Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

This Jerry Bruckheimer production truly “brings it.” On the heels of Pirates of the Carribean, this mega-producer was able to produce another highly entertaining Summer swashbuckler for Disney. It is partially based on the popular video game of the same name.

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Jake Gyllenhaal (Jake from here on out) plays Dastan, a street rat who becomes a prince. Sound familiar? No, actually other than that there are no parallels to Alladin. He obtains a dagger that is able to rewind time one minute in duration. Naturally everyone wants this dagger so he must keep it safe. Gemma Arterton is the beautiful princess who is charged with the task of getting it back from him. Dastan wrongly believes she wants HIM and not the dagger, as every prince probably would, but he is mistaken. Their romantic comedy banter back and forth is some of my favorite stuff from this film.

There are a couple of actor heavyweights in the film as: Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina. They bring a stoic feeling to the film. Both are very physical in the film, along with Jake. They appear to do many of their own stunts including Alfred Molina’s harrowing scene when he kisses an ostrich. I understand these are mean animals and yet, they manage to be ridden in the film without the use of CGI. Quite amazing if you asked me.

The film looks like a sword and sandal epic but feels just short of it at times. It isn’t a bad movie but it’s not as good as The Gods of Egypt or The 300. The story is a bit complex and I think could have been more engaging if it were whittled down and simplified a bit. Despite poor reviews and some stale audience periods, It did gross over 300 million dollars so something definitely is there that kept people swiping their cards and slapping down bills at the box office. I would recommend this film for fans of Jake or possibly the video game (I’ve never played it) but ony after you’ve seen everything else he’s done. I think you’ll find it a lot of fun in a branched off performance for him.

Cemetery of Splendor

I won’t try to overstep my grasp of this film. I figure readers like to read something by a guy who knows what he is talking about and at the very least comprehends what is happening. I can’t say I do 100% in this film. BUT, I will take this review opportunity to tell you exactly how I took this film and the hedonic components as they revealed themselves to me. I call this sort of film impressionistic hedonism and let me tell you, it’s not for everyone. Note this partial genre: fantasy. Available From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video.

Cemetery of Splendor (2015)
Rak ti Khon Kaen (original title)
Unrated | 2h 2min | Drama, Fantasy | 2 September 2015 (France)
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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video
A group of soldiers in a small town on the Mekong River in northern Thailand are struck with a bizarre sleeping illness.
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi, Jarinpattra Rueangram

I love Thai food. I also love Buddhist temples. There’s one close to us here in Southern California that I have gone to many times “when I was confused” (quote from the film and also my life). What was I confused about you might ask? As in the film, the answer would be “love.”

In the last 1/4 of the film there is this contraption that propels water and yet doesn’t move. Actually it’s impossible to tell if it is propelling or being propelled. It make the sound of a free shooting sprinkler and it’s magnificent. There were many times in this film I got that relaxed feeling you get after a good meditation or even a massage. Thailand appears to be so beautiful. There are numerous scenes that appear chosen in color and framing as if to hang in a temple. The only thing missing is a padded stool and lovely incense. Is there a story here? Oh yes but it’s a lot like the hedonic imagery, you better not make a judgment, better to just relax and accept that everyone around us is dead. Not sad, dead.

Shall we pretend that we’re dead? Like the water propellers, there are a dozen or more deeply fascinating and ethereal objects & images. I collect these types of images in my mind. If you don’t, you won’t get it.

There are a few women, one in particular, who take care of men in a comatose state. We find out why they will never wake up at some point. Then we learn more about the living women and what their life is all about. Or is it life? This film was great for breathing exercises and armchair traveling in my lazy boy. For those who would like that and “get that” I recommend to you 8/10.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

“The devil comes from the sky.” -Lex Luthor

Apart from misleading marketing, even down to the very title of the film, “Batman v Superman” is an amazing film that audiences are sure to continue enjoying. The critics at large have dismissed its genius but time will take care of that.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Cast
Ben Affleck

as Batman

Henry Cavill

as Superman

Amy Adams

as Lois

Directed by
Zach Snyder
Written by
Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Other Info

Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated PG-13
151 min

I’ve gone around and around with it in my head and decided I just can’t take points from a movie because it was named and marketed poorly. Honestly though, that’s the only thing wrong with this film. It shines. My nearly eighteen year old son said it dragged at the beginning and was laboriously long but we both agree the mid to end portion is spectacular I thought the whole movie was stellar.

Without giving any spoilers, let me just say the title should have been something like: “Superman 2: Luthor rises.” This is really a Superman film with the usual nemesis Lex Luthor who uses rhetoric to persuade Batman to kill Superman. Does he succeed? Yes and no. You’ll have to see the film. There is some other stuff in the plot I’d love to talk about. It’s a grand scale monster we hear nothing about in the trailers. In my opinion, the monster and Lex are really what this movie is all about.

