Tag Archives: Star Wars

The Matrix: Reloaded

Okay, let’s think about this logically. I was just reading up (and I’ve been told) that The Matrix: Reloaded is considered a flop of a sequel. The first one set up such a good plot that the second detracted from that and focused solely on action. In essence, a stupid man’s film about boobs, guns, and fighting. Let’s rethink this, shall we? People always say that the

An all-star, stunner cast.

second film in a series flops in comparison to the first. But let’s think about a few trilogies followed the same principle.

The Lord of the Rings. There is an apparent escalation in the amount of action and violence in comparison to the first film. That Battle for Helm’s Deep? That’s a pretty damn good action scene. Star Wars. Both parts. Episode 4 has the Battle of Hoth and Episode 2 has the Clone Wars. Hell, even Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has more action and violence than the first. You wanna know why this is so common? Because the story is set up in the first, and the meaty middle of the story contains most of the action before the crescendo in the third. It’s just the way trilogies are set up. Beginning, middle, end. Simple.

Get at me.

So, now that I’m done explaining that, plot.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) is back again with a vengeance. He has been releasing minds from the Matrix and kicking ass. He and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are a loving couple (I stress loving in the sexual sense of the word for some of the content rating) and are returning to Zion after a meeting with the other captain’s in the Matrix. With the sentinels digging into Zion and threatening the last bastions of humanity, Neo, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity, and Link (Harold Perrineau) must find some way to beat the machines. It’s gonna be an all out brawl.

And this movie delivers on so many levels. Amazingly choreographed fight scenes, mind blowing CG graphics that broke ground, and great stunts throughout. This movie has it all for Martix and action fans

Straight out of anime. Word.

alike. Some revelation-level secrets are released and we all get to see why Neo is the one. What could be better?

The cool and suave acting is just as good in this one as the last. Everything about the movie just screams sleek and badass, but in a cool way. Keanu Reeves improves his performance from the last one in Reloaded as does Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss. Some newcomers to the film add some spice as well. Jada Pinkett-Smith, one of my Hollywood crushes, performs beautifully as the cold and intense Niobe, captain of the Logos. I loved playing as her in the Enter the Matrix game for Xbox, a game I would recommend re-releasing for the 360 or something. Please?

Wielding, like a boss.

Lambert Wilson was comedically enthralling as The Merovingian, an older program that has survived for years in exile. And Monica Bellucci, the drop-dead gorgeous Mary Magdalene from Passion of the Christ. She’s even sexier in this one, and I’m actually glad she’s in Revolutions as well. Collin Chou throws up a great fight scene (one of my favorites) with Neo as Seraph, the protector of The Oracle (reprised by Gloria Foster, sadly, for the last time). Throw in a cameo from Leigh Whannell, creator of Saw, and you have a great cast of Matrix familiars. A whole world is created with these interesting characters, and I can’t get enough.

Another great soundtrack from Don Davis and various Nu Metal/Metal bands I enjoy listening to, and you got yourself another amazing installment of the Matrix. I may just be a sucker for films like this, but I just can’t find very many flaws with these films at all. It’s a classic tale/archetype of the hero and his transformation/journey, and it just speaks to me on an epic scale of what a good movie and story is. So get at me about The Matrix: Reloaded. It blew my mind, and still does. 9.3 out of 10.

Bang on me!

 

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Vanishing on 7th Street

I had a strong desire to see this movie when it came out, but if I saw every movie I wanted to when it came out, I would be poor. Thank you, Netflix. Anways, Vanishing on 7th Street had its ups and downs for me as I was watching it. To classify it as a thriller over a horror movie would be accurate, as it didn’t have too many bumps or jumps.

Something’s wrong… is it my acting?

There is one scene that may frighten you (I was wearing headphones and sitting too close to my computer), but overall there really only is one. Supernaturally it’s interesting, but the plot left something to be desired.

Let me explain. When I watch a horror movie, by the end, 9 times out of 10, I want the horror to be delved into or explained. To leave it open ended leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I want the origin story of the evil force at least. Where did these beings come from? Why are they here? Why do they need to frighten and kill? What will they do?

Little Ani, you did your job.

