Lisa’s Oscar Predictions For October


And now, we take a short break from TSL’s annual horrorthon to bring you Lisa Marie’s Oscar predictions for October!

Be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May. June. July, August and September!

Best Picture

Black Panther

Boy Erased

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

First Man

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

The Mule

Roma

A Star is Born

Vice

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Peter Farrelly for Green Book

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Vice

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Clint Eastwood in The Mule

Robert Redford in Old Man and the Gun

John C. Reilly in Stan & Ollie

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

Felicity Jones in On The Basis of Sex

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Bradley Cooper in The Mule

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun

Michelle Yeoh in Crazy Rich Asians

 

 

 

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions for September


It’s that time again!

It’s time for my somewhat random Oscar predictions!

Judging from the reactions at Venice Film Festival, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born would appear to be the current Oscar front runner.  At the very least, it seems destined to be nominated.  Personally, I still wonder if a remake of A Star is Born is going to have enough political cachet in a year that, so far, has been dominated by Hollywood virtue signaling.

Anyway, it’s a bit of a cliché to say the Oscar race is wide open but, despite all of the buzz around A Star is Born, it still feels as if it is.  That said, it’s also becoming a bit more clear.  Former front runners like Mary, Queen of Scots have fallen off the radar.  It seems likely the Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman will not be released until next year.  There are rumors that Clint Eastwood’s The Mule might get a December qualifying run but, for now, those are just rumors.

Below are my predictions for this month.  The usual caveats about wishful thinking and wild guesses apply.  To be honest, we won’t know anything for sure until the critics and the guilds make their voices heard in December and January.

Be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and August!

Best Picture

Beautiful Boy

BlackKklansman

Black Panther

Crazy Rich Asians

The Favourite

First Man

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

A Star is Born

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Jon M. Chu for Crazy Rich Asians

Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Spike Lee for BlackKklansman

Best Actor

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Robert Redford in Old Man and the Gun

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Julia Roberts in Ben Is Back

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Ben Foster in Leave No Trace

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

Michelle Yeoh in Crazy Rich Asians

Barry and Oscar

Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (dir by James Gunn)


(MINOR SPOILERS!  SPECIFICALLY, THE IDENTITY OF THIS FILM’S MAIN VILLAIN WILL BE REVEALED)

The Guardians of the Galaxy are back!

And this time, they’ve brought some new friends with them, friends with names like Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, and … David Hasselhoff?

That’s right.  David Hasselhoff is now a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and somehow, it feels totally appropriate.  For all the words that have been written comparing Guardians of the Galaxy to the Star Wars franchise, it’s true ancestor is the 1978 Italian film, Starcrash.  (Perhaps not coincidentally, Starcrash was Hasselhoff’s film debut.)  Watch the trailer below and just try to tell me that you can’t imagine Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana in the lead roles.

But enough about my obsession with Italian exploitation films.  I know the question that you want answered.  Is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as good as the first one?

Well, it depends on how you look at it.  Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is an absolute blast, a wonderfully entertaining film that mixes subversive comedy with sci-fi action.  Everyone from the first film — Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel — is back and they’ve still got the same winning chemistry that made the first film so much fun.  Everyone is still committed to their roles, delivering even the strangest of dialogue with undeniable flair.  Nobody’s gotten bored with saving the universe yet.  The new additions to the cast are all well selected.  Kurt Russell totally disproves the assumption that MCU villains are never as interesting as their heroic opponents but, then again, it helps that he’s playing a character who has a memorable and odd backstory.  Once again, director James Gunn combines crowd-pleasing moments with his own sharp sense of humor.  If the pompous tone of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman made you sick, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is the perfect antidote.

Unfortunately, Volume 2 doesn’t provide the same thrill of discovery as the first film.  It’s easy to forget that, before the first film came out, a lot of people were predicting that Guardians of the Galaxy would be the first MCU film to flop at the box office.  The conventional wisdom was that, as opposed to a character like Captain America, no one, outside of a few comic book readers, knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were.  Chris Pratt was just the goofy guy from Parks and Recreation.  A talking raccoon?  A walking tree?  It was all way too weird, the naysayers proclaimed, to appeal to a mainstream audience.

However, James Gunn proved them wrong.  Guardians of the Galaxy was not only the most successful MCU film to that date but it was also my pick for the best film of 2014.  I can still remember watching it for the first time and immediately falling in love with both the film’s skewered sensibility and Chris Pratt’s funny but soulful performance.  As opposed to a lot of films that were nominated for and won Oscars that year, Guardians of the Galaxy actually holds up after repeat viewings.

