Category Archives: Reviews

When Harry Met Sally – IN SPAAAAAACE!

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!

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Passengers (2016)

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….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just The Seven Of Us!

This review may contain spoilers. But you should read it anyway. It’s great. Trust me.

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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.

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Total. Bad. Ass.

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.

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“is that guy wearing a man bun? Yes he is. Is it Toshiro Mifune? No it’s not Toshiro Mifune. Shoot him.”

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..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Like Frozen, But With More Murders!

Please note: This review does contain spoilers.

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (2016)

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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.

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Nope.

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.

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She’s devastated. Trust me.

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.

 

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Still devastated. I think…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s No Way the Dinosaurs will Escape and Kill Again. Part 4!

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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.

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Thanks a lot, Don Bluth!

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!

Caramel Velociraptorccinos!

Mosasaurus Macchiato!

Tazo Rex tea!

Hey Starbucks, if you’re reading this, don’t steal my ideas.

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.

Everybody Hercs! Sometimes.

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HERCULES (2014)

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.

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I wasn’t the lead singer of Night Ranger. But I could have been,

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!

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Hell to the Yeah!!!

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.

At last my arm is complete!!!

At last my arm is complete!!!

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!

I’m an Apeman!

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DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)

Director: Matt Reeves

Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, and Gary Oldman

Plot: Survivors of a cataclysmic plague battle Caesar and his clan of super smart apes for control of the greater San Francisco area.

Rating: PG-13 for gun violence and ape violence and explosions and world ending apocalypse stuff.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Click here to read DVDCC’s immensely entertaining and informative review of that monkey filled movie!

When last we left Caesar and his ape pals, they had trashed most of San Francisco and settled in the Muir Woods on the far side of the Golden Gate Bridge to start their own world away from the stupid humans and their tumblrs and apple phone whozywhatsits.

As Dawn of the Planet of the Apes begins, ten years have passed, and Caesar’s apes are thriving in their wooded community, teaching their kids about “ape law” and wondering what ever happened to those pesky humans.

Turns out the humans haven’t been doing so well.  In fact, they’re pretty screwed.

As the last movie ended, a deadly pandemic was rapidly spreading across the globe. Now ten years later 90% of the earth’s population is dead, which when you think about it greatly cuts down on highway traffic, but overall is a huge bummer for the few hundred survivors living in the ruins of San Francisco.

But the San Fran survivors have a plan. If they can get the hydro electric dam deep in the woods running again, they can restore power to the city and begin to rebuild their shattered civilization.  Unfortunately the damn repair party lead by Malcom (Jason Clarke) and Ellie (Keri Russell) runs into Caesar and his massive army while heading for the dam. Seriously, none of them remembered the apes were still there? Oh I forgot. They were busy dying from the word ending pandemic.

Caesar banishes Malcom and his pals from the forest, and a few days later  rides into San Francisco with his ape army to remind the humans and their leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) that the welcome mat is not out in their territory.

What part of "Stay out of our woods" did you idiots not understand?

Hi neighbor! Nice ruined city you have here. Quick question… that part of “Stay out of our woods” did you idiots not understand?

But Malcom begs Casear to let him repair the hydro electric plant so his fellow humans can get back their electric lights and waffle irons. Caesar relents and lets a small team of humans conduct their business, which angers Koba (Toby Kebbell), Caesar’s trusted lieutenant who never forgave the humans for all the cutting and dissecting they did to him when he was a baby ape. Koba’s mistrust of the humans is reinforced when he finds that Dreyfus has stockpiled a ton of guns and ammo to attack the apes should Malcom fail his dam repair mission.

Meanwhile in the woods Malcom fixes the hyro plant thing and Ellie uses her human doctor skills to cure Caesar’s ailing wife Cornelia (Judy Greer), which convinces Caesar that the humans aren”t so bad and the ape utopia he’s created seriously needs a comprehensive health plan.

Electrical power is resorted to San Francisco, but before Malcom and Caesar can join hands and sing Give Peace a Chance, the treacherous Koba shoots Ceasar and frames one of Malcom’s team for the crime. This whips the apes up into an ass whipping frenzy and they head off across the Golden Gate Bridge to give Dreyfus and his pink skinned pals a little payback.

Caesar and Malcom formulate a plan to stop the fighting but will it be too late to stop a full out war between the last surviving humans and the really pissed off apes?

