’s really easy to mix them up. Here’s a test. One of these lovely ladies is Jessica Chastain, the other is Bryce Dallas Howard. Go ahead, guess:
Give up? Touch each photo with your little arrow thing to find out who is who.
Did you guess right?
Is that weird or what? They’re like twins or something!
Anyhoo, Sara is monumentally pissed at Eric for abandoning her at Freya’s castle, which lead to several years of imprisonment in Freya’s dungeon before her recent escape. Eric believes Freya must have used her powers to make him think Sara was murdered and Sara think Eric ran away, but Sara doen’t believe him because Hell hath no fury like a Huntswoman scorned!
Sara agrees to help Eric recover the mirror before Freya can get her crazy ice hands on it. They pick up two female dwarfs Bromwyn and Doreana (Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach) who tell them the mirror was stolen by a band of goblins who are fierce, ugly and computer generated.
Eric and company retrieve the mirror, but (cue dramatic music) Freya shows up with her army and a huge plot twist – Sara has been working with Freya all along, and to prove her loyalty to her Queen shoots Eric with a bow and arrow!
Women! Am I right?
Freya takes the mirror back to her kingdom, and when she turns it on or reboots it or whatever the heck you do with magic mirrors, her sister the evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron) comes out of the mirror very alive and very determined to use Freya’s army to destroy Snow White’s kingdom! Freya is a bit put out that Ravenna is taking over as Queen of her kingdom, but hey, what are evil sorceress/big sisters for?
All appears lost but wait, Eric is not dead after all! Turns out Sara only nearly killed him with a bow and arrow which is a Huntswoman’s way of saying I love you!
Eric and his dwarf pals storm Freya’s castle to free Sara and put a world of Huntsman hurt on Freya and Ravenna.
Can Eric thwart Ravenna’s evil plans? Will Freya realize her sister is a billion times more evil than she is? Does Jessica Chastain know how much she looks like Bryce Dallas Howard?
Seriously, they could be twins!
Surprisingly, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a heck of a lot better than the previous movie. That’s mostly due to Chris Hemsworth, who has this charming butt kicking warrior thing down cold thanks to a magic Norse hammer and a handful of Marvel movies. Throw in a trio of top notch actresses and some cool fights and action sequences and you have yourself a decent action fantasy movie.
Sorry Kristen. They didn’t need you this time.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, and a very brief Ryan Reynolds
Director: Ariel Vromen
Plot: A hardened death row inmate is implanted with the memories of a dead CIA agent to stop a cyber criminal from blowing up things like cities and people.
Rating: R for graphic violence, gunplay, bad language, and yucky brain surgery stuff.
Hello everyone! It’s Tom, your DVD Critics Corner pal!
Sorry I’ve been away for a few months, but I have a very legitimate and totally not made up excuse for my absence.
Something very strange happened to me at the end of March.
The last thing I recall it was opening day of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. I was exiting the movie theater after seeing the movie, wondering if Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor was either off-putting, flat out annoying, or both.
It’s both by the way. It’s both.
Anyhoo, as I approached my mid sized sedan in the parking lot, a couple of guys wearing suits with dark glasses threw me into a sinister looking van with no license plates and none of those adorable stick figure family decals on the window.
The next thing I know a scientist implants me with the brain patterns and memories of some secret agent man and I’m in a life or death struggle to stop some psycho from stealing a computer program which will enable him to launch nuclear missiles and ruin everyone’s weekend.
Oh wait…That didn’t happen to me! That stuff happens to Kevin Costner in the 2016 spy thriller Criminal!
My bad. So why haven’t I posted in months? Truth be told I forgot the password that unlocks my computer. I’d rather not talk about it. Let’s review Criminal, shall we?
CIA agent Bill Pope (a pre Daredevil Ryan Reynolds playing it straight) rushes around London with a satchel full of cash, ready to deliver it to some computer hacker called The Dutchman because he’s Dutch. Man.
The Dutchman created a “wormhole” program that can hack into any computer on the planet. He was going to sell it to wealthy lunatic Xavier Heirndahl, but changes his mind because Heirndahl plans on launching a few nukes because he’s a lunatic, and decides to sell his wormhole to the CIA.
But before Pope can deliver the moulah to The Dutchman at a secret safe house he’s ambushed by Heirndahl’s private army of soldiers (the kind all wealthy movie bad guys have at their disposal) and dies without telling Heirndahl the location of the Dutchman.
The top CIA guy in London Quaker Wells (a manic Gary Oldman) is determined to bring The Dutchman in, but since Pope stashed him in a place where only he knew, Wells decides to try an unorthodox way to find The Dutchman and finish Pope’s mission.