(Seriously, has anyone tried to rewatch Birdman lately?)

Going into the sequel, everyone now knows who the Guardians are and Chris Pratt is now a beloved film star.  Volume 2 has a lot to live up to and, for the most part, it succeeds.  It’s a tremendous amount of fun and, at the same time, it has a heart.  (The heart at the center of the Guardian of the Galaxy films is perhaps the biggest heart in the MCU.)

What is the film about?  Much like the first film, it’s about family.  After years of telling everyone that his father was David Hasselhoff, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finally meets his real father (Kurt Russell), a God-like figure named Ego.  Charismatic, cheerful, and just a little bit odd, Ego seems like the perfect father figure but he has some secrets of his own.  Russell gives a wonderful performance, making Ego one of the few MCU villains to be as interesting as the heroes.

While Peter is bonding with his dad, he is also being pursued by his adoptive father, the blue-skinned space pirate named Yondu (Michael Rooker).  Yondu has been rejected by both his adopted son and the rest of his adopted family.  The other space pirates are no longer loyal to him.  His former boss (Sylvester Stallone) wants nothing to do with him.  As silly as it all may sound, it’s also unexpectedly poignant, thanks to Michael Rooker’s performance.  Rooker has appeared in several of Gunn’s films.  He’s almost the Cary Grant to Gunn’s Alfred Hitchcock.  Rooker gives one of the best performances of his careeer in the role of Yondu.  It’s tempting to be dismissive of Yondu, with his blue-skin and his Alabama accent, but Rooker makes him one of the most compelling characters to ever be found in an MCU film.

Meanwhile, Rocket Raccoon (voiced again by Bradley Cooper) has become a surrogate father figure to Groot (voice by Vin Diesel), who is still just a baby tree.  (Groot, a living tree, was reduced to just a twig at the end of the first film.  Fortunately, Rocket planted the twig and, in another few movies, we’ll hopefully have a fully grown Groot.)  Yes, Baby Groot does get to dance, again.  At one point, one of the film’s villains forbids any of his henchmen from attacking Baby Groot because he’s just too adorable to destroy.  And he’s right!  After this movie, everyone will want a Baby Groot of their own.

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) has been reunited with her sister, Nebula (Karen Gilliam) and, once again, they spend most of the movie trying to kill each other.  I have three older sisters so I related to their relationship.

And finally, Drax (Dave Bautista) is still mourning his family.  Fortunately, he gets to spend some quality time with Ego’s odd assistant, an empath named Mantis (Pom Klementieff).  Drax and Mantis both have no idea how social interaction is supposed to work and their scenes together are definitely a highlight of the film.  Bautista and Klementieff share a really likable chemistry.  Bautista is one of those actors who can make you laugh just be giving the camera a quizzical look.  Drax may not be as a complicated as the other Guardians but that simplicity often makes him as interesting as his more complex compatriots.

The film’s not only about family.  It’s also a strike against elitism and a celebration for freedom.  Over the course of two films, the Guardians have battled against both an actual god and a fanatic who claimed to speak for God.  At a time when so many movie heroes are tools of authoritarianism, the Guardians of the Galaxy stand for freedom.  In many ways, Peter Quill is as much of a symbol for liberty as Captain America.  Captain America makes his point with a shield while Peter Quill makes his case by dancing.

As might be expected from an MCU film, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is full of thrilling visuals, exciting battles, and quotable one liners.  Even if it never reaches the heights of the first one, it’s a blast of a film and, as Arleigh told me it would, the finale brought tears to my mismatched eyes.  See it and have a good time.

Also, be sure to stick around through the entire end credits.  Along with a lot of clues about what might happen in the future of the MCU, there’s also one final Groot joke that made me laugh out loud.

Enjoy!

 

Film Review: The Heroic Trio (1993, dir. Johnnie To)


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Jeez! It seems like it was just yesterday when I remembered that a Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman movie was coming out this month. Now Ryan already has his review of it up. Here I am sitting on this, the sequel called Executioners (1993), and way more Batman and Superman movies than I care to list left to review. With that in mind, I’d better get on it if I want to even finish by the end of the next month, or the month after that.

