Thursday, May 31, 2012

Phil's Flashbacks: Phil watches BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1992)-May 27, 2012

So I was reminiscing earlier today about all the films I have seen in my lifetime. One of those films I remembered seeing was on Comcast On Demand for free. So I treated myself a stroll down memory lane and I watched the film BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER from 1992.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1992)
The film stars Kristy Swanson as Buffy, your average, ordinary teenager. She's the most popular girl in school, she's dating the captain of the basketball team, and likes to go shopping with all her friends at the mall. Yup things are normal for Buffy, until a strange, mysterious man named Merrick (Donald Sutherland) shows up and informs her that she is the chosen one dubbed the "Slayer" who must stops a group of vampires led by the powerful and old vampire Lothos (Rutger Hauer) from taking over Los Angeles.  While trying to keep her normal life intact, she trains in hiding with Merrick and soon she begins to mature and starts to take life more seriously. With this new found maturity, her friends abandoned her, leaving Buffy to bond with the town's outcast Pike (Luke Perry). Soon they're the only thing that stands between Merrick and his vampire gang and the extinction of the human race.

The film also stars Paul Reubens, David Arquette, Stephen Root, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Tom Jane, Randall Batinkoff, Candy Clark, Sasha Jensen, and Hilary Swank! Also look for uncredited appearances by Ricki Lake, Seth Green, and Ben Affleck!

Creator Josh Whedon's script for the film was severely re-written to make the film "lighter." In the original script, Buffy burns down the school gym that the dance is being held in, in an effort to destroy the vampires. Also, Whedon was so frustrated by how much of his vision was being mishandled and how much of it was being rewritten that he eventually left the set during production and never came back. In 1999, Dark Horse Comics released a graphic novel adaptation of Whedon's original script under the title The Origin.

The film was also the debut for several big name Hollywood stars. This was future Oscar winner Hilary Swank's first film. Also look for Ben Affleck as a basketball player in one scene. Believe it or not, Seth Green has an three second uncredited cameo as a short red haired vampire. Ricki Lake also makes an uncredited cameo as Charlotte, a waitress in the scene where Pike and Buffy officially meet for the first time. Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens, who portrays vampire Amilyn, resurfaced to the public with this film after being arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida (he also completely improvised his death scene, which was very comedic).

The film was released by 20th Century Fox on July 31, 1992 and grossed $16,624,456 in the United States. It received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, but it has since gone on to become a cult film. In 2009, the magazine The Hollywood Reporter reported that a revision/relaunch of a BUFFY movie was planned without Whedon having any involvement in it. In 2011, a script written by Whit Anderson was rejected by its producers and a search for a new screenwriter was announced.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is a flawed film, but it's still a hoot to watch, With it's absurd story and decent, if not over, acting, it's interesting to see how the BUFFY legacy began. While the show is far superior, this is a fun examination of a future pop culture phenomenon. Four out of five stars!

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer or visit the Amazon website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Phil sees THE AVENGERS (again) in IMAX 3D at the AMC Mercado 20-May 26, 2012

Yup, I saw THE AVENGERS again. But this time I headed on over to the AMC Mercado 20 Theater in Santa Clara, where I saw it in IMAX 3D!! That's right folks!! This film looked incredible! To see it in IMAX 3D is a cinematic experience that everyone should participate! It's on the pricey side, but I went during matinee hours, so it was about $15 total. And it was worth every penny! So make some time out of your busy schedule, and go see this film before it gets pulled. THE AVENGERS in IMAX 3D is currently playing at select theaters nationwide, including at the AMC Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees MEN IN BLACK 3 at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-May 26, 2012

It's been ten years since the release of MEN IN BLACK 2. Hard to believe it has taken Hollywood this long to film the next sequel, but MEN IN BLACK 3 in 3D is a great and entertaining sequel that was defiantly worth the wait!

The film begins the intergalactic criminal Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from the LunarMax prison on Earth's moon. Soon Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and his partner Agent J (Will Smith) begin their pursuit of Boris. However he travels back in time and kills Agent K, thus alternating time. Agent J travels back to the year 1969, where he meets that era's Agent K (Josh Brolin) to warn him about Boris, who also team up with his 1969 counterpart to thwart the Men In Black from preventing them from carrying out their evil plans.