Yes, Oldman’s character is named Quaker. Who names their kid Quaker? Parents who want their son to grow up to be a dickhead CIA boss, that’s who!
Wells enlists the help of renowned brain scientist Dr. Franks who has developed a technique that transfers the memories from one brain to another without having to call a Vulcan to do a mind meld.
Dr. Franks is played by Tommy Lee Jones, who looks like he wishes his brain and body was transplanted into a better movie.
Unfortunately the good Doctor’s brainwave transfer will only work on a certain type of brain, and that brain belongs to hardened criminal Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) who pretty much hates the world and for some reason growls his words like Christian Bale’s Batman.
Using a couple of drills and a bunch of high tech movie props, Dr. Franks transfers the dead Pope’s brain patterns into Jericho’s live noggin. But when Jericho fails to divulge any of Pope’s secrets or even fire off snarky one liners in Ryan Reynolds’ voice, an impatient Wells sends the criminal back to prison.
Jericho promptly escapes from the two poor CIA guys guarding him and heads to London to steal things and beat people up (He is a homicidal criminal with zero impulse control you know) but before he begins to wreak real havoc on innocent Londoners he starts to have visions of a bag of money, some library, and a really hot brunette who looks like Wonder Woman. He makes his way to Pope’s house (thanks to Pope’s brainwaves he knows the alarm codes) and meets Jillian Pope (Gal Gadot, who really is Wonder Woman!) and her daughter Emma who are still really sad that Ryan Reynolds only had a ten minute part in this movie. As Pope’s memories begin to take hold, Jericho feels compelled to find the missing money, locate The Dutchman and get Van Wilder out of his head!
Criminal ratchets up the tension when The Dutchman comes out of hiding to try to sell the wormhole to the Russians, the CIA realize that Dr. Franks’ brain transfer worked and try to catch Jericho and Heirndahl starts shooting up London trying to stop Jericho and recover the wormhole program so he can launch a few nukes because those damn nukes aint gonna launch themselves!!
Despite having a top notch cast and an interesting sci-fi premise Criminal has an exciting blockbuster thriller brain that’s been transferred into a direct to DVD movie body. I give Costner credit for playing an amoral jerk who slowly learns to do the right thing, but he did the same thing in Waterworld.
And we know how well that turned out.
Good to be back!
Hey movie fans, Tom here, your DVD Critics Corner pal!
Well, the Oscars are finally here! All the glitz and glamour, the stars, the movies…
The gold statue thing… the guy who says stuff…
Look, I’m going to be honest. I completely lost interest in the Academy Awards when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was not nominated for best picture.
I know! Right? Complete outrage! So because of this egregious miscarriage of justice, I am boycotting the Academy Awards show this year. I have much better things to do with 5 hours on a Sunday night thank you very much. My socks are not going to sort themselves you know.
Since I did promise a quiz of some sort, here’s one based on the last movie I just saw which features natural disasters, massive destruction of property, and a DVD Critics Corner Hall of Famer! That beats some snooty ol art house Oscar movie any day! Here’s a DVDCC Quiz about – San Andreas!
SAN ANDREAS (2015)
Tom watched the movie San Andreas because:
- He enjoys special effects laden disaster films.
- It was the next film on his Netflix DVD queue.
- He just felt like it okay?
- You’re not the boss of him!
- LAPD SWAT team Leader
- Air Rescue Pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department
- Some other tough job you would never have because you’re a giant puss!
- Optimus Prime’s stunt double. The man is huge.
Ray is kinda bummed out because:
- His estranged wife Emma (Carla Guigino) has given him divorce papers and is going to move in with her wealthy architect boyfriend Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd).
- His daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) is going off to college.
- If his muscles get any bigger, he won’t be able to fit in his rescue chopper.
- All of the above.
- The San Andreas Fault is about to shift dramatically.
- Any major city along the fault line is going to be destroyed by giant earthquakes.
- He’s played by Paul Giamatti, who really is too good for a movie like this.
A massive quake hits L.A. and traps Emma atop a crumbling skyscraper. Raymond:
- Flies to the rescue in his helicopter.
- Extracts Emma from the building before it collapses.
- When listening to her cries for help on the phone replies “Why don’t you get Mr. Rich Architect to help you, ya whore!” before hanging up.
Raymond and Emma then race to help Blake who:
- Is in San Francisco which is being leveled by the biggest quake ever.
- Is using the survival skills her Dad taught her to survive the chaos.
