REVIEW: THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

CAST

Will Arnett (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Zach Galifanakis (The Hangover)
Michael Cera (Juno)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter)
Jenny Slate (The Lorax)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Billy Dee Williams (BAtman)
Mariah Carey (Glitter)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Jemaine Clement (Men In Black 3)
Ellie Kemper (21 Jump Street)
Jason Mantzoukas (Bad Neigbours)
Doug Benson (Super High Me)
Zoe Kravitz (Divergent)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Riki Lindhome (Much Ado About Nothing)
Channing Tatum (Dear John)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Laura Kightlinger (Lucky Louie)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Chris Hardwick (Terminator 3)

Three years after saving the Lego Universe with Emmet and Wyldstyle, Batman continues fighting crime in Gotham City. During a mission to prevent The Joker from destroying the city, Batman hurts his arch-rival’s feelings by telling him he is not as important in his life as he thinks he is, leading to the Joker to desire seeking the ultimate revenge on him.
The following day, Batman attends the city’s winter gala as his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, to celebrate the retirement of Commissioner Gordon and the ascension of his daughter Barbara as Gotham’s new police commissioner, but is infuriated when she announces her plans to restructure the city’s police to function without the need of Batman. The Joker crashes the party with the rest of Gotham City’s villains, but has all of them surrender to the police. Despite realizing that this makes him no longer relevant to the city’s safety, Batman suspects his arch-rival is up to something and decides to stop him by banishing him into the Phantom Zone, a prison for some of the most dangerous villains in the Lego Universe.
Before he can make plans to acquire the Phantom Zone Projector that Superman uses, Alfred intervenes and advises him to take charge of Dick Grayson, whom Bruce had unwittingly adopted as his ward during the gala to which he eventually agrees and fosters Dick as Robin. The pair manage to recover the Projector from the Fortress of Solitude, before breaking into Arkham Asylum and using it on the Joker. Annoyed at his reckless actions and suspecting that the Joker wanted this to happen, Barbara locks up Batman and Robin. While the Projector is being seized as evidence, Harley Quinn steals it back and uses it to free the Joker, who unleashes the villains trapped within the Phantom Zone to cause havoc upon Gotham, including Lord Voldemort, King Kong, Sauron, the Wicked Witch of the West, Medusa, Agent Smith and his clones, the Daleks, and the Kraken.
Realizing that the city does still need him, Barbara releases Batman and Robin and reluctantly teams up with them as “Batgirl” to stop the Joker, with the team joined by Alfred. Batman soon finds himself able to trust and rely on the others, allowing them to defeat Sauron, but upon reaching Wayne Island, he ditches the team out of fear of losing them like his parents, before confronting Joker alone. Upon seeing that the Batman will never change, Joker zaps him to the Phantom Zone, before stealing the Batcave’s stash of confiscated bombs and heading for the city’s Energy Facility. Arriving in the Phantom Zone, Batman witnesses the harm he has caused to everyone because of his selfishness and slowly accepts his greatest fear when Robin, Barbara and Alfred decide to come to his aid. Making a deal with the Phantom Zone’s gatekeeper, Phyllis, to bring back all the villains in exchange for returning to Gotham City, Batman arrives to save the trio and admits to them his mistakes, requesting their help to save the day.
Seeking to stop Joker from setting off the bombs beneath the Energy Facility, thus causing the plates beneath Gotham to come apart and send the city into the infinite abyss, Batman and his allies team up with the city’s regular list of villains, after they had felt neglected by Joker, with the group successfully sending back the escaped villains to the Phantom Zone. However, Batman fails to reach the bombs in time, the detonation causing the city to split apart. Realizing how to stop the city from being destroyed, Batman reluctantly convinces Joker that he is the reason for being the hero he is, and working together alongside Batman’s friends, the villains, and the city’s inhabitants, chain link themselves together, reconnecting the city’s plates and saving Gotham City.
With the city saved, Batman prepares to be taken back into the Phantom Zone to fulfill his bargain with Phyllis, only to be rejected by the gatekeeper who chooses to let him remain after she saw how much he had changed in order to save everyone. Batman allows the Joker and the rest of his rogues gallery to escape with the confidence that whenever they return, then they’ll be no match for the combined team of himself, Robin, Batgirl, and Alfred.Overall, this is a very enjoyable movie with a gripping story, fantastic animation that tops its predecessor and clever humor. I definitely recommend giving this a watch if you’re a fan of The Lego Movie.

