Tag Archives: Troy

Trick ‘r’ Treat

Trick ‘r’ Treat is a movie where you can in fact “Pick Your Treat” when it comes to a movie that has four mini stories within a circular plot. (You’ll see by the end what I mean by circular.) Created by a Ohio director, Michael Dougherty, (born and raised), there’s a little something for everyone in this traditional horror genre flick. (I would in fact liken it to Halloween, exactly. I was waiting for Michael Meyers to start roaming around.

I know this film has a cult following and films like that are usually for me. You can put the whole film under the blanket of horror/suspense, but I didn’t really get too much of a

What a lovable little sack-demon.

comedy feel (as it is categorized as well) from this film, other than a movie that follows the old ways of horror so well that by this point it’s beaten to death and comic for that reason. There are parts I liked and parts that didn’t really tickle my horror bone fancy, which kept this as a middle of the road film for me. Let me kinda break it down for you.

The reets on the bus get all wiped out… All wiped out…

It has the creepy iconic pumpkin headed freak, Sam (Quinn Lord). His Halloween antics come across as brutal at the same time that his height and means of slashing are quite childish. Either way, there’s a figurine of him. There’s the threat of razor bladed candy, haunted stone quarries, and smashing pumpkins. People get away with murder at the same time that there’s the classic “I’m a girl, it’s Halloween, I’m gonna dress up as a slut” theme going on. In a small town (with the Haddonfield feel goin’ all through it) where Halloween is taken seriously, it’s an offense to break the traditions that protect people from evil, all the way back from the Pagan days. I thought that’s where the movie was going, but I was a bit wrong…

There were parts I liked and parts I didn’t. I kinda wanted to be scared when I watched a film about the scariest day of the year. It was more of a comedic tribute. Sam kinda made me laugh far more than cringe in terror (I guess that’s where the comedy comes from?). The second I saw Anna Paquin onscreen, I was thinking, “Oh no, where’s the Louisiana vampires?” (I wasn’t far off…) I was happy to see Dylan Baker (the orig Dr. Connors of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series) make an

I am Agamemnon, fear me!

Word!

appearance as a dastardly principal out to get children. And classic Brian Cox (I’ll always remember him as Agamemnon from Troy) as the crazy old coot. Nice appearances in an otherwise bizarre horror movie.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I normally love all horror movies. I don’t have any major problems, but I was just looking for more of a linear plot. I loved the original idea that this movie starts up with about breaking Halloween traditions. Then it wasn’t about that anymore. It went off in different directions, trying to cover all sorts of sub-genres of horror, which I didn’t mind, it just became a big jumble to me. For me, horror movies are about exploring one genre of horror and twisting and creating it into your own vision of what frightens and terrifies. Just a thought. 6.1 out of 10.

 

 

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Ping Pong Playa

It’s all fun and games to playa hate on Ping Pong. But not to the Chinese. In a sport that originated in China (not in England, as white people claim, apparently…) Chinese people take the art of the Pong very seriously. (Balls of Fury can make fun of this one all they want. Yes, at times that movie was funny, but it is considered a sport.) But this movie

Yao Ming ballin’ it up at a Ping Pong table?

doesn’t take itself too seriously. Written by Jimmy Tsai the star of the film, combined with Jessica Yu’s directing and co-writing, comes a lighthearted and inspirational film that resets the Chinese at the top of the crop in table tennis.

At the start of the film we are introduced to C-dubs (Jimmy Tsai). He has amateur dreams of becoming an NBA basketball player, following in the famous footsteps of Yao Ming. In a mock interview with someone made to look like Ron Howard (Jonathan Oliver playing “Jon Howard), C-dubs attempts to shake the Asian stereotypes that are held over his head with his ghetto dialect, an effort in vain.

Everyone has 4th grader friends, right?

His parents, Mr. (Jim Lau) and Mrs. (Elizabeth Sung) Wang find him lazy and apathetic to the world of Ping Pong, despite owning and operating a Ping Pong equipment shop and Ping Pong lessons at the local community center. Spending all his days with his black friend, JP Money (Khary Payton) and his 4th grader friend Felix (Andrew Vo), C-dubs looks hopeless. Until the day that his older brother Michael (Roger Fan) gets into an accident with his mother, who is no longer able to host her Ping Pong lessons. It is up to C-dubs to hold down the fort and teach some Ping Pong.