Based on the old Malibu comic book from the early 90's, the film was written by screenwriters Lowell Cunningham and Etan Cohen (no relation to the Cohen brothers). The story is simple enough, but it's a tight script with a clear direction of where it wants to go. It has a strong beginning, middle, and end.

Another nice element to the film is the character development. We learn why Agent K the way he is, and with Agent J, we see him become a better man, dare I say a wiser man. When he travels back in time, J likes this 1969 Agent K better, but that K is about to learn a hard lesson in life. A lesson that will hit J hard. Kudos to both Smith and Jones who, after a decade, can come back and get into their respective characters so easily. And also a great job on Brolin's performance at getting Jone's characteristics down! He said in interviews that this was the hardest role to play, for the simple fact that he had to impersonate Jone's K. No doubt it was tough, but he pulled it off perfectly!

As for the 3D special feature, it's a nice touch, but only in certain scenes. When Smith's J jumps off the Empire State Building to travel back in time, it works there. But overall, I felt that it was unnecessary. I would recommended seeing it in 2D, but if you really want to spend the extra $5, then by all means, go for it.

MEN IN BLACK 3 IN 3D is a great, action packed blockbuster that really closes out the franchise beautifully. Hopefully there won't be any more sequels. This is how a series should end; no loose ends, everybody comes out on top, and good triumphs over evil. A job well done. Four out of five stars!

MEN IN BLACK 3 is currently screening in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbel-May 26, 2012

It's been awhile since I've seen what has been dubbed a "chick flick." The last one I saw was the dismal THE VOW back in February. So for today I went and saw WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING, the newest film by director Kirk Jones. Starting and ensemble cast, the film explores that wonderful of pregnancy, and all the ups and downs that go along with it. And it's really funny as well.

Based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, the cast is a who's who in Hollywood; each having their own pregnancy story to tell. Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) is a self-help book author and pregnancy "expert" who has never been able to get pregnant herself. But after four years of trying, she and her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) are finally having a baby. However,  Gary's ex-race car driver dad Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) trumps them by announcing his much younger trophy wife Skylar (Brooklyn Decker) is expecting twins. TV fitness guru Jules (Cameron Diaz) is now pregnant thanks to her new boyfriend and former "Celebrity Dance Factor" partner Even (Matthew Morrison of TV's Glee). Twenty-something and food truck cook Rosie (Anna Kendrick) becomes pregnant after a one-night tumble with her old high school flame and also food truck cook Marco (Chace Crawford). Married couple Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) are trying to adopt because of Holly's "bad eggs." On the verge of their adoption, Marco gets cold feet, which prompts Holly to send him off to join a "dudes group," which is group of fathers, led by Vic (Chris Rock), who take their babies for walks in parks.

The film is funny from beginning to end, but it's also touching as well. We see the hardship that Holly must go through to adopt a child, and we see her sadness in her face as she sees other couples with their children. Of course taking pictures of expecting mothers doesn't help either, especially if one of those mothers is Skylar. And speaking of Skylar, even though she's carrying twins, she doesn't show the same pregnancy symptoms as Holly is suffering from. And the competition between Gary and his racing legend old man Ramsey only adds to the stress of the ladies.

Chris Rock is hilarious as Vic, who gives some great and funny advise to new dad-to-be Alex. When Alex mentions that he and Holly are just "looking" at houses, Vic states that, "Women pretty much control the baby universe, so yeah, you're buying a house, yeah, you're deferring on every major decision regarding the baby. And yeah, babies "are where happiness goes to DIE." Yes, it's all played for laughs!

The film is in the same vain as the other multi-star cast films, such as HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, VALENTINE'S DAY and last years NEW YEAR'S EVE. Director Jones (EVERYBODY'S FINE, WAKING NED DIVINE, and NANNY McPHEE) balances all these Hollywood celebrities and everyone gets equal amount of screen time and get the audience to care for them, as well as make them laugh.

Overall, WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING is a fun, light-hearted comedy that doesn't do anything but keep you entertained. If you're a parent, or an expecting mother, then you'll love the film. Three out of five stars.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Phil sees REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA at the Big Wow! Comicfest-May 19, 2012

This past Saturday I attended the Big Wow! Comicfest at the Convention Center here in Downtown San Jose. There was plenty of cool things to check out. There were vintage comics and toys, and Avengers retrospective, comic book artists and creators, hot chicks in sexy costumes (which didn't exist in my day), and other celebrities. One of those celebrities was Terrance Zdunich, who just got off a grueling 32 city tour of his new horror rock opera THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL and was signing his comic The Molting. Later that night the comicfest was screening his 2008 cult film REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA. Joining in on the fun was not one, but two shadowcasts from SoCal: The OC Zydrate Support Network (TOCZSN) and Hollywood's Addicted To The Knife (Attk).

