REVIEW: TROPIC THUNDER

CAST

Ben Stiller (Mystery Men)
Jack Black (Goosebumps)
Robert Downey, Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Steve Coogan (Hott Fuzz)
Jay Braruchel (Fanboys)
Danny McBride (Land of the Lost)
Brandon T. Jackson (Thunderstruck)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man)
Nick Nolte (Hulk)
Matthew McConaughey (EdTV)
Brandon Soo Hoo Supah Ninjas)
Tom Cruise (Knight and Day)
Tyra Banks (Coyote Ugly)
Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer)
Alicia Silverstone (Clueless)
Jon Voight (Transformers)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Mini Anden (Chuck)
Anthony Ruivivar (Scream: The Series)
Rachel Avery (Scrubs)
Yvette Nicole Brown (Repo Men)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Reggie Lee (Grimm)
Miko Hughes (Full House)

Hook-handed Vietnam veteran Staff Sergeant John “Four Leaf” Tayback’s (Nick Nolte) memoir, Tropic Thunder, is being made into a film. With the exception of newcomer supporting actor Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel), the cast—fading action hero Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), five-time Academy Award-winning Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr.), rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson), and drug-addicted comedian Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) all behave unreasonably. Rookie director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) cannot control them during filming of a large battle scene, and production is reported to be one month behind schedule a mere week into production. Furious studio executive Les Grossman (Tom Cruise) orders Cockburn to resume filming as planned, or have the project shut down.

Acting on Four Leaf’s advice, Damien drops the actors into the middle of the jungle, with hidden cameras and rigged special effects explosions to film “guerrilla-style”. The actors have guns that fire blanks, along with a map and scene listing that will lead to a helicopter waiting at the end of the route. Unknown to the actors and production, the group have been dropped in the middle of the Golden Triangle, the home of the heroin-producing Flaming Dragon gang. Just as the group are about to set off, Damien inadvertently steps on an old land mine and is blown up, stunning the actors. Tugg, believing Damien faked his death to encourage the cast to give better performances, persuades the others that Damien is alive, and that they are still shooting the film. Lazarus is unconvinced but joins them in their trek through the jungle.

When Four Leaf and pyrotechnics operator Cody Underwood (Danny McBride) try to locate the dead director, they are captured by Flaming Dragon. Four Leaf is revealed to have hands; he confesses to Underwood that he actually served in the Coast Guard, has never left the United States, and that he wrote his “memoir” as a tribute. As the actors continue through the jungle, Kirk and Kevin discover that Tugg is leading them in the wrong direction. The four actors, tired of walking and hoping to be rescued, leave Tugg, who goes off by himself and is captured by Flaming Dragon. Taken to their heroin factory, Tugg believes it is a POW camp from the script. The gang discovers he is the star of their favorite film, the box office bomb Simple Jack, and forces him to reenact it several times a day.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Tugg’s agent Rick ‘Pecker’ Peck (Matthew McConaughey) is trying to negotiate with Les an unfulfilled term in Tugg’s contract that entitles him to a TiVo. Flaming Dragon calls the two and demands a ransom for Tugg, but Les instead berates the gang. Despite the threats, Les expresses no interest in rescuing Tugg and tries to convince Rick about the benefits of allowing Tugg to die and collecting the insurance. Les also offers Rick a Gulfstream V jet and money in return for his cooperation.

Kirk, Alpa, Jeff, and Kevin discover Flaming Dragon’s heroin factory. After witnessing Tugg being tortured, they plan a rescue attempt based on the film’s script. Kirk impersonates a farmer towing a captured Jeff on the back of a water buffalo, distracting the armed guards so Alpa and Kevin can locate the captives, but after the gang’s leader (Brandon Soo Hoo) notices inconsistencies in Kirk’s story, the actors, knowing their cover has been blown, begin firing, temporarily subduing the gang. Their control of the gang falls apart when Jeff grabs the leader and heads for the drugs, and the gang regains their guns and begin firing.

