HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE SMURFS: THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW

CAST (VOICES)

Jack Angel (A.I.)
Fred Armisen (Anchorman)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Gary Basaraba (Boomtown)
Alan Cumming (Tin Man)
Tom Kane (9)
Melissa Sturm (The Lego Movie)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Adam Wylie (Picket Fences)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)

As the story begins, Hefty, Clumsy, and Panicky are out in the forest at night with a cart full of smurfberries that has a broken wheel. Unable to fix the wheel, the three of them sit together around a campfire roasting smurfberries when Clumsy has the idea of telling a ghost story to pass the time. Narrator then joins the three Smurfs to tell his own kind of ghost story. In Narrator’s story, the Smurfs gather around for Papa Smurf to announce the Smurfberry Harvest contest in which the Smurfs who collect the most smurfberries will be awarded a medal. Brainy shows up at the gathering wearing multiple medals that he has won over the past years, gloating about how he’s going to win this year’s medal as well. As the Smurfs collect their buckets and then go out into the forest to pick smurfberries, Gutsy follows Brainy to find out where he’s been getting all the smurfberries for winning the contest. He discovers that it’s in a place called Smurfy Hollow, an area where the legendary Headless Horseman resides, where there’s a secret patch of smurfberries growing plentifully. Gutsy decides to give Brainy a scare by creating a shadow figure of the Headless Horseman, which sends the bespectacled Smurf running in fear. However, while Gutsy uses this opportunity to collect the smurfberries in the secret patch, Brainy finds himself walking into a trap set up by the evil wizard Gargamel.

By the time the contest ends and the Smurfs have appeared with their buckets for Papa Smurf to judge the winner, Gutsy shows up with a bucket overloaded with smurfberries and thus is declared the winner. However, Suspicious Smurf begins to wonder where Brainy is, since he hasn’t shown up with his bucket of smurfberries. Realizing that he may be found out for cheating, Gutsy goes out into the forest alone to find Brainy, but is soon joined by Smurfette, who finds out from Gutsy that Brainy is in Smurfy Hollow. They both go together and find Brainy in a cage trap set up by Gargamel, only to soon join him in cage traps of their own. Azrael, who was prowling the forest by himself, is soon alerted to the Smurfs’ presence and goes to get his master to inform him of the captured Smurfs. Gutsy, Brainy, and Smurfette work on a plan to get themselves out of their cages, and soon Gutsy swings his cage repeatedly until it bumps into Brainy’s, which then bumps into Smurfette’s, and the cages continue to bump into each other until Gutsy’s and Brainy’s cages break, freeing them. However, Smurfette is still stuck in her cage, and Gutsy and Brainy try to figure out how to get her out of there when Gargamel appears with Azrael, and so they go into hiding while the evil wizard opens the cage to deal with the one Smurf that is still captured.

But soon the five of them have a new problem to deal with—the presence of the Headless Horseman, who rides around looking for his next victims. They start running for their lives toward the covered bridge, which legends say is the only thing that keeps the Headless Horseman trapped in Smurfy Hollow. But as the Smurfs see that they would not get to the covered bridge in time to escape from the Headless Horseman, they hitch a ride on the back of a bat and fly to the top of the covered bridge, safe from the spectral rider’s grasp. Gargamel and Azrael soon reach the bridge that the Headless Horseman cannot pass through, and safe inside the bridge, the evil wizard taunts the ghost, who then responds by throwing a flaming pumpkin that causes the floor beneath him and his cat to break, sending them down the river and over the waterfalls. With the three Smurfs returning safely home, Gutsy and Brainy begin to apologize to each other for what they did, with Gutsy admitting that he was jealous about Brainy always winning and Brainy admitting that he was selfish in keeping the secret patch of smurfberries all to himself. Glad to see that two of his little Smurfs have learned their lesson, Papa Smurf proceeds to reward Gutsy with the medal, but Gutsy decides to give it to Brainy instead, who then insists that Gutsy should have it, and so the two Smurfs fight over who should get the medal when it flies out of their hands and lands looped around Lazy’s neck, thereby declaring him to be the winner. As the Smurfs gather around the stage to see Gutsy and Brainy dance with each other, Papa Smurf goes out into the forest to thank the Headless Horseman, who turns out to be a goat that he used his magic on to make him appear as a ghost.