I have done several Superman movies and a Batman movie already. That Batman movie technically had Wonder Woman right near the end, but I wasn’t comfortable with that alone. Aside from the 1974 TV Movie, this movie, and it’s sequel, were the only ones that popped up as having a Wonder Woman in them. Even IMDb lists the character of Tung as Wonder Woman. She doesn’t exactly look or act like you would expect Wonder Woman to act. In fact, my subtitles call her Super Heroine and the version on Netflix calls her Shadow Fox. But the movie has Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh, and Anita Mui playing superheroes in a reworking of The Terminator/Terminator 2/Lady Terminator. By The Terminator, I mean the 1984 version. I think we can be fairly certain that director Johnnie To was unaware this version of The Terminator existed.

The Terminator (1991, dir. Ben Hernandez)

The Terminator (1991, dir. Ben Hernandez)

It is also filled with references to everything from Silver Streak (1976) to Remo Williams (1985) to the Flying Guillotine movies. I can’t really bring myself to feel mislead that I was going to get a Chinese Wonder Woman. By the way, I apologize in advance for all the references I’m sure I have missed. But, I don’t apologize for not including screenshots of the two scenes that no one needs to see if they don’t watch the film themselves.

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The movie begins and we hear on the radio that 18 babies have been kidnapped in the last three months as a car pulls up at to an old house. This is when we meet Wonder Woman (Anita Mui), her husband Lau (Damian Lau), and the real estate agent. He takes them inside this dump that only really looks good from the outside. As he tries to sell it, he is also honest. You know, full disclosure and all that. He has to tell them that it is “structurally sound. It had a minor fire, that’s all.”

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992, dir. Richard Donner)

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992, dir. Richard Donner)

He quickly thinks that there’s no way he’s going to make a sale here. He even kicks at one of the pillars in the house causing it to fall down and a bird’s nest to land on his head.

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However, much to Chinese Leo Getz’s surprise, she wants the place anyways. But you know what’s even more of a surprise? The next scene that happens right after they say they will take the house. I’ll explain it, show it, then give you my theory as to why it exists.

Her husband spots a guy outside trying to hot wire their car. He grabs a vine from the roof of the house and dives out the window with it like he’s Tarzan. After landing, he proceeds to use it to lasso the thief and yank him out of the car. He then hands the guy hand cuffs telling him to cuff himself, which he does. It then cuts to Wonder Woman and the real estate agent. He says, “He’s so cool,” to which she responds, “Of course, my hubby is a cop.” Here’s what it looks like.

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No, it’s never brought up again. It’s as if the film just wanted you to know that Hong Kong cops can do that. Believe it or not, I have seen an otherwise unexplainable scene such as this somewhere else before. If memory serves, the movie is actually a favorite of Lisa’s. I haven’t seen it myself, but I have seen The Cinema Snob review of it. It’s a movie called Pieces (1982). There’s a scene where a girl on a college campus is walking around at night when out of nowhere a Chinese guy tries attacking her with martial arts before passing out next to her. A guy comes up to say it’s his Kung Fu professor. The Chinese guy gets up, apologizes saying he had some bad chop suey, and then walks off.

Pieces (1982 dir. Juan Piquer Simón)

Pieces (1982 dir. Juan Piquer Simón)


Pieces (1982 dir. Juan Piquer Simón)

Pieces (1982 dir. Juan Piquer Simón)


Pieces (1982 dir. Juan Piquer Simón)

Pieces (1982 dir. Juan Piquer Simón)


Pieces (1982 dir. Juan Piquer Simón)

Pieces (1982 dir. Juan Piquer Simón)

The reason for it is that the producer of the movie Dick Randall also produced Bruceploitation movies. To give a little advertising for those films he had one of the Bruceploitation actors do that random scene. I figure there must be a similar explanation for why Damian Lau does this bit. It’s my best guess.

Next we cut to the police station where the Invisible Woman (Michelle Yeoh) is screwing with the cops.

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We find out that all the babies that have been kidnapped are male babies. She leaves a threatening notice for the Commissioner that it will be his baby that is going to be kidnapped next. Now the movie cuts to a hospital.

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This set is so 1993 that I thought the Super Mario Bros. might show up at any time.

Super Mario Bros. (1993, dir. Annabel Jankel & Rocky Morton)

Super Mario Bros. (1993, dir. Annabel Jankel & Rocky Morton)

After some talking, a lady asks why they can’t just call in Wonder Woman. That’s when the Invisible Woman tries to snatch two more babies. Well, not really. She picks them up and throws them out a window. These are special babies though because they take forever to fall to the ground. They take long enough for the guy in the window and a woman on the ground to have a conversation about which one to catch. Also, long enough for Wonder Woman to show up running across power lines to make her dramatic entrance.