The four actors locate Four Leaf, Cody, and Tugg and cross a bridge rigged to explode to get to Underwood’s helicopter. Tugg asks to remain behind with the gang which he considers his family, but quickly returns when Flaming Dragon fires in pursuit. Four Leaf detonates the bridge allowing Tugg to reach safety, but as the helicopter takes off, the gang fires a rocket-propelled grenade at the helicopter. Rick unexpectedly stumbles out of the jungle carrying a TiVo box and throws it in the path of the grenade, saving them. The crew return to Hollywood, where footage from the hidden cameras is compiled into a feature film, Tropic Blunder, which becomes a major critical and commercial success. The film wins Tugg his first Academy Award, which Kirk presents to him at the ceremony.

In a mid-credits scene, Rick is on a plane back to Hollywood with his estranged son.

Brilliant satire on Hollywood and war/action movies. Easily Stiller’s best role as it mirrors his reality. Downey Jr is in his prime! “I don’t read the script, the script reads me”. In smaller roles Matthew McConaughey and Tom Cruise and excellent as an agent and a film mogul. The film definitely has a “Spinal Tap” edge to it where the jokes keep coming through their subtlety. It is sad that Stiller will always be in cheesy cash cow films but this is the one that he should be remembered for, directing a satirical classic

REVIEW: SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED

 

CAST

Freddie Prinze Jr. (She’s All That)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Linda Cardellini (New Girl)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Peter Boyle (Lois & Clark)
Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four)
Alica Silverstone (Batman & Robin)
Zahf Paroo (Firewall)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Callum Worthy (Smallville)
Emily Tennant (Juno)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Jackson Rathbone (Twilight)
Michael Sorich (VR Troopers)
Bob Papenbrook (Jeepers Creepers 2)

Mystery Inc. (Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo) attend the opening of an exhibition at the Coolsonian Criminology Museum commemorating their past solved cases with monster costumes on display. However, the celebrations are interrupted by a masked man known as the Evil Masked Figure who steals two costumes using the reanimated Pterodactyl Ghost. The gang are ridiculed by journalist Heather Jasper Howe, who starts a smear campaign against them. Concluding an old enemy is the mastermind, the gang revisit old cases, dismissing the former Pterodactyl Ghost, Jonathan Jacobo, due to his death during a failed prison escape, they guess Jeremiah Wickles, the Black Knight Ghost’s portrayer, is the culprit.

Going to Wickles’ mansion, the gang find a book that serves as an instruction manual on how to create monsters. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo find a note inviting Wickles’ to visit the Faux Ghost nightclub. They are attacked by the Black Knight Ghost, but escape when Daphne holds him off. Shaggy and Scooby sneak into the Faux Ghost, speaking to Wickles, but learn he has resolved his ways. The rest of the gang discover the key ingredient to create the monsters is a substance called “randomonium” which can be found at the old silver mining town. They go to the museum, accompanied by the curator and Velma’s love interest Patrick Wisely, but discover the rest of the costumes have been stolen. Heather Jasper Howe ridicules the gang further by turning the city against them. The gang go to the mines, finding Wickles’s plans to turn it into an amusement park. As they confront Wickles, he states that he and Jacobo were cell-mates who hated each other and that he has no connection to the museum robberies.

The gang then find the Monster Hive where the costumes are brought to life as real monsters. Shaggy and Scooby play around with the machine’s control panel, bringing several costumes to life, and the gang flee the city with the panel as the Evil Masked Figure terrorizes the city. Escaping to their old high school clubhouse, the gang realize they can reverse the control panel’s power by altering its wiring. Captain Cutler’s Ghost emerges from the bayou, forcing the gang to head back to the mines, encountering the various monsters along the way. Velma encounters Patrick in the mines, finding a shrine dedicated to Jacobo, but Patrick proves his own innocence by rescuing Velma from falling through a catwalk.

The gang confront the Evil Masked Figure, but the Tar Monster captures all of them but Scooby, who uses a fire extinguisher to freeze the Tar Monster’s body. He reactivates the control panel, transforming the costumes back to normal. The gang take the Evil Masked Figure to the authorities, unmasking him as Heather, but in turn reveal she is actually Jacobo in disguise, having escaped death and tried to get revenge on Mystery, Inc. by discrediting them. Jacobo’s cameraman Ned is also arrested as an accomplice. Mystery, Inc. are praised as heroes once again in Coolsville. In the Faux Ghost, the gang celebrates their victory with the now reformed criminals whom they unmasked in the past (including Wickles).

i originally went to see this movie because Sarah Michelle Gellar stars in it as Daphne. But I discovered that overall this is a fun, comic, family film that I think the majority of people can appreciate. It’s well worth a look and in all honestly is immensely enjoyable.