With Narrator Smurf’s ghost story now over, Hefty claims that he wasn’t scared, but finds himself jumping into Narrator Smurf’s arms at the sound of a bat screeching. Panicky sees that they are now surrounded by bats, which scares all four Smurfs and sends them running back to the village.

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The animation was great, the story is really well adapted (even if it’s slightly different from the Sleepy Hollow story, it had some elements from it too) and the characters are great to see too.So overall, I’ll recommend this to those who are a huge fans of the smurfs.

REVIEW: X-MEN 2

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CAST

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Hugh Jackman (Swordfish)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
James Marsden (Westworld)
Bruce Davison (High Crimes)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
Anna Paquin (true Blood)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Brian Cox (Troy)
Alan Cumming (Tin Man)
Aaron Stanford (The Hills Have Eyes)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Steve Bacic (Androemda)
Bryce Hodgson (Izombie)
Roger Cross (Arrow)
Kea Wong (Snow Day)
Cotter Smith (Tru Clling)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Connor Widdows (Agent Cody Banks)
James Kirk (Final Destination 2)
Jill Teed (Gdozilla)
Kendall Cross (Caprica)
Aaron Pearl (Stargate SG.1)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
Emily Hirst (Smallville)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Valerie Tian (Izombie)

At the White House, brainwashed teleporting mutant Nightcrawler attempts to assassinate the President of the United States but fails and escapes. Meanwhile, Wolverine explores an abandoned military installation at Alkali Lake in Alberta for clues to his past, but finds nothing. He returns to Professor Xavier’s school for mutants, and Xavier tracks Nightcrawler using Cerebro. Xavier and Cyclops go to question the imprisoned Magneto about the attack, while X-Men Storm and Jean Grey retrieve Nightcrawler. Meanwhile, military scientist Colonel William Stryker approaches the president and receives approval to investigate Xavier’s mansion for their ties to mutants. Stryker’s forces invade the school and abduct some of the students. Colossus leads the remaining students to safety while Wolverine, Rogue, Iceman, and Pyro escape, and Stryker’s assistant Yuriko Oyama captures Cyclops and Xavier. During the attack Wolverine confronts Stryker, who knows him by name.untitledThe shape-shifting Mystique gains information about Magneto’s prison and helps him escape while also discovering schematics for a second Cerebro. Wolverine, Rogue, Iceman, and Pyro visit Iceman’s parents in Boston and meet up with Storm, Jean, and Nightcrawler. The X-Jet is attacked by fighter jets en route back to the mansion and is shot down, but Magneto saves them from crashing. Magneto explains to the group that Stryker has built the second Cerebro to use it, and Xavier, to telepathically kill every mutant on the planet. Stryker’s son, Jason, is a mutant with mind-controlling powers, which Stryker will use to force Xavier to do this. Stryker had also previously used Jason’s powers to orchestrate Nightcrawler’s attack as a pretense to gain approval to invade Xavier’s mansion. Magneto also tells Wolverine that Stryker was the man who grafted his adamantium skeleton onto his bones. Jean reads Nightcrawler’s mind and determines that Stryker’s base is underground in a dam at Alkali Lake.vlcsnap-2011-10-19-18h17m54s214The mutants infiltrate Stryker’s base and Magneto and Mystique go to disable Cerebro before the brainwashed Xavier can activate it. Storm and Nightcrawler rescue the captured students, and Jean fights a mind-controlled Cyclops; their battle frees Cyclops but damages the dam, which begins to rupture. Wolverine finds Stryker in an adamantium smelting lab and remembers it as where he received his adamantium skeleton. Wolverine fights and kills Yuriko, then chases Stryker to a helicopter pad and chains him to the helicopter’s wheel. Magneto stops Cerebro and, using Mystique impersonating Stryker to command Jason, has Xavier redirect its powers on normal humans. The two subsequently use Stryker’s helicopter to escape, accompanied by Pyro who has been swayed to Magneto’s views. Nightcrawler teleports Storm inside Cerebro, where she creates a snowstorm to break Jason’s concentration and free Xavier from his control.jjojoljljmThe X-Men flee the dam as water engulfs it, but the damaged X-Jet struggles to take flight. Stryker is killed in the deluge and Jean sacrifices herself to hold back the flood of water while getting the jet into the air, and is then consumed by the flood and presumed dead. The X-Men give the president Stryker’s files, and Xavier warns him that humans and mutants must work together to build peace. Back at the school, Xavier, Cyclops, and Wolverine remember Jean, and Xavier begins to hold a class. The film ends with a voice-over narration from Jean accompanied by the flooded Alkali Lake, a fiery Phoenix-like shape rising from the water.X Men 2 was very much as good, if not better, as the first. Bryan Singer seemed much more comfortable with the original characters who’s background were developed in the first film and the addition of Nightcrawler was a particular hit who allied with the good guys made a formidable team.

