Archive for March, 2011

Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Paul (2011)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2011 by chainsawcheerleader

Directed by: Greg Mottola

Written by: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver, Blythe Danner, John Carroll Lynch, David Koechner, Jess Plemons, Jeffrey Tambor, Luke Jackson, Paula LaBaredas, Justin Reed, Steven Spielberg, Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker

Genre: sci-fi, comedy, adventure

 

Graeme Willy: What’s the matter, Clive?
Clive Gollings: There is an alien in the kitchen making bagels and coffee.
Graeme Willy: Did you want tea?
Clive Gollings: No, I don’t want tea!
Graeme Willy: Right, because tea is weird in America.

 

The fanboy, is a deeply devoted and often bias being that has dedicated him or herself  to an interest. Whether it be science or science fiction, there are few audiences that are more difficult to please then the fanboy. It is only when the fanboy writes his/her own script and is able to produce a film that all fanboys may come together and share a laugh that is solely understood by them. The film Paul (2011) is a movie made by fanboys, about fanboys, and for fanboys. Often drawing from classic films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indian Jones, and Star Wars, Paul is seen as a love letter to Steven Spielberg. This feel good buddy movie plays for laughs but underneath the comedy runs a jab at homophobia and extreme Christianity in America.

Paul follows Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), two sci-fi nerds, as they travel about America on a pilgrimage to Comic-Con and the most infamous UFO hot spots. Traveling by RV, the two set out on their road trip believing they are following their dream of visiting all locations of extraterrestrial importance.  After crossing paths with two rednecks, Graeme and Clive flee only to cross paths with Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), an alien on the run from federal agents.  In desperate need of their help, Paul convinces Graeme and Clive to help him escape. Fumbling their way through America, the trio are aided by Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig), a Creationist Christian that they have accidentally kidnapped.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost take the proven movie formula of the road trip and restructure the genre to fit to their science fiction tastes. While most road trip films rely on the same routine to produce laughs, Paul takes its time in developing its characters and why the audience should not only find them funny but also likeable.  Paul does rely on fart joke type humor but Pegg and Frost have personalized the comedy by inserting their own brand of wit. This act helps keep the film within the fanboy realm without straying from its key audience.  Pegg and Frost have created a film that is fast paced, moving quickly from scene to scene. Not only do they proved laughs but a dramatic and emotional edge to their well-written script. After providing a poignant scene that is needed to draw the audience in, the heaviness of the moment is quickly shifted by a perfectly timed curse word or comedic gag. It is only at  the climax of the film does the movie become suddenly dark. It is during this time that the tone of the film shifts and no longer drives for laughs. While the scene is heavy for a comedy it is appropriate. There are very few ways to end a movie about an alien that fit not only within the scope of the fanboy realm but also within the sci-fi genre itself. Pegg and Frost are able to make scenes such as this and those with humor work because it is obvious that they are truly enjoying themselves. The duo come across as believing in the plot and what they are creating. The chemistry between the two only strengthens the believability of their roles as best friends.  Aside from their comedic and acting ability, Pegg and Frost offer a film that is unpredictable and leaves the audience surprised when key aspects of the storyline are finally revealed.

Seth Rogan once again plays the fat stoner slacker as Paul. The stoner, ultimately his trade mark, Rogan is the perfect choice to voice the CGI created alien. It is important to remember that Paul has been stranded in American for the last fifty years and Rogan’s voice completely portrays an Americanized stereotype, overweight and all consuming. While comedy is the one genre that is well suited for Rogan, it has type casted him in a single role. Often and mostly playing the stoner, Rogan leaves his audience to wonder if there is more to the actor than being high. It is important that Rogan finds the opportunity to expand upon his roles or his career will be short lived. It is no longer funny and rather sad when the stoner ages out of his target audience and continues to play that role as a middle aged adult.

A highlight of Paul is the limited use of CGI. The only noticeable use of CGI is Paul but that is clearly obvious due to the fact that currently there are no pot smoking aliens walking about in the public, at least that we know of. It is a pleasure to see how well Paul was created and it is his appearance that demonstrates the time and dedication put into this film. From the texture of his skin to his third eyelid, Paul is an excellent example of the talent of his creators.

