The Protector 2

Rather brainless

Before I get to why I disliked this movie, I have a confession to make—I’m reviewing Protector 2 even though I never saw the first film in this series.  And, based on what I just saw, I doubt if I’ll bother seeing the first.  My problem isn’t with the martial arts abilities of the leading man, Ton Jaa.  Instead, my problem is with the brainlessness of the script.  Again and again, the stunts are so impossible that you just have to laugh.  However, the biggest laugh is at the end where the big plot twist is, believe it or not, an exploding elephant.  Yes, I said EXPLODING ELEPHANT!!!

The Protector 2
Directed by
Prachya Pinkaew
Cast
Tony Jaa, Marrese Crump, JeeJa Yanin
Release Date
2 May 2014
Martin’s Grade: D+

When the film begins, the film seems a lot like a Lassie film.  It’s about a boy, Kham (Tony Jaa) and his elephant and both are best buddies.  One day, a baddie and his punks come to Kham and demand he sells them his elephant.  Why they must have THAT particular elephant never is made clear and I am pretty sure Thailand has more than one elephant—as they sure go to a heck of a lot of trouble to get that one!  However, soon they elephant-nap the creature—and Kham is in hot pursuit.  However, when he goes to the baddie’s hideout, the guy is already dead and the police think Kham is responsible.  Soon it’s not only the cops after Kham but the BIGGER baddie who hired the first baddie to steal the pachyderm—and he practically has an army to catch Kham!

What follows is one fight scene after another after another after another.  On one hand, you have to admire the film’s energy as well as Jaa’s skills.  However, it’s all ruined because the writer and director couldn’t leave well enough alone.  They SHOULD have relied on Jaa’s skills but instead there is one insane stunt after another after another—and many of them are simply impossible.  The worst is the one where Kham falls what looks like about 40 stories and he lands in a pool and is just fine!!!  Also, seeing him take on 200 bikers and winning is just too much!  Additionally, the fire sequence, though cool to look at, just made no sense at all.

Speaking of making no sense at all, let’s get back to the elephant.  Apparently some nutty guy is trying to disrupt the peace process between the fictional countries of East and West Katana.  So, he steals Kham’s elephant and rigs him up as a gigantic bomb!  I am not kidding—a giant bomb!  Frankly, I cannot believe they made this with a straight face, it’s that silly.

Now do not get the idea that I hate martial arts film.  I actually love them and have seen several hundred and adore the GOOD ones.  Give me a Sonny Chiba, Gina Carano or Shaw Brothers flick any day, but you can keep your brainless stunts and plots.  What a giant waste of talent.  The only way I think folks could enjoy this one is if friends watch it and keep a tally of times Jaa SHOULD have died had the stunts been real!  And, how many impossible stunts occur!

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer

Bates Motel: Season 2, Ep 07

Presumed Innocent

Although this was rather a slow episode, with a lot of time being taken up by Norman’s temporary captivity, it finished on a powerful note, followed by an exciting trailer (see attached) that promises a memorable ending to the season. One can now clearly see the transformation Norman is going through, as he slowly becomes the killer we know him to be, and with the revelation of his DNA being matched up to the sample recovered from the murdered Blair Watson’s crime-scene, it shouldn’t be long before the shit really hits the fan.

I was pretty sure Norma and Sheriff Romero would eventually hit it off, especially with Romero now living at the motel. Plus there’s small hints we’ve recently been given, and judging by the all-too-quick flash of the pair kissing, witnessed on the trailer, it looks like this is indeed gonna happen. Is Norma doing this out of necessity, in order to keep her son out of trouble, or is it Romero taking advantage of the situation Norma is about to find herself in? There are a couple of reasons this would suit Norma, with the other one being her unwanted association with Nick Ford.

Bates Motel
Created by
Anthony Cipriano
Cast
Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot
Episode Release Date
14 April 2014
Ed’s Grade: B

It became pretty obvious Cody would be a lot of trouble for Norman, and even with her father now dead, and Norman almost getting into hot water over it, she couldn’t resist stirring up even more, by insisting Norman ask his mother what she was hiding from him. I’m even more convinced Cody knew exactly what she was doing with Norman the entire time, by pushing his buttons to see what would happen. Even though I’m sure Cody was being devious, the fact that she didn’t tell the police about Norman’s blackouts wasn’t so surprising, although, I’m sure she didn’t do it because Norma asked.

Norma has won a seat on the council but judging by the look of distaste and uncertainty her new colleagues have when they talk to her, it’s doubtful she got her new position of power legally. Nick Ford is sure to be behind it and he won’t be slow when it comes time to calling in favors from Norma. The council member with the office next to Norma’s was about to reveal something important, but Romero interrupted with news about Norman before he got the chance. Just how much trouble is Norma in?


After Norman is picked up by the police, the overzealous cop takes DNA and sends it away for analysis. Romero didn’t seem very pleased about this, as if he wanted to protect Norman, or perhaps I was reading the situation wrong. Regardless, Norman’s DNA has now been matched with that found at his teacher’s apartment. I think this only tells police he was at her home, but doesn’t mean he killed her.

I didn’t think Dylan would be able to control Zane, even a little, and I was proved right, as we discover when Zane knocks him out. The way Dylan was creeping about was a bit crazy and obvious, then Zane told him he knew what he was up to. Dylan should have phoned Zane’s sister right away, especially after seeing those four men, who were clearly up to no good. As Dylan lay there dazed, we could see the muzzle-flashes through the glass, and the sound of a battle going on. Dylan’s arc appears to be getting even better, with Nick Ford asking him to take out Zane. Dylan did warn Zane not to attack Nick’s place, and got himself a bloody head for his trouble.

Norman was acting really weird with everyone, and the scene where he and Emma talk showed he’s definitely getting worse. He thanked Emma for doing the right thing, but also said he couldn’t trust her anymore. Emma feels guilty about the death of Cody’s father, because if she hadn’t told Norma about his blackouts, he would never have went to Cody’s in the first place. Then Norman went all weird with his mother, demanding she tell him why he suffers from his blackouts. Obviously there’s more to this than meets the eye, and clearly Norma knows what’s going on inside his head. Did Norman’s father suffer from them too? When Norma ran up the stairs to tell Norman he was off the hook for Brennan’s death, I was waiting on Norman pushing her down the stairs. I think this was exactly what we were meant to think.

TV Recap by Lead Entertainment Writer, Ed Blackadder

An Interview with Director Adam Stephen Kelly

An Interview with Adam Stephen Kelly

For years, Adam Stephen Kelly has worked as a movie reviewer for a variety of sources including Ain’t It Cool News and Screenjabber among others.  Adam has used his job as a reviewer as a springboard to work in the movie industry.  After producing several films, he recent directed and wrote his own first film in his native UK, a short entitled Done In.  I was so impressed by this film that it was a pleasure to talk with him about this project as well as his transition from movie reviewer to, hopefully, big-time mogul!

Martin Hafer: So Adam, now that you’ve just completed Done In, where do you go next?

Adam Stephen Kelly: I’m in a phasing-out period in terms of journalism. To do it justice is so very time-consuming and so it’s not the focus right now. For years it was while I was writing scripts and trying to get various projects up and running in the background, but since I had the opportunity to get Done In on screