HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie)
Tom Hulce (Amadeus)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice In Wonderland)
Aidan Quinn (Legends of The Fall)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Richard Briers (Watership Down)
John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda)
Celia Imrie (Highlander)
Hugh Bonneville (Paddington)

In 1794, Captain Walton leads a troubled, expedition to reach the North Pole. While their ship is trapped in the ice of the Arctic Sea, the crew discovers a man, Victor Frankenstein, traveling across the Arctic on his own. Victor grows up in Geneva with his adopted sister, Elizabeth Lavenza, who will become the love of his life. Before he leaves for the university at Ingolstadt, Victor’s mother dies giving birth to his brother William. Victor vows on his mother’s grave that he will find a way to conquer death.At university, Victor’s interest in the works of alchemists make him unpopular with professors. He finds a friend in Henry Clerval and a mentor in Professor Waldman. Victor comes to believe that the only way to cheat death is to create life. Professor Waldman warns Victor not to follow through with his theory; he tested it once, but ended his experiments because they resulted in an “abomination.”  While performing vaccinations, Waldman is murdered by a patient, who is later hanged in the village square. Victor breaks into Waldman’s laboratory, takes his notes, and begins to work on a creation. Victor gives his creature dead body parts from various sources, including the body of Waldman’s murderer and Waldman’s own brain. He is so obsessed with his work that not even a cholera outbreak tears him from it. Victor finally gives his creation life, but he recoils from it in horror and renounces his experiments.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe creature escapes, running off to the wilderness with Victor’s coat which contains Victor’s journal. He spends months living in a family’s barn without their knowledge, gradually learning to read and speak. He attempts to earn the family’s trust by anonymously helping them with their failing farm, and eventually converses with the patriarch, an elderly blind man, after aiding him and his grandson against violent debt collectors. But when the blind man’s family returns, they mistakenly think the creature committed the assaults against the patriarch and grandson, and chase the creature away and abandon the cottage. The creature reads Victor’s journal, learning of the circumstances of his creation. He vows revenge on his creator.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinVictor, who believes the creature has died of cholera, returns to Geneva to marry Elizabeth. He finds his younger brother William has been murdered. Justine, a servant of the Frankenstein household, is framed for the crime by the creature and hanged by a lynch mob. Victor is approached by his creation demanding that Victor make a companion for him, promising that if Victor does, he will disappear with his mate. Victor begins gathering the tools he used to create life, but when the creature insists he use Justine’s body to make the companion, Victor breaks his promise and the creature vows revenge.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinVictor and Elizabeth are married. Shortly after, unknown to them, the creature silently kills Baron Frankenstein in his own bedroom. Victor takes every precaution to defend his wife on their honeymoon, but the creature gains access to their bedroom and tears out Elizabeth’s heart, killing her. Maddened with grief beyond measure, Victor races home to bring Elizabeth back to life. He stitches Elizabeth’s head onto Justine’s fully intact body, and she awakes as a re-animated creature. The two are briefly and happily reunited until the creature appears. Victor and the monster fight for Elizabeth’s affections, but Elizabeth, horrified by what she has become, commits suicide by setting herself on fire, burning the mansion to the ground.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe story returns to the Arctic Circle. Victor tells Walton that he has been pursuing his creation for months to kill him. Soon after relating his story, Victor dies from pneumonia. Walton discovers the creature weeping over Victor’s body. The crew prepares a funeral pyre for Victor, but the ceremony is interrupted when the ice around the ship cracks. Walton invites the creature to stay with the ship, but the creature insists on remaining with the pyre. He takes the torch and burns himself alive with Victor’s body. Walton, having seen the consequences of Victor’s obsession, puts his own obsession aside and orders the ship to return home.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe ending goes beyond the scope of the original novel, and it does so in a strikingly grisly way, but the overall effect of this film is true to Shelley’s original vision. Robert De Niro gives a particularly compelling performance as Frankenstein’s monster, the look and feel of the late eighteenth-century setting is spot on, and the musical soundtrack complements the plot extraordinarily well. While I would prefer to see a movie strictly faithful to Shelley’s novel, this exemplary albeit somewhat effusive adaptation hits the core messages of the story dead on and stands, in my opinion, as a truly impressive cinematic accomplishment.