As you can expect from an inspirational film like this, C-dubs is very resistant at first. He goes to the community center with no desire to

DESTROY THOSE FOOLS.

teach, despite having a talent from a young age. You know it’s getting in the way of his training for basketball, but there’s a little surprise with that… With the help of his elementary level school friends and the interest of a young and beautiful Chinese woman, Jennifer (Smith Cho). When rep is on the line, C-dubs picks it up and realizes he has been a mess his whole life. Time to step up to the paddles.

King Erotic, you’ve come back…

There are a few great appearances in this movie. Stephanie Weir from MadTV makes an appearance as the awkwardly racist Ping Pong judge. Shelley Malil from The 40 Year Old Virgin is also featured as the father of one of the awkward Indian kids who is to smart for his own good. And, what may be the best, is Khary Payton as C-dub’s black friend. Many may not recognize him, but his was King Erotic in the Troy/300 spoof, The Legend of Awesomest Maximus. Man was he latently homosexual in that movie…

The acting was fine and there were laughs and comedy throughout. Every time there is a swear word, a basketball bounce is played over it (making it funnier than if they had sworn). It’s a movie for teens that teaches a lesson about good

Asian fury.

sportsmanship, as well as race relations. Never judge a book by its cover (i.e. C-dubs and his bball dreams) and always have in the back of your mind that what you say may offend others. It has a nice message and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s semi-entertaining and may not be funny for everyone, but check it out. You might learn something. 6.4 out of 10.


Insidious: The Downward Slope

I cannot speak highly enough of Saw creators Leigh Whannell and James Wan, but this movie in the horror genre is in a whole other ballpark. I had been wanting to see this movie since the day it came out but I could never rouse any of my friends to locate that spine and see it with me. So I sat down with my girlfriend and watched it instead. I was rather surprised with my final impressions.

The movie starts out like any other haunted house film. Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) are loving parents of three children: one baby girl and two

Old decrepit ladies scare people, right?

young boys. Foster (Andrew Astor) is their other son, but they don’t care about him. He gets one scene. The son they do care about is Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Some strange things are going on in the house, and one day Dalton decides he’s got some explorin’ to do. He climbs up into the attic and tries to turn on the light. He fails, falls off the ladder, and screams the most unconvincing scream you could ever think of. Long story short, he ends up in a coma that is just actually an extended slumber.

A dad in peril.

Here’s where things get good. Renai is being constantly bombarded by evil spirits and apparitions that appear to her and freak her right the hell out. Josh, the high school teacher husband, avoids his comatose son and the evilness in the house at all costs. He wants his son to be okay, but the months drag on (meanwhile their other son is nonexistent. The baby girl gets more face time than he does…) He can’t handle it and the wife is becoming fed up.

With some evil man presence being the last straw, the family moves out into another house, only to experience the haunting all over again. So what could it be? It must be something…

I like the direction that Leigh Whannell was taking this movie, despite the deliverance onscreen. James Wan did a good job of some scary pacing and using shadows to his advantage. The scene everybody talks about? If I had been in the

Save us, Lin Shaye!

theater, I may have jumped. The scaryness aspect that sold me though was the use of shadows and tricks on the eyes. Many times in the film, and everyone has experienced this, you see things in the shadows that are tricking your mind. A coat on a chair in the right light looks like a menacing sitting figure. A space behind a door hides demons. All that sorta thing. James Wan played that up so well that the main focus of the camera wasn’t even on these things. It left images for your mind to wander over and think, “Wait a second, didn’t the camera just miss that evil demon there in the corner?” That’s a first for a film I’ve seen.

Classic Leigh Whannell hipster move.

After this haunted house first half, comes the strange second half. In a strange way to explain away these occurrences, the family employs the help of a psychic who talks with the other side (Elise Ranier played by Lin Shaye). With her gas mask in hand and Specs (Leigh Whannell) by her side, it’s only a matter of time before the movie gets into exorcism and spectral beings. People with fears of 50’s ghosts in proper attire, beware.

I really felt the movie was carried a lot by the music it employed. There were plenty of scenes that were enhanced by the shrill violins and pulse pounding beat. Hell, I was scared of the movie’s use of Tiptoe Through the Tulips. That song and the voice it is sung in are freaky. But, at other times, the music came across as overdramatic and ruined the seconds after the scary moment happened with this over the top dramatic piece. You have to know when to play your hand.

The demon as it should have been.