There is more to the alien, Paul then just the creation of him. Paul is a jokester with a crude sense of humor. He is more E.T. than Predator and bonds with his human companions by chatting about the mysteries of the universe. While utterly aware of the reaction his appearance brings to humans, Paul appears worn out from the whole idea that he is a space man and how people react to it. At the heart of his character, Paul simply craves conversation and the experience that good friends bring about. The emotional and very human side of Paul is not used for laughs but respected. Of all the characters within the film, Paul is the only one that fits better within society then that of his human companions. While Graeme and Clive have a difficult time interacting with society outside of Comic-Con and the science fiction genre and Ruth sees the world as defined by her religion, Paul sees the world beyond his comforts and in its entirety. In the end, it is a nonhuman that shows Graeme, Clive, and Ruth how to live outside of their comfort zone and in society.

Paul plays respectfully to the fanboy with in-jokes. The idea of the inside joke is based on humor that only a select social group understands or can identify within their community.  An inside joke uses humor to bring together a community at the expense of outsiders.  The power of the inside joke is that only a select few will have knowledge that others do not. The issue with this is that it further separates those who laugh at it. This is an issue due to the fact that the fanboy is already social separate from the rest of society. To be the only one or one of a very few to laugh aloud within a movie theater is a lonely feeling knowing that no one else knows or understands why you find something funny. Paul thrives on the in-joke. Ranging from the obvious to the obscure, the jokes are written so well that those who do not understand it will not feel like they are missing in on a laugh. A few examples of the in-jokes that Paul provides are the use of the Wilhelm Scream during a random moment that accompanied no action, upon entering a bar a western band is playing cantina music from Star Wars, Graeme and Clive reenact the fight between Gorn and Caption Kirk from Star Trek, and the warehouse scene from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Other in-jokes center around the comic book The Boys, Karate Kid, and Star Trek: Generations.

There is a deeper and darker side to Paul. While focusing on laughs, Paul questions two issues that seem very American. This satirical look at America points toward gods, guns, and the idea that anyone who is different must be gay. While not bashing religion, Wigg’s character Ruth, is a Creationist Christian and only begins to question her beliefs once she meets Paul. Ruth initially does not think that Paul is real due to the fact that she believes that God created the Earth and man in his image. After Paul gives Ruth the knowledge of the universe does she question everything that has been told to her. While trying to find the answers to her know many questions, Ruth states that since there is no God that she can be sexual promiscuous because there is no sin. After spontaneously kissing and then groping Graeme’s privates, Graeme stops her and explains to her the idea of dignity without God. Aside from the concept of knowledge verses God, Paul takes on America’s idea and behavior toward homosexuality. Several scenes occur where Graeme and Clive’s sexuality is questioned. With every wink, wink, nudge, nudge that questioning parties give Graeme and Clive, they are met with the truth that the two are often oblivious to the fact that in America their close friendship is seen as gay. One example of this is when Paul goes on to make physical gay sex references and Clive does not understand his actions. A second example occurs after Graeme and Clive believe they are being chased by red necks who think they are gay. As they speed away Clive blurts out that what is happening is like the defining moment in the movie Deliverance and states that the red necks are going to rape them and then break their arms. Graeme replies to this by saying that he doesn’t want his arms broken. By not saying that he does not want to engage in gay sex, Graeme is implying that there is nothing wrong with two men making love. Pegg and Frost joke about homophobia in America with a respectful tone. While those within the film who instigate the question of the friends being gay are written to demonstrate that these are not nice people. Like jokes about blondes or the overweight, gay jokes are easy jabs at a group of people. The gay joke is an uncreative fall back when the writer cannot think of something funnier to write. This, thankfully, does not seem to be the case for Pegg and Frost. While handling the sensitive issue, Pegg and Frost are poking fun at those who are homophobic and not those who are gay. With such a focus on extreme Christianity and homophobia this leads one to question if this is how the rest of the world views America. Pegg and Frost are English and see America from a different point of view then that of an American. Paul is an opportunity to see America through the eyes of the world. It is a frightening view if hate takes center stage.

Paul is a valentine to fellow fanboys. While its humor is universal and appeals to a mass audience, its true purpose is to bask in all things sci-fi. Those who do not understand the in-jokes will enjoy Paul but those who recognize the many references in almost every spoken line and inch of scenery, will find a deeper joy that Paul brings. Ultimately sentimental and at times simply sweet, Paul embraces its unadulterated affection for its love of geekdom.

Paul receives an 8 out of 10

Tigris Rose’s Indiana Jones Movie Marathon Part IV: Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2011 by tigrisrose

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls (2008)
Director: Steven Spielburg
Stars: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf

It’s time we finished the Indiana Jones movie marathon, and unfortunately the series does not end on a high note. For the most dedicated of Jones fans you may be a little disappointed. For the most part until the last 20 minutes or so the movie isn’t too bad. But it isn’t as good or as strong as the previous three movies.