Ben Affleck plays a great Batman, which many of us felt he would. There is also the debut of the DC character Wonder Woman in the latter part of the film. This was briefly explained. In fact, the intro to her coming on screen was so miniscule, I have to go back and watch it again to get where she came from etc. It was a long and involved film so please forgive me. I didn’t bring my notepad, a mistake that will not happen again.

Another thing that maybe could have taken a star from my 5 star rating of this behemoth, beautiful film is the insertion of histories, mostly on Batman. Now we all know Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed in front of him as a child. Scenes like this and others are plentiful in the early part of the film. I would have rather they not be, they aren’t relevant. Still, this film picks up and gets you on a ride that all you’re thinking is “I can’t wait to tell my friends about this.” Don’t believe the critics on this one. I found it much preferable to the critical darling “Deadpool.” I highly recommend it.

Candyman (1992)

Here we have a cult favorite with underpinnings of a low budget cheap thrill horror movie. Centered around an urban legend where if you say “Candyman” 5 times in the mirror, the characters are killed one by one. Not too cerebral but with a lot of jump scares.

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Candyman

“The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster’s myth.” -IMDB

Cast

Virginia Madsen Helen Lyle
Xander Berkeley Trevor Lyle
Tony Todd The Candyman/Daniel Robitaille
Kasi Lemmons Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Walsh

Directed by

Bernard Rose

Written by

Clive Barker, Bernard Rose

Other Info

Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
R
Fri 16 Oct 1992 UTC
99min
IMDB Rating: 6.6

Kids freak out over urban legends. The idea that a chant in a mirror can summon a killer or a demon or even a product of ones imagination scares the crap out of them, Some people say we are all kids inside no matter our ages. Perhaps that is why this film has become such a cult classic.

Where I get off the bus is when Virginia Madsen’s character start researching this killer as a supernatural entity. Throughout the 90’s we had slasher films that centered on legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer comes to mind. Perhaps this film tried a bit to hard to weave a scientific basis into it. I think we’ve learned as viewers that the legend need not be explained. Of course, there is always the twist that works well.

Final Thought:
Candyman is a gore-filled jump fest that may appeal to pajama party teens. For those of us seeking to see the elements of horror, it grows tiresome wading through the cheap thrills to get to the real stuff that scares us. It’s all there though, I can’t deny that. Don’t expect a dark sense of foreboding but then again not much n the 1990’s produced that good stuff.

3/5
3 Stars

Nine Lives

Nine Lives is a Disney-like film that reminded me a bit of Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Since I review movies quite a bit, I pay attention to the critics. Since they were not kind to this film, I let it leave theaters. My 9-year-old daughter asked me to watch it with her tonight and I was amazed at how funny and well-made it was. This is another reminder to not trust the critics.

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The cat they got to play in this film is great. He’s very fluffy which makes you want to hug him. Unfortunately, I could never have a cat that hairy because it sheds and makes my nose itch. But this cat does great on the screen. I had feared there wouldn’t be enough cat stuff for my daughter after reading the premise of the film. I’m happy to say there is enough cat-on-screen time to satisfy the kids’ curiosity.

Christopher Walken is great in this, though he plays nearly the same role as he plays in Adam Sandler’s Click. There are a couple of scenes where he says things that are downright spooky. They aren’t spooky like a horror movie but rather like Goosebumps spooky. Jennifer Gardner is beautiful and does a great job as the wife and mom. Kevin Spacey is hilarious as a “Trump-like” business mogul who doesn’t spend enough time with his family.

After demonstrating to the audience he is an egomaniacal workaholic, Kevin Spacey’s character stops by a creepy cat store in a last-ditch effort to buy his daughter a cat for her birthday. The shop owner, Walken, puts a mystical spell on Spacey that later switches him into the cat’s body and vice versa. Through a course of events, the family and Spacey learn about themselves and it’s a hilarious ride as they go.

This is not a perfect film by any means. The jokes are all canned and it needs cat jokes and cat images often to keep it palatable. My 9-year-old laughed all the way through so that says a lot for its appeal to young kids. I thought it was cute and it gave me a chance to laugh with my daughter and enjoy some funny cat scenes. They indeed are the best part of the film. I recommend this one for parents to see with their 5-12 year olds as a light bonding movie where everyone can relax and have a laugh. I think the critics were way too hard on this one.

The Wailing

A small village is the setting for this terrifying horror movie from South Korea.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 are borderline spoof films based on the Karate, Kung Fu, and Samurai films of the 50’s, 60’s. and 70’s. If you’ve seen these two films, you ay enjoy listening along as I give my reactions. If you haven’t seen them, I don’t reveal too man spoilers but I encourage my listeners to see the films I cover and then tune in after to compare notes with me.