Theatrical Movie Poster (2008)
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (SAW II-IV) the film's plot is as follows, "In the year 2056 - the not so distant future - an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet. Out of the tragedy, a savior emerges: GeneCo, a biotech company that offers organ transplants, for a price. Those who miss their payments are scheduled for repossession and hunted by villainous Repo Man (Anthony Stewart Head). In a world where surgery addicts are hooked on painkilling drugs and murder is sanctioned by law, a sheltered young girl named Shilo Wallace (Alexa Vega) searches for the cure to her own rare disease as well as information about her family's mysterious history. After being sucked into the haunting world of GeneCo by its owner Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) and his children Luigi (Bill Moseley) , Pavi (Nivek Ogre) and Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton), she is unable to turn back, as all of her questions will be answered at the wildly anticipated spectacular event: The Genetic Opera." Also appearing in the film is opera soprano sensation Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, Sarah Power as Marni, the legendary Runaways guitarist Joan Jett, and of course Zdunich as the Graverobber.

Zdunich with the TOCZSN & ATTK shadowcasts.
Zdunich participated in a fun and informative Q&A after the screening of the film. He told the audience the origin of the film, how it was originally a two-man play that gradually evolved into the film, how Lionsgate owns the rights to the film, which is why Zdunich and Bousman made THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL.

Overall, if you haven't seen REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA yet, then your missing out on a truly original, highly entertaining film that has been hailed as " the new millineum's ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW." For those of you who live in the Sacramento area, there is a REPO! shadowcast up there called Amber's Sweets so make sure you check out one of their shows at the Historic Colonial Theatre. Over in the Riverside area, you guys and dolls can check out the Zaddicts! shadowcast's performances at the University Ultrastar Theatre. So there is no reason for you to not see this film with a shadowcast. Get off that computer right now and go support your local REPO! shadowcasts!

REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA is available from Lions Gate on both Blu-Ray and DVD. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit your local retailer or visit the Amazon website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE DICTATOR at the Camera 12 Downtown San Jose-May 19, 2012

The world we live in as become so anally PC that sometimes I think this country needs an enema. So comedy films really come into play in times like these. Films that really push the envelope and makes laugh hysterically for all the wrong reasons. So in comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's newest film THE DICTATOR, we are made to laugh at the most inappropriate topics, issues, and scenes. And I laughed at them all with glee!

In the film Cohen portrays Admiral General Aladeen, a dictator from the fictional North African country of the Republic of Wadiya. A ruthless, egotistical, and at times an idiotic dictator, his advisor Tamir (Ben Kingsley) informs him that he is summoned by the UN to address their concerns about his nuclear program. Once he arrives in New York, he is kidnapped by an FBI Agent (John C. Reilly) and has his beard shaved off. Unrecognizable, he befriends a woman named Zoey (Anna Faris) who runs a local organic grocery store. But Aladeen discovers that his kidnapping was a part of plot to turn Republic of Wadiya into a democracy and now must find a way to prevent this atrocity from happening.

The film was directed by Larry Charles, who directed Cohen's other two films; 2006's unbelievably hilarious BORAT and 2009's equally successful BRUNO. With this film, Charles keeps the pace of the film quick and funny. Cohen's performance is nothing short of brilliant. He says some of the most hysterical lines I have ever heard. If you don't believe me, here are some quotes from the movie that made me cry:

1) "I love American films, particularly fantasy films like 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Schindler's List.'"
2) "I'm sorry. It's a girl. Where's the trash can?"
3) "Ahh.. America, the birth place of AIDS."
4) "So are you having a boy or an abortion?"
5) "Those are breasts? I thought you were a boy."

No these quotes are tame compared to what else he says, as with everyone else in the film! Now I don't want to say too much more because I don't want to spoil the film for all of you, but you will laugh hard and be shocked by it all at the same time!

THE DICTATOR is a politically incorrect film and its funny as hell! Of course after watching this film you might want to take a shower because you will feel dirty laughing at this. If you're planning on taking a date to see this film, make sure that person has a sense of humor. If not, you're gonna have a lot of explaining to do. Four and half out of five stars! Highly recommended!!