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She throws her equivalent of batarangs to pin the two babies to the wall, which are apparently still near the top of the building after all this has happened. Also, apparently the two batarangs come straight down on the babies, are then are shown in Wonder Woman’s hand, then come in horizontally to pin the babies to the wall. You know, something tells me this film isn’t very realistic and might have been rushed into production.

Wonder Woman spots some blood on the wall where the babies are and throws her batarangs at them thinking someone might be there. It obviously hits the Invisible Woman. Why it hits the wall yet still causes her to bleed is anyone’s guess. Maybe they just grazed her. Regardless, one of the babies flies off the wall while the other is taken away by the Invisible Woman. Wonder Woman then leaps into action and catches the baby with some rope who is still exerting its magic ability to defy the laws of gravity. She catches the baby with rope and yanks it towards her like her husband Tarzan Lau from the beginning. Maybe that scene was to tell us she learned that trick from her husband. I doubt it though cause the rest of the film will make it very clear to the viewer that he is just a regular cop while she is the superhero. Doesn’t matter. She tells her husband to have the blood on the wall looked into.

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He doesn’t know it’s his wife because he has clearly contracted Lois Lane syndrome. She then calls her husband to tell him she will be late.

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Now we cut to the Invisible Woman in a car with the baby she has kidnapped. Like all the movie’s I’ve been watching lately, we need to pull out the “of course” for this scene. Of course she heads for a random manhole and kicks it up with her foot. Of course after climbing down to the sewers they turn out to be the set for the bad guys. Of course she runs into this movie’s Arnold Terminator…

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who proceeds to fight her, get his finger cutoff, and then eats it. Cause of course he does. Now we meet Robert Patrick Terminator crossed with Lady Terminator who is also on loan from the 70’s. I’ll just call him the Evil Kung Fu 1000.

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He keeps saying that “China must have an emperor.” Funny that Maggie Cheung would go on to be in the film Hero (2002), which many consider to be Chinese government propaganda that said it was okay to slaughter a bunch of people if it meant unifying China. Those babies will not die in this movie. Maggie does kill a bunch of small children though who are down there rather than allowing them to become servants to this king of sorts. At the end of the movie, the babies will be found alive. Little side note, if you have only seen Hero, then watching The Emperor and The Assassin (1998) is essential. It’s a much better and realistic film about the same story.

Oh, and you see the children die. She throws dynamite into the group of them that are in chains. You can see the looks on their faces. You can see one of them fly in the air. You also see at least one of them piss themselves as they are dying. When it comes to this part, the movie doesn’t play any games like it does with the rest of the film. Remember, this film came out the same year as Farewell, My Concubine (1993) and The Blue Kite (1993), which certainly had the Chinese government’s panties in a twist. At this time Chinese studios were also entirely cutoff from government funding. I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnnie tried to cloak a message here with superheroes and such. Another little side note. If you watch this movie on Netflix, then that scene is edited out of the movie. The kids still die, but it’s implicit, offscreen, and you really don’t know it happened because you only saw the babies and they are rescued in the end. The only hint at this is a very quick flashback to the children before being blown up that they didn’t edit out. But it’s so quick no one who didn’t know there was something missing would notice.

Anyways, the movie now goes into a flashback. We see a guy standing next to a little girl in white who will turn out to be the child version of Wonder Woman. He is pointing at a girl in red who is the child version of the Invisible Woman telling her she has to climb up this rope hanging over a cliff all by herself.

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She doesn’t make it up the cliff. How she survived the fall…I don’t know. I’m just going to assume that Michelle Yeoh is such a badass that she has the same powers as Michael Des Barres who survived this.

MacGyver

MacGyver


MacGyver

MacGyver

That was a nightmare the Invisible Woman was having. This is where it gets a little weird. She wakes up in a bed that is on the other side of some glass separating her from the rest of the room. On the other side is a professor who is working on the invisibility suit. Apparently, it doesn’t work under direct sunlight.

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Not sure how this setup happened or exactly what she is doing for him in this situation. I do know that she is on that side of the glass because the other side isn’t safe health wise while he works on the suit. I also know that she is there because we will find out that she is meant to steal the suit permanently once it works perfectly.