In my next episode (68), I am watching and commenting on the film “American Splendor” with Paul Giamatti. I hope you can watch this along with me before the next show and tune in to compare notes. It has an 81/100 score on Metacritic. Enjoy your day.

At well over two hours, it plays with its viewers and weaves clues to a mystery revealed brilliantly in the final scenes.

Not Rated | 2h 36min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery | 3 June 2016 (USA)
A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.
Director: Hong-jin Na
Writer: Hong-jin Na
Stars: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Do-won Kwak

Another Korean film from the same year, Train to Busan, offered us a father/daughter relationship that touched our hearts. Both are slightly different in their journeys and plot but it is a powerful force of fatherly love that bonds these men together with their little sweethearts. The evil force that threatens the policeman’s daughter here is shifty and hard to understand. It takes the father on a quest of love that promises to harm his physical body and perhaps his soul. Will his daughter be saved? That’s the question that keeps coming up.

The policeman is the star of this film. There are a few scenes with his that are definitely Oscar worthy. In a horror film you sometimes need a voice of reason to identify with. But what about when that voice you’re following starts losing touch with reality? That can be a scary thing.

Then, there is this evil force. Who is it? A ghost as the shaman says? This film is not just horror but also a mystery to be guessed at which, if you like mysteries as I do, makes it a lot of fun. This mysterious, sleepy horror mystery tale should not be spoiled. If you have not seen it and these themes interest you, I encourage you to watch it. If you have seen it, I think you’ll agree it is one of the more powerful horrors of its year (2016). I hope to connect further through a podcast outlining my thoughts on this film. Stay tuned.

10/10

X-Men: Apocalypse

A handful of elements are here that I could mention to promote this film. It works well on so many levels. The only question I really had while watching was: “Is it too long?” After the energetic applause at the end in the sleepy town theater I watch movies in, I’d say they got this length just right.

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X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Cast

James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence

Directed by

Bryan Singer

Written by

Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg

Other Info

Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated PG-13
144 min

First, the Spolier Free Zone!
James McAvoy as Professor X (Charles Xavier) and Michael Fassenbender as Magneto are back in what is sure to be one of the most highly expensive and possibly the greatest earning film of the X-Men franchise yet. Of course, that’s an opinion which is fitting in an op/ed review by a largely unpaid blogger. It is however, my strong feeling.

These movies have so much going on. For the “X-Laymen” like myself, it can be difficult to follow all the little innuendos and stories going on simultaneously. I put that there as a disclaimer to assuage the more rabid fans of X-Men. I do my best here.

The story is about an early campus that looks more like a house where the X-Men mutants are in a school run by Charles Xavier. Now, speeding through time way back to the Egyptian pyramid times, we have the opening shot. Sabah Nur is a worshipped king (of sorts) who, through the help of a mutant, is able to become immortal.

He’s evil, never a question about it. Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year) plays this role in a quite hate-able manner which fits in well with other roles he’s played. To make a short summary stop here, he awakens in the time aforementioned and tries to take down the whole world with the help of the X-Men. Yep, that’s the bare bones of it. I could say so many good things about this movie. I loved the characters in this I haven’t seen before (or at least not much). Olivia Munn is one of Apocalypse’s “henchman.” She does a fantastic job and I really hope she turns good so we can see her in new movies. For effects and multiple characters doing exciting things onscreen, I highly recommend this film. It is a tad long at 2hr 24min so bring caffeine. Having said that, what a ride! I can’t wait to see it again.

Next, Spoilers may follow!
My word to the wise: Charles Xavier’s love affair with Moira McTaggert is hovered and hovered over until finally they delve into it fully. Because I am a romantic at heart, I loved this story. Some will find it overly sentimental. The evil folks make evil look really good in this film. They do a lot of destruction. There is a scene when a bomb hits the X-Men school that is a work to make Lucasfilm jealous.

The history of Magneto AKA Erik Lehnsheerr (Michael Fassenbender) is quite elaborately explained. I did wonder, because it was rather long) why they didn’t have an “Origins” film on him the way they did on Wolverine. Perhaps they don’t want us to get too close to him. Nightcrawler (Kodi Scott McPhee) is absolutely hilarious. He strikes me as a secondary character in a movie but I almost could see him having his own movie. He’s a lot funnier than Captain America ever was. So there you go!

Things to Ponder:
Does a franchise as successful as this merit ticket-buyers or does it have to earn people’s money again, every installment?

Why are we shown that “good” is better in this film. The evil mutants seem to be having a LOT of fun? How could they have shown that good is a better choice in this film?

Who is more fun to watch in film: Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) or Professor X (Patrick Stewart)

Feel free to leave a reaction to one or more of these questions, or about the film.

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