What really ruined the movie wasn’t the reveal of the main monster, but the constant use of him. What is not seen as much is more frightening than what is. To describe the demon and then see him cheesily chasing the young boy through the house is just the kind of B-rated to C-rated antics that caught this movie so much flack. And the ending as well. Just when you didn’t want another twist, they throw you back in.

The acting was 50/50. I am a huge fan of Patrick Wilson, have been since I saw him in Watchmen. He has an understated way of acting that comes off as truthful. In this movie I considered him one of the best, and it showed in his dad-like ways and regretful attitude towards the end. Rose Byrne could have been better. I’ve been hesitant about her acting since Troy, and maybe that was right to doubt… Ty Simpkins, the main plot point of the movie does not know how to sell

GTFO, Barbara Hershey…

acting. Especially not a horror movie. He made it more comical. Pretty unremarkable. Also, get Barbara Hershey out of these dark thrillers. She may have had a heyday in films, but it has past. And these movies (I’m including Black Swan) are not meant for her. It needs to stop.

So with all these mixes of good scares and ample acting with a strange ending leads to an overall disappointing reaction from me about this movie. My girlfriend especially was disappointed. Sad. I’ll give this movie an A for effort, but when it comes to an actual rating, it’s pretty average. 6.1 out of 10.


Immortals: My First 3D Experience

If you ever feel like having a stick of dynamite stuffed in your ear and detonated, see this movie. It won’t just blow your mind, it will blow your head off. From the same producers that brought you 300, here comes a slightly updated version. Based on the mythology of Theseus and the gods, comes an epic tale of one man versus a league of Hyperion’s horde. Combine the zero to hero life of Hercules with Theseus’ humble peasant background and subtract 299 troops and you have Immortals. Here’s the drawback to my plan. I saw this the day it came out and I was pumped. My birthday movie (Nov. 12th) and The 11.11.11 date release was epic. But… it was only in 3-D. Major crisis could not be averted.

And here is where I gripe about 3-D. There are logical reasons that Hollywood won’t acknowledge about the flaws of 3-D because of how much money it is unfortunately raking in. First of all, coming from generations upon generations (basically back to the 1900’s) who have enjoyed and watched films, these 3-D films look fake. The cheesy effect of things coming out at you from a film (i.e. a bow or sword) takes you out of the movie watching experience. Being constantly conscious of things popping out at you at all

The questing group. Nice.

moments of the film puts it in a realm of disbelief about what is being portrayed onscreen. The headaches it creates from an unprepared audience (and from those who must wear glasses beneath glasses, *ahem* me) and the cost headache it creates is just too much. And everything, even movies that hold next to no 3-D value/scenes, are released for the sake of money. That shouldn’t be what the film industry is about, but, alas, it is.

So, let’s talk about every single good thing about this movie, and then I’ll give you my one problem with the movie. Okay, here we go.

Henry Cavill as Theseus. Check out that butt-chin.

Alright, Henry Cavill as Theseus. In an action film, I, for the most part, forgive the acting of those involved. For most who view these movies, they know no Oscars are coming its way and its for the entertainment value. A movie that sticks to its genre/guns is something I truly appreciate. And Henry Cavill, a relative newcomer to films (first big thing, The Count of Monte Cristo, other notables, Tristian and Isolde and The Tudors) performs in what I would consider an above average performance. Not on par with King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) but a similar gusto. He may come from Jersey (the original) but that doesn’t make him a horrible person, this English bred actor delivers and will hopefully deliver in Zack Snyder’s new Superman film, Man of Steel. I really wish these superhero movies would stop though…

Alright, here’s something that might surprise you. I’m a big Stephen Dorff fan. This dude, despite starring more often in action films and such below the Oscar radar, he has won my affection. Let’s talk Blade. Deacon Frost, the head of the vampires. Witty and evil as most comic book villains should be, Stephen Dorff delivers as the best villain in that series. Luke Goss in the second, a close second. Feardotcom, another good one. A little bit of an underrated horror film, this held some of the inspiration for the Saw series if I’m not mistaken. Throw in World Trade Center and Public Enemies, and you have a character actor with some pizzaz. As Stavros, the longest surviving of Theseus’ homies, the comic relief emanates from him.

Stephen Dorff. What a master.

