Franchise Weekend – Mulan (1998)

Director: Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook

Writer: Rite Hsiao, Chris Sanders, Philip LaZbnik, Raymond Singer, Eugenia Bostwick-Singer (Screenplay) Robert D San Souci (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, Pat Morita, Miguel Ferrer, BD Wong

 

Plot: To save her father from death in the army, a young maiden secretly goes in his place and becomes one of China’s greatest heroines in the process.


Tagline – This time, the princess saves the prince.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun, But Dark Adventure Film

 

Story: Mulan starts in ancient China with Shan-Yu and the invading Hun attack. Mulan is a young woman that hasn’t been following the traditions on the family, she isn’t ready to just be a bride, when her father is summoned to serve in the impending war, she wants to help, running away to fight in her father’s place. Spirit dragon Mushu is sent to be her guardian on this adventure, to return her safely, but Mulan has other plans.

Mulan sets out to join the army in her father’s place under the leadership on Captain Shang, in a hope to rebuild her family honour that she has disrespected.

 

Thoughts on Mulan

 

Characters – Mulan is a young woman, she has been raised to follow tradition, something she wants to break and taking her father’s place in the army shows the independence she wants to achieve. This is a strong anti-princess role which is something Disney broke the mould with. Mushu is the guardian dragon that needs to rescue and watch over Mulan, though he mostly just causes trouble for her. This character is here for all the laughs in the movie. Shan-Yu is the leader of the Hun that are attacking China, his armies are ruthless when it comes to battle, with him being a great and powerful warrior.

StoryThe story follows one young woman that wants to make a difference in a world where only men can become the leaders of the armies, she breaks tradition to make a difference and become great. This brings us the idea of breaking away from the tradition just because the people tell you follow that path. For Disney this movie broke their own traditions of have a princess in distress needing rescuing and now feels like the trailblazer it wanted to be.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure side of the film does give us real peril because it takes Mulan into a war battle which has taken lives of many, this could be slightly too dark for the whole family to enjoy too.

SettingsThe film brings us to Ancient China which brings us a new animated setting for an American movie, we have the mountain range which looks beautiful and the towers that show the empires built.

AnimationThe animation is the usual top notch from Disney never looking out of place for their level of excellency


Scene of the Movie –
Mountain range attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me For me Mushu got annoying after a while.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful animated movie that does show us the courage one woman showed to save her country against tradition.

 

Overall: Disney’s last good movie of the late 90s.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Animation – Z – Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)

Director: Hiroshi Aoyama, Kazumi Fukushima, Jim Stenstrum

Writer: Davis Boi, Glenn Leopold (Screenplay) William Hanna, Joseph Barbera (Characters)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Scott Innes, Billy West, Mary Kay Bergman, Frank Welker, B.J. Ward, Adrienne Barbeau Tara Strong, Cam Clarke, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill

 

Plot: The Mystery Gang reunite and visit Moonscar Island, a remote island with a dark secret. Daphne wants more than just a villain in a costume, and they get more than they ever expected.


Tagline – This time, the monsters are real!

Runtime: 1 Hour 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun as Always

 

Story: Scooby Doo on Zombie Island starts as the gang as gone their separate ways, Daphne has become a reporter along with Fred as her producer and is setting out to discover real ghosts, Velma now working in a book story and Shaggy and Scooby work in airport security.

To celebrate Daphne’s birthday the gang come back together to investigate New Orleans, first unsuccessful before they meet Lena a chef on Moonscar Island who brings the gang to Simon Lenoir’s mansion which has a haunted history and it isn’t long before the gang find themselves facing a brand new mystery.

 

Thoughts on Scooby Doo on Zombie Island

 

Characters – We know the gang from before, but this is one of the few animated movies that addresses any sort of career away from the mystery solving antics and a romantic angle between Fred and Daphne. Scooby and Shaggy always getting haunting and searching for their next meal. The suspect list is interesting because we get the home owner Simone who has a mysterious past when it comes to being able to keep the house in a certain style. We have Lena the sexy chef that has a seductive way about her. The gardener Beau that is only ever seen alone or in the aftermath of an incident and Snakebite Scruggs who has been hunting a legendary catfish and hates tourists.