- Is super hot, and therefore must survive because so many hot girls in Los Angeles were probably killed in the earlier quake, and hot girls must not go extinct!
There are many exciting scenes in San Andreas, particularly:
- Raymond and Emma parachuting into a crumbling San Francisco.
- A massive tsunami that snaps the Golden Gate Bridge in half!
- Paul Giammatti looking at the earthquake data on his laptop and saying “Oh my God” a bunch of times. He’s such a good actor!
San Andreas draws to a dramatic conclusion when:
- Raymond and Emma rescue Blake from a flooded building.
- Mother, Father, and Daughter are reunited as rescue workers move in to comfort the survivors.
- EVERY CG BUILDING, TREE, AND NATIONAL LANDMARK IN SAN FRANCISCO HAS FALLEN!
- Give him a minute to think about it, okay?
- You’re not his Mom!!!
Enjoy the Star Wars free Oscars.
TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015)
Starring: Arnold Shwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke
Director: Alan Taylor
Plot: To save mankind from extinction, Kyle Reese goes back in time to protect the woman who will be the mother of the man who will lead the humans in the future war against the machines. Nah! Just kidding. This movie is nothing like that.
Rating: PG-13 Because nobody does R rated action movies anymore.
Hey kids. It’s Tom, your DVD Critics Corner pal. Sorry I haven’t been around that much the past few months, but my job as a retired black ops soldier turned pro kite surfing champion who occasionally solves crimes the CIA won’t touch has been keeping me really busy.
Why just the other day as I was hanging from the landing skid of a helicopter with one hand with bullets and rockets whizzing by my head and a briefcase full of recovered nuclear missile launch codes in my free hand when it hit me; it this what I’m all about? Am I fulfilled?
The answer was no. So the CIA gave me a nice going away party, erased most of my memory, and here I am, back at my post as… what is it I do here?
I think the CIA gave me the deluxe memory wipe package.
Speaking of memory wipes, I want you to forget everything you know about the Terminator movies. Forget Skynet, forget a young Linda Hamilton running from a Michelin Man sized Arnold Shwarzenegger, forget everything that happened in Terminator Salvation – seriously, forget everything about that movie – because the latest installment of the venerable sci fi saga, Terminator Genysis has rebooted/revamped the franchise with a plot twist that has everything in the Terminator universe all topsy turvy and higgledy piggeldy.
Higgledy piggeldy is a movie reviewer word. Only we can use it. Let’s move on.
As the movie opens, it’s 2029 and the last surviving humans are duking it out with the Skynet and their evil army of robots. Under the leadership of John Connor (Jason Clarke), Skynet is on the ropes, but they activate their time machine to send a Terminator cyborg back in time to kill John’s mother in 1984. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, more wooden than ever) Connor’s most trusted soldier, volunteers to get naked and travel back in time to protect Sarah’s pretty little head from the menacing Arnold-bot.
Reese arrives in 1984 Los Angeles. But before he can play Donkey Kong on Colecovision or catch an episode of Dynasty, he’s set upon by a T-1000 liquid metal robot, who’s not supposed to be there. Before lunkhead Reese can figure out what is going on, he’s rescued by a gun toting Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and her T-800 bodyguard “Pops” (Arnold Schwarzenegger; still looking darn good) who have a lot of plot exposition to lay down.
Turns out Pops was (for reasons not explained) sent back into the 1970’s to protect Sarah when she was 9, so Sarah grew up knowing that her son was destined to lead the human resistance, a T-800 would be sent to try to kill her in 1984, and most importantly, she has to do the no pants dance with Kyle Reese to insure her son is born.
That’s a lot of pressure on a little kid. When I was nine all I worried about was returning a book to the library on time. Hey, those late book fees could cost you 8 cents a month!
Since Sarah and Pops have already taken care of the T-800 cyborg sent to kill her, they want to now go forward in time to 1997 to stop Skynet from going online using the time machine she and Pops built in their secret underground bunker, which makes that old dresser you and your dad restored and repainted in the garage look really lame in comparison
But wait! Kyle suggests they go ahead in time to 2017, because when he was travelling back in time, he saw an altered timeline when his younger self tells him to go to 2017.
Remember all those sci fi books, movies, and TV shows that told us that mucking around in the past would cause irreparable damage to the future, and the end result could be a rift in the space time continuum that causes the collapse of the universe itself?