REVIEW: JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

 

CAST
Rachael Leigh Cook (Blow Dry)
Tara Reid (American Pie)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil TV)
Gabriel Mann (Cherry Falls)
Paul Costanzo (Road Trip)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Alan Cumminmg (Tin Man)
Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Carson Daly (Pauly Shore is Dead)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Katherine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
David Kopp (Freddy vs Jason)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Dion Johnstone (Stargate SG.1)
JR Bourne (Ginger Snaps Back)
Kris Pope (Dark Angel)
Donald Faison (Scrubs)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Eugene Levy (American Pie)
Breckin Meyer (Garfield)

Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) is an executive with record label MegaRecords. The label, headed by the trend-conscious and scheming Fiona (Parker Posey), manufactures faddish pop bands for consumption by the teenage market. Conspiring with the United States government, they add subliminal messages under the music to brainwash teens into buying their records and other consumer products, creating “a new trend every week”. The Government’s plan is to build a robust economy from the “wads of cash” teenagers supposedly earn from babysitting and minimum wage jobs. When a member of Wyatt’s wildly successful boy band, Du Jour, uncovers one such message and asks Wyatt about it aboard their private jet, Wyatt and the pilot (Harry Elfont) parachute out of the plane, leaving it to crash and kill the band members.
Wyatt lands just outside the town of Riverdale, and meets an unappreciated rock band, the Pussycats: vocalist/guitarist Josie McCoy (Rachael Leigh Cook), drummer Melody Valentine (Tara Reid), and bassist/backup vocalist Valerie Brown (Rosario Dawson). Because they are struggling financially, the Pussycats accept Wyatt’s lucrative record deal despite its implausibility. They are flown to New York City where they are renamed “Josie and the Pussycats”, much to the girls’ discomfort. All goes well and their first single climbs rapidly to the top of the charts, but Valerie grows increasingly frustrated that all media attention is focused on Josie rather than the band as a whole. Melody, too simple to notice the undue attention Josie receives, uses her uncanny behavioral perception and becomes suspicious of Fiona and Wyatt. Before Valerie and Melody’s suspicions can reveal the conspiracy, Fiona orders Wyatt to kill them. He sends them without Josie to a fake television appearance on the MTV show Total Request Live, where an obviously fake Carson Daly impersonator and the real Carson Daly assault them with baseball bats. The girls survive due to their attackers’ incompetence. Meanwhile, Wyatt prevents Josie from attending a gig by Alan M (Gabriel Mann), Josie’s love interest, by telling her it was canceled. Instead, Josie listens to a remix of their latest single. The remix contains a subliminal message track designed to brainwash her into desiring a solo career, and into seeing Valerie and Melody are impediments to that goal. After an argument with her band mates, Josie realizes that the recording caused the fight. Her suspicions are confirmed when she uses a mixing board to make the subliminal track audible, but she is caught by Fiona.
MegaRecords have organized a giant pay-per-view concert, whereby they plan to unleash their biggest subliminal message yet. They force Josie to perform solo on stage by holding Melody and Valerie hostage. The badly injured members of Du Jour—who survived by grounding their plane, but landed in the middle of a Metallica concert where they were severely beaten by Metallica fans—appear just in time to stop Wyatt and Fiona from launching the message. In the resulting fight, Josie destroys the machine used to generate the messages. The new subliminal message is revealed not to promote the band, the label, or a corporate sponsor, but to make Fiona universally popular. Fiona suffers a breakdown and reveals that she had been a social outcast in high school. Wyatt reveals that his appearance is a disguise—that he went to the same high school as Fiona, but was a persecuted and unpopular albino. Fiona and Wyatt immediately fall in love. The government agents colluding with Fiona arrive, but because the conspiracy is exposed, they arrest Fiona and Wyatt as scapegoats to cover-up the government’s involvement in the failed scheme.
Josie, Valerie, and Melody perform the concert together, and for the first time their fans are able to judge the band on its merits, free of subliminal persuasion. Alan M arrives and confesses his love for Josie on stage, and she returns his feelings. The audience roars their approval as the film comes to a close.
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Criminally overlooked at the box office on its release, this really is a no-brain comedy gem. Even if you’re not familiar with the comic/cartoon from the 70s there’s plenty to offer everyone here. The 3 leading ladies are excellent and there is admirable support from Parker Posey and the UK’s very own Alan Cumming.