StoryThe story follows the Mystery Inc gang as they have gone into the real world with jobs and careers, they end up coming back together in search for real ghosts with the new mystery being one of the realest they have ever faced. The story does have hints a more adult themes than the television show had ever given us, the mystery being real does seem different and works for a feature film, it does feel like one of the scarier of the stories too.

Adventure/Comedy/Family/MysteryThe adventure the gang find themselves on does feel like one of the scariest in their history, even though the comedy does lighten the mood for the most part, this one will not be for the younger audience though, the horror side will be too much for them to handle, solving the mystery is what we love to do with the gang and what we get to do here.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the action on Moonscar Island in New Orleans, a location known for his mysterious sightings and beliefs, this adds to the horror side of the adventure because elements could be based on real stories.

AnimationThe animation standard is what we have come to expect from the Scooby-Doo franchise, everything works well and we get good moments throughout.


Scene of the Movie –
The on running ‘Dog where’ line.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This does actually feel like a Daphne movie over the rest of the gang.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun addition to the animated Scooby-Doo franchise, while slightly scarier than the rest it does hit the marks needed.

 

Overall: Scooby-Doo fans will enjoy this one.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – U – Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998)

Director: Jeff Woolnough

Writer: Peter M Lenkov (Screenplay)

Starring: Matt Battaglia, Andrew Jackson, Eric Bryson, Kevin Rushton, Desmond Campbell, Michael Copeman, Gary Busey, Burt Reynolds

 

Plot: The Universal Soldiers are used to smuggle diamonds for a CIA Director, but Luc Deveroux continues to cause him problems.


Tagline – No memory. No emotion. No mercy… Until one of them decides to become human again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Ouch!

 

Story: Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms starts as Luc Devreaux (Battaglia) has escaped with reporter Veronica (West) the only known living members of the universal Soldier project run by Otto Mazur (Busey). Wanting Luc back they set out his programming to return to base where Veronica must track him down while avoiding the law.

When Veronica reaches the base, she must sneak in (as you do) and work with Luc’s long lost brother Eric (Wincott) another member of the program to rescue him and stop Otto’s plans.

 

Thoughts on Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms

 

Characters – Luc Devreaux is the universal soldier, one of the last ones standing and now he has been reprogramed, but can his memories be stirred to bring back the human side from inside him. Veronica is the reporter that has found out the secret about the program and now she wants to expose it with Luc, she will do what it takes to save Luc from the base. Eric is the elder brother of Luc’s he has been missing for years, but he is one of the original universal soldiers now he works to save his brother. Otto is the recruiter for the program, he finds the dead soldiers, or he makes his own to keep the program filled for his bosses.

PerformancesDo I want to talk about the acting, well no because most of it is almost painful to watch through the film, Matt Battaglia doesn’t come close to Jean-Claude Van Damme and for the rest they are better but nothing overly convincing.

StoryThe story follows the idea of the universal soldiers being developed and how the government want it kept a secret. The story lacks the punch that the first one had, it does feel like the pilot for a television show which was the point. The story doesn’t have the twists but does want to continue to world build.

Action/Sci-Fi The action is also messy, we get too many cuts with not enough pure fighting which you would have had with Van Damme. The idea of enhanced soldiers works for the story, but we don’t get enough time to see everything going on with the project.

SettingsThe settings do feel almost pointless, we don’t get much happening with knowing as the we have plenty of random roads and no iconic buildings.

Special EffectsThe effects continue to show the weak points off the film which doesn’t connect the way they should.


Scene of the Movie –
Karaoke time

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just the acting in general.

Final ThoughtsThis is a pretty poor to terrible action sequel, the film just doesn’t hit the marks the other films in the franchise have and you will be left disappointed by the end.

 

Overall: Universally Bad.

Rating

 

 

Kurt Russell Weekend – Soldier (1998)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: David Webb Peoples (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaac, Connie Nielsen, Sean Pertwee

 

Plot: A soldier is dumped on a waste disposal planet and lives among a community of crash survivors on the planet and takes it upon himself to defend his new home when genetic engineered soldiers are ordered to eliminate the crash survivors.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Universal Soldier, Wait No

 

Story: Soldier starts in a world where the military select babies to train into emotionless soldiers, Todd 3465 (Russell) is the best of the first batch of trained men but when Colonel Mekum (Isaacs) starts genetically creating his super soldiers with his star being Caine 607 (Lee), Todd finds himself defeat and dumped on a waste disposal planet.