REVIEW: CHARLIE’S ANGELS 2: FULL THROTTLE

CAST

Cameron Diaz (Bad teacher)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Lucy Liu (Kill BIll)
Bernie Mac (Bad Santa)
Crispin Glover (Alice In Wonderland)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Demi Moore (G.I. Jane)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Matt LeBlanc (Friends)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)
John Cleese (Rat Race)
Robert Forster (Dragon wars)
Eve (XXX)
Pink (Rollerball)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Steve Hytner (The Prophecy)
John Forsythe (Scrooged)
Ashley Olsen (Full House)
Mary-Kate Olsen (Full House)
Jaclyn Smith (The Bourne Identity TV)
Bruce Willis (Die Hard)
Shanti Lowry (Family Time)

Cameron Diaz in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)After rescuing U.S. Marshal Ray Carter (Robert Patrick) in Mongolia, the Angels: Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz) Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore) and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu) together with John Bosley’s adoptive brother Jimmy Bosley (Bernie Mac) are sent to recover H.A.L.O. (Hidden Alias List Operation) titanium rings stolen from the United States Department of Justice which can display the people listed in the witness protection program. DOJ official William Rose Bailey (Bruce Willis) and a protected witness, Alan Caulfield (Eric Bogosian) are among those killed. At Caulfield’s house in San Bernardino, the Angels track his assassin Randy Emmers (Rodrigo Santoro) to a beach where they meet with former Angel Madison Lee (Demi Moore). During the Coal Bowl motorcycle race, Emmers targets another witness named Max Petroni (Shia LaBeouf), but is killed by the Thin Man (Crispin Glover). Inside Emmers’ pocket, the Angels discover the photos of Caulfield, Max, and, surprisingly, Dylan, under her birth name, Helen Zaas.Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)Dylan reveals that she is a protected witness after sending her former boyfriend, Irish mob leader Seamus O’Grady (Justin Theroux) to prison. O’Grady has since targeted those who wronged him, including Dylan and Max, whose parents O’Grady killed. Max is sent to the home of Bosley’s mother (Ja’net Dubois) for his protection. At a monastery, the Angels learn about the Thin Man’s past from the Mother Superior (Carrie Fisher), who reveals his name, Anthony. Afterward, the Angels track O’Grady’s mob at San Pedro and manage to get the rings, but O’Grady threatens Dylan with the murder of everyone she loves.Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)While Natalie attends her boyfriend, Peter Kominsky (Luke Wilson)’s high school reunion at Hermosa Beach and Alex returns home to find her action star boyfriend-under-timeout, Jason Gibbons (Matt LeBlanc) telling her awestruck father (John Cleese) about her exploits, Dylan leaves the Angels and heads to Mexico. When Natalie, Bosley and Alex notices her letter, they read her reasons for leaving them. While Alex is upset by this, Natalie understands why Dylan led to protect them. When she asks about O’Grady’s break out from jail, Charlie reveals someone had him released on good behavior. While in Mexico keeping a low profile, Dylan is convinced to return after seeing an apparition of former Angel Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith).Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)Natalie and Alex deduce that Carter is a part of O’Grady’s scheme after seeing him return Bosley’s keys without any pain, since he had earlier claimed to have broken his ribs, which is now proved to have been a lie. Following him, the two witness him being shot to death by Madison, the true mastermind behind all of this. Though Dylan arrives to back the group, the Angels are shot by Madison, who takes the rings, though they survive by having worn Kevlar vests beforehand. At the base, Charlie through the speakers reprimands Madison for what she’s done. He confronts her for endangering the lives of her former teammates.Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)By the time that he had rescued them, the girls were in critical condition and Madison was kicked out of the Angels for it. Madison responds by pulling out her gold guns and shooting the speaker. The Angels realize that Madison, with the protection of O’Grady, is going to sell the rings to the Antonioni Crime Family, the Tanaka Yakuza, and the Diablo Cartel at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where Jason’s film’s premiere is about to commence. The Angels set the three groups up to be arrested by the FBI instead, while they confront Madison and O’Grady. Anthony comes to the Angels’ aid, where it’s revealed he’s in love with Dylan and is doing his part to protect her. O’Grady kills Anthony, but Dylan manages to throw him down to his death. The Angels fight Madison all the way to an abandoned theater, where they kick her to a gas-filling chamber, with her dooming herself by shooting her bullets, exploding it.The Angels attend the premiere where they learn that Mama Bosley is adopting Max. Peter postpones his engagement with Natalie by buying for them a puppy named Spike while Alex terminates her timeout with Jason. The Angels celebrate their victory together with Bosley.Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)Overall, this is actually a very easy movie to watch. The laughs will come not only from the comedic parts but also from the dorky action. If your looking for a hip, comedy flick come see Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.