REVIEW: SON OF THE MASK

CAST

Jamie Kennedy (Scream)
Alan Cumming (Tin Man)
Traylor Howard (Two Guys & A Girl)
Kal Penn (Superman Returns)
Steven Wright (Resevoir Dogs)
Bob Hoskins (Hollywoodlamd)
Ben Stein (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

A decade after the events of the first film, Dr. Arthur Neuman is giving a tour of the hall of Norse mythology in Edge City Museum. When Dr. Neuman reaches the part concerning Loki’s mask, a man in black becomes increasingly anxious. Dr. Neuman mentions that Loki created the mask and unleashed it on Earth, and that those who wear the mask would have the powers of Loki. When Dr. Neuman mentions that Odin punished Loki with imprisonment, the stranger becomes very angry and transforms, revealing himself to be Loki. The tourists panic and flee, but Dr. Neuman stays to argue with the angry god. Loki takes the mask, but realizes it is a fake. In anger, he removes Dr. Neuman’s still talking face from his body and puts it on the mask stand, before getting rid of the guards and storming out of the museum in a whirlwind of rage.x720-eMmMeanwhile, the real mask, which was thrown in the river by Stanley Ipkiss and Tina Carlyle at the end of the previous film, makes its way to a town called Fringe City, not far from Edge City, and is found by a dog named Otis – who belongs to Tim Avery, an aspiring cartoonist at an animation company, is feeling reluctant to become a father. He has a beautiful wife, Tonya, and a best friend, Jorge. On a tropical island, Loki is relaxing until Odin confronts him and orders his son to find the mask. Loki asks Odin to help him, but Odin tells Loki that this is his mess and he has to clean it up. Later that night, Tim puts on the mask for a Halloween party, transforming into a party animal similar to the mask character from the first film. Tim notices Jorge’s crush, Sylvia, standing alone in the back, eagerly confronts her and has her stripped out of her costume and into a skimpy red suit. Sylvia falls into Jorge’s arms, which pleases them both. When the company party turns out to be a bore, Tim uses his mask powers to perform a remix of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, making the party a success, and giving Tim’s boss the idea for a new cartoon, resulting in his promotion the next day.
87d84-ms_5356Tim returns to his house and, while still wearing the mask, conceives a baby. The baby, when he is born, has the same powers as Loki. Meanwhile, Loki is trying to find the child born from the mask, as his father Odin, possessing a store clerk, tells him if he finds the child, he will find the mask. Later, Tonya goes on a business trip, leaving Tim with the baby. Tim, who has been promoted at work, desperately tries to work on his cartoon at home, but is continuously disrupted by baby Alvey. In order to get some peace and quiet, Tim lets Alvey watch TV, which shows Michigan J. Frog. Alvey devilishly obtains the idea to mess with his father’s head by using his mask powers. Meanwhile, Otis the dog, who has been feeling neglected by Tim because of Alvey, dons the mask by accident and becomes a crazed animal version of himself, who wishes to get rid of the baby, but all his attempts are overturned by Alvey. Tim starts to notice his son and dog’s wild cartoonish behavior when Alvey starts harassing him.
'Son of the Mask' starring Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Traylor Howard and Bob HoskinsEventually, Loki finds the mask-born baby, and confronts Tim for the mask back, but is thwarted again and again by Alvey who uses his powers to protect his father. Eventually, Odin becomes fed up with Loki’s destructive approach and strips his son of his powers. A seemingly-deranged Tim is later fired after failing to impress his boss during a pitch, but is able to reconcile and bond with Alvey. Loki, still determined to please his father, manages to complete a summoning ritual and appeal to Odin to restore his powers. Odin agrees, but only for a limited time, stating this as “your final chance”. Loki then kidnaps Alvey to exchange for the mask, but decides to keep him despite the exchange, forcing Tim to don the mask again to fight Loki. The subsequent confrontation is relatively evenly matched due to Loki and Tim-in-the-Mask possessing equal powers, prompting Loki to halt the fight, and suggest that they let Alvey decide who he wants to live with. Although Loki tries to lure Alvey to him with toys and promises of fun, Tim wins when he removes the mask and asks Alvey to come back to him using the human connection he has forged with his son. Saddened and enraged, Loki tries to kill Tim, but his time runs out and Odin appears in person. Odin disowns Loki, calling him a failure, and begins to banish Loki, but Tim confronts the powerful Norse god and tells him that the most important thing in life is a relationship with your family, and Odin accepts Loki as a son, accepting the mask from Tim as well. Tim’s cartoon, based on his own experiences of a boy and a dog competing for the father’s attention (with Jorge playing the father via motion capture performance), is a hit, and Tonya reveals that she is pregnant again before the film closes.movie-franchise-4Nowhere near a scratch on the surface of the original Mask film but is still family fun. Isn’t a complete waste of money you can still enjoy the film for some of its comic worth’s but in all honesty the film should never have been made.