I think the first thing I should say is that it was a weak attempted to make this movie, and for Lucas to believe and choose to do a fourth Indy installment because he didn’t think that he’d have time to finish the last trilogy of Star Wars. Though I think they tried to change it up a little I think they made the movie for the wrong reasons.

The casting was off in this movie than what it was in the last three. Two they got right was Harrison Ford and Karen Allen reprising their roles as Indy and Marion. (We last saw Marion in the “Raiders” movie, a former flame of Indy’s for those not paying attention.) The rest of the cast is a little shaky. Of course this movie is over a decade from the story line from “Crusade.” So both Henry Jones Sr. and Marcus have both passed away, you’ll see tidbits in the movie confirming those rumors if you pay attention. On the good guy side you have John Hurt (best known in this generation as Dr. Broom from Hellboy, Mr. Ollivander from Harry Potter, or Sutler from V for Vedetta) playing Professor Oxley or Ox as Indy and Mutt calls him, until the end of the movie Ox is a deranged loony bird trying to help Indy and fix what has been done with the skulls. And you have Shia LaBeouf playing Mutt Williams, Marion’s son who you guest it is just old enough to be Indy’s son from the first movie. I think that LaBeouf is an overrated actor, who in my opinion didn’t fit the role to be a Jones. He didn’t have the drive like the first two Jones’ boys.

Now on to the bad guys. Of course this movie timeline is loosed basely during the Cold War era, so of course we trade the fallen Nazis for Russian agents. Led by Irina Spalko, a KGB operative with psychic powers played by Cate Blanchett who rocks a terrible look, and has an awful accent. Probably one of the worse Jones girl out of the whole franchise. So we are already to a bad start with mediocre at best villains.

The movie starts off well as Indy is taken to Area 51, which is ironic because that is were the first movie ends with the Ark. Indy and his friend Mac were taken to find a skull they found 10 years prior, and the KGB force Indy to locate it so they can take it. Keep in mind this is during the McCarthy era so there will be repercussions for helping the Russians. Basically he gets kicked out of teaching. This also brings Indy pun #1, as the car stops at Area 51 Indy’s hat falls out of the car, but they pull him out of the truck and he picks up his hat in the shadows. I hate how he escapes from the KGB and ends up in a fall out base. It was terrible.

Now Mutt, Indy and Marion’s kid played by Shia LaBeouf is a greaser. And for those who don’t know what that is, watch the musical Grease…Please! Mutt on top of being a greaser is formerly uneducated, as he never finished school. At first Indy thought that endearing because Mutt was living his life, and then he found out it was his kid and changed his mind. Now Indy and Mutt after their first meeting get chased by the KGB through campus decapitating Marcus’ statue in the quad. Mutt thinks its funny, and of course Indy doesn’t.

Now throughout most of the movie its pretty good as far as the hunt for Marion, Ox, and the skull is concerned. There isn’t too much freaky supernatural mojo till a little later on in the movie when they catch up with the KGB that has Marion. So the boys first stop is in Peru, and they are looking for clues that will lead them to Ox and the skull. Mutt and Indy come to a cemetery were they run into these cheesy Mayan ninja warriors with skull masks. It freaks Mutt out, but Indy was cool and old schools Mutt as they make it through traps and secret passages in underground passage to a crystal skull.

Of course when they come out Mac and the KGB was waiting for them and took them to the KGB camp were Marion and Ox were. Were they hint were the skulls came from. ((Hint Area 51)) Of course like every movie Indy cares more about the hunt than the enemy. So he ends up helping the KGB on top of finding the pieces of the puzzle. Indy pun #2 comes in during their first attempt to escape, which is also were Marion drops the bomb on Indy telling him that Mutt is his son, Henry Jones the III. Jones yells at her why didn’t you make him finish school. But the pun is Indy and Marion fall into a sand trap and to get Indy Mutt throws a snake at him.

So starts the daddy issues, which is a reoccurring thing with the Jones boys. As they start the big fight scene, which is a little disappointing. Like every Jones movie its one man against 20 bad guys. But they are racing through the jungle to the temple. Which is the bad CGI, to start off with they are driving cars and U boats through the jungle. Second the sword fight between Mutt and Spalko was terrible. Marion almost gets taken out by a machine gun. Mutt goes swinging through the trees like George of the Jungle. And after getting away from some fire ants the good guy crew in a u-boat takes a swan dive from the cliffs and down some waterfalls to the temple. ((Now Indy does loose his hat for a second time, but retrieves it from an ant hill.))

