The Mummy (1999)

     The Mummy (1999) – Surprisingly good movie bringing out the mummy.  Frankly, I’m more of a fan of the classic monsters so the CGI version had me a little hesitant.  However, I was quite surprised how good it was.  A nice mixture of horror, comedy, and action, this movie plays out as a great adventure.  The special effects are outstanding and nicely played into the movie without dominating the actors roles.  The critics at Rotten Tomatoes only gave this movie a 54%, but the fans gave it a 75%.  And, it gets 4 stars at Amazon.com showing that the people that watch the film no more than the critics.  The best part of the movie is the constant action.  You won’t get bored during this film.

The plot is that in ancient Egypt, the high priest Imhotep has an affair with Anck-su-Namun, Pharoah Seti’s mistress.  But, they are caught by the Pharoah and kill Seti.  Anck-su-Namun kills herself believing Imhotep will resurrect her.  However, he is caught by Seti’s guards and given the Hom Dai, being mummified alive in Hamunaptra.  In the meantime, Rick (played by Brendon Fraser), is a soldier in the foriegn legion in Hamunaptra and encounters some strange occurances after surviving an attack by desert raiders.  Evie (played by Rachel Weisz) is a librarian and aspiring Egyptologist and has a theiving scamp of a brother.  He just happens to steal the map to Hamunaptra from Rick, who is now in prison.  For saving his life, he agrees to take her there.  On the voyage, they find out that another group of treasure hunters are going there.  After getting there, they stumble across the “Book of the Dead”.  Evie can’t help herself and in reading it awakens the mummy.  He returns to bring Anck-su-Namun back to life.  After regenerating by sucking the life out of the treasure hunters, he kidnaps Evie to sacrifice and bring Anck-su-Namun back.  But, Rick and Evie’s brother Jonathon, battle Imhotep and the mummies to save her life.  After pulling some ancient Egyptian magic, Rick is able to save the day. 

With constant action and comedy, this movie is a winner.  There are some tense moments as well to keep you on the edge of your seat.  This movie spawned a sequel that is extremely entertaining as well, but unfortunately, doesn’t quite pull the same magic as the original.  Most of it is excellent and it is definitely worth watching, but the main special effect, which is still quite impressive, is a essentially a copy cat of the original.  They could have used a little more creativity here.  They also expect you to believe in a jet powered hot air balloon, but anyone with common sense knows it would just spin in one spot when the jets are turned on.  Maybe I’m a little picky here because it is incorporated well into the movie.  Finally, the ending and revelation of the Scorpion King is rather disappointing.  This is the only really bad part in the movie.  The CGI Scorpion King is terrible and looks fake.  There is a good battle scene and ending, but this will stick with you a little.  However, if you over look these couple of flaws, it is still an excellent movie to watch with a good story, nasty mini-mummies that are loads of fun, and lots of great action & comedy, but it is not as good as the original due to the flaws mentioned.  I recommend watching both, but you need to know the sequal movie’s flaws to avoid being let down.

** Just click the images to see “The Mummy” & “The Mummy Returns” at Amazon.com **

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Presumed Innocent

     Presumed Innocent – In the late 80’s, early 90’s, Harrison Ford could do no wrong and this movie is another masterpiece by him.  Given a 94% at Rotten Tomatoes and 4 stars at Amazon.com, this is an excellent intellectual drama.  It’s slowly presented and more and more of the story is revealed in pieces to you and teasing you to figure out the crime.  Not to brag, but I usually figure out the murderer in these stories early on, but this one held me to the end.  And, I was surprised by the ending for a change.  In retrospect, you “get it”.  But, while you’re watching it, you seem to argue the facts with yourself.  The movie is based on the best selling novel “Presumed Innocent” by Scott Turow that is considered outstanding.  So, if you prefer reading, you might want to consider the novel.

The plot is that a prosecuting attorney, Carolyn Polhemus, is brutally murdered.  Her co-worker, lover, & boss, Rusty Sabich (Harrison Ford) is accused of the crime.  The evidence is strong and pointed right at him.  His boss, Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy), even loses faith.  His wife, Barbara (Bonnie Bedelia), has made up with Rusty and sticking by his side.  He hires a trusted detective to help him as there appears to be political intentions by the attorney prosecuting the case.  Rusty hires the best attorney he knows in Sandy Stern, played by Raul Julia.  Bit by bit, the evidence is gathered and presented.  The twists & turns keep you guessing throughout.  You’ll have to watch it to see the surprise ending.

Don’t expect an action flick that is normally attributed to Harrison Ford.  This courtroom drama is more for the brain.  The story is excellent and well developed.  The cast is a “who’s who” of talent from Harrison Ford & Brian Dennehy who were both in countless movie hits such as the Indiana Jones series, The Fugitive, Star Wars with Ford and Cocoon, First Blood, Legal Eagles, & Gladiator with Dennehy just to name a few.  Raul Julia later gained fame as Gomez Adams of the Adams Family movies.  Bonnie Bedelia later starred as Bruce Willis’s wife in the blockbuster Die Hard.

Great movies grab people in different ways.  So, when you’re ready to get away from the over-the-top explosions, comedy, and horror movies and feel like an adult style brain teaser, this is the movie for you.

** Just click the images to check out the movie “Presumed Innocent” as well as the novel at Amazon.com **


Young Guns II

     Young Guns II – “I’ll make ya’ famous.”  Not many sequals live up to or surpass the originals, but I have to say that this one pulls it off.  Critics didn’t like it at Rotten Tomatoes only giving it 36%, but fans love this movie giving it 4.5 stars at Amazon.com.  The movie seems bigger with how the shots are done and the action scenes draw you in better.  But, they do make one mistake that so many sequals tend to make….enter the goofy kid.  Why they do this, I’ll never know.  But luckily, the kid is not treated well or turned into some great hero as most others do.  They keep him to reality, so it’s not bad like other movies.  The best part is that Billy is more of a wise-ass now, arrogant, and still twisted.  He feels invincible.  This makes the movie fun to watch.

The plot is the story of Brushy Bill Roberts, who claimed he was Billy the Kid and still wants his pardon.  To prove himself the lawyer, he tells his tale.  The Lincoln County War is now over and they’re dragging back all the criminals for hanging.  Doc Skurlock (Keifer Sutherland) is dragged back from New York, Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) is already captured.  Billy (Emilio Estevez) is running wild with Pat Garrett (William Peterson) and Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh (Christian Slater).  They break out the old regulators and reunite the gang, but Garrett leaves Billy’s gang while he still has a good name.  The rest try to head for Old Mexico.  However, the powerful men still want them dead and hire Garrett as sherriff to chase them down.  Will he catch them?  Billy big on “pals”.  Or, will he find a way to let Billy slip through.

As mentioned before, the movie is bigger than life.  The filming is better and the music fits perfectly.  The action scenes seem more realistic and Billy’s character is over the top.  Being an outlaw on the run, you would expect some of the antics he pulls off.  Also, many of the actual historical aspects are included such as his conversation with the Governor, his capture and escape killing Bob Ollinger, and the capture with Pat Garrett.  While many liberties were taken as all films do, the dialogue during the escape with Bob Ollinger is supposed to be 100% accurate.  One interesting fact is the cameo of Jon Bon Jovi getting shot in the escape from the pit.  As the musical artist who did the soundtrack, he requested to be included in the movie….and he wanted to get shot rather than just some bit part on screen.  I like that attitude.

So, the critics hate it, but what do they know?  People who watch the movie enjoy it and that’s what great movies are all about.

**  Just click the images to check out “Young Guns II” at Amazon.com **


Despicable Me

     Despicable Me – Minions Minions Minions!!!  This 2010 movie brought back some creativity back to animated movies.  Although following the formula of most movies, the concepts and comedy were finally creative with a rivalry developing between super-villians and the cute and funny minions.  This movie has something for everyone.  It’s touching, funny, and has some actual evilness that guys can enjoy.  Plus, men will enjoy how the minions work because we all know how men get the job done.

The plot is Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is a super-villian who is getting past his prime.  So, he needs a BIG SCORE to get him to the number 1 evil ranking.  He chooses to steal the moon and sets his group of “minions” to work on what’s needed.  Their work ethic leaves something to be desired with generally funny outcomes.  But, at the “evil bank”, he crosses paths with a nerdy, up & coming super-villian called Vector.  As a result, he’s now in a battle with Vector to be #1.  Vector steals Gru’s moon stealing gadget.  Gru attacks Vector’s compound to get it back, but can’t get past security.  But, Vector lets 3 little girls in to buy some cookies.  So, Gru “adopts” these girls to help get him in.  Throughout the movie, he grows attached to these girls, but that doesn’t stop the plans.  But ultimately, he can’t let them go and finds that maybe he’s not so “evil” after all.  Or, is he? 

The best part of the movie is the cartoon violence and the “minions”.  This took me back to when cartoons were funny and actually meant to be.  The cartoon violence is similar to the old Looney Tunes style, so there’s nothing to worry about for kids.  This movie is not deep, but it is well entertaining.  The minions are hilarious and featured with a 3 cartoon short extra disc that was excellent as well.  I also enjoyed Gru’s early evilness, which displays some early funny moments in the film.  So, if you’re looking for a “mindless” evening with a funny and entertaining movie, then this is for you.  It’s not the greatest animated movie of all time or anything, it’s just fun.

** Just click the images to check out “Despicable Me” at Amazon.com **


King Kong vs Godzilla

    King Kong vs Godzilla – Whoa!!!  The 2 baddest monsters in a battle for the ages….what’s not to like?!!!!  I love this movie.  Well, I love all the 60’s and 70’s Toho Godzilla films and this one is no different.  Ok, lets be clear.  This film was made for 1 reason only….the battle of the monsters.  The script is bad.  The acting is no better.  The film is like watching pro wrestling.  And, you aren’t going to learn anything at all from this movie.  However, it is pure guilty-pleasure fun.  That’s why it’s a great movie.

The plot is a pharmaceutical company goes to a tropical island for advertising when they stumble on our enormous ape, King Kong.  After Kong drives away a giant octopus who is stealing his special “alcohol” prepared by the natives, the greedy guys try to get Kong back to Japan for money.  In the meantime, an American submarine unleashes the greatest monster of all-time, Godzilla, from his slumber in an iceberg.  They both head to Japan with some pretty silly “UN Reports” keeping us informed with up-to-the-minute reports.  But, once they see each other, the battle is on in glorious pro wrestling style comedy.  King Kong is brought to the fight with hot air balloons on Mt. Fuji.  Godzilla burns Kongs chest.  Kong shoves a tree down Godzilla’s throat.  And many other interesting battle scenes.  In the end, the winner by default after they fall into the ocean and only King Kong is seen swimming back home.  Godzilla’s fate is left to speculation.

The movie is pure fun and not to be taken seriously as it was intended to have more appeal to kids.  The 36% at Rotten Tomatoes and 3.5 stars at Amazon.com misses the point of the movie.  It’s not meant to be enlightening…just pure fun.  Oh well, what do movie critics know?  This movie is the most commercially successful of the Toho Godzilla films.  Interesting note that there were 4 Octopi used to film the attack on the village.  After filming, 3 were released.  The 4th, became a meal for the director.  Also, there has been a long standing myth of this film that there were 2 different endings.  In Asia, Godzilla was theorized to win the battle.  In America, because King Kong is American, that King Kong wins.  However, this has been dispelled due to western audiences finally getting access to the great Japanese movies of all genres.  King Kong essentially won because Kong was a greater attraction at the time.  This was only the 3rd Godzilla movie and the legend was not yet truly established.  Considering the iconic legend of both monsters in these days, it would be difficult to choose a winner today.  However, Godzilla, to me, is the greatest monster of all-time, so you know my choice.