This movie didn’t give any of that. In a series of postulations, Vanishing on 7th Street entered in with this ungodly being/s that took away probably 99% of the world’s population. Paul (John Leguizamo) is just chilling up in his projection room, minding his own business, with his head-lamp on. Everyone in the mall disappears and nobody knows why. Cue Chris Bosh the actor and the scariest moment in the film. We head over to Rosemary (Thandie Newton) and her search for her baby, Manny. Then hit up Luke (Hayden Christensen), the lead actor in this horror shin-dig and you have yourself 3 of the last 4 people remaining in… Detroit? I have no idea…

After three days of darkness and people being taken away, you already knew after the first scene that anyone with a

That rave was a bit too redonk…

portable light was going to survive. It was self evident. What you didn’t realize is how fast Hayden Christensen would adapt and become a hardened badass about the whole thing. None of them know what the hell is going on, but they will for damn sure survive longer than I’ve seen anyone in a supernatural thriller. Go get ’em.

The acting wasn’t bad overall. I usually rag on Hayden Christensen for his ruining Star Wars, but he did his job well in this one. He was the brutal survivor everyone needs on their team in this one, and rightly

Probably shouldn’t crouch by all that gas…

so. Thandie Newton was the beautifully tragic character that has to, of course, hold onto her religion in order to survive. (There’s always one in every bunch…) And then there’s John Leguizamo. He needs to stick to just doing Sid in Ice Age, because his acting wasn’t contributing anything in this live action. Jacob Latimore, he was a pretty damn good child actor in this one. Bravo.

So without much explanation of delving into the topic, Brad Anderson skirts around the issue that every horror film should explain/explore at the end. Sure everyone in a movie can die, but you have to then have some sort of closing argument for why it all happened. In the

That plane be tankin’.

world of Hollywood, people don’t feel comfortable with unexplained evil for evil’s sake. There has to be a motive, a reason. If all you can come up with is Roanoke Island, you are sorely mistaken. And Brad Andersen directed The Machinist for Sweet Baby Ray’s sake! A hit and a miss, this movie holds the middle of the road for all the promise it held, and not giving away anything in the end. 6.2 out of 10.


Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

As you are introduced to a strangely shaped spaceship in the middle of outer space in the year 2127, do not be alarmed. Don’t even let that pesky roman numeral four fool you in the title. This is not Star Wars. This is Hellraiser 4: Bloodline. This movie goes in a significantly different direction than the previous three in a lot of ways. New characters, an origin/background plot, and a director who didn’t even want to be given credit for the movie. You read that right. Kevin Yagher, the director of the film who left before it was finished decided to use the Hollywood pseudonym, Alan Smithee.

Does that suggest that this movie is bad? It may or may not. Although it got mixed reviews, there are some positives. I’m a sucker for an origins episode of a show or movie, and this is one entire, long flashback. And then a flash forward. The reason Mr. Yagher left this movie is because of the conflicts with script/plot and an unnecessary push for Pinhead to appear way before it was ever

The faceoff: Paul vs Pinhead

necessary. I would tend to agree with this approach, because most of the movie fell flat for me. How was this the first movie with a theatrical release?

Let’s get down to the bare bones plot with this one. So in the year 2127, there’s this famously brilliant scientist named Paul Merchant (faint echoes of Paul Muad’ib?) who is holding up on this space station he created. Seeming to be a bad thing, a crackpot squad of mercenaries travel to the station in order to thwart his “dastardly plan”. Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) is easily apprehended, and he tells a squad mate, Rimmer (Christine Harnos) his entire lineage sob story.

Rimmer gets told a sob story...

This is the point in the movie where things get interesting. Philip L’Merchant (still Bruce Ramsay) is a French toymaker, credited with creating the first box, the Lament Configuration. In creating it for a French nobleman obsessed with dark magic, Duc de L’Isle (Mickey Cottrell) unleashes Hell. Literally. In the form of a demon named Angelique (Valentina Vargas), it is up to the cursed Merchant line in order to create the Elysium Configuration in order to stop Pinhead and the other demons from wreaking havoc.

And, in this way, we are given three sections of the lineage of the Merchants. There’s its origins with L’Merchant, there’s the modern day, 1980’s John

This is the...dumbest of the Cenobite creations.

Merchant, and the futuristic, about to end all this B.S. Paul Merchant. At the same time that having all the Merchants being played by one man was a strange thing, it also strangely works. Bruce Ramsay isn’t the best by any means, but, for this movie, he gets the job done. He does vary his acting personalities and gets across that he is playing three different men throughout the years. I wanna point a little interesting fact out right here. Adam Scott, co-star in such acclaimed movies as Knocked Up, Step Brothers, and Piranha 3-D, makes an appearance as Jacques, the man who betrays his master like a coward. Of course you bring Doug Bradley back as Pinhead because, come on, it wouldn’t be a Hellraiser movie otherwise.

That crazy old Duc...