We got Freida Pinto for the sex appeal. I gotta warn you, a 3-D nude ass in your face is something quite strange. With a similar sex scene to 300 with the plot device of The Scorpion King (let’s see who gets that), this scene had me laughing because of how uncomfortably cheesy it was. Here’s someone I wasn’t familiar with. Luke Evans as Zeus. He played Apollo in Clash of the Titans (ironic, and also a sad film) and was recently a very similarly looking character in The Three Musketeers. I am looking forward to the new Hobbit film, something it seems Evans will have a small part in. So, as Zeus, Luke Evans delivers a very intense character who can theatrically deliver lines. Probably picked more for his youth than skill, I wasn’t really disappointed at all. (All the Greek gods are supposed to be redonkulously good looking, right?)

All of the Greek gods: Zeus, Ares (Daniel Sharman), Athena (Isabel Lucas, niceee), and Poseidon (Kellan Lutz) were all good in their roles. Chiseled bodys of gods (reminds me of 300…) and a brisk demeanor places them above the mortals. And then there’s the special effects. The fight scenes were brutal. Just check out Ares taking out all of those slave overlords like Gallagher. The spear throw and the bow use is pretty ridiculous. These surge of films (Troy, 300, and now Immortals) are really bringing back the badassness of the spear. Combine this with the most important factor, the director. Tarsem Singh is the amazing visual director of two amazing films, The Cell and The Fall. Especially in The Fall, I can really see the resonance this movie holds with its director’s predecessors. Check those movies out if you haven’t already.

Damn you, King Rourke.

Alright, the downfall of this film. Two words. King Hyperion. Also, and more importantly, Mickey Rourke. This Disney named fool needs to stay in obscurity and out of films. The person he has become because of the drugs and addiction has created a monster. I didn’t like him in Sin City, The Wrestler, or Iron Man 2. The only movie I like him is is Diner from way back in 1982. Back when he was a real person and not a shell of the man he is now. It’s quite a sad thing. Oh well, like all actors, he will fall someday.

With a basic, easy to follow plot of the quest, this movie creates amazing landscapes for fight scenes (including the Gate of Mordor) and a fight scene towards the end with the locked away Titans that will blow you away. Created after so many years, it was almost too long of a lull between Immortals and 300. This movie needed to happen and it delivered. Not exactly a copy off of 300, but well worth the watch. Just avoid the 3-D and you’ll be fine. Maybe even skip over the mind-addled mumblings of Rourke while he eats his nuts, but we’ll see. This movie deserves a 8.4 out of 10.

This scene was ridic.

 


The Legend of Awesomest Maximus

So I happened to catch this National Lampoon flick on Comedy Central and tuned in and out during the film. I found some parts funny and really wanted to catch the whole, uninterrupted, uncensored movie all at once. And let me just tell you why the idea to watch this C-rated comedy even crossed my mind. Me and my friends are big fans of spoof movies. We are just as big of fans of 300 and Troy. So I had to check this movie out. Why? It combines a plot that makes fun of BOTH.

Now the events are slightly jumbled and there’s not necessarily a dividing line between what parts are making fun of

I gotta say, Orlando was quite the hilarious character in this film.

which movies, but here’s the gist. Awesomest Maximus (Will Sasso, making fun of a bumbling Leonidas from 300) is also a married member of the House of Troy. (A little Troy for you there.) With their incredible strength pitted against the strength of Greece and their King Erotic (Khary Payton, spoofing on Xerces. Little tid bit, Khary Payton does voices and in fact does the voice for Cyborg of Teen Titans.) King Erotic’s best warrior Testiclees (Ian Ziering spoofing on Achilles) in search of fame and glory, battles anyone in his way. And the Troy King’s (Rip Torn) son, Orlando (Gary Lundy spoofing on Paris, played by Orlando Bloom, ironically) is gay.

Workaholics is my shizzzzz.

So what happens? Well, if you’ve seen Troy, then you may know. Awesomest and Orlando travel to Greece to make peace with King Erotic and, in doing so,  Orlando, although gayer than every Broadway musical ever made, steals the King’s wife Hottessa (Kristanna Loken spoofing on Helen), and they escape to Troy. With the ensuing battles and scenes of pure raunchy comedy, elements of Troy, 300, and even Gladiator are interspersed. What’s great about this is that these scenes touch on the funniest and cheesiest parts of Troy and 300 and make quite the mockery of them. I rather enjoyed it and found it to be quite the watch.