Spoiler alert: This movie made lots of money, so there’s gonna be another movie.

And it probably won’t be titled Planet of the Happy Humans and their Talking Ape Pals!

Like the previous movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes features that state of the art motion capture computer process that can turn a human actor into a monkey. Truly amazing stuff.

I wonder if they can turn a monkey into a human?

Now THAT I would pay to see in IMAX!

This was on My Netflix My List: Rage!

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 terrible Redbox kiosks are getting physically sick just having these movies inside them. You be the judge!

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RAGE (2014)

Director: Paco Cabezas

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Peter Stormare, Max Ryan, Michael McGrady and Danny Glover

Plot: A reformed criminal gets his old crew back together to beat the crap out of the bad guys who killed his daughter. What a great Dad.

Rating: Not rated, but there’s enough gunplay, stabbing, and fisticuffs for either an R rating or a really good Irish wake.

 Nicholas Cage. A man with one of the most interesting careers in showbiz. He’s starred in critically acclaimed dramas, Coen brothers comedies, and action blockbusters. His name has appeared over he titles of quirky indie films and mediocre comic book movies. He’s won an Oscar and has been nominated for a Razzie.

To put it another way, Nicholas Cage’s career has had more ups and downs than Courtney Love off her meds riding The Cyclone at Coney Island.

I will say one thing for the Nickster; he does manage to keep busy. Unfortunately it seems that many of the movies he’s appeared in recently are the “direct to DVD” variety, which may help pay the bills (and I’ve heard that Mr. Cage has had trouble paying his bills) but they don’t get you many rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Which brings us to Rage, a 2014 crime drama which is not much of a drama and has very little crime. But it is filmed in scenic Mobile, Alabama. So there you go. I have no idea what that means either.

Paul McGuire (Cage) is a well respected Mobile Alabama construction magnate. He’s wealthy, connected, and a loving husband to wife Vanessa (Nichols) and daughter Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples). He was also a former thief and brutal thug who worked for the local Irish crime boss O’Connell (Stormare) when he was a teen – who loved to dispatch his foes with a rather large knife.

Hey, we all have some things in our past we want to forget about. I was in the Webelos for a week!

Paul’s normal life comes to a screeching halt when Caitlin is violently kidnapped from her home by masked gunmen while she was entertaining friends. When the local detective St. John (Danny Glover, way too old for this shit) has no leads and Caitlin’s lifeless body is recovered a few days later, Paul grabs his trusty knife, assembles his old crime buddies Kane (Ryan) and Danny  (McGrady) and heads out for a little justice – Irish mob in Alabama style!

Paul suspects the local Russian mob killed Caitlin in retaliation for a robbery young Paul committed a while back that left one mobster dead and Paul and his crew very rich. Paul used that money to buy his freedom from the mob, which apparently harder to get out of than a gym membership.

O’Connell warns Paul that picking off Russian mobsters will lead to an all out war that be very bad for both mobs and lots of innocent bystanders. But since Mobile appears completely empty except for bad guys during the entire film thinning out the mob population might be a good idea.

Rage has fits and spurts of violence and Paul and his crew trash a few Russian mob joints and beat a few mobsters for clues to the identities of Caitlin’s killer, which cheeses off the head Russian mobster Chernov (Pasha D. Lynchnikoff) who now wants to break the mob truce with O’Connell to kill Paul.

Seriously, who knew Mobile Alabama was such a hotbed of Irish and Russian mob activity? Lynard Skynard never mentioned this in their song. Sweet Home Alabama indeed.

With all the buildup Rage reaches a not very exciting climax when Caitlin’s killer is revealed. I’m not going to ruin the plot twist for you, but let’s just say that fewer Russian and Irish mobsters wouldn’t have died if Paul let Detective St. John investigate things thoroughly before he got all stabby.  As the movie ends poor Paul is left to contemplate his mistakes as his enemies close in for the kill. I guess his construction business is up for grabs.

Rage is not a very good movie, but it taught me a few things – Mobile Alabama is pretty quiet except for all the mobsters, carrying a big ass knife in a shoulder holster is not only practical but pretty bad ass, and Nicholas Cage deserves so much better.

How about a sequel to The Rock?

Con Air?

Guarding Tess?

No, not Guarding Tess. That movie said all it had to say.

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.