Nah! Forget that crap! According to Terminator Genisys, the timeline welcomes our abuse. So do whatever you want with it! Change the past, mess with the future, it’s all good! Don’t pay any attention to what Doc Brown said! Stupid old geezer…
Anyhoo, Sarah and Kyle travel forward to 2017 to find that Skynet isn’t a high tech defense computer controlling our nuclear weapons. In this new timeline it’s a super cool operating system named Genisys that’s about to go online to an adoring public hungry for a faster app that will help share pictures of the sandwich they are about to eat with strangers.
Sarah and Kyle hook up with an aged Pops, who has been hanging around awaiting their arrival for 33 years stockpiling more weapons in the bunker and catching up on his soaps. The valiant trio gears up to destroy Skynet/Genisys, but a new, stronger, smarter, T-3000 cyborg is running things now, and he looks a lot like someone they all know!
Terminator: Genisys has lots of action and cool effects – the fight scene between “Pops” Arnold and his younger bulkier 1984 self is especially fun – the usual stuff you’d expect from a Terminator movie.
Which is fine, I guess.
The problem is the cast. As Sarah Connor, Emelia Clarke has a hard time filling Linda Hamilton’s combat boots. And Jai Courtney, bless his little heart is really trying to make a go with this whole acting thing, but when Arnold freakin Schwarzenegger shows more range playing an emotionless cyborg, maybe it’s time to try something new. I don’t care if he’s dreamy! He’s a lousy actor! Man, I wish the voice in my head would leave me alone when I blog!
To sum up, I guess those Hollywood movie folks thought the whole “change the timeline” thing would help reboot the Terminator franchise the same way it did for Star Trek in 2009, but this case the time tripping franchise makeover falls flat.
Still, it’s always good to see Arnold stepping back into one of his signature roles. And it’s nice to see Emelia “Game of Thrones” Clarke in a role that requires her to wear a shirt.
I didn’t write that last part. The voice in my head insisted I put that in.
He is such a prude.
JURASSIC WORLD (2015)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D’Onofrio
Plot: Everything is fine and dandy at Jurassic World until a super smart genetically engineered dinosaur breaks loose and starts eating people. Sorry, no refunds!
Rating: PG-13 for dinosaur violence and icky blood splatter.
Unless you’ve been living in a remote mountain cave without cable and missing a head for the past 23 years, you’ve probably heard of the Jurassic Park film franchise. And if you have been living without a head for that long, congratulations! I hear that’s really hard to do.
Based on the best selling novel by Michael Crichton, the first three Jurassic Park films were mega blockbusters, earning billions of dollars at the box office and scaring the crap out of a generation of children who thought dinosaurs were those cute and cuddly creatures from The Land Before Time film series.
The film series was dormant for about 14 years until executive producer Steven Spielberg decided it was time for another chapter in the dino-saga, and Jurassic World came roaring into theaters this summer. This sequel/reboot features a new cast, new park, and a bunch of new dinosaurs who gosh darn just won’t stay in their cages no matter how nicely they are asked!
Picking up 20 years after the events of the first movie, Jurassic World is now a ginormous amusement park on the same island the original Jurassic Park once stood. Every day thousands of tourists come to Isla Nublar to ride a baby triceratops, watch a giant dinofish eat a tiny shark, and purchase expensive merchandise in one of many Jurassic World souvenir shops.
Billionaire industrialist Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) now owns the park and all the dinosaur cloning technology, and is looking for a new attraction that will keep the visitors coming back and spending way too much money for a Venti latte at the Jurassic World Starbucks. I’m not making that up. There is a Starbucks in the park in the movie.
Claire Dearing (Howard), the operations manager of the park shows Masrani their new hybrid “Indonimus Rex,” which is very big, very mean, and just loves killing and eating anything with a pulse.
Meanwhile, raptor expert Owen Grady (Star Lord Chris Pratt) has been training a quartet of raptors to sit, roll over, and stay off the sofa for some reason. Park security chief Hoskins (D’Onofrio) thinks the raptors would make great soldiers once they are trained, but Grady shrugs off such an outrageous suggestion. I mean, it’s not like Vincent D’Onofrio has ever played a treacherous jerk who turns on everyone in the third act before, right?
Anyhoo, Grady warns Claire that her new pet dinosaur is super dangerous and should not be the next stuffed toy at the Jurassic World gift shop, but before Claire can say “hey, aren’t you that Star Lord guy,” the Indonimus Rex escapes from her escape proof pen and starts killing and eating anything with a pulse.
Claire, Grady, and the rest of the staff try to get the thousands of park guests to safety before the I Rex can make it across the island to where most of the delicious dinosaurs and people are located. To complicate matters Claire’s two nephews are trapped outside the park when their cool hamster ball car is destroyed by the I Rex. As Claire and Grady try to rescue the kids, Hoskins and his security team learns the hard way that genetically engineered dinosaurs don’t liked being told to get back in their cages or no more snausages!