With less grit and graphic imagery than originally intended, this movie sits solidly among the others, but more as a distant cousin than anything else. This movie suggests a fixed point ending to Pinhead and the Cenobites, unlike any other movie. These undead, Hellish beings should never be killed, and it should be up to the perpetuation of this fantastic series to do so. There has been a new one released recently, Hellraiser: Revelations in 2011, which shows the series isn’t gonna quit yet. And I’m all cool with that. So look forward to a review of Hellraiser 5 in the near future, I’m really looking forward to it myself. An okay 4.2 out of 10.


Gentlemen Broncos

Hello, my name is Dr. Ronald Chevalier. You may not know who I am, but I am the successful author of over 30 trilogies in the Cyborg Harpies series. I love the use of mammary cannons and mind probes. It’s best to use characters with suffix names like -ainous. I draw all my own cover art and am currently working on a new series that “inspiration” hit me like a troll named Teacup. I am one of the greatest characters of all time. Who am I truly? I am Jemaine Clement of the folk rock comedic band, Flight of the Conchords. Welcome to my film, Gentlemen Broncos.

From the same creator/director who brought the world the tame/awkward comedy of Napoleon Dynamite comes another movie of the same caliber. In this version, Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a young aspiring sci-fi writer. In his stories, Bronco (Sam Rockwell) is a hero of the Yeast, a material I’m not at all familiar with. In his pursuit of the evil Lord

Bronco on a battle stag. Nice.

Daysius, Bronco attempts to reclaim his stolen gonads. In his journey, Bronco encounters cyclopses, (?) pudding, and battle stags.

With this true potential inside of him, Benjamin hopes to have his work published, and he plans to do this in a contest at a local authorian convention, Cletus Fest. (Similar to a sci-fi convention, but nobody dresses up and everyone is a reclusive ego booster.) While there, Benjamin encounters the host of the convention, Dr. Ronald Chevalier, acclaimed writer in the aforementioned paragraph. Swept away by his presence and knowledge of cover art and troll clans, Benjamin submits his work, The Yeast Lords. Little did he know that in Chevalier’s current state, he was in need of some desperate inspiration. And it would come in the form of plagiarism. From this point on, it is a steady slope of failures and downtrodden feelings for little Benjy boy until he can pick himself up, trusty blowdart in hand and a mission to reclaim his creative piece of work.

Who doesn't love Dr. Ronald Chevalier and his "ainous"?

Now I’ve heard from other review sites and such that this movie was a poor attempt. For those who don’t like Napoleon Dynamite, I can see how that could come across that way. Hell, even for those who liked Napoleon Dynamite and hated this movie, I can understand trying to compare the two might be futile. But this movie is on another plane from the good old N.D. of our early high school years. It was all the rage (not trying to generalize a huge populace’s high school experience) back then to quote the bejeezus out of this movie, as it was with Anchorman. But what stood out to me about these films (and the lesser successful awkward cousin, Nacho Libre) is that these were wholesome films. There was no need for swearing or gross out humor that comes with a lot of F-bombs. This movies took a childen’s PG base and made an outlandish film out of toned down slang and some of the most awkward laugh out loud scenes I’ve seen in a long time. And I credit the shizz (see there, sample that) out of Jared Hess for these films. He’s brought a genre of film to the world that doesn’t need Hangover like situations and vulgarity to make it a piece of comedy. And that be the truth.

So let’s get back to the point of this film and just what makes it tick. Coming from a sci-fi enthusiast that may slightly phase me to be a bit biased about this film, (Dune all the way) there’s a certain charm to the science fictional. Set in worlds outlandishly unbelievable and yet endearing, this genre of writing is populated by the sexually deprived and socially awkward. I can’t remember the last time I read a sci-fi novel and marveled at how clinically nerds analyzed sex. (Being a nerd myself, word.) With no true substance of emotion (usually) we are given the world of a sci-fi writer from a logical perspective. And we are told this movie from the perspective of a young boy who, by the end of the film, truly learns how to stick up for himself and express emotions.

Surveillance Does. I hate those.

Accompanying this story of redemption comes two other stories. One, the truth of Benjamin’s novel, The Yeast Lords. Bronco and his journey of revenge goes hand in hand with that of Benjamin and his reclamation of creative property. Set in a world even I would watch, we are given cheesy graphics and explosions that endear an entire world of Star Trek and Star Wars fans for the pure effort the movie puts into the story is attempts to portray. Contrast this with scenes of the dialed up, transexual version of Sam Rockwell as Brutuss, the effeminate fighter of the cyclops and surveillance does. (He hates those.) Within these two extremes, the entire story of Bronco and his lynx that will rip your throat out comes to an end as we connect with a grow with the real world situations that Benjamin has to endure.