THE DICTATOR is currently in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil sees DARK SHADOWS at the Camera 7 Runeyard Campbell-May 18, 2012

I'm just gonna go ahead and say this right off the bat: Tim Burton has not made an original film since EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and that was way back in 1990! And while A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS was very groundbreaking and original and his followup CORPSE BRIDE still played on this dark theme concept, his live action films have been, putting it mildly, crap. So it came to no surprise when I saw his latest film DARK SHADOWS, I knew it wasn't gonna be good. And lo and behold, I was correct.

Based on the old ABC American Gothic soap opera created by Dan Curtis that ran from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971, this "re-imagination" stars Johnny Depp (how original) as Barnabas Collins, the only son of wealthy parents Joshua and Naomi Collins. In the year 1752, the Collins family travels to the New World from England settles in Collinsport, Maine, named after them and because of their fishing business. Two decades after his parent's death, Barnabas is a young man; is rich, powerful and the master of Collinwood Manor. However things go sour for him when he scorns the heart of a witch named Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who kills his fiance, turns him into a vampire and buries him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed and emerges into the year 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his estate has fallen into ruin. Inside he meets his now dysfunctional Collins family: patriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer),  her daughter Carolyn (Chloe Moretz), her brother Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) and his son David (Gulliver McGrath), David's doctor Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), David's governess Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), and their groundskeeper/butler Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley). Barnabas plans to rebuild the family business to its former glory, but when he discovers that the competitor is owned and operated by none other than Angelique, their bitter feud reignites once more, with yet again the Collins family hanging in the balance.

So the only items I enjoyed about the film was the set design and the cinematography. The sets of the grand Collinwood Manor were indeed extraordinary and impressive; creating the look of a magnificent old English castle that came complete with secret rooms and passages. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel did a great job capturing the images, but other than these two items, the rest of the film fell flat on its face.

Half the time I didn't know if the film was supposed to be campy, scary, funny, or dark. All these elements were never fully balanced in my opinion and this caused me to question the film the entire time I was watching it. I did laugh when I was supposed to, some scenes were scary visually, but a lot of the performances were too over the top or under developed. Depp came off like a cross between Nosferatu and Grandpa from THE MUSTERS complete with a hideous bangs. Pfeiffer's acting was too stiff, and Haley's character didn't really need to be there. I could go on for days as to what was wrong with the film, but I don't have the time nor the patience, so I'll just say this: Tim Burton need to get a real job now.

DARK SHADOWS just plain sucks! There, is said it! It sucks, it's stupid, it's lame, it's proof that Burton needs to get back to his roots and create something original other taking existing properties and remaking them. So skip this film all together and see something else. One out of five stars.

DARK SHADOWS is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends the Cult Movie screening of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS at the Camera 3-May 17, 2011

Hello my fellow cult fanatics and welcome to Month Four of the Cult Movie Series here at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose! So for tonight's cult film they screened Terry Gilliam 1998's FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. Yours truly was the host for tonight's screening. Another great addition for tonight's show was that this was a 35mm print that was being screened! This print came from the vaults of Universal Studios! Prizes were donated by Streetlight Records and by Time Tunnel Toys, both located here in San Jose. There were also yummy donuts to eat, courtesy of Psycho Donuts located in the lobby. If you have never seen the film, here's a brief synapse for you:

Theatrical Movie Poster (1998)
Based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by acclaimed and eccentric author Hunter S. Thompson, the film stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro as the crazed duo of Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo respectively. Traveling in their red convertible called The Red Shark, they set out on a road trip to Las Vegas in search of "The American Dream," while taking huge amount of drugs and alcohol!

Gilliam got his start making the bizarre and hilarious animation sequences for the British television show MONTY PYHON'S FLYING CIRCUS. He has gone on to direct several other cult films such as MONTY PYHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975), TIME BANDITS (1981), BRAZIL (1985), and 12 MONKEYS (1995). His last film THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS was the last that actor Heath Ledger appeared in. He died during the making of the film, so Gilliam had other actors fill in for him such as Colin Farrel, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp.