Now as we finish out our movie, we find out the origin and resolve of crystal skulls. Not to give away all the spoilers, but Ox goes back to normal, Spalko gets hers, the aliens go home, plus Indy and Marion get a happier ever after.

One of the problems I have with this movie is that it looks fake. The appeal of the other three movies made the scenery look real or was real. This movie looks as though it was either in a sound stage or CGI. Which I am not a fan of. So this movie isn’t as visually appealing as the last three. The temple was terrible, the obstacles trivial, and the lack of a great villain was disappointing.

Second thing the fight scenes were so bad. And Harrison Ford is getting a little too old for Jones’ stunts. He does make some comical blunders during stunts but a little out of shape for this movie.

I was so happy that the hat didn’t get passed down to Mutt at the end of the movie. It would have so killed the movie for me entirely if Mutt inherited the hat to become Indiana Jones. I have to give this movie a C. I didn’t hate it, and I can watch it every now and again. But I can’t watch it over and over like I can the other three. It is entirely the weakest of the franchise, even more so than the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (TV Series from the early 90‘s.) It is a decent action/supernatural film, but a bad Indiana Jones film.

Sorry we have to end our Indiana Jones movie marathon on such a sour note. But stay tuned movie geeks and we will see what I come up with next.

Tigris Rose’s Review of The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2011 by tigrisrose

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010)
Director: Mike Newell
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Ben Kingsley.

I was very skeptical about watching this movie in the first place. I love the “Prince of Persia” video games, when I heard that they were making a movie around I was ok could be fun. I heard Disney was going to do it, so I thought hey they have the budget for a great movie. Jake Gyllenhaal will play the prince, oh you got to be kidding me.

But I happened to be bored today, so I watched it. I am not sure about all of the casting choices. Jake Gyllenhaal, buffed up and got medieval sexy for the this movie. Which didn’t make it so bad. He isn’t what I would considered the best choice, but he wasn’t bad. Gemma Arterton who plays Princess Tamina did a good job portraying the character she was witty, and sarcastic just like in the game. The problems I see with Gemma Arterton, she’s only been acting on the big time for about 4 years, but her acting and her accent, even her looks reminds me of Rachel Weisz especially in this movie.

But Ben Kingsley is without a doubt the perfect actor to play the brother of the king, and the bad guy. Who doesn’t love Ben Kingsley as the bad guy. Probably a great gifted actor but with a very minor role was Alfred Molina who plays Sheik Amar, a rough cut, anti-capitalist entrepreneur who comes in a twist role trying to bring Dastan back to the royal family for trial of the king’s death. But eventually helps Dastan in the final battle.

Even though Newell directed the movie it is technically a Jerry Bruckheimer film as he was the producer. For those of you who have seen the movie, that little bit of trivia shouldn’t shock anyone. Because as you watch it you see pieces were Bruckheimer put his hands in the cookie jar. Of course Bruckheimer is well known for the countless TV series, plus a handful of movies like the National Treasure movies with Nick Cage, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, and of course who can forget the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

For any video game geek such as myself, the “Prince of Persia” franchise spans 20 years and counting releasing its first game in 1989 as a computer game. Seriously who didn’t play this game on a PC as a kid. Of course over the years the franchise expanded into other gaming systems including Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. The Sands of Time series which I think is the most popular since the original game from 89’ is what this movie is based off of… very loosely!

I will say flat out if you are a fan of the video games and watch this movie you will be ranting like I did. As I said it is very very loosely based, and if you are a fan, you’ll be storylined disappointed. However despite the lack of accuracy of the game storyline, it is a good movie. Its got great action scenes, some hilarity in the slow down, and some fairly decent acting.

I think they did the best they could to making it an interesting movie, being able to connect some dots throughout the movie, but the storyline and relationships between the characters were not close to the video game. For example the “Prince” technically didn’t have a name, now his name is Dastan in the movie, and he was adopted by the king despite have two sons of his own anyway. The king has a brother played by Ben Kingsley, and the two of them rule all of Persia strong as the sword because they rule together as a family. So instead of a Vizier (adviser) like in the video games there is a brother who betrays the family.

Basically the best way I know how to describe the story line without giving spoilers is this. The video game of the Sands of Time is like a R rated version of Disney’s Aladdin. Evil advisors trying to destroy and take over the world and gets stopped by a street rat. Similar story lines. The Movie the Sands of Time is like Shakespeare’s Hamlet without the confusing language barrier. Brother kills brother, tries to take the throne but there are three sons in his way, so he has to go back in time to his childhood to allow an event kill his brother so his nephews are never born.