Lonnie, you strange bastard.

And with that real world comes some of the strangest characters I’ve ever seen. Starting with Jennifer Coolidge as Benjamin’s overprotective mother, Judith, and ending with Hector Jiminez as Lonnie Donaho, a strange-mouthed director/producer of the failed low-budget movie made from Benjamin’s novel, there are so many strange characters in between. There are few lulls in laughs in this movie (depending on your humor) and quite a few unexpected, crazy scenes that even I couldn’t handle. In comparing this to N.D. or N.L. ( Lonnie was also cast in Nacho Libre as another ridiculous character, go figure.) this movie goes farther than the other two. I mean, there’s a python pooping onscreen for godsake. At an unexpected moment too. It’s just all gold.

I could go on and on about all the ridonkulous characters and strange situations they find themselves in, but then I would be telling the whole movie. I’d rather leave that for you guys to go out and find out for

One day, Jemaine Clement will rule the world.

yourselves. I loved this movie. For a fact, I watched this movie 4 times in less than 3 weeks, if that means anything. I showed this to all my friends, and I hope you guys will go out and watch it too. It’s a bit hard to find (Damn you, Netflix) but it’s well worth it. Utilize your libraries and let me know what you guys think of it. Cause I thought this movie was an 8 out of  10. (About the same rating I’d give Napoleon Dynamite.) Sweet.


Centurion: “I will not yield!”

Neil Marshall has done it again! As the director of one of my favorite horror movies, The Descent, I had to check out this director’s 5th attempt at directing. After taking a peek on IMDB at Marshall’s other directing attempts, I saw another two movies I found were right up Marshall’s alley when it comes to genre and style, Doomsday and Dog Soldiers. The movie posters alone look like movies I would gladly see. (I had heard of Doomsday before, it’s shown a lot on FX, definitely going to check it out now.) This movie doesn’t disappoint and it gives one of those quick in and out glimpses into the world of the Romans during a time of war. If I had to say it, which I will (I mean come on, there are 2 actors in this movie who were major players in 300) this movie is on some sort of level with Gerard Butler and his 300.

But what I liked about it? It wasn’t Gerard Butler. Come on, you have to give it up for how creatively mind bending 300 was. I love Zack Snyder. Plain and simple. 300 brought a new meal to the table. But yeah, this movie wasn’t quite 300 at all. It was almost a 300 meets Gladiator fusion. Quite spectacular. Instead of Butler, we have one of the new and upcoming British actors, Michael Fassbender. This guy is putting in the work and getting

Michael Fassbender

great results (and I’m not talking about his abs in 300). He’s done quite a few British T.V. shows and made his big break with 300. (He was that guy that cut off the emissary’s arm and told that fool they would fight in the shade.) Inglorious Basterds (I’ll give it to you Tarantino, this one time…) and Jane Eyre, this guy has range. And most excitingly, he will be playing Magneto in this summers sure to be masterful hit, X-Men: First Class. I expect good things from this guy.

Other notable appearances in this film? Dominic West, of course. Another 300 familiar, this guy was the traitor. But still, he was great. I loved his alter ego in Meet the Spartans, Traitoro. Dominic West has done some good work

Ah, Traitoro

as well, and I feel that as a fellow British actor to Michael Fassbender, he will go great things one day. He’s done wonderful things on The Wire, and he did one of my favorite guest appearances in my favorite part of the Hannibal Lecter series, Hannibal Rising as Inspector Popil. He has quite the list (Palace Guard in Phantom Menace???) and should keep strong for years to come.

Also, what I like about movies like this? Neil Marshall can get together a rag-tag group of virtually not well known actors, and still make a badass film. Noel Clarke (one of the Doctor’s helpers on Dr. Who) plays Macros, the slave turned athlete who really just runs the entire movie. JJ Feild (recurring British T.V. period piece actor) as Thax, one of my favorite characters in this film. David Morrissey (character actor who seems to switch between

A rag-tag, cantankerous crew

American and British film) as Bothos, the slightly obese centurion who’s that one loyal friend, but not that ridiculous. I mean, the list goes on. But that’s what really appealed to me about The Descent. It brought together a handful of unknown actresses and turned out to be a really well made film.

Complaints. Okay, there are quite a few archers in this film. And you know what happens? Everyone of them can aim for someone’s head and hit them directly, no hesitation, no mercy. This is a bit ridiculous. I find it hard to believe that every archer in this film is Robin Hood. But to each his own. It still made for pretty amazing gore throughout the film that was just nonstop. One whole scene about 20 minutes in is just literally unheard of. Another thing, I have never heard the “f” word so much in a period piece film like this. It is out of place. Distasteful right there.