REVIEW: BATMAN & ROBIN (1997)

CAST
George Clooney (The Perfect Storm)
Chris O’ Donnell (Hawaii Five-O)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction)
Alicia Silverstone (Clueless)
Michael Gough (Corpse bride)
Pat Hingle (Shaft)
John Glover (Smallville)
Elle Macpherson (The Edge)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Jeep Swenson (The Bad Pack)
Ralf Moeller (The Scorpion King)
Coolio (Daredevil Directors Cut)
Batman and Robin fail to stop Mr. Freeze from stealing a cache of diamonds. They learn that Freeze was once a scientist named Victor Fries, who became dependent on a diamond-powered subzero suit following an accident in a cryogenics lab while working to save his wife, Nora, from a terminal illness called MacGregor’s Syndrome.
Meanwhile, botanist Dr. Pamela Isley is experimenting with the strength serum “Venom” to create mutant plants capable of fighting back against mankind. She is angry that her senior colleague Dr. Jason Woodrue used her Venom to transform a diminutive prisoner into the “super soldier” Bane. She refuses to partner with Woodrue so he tries to kill her with animal-plant toxins and chemicals, causing her to transform into the beautiful Poison Ivy. She kills Woodrue with a venomous kiss and vows to establish botanical supremacy over the world.
Alfred Pennyworth’s niece Barbara Wilson makes a surprise visit from England and is invited to stay at Wayne Manor. Later, Barbara finds the Batcave and creates her own crime-fighting persona with the help of a computer simulation of Alfred. The real Alfred is suffering from MacGregor’s Syndrome. He is, however, in stage 1, for which Mr. Freeze has developed a cure despite being unable to cure his wife’s condition because it is too advanced.
Ivy arrives in Gotham City with Bane as her henchman. She interrupts a Wayne Enterprises press conference at the Gotham Observatory where a giant telescope is being unveiled. Ivy demands Bruce Wayne use his fortune to safeguard the natural environment at the expense of millions of human lives, and Bruce refuses.
Ivy appears at the Gotham Botanical Gardens fundraiser, seducing everyone present with her pheromone dust, including the Dynamic Duo, who are there to protect a diamond from Mr. Freeze. When Freeze crashes the event Ivy is instantly captivated by his “ruthless charm”. Freeze is captured by Batman and detained at the Arkham Asylum but is released by Ivy.
Ivy turns off Nora Fries’ life support and makes Freeze believe Batman did it, persuading him that they should destroy Batman along with the society that created him. They plan to turn the observatory’s new telescope into a giant freeze ray to kill all humanity to allow Ivy’s mutant plants to take over the world.
Meanwhile, Robin is under Ivy’s seductive spell and is rebelling against Batman. Robin goes to meet Ivy at her garden hideout, where her venomous kiss fails to kill Robin because Batman had prevailed on him to coat his lips with rubber. Ivy tries to drown Robin in her lily pond and entangles Batman in her crushing vines, but they are able to free themselves when Batgirl arrives and traps Ivy in her own floral throne.
Batgirl reveals herself as Barbara. The three crime-fighters arrive at the Observatory to stop Freeze who has already frozen all of Gotham. Bane attacks Robin and Batgirl, but they incapacitate him and restore him to his original human state. Robin and Batgirl save Gotham by using the observatory’s satellites to reflect sunlight from outer space to thaw the city.
Batman shows Freeze video proof that Ivy pulled the plug on Nora and reveals that Batman was the one who saved her. He vows that Freeze will be allowed to continue his research at Arkham Asylum to cure Nora. Batman asks Freeze for his cure for the first stage of MacGregor’s Syndrome for Alfred and Freeze atones for his misdeeds by giving him two vials of the medicine.
At Arkham, Ivy is joined in her cell by Freeze, who vows to exact revenge on her. Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred is cured and Bruce invites Barbara to live with them, joining Batman and Robin to fight crime as Batgirl.
despite the bad reviews and criticism this film has received it is not all doom and gloom. Clooney is an interesting Batman, there are some finely choreographed fights, (a few not all) and there is a fine bike racing montage that is to watch out for. The Alfred sub story is also quite touching.But these are almost forgettable once the ending roles around and you are left with memories of a film that justifies the family viewing tag with some action figures who explain everything for you, some ridiculous costumes and a plot that is simply paper thin