Even though I love the video game and I‘ve played nearly every expansion of the franchise, I have to put to put my gamer bias to the side and make a rational decision of how good the movie really is.

I can in good conscious give this movie a solid B. Pros: Disney, Bruckheimer, and Newell made a great action movie with some kick ass stunts and special effects. Gave us a movie were Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t look or act like a pussy. And Ben Kingsley, that is self-explanatory.

Cons: Gave us the traditional Disney “happy ending.” Guy gets the girls, becomes a hero and lives happily ever after. *COUGH “BS” COUGH* Some of the side stories such as that with Molina’s Character was a little weak. Plus there was a few cheesy scenes between the brothers.

On a side note, so totally was not accurate to the games…I am a big stickler for accuracy that is why I love the Lord of the Rings movies better than Harry Potters. Plus I was waiting for some kind of sign, wanted or not, that there could be a sequel in the back of someone’s mind. Because that would have made up for everything they left out of the movie. Some kind of shadow or some kind of dream waking up thingy that points that the story isn’t over in an Easter egg after the credits or something! Just like in the video game, because those of us who know the series knows what’s coming next, because using the sands is a big no-no. So there should have been something, that everyone could see that there was something coming, it would have added to the suspense of the possibility that maybe, just maybe they didn’t screw up the series too badly. (story line wise of course.)

I will get off my soap box for now, like I said overall good action film worth seeing if you can put your gamer knowledge of how the story actually goes to the side. Stay tuned I will be back with my last review  for the Indiana Jones Movie Marathon.

Dub Cee Reviews: Daybreakers (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2011 by Dub Cee

 

In more and more modern day vampire stories, they tend to use the concept of a Vampire takeover of the Human world and some human…or half-human, fights to stop them. It makes for a fun story and usually works pretty well. “Daybreakers” takes this idea to the next phase where Vampire’s are in total control and humans are all but extinct. How does this work out? Keep reading!

Daybreakers stars a personal favorite of mine, Ethan Hawke as Edward Dalton. He is a scientist trying to find a alternative to human blood to sustain the Vampire population. See, the humans have been hunted down to where less than 5% of the population remains. The vampires, now starving, are regressing into true bat form and turning totally feral. Vampires are literally feeding on themselves which hastens the turn process.

Dalton, refuses to drink human blood and lives off the blood of various animals but even that is becoming increasingly rare and he is starting to show signs of regressing. His brother Frankie (Michael Dorman) is a vampire solider contracted to hunt down the last remaining humans so their blood can be harvested and distributed to the remaining vampire population. We find out that Edward never wanted to be a vampire and was turned by Frankie who did not want to see his brother killed by the incoming horde.

One night Hawke is in a car wreck and finds out the people in the other car are a small handful of humans. Hawke hides them in this car and points the police in the wrong direction allowing the humans led by Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan) to escape. A few nights later Bennett shows up in Dalton’s apartment saying she and the other humans have a cure but need his help to make it work. This is how we meet Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormack (Willem Dafoe) who is a “cured” vampire. He has the bite marks but can walk in the daylight and has a heartbeat, which is supposed to be impossible if you are a vampire. He tells his story to Dalton who tries to recreate the circumstances surrounding Cormac’s cure.

For me the highlight performance was actually Sam Neill as Charles Bromley, who is the head of the main blood harvesting corporation and is Dalton’s employer. You can tell that Neill was really enjoying being the manipulative bastard.

And overall, that acting is very solid in the film. I like the fact they took a common idea of the Vampire take over and took it to the next level. I mean, vampires waking up and going to work and getting a cup of coffee on their way was just very cool to me. I left out quite a bit in terms of the story as I thought the actual cure was another unique idea and sets up for a interesting climatic scene. That said, I was a little disappointed with the last half hour of the movie. It was full of so many good and different concepts that to end it with a big shootout and flying limbs was a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice big blowout to end a story but this movie deserved a little bit better in my honest opinion.

Overall, the pacing was great, the characters were interesting, the story was different, and the cure was great.

Final Grade: B

Tigris Rose’s Indiana Jones Movie Marathon Part III: Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2011 by tigrisrose

Tigirs Rose’s Indiana Jones Movie Marathon Part III: Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

It’s now time for Indiana Jones Movie Marathon Part III… “The Last Crusade.” Probably one of my favorites because you get a double dose of Jones. That’s right ladies a double dose. Dr. Henry Jones Sr. comes into play as he is in trouble after being taken hostage by the Nazis in his efforts to locate his white whale.