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REVIEW: FEAR CITY

 

CAST
Tom Berenger (Inception)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Jack Acalia (Act of War)
Melanie Griffith (Working Girl)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Joe Santos (The Postman)
Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man)
Disappointing follow up for Abel Ferrara to the excellent Ms. 45(1981) for a few reasons. One, there is not the same emotional or intensity level of the previous film. Two, the main character compared to Thana is almost not likable. Three, at times the film is fascinating to watch while other times the film bogs down to boring. It also doesn’t know whether it wants to be a slasher pic, a mafia epic or both. The inclusion of the mafia in Fear City(1984) sort of reminds me of Fritz Lang’s M(1931). Like in M(1931), the mafia is interested in finding the stalker/murderer because he’s hurting their business. Part of Fear City(1984) is a warmup for King of New York(1990) and The Funeral(1996).
A ridiculous aspect of the movie is the idea of the karate killer. I wondered why this film was not named The Karate Killer which is a better title than Fear City(1984). The karate stalker/murderer seems out of place in Fear City(1984) for he is someone who belongs more in a Steven Seagal film and less in an Abel Ferrara feature. Major putdown that hurts the film a lot.  Matt Rossi is a character that’s hard to pin down. In some scenes he is arrogant and unlikable. In other scenes Matt Rossi is guilt ridden and vulnerable. Its this guilt ridden quality of Matt Rossi that puts him in the line of Ferrara characters such as Thana(Ms. 45), Frank(King of New York), and the Lt(Bad Lieutenant).
The filming of the sleezy locale of Fear City is one of the film’s saving graces. Abel Ferrara is terrific at showing a part of New York where sleeze, sex , and death are common and life or human flesh is cheap. Done before the current Mayor of New York City cleaned that part of the city up. In the style of many similar Italian erotic thrillers. Fear City and Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper(1982) have a lot in common with each other. One, both films take place in the sleezy parts of Times Square during the 1980s. Two, the two films have a killer whose on an insane mission for human purity. Three, the violence and the sex in Fear City(1984) and New York Ripper(1982) are depicted in an ugly and unpleasent fashion.
Like other Ferrara features except for Bad Lieutenant(1992), Fear City was badly cut for its theatrical release in the United States. It seems that the director’s films are not well liked by the MPPA. I might see the movie in a different light if I ever saw the complete uncut version of Fear City. Scenes that were cut or trimmed involved heavy graphic violence.
The first flashback sequence is a fantasic blend of realism and surreal. Done with the same horror quality as the dream of Thana from Ms. 45(1981). The second flashback sequence is even better. Shows how Matt Rossi got involved with Mafia Boss, Carmine. The fight between boxer Matt Rossi and the Karate Killer is both entertaining and silly. A strange way for Matt Rossi and the Karate Killer to confront each other. This sequence loses some steam after a few minutes bcause of the one sided match. Pales in comparison to the Halloween party massacre sequence in Ms. 45(1981).
Tom Berenger is average in the role of the tormented Matt Rossi. The best acting in Fear City(1984) belongs to Michael V Gazzo who gives some unintentional comic relief as erotic dance club owner, Mikey. The attack on the first dancer is done with the same editing technique as with the first rape on Thana in Ms. 45(1981). Melanie Griffith plays the same kind of character here that she did on Brian De Palma’s Body Double(1984)[She is extremely beautiful and sensual more in Fear City than in any other of her films].