Next Wonder Woman visits a fortune teller to try and figure out why all these babies are being kidnapped. The fortune teller tells her that they are destined to be emperors. That’s when a little girl falls out a window, they obviously didn’t count on people being able to pause the film with accuracy in 1993, I won’t post it, and Wonder Woman jumps out to save her.

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She also saves a cat that fell out of the window shortly after the little girl fell. I love that she looks around at the children in the windows as if to say keep it under your hat, but apparently the fortune teller she was sitting next to didn’t notice anything. She was probably meant to be blind, but there’s nothing in the scene to indicate that except her wearing sunglasses. Oh, and of course the child and the cat have the magic ability to fall at just the correct speed to be caught.

Back at the Wonder Woman estate, she is chopping vegetables and her husband is cutting a log. Wonder Woman has a flashback to a little girl kissing her and referring to her as an older sister, but it doesn’t make any sense. Good scene.

Downtown at Aota Chemicals a hostage situation is taking place. So of course the cops call in Cobra.

Cobra (1986, dir. George P. Cosmatos)

Cobra (1986, dir. George P. Cosmatos)

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I know Maggie Cheung’s character has an actual name in this movie, but I don’t care. I’m just going to refer to her as Cobra Cheung. She’s not a cop like Cobra, but does this kind of work freelance. However, she does just what Cobra would do in this situation. She straddles a barrel, lights the back of the sucker on fire, and flies into action.

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She dispatches some of them and launches the others out in barrels for the cops to arrest. Before leaving, she offers her services to the commissioner to get his son back for him if he pays her. If memory serves, in the Netflix version she just offers to get his son back for him. In the original she wants more money if she brings him back alive, and a lesser sum if she brings him in dead.

Next, something happens back at the hospital where a madman is going to kill all the babies. It seems like it was just a last minute script addition in order to get Wonder Woman and the Invisible Woman in the same room for a bit before Cobra Cheung snatches a baby. Even having watched this movie twice, I’m still not sure why she takes this baby from the hospital. I understand that Wonder Woman and the Invisible Woman are in the same room in their regular clothes so that we can see that the Invisible Woman isn’t all bad as she lets her hand get cut up to rescue the babies from being killed.

Next we get a fight scene between all three of the ladies while the baby is there. This movie likes to follow projectiles in the air.

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For those of you who grew up in the 90s…

you’re welcome.

Sadly, the baby falls during this fight and lands on a nail. Wonder Woman takes the baby back to the hospital, but it dies.

Now we get a flashback that seems to indicate that not only did red girl survive the fall earlier, but that she left leaving Wonder Woman to alone do whatever the harsh trainer guy wanted both of them to do in the first place. I’m not sure why they bothered with this origin story stuff. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I probably haven’t followed it correctly, and it it doesn’t add anything to the film except to tell us they had connections prior to the events of the film.

Next we get a scene between the Invisible Woman and Cobra Cheung that had me confused. All you need to know is that Cobra wants the babies dead rather than to be turned into something evil, and this happens.

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Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985, dir. Guy Hamilton)

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985, dir. Guy Hamilton)


Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985, dir. Guy Hamilton)

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985, dir. Guy Hamilton)

Now we see how the Invisible Woman came to work for the Evil Kung Fu 1000. No explanation of how she got there, but he tells her she is no longer called Ching Ching, but will be known as Third Chan. Then he hits her on the back of the head with a log.

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Yep! That’s a thing that happens.

Next we get a couple of scenes for character development. Who cares when we need to get to the all important Arnold Terminator eating birds scene.

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That’s another thing that happens.

Cobra Cheung goes down to check out what’s happening in the sewers. She throws a bunch of birds up to distract this guy so she can look around. All that really matters here is that Cobra Cheung now knows the babies are being held down there in bird cages, and Arnold Terminator is now sent to kill Wonder Woman.

Cobra Cheung now shows up at the police station to tell them she’s off the case of the kids by throwing gold onto the table the cops are sitting at which disappears when the camera cuts.

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Another good scene. Moving on now. As Cobra Cheung is leaving on her motorcycle, Wonder Woman throws the baby from American Sniper at her, which she catches.

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Now we need more action and references. That’s why Arnold Terminator has taken a train station hostage, destroyed the computer, and brought a flying guillotine with him.

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Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976, dir. Yu Wang)

Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976, dir. Yu Wang)

Wonder Woman and Cobra Cheung get to the train station, but not in time to do much except this.