Now Lucas and Speilburg does a great job at keeping a great cast. Ford is back to reprise his role as Indiana Jones. Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies are back from “Raiders” to reprise their roles as Marcus Broady and Sallah. The protagonist cast gains a great cast member with a real story tease as Sean Connery comes in as Dr. Henry Jones Sr. (Epic Awesome!) or Attila the Professor as Indy puts it.

For every great protagonist there has to be a great antagonist, otherwise the story would just suck! Three years after his adventures with the Ark, and the brink of WWII we have the Nazis back in to play in this third installment. The Nazis are being led by Walter Donovan played by Julian Glover, an American socialite who is looking for the Holy Grail for the soul purpose of man’s life long pursuit for immortality. To his left General Vogel, played by Michael Byrne, a Nazi soldier who’s role I more violent, raw, and unemotional. And to the right the beautiful Dr. Elsa Schneider played by Alison Doody, probably the hottest of the Jones love interests. An Austrian who gets mixed up with the wrong side of the war who has somewhat of a good heart as she does fall in love with Jones. But her greed for the Grail and her loyalty to the Third Reich makes this two faced vixen so much trouble.

I love how the movie starts. The scene that takes you back to Indy’s teen years and seeing the man that he would portray till the end. Indy comes across a group digging out in the middle of the desert as he and his scout troupe are out exploring. Indy takes a relic the Cross of Noranada from the men and the chase begins.

It leads to the group chasing Indy on a circus train. As Indy tries to get the drop on them, he almost becomes a eunuch because of an angry rhino. You also find out just how Indy got his phobia of snakes. And how an interaction with a circus lion made Indy take up a whip. Low and behold after sometime Indy escapes with the cross in one piece with the help of some magic. He runs all the way home to tell his father who ignores him because he’s working on his white whale. The sheriff shows but not to help Indy. Instead he returns the cross back to the men Indy ran from. One man a strong adventurous type, with a wide brim fedora, gives Indy the words that transitions everything together… “you’ve might have lost today kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” As the man puts the fedora down on his head the scene changes to the present day as once again Indy tries to take the cross and finally succeeds. it’s a great beginning to this movie, because you finally get to find out some of the answers to why Indy is what he is.

It’s a great beginning, but otherwise it would be a pretty short movie. One of the nice things I like about the story is that its very detailed and really makes you think that finding the Cup of Christ could be so easy but it makes you feel as if this relic could actually be found today just like the Ark from “Raiders.”

The scenery is beautiful going from desert in the flashback, to Venice, the castle in Austria/German Border. I think that the book burning scene was creative, and genius to put in there because it puts the characters in real life events during a part of world history and comes face to face with Hitler. The canyon with the temple outside was beautiful but the inside was dark and terrifying.

Another thing that made this movie work was the character interaction. The heroes and villains played there parts well, especially Donovan. Two key parts: one towards the beginning as Indy and Marcus get ready to leave Donovan tells them “to trust no one.” And later in the castle tells the Jones’ that Indy didn’t take his advice. The second was when Donovan shot the elder Jones to force Indy to find the way to the grail.

The character of Marcus is funny and sad at the same time. Marcus want so badly to help find his lost friend, Dr. Jones Sr. But Marcus is a little out of his element, seriously, “Marcus got lost once in his own museum.” But he is with Indy to get in the way, and make things difficult. By getting captured by the Nazis.

As ever continuing with the running gag once again our hero loses his hat and can’t use his gun. Indy just rescued his father from the Castle and were on the run. After stealing a plane from a blimp they got shot out of the air. As the were running from danger they found themselves on some beach. Indy realizes that the place is coming back and there are no bullets in his gun. Although how a little six shooter is going to bring down a German fighter plane I will never know. But thankfully the elder Jones remembers his Charlemagne and brings the plane down with seagulls.

Indy’s hat is a little more emotional. The troupe both good and evil are in route for the for the canyon that will lead them to the grail’s temple. And the two factions clashing there is a great fight scene with a tank. (Watch it’s great.!) now Indy falls off a cliff (like I said watch it people!!!) He’s dad things he’s dead, but like magic Indy appears behind him with no hat on. (Not really magic, seriously watch the movie.) as they depart from the cliffs Indy drops to sit exhausted from the fight, after his father calls out, Indy’s hat blows right up to his feet from no where.