On this planet Todd is taken in by a community that live there after they crash landed but soon his skills make him a threat to even them, forcing him to leave and become the lone traveller on the planet. This quiet group gets ambushed by the Colonel on a clean-up mission leaving Todd to defend the innocent from his replacements.

 

Thoughts on Solider

 

Characters – Todd 3465 is an emotionless soldier trained from a baby to be the best in the field, he doesn’t say much but when he gets replaced he finds himself using his training to protect the innocent. Caine 607 is the new genetically advanced soldier who has replaced Todd, he is faster, stronger and deadlier than Todd. Colonel Mekum is the man that has bought out the replacements to deal with the bigger problems in the universe, not caring about the original models.

PerformanceKurt Russell is solid in this role, he got himself into shape for it but in the 90s the action stars were more physical presence while Russell doesn’t get the full chance to be the guy we know from the 80s. Jason Scott Lee is solid too in his performance, he has the look of the typical enemy our hero must face in combat to achieve his redemption. Jason Isaacs will always be a good choice for a military role and often finds himself working with this director.

StoryThe story is simple to follow, we have modified soldiers that have been replaced by the newest models and the older model must use his skills to defend the people who took him in against the new and improved model. It is a simple story it does feel like Universal Soldier for the most part too.

Action/Sci/FiThe action sequences are mostly the generic ones we have come to know from the soldier versus soldier film but nothing stands out. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the idea the soldiers are trained and built to fight in a futuristic war.

SettingsTh settings are easy to use with most being used in the montage to show Todd’s war record, the most part of the film is on a waste planet which puts our characters on the world there are desperate to escape.

Special EffectsMost of the special effects are fine but parts of them have dated through the years.

Scene of the Movie – Todd versus the world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does feel like a Universal Soldier rip off.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch action film that does feel like just another branch of the Universal Soldier universe.

 

Overall: Easy to watch actioner.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – O – Out of Sight (1998)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Scott Frank (Screenplay) Elmore Leonard (Novel)

Starring: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Catherine Keener, Steve Zahn

 

Plot: A career bank robber breaks out of jail, and shares a moment of mutual attraction with a U.S. Marshal he has kidnapped.


Tagline – Opposites attract.

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stylish Crime Film

 

Story: Out of Sight starts as we see how Jack Foley (Clooney) a thief that finally gets caught and sent to jail, after working on his own escape Jack gets help from his best friend Buddy (Rhames) to escape, but get mixed up with beautiful US Marshall Karen Sisco (Lopez).

As the escape doesn’t go as planned Jack falls for Karen and the two from opposite sides or the law must put faith in which ever side of the law they want to fight for, before Jack heads off for his latest score.

 

Thoughts on Out of Sight

 

Characters – Jack Foley is a charismatic bank robber that gets his job done without anyone getting hurt, but this latest job ends up getting him caught and in jail. When he escapes he falls for the US Marshall that wants to trail him, while also wanting to get one big score done. Karen Sisco is an US Marshall trying to climb the ranks, when she witnesses the escape she becomes a hostage for Jack as the two fall in love, she must decide whether to give up her career or not to be with Jack. Buddy is the best friend of Jack that helps him escape, while being loyal to her religious sister.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney shows us in his leading role that he was all charisma whichever side of the law he is on. Jennifer Lopez fills her role very well, playing the US Marshall convincingly from start to finish. Ving Rhames completes the leading three stars and just like the rest he hits his role well.

StoryThe story here focuses on a thief who has spent time in jail that puts together a heist which could get him away from the life of crime, but when he falls in love with a US Marshall it puts everything in perspective. This follows the slick style of the heist movies where we see how things are unfolding before we see how our main character has planned things to unfold, this works nicely throughout the film and makes the story an easy to watch enjoyed movie.

Crime/RomanceThe crime side of the film works as a heist like movie, with the romance being between the two that are either side of the law.

SettingsThe settings show us the hot of Miami and the cold of Detroit as the two different worlds of crime meet for the heists to go down in.


Scene of the Movie –
Jack wanting to take a last stand.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long for its own good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun stylish crime movie with a twist of the romance angle that work feeling fresh and enjoyable.

 

Overall: Enjoyable crime adventure.

Rating