Franchise Weekend – Urban Legend (1998)

Director: Jamie Blanks

Writer: Silvio Horta (Screenplay)

Starring: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Loretta Devine, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid, Robert Englund

 

Plot: A college student suspects a series of bizarre deaths are connected to certain urban legends.


Tagline – Never Talk To Strangers, Never Answer The Phone, Never Flash Your Lights, Never Leave The Car, And Always Believe, What You’re Told

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun Slasher

 

Story: Urban Legend starts as we meet our college students Natalie (Witt) Paul (Leto), Brenda (Gayheart), Parker (Rosenbaum), Damon (Jackson) and Sasha (Reid) who are all studying in a class where Professor William Wexler (Englund) teaches them about the origins of urban legends.

When Natalie sees Damon killed in the myth of an urban legend she starts to believe there is a serial killer on campus and it is up to campus security officer Reese Wilson (Devine) to keep everyone safe, while Natalie tries to get to the bottom of everything.

 

Thoughts on Urban Legend

 

Characters – Natalie is our leading student, it is her old friend that is the first victim with the next couple of killings are people close to her, she is determined to learn the truth believing there is an Urban Legend serial killer taking advantage of the anniversary of a tragedy on campus. Paul works for the campus newspaper and with the murders starting on campus he gets big stories even if the Dean is trying to spin them into nothing, he helps Natalie investigate the truth even though he knows each murder could have an answer. Brenda is the best friend of Natalie’s who helps her through her time of need being the most frightened about the Urban Legends. Reese is the head of security that idolises Pam Grier and wants to keep the student safe no matter what.

PerformancesThis cast is filled with young actors that only went onto bigger projects, Alicia Witt in the leading role is good throughout, the innocent slasher style final girl figure. Jared Leto shows us that he is mostly likely the best performer of the students, Rebecca Gayheart is good at the typical best friend figure which again helps fill the generic roles the film painfully uses. Loretta Devine is the potential show stealer here with her character getting the best lines while trying to solve the crime. As I was saying most of the characters are generic with each performer getting their parts done very well.

StoryThe story here brings us to a slasher horror movie which makes the killer select different Urban Legends to kill their victims. This does bring an original twist to how the kills are being completed, until things just turn into a slasher generic movie for the later kills, lets all be honest, we know slasher movies don’t need the most intense stories and you generally will follow the traits of the genre. One big plus point for this movie is that we get plenty of suspects, just when you think it is one person, things take a twist a throw another suspect in the prime position, this happens plenty of times which is a huge plus for any movie.

Horror/MysteryFor a horror movie this gives us the generic characters, mistakes that we know too, the kills start being unique with the urban legend style behind them and the mystery comes from just who is behind the murders with plenty of different characters with motivations.

SettingsThe film takes place on a college campus, this give our characters reason to not be able to just run with the Dead believing things are pranks and good reasons behind other deaths. The one negative about this location is that these kids are all stupid enough to believe urban legends are real in the first place.

Special EffectsThe effects are used for the kills which are simple and never needing to be over the top either.


Scene of the Movie –
Urban Legends kills.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Understanding American laws, partial spoiler, but how did the girls not get prison time?

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most enjoyable and original slasher movies, it has a unique idea that makes it standout with a wonderfully talent young cast.

 

Overall: Slasher that stands out.

Rating

 

 

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Vampires (1998)

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: Don Jakoby (Screenplay) John Steakley (Novel)

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell

 

Plot: Recovering from an ambush that killed his entire team, a vengeful vampire slayer must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by vampires, will allow them to walk in sunlight.


Tagline – They’ve been around for 600 years…and they’re very, VERY thirsty.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable addition to the vampire genre

 

Story: Vampires starts as Jack Crow (Woods) and his gang of vampire hunters including Anthony Montoya (Baldwin) as they clean out a nest of vampires only they can’t find the master. Celebrating the success of the day the gang party but when the Master Jan Valek (Griffith) arrives looking for revenge he kills every member of the team except Jack and Anthony while turning Katrina (Lee).

Jack ordered to rebuild the team, must first regroup before he goes against his orders with a new priest Father Guiteau (Guinee) using Katrina as bait to locate Jan Valek who is in search for a legendary relic that would allow Valek to walk in the sunlight.

 

Thoughts on Vampires

 

Characters – Jack Crow is the leader of the vampire hunters, he has been hunting them his whole life, training other to aid in his quest to kill them all. He is ruthless in his action not accepting excuse from any man, woman or priest. Anthony is the only other member of the team that makes it out of the attack, he is a trusted second to Jack but keeps a secret from him during this story. Katrina is the young lady that gets bitten by Valek, Crow uses her to find him while she must battle the turning process. Jan Valek is the ancient vampire that has been terrorising for centuries, he isn’t getting killed as easily as others and now he targets immortality in the day light.

PerformancesJames Woods is great in this leading role, he takes the aggression needed to make us believe the vampire hunter is doing the right thing also showing the loyalty required in his performance. Daniel Baldwin is good but not to the level of Woods while Sheryl Lee does make for a good sexy vampire figure. Thomas Ian Griffith does make for a great vampire villain too being imposing in every single scene.

StoryThe story follows the old school vampire hunters hunting vampires but this time the enemy is stronger than they have ever faced. This film does move away from the gothic tones of previous film and takes us into a realistic setting for our characters to do battle with the vampires. This does work for the story because we now need to see a new less traditional style to vampires even if the story follows the normal it is a fun watch.

Action/HorrorThe action comes with the battles with the vampires, it is bigger than normal for the genre and we get plenty action. The horror comes from how we see the vampires disposed of along with how powerful Valek is

SettingsThe western settings make this feel like a race against time for gunslingers to stop an outlaw, which is what the idea was going for.

Special EffectsThe effects all seem practical with the fire behind the sunlight being some of the most horrific in the vampire genre.


Scene of the Movie –
Valek’s revenge is bloody.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was slightly confusing why stakes were used when they didn’t kill.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very enjoyable modern take on the vampire genre, it adds action and realism to a traditional gothic style of film which on one hand works but the other hand could get people not enjoying it.

 

Overall: Vampire fans must watch.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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