Sunday, July 30, 2017

Movie Review: Major League: Back to the Minors

Major League: Back to the Minors a.k.a Major League III
Morgan Creek Productions, Warner Bros., USA, 1998.

I thought I had all the "Major League"- films but I didn't, so I have to skip the second part for now. Oh well, this is not the first time I'm watching movies in the wrong order. 

Gus Cantrell (Scott Bakula) is planning to quit his baseball career that has seen the better days. Stuck in lower leagues he does not have much room for advancement. Maybe he should start a peaceful life with his nice girlfriend Maggie Reynolds (Jensen Daggett). His old friend Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen) suggest a new career coaching a minor team Buzz. After the previous movies Roger has become a baseball team owner.
Scott Bakula
Gus Cantrell
Jensen Daggett
Maggie Reynolds
Corbin Bernsen
Roger Dorn
The most promising player in Buzz is Billy 'Downtown' Anderson (Walton Goggins) but he is also selfish diva. Other players are weak. Pitcher Hog Ellis (Judson Mills) needs to learn pitching and the second pitcher Carlton 'Doc' Windgate (Peter Mackenzie) is too slow. Lance Pere (Kenny Johnson) is a former ballet dancer trying a baseball career and Lopez twins (Tim, Tom & Ted DiFilippo) are always quarreling. Empathetic Frank 'Pops' Morgan (Thom Barry) is supportive but too old to run fast, so Gus makes him the Captain. 
Thom Barry
Frank 'Pops' Morgan
Judson Mills
Hog Ellis
Walton Goggins
Billy Anderson
Roger wants Billy to his team Twins that is coached by Gus' old nemesis Leonard Huff (Ted McGinley). The game doesn't get better until two retired players 'Voodoo' Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) and Taka Tanaka (Takaaki Ishibashi) join the team and show the youngsters how to play baseball. Buzz gets a chance to humiliate Twins in a big arena, but Leonard does not play fair. Billy shows his skills though and Leonard hires Billy although he is still not ready for the big league. Losing the best player makes Buzz lose the motivation. The End.
Not really. Gus teaches that baseball is not one man show, but a team game. There is no "I" in "Team." The players deserve a second chance so it is a time for a rematch!
Dennis Haysbert
Takaaki Ishibashi
Taka Tanaka
Ted McGinley
Leonard Huff
Scott Bakula was good as a coach, whipping the underdog players into shape. Familiar character from the previous films Announcer Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) has some funny scenes. And Ted McGinley, known for "Married With Children" still has slick idiot charm. There is some fun physical comedy but the verbal comedy is milder than in the first movie, mostly because the new player characters are not as funny. You just start waiting the appearance of the old team players. Roger Dorn is quite out of the character here, and makes wonder what happened between the first and the third film. It is not so bad but far from remarkable. Although the comedy gets slightly better near the end, it almost would work better as a baseball TV-movie drama.

Rating: Average

Starring: Scott Bakula, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert, Takaaki Ishibashi, Jensen Daggett, Eric Bruskotter, Walton Goggins, Ted McGinley, Kenny Johnson, Judson Mills, Lobo Sebastian, Thom Barry, Peter Mackenzie, Ted DiFilippo, Tim DiFilippo, Tom DiFilippo, Bob Uecker, Larry Brandenburg, Jack Baun, Mike Schatz, Joe Kelly, J. Don Ferguson, Brian Beegle, Ted Manson, Ronald 'Buzz' Bowman, Alex Van, Tim Ware, Robert M. Egan, Michael A. Lynch, Richard Bruce Doughty, Al Hamacher, Natalie Hendrix, Stephen Hardig, Letroy Myers, Gary P. Pozsik, André Tardieu, Brien Straw, R.J. Kackley, Bradley Crable, Ken Medlock, Lucinda Whitaker, Kimberly Herndon, Elizabeth Diane Wells, Gary Murphy, Scott Foxhall, Warren Peper, Dee Thompson, Raymond Sterling, Ron Clinton Smith, Richie Dye, Dolan Wilson, Laura-Shay Griffin, Mark Storm, Bayani Ison
Director: John Warren

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Movie Review: Major League

Major League
Paramount Pictures, Mirage Enterprises, Morgan Creek Productions, USA, 1989.