The movie just wouldn’t be right without actually finding what they’ve been looking for, our heroes made it to the temple, but so did the bad guys. There is a slight problem of course besides the decapitated bodies there are three tasks to complete to find the grail. To give Indy a little more incentive to find the grail, Donovan shoots the elder Jones and the only thing that can save him is the grail. So Indy goes through the challenges with the help of the elder Jones’ diary. Sr. has been researching and looking for the grail for 40 years and was the strain between his relationship with his own son. Indy makes his way to the grail and meets face to face with the last living brother of the three knights of the first crusade who has been guarding the grail for centuries. But there is a new challenge, the room is filled with dishware all deceptive as being the potental grail. Donovan who made his way to the room choose poorly and had a great tales from the crypt like death.

As the movie ends you also find out how Indy got his name. I like the Crusade segment the best because by this time I was already a fan. I love the cast, and they kept the major elements that make an Indiana Jones/1930’s adventure movie great.

I think I rate this movie higher because it brings to light what made Henry Jones a small town kid from Utah to become Indiana Jones. It answered a lot of fan questions like why he was afraid of snakes, how he got his hat and whip, and why he has daddy issues. I also love it because it brings Ford and Connery to the silver screen together, who else would make such a great father/son pair.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade gets a solid A in review and A+ in my heart. Stay tuned Jones fans I’ll be back with the final installment of the Jones Franchise next in this Indiana Jones Movie Marathon.

Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Wizards (1977)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2011 by chainsawcheerleader

Directed by: Ralph Bakshi

Written by: Ralph Bakshi

Narrated by: Susan Tyrrell

Cast: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, James Connell, Steve Gravers, Mark Hamill

Genre: animation, sci-fi adventure, fantasy

Fairy Child: Where’s Daddy? What’s he doing?
Fairy: He is guarding our home, son.
Fairy: There has been a war, and this land is lost.
Fairy Child: Why can’t we fight and win, Mommy?
Fairy: Because they have weapons and technology. We just have love.

Ralph Bakshi, a politically adult oriented animator of such films as Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, and Coonskin, was given the challenge to create a family film that did not attract controversy. Bakshi, wanting to prove that he could create a family film that had the same tone of his adult oriented animations, accepted the challenge. From this decision, Bakshi would go on to animate his first animated fantasy film and now cult classic, Wizards.

Wizards takes place two million years into the future after the Earth was annihilated by nuclear war. As the  radiation settles and allows life to prosper once again, elves, fairies, and dwarves return to the Earth. After the last of the humans has died or mutated into monsters, the true ancestors of man begin a 3,000 year celebration of peace. It is during this celebration that the queen of the fairies falls under a trance and gives birth to twin wizards, Avatar (Bob Holt) and Blackwolf (Steve Gravers). While Avatar is peaceful, his brother Blackwolf plots world domination. After being banished to live with the former humans, now mutants, Blackwolf tries but ultimately fails to capture fairy territory. Realizing that the mutants  lack passion, Blackwolf excavates ancient military sites looking for the proper incentive. Soon, Blackwolf unearths the most powerful weapon of all, propaganda. After restoring ancient technology, a 35mm projector, Blackwolf  inspires the mutants with reels of Nazi propaganda footage. With the rediscovery of Adolf Hitler, Avatar must fight his way to the castle of his brother and defeat him. An over sexualized fairy queen, a rage-filled elf, and a robot that rebels against his creator, Blackwolf, aid Avatar in his quest.

While, Wizards is considered a psychedelic figurative comment on the moral objectivity of technology and the destructive force that is propaganda, it is also a reflection on our past that may be considered slightly more innocent then when compared to the use of nuclear weapons. In the film, technology is seen as a force of evil but also as a needed good. The evil comes in the form of propaganda and various tools of war (guns, tanks, aircraft). On the other hand, Avatar must use technology in order to save not only himself but the world. Bakshi agreed with this but also stated that Wizards was about the creation of the state of Israel, the Holocaust, and the Jews looking for a homeland while fascism seemed very present in the climate of 1977.

If compared to the computer animation of today, Wizards would fail miserably. Two factors that contributed to this is the severe lack of funding and a polished creation has never been Bakshi’s style. Often the artwork of Wizards ranges from powerful to poor. Along with the help of illustrator Ian Miller (Warhammer, Magic: The Gathering, and other role playing games) and comic book artist Mike Ploog (Ghost Rider, Heavy Metal, Kull the Destroyer), Bakshi was able to save the film through the use of his own money and rotoscoping. It is due to this film and the animated Lord of the Rings series that rotoscoping has become a trademark of Bakshi. Perfecting the art of tracing over live-action film movement, Bakshi painted the footage of advancing Nazi armies. This style sets a striking contrast to the child’s cartoon style animation of the fairy folk and their kin. Relying heavily on recycled cels and stills, Wizards has used this disadvantage to help define the most visually striking aspect of the film, the war scenes. The combination of different styles of animation and stock footage from World War II,  makes the war scenes appear frantic or chaotic. By doing this, the art helps emphasize the toll of war.