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They drive the motorcycle into the wall, bounce off of it spinning, throw dynamite at Arnold, jump off, and the motorcycle is destroyed. That’s a thing that happens too. Then the train crashes into the station.

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Silver Streak (1976, dir. Arthur Hiller)

Silver Streak (1976, dir. Arthur Hiller)

That’s when Arnold tries to stop the train himself…

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but he forgot he was a Terminator ripoff and not Superman…

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987, dir. Sidney J. Furie)

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987, dir. Sidney J. Furie)

so he is disposed of as far as that scene is concerned.

Now the movie gets on the fast track to its conclusion. Wonder Woman visits her husband in the hospital. He now knows her secret identity. Things get more desperate between the Invisible Woman and the professor because his research is killing him now. Then all three of them meet up on the set of every Kung Fu movie from the 70s.

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This scene only exists so they can fall over a cliff to recreate the flashback scene shown here.

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They decide to work together. Then without showing them climb up, it cuts to this…

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so that I can do this…

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989, dir. Steven Spielberg)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989, dir. Steven Spielberg)


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989, dir. Steven Spielberg)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989, dir. Steven Spielberg)

You might be wondering how her motorcycle is intact for this scene. No idea. You just have to roll with it.

Now the Arnold Terminator pays a visit to the professor to get the invisibility suit. He bends Cobra Cheung’s shotgun while they try to stop him.

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Then this reactor like thing that was in the professor’s lab gets punctured. The room turns red and everything. They cause him to fall in it. He has the professor’s notes on a tape when he goes in. He punches his hand out of thing holding the tape player. That’s the last we see of him. I’m guessing that’s a setup for the sequel.

Now they go to fight the Evil Kung Fu 1000. First though, we have to kill the kids.

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Ninth Chan is Arnold Terminator. Moving on because you don’t want to see it. The battle ensues before leaving the sewers to the set of Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).

Highlander II: The Quickening (1991, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

Highlander II: The Quickening (1991, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

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Considering the plot of the sequel to this movie, I’m sure Highlander II and its ilk were in the director’s mind while making this film.

They fight for awhile till Cobra Cheung is able to put a stick of dynamite into the Evil Kung Fu 1000’s robe.

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 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, dir. James Cameron)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, dir. James Cameron)

After going up in flames, the movie does exactly what you think it does.

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You can take your pick here.

 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, dir. James Cameron)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, dir. James Cameron)


The Terminator (1984, dir. James Cameron)

The Terminator (1984, dir. James Cameron)


Lady Terminator (1989, dir. H. Tjut Djalil)

Lady Terminator (1989, dir. H. Tjut Djalil)

The way the Evil Kung Fu 1000 looks like after emerging from the flames, I think the director probably had a combination of The Terminator and Lady Terminator in mind.

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In short order, he latches onto the Invisible Woman to make her fight for him.

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See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989, dir. Arthur Hiller)

See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989, dir. Arthur Hiller)

Eventually they are able to break the Invisible Woman free, and the bad guy falls to his death to shatter on the concrete. Then they walk off into the distance.

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Well, there is one more short scene. We cut to Wonder Woman and her husband watching TV. This is when we find out that the husband has coined their name as The Heroic Trio and that the cops rescued the babies.

That’s The Heroic Trio. It has plenty of martial arts. It has plenty of mistakes. It doesn’t soft pedal things. It’s somewhat confusing. It’s a little insane. Overall, I would say I enjoyed it. If nothing else, it was fun to see all three of these famous Chinese actresses together onscreen. Especially since Anita Mui is no longer with us and Maggie Cheung appears to have stopped acting. They’ve all done better work, but I still recommend this enjoyable mess of a movie. I’m looking forward to watching the sequel.

Scene I Love: Sunshine (dir. by Danny Boyle)


The scene in Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine” where the crew reaches Mercury is one of my favorites. It may not be as powerful as Kaneda’s Death, but this is one of those moments I can watch and smile at. There are no words, but visually, It’s an awesome moment of reflection in the scheme of things. John Murphy and Underworld’s music add a nice touch to this.