In Cleveland baseball them Indians has not won the league in 35 years. Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) inherits the team and wants to move the team to Miami. First she has to end the deal with city of Cleveland, and the deal will be broken if there is a major drop in audience. So the team needs to fail so badly that the audience will stay at home. What they need is a team of losers, former stars and misfits. Colourful bunch of players arrives: has-been baseball star Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), voodoo-man Cerrano, weak-armed Eddie Harris (Chelcie Ross), sloppy-fingered snob Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen), wannabe-player Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes) and jailbird Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen).
Margaret Whitton
Rachel Phelps
Chelsie Ross and Corbin Bernsen
Eddie Harris and Roger Dorn
Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger
Ricky Vaughn and Jake Taylor
Against all odds the tough but fair coach Lou Brown (James Gammon) begins to get the motley crew on the winning track. Rachel tries dirty tricks to keep the team losing but they will not be discouraged. As a romantic sideplot Jake's old flame Lynn Wells (Rene Russo) is getting married and he decides to do something to repair the past. Also Ricky gets in a mess with Dorn's sexy wife Suzanne (Stacy Carroll).
Dennis Haysbert
Pedro Cerrano
Wesley Snipes
Willie Mays Hayes
Rene Russo
Lynn Wells
In the 1980s several variations of "Police Academy" were made and why not, there is always fun in watching a band of goofy underdogs outdo themselves. Every player has his own obstacles to overcome and there is always room for self-growth. The team even becomes interested in classical literatuire. Okay, in comic form but still. In the 1980s comedy style everything goes to achieve the feel good ending, so the story does not have great surprises but entertaining sports comedy does what it is supposed to do.
James Gammon
Lou Brown
Stacy Carroll
Suzanne Dorn
Amusing characters are performed by many familiar faces. Tom Berenger is seldom seen in comedic roles and also here he is in mostly dramatic role, still cracking jokes with the others. Before Wesley Snipes became an action star, he did a career in comedies, this is a bit different role than he is usually seen. His character is energetic but somewhat gullible. Charlie Sheen has the role of bad boy, who becomes a sports idol.

Rating: Good

Starring: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Margaret Whitton, James Gammon, Rene Russo, Wesley Snipes, Charles Cyphers, Chelcie Ross, Dennis Haysbert, Andy Romano, Bob Uecker, Steve Yeager, Peter Vuckovich, Stacy Carroll, Richard Pickren, Kevin Crowley, Mary Seibel, Bill Leff, Mike Bacarella, Skip Griparis, Gary Houston, Ward Ohrman, Marge Kotlisky, Tony Mockus Jr., Deborah Wakeham, Neil Flynn, Keith Uchima, Kurt Uchima, William M. Sinacore, Richard Baird, Julia Milaris, Roger Unice, Michael Thoma, Patrick Dollymore, Joe Liss, Gregory Alan Williams, Peter Ruskin, Michael Hart, James Deuter, Jack McLaughlin-Gray, Tim Bell, Joe Soto, Ted Noose, Lenny Rubin, Thomas P. Purdoff, Jeffrey J. Edwards, Alexandra Villa, Michelle Minyon, Alex Flores, Michael F. Twarog, Ted White
Director: David S. Ward

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Movie Review: Ju-On: The Curse 2

Ju-on: The Curse 2 (a.k.a Ju-on 2)
Toei Video Company, Japan, 2000.
ju-on 2 the curse

The sequel to "Ju-on: The Curse"  and prequel to "Ju-on: The Grudge"

This film continues directly from where the first film ended (actually it repeats about 30 minutes of the first film). Like the other films in the series this is divided to segments.

Toshio Saeki's (Ryôta Koyama) teacher Kobayashi (Yûrei Yanagi) tries to find his parents. Mother Kayako Saeki (Takako Fuji) had an unhealthy obsession with Kobayashi. Father Takeo Saeki (Takashi Matsuyama) has a horrible surprise for Kobayashi.
Yûrei Yanagi
Real estate agent Tatsuya (Makoto Ashikawa) asks her sister Kyoko (Yûko Daike), who has psychic skills, help to sell the cursed house. Tatsuya and his son Nobuyuki (Tomohiro Kaku) now live in the former apartment of Kobayashi.
Yûko Daike
New residents Yoshimi (Kaori Fujii) and Hiroshi Kitada (Hua Rong Weng) meet the curse. Tatsuya tries to save his family.
Kaori Fujii
Makoto Ashikawa
Cops Kamio (Tarô Suwa) and Iizuka (Reita Serizawa) try to make sense of the mysterious deaths.
 Takako Fuji
At school other students think he is acting weird.
Tomohiro Kaku
Schoolgirl Saori and her friends trespass the haunted house.

This was a difficult film to find. I tried to order a secondhand DVD two years ago but the seller disappeared mystically from the web. Creepy. The second copy was finally found from video store surplus shelf. However the film contains a lot of material from the first film and many of the events are reprised in the sequels so missing it would not been so big a loss except for seeing every film of the series. The story has some creepy scenes especially in the middle of the story but overall it does not feel as scary as the other of the series, as it lacks the surprises of the first film. Maybe the films 1 and 2 should have been cut to one film.