REVIEW: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (2008)

CAST

Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Jennifer Connelly (Hulk)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Jaden Smith (The Karate Kid)
John Cleese (Rat Race)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Robert Knepper (Heroes)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Sunita Prasad (Hardwired)
J.C. MacKenzie (Dark Angel)
Lorena Gale (Smallville)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Kyle Chandler (Argo)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
David Lewis (Man of Steel)
Bill Mondy (Blade: The Series)
Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder)
Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)

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The movie’s first act shows the most potential. Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is swept away from her with a police escort, by flustered agents who inform her that even they don’t know why she’s being picked up. She’s rushed into a room crowded with other scientists and engineers and told that not only is something from outer space going to impact Earth in the middle of Manhattan, but it’s going to happen in less than 80 minutes. I always question the way government officials act in movies, but there’s a palpable sense of tension and paranoia, and even a few good character touches (. A better movie would have played out closer to real time; the concept that Earth might be destroyed with such little forewarning is a really great idea (although there’s a shade too much 9/11 imagery here). Sadly, it barely makes up the first twenty minutes. At the end of it, a giant swirling orb touches down in the middle of Central Park, and an alien creature steps out, only to be shot by an overzealous soldier.The creature is taken to a hospital, where its’ strange, placenta-like shell melts away to reveal what appears to be a human being. Instead it turns out to be Keanu Reeves, playing an alien creature named Klaatu who somberly informs the President’s first-hand aide (Kathy Bates) that he’d like to address the United Nations. Bates’ character is problematic. She plays it as reasonably as she can, but as written, she’s yet another trigger-happy, kill-all-the-aliens caricature straight out of endless alien invasion movies that prevents logical characters from doing logical things. She refuses his request, and they tell Helen to drug him so they can interrogate him. She fakes it instead, injecting him with saline instead of sedative, and Klaatu makes his escape.During the escape sequence, Scott Derrickson’s direction goes into hyperdrive, using flashy editing and CGI to amp up the excitement, but it feels forced and unnatural. It happens several times, all in isolated bursts (Robert Knepper’s thankless and stereotypical military commander is the worst offender, popping up occasionally to yell in a Texas accent). Only part of the spectacle, like the swarms of tiny bugs that eat up everything in their path (as seen in the misleading trailer), feel integrated with the story. The effects themselves are hit-and-miss. The giant orbs, shown on the movie poster, are stunning to look at, and those swarms of bugs are eye-poppingly cool, but most of the effects that integrate real actors look weak.I’ve always thought of Keanu Reeves as a more physical actor than an emotional one , and it’s almost endearing the way he doesn’t seem to “get” the joke in regards to his flat acting style, which the producers of Day 2008 have ably exploited in having him play an emotionless alien. I liked him in the movie, but those who already dislike him as an actor aren’t going to have their minds changed. Jennifer Connelly does a fairly good job during the first half of the film, but as the bits of characterization from the first act peter out, it’s like she’s acting into a vaccuum; she puts plenty of emotion out but none of it registers. Will Smith’s son Jaden plays her step-son, and his primary mode is “whiny”.The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)Klaatu’s goal in Day 2009 is to save the Earth, which is bad news for its inhabitants. “If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives,” he tells Helen. Yet the film doesn’t want to be a “message” movie, so no obvious examples are shown lest the audience get upset. I felt The Day the Earth Stood Still was better than expected but the commercial aspect of its existence overpowers its low-key successes. Derrickson’s version misses ample opportunities to explore the nature of meeting a creature from another planet, and the times it does breach the topic it doesn’t have anything to say.Keanu Reeves in The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)The 1951 original is a social landmark, and even won a Golden Globe for promoting International Understanding. The new version is entertaining, but the fact that it can’t emotionally connect to its audience, much less connect other people, is going to leave many fans rightfully disappointed.