Review: Kung Fu Panda 2 (dir. by Jennifer Yuh Nelson)


In 2008, Dreamworks Animation released what many had thought was one of their animated films. Some even went so far as to consider it on the same level as many of the Pixar animated offerings. This was high praise indeed and the praises from critics was awarded by public acclaim as Kung Fu Panda became an instant classic for Dreamworks Animation. It wasn’t a huge surprise that a sequel was quickly greenlit by the studio and now three years has passed and that sequel has finally come out. Kung Fu Panda 2 does one of those rare feats in film-making where it surpasses it’s original predecessor in all things. This was a sequel that was able to take what made the first one so fun and thrilling and build on it without losing the charm that made it so beloved in the first place.

Kung Fu Panda 2 brings back the Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black returning in the role of the big fat panda) as he continues to live his dream of having become the Dragon Warrior and fighting evil, bandits and criminals with his fellow kung fu masters, the Furious Five. Instead of the film highlighting Po’s size as a detriment and keeping him a buffoonish character like in the beginning of the first film this sequel actually makes him an equal of his heroes, if not, surpassing them. This is a refreshing change since the writers could’ve easily banked on Po as a character who bungled and stumbled his way through most of the film.

This film was a continuation of Po’s journey as a hero which the first film was just the first step. Despite being a kung fu master in his own right his culture becomes threatened by a villain even more devious than the first film’s Tai Lung. Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman) is the mad peacock heir to Gongmen City who has found an ultimate weapon through fireworks that he plans to defeat kung fu and conquer all of China. Kung fu is everything to Po and he journeys with the Furious Five to confront Lord Shen and stop his plans before it’s too late.

It’s during this journey that Po learns more about his true past and where he truly comes from. The sequences where Po’s adopted goose father tells of Po’s past was some of the best animations Dreamworks has done and I’d say surpasses some of Pixar’s own work. After seeing this film I’m sure many kids and some adults would want themselves their very own baby panda. Who would’ve thought that baby pandas sounded like human babies when they cried. It’s knowing his past that Po must now learn to find his inner peace if he’s to ever go beyond just being a kung fu master.

Kung Fu Panda 2 was actually quite a dark film in places as themes of genocide, destructive march of technology against nature, difficulties of adopted children finding their true origins and many others. That’s not to say that this sequel wasn’t fun to watch. The action took the kung fu fight scenes from the first film to a whole new level, but without turning it into all flash and no substance. It’s during some of the thrilling fight sequences that we see Po truly become part of the Furious Five and even affection from some of it’s members. It would be interesting to see how a third film would explore the growing relationship between Po and certain striped-feline.

The story gets a much needed infusion of creative help from one Guillermo Del Toro who served as creative producer. His inclusion in the film’s development was probably why the film had a much darker and serious tone in addition to the charm it continued from the first film. If there was anyone in Hollywood who knows how to further develop a character through a Campbellian hero’s journey then it’s Del Toro. If Dreamworks Animation is able to keep Del Toro on hand to further treat their other projects then it will be quite a coup for the studio.

The animation in this film is a step above the first film and anything Dreamworks Animation has ever done. With each passing year and release it looks like Dreamworks Animation has been able to come to the same level of animated work Pixar has set with their own projects. While I’m sure there’s no animosity between animators fo the two houses there probably is some sort of friendly rivalry which helps push both studios to improve on their animation work. All this means is that the public wins out in the end as we’re treated to better animated features from both Dreamworks and Pixar. It’s a good thing that Dreamworks Animation has also improved their storytelling with each new film that they’re not being called the weaker films when compared to Pixar’s latest.

In the end, Kung Fu Panda 2 more than lives up to it’s predecessor and actually surpasses it in every way. This sequel’s animation and use of stereoscopic 3D was some of the best in CG animation to date. It had a story that continued to explore and build the characters from the first film that they’ve gone beyond simple, basic animated characters but fully realized and complex individuals. Even the ending scene in the film which definitely sets-up a third film doesn’t seem tacked on but looks like something that would further continue Po’s hero’s journey. Sequels and milking of a franchise usually don’t sit well with serious film fans, but this franchise seems to be doing it correctly and using each new film to further an epic tale. Here’s to hoping we see Po and his Furious Five friends back for more in the coming years.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (Super Bowl TV Spot)


Here’s another tv spot to air during Super Bowl XLV and this time around it’s the one for the upcoming sequel to Dreamworks Animations very popular and successful Kung Fu Panda.

This one using that Queen arena anthem chant from “We Will Rock You”. The 30-second ty spot shows more action with the requisite panda shenanigans from Jack Black’s character.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is one sequel I’m definitely hyped to see as the first film I ended up watching over and over and over and over and over again. The film comes out on May 26, 2011.