Rating: Average

Starring: Yûrei Yanagi, Takako Fuji, Takashi Matsuyama, Ryôta Koyama, Yûko Daike, Makoto Ashikawa, Tomohiro Kaku, Mayuko Saitô, Yue, Miyako Nakatsuka, Kenta Ishikawa, Ganko Fuyu, Kaori Fujii, Hua Rong Weng, Taizô Mizumura, Harumi Matsukaze, Duncan, Denden, Tarô Suwa, Reita Serizawa, Kiriko Shimizu, Nagisa Takemura, Hayato Ichihara, Akihiro Toyotome, Shiori Yonezawa, Mashio Miyazaki
Director: Takashi Shimizu

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Movie Review: Mythica: The Dragon Slayer

Mythica: The Dragon Slayer a.k.a Mythica 5: The Godslayer
Arrowstorm Entertainment, Mainstay Productions, USA, 2016.

After the lighter fourth movie it is a time for the epic finale where the sun does not shine much. In the end of the last movie Marek (Melanie Stone) gave the Dark Spore to Szorlok (Matthew Mercer) if attempt to gain time to find the Hammer of Tek that could destroy Szorlok. The problem is that God Tek (Kristian Nairn) died in ancient battle against evil and the Hammer is in the Underworld. Szorlok became the Lich King and is destroying the world with zombie armies. Marek and Dagen go to search for the Hammer while Thane and Teela go to help humans battle the undead horde.
Melanie Stone
Jake Stormoen
Adam Johnson and Nicola Posener
Thane and Teela
The heroes travel through the destroyed land familiar from the previous movies. Marek feels guilty about all the death caused by the Dark Spore. Szorlok is planning Götterdammerung and needs Marek's help. The gods are unwilling to help humans, but they will try to stop Marek if she decides to join the dark side. Still one more time Gojun Pye (Kevin Sorbo) appears to tell wise words.
Matthew Mercer
Kristian Nair
Kevin Sorbo
Gojun Pye
In the UK edition this was renamed as The Dragon Slayer although no dragons were hurt in the movie, maybe the original name was thought offensive or difficult to market or something. Still the original name is more fitting, as Marek struggles with doubt and considers joining Szorlok to save the world. Marek has an overwhelming burden and whatever she decides will change the world forever. The origin of Marek is finally explained and the story has the melancholy of Greek tragic hero tales. Although several of the heroes died in the previous parts only to be resurrected again, this time the deaths are final.

All in all the Mythica series was very enjoyable watch, with fantasy adventure, romance and sometimes humour, becoming darker as the story progressed. The cast was talented and put their souls to their roles. Melanie Stone did a nice job with the rollercoaster emotional journey Marek went through. Of the characters Dagen (Jake Stormoen) went through most development becoming from a lighthearted womanizer to the only one who believed in and inspired Marek in the end. Adam Thane did a strong warrior role and let's not forget Nicola Posener's ethereal and mysterious beauty. Impressive Matthew Mercer became larger than live evil wizard. Arrowstorm did a great job raising the standards of indie fantasy and let's hope that the good streak continues.

Kristian Nairn from "Game of Thrones" appears as Tek. Watch after the end credits to see what happened to Zombie Girl (Paris Warner).

Rating: Good
For the whole series: Very good

Starring: Melanie Stone, Adam Johnson, Matthew Mercer, Jake Stormoen, Bailee Michelle Johnson, Nicola Posener, Christopher Robin Miller, Cooper Daniel Johnson, Clint Vanderlinden, Paris Warner, Ethan Hunt, James C. Morris, Randall Malin, James Martin, Andy Jones, Ruby Jones, Charlie Jones, Ivy Jones, Kristen Marie Jensen, Kristian Nairn, Danny James, Lauren Spalding, Trenton James, Griffin Bonacci, Devin Hansen, Seth Williams
Director: John Lyde

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Movie Review: Mythica: The Iron Crown

Mythica: The Iron Crown a.k.a Mythica 4: The Iron Crown
Arrowstorm Entertainment, Camera 40 Productions, Mainstay Productions USA, 2016. 