 

 

REVIEW: ALIEN INTRUDER

 

CAST
Maxwell Caulfield (Grease 2)
Tracy Scoggins (Babylon 5)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Gary Roberts (Die Hard)
Jeff Conaway (Jawbreaker)
Michael Delano (Ocean’s Eleven

Welcome to the grim future. The year is 2022. Aboard the U.S.S. Holly in outer space, mild mannered crew member Borman (Jeff Conaway) has apparently gone berserk. For no logical reason, Borman has callously slaughtered his own men…

Back on Planet Earth, Commander Skyler (Billy Dee Williams) has recently received a desperate call for help. The call has requested that a rescue mission must be dispatched into outer space to find any survivors of the massacre aboard the U.S.S. Holly. So Skyler decides to arbitrarily select four losers to accompany him on this rescue mission. Nick (Maxwell Caulfield) is an intransigent navigator who has almost instigated a space mutiny once… DJ (Richard Cody) is a computer hacker charged with embezzlement. Lloyd (Gary Roberts) is a woman-loving mechanic. Peter (Stephen Davies) is an expert at engineering.

As a reward for their hard work and services, the crew members of the U.S.S. Presley are allowed to relax and indulge in their own lovely gratification. The convicts are allowed a chance to vicariously live out their own pleasures via virtual reality. Now, meet Ariel. She is every man’s dream. She wants to become your playmate. An alien virus, cleverly disguising herself as a femme fatale named Ariel (Tracy Soggins) has decided to enter each individual program…and turn these people’s greatest fantasies into their worst nightmares. Ironically, these petty prisoners and thugs may become entrapped in their own fantasies… Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the daydreaming space travelers, Ariel is intent on luring them to their ultimate doom by forcing one of the crew members to navigate towards the forbidden “G-Sector.” While these travelers are distracted by their own illusions, Ariel revels in seducing each victim as she appears in each virtual reality simulation. As a result, tension is created among the crew members themselves…

ALIEN INTRUDER has a unique premise, even if it is derivative of probably every other science-fiction thriller ever made. Every science-fiction cliché ever manifested exists in this potboiler. It features lots of erotic love scenes, interpolated with sporadically violent action sequences. There are lots of gung-ho action in this flick. Along the way, the viewer is treated to a collection of beautiful women!  The performances in this movie are deadpan with Conaway acting way over-the-top as a psycho on the loose. Billy Dee Williams seems to know how to have fun here as for the rest of the cast. Tracy Soggins is cute in this movie, especially when she plays mind games with the male cast. It is a joy to watch everyone acting paranoid in this movie. ALIEN INTRUDER is sort of predictable because the viewer is always one step ahead of the characters. For example, we all know that Ariel will make herself an obligatory part of each of the space convict’s dreams. It is just a matter of when she will show up which adds to part of the fun. It’s a decent but tedious sci-fi film. There is enough sex, violence, and eye candy to appease connoisseurs of sleaze, but this film has immensely restricted appeal. Despite this movie’s flaws, it is still admissible. The film does move relatively fast enough.

 

REVIEW: BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS

 

 

CAST
Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Michelle Johsnon (Death Becomes Her)
Noan Jenkins (Earth: Final Conflict)
Len Doncheff (Dick)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)

Doing his job tracking down fugitives from the law bounty hunter Sonny MacLaine dukes and shoots it out with three bad guys at the beginning of the movie “Standing Target”.Sonny has them hauled off to jail before we get a chance to catch our breath and get our bearing to what the movie is leading up to.  With his girlfriend Casey pregnant Sonny’s trying to be as sensitive as he can to her condition without letting it effect his job. Casey is also very apprehensive about Sonny being out looking for dangerous criminals to bring in. Since his dad who was also a bounty hunter was killed when Sonny was 10 years old and doesn’t want her child like Sonny to grow up without a father.

