The movie “Flight” stars Denzel Washington as Whip Whitaker the crack airline pilot with something of a debauched lifestyle. The premise is simple: a routine flight takes a turn for the worse and Whip Whitaker is forced to crash land a plane in an open field; it isn’t a simple crash landing, in fact, it seems more like a landing only he and he alone could have made. Because of his efforts, 96 of 102 souls on board are saved. But there’s a catch; he’s a drunk, and at the time of the crash he was intoxicated.
At first, Whitaker is regarded as a hero; he landed a plane that no other man could possibly have losing only six people (one of which was Katerina, his flight attendant lover). But soon, things start to go awry. His blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was over .2. An investigation ensues. He has a hot shot attorney who gets his blood test results thrown out, but there is other evidence: two empty vodka bottles on a flight for which no drinks were served. Things look bleak. Throughout the film, Whitaker’s alcoholism is powerfully evident.
He begins to develop a relationship with Nicole, a young woman who has had her share of bumps on the road of life: she’s a drug addict and alcoholic herself, but she is bent on recovering her life. Their relationship struggles to take off; Nicole wants Whitaker to join her at AA meetings; she believes they can fix their lives. Unfortunately, the chemical addiction that has Whitaker in its grip is too strong and eventually their relationship falls apart.
Then, there is the inquiry for the plane crash. Whitaker could lose everything if he messes it up. He has a chance, if he keeps to the script his lawyer gives him and he sobers up, but that seems beyond his capabilities. Ultimately, (spoiler alert) he confesses his drunkenness in the middle of the hearing and takes full responsibility for it, primarily because the only other option would be to blame it on Katerina, his now deceased lover. Although he winds up in prison at the end of the movie, he is comfortable with that arrangement. It will be several years before he gets out, but he looks to the future with hope, emerging from the disaster a changed man.
Overall, I thought the movie was good. It is, however, an R rated movie with a gratuitous shot of full frontal nudity in the beginning, but the story holds together well. I half-feared they were going to wind up glorifying drug-use and abuse with the resolution of the story, but they didn’t. It ended well.
Overall, I’ll give this movie three and a half or four stars out of five.
Every once in a while I get a hankering to go see a horror movie. “The Evil Dead” was still in theatres this past week, so I went to it. It was a short film, only ninety or so minutes, but they crammed as much blood and guts into that movie as they could manage. Once upon a time, these types of movies might actually frighten me. Nowadays, they are lucky if they garner a startled jump on my part.
Anyway, the movie is about five friends who go on retreat into an old run-down cabin in the woods. One of them has a drug addiction problem, and the others are trying to get her to quit cold turkey. It’s an intervention. Basically, the plan is to keep her secluded away from civilization until she can straighten out. But things soon take a turn toward the worse when they find the basement of the cabin. It is filled with hanging dead cats, and stinks to high heaven. It is also the resting place of a sinister book. One of the friends, curious, opens the book without the others knowing of it. From the looks of things, it appears to be a book of witchcraft of some kind (the old medieval Satan-worshipping type of witchcraft, not modern day wicca). Then, ignoring all the scribbled warnings on the inside pages of the book, he makes a rubbing of several words and reads them, like a prayer. This, of course, invokes the evil of the book. One of the friends becomes possessed by a demon from the woods and all hell quickly breaks loose. One by one the friends are eliminated in gruesome, graphic, detail until only one remains to fight for survival.
Strengths: well, the movie did get me to jump a couple times, but I wouldn’t say I was ever really frightened. The plot held together well. There weren’t any logical flaws, assuming you can accept the basic premise. Weaknesses: well, it may have been a horror movie, but it seemed to rely too much on gore for my tastes. It wasn’t overly clever, or anything, it was just, eww, we’ll have this sharp metal thingy go in here, and cut off this, etc… etc… But hey, if you are into that stuff (for movies, of course) this might be up your alley.
Overall, I’ll give this movie three stars out of five.
I’ve enjoyed all the “Ice Age” movies, even though they are really made for kids—it’s my inner child trying to escape. “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” continues the story of the first three movies with pretty much the same cast of characters as the first. There’s Manny the Mammoth, Ellie the Mammoth with Peach the daughter of the two mammoths, Diego the Saber Tooth Tiger, Sid the Sloth, and also Sid’s Grandmother Granny. And, of course, it would be a mistake to leave out Scrat the Squirrel, renowned for his insatiable hunger for acorns.
The story begins, as many stories do (ha ha!), with Scrat questing after his acorn only to fall into the center of the earth with it. There, while trying to desperately recapture his acorn, he sets the core of the world spinning in various and sundry directions. This, of course, cracks the surface of the earth breaking up Pangaea (or whatever the super-continent was called) and sends the smaller sub-continents adrift in the ocean, thus wreaking havoc on the world above. The mammoths, along with Diego and Sid suddenly find themselves in a world where the land is moving about. Manny, Diego, Sid, and Granny find themselves floating on an iceberg out to sea away from Ellie and Peach who are stuck on land. They try but are unable to turn the iceberg around. Soon, they encounter a fierce storm, then they encounter a pirate named Captain Gut (an ape). Manny and company’s attempts to find his family and Captain Gut’s attempts to stop them form the central conflict in the story. There is also a subplot concerning Peaches, Manny and Ellie’s mammoth daughter, growing up and learning what friendship really means. And, of course, Manny’s over-protectiveness of his daughter. Oh, and there is also a budding romance between Diego and one of Captain Gut’s crew members.