Both Depp and Del Toro really got into their respective roles for this film. Del Toro gained 40 pounds on purpose for his portrayal of  Dr. Gonzo and Depp even shaved his head. Also there were a number of cameos of big name actors in the film, including Tobey Maguire, Ellen Barkin, Gary Busey, Mark Harmon, Penn Jillette, Lyle Lovett, Christina Ricci, and Flea from the rock/funk band Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The film it self was a total bomb at the boxoffice. It grossed only 10.6 million, well below its $18.5 million budget. Since then it has become a true cult film due in large part to its release on VHS first, then on DVD and now Blu-Ray, including a Special Edition released by The Criterion Collection. On it, Thompson showed his approval of the Gilliam version by recording a full-length audio commentary for the film and participating in several DVD special features.

Another great crowd for the Cult Movie series show! Next month's cult film is director Ivan Reitman's 1984 comedy GHOSTBUSTER, which will be shown on Thursday, June 14th at 9:30pm and again on Saturday, June 16th at midnight, so mark these days on your calender and come out and have some cult movie fun! To view the rest of the Cult Movie Series schedule, visit the Camera Cinemas website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Phil sees THE AVENGERS in 3D at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-May 4, 2012

And so, it has finally arrived. After the release of IRON MAN in 2008, and the rest of the Marvel Studios films (IRON MAN 2, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER), we have finally come to this moment that's been four years in the making! Tonight I saw the new Marvel Studios film THE AVENGERS in 3D at the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard in Campbell. Was it worth the wait? Was it worth the hype? Was it worth seeing in 3D? I can answer all these questions with just one word: YES!!

In the film Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of the organization called S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to form a team that must stop Thor's brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from enslaving the human race.

Director Joss Whedon is on a roll this summer! First his horror film THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (he produced and co-wrote the film) was released last month to critical praise. Now with this film, he shows us he can not only handle a big budgeted, superhero ensemble picture but he can also kickoff the the summer blockbuster season like no other!

All of our familiar friends from the previous Marvel films are reunited and it feels so good. And like the comics, we get to see how heroes duke it out before shifting their eyes towards Loki and his interplanetary army of space creatures. Again Downy Jr. is great as the highly intelligent and highly arrogant Tony Stark while Evan's Captain America shows us that while he is a man out of time, he is till the leader to look up to. Ruffalo is now the third actor to portray Bruce Banner aka The Hulk (Eric Bana and Edward Norton being the first two) and to be honest, I think he is the best Banner out all of them. He brings to the character intelligence, awkwardness and hesitation, which I feel the others only brought two out of the three. Johansson is smart strong and sexy as the Black Widow, but the sexiness is downplayed. Like all of Whedon's female characters, they are tough, fierce, powerful, and fully in charge. Like Buffy, the Black Widow is a female to admire and worship because she is a strong female character and not because she has curves and breasts.

The film has already broken records all across America and around the world. As of this writing, the film is about to make over a billion dollars in ticker sales! A BILLION DOLLARS!! That my friends is a lot of tickets! As for the 3D effects, they are outstanding!! It takes the film to a whole new level, especially with the invasion scene at the end. Speaking of endings, make sure to stick around for not one, but two bonus scenes! The first one comes after the first part of the credits with all of the actors names, and the last one ant the very end. It's no surprise that I'm telling you this. Remember this is a Marvel film, they all have bonus scenes at the end!

So, in case you forgot, THE AVENGERS is THE summer blockbuster to see! To try to say anything else about the film would be redundant, so go see this movie now!! Five out of five stars! Highly recomended!!

THE AVENGERS is playing in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Phil sees THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS in 3D at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-May 3, 2012

Every now and then, I like to indulge the inner child within me. The last family film I really enjoyed was THE MUPPETS, and that was back in November! So my inner child was throwing a major temper tantrum! Luckily for me the newest kid flick THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS in 3D was playing at the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard. So after a long and hard day at work, I was ready to "laugh my booty off!"

The film is based on the first two books from Gideon Defoe's The Pirates! series, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists and The Pirates! in an Adventure with Whaling. Set in 1837, the Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant), the worst pirate sailing on the seven seas, leads a close-knit, rag-tag group of amateur pirates who are trying to make a name for themselves on the high seas. To prove himself and his crew, the Pirate Captain enters into the Pirate of the Year competition, with the winner being whomever can plunder the most. After several failed attempts to plunder mundane ships, the Pirate Captain boards the Beagle and captures Charles Darwin (voiced by David Tennant). Darwin recognizes the crew's pet Polly as the last living dodo, and implores the Pirate Captain to enter it into the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Academy in London for a valuable prize. The Pirate Captain directs his ship to London, despite warnings of Queen Victoria's (voiced by Imelda Staunton) detest for pirates. Cue up hilarious pirate hijinks, exploding ships, near death situations, and an intelligent monkey, you have a funny, silly, and entertaining film!