Wizards had a budget of $1.2 million. Newer films such as Toy Story 3 cost $200 million and How to Train Your Dragon cost $165 million. While the budget differences are remarkable and yes, one must account for inflation and the platform in which the films were created, it is questionable whether or not this major funding will push these two films into cult status. Wizards is not a cult classic because of its low budget or the fact that a lack of funding did impact the film. It is a classic because its mashing of different art styles, its timeless storyline, and that it can be enjoyed by both the adult and the child. At its very core, Wizards is a testament to every artiest, writer, and director that creativity does not come with a price tag. Bakshi is an excellent example of the will overcoming the means.  He did indeed cut corners but did so in a manner that did not affect the movie. One example of this is in order to save money and supplies, Bakshi drew the horses in the film with two feet instead of four. Since the film has a psychedelic feel, this animation short cut seems plausible. Throughout the entire film, Bakshi enforced cost saving measures but proved that it is not always the budget that makes the film.

The 1970’s was defined by the anti-war movement and from this came psychedelic cultural tones that not only shaped a generation but the art they created. It is because of this that Wizards is liberated from previous definitions of what should be expected from art and the cartoon. While not a masterpiece, it is still incredibly visually appealing. Suffering at time from weak voice work and apparent drawing mistakes, Wizards is a neatly packaged film that easily combines science fiction and fantasy. Even though the film focuses on social commentary, it also delivers an nice array of slapstick and violence.

The concept of fairies and elves fighting the wrath of Adolf Hitler may seem ludicrous but war in itself is ludicrous. Wizards is a reminder as to why we should learn about history, so that we may learn from it.

Wizards receives a 8 out of 10

Dub Cee reviews: Underworld:Rise of the Lycans (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2011 by Dub Cee

Director: Patrick Tatopoulos

Writer(s): Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain (screenplay), Len Wiseman, Robert Orr, Danny McBride (story), Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride (characters)

 

The biggest issue with prequels is that more often than not, we know how the story is going to end. The biggest reason we watch a movie or read a book is to find out how it ends. With a prequel, we already know. Thus the challenge for the film is to keep you interested and wanting to find out what happens or more importantly WHY it happens.

The other bloggers here could some up with the Top 5 worst prequels without even thinking about it. However, naming 5 good ones is damn near impossible. So, where does Underworld:Rise of the Lycans end up? Well, keep reading ya mook.

Rise of the Lycans showcases the events mentioned in the first Underworld film. When the leader of the Lycans, Luccian (Micheal Sheen) is a slave of the vampires and falls in love with Sonja (Rhona “I am not Kate” Mitra). Problem is that Sonja is the daughter of Viktor (Bill Nighy) who is the head of the Vampire coven. The couple are found out by Tannis (Steven Mackintosh) who uses his leverage over Sonja to try an secure her seat on the Council thus increasing his status significantly.

The vampires are having trouble protecting their human allies from the increasing Lycan prescene. These Lycans, are just like William. Totally feral and they never revert back to human form. When Sonja leads a small group of vampires to escort a human noble into the coven they are overwhelmed by the ferals but Luccian shows up and is able to help fight them off. He makes a mistake though and removes his collar, thus going into wolf form. As the alpha male, the rest of the pack retreats. Despite this being the only way to save Sonja, Viktor is enraged that Luccian broke the rules and removed the collar. This leads to Luccian being imprisoned with the other Lycans like him and he basically does a Spartacus on the Vampires and the Lycans fight their way out and into the woods.

Viktor eventually learns of his daughter’s betrayal and she is sentenced to die. Luccian tries to save her on his own as his Lycan army is not yet assembled. He fails and is forced to watch as Sonja burns in the sunlight.

I left out a couple of plot points in case you, dear reader, decide to go watch this movie. If you enjoyed the first two films of this franchise then I highly recommend it. George Lucas should have watched this movie so he could learn how a proper prequel is done. The look and the feel are right in line with the original. It made me smile to see Raze in his human form before Luccian bit him. Being able to recast all the actors for their roles was great. Rhona Mitra looks so much like Kate Beckinsale it really sells why Viktor held Selene so close to him.

The fight scene were great, using crossbows, swords, shield, etc. The story line is good and you get into the mind of Viktor and sort of understand exactly why he takes some of the actions he does later in the franchise.

Grade: B+

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