Overall, this was an excellent movie. The humor was clean and suitable for young children. The story kept one’s interest and was easy to follow. And the lessons learned were good lessons. And, a big plus for a kid’s movie, I, as an adult, enjoyed it. The only thing I might question was the activity of Sid’s biological family. It comes out in the beginning of the film that they did actually and deliberately abandon him; then, they find him just to drop Granny off into his care and promptly abandon both of them again. It’s presented humorously, I guess, but I’m not sure that belongs in a kids movie—at best, the whole point would be lost on the very young. I’m not sure it doesn’t belong, either … I’m kind of iffy about the whole thing.
Anyway, I’ll give this movie four out of five stars.
This past Friday I went to see the children’s movie “Frankenweenie.” “Frankenweenie” is the latest cinematic effort by Tim Burton and is kind of a mix of science fiction and fantasy. As such, it comes complete with the dark, somber ambience Burton has developed a reputation for, though, not so horribly dark and terrifying that it would frighten children. It’s a well-developed film with an engaging storyline and fun characters. Perfect for a Halloween outing.
At the center of the story is the young Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist-in-training attending Junior High or so (I guess that makes him about 13 years old). He’s something of an introvert whose only true friend is his pet dog, Sparky. His parents, however, want him to be more sociable and get him involved in a baseball team. This, however, leads to tragedy: At one of Victor’s games there is a horrible accident and Sparky is killed. Victor is depressed for a long time until he gets the idea—inspired by his science class at school—to try to bring his dog back to life. He succeeds, but is unable to keep that success a secret, and the resulting chaos that breaks loose is enough to make your head spin. But it is great fun to watch, as a whole bevy of monster pets break loose and wreak havoc on the small town Victor Frankenstein calls home.
Overall, I found this movie entertaining and worth watching. It is typical Tim Burton: dark and gloomy, but like I said, not so much it’ll scar children. At least, I don’t think so. I do, however, have several complaints about the movie. The first is so minor I’m not even sure I want to complain about it. Basically, a certain young girl in the film performs divination via cat poo. If her cat poos out the first letter in your name in his litter box that means something “big” is going to happen to you. I just wonder if the only way to entertain children is to act childish ourselves. I mean, really? Cat poo? Must we? My next complaint concerns the wrap up of the film at the end (Spoiler Alert). The once-dead dog, Sparky, is killed again at the end of the movie and, with the blessings of the parents, Victor Frankenstein brings the animal back to life yet again. I know kid’s movies are supposed to have “happy endings,” but I’m not sure it is a good idea to implant in them the notion that bringing their pet back to life is the way to go. They (the film-makers) had an opportunity to let the animal go and let him rest in peace, but they brought him back again. Not sure that was a good idea. My final complaint concerns some of the kid’s science experiments in the film and this is, by far, my most significant complaint. There was a lot of manipulating of electricity throughout the film, an unsuccessful attempt to fly off a housetop, and other experiments of questionable safety being performed by young teen-agers for the movie’s audience of children. Maybe I’m being over-protective, but I don’t think that was very wise to include in the movie. Do we really want someone’s kid to think it’s a good idea to fly a kite during a lightning storm? Anyway, you can see where I’m going. I don’t know how Tim Burton could have made the movie without these things, but I’ve noticed in a lot of the children’s movies of recent years that the writers tend to forget who their primary audience is.
Still, it was a good movie and I enjoyed it. I’ll give it four stars.
(Okay, so not only is this movie not fantasy, it’s not even sci-fi. Still, it’s my blog and I’ll review if I want to.)
I saw the original Expendables when it came out, so I knew what to expect when it came time for me to watch the sequel, The Expendables II. Big names of yesteryear, explosions, and gore. I was not disappointed. This movie has everyone and his mother in it: Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jason Statham, and a few other newer names. There was lots of explosions, lots of killing, and even a Chuck Norris joke by Chuck Norris himself. It was… amusing. I was gonna call it a blast, but the movie was just too silly to warrant that description. Of course, it never takes itself seriously. It was just old action heroes doing a remembrance film, or something like that.
One particularly memorable part was when Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger quoted each other. “I’ll be back,” … “Yippey kay yeah.” Classic. What else should I say in this review? I suppose I should summarize the plot: there wasn’t one. Okay, that’s not true. Basically, Sylvester Stallone (again, I don’t remember the names of the characters in this film… but the movie really wasn’t about character development anyway, so it’s a small loss) is the leader of a mercenary gang. They are sent on a “cakewalk” mission by their CIA contact Bruce Willis. But, of course, things go horribly wrong. One of their team is killed by Jean-Claude Van Damme and his gang of evil thugs (they are even Satan worshippers to boot… just to make sure you know they are really BAD). The thugs take off with some precious intel that will lead them to a large supply of weapons-grade plutonium. Angered at the death of their comrade, the good guys spend the rest of the movie tracking the bad guys to their center of operations. Chaos ensues. Blood and death everywhere. And guts galore.
The drawbacks: I was kind of disappointed by how little screen time Jet Li got. He was in the film in the beginning, then dropped out and was never seen again. Also, I would have liked to see more of Chuck Norris and Arnie… they were there, but only for a few minutes of screen time.
Anyway, the special effects were good. I could almost believe that guy really was decapitated by the sniper’s shot. Did I mention there was a lot of blood?
Okay, the summary: the plot was pretty standard action hero stuff. The amount of killing was pretty high. And the cast was in it largely for laughs. It was a fun time, but certainly not a cinematic masterpiece. But that’s okay, because it was never meant to be.
I’ll give it three and a half stars out of five.