One day Sonny is approached by this elderly couple Laslo & Eva Kukock who want him to find their fugitive son Jonish. Told by the couple that they put up their restaurant, The Little Oddesa, as bail and if he’s not returned to the court very soon they lose what they worked all of their life to achieve. Sonny at first isn’t that interested in finding the bail-jumper but later does track down Jonish only to find out that his parents are dead! It turns out that he’s the nephew of Russian Mafia mob boss Tuzla, Len Doncheff,who grooming him to take over his crime organization. Jonish, played by Irish Patrick Gallagher, doesn’t even look anywhere like his so-called white Russian parents Laslo & Eva looking more Mongolian then European, was he mistakenly switched at birth? It turns out that Sonny was tricked into finding Jonish by a faction of the Russian Mafia so they can knock him off and that’s exactly what happens when Sonny finds him.

Uneven and somewhat boring action flick with Michael Dudikoff as Sonny MacLaine taking it on the chin as well as everywhere else from the bad guys and still coming back or more. Captured and kidnapped at least a half dozen times by the Russian mobsters Sonny keeps getting away, or is released by them, even though he’s suspected of killing the mob boss’ faired haired boy and hair-apparent Jonish.  It later turns out that Tuzla’s hot headed and career climbing son Danny was behind Jonish’s murder wanting to take over the organization himself after he does in both his dad, Tuzla, and his fellow Russian mobsters who are backing Jonish. Sonny gets help from Det. Racine and fellow ,but retired, bounty hunter Jake. Which ends with both of them getting shot by the Russians with Racine being killed.

A cross between The Fugitive and The Package, this film  excels at  being entertaining whilst not being predictable. Dudikoff shines in his best screen roll to date and Billy Dee Williams is noble as his drunken friend

REVIEW: THE KILLER NEXT DOOR

The Killer Next Door (DVD, 2002)

CAST
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years)
Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)
Christine Horn (Selma)
Amber Wallace (Mean Girls 2)
When I came across this movie I thought that it looked interesting, with a decent sounding storyline = a young college girl suspects that her neighbours are serial killers and plus it has a few familiar faces in it namely Tobin Bell from the Saw movies, Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars & Batman) and Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years). And so for 25p I can’t go wrong.

“The Killer Next Door” which seems to be its UK title wasn’t a particularly good movie, it’s not terrible by all means I have seen worse but on a small scale it kind of works in a TV movie kind of way and there were small shades of tension and real fear for the leading heroine Molly (Danica McKellar), like when she is menaced by the serial killers Tobin Bell and the other guy, but that is all let down by the poor acting of not just her but 90% of the cast, including Billy Dee Williams who doesn’t seem to be making an effort at all just plain wooden throughout.

The only saving grace was Tobin Bell who was very convincing and scary throughout the movie. But the effects were laughable to say the least and I did find Danica’s foul mouth hilarious throughout and her sassy friend Rhea was just plain awful and should have died sooner. Okay I understand that this movie was low budget and that shows through and through, but it had a decent storyline but was poorly executed with shoddy acting.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI

CAST
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row)
Billy Dee Williams (Batman)
Alec Guinness (Doctor Zhivago)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
David Prowse (Comic Book: The Movie)
Frank Oz (Inside Out)
Jeremy Bulloch (Swing Kids)
Sebastian Shaw (The Spy In Black)
Ian McDiarmid (Sleepy Hollow)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Warwick Davis (Willow)
Luke Skywalker initiates a plan to rescue Han Solo from the crime lord Jabba the Hutt with the help of Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Leia infiltrates Jabba’s palace on Tatooine, disguised as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca as her prisoner. Lando is already there, disguised as a guard. Leia releases Han from the carbonite, but she is captured and enslaved. Luke arrives soon afterward but, after a tense standoff with Jabba and a battle with his rancor, is captured. Jabba sentences him and Han to death, planning to feed them to the Sarlacc, a pit monster. They are taken to the Great Pit of Carkoon, the Sarlacc’s nesting ground. Luke, with R2-D2’s help, frees himself and battles Jabba’s guards with his new constructed lightsaber. During the chaos, Boba Fett attempts to attack Luke, but Han, temporarily blinded from the carbonite, inadvertently knocks him into the Sarlacc pit to his doom. Meanwhile, Leia strangles Jabba, and Luke destroys Jabba’s sail barge as the group escapes. While the others rendezvous with the Rebel Alliance, Luke returns to Dagobah, where he finds that Yoda is on his deathbed. Before he dies, Yoda confirms that Darth Vader, once known as Anakin Skywalker, is Luke’s father, and that “there is another”. The ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi confirms that this “other” is Luke’s twin sister: Leia. Obi-Wan tells Luke that he must fight Vader again to defeat the Empire. Obi-Wan also warns Luke to keep his emotions in check, as his anger could lead him to the Dark Side.
The Rebels learns that the Empire has been constructing a second Death Star under the direct supervision of the Emperor himself. As the station is protected by an energy shield, Han leads a strike team to destroy the shield generator on the forest moon of Endor; doing so would allow a squadron of starfighters to destroy the Death Star. The strike team, accompanied by Luke and Leia, travels to Endor in a stolen Imperial shuttle. On Endor, Luke and his companions encounter a tribe of Ewoks and, after an initial conflict, gain their trust. Later, Luke tells Leia that she is his sister, Vader is their father, and he must go and confront him. Luke surrenders to Imperial troops and is taken to Vader. Luke tries to convince Vader to turn from the dark side of the Force, but fails.
Vader takes Luke to the new Death Star to meet the Emperor, who is intent on turning him to the dark side. The Emperor reveals that the Death Star is fully operational and the Rebel fleet will fall into a trap. On Endor, Han’s strike team is captured by Imperial forces, but a surprise counterattack by the Ewoks allows the Rebels to battle the Imperials. Meanwhile, Lando, piloting the Millennium Falcon, leads the Rebel fleet to the Death Star, only to find that the station’s shield is still active and the Imperial fleet is waiting for them. The Emperor tempts Luke to give in to his anger and join him. Luke engages Vader in a lightsaber duel. Vader senses that Luke has a sister and suggests turning her to the dark side. Enraged, Luke overpowers Vader and severs his father’s prosthetic right hand. Upon seeing the remnants of Vader’s prosthetic, he sees a parallel between himself and Vader, and fears he will become like Vader. The Emperor tells Luke to kill Vader and take his place, but Luke refuses, declaring himself a Jedi as his father had been. On Endor, the strike team defeats the Imperial forces and destroys the shield generator, allowing the Rebel fleet to launch their assault on the Death Star. Simultaneously, the Emperor tortures Luke with Force lightning. Unwilling to let his son die, Vader kills the Emperor, but is mortally wounded in the process. He asks Luke to remove his mask, and after a brief talk, he dies peacefully, having redeemed himself.
As the battle between the Imperial and Alliance fleets continues, Lando leads a group of Rebel ships into the Death Star’s core and destroys the main reactor. As Luke escapes on a shuttle with his father’s body, the Falcon flies out of the Death Star as the station explodes. On Endor, Leia reveals to Han that Luke is her brother, and they kiss. Luke returns to Endor and cremates his father’s body on a funeral pyre. As the Rebels celebrate their victory over the Empire, Luke smiles as he sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and the redeemed Anakin watching over them.
This is the best of the series & not just because of the victory over the Empire. It springs a surprise in Luke having a sister, & completes Luke confronting what is left of his father. It destroys an empire & an emperor. It introduces Ewoks & then has them join in an alliance to create the victory. It even makes C3PO a God, & you can’t top that.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