When a swarm of pterodactyls starts carrying off park guests waiting to be evacuated from the island, Grady gathers up his raptor pals and heads out into the jungle to take out the I Rex in a classic man vs dinosaur vs raptor showdown. Spoiler alert: the Starbucks doesn’t survive. Great. Claire is going to be so pissed off!
Like the original Jurassic Park, Jurassic World ends with a multi billion dollar theme park in ruins and lots of innocent bystanders either injured, killed, or eaten. It’s doubtful the park will ever open again (between the lawsuits, the property damage – have you ever tried to clean raptor blood off of concrete?) but since Jurassic World made over a billion and a half dollars at the box office, it’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of Grady, Claire and all their dinosaur pals.
Maybe they could get Starbucks to sponsor a new park.
Think of the cross promotion!
Tazo Rex tea!
Hey Starbucks, if you’re reading this, don’t steal my ideas.
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.
Director: Brett Ratner
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Rebecca Ferguson, and John Hurt
Plot: Hijinks ensue when Hercules and his mercenary pals get more than they bargained for when they are hired to train an army to fight a war.
Rating: PG-13 for swords and spears and bloody combat that’s not bloody enough for an R rating.
I don’t know much about the Greeks, but I am a fan of their philosophers, their yogurt, and feta cheese, which is simply smashing on a burger. Seriously. try it some time. Dee-lish.
The Greeks also had a bunch of Gods, demigods,and fantastic creatures that throughout the centuries became a huge part of popular culture. One of the most famous of the Greek mythological figures is Hercules, the half God son of Zeus who righted wrongs and performed amazing feats of strength while sporting some awesome 1980’s rocker hair.
Hercules is so popular even to this day that two movies were made in 2014 about him and his legendary journeys: The Legend of Hercules stars a guy named Kellen Lutz. The other simply titled Hercules stars DVD Critics Corner Hall of Famer and ass kicking action star Dwayne Johnson. Needless to say we’re reviewing Hercules because we like shorter titles and Dwayne Johnson is wearing a freakin lion for a freakin hat!
Hercules takes the legend of the demigod son of Zeus and tosses it out with the bathwater. Hercules (Johnson) is just a really strong mercenary travelling the world with a team of skilled warriors. Since the internet hasn’t been invented yet, Herc’s action packed exploits have spread word of mouth and have become legend across the land, and with the help of his nephew Iolus (Reece Ritchie) who acts as Herc’s PR man, some of the good but gullible people believe he may really be the son of Zeus.
Let’s face it, people will believe absolute nonsense if you let them: like alligators live in the sewers and Two and a Half Men was a good show.
Herc and his team – Amphiaraus, master spear fighter and future predictor, knife guy/wisecracker Autolicus, blonde archer chick Atalanta, mute asskicker Tydeus, and Iolus – are hired by Lord Cotys (John Hurt) of Thrace to train his depleated army to fight off neighboring warlord Rheseus who wants to take over Thrace for reasons never disclosed. Maybe Thrace is closer to the highway and has a killer beach.
Anyhoo, Herc and his pals train Coty’s troops to fight like soldiers, and soon they charge into highly choreographed battle scenes with plenty of slo mo shots and CG blood splatter made famous by 300. But truth be told I can forgive that because nobody wields a club better than than Dwayne Johnson.
Except for Bamm Bamm. That kid had skills.
Coty’s army is victorious and they return to Thrace with Lord Rheseus as a prisoner, but Hercules begins to think that Rheseus may not be the bad guy in this movie. When Coty’s daughter Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) confirms Herc’s suspicion that her dad is a treacherous a-hole, he has a huge decision to make: take the huge pile of gold given to him or give it back and make things right in Thrace by kicking Coty’s lying butt?
Spoiler Alert! Herc’s team doesn’t get their retirement fund. But they do get to help their boss overthrow a kingdom in a bloody climactic battle which is just as good as a huge bag of gold! It is! Honest. Look, just go with me on this, we’re almost done.
In conclusion, Dwayne Johnson’s huge presence and even huger willingness to cave in a head or two elevates Hercules a few levels higher over other recent sword and sandals movies. However, I didn’t like the idea that the mythical creatures that are real in similar movies didn’t exist in this one. No Centaurs? No Cerberus? No three breasted gladiator woman with the head of a Burmese Shrike and the legs of a liger?
Okay that last one isn’t an actual mythical creature.
But it should be. I’m getting my sketchbook!