REVIEW: CLUELESS

CAST
Alicia Silverstone (Clueless)
Stacey Dash (View From The Top)
Brittany Murphy (Just Married)
Paul Rudd (Just Married)
Donald Faison (Scrubs)
Elisa Donovan (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Breckin Meyer (Road Trip)
Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Nicole Bilderback (Dark Angel)
Cherilyn “Cher” Horowitz is a good-natured but superficial girl who is attractive, popular, and extremely wealthy. A few months shy of her sixteenth birthday, she has risen to the top of the high school social scene. She lives in a Beverly Hills mansion with her father Mel, a ferocious $500-an-hour litigator; her mother died from a freak accident during a routine liposuction procedure when Cher was a baby. Cher’s best friend is Dionne Davenport, who is also rich, pretty, and hip, and understands what it’s like to be envied. Though Dionne has a long-term relationship with popular student Murray, Cher claims that it is a pointless endeavor.
Among the few people to find much fault with Cher is Josh, her socially conscious ex-stepbrother, who visits during a break from college. Josh and Cher spar continually but without malice; she mocks his scruffy idealism, while he teases her for being selfish, vain, and superficial, and says that her only direction in life is “toward the mall.”
Illustrating that Cher’s selfishness is usually innocent and relatively harmless, Cher plays matchmaker for two lonely, nerdy, hard-grading teachers, Mr. Hall and Miss Geist. She achieves her ostensible purpose to make them relax their grading standards so she can renegotiate a bad report card but when she sees their newfound happiness, she realizes she enjoys doing good deeds. Cher decides to give back to the community by “adopting” a “tragically unhip” new girl at school, Tai Frasier. Cher and Dionne give Tai a makeover and initiate her into the mysteries of popularity. Cher also tries to extinguish the attraction between Tai and Travis Birkenstock, an amiable skateboarding slacker, and to steer her toward Elton, a popular rich snob.
Her second matchmaking scheme backfires when Elton rejects Tai and attempts to seduce Cher. When a handsome new student named Christian arrives at their school, Cher takes a shine to him and attempts to secure him as her boyfriend. Eventually, Murray spells it out to her and Dionne that Christian is not interested in her because he is gay.
Despite the failure of this endeavor, Cher remains on good terms with Christian, primarily due to her admiration of his taste in art and fashion. Matters get worse when Cher’s “project” works too well, and Tai’s popularity surpasses her own. The events afterward reach crisis stage after Cher fails her driver’s test and can’t “renegotiate” the result. When she returns home, crushed, Tai confides that she’s taken a fancy to Josh and wants Cher to help her “get” him. Cher says she doesn’t think Josh is right for Tai, and they quarrel. Feeling “totally clueless,” Cher reflects on her priorities and her repeated failures to understand or appreciate the people in her life.
After much soul searching, Cher realizes she is romantically interested in Josh. She begins making awkward but sincere efforts to live a more purposeful life, including captaining the school’s Pismo Beach disaster relief effort. Cher and Josh eventually admit their feelings for one another, culminating in a tender kiss. In the end, Mr. Hall and Miss Geist wed; Cher’s friendships with Tai and Dionne are solidified; Tai and Travis are in love; and Cher wins a $200 bet for catching the bouquet at the wedding. She embraces Josh, and they kiss as the film closes.
What makes Clueless stand out has a lot to do with the wonderful characters and of course the script. It’s much smarter than most films aimed at ‘young’ audiences today but it doesn’t try to be.  Watch it, escape and enjoy.