Everything else about this movie? Great. It had great cinematography and looked like it took cues from The Lord of the Rings in its overhead helicopter shots of men dashing across snowy mountains. (Pretty sure this was shot in New Zealand.) The locales were quite spectacular although you couldn’t really place what was going on. If I related it in plot to any movie, it would’ve definitely been a mirror image of The Descent. Actually, the more I think about it, it’s like a cookie cutter version of The Descent, just different time and characters. Wow. If Neil Marshall does this again though, I might not be so forgiving. You can’t hope to make 3 identical plot movies and think people won’t notice. But taking Centurion as its own tour de force of mayhem and devastation in the time of the legion and Rome, it really does not yield. 7.7 out of 10.


Paul

The second I saw this movie was coming out, I got really excited. I’ve seen Simon Pegg’s show Spaced, I’ve seen both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this was just gonna be another winner to add to the list. Not quite. It was quite good, but this had a different feel to it than the other Pegg/Frost collaborations did. Paul is not quite the movie you’d expect from these two, but it had all the things that Simon Pegg loves: Star Wars and aliens.

Paul is the story of an alien (Seth Rogen) who comes crashing (or exploding rather) into Graeme Willy’s (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings’ (Nick Frost) lives. On a road trip around America after Comic Con, Graeme and Willy find that the alien trip they planned through the midwest would be more real than they could ever imagine. Getting into trouble one after another, Graeme and Clive meet an all-star cast along the way in what I could only describe as England vs. America with E.T.

First things first. ACTING. Yes, this movie has quite an extensive cast with cameos and guest stars all over the place. First we got Jeffrey Tambor (Yes, Arrested Development. Best.) as Shadowchild, a sci-fi writer with an ego and O.C.D. problem. Jane Lynch as the alien truck-stop waitress who pops in and out from time to time. David Koechner as the redneck anti-queer (really breaking away from his role as Hannah Montana’s uncle). Jason Bateman as the surly F.B.I. agent out to get Paul (quite funny), along with Bill Hader (one of my favorite SNL guys) and Joe Lo Truglio as the bumbling idiot agents who kind of mess everything up but are quite funny. Also Kristen Wiig (annoying) but actually not that bad in this film. I’ve always found she’s more bearable in films than SNL.Yes, that’s quite a laundry list of actors that have the potential to make a movie funny. Bravo.

Simon and Nick. Just some Comic Con goers.

This movie is also a break directing wise from the usual. Instead of the great Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. How amazing.) we have Greg Mottola (Superbad and Adventureland. Two terrible one word movies.) This really disappointed me. A lot. It gave a different feel to the movie that, frankly, wasn’t all that good at all. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work well together with other English actors. A lot of the humor in this movie comes from the supporting cast. This saddens me. That’s what made Shaun and Hot Fuzz so great. Edgard Wright (He failed at Scott Pilgrim. Check my blog.), English supporting cast, with Pegg and Frost as the driving forces behind the comedy. Bad form.

But that’s not to say this movie isn’t that good. It has its own genuine feel to it that is still quite funny. All of the supporting cast is quite funny American actors. It’s written by Simon and Nick. It’s their brainchild. The thing that ruins it for me is it doesn’t have the choppy, sporadic, English humor you come to expect from them. You could say that’s probably because it’s not Edgar Wright driving the project from behind the camera. Sad, I know, but still.

I was also surprised how sub par the special effects were in this movie. Maybe it was to give it an E.T. feeling, but maybe it’s just the production value that lacked in the making of the film. Paul wasn’t as real looking as I expected for a 2011 film, the spaceship and such felt unrealistic. The stunts were fine, it was just everything else that threw off the movie for me. Maybe another thing that affected me was my movie watching experience. It wasn’t the audience, it was the theater (Thanks, Regal Cinemas 14). The projection was out of wack, all of the lettering in the film was hard to look at. The lights came on in the theater 30 minutes before the movie was over. It kind of ruined it for me. But besides that, the movie was good (Wow, I just complained a lot…)

I still think this movie is worth watching. If you’re ever in the mood for a pretty good alien comedy, please see this movie. Simon and Nick need all the support they can to become really big in America, and I know they already kinda are, but they need everybody behind them to help Americans realize that they’re just as good as actors are here. (Certainly better than Matthew McConaughey or Brad Pitt. Come on… Although Lincoln Lawyer might be good…) So please go see Paul. It’s definitely worth a watch. 7.8 out of 10.