** Just click the image to check out “King Kong vs Godzilla” at Amazon.com **


The Blues Brothers

     The Blues Brothers – “We’re on a mission from God.”  Absolutely an iconic movie from 1980.  Dan Aykroyd & John Belushi are at their best taking their Saturday Night Live skit and making a blockbuster movie out of it.  That’s why they keep making SNL skits into movies to this day.  Of all of those movies, this is probably the best.  With cameos from the blues greats…Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, and John Lee Hooker, the music in this film is the best rockin’ blues you can find.  This action, musical comedy has everything you could want…including Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame providing the psychotic jilted lover throughout the film.

The plot is that Jake Blues (John Belushi) is being released from prison only to find everything in disarray by his brother.  He and his brother, Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), visit the old Catholic orphanage where they were raised by nuns.  They discover that the church has stopped its support and it will be sold in 11 days if the taxes aren’t paid.  As part of their redemption, they decide to put their blues band back together and put on a big show to raise the money.  Well, good intentions go wrong and they make enemies every which way they turn from cowboys, Nazis, and every police agency in existance.

This movie is fun from start to finish….comedy, drama, action, and the best music you’ll ever hear from blues legends neatly incorporated into the film.  These guys epitomize the word “COOL” and you’ll be wanting some cheap sunglasses after watching the film.  It’s got blues, rock’n’roll, and even a little country mixed in and follows that up with high speed car chases to keep the action rolling.  Rated 85% at Rotten Tomatoes and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, this movie is under-rated primarily due to non-movie related complaints.  This is a must have for any movie collection.  However, please ignore and never watch the sequel, Blues Brothers 2000, which is terrible.  Although they tried, you can’t recapture the magic of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi had in 1980 by inserting John Goodman and some silly kid into the mix.  The original is an icon of film.  The sequel is pure garbage.

**  Just click the images to check out “The Blues Brothers” at Amazon.com **


Creature From the Black Lagoon

     Creature From the Black Lagoon – Probably one of the best movies and the most forgotten of the great, classic movie monsters in history.  But, see a picture or say the name, and he instantly comes back to mind.  If you haven’t seen this movie, then you’ve got to see this one to appreciate one the greats.  In 1954, Jack Arnold, who gave us the great movie Tarantula, unleashes a new beast on us…the amphibious missing link…”Gill Man”.  While it is a product of it’s time, it holds up very well and I still enjoy this movie to this day.  Creature of the Black Lagoon was originally filmed in 3-D, which was all the rage in the 50’s, but the dvd comes with the standard format.  One of the best parts about this movie is that the humans are actually the instigators to the horror rather than being the victims to a rogue monster.

The plot is that a group of scientists are tipped to fossil findings from the Devonian period of land and sea animals with webbed fingers.  They board the steamboat “Rita” and head down the Amazon to where these fossils were found, but nothing substantial is found.  Captain Lucas suggest they may have been dumped into the “Black Lagoon” down river, a paradise that no one returns from.  They proceed to the site.  2 of the scientists dive for fossils at the bottom and Gill-Man is now watching the invaders of his home.  Kay, played by the beautiful Julie Adams, goes swimming and Gill-Man is quite “interested” with the shape of this one.  However, in his stalking of Kay, he gets caught in one of the drag nets revealing himself.  After several encounters, Gill-Man is finally captured.  However, Gill-Man escapes the cage and is driven off by the crew.  Now, they decide they need to leave, but Gill-Man has blocked the way.  Can’t let a woman like Julie Adams get away.  The creature abducts Kay and tries to get back to his lair, but the crew is in hot pursuit.  They catch up with him and shoot him numerous times before he retreats to the lagoon.

While it is a “horror” film, it is not overly frightening and actually has very romantic and sexual overtones for its time.  In the scene to the right while Kay is swimming, the monster mimics her movements in the water in clear infatuation with the beautiful intruder.  The water scenes are excellently shot to show the interaction of Gill-Man and his love interest.  Now, he must have her leading to the final climax of the movie.

Rated 85% at Rotten Tomatoes and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, this is still an excellent movie.  Being from the 50’s, it’s pretty tame for a horror film, but the story and acting are good and the water scenes are excellent.  Finally, Gill-Man is still one of the classic monsters in the same realm of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman.  So, if you enjoy the classic monsters, this is a must-see movie.

** Just click the image to see “Creature From the Black Lagoon” at Amazon.com. **