CAST

Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row)
Billy Dee Williams (Batman)
Alec Guinness (Doctor Zhivago)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
David Prowse (Comic Book: The Movie)
Frank Oz (Inside Out)
Jeremy Bulloch (Swing Kids)
Julian Glover (Game of Thrones)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has been driven from their former base on Yavin IV by the Galactic Empire. The Rebels, led by Princess Leia, set up their new base on the ice planet Hoth. The Imperial fleet, led by Darth Vader, continues to hunt for the Rebels’ new base by dispatching probe droids across the galaxy.
While investigating a potential meteor strike, Luke Skywalker is captured by a wampa. He manages to escape from its cave with his lightsaber, but soon succumbs to the brutally cold temperatures. The ghost of his late mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, instructs him to go to the Dagobah system to train under Jedi Master Yoda. He is found by Han Solo, who uses the warmth of his dead tauntaun to keep Luke warm while he sets up a shelter. Han and Luke make it through the night and are rescued by Zev Senesca.
On patrol, Han and Chewbacca discover the asteroid Luke had planned to investigate is actually a probe droid, which alerts the Empire to the Rebels’ location. The Empire launches a large-scale attack, using AT-AT Walkers to capture the base. Han and Leia escape on the Millennium Falcon with C-3PO and Chewbacca, but their hyperdrive malfunctions. They hide in an asteroid field, where Han and Leia grow closer. Vader summons bounty hunters, including the notorious Boba Fett, to assist in finding the Falcon. Luke, meanwhile, escapes with R2-D2 in his X-wing fighter and crash-lands on the swamp planet Dagobah. He meets a diminutive creature who is revealed to be Yoda; after conferring with Obi-Wan’s spirit, Yoda reluctantly accepts Luke as his pupil.
After evading the Empire, Han sets a course for Cloud City, a floating colony in the skies of the planet Bespin. Cloud City is run by Han’s old friend, Lando Calrissian. Unknowingly, the Millennium Falcon has been tracked by Boba Fett; shortly after they arrive, Lando leads the group into a trap and they are handed over to Darth Vader. Vader plans to use the group as bait to lure out Luke, intending to capture him alive and take him to the Emperor. During his training on Dagobah, Luke sees a premonition of Han and Leia in pain and, against Yoda’s wishes, leaves to save them.
Vader goes back on his agreement with Lando and takes Leia and Chewbacca into custody. He intends to hold Luke in suspended animation via carbon freezing, and, as a test, freezes Han in a block of carbonite. He hands the frozen Han over to Fett, who intends to leave for Tatooine to deliver Han to Jabba the Hutt and claim the bounty on Solo’s head. Lando, who was forced into cooperating with the Empire, initiates an escape and frees Leia and the others. They try to save Han but are unable to stop Fett. They then flee Cloud City in the Falcon.
Luke arrives at Cloud City and falls into Vader’s trap. The two engage in a lightsaber duel that leads them over the city’s central air shaft where, as his mentors warned, Luke proves to be no match for Vader who severs Luke’s right hand, causing him to lose his weapon. After Luke refuses to join Vader against the Emperor, Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father. Horrified, Luke falls through the air shaft. He is ejected beneath the floating city and makes a desperate telepathic plea to Leia, who senses it and persuades Lando to return for him in the Falcon. R2-D2 repairs the Falcon’s hyperdrive, allowing them to escape the Empire. Later, aboard a Rebel medical frigate, Luke’s amputated hand is replaced with a robotic prosthetic. Lando and Chewbacca set off for Tatooine in the Falcon in order to save Han. As the Falcon departs, Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO look on and await word from Lando.
Tho more famed for its dark undertones, Empire is for sure still a very fun movie, C3PO goes into camp overdrive and Han Solo ups his quip quota by some margin. Then of course there is Yoda, in himself a comedic joy. The action sequences beg for repeat viewings, a battle on the ice laden planet Hoth is a marvel and the choreography for Skywalker’s fight with Darth Vader is out of the top draw. But ultimately it’s with the dark side that the picture excels. Complex and amazingly posing moral quandary’s, The Empire Strikes Back is quite an experience, one that will forever hold up to repeat viewings for this particular viewer.