There was nothing really remarkable about the movie, because, as expected, it was a low budget

Thank you Will Sasso for a comedic spoof of Gladiator proportions.

nude/sex joke/raunchy romp film. I mean, come on, there are boat scenes with absolutely nothing but the bare minimum and blue painted backgrounds. But that’s not the point of the film. And although this movie may take many parts that were already spoofed in Meet the Spartans, they take a slightly different approach on those scenes. Without the big budget and the ability to show breasts, this movie takes sex jokes to the extreme. Include the Workaholics cast and Tony Cox, the black midget, and you have a comedy spoof worth at least one watch. So check it out. 5.2 out of 10, purely for spoof power.

 


Tron: Legacy

So, as it was described to me, Tron: Legacy is “an orgasm of light and sound”. I’d tend to agree. Knowing next to nothing about Tron other than what I know from Kingdom Hearts II (Kingdom Hearts fans know what I’m talking about), I don’t know how thorough I will be in credibly reviewing this movie. But I’d love to throw in my two cents here.

So from what I got through a first watch of this movie: Sam Flynn is the son of Kevin Flynn, the guy who created this digital world back in the 1980’s.His goal was to create a sort of free space for programs and such to grow in a free grid. (What I kind of thought of it as was like the Internet. Free and you can get anything off of it.) But one day, when Sam was a young’in, Kevin Flynn promised him another game of Tron or something or other, and never came back. 20 years later or so, Sam is on a mission to make his father’s company free from greedy businessmen, and what he stumbles upon is the world his father created. But things are a bit different.

Upon entering the grid, Sam is entered into the games, and these games kill you. It’s not like how steroids kill you, it’s more like how Murderball could kill a

Sam Flynn. He has a Bugatti.

person not in a wheelchair. By playing these games, Sam discovers Clu, the alternate grid-ego that his father created to help him create the cyber world he’s in now. And he’s gone completely evil. (Also, he’s completely digitally animated. Think Beowulf, the newest version.) And unfortunately, so has Tron. And these two have taken over the cybernetic world and have destroyed the one thing that came about from Kevin’s creation. *Secret* Don’t wanna spoil it.

So yeah, as some critics might say, it was a bit flimsy on the plot. I say, what do you expect from a PG Disney movie. No, it’s not necessarily geared towards children. But older children can appreciate this movie, knowing nothing about the movie that came out 20 years before they were born. You have to look at the demographic and the time it was created in. (I don’t feel like critics ever take that into account. Just harshly compare it to the classics.) At face value, I’d take this film to be quite visually pleasing. The lights and visual effects that went into this movie give it a very sleek and appealing look. And to accompany this? Daft Punk. These guys were great in the creation of this soundtrack, and coincidentally make a cameo appearance as the two masked DJs in the in Zeus’s club.

Acting wise? Some big acting chops are brought to the table in this film. Of course we have Jeff

Well that's certainly a change...

Bridges as Kevin Flynn/Clu, reclaiming his original role in the Tron film. There’s also Garrett Hedlund who plays Sam Flynn, the bad boy hacker and heir to his father’s company. I’ve seen Garrett Hedlund in other movies (Troy, Four Brothers, Eragon) and now I realize he’s an actor who is typecast in certain roles. Either the bad boy or a minor character, I feel as if he might/might not break out of these roles. (I haven’t/won’t see Country Strong, but that’s a change of pace, right?) Olivia Wilde plays Quorra, nothing special there (not a big fan).

And then there are the special appearances. Bruce Boxleitner plays Tron, one of the biggest badasses that makes me want to see the original. Michael Sheen makes an amazing appearance as the slightly flamboyant and hilarious Zeus, the club host with the most. I love how much work Michael Sheen gets ever since he was in Underworld, and I think it’s really great how much range he has. Oh, and really, don’t forget Cillian Murphy, the badass Scarecrow back to strike again as always, performing amazing role after amazing role. I love his work and, even in the smallest part, I feel he never lets me down.

Michael Sheen. Master.

So I’d have to say that first time director Joseph Kosinski did quite a nice job on touching up and updating the Tron movie that so many came to love in the 1980’s. The lights, the sound, the actors all came together for one nice 2 hour thrill ride that was quite entertaining to watch. And if it was nothing more than entertainment, not a tribute to the Tron “legacy” at all, then I apologize to all you diehard Tron fans out there. Sorry to disappoint. But I wasn’t disappointed. 7.3 out of 10.