The film was directed by Jeff Newitt and Peter Lord, the man who created and gave us CHICKEN RUN, and of course, the WALLACE AND GROMIT series. The humor is very British, meaning that there are some jokes that fly right over kids' heads and hits us square in the face! And I love this, but that's been in children's films and cartoons for decades. Look at the old LOONEY TUNES cartoons now as an adult. See? What did I tell you! Bet you didn't realize all those innuendo jokes when you were a wee little lad, huh? But the British humor is dry and sharp, thanks to a cleverly written script by Gideon Defoe. The film has everything you could ask for: pirates, pirate ships, an evil queen, a smart monkey with cue cards, singing pirates, dancing pirates, a dodo bird, and action packed scenes that will keep your booty in your seat! And seeing it in 3D made me laugh even harder! OK not really, but it looked great!

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS is a smart, hysterical, and thoroughly entertaining family film that really deserves your attention! So make sure you take your family to see this film. And if you don't have a family of your own, borrow someone else's! Or just do what I did: indulge your inner child. And then go home and play pirates with the neighborhood kids. Four out of five stars!!

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS is playing in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees MARLEY at the Cmaera 3 Downtown San Jose-May 2, 2012

Documentaries are my second favorite type of film genre (the first being horror).This past weekend I was fortunate to see a documentary that has been a long time coming. One of the best rock docs I've seen in a while, the film MARLEY chronicles the incredible life, the amazing music, and the tragic death of reggae icon Bob Marley.

The film charts his life from his humble beginnings in a small country village without electricity and hope, through his rise to fame in Jamaica, to his exile in London, subsequent return to his Island of birth and eventual death at the age of just 36. Director Kevin Macdonald (STATE OF PLAY, TOUCHING THE VOID) crafted a film that has taken years for it to come to the big screen. Rumor has it that at one point Academy Award winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese was tied to direct the film which proves two things: One that Macdonald had some mighty big shoes to fill and second being that Bob Marley's life was begging to be told. Now this isn't you average, cookie-cutter, VH1's Behind The Music feature. Macdonald digs deep to uncover not only the legacy of Bob Marley, but what kind of person he was. The story is told using achieve interviews with Marley himself but mostly through interviews with his friends, family and ex colleagues who are still living. Some of the interviewees are great characters and speak with wisdom. Others are hilarious and most have a fantastic Jamaican Patois which is delightful to listen to. The film also gives some background to Rastafarianism, and the whole film is backed with over sixty Marley and Bob Marley and the Wailers songs which start with the song he first recorded aged sixteen and ends with One Love.

But what I found most exquisite and painful about the film was how Macdonald displayed the final year of Marley's Life. With his cancer diagnosis, travel to Germany for treatment, having going through Chemo sessions which resulted with him becoming bald and losing his trademark dreadlocks, to being hospitalized in Florida, surrounded by his family. This ending comes complete with long lost and never seen photographs and news footage that made this reviewer shed several tears. As mush as we talk about Bob Marley, listen to his music, seeing his face on everything from T-shirts to energy drinks, we often forget that he was a real human being; a man who came from very humble beginnings to become a voice of peace, love, and humanity. This is what I took home with me after the screening.

MARLEY is an extraordinary documentary about an extraordinary man who made a difference in the world. Through his activism, spirit, and of course, his music, Bob Marley will always be talked about, even after his death some 26 years later. His legacy is still remembered, and thank goodness we still have his music to listen to; to inspire us, to challenge us, to remind us that one person can make a difference in this world. Five out of five stars! Highly recommended!!

MARLEY is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at The film is also availavbe on Video On Demand. Check your local provider to see if you can view this powerful film in your area.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Phil writes Fango Flashback: HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN-May 2, 2012

Theatrical Movie Poster (1988)

Hello again everybody! My new Fango Flashback article on director Donald G. Jackson's 1988 cult film HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN for the Fangoria website is now up. So for those who don't know, Fango Flashback articles are about horror and cult films that have been released: synopsis, trivia, release dates, etc. They're fun history lessons for you film buffs. Just click on the link above and have fun reading it! I'll also be working on several more articles for them so keep your eyes peeled here for more!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!