Dwarf Hammerhead's plans to get Iron Crown to become king of the dwarfs. Maybe he could use the mercenaries Thorsten (James Gaisford), Caia-Bekk (Ashley Santos) and Rezzik (Jasen Wade) to gain it. Meanwhile Admiral Borlund Hess' (Eve Mauro) battle-wagon is carrying slave girls and a piece of Dark Spore. Marek (Melanie Stone) and her remaining friends Dagen (Jake Stormoen) and Thane (Adam Johnson) ambush the wagon and catch the Dark Spore. But that's not all! As a bonus the heroes get a new friend Zombie Girl (Paris Warner) who was a snobby princess but is now more tolerable as undead.
Adam Johnson
Melanie Stone and Jake Stormoen
Marek and Dagen
Paris Warner
Zombie Girl
The Admiral's air pirates chase the heroes with zeppelin. Szorlok (Matthew Mercer) sends demon warriors after them. Suddenly the heroes are being chased by everyone, in fantasy Mad Max style. The road goes toward Goddess Ana-Sett's temple that is guarded by very much Stargate's Jaffa-like dude. There may be a way to get Teela (Nicola Posener) back.
ames Gaisford, Ashley Santos and Jasen Wade
Thorsten, Caia-Bekk and Rezzik
Eve Mauro
Admiral Borlund Hess
The fourth movie is a lighter episode between two dark Mythica's. Even the ending song is light medieval rock. The fantasy introduces steampunk wagon and flying machines. It is stylistically a bit of touch with the other films, but it still quite entertaining. The Admiral and her maniac crew are funny in a campy way. The action sequences look again nice and the aerial scenes are impressive for the budget. The highlights include the epic battle of wizard Gojun Pye (Kevin Sorbo) and Szorlok. In the end the game pieces are set for the dark finale of the fifth film.
The Guardian (Chris Rueckert)
Matthew Mercer
Nicola Posener

Rating: Good

Starring: Melanie Stone, Adam Johnson, Jake Stormoen, Nicola Posener, Christopher Robin Miller, Paris Warner, James Gaisford, Ashley Santos, Jasen Wade, Kurt Knight, Kaza Marie Ayersman, Maloree Johnson, Benjamin Alexander, Paul D. Hunt, Andrew Dee Jones, Maclain Nelson, Chris Rueckert, Eve Mauro, Matthew Mercer, Kevin Sorbo
Director: John Lyde

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Movie Review: Mythica: The Necromancer

Mythica: The Necromancer a.k.a Mythica 3: The Necromancer
Arrowstorm Entertainment, Bellpond Films, Camera 40 Productions, USA, 2015.
Mythica 3: The Necromancer

Good Necromancer Marek (Melanie Stone) is getting lessons from Wizard Gojun Pye (Kevin Sorbo). Hard training requires hard relaxation and what is a better place for that than Dwarf Hammerhead's tavern. But Thane's (Adam Johnson) and Teela's (Nicola Posener) romance is going nowhere and neither is Marek's and Dagen's (Jake Stormoen). Or are they?
Melanie Stone
Kevin Sorbo
Gojun Pye shows that there is still much to learn
NIcola Posener and Adam Johnson
Teela and Thane
Undead army is pouring through a portal and Gojun Pye is hurt. Necromancer Szorlok (Matthew Mercer) is getting stronger with every piece of Dark Spore he gets. Nasty pimp and crime lord Peregus Malister (Robert Jayne) captures and tortures Thane. To save him the heroes must do a fetching job for Peregus. They have to find a smuggler named Eel (Davey Morrison) and his valuables. Unpleasant killer Betylla (Philip Brodie) comes as a chaperone. Still the killer has a soft spot. He has a supply of trained bugs that he takes care of.
Melanie Stone, Jake Stormoen, Nicola Posener
Marek, Dagen and Teela
Matthew Mercer
Robert Jayne
Peregus Malister
The series maintains the quality of the previous parts, with each sequel having better production values than the previous. This episode is darker than the previous, going towards the grittiness of "The Witcher" or "Game of Thrones." This time it is personal and saving the world is at the backseat (well, almost. The Dark Spore is found conveniently) as the mission is to save a friend. The characters have to do tragic choices. There is a good chemistry of the cast. If there is something to complain it is that couple of interesting characters get killed before they have time to develop. The wintery cinematography looks nice and there is stylishness in the combat scenes. Kevin Sorbo has a bigger role now and does decent damage to the undead army. In addition to sword and spell battles there is some fantasy trench warfare.
Undead rapscallion

Rating: Good

Starring: Melanie Stone, Adam Johnson, Jake Stormoen, Nicola Posener, Philip Brodie, Matthew Mercer, Robert Jayne, Kevin Sorbo, Davey Morrison, Oscar Sanchez, James C. Morris, Christopher Robin Miller, Robert Keddington, Emily Ann Roth, Benji Phillips, Owen Faller, Dave Bresnahan, Geoff Hansen, Sahna Foley, Evie Brodie, Griffin Bonacci 
Director: A. Todd Smith

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