REVIEW: TIN MAN

CAST

Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Alan Cumming (X-Men 2)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Kathleen Robertson (Bates Motel)
Raoul Max Trujillo (Highlander 3)
Callum Rennie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: The Series)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Ted Whittall (Smallville)
Gwynth Walsh (Star Trek Generations)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Lucia Walters (Stargate: Atlantis)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
April Telek (Rogue)

The first section of this mini-series is riddled with references to the original story and the musical so many of us grew up with. I was expecting that. But imagine my surprise at the presence of machine guns and chain saws in Oz.  it is now called the Outer Zone, or the O.Z. Then, of course, there are hologram projectors, machines that can project what is in a person’s mind, and cyborgs. After the first section, it grows even farther from the old story. There are still references, of course, but it’s definitely not what we knew anymore. Our heroine, DG, was born in the O.Z., but sent away as a child for her own protection. Unlike her somewhat whiny predecessor, this woman has a bit of attitude and brains. And some serious guts, as she demonstrates when she tries to help a family being attacked by Longcoats, the Sorceress Azkadelia’s henchmen.

Zooey Deschanel does a great  on her portrayal of D.C.. Azkadelia is definitely a far cry from the ugly Wicked Witch of the West. She may be beautiful, but don’t let that fool you. The old witch has nothing on this new version when it comes to evil and cruelty. In place of the Scarecrow, we have Glitch. Once a genius and Royal Adviser to the Queen, he has been reduced to a sometimes annoying, but lovable ditz. This, of course, is because he only has half a brain left. Literally. The witch had it removed so that she could use his knowledge for her own purposes. He keeps what marbles he has left sealed in his head with a zipper.

Replacing the Lion is Raw, a strange, but gentle creature with psychic abilities. Despite his timid ways, Raw is very capable of being brave, especially when it comes to his friends’ safety. The Tin Man is Caine. Or, rather, former Tin Man. “Tin Man” is the term used for police in the O.Z. He lost everything when he was discovered to be fighting for The Resistance. Worse, he was imprisoned in a sealed tin suit for years, forced to watch a holographic image of his family being tortured and taken from him over and over again. All he has left is the idea of revenge and keeping DG safe, since she is the only one who might be able to defeat Azkadelia. The Wizard is anything but wonderful. He might have been once, but has been reduced to a stoner dependent on Vapors, a magic equivalent of ecstasy. Still, in his sober moments he is a big help to the heroes.

The flying monkeys are still in. The old version, ugly though they were, still managed to have a slight cuteness about them. Not these. When they’re not out doing her dirty work, they accompany Azkadelia everywhere in quite a surprising way. Toto is also still in… sort of. The little dog is actually a shape-shifter who was once a teacher to both DG and Azkadelia. After 15 years of imprisonment, he is all too willing to help his former pupil.

Overall, I was impressed. There are spots that could have been better and things that could have been more thoroughly explained, but the concepts and story are quite imaginative. It is really long, but definitely worth at least one watch.  However, I must confess, I’m a little confused as to why it is titled “Tin Man.” That implies that Caine is the main focus of the story, which he is not, although he is given a much more significant role in this version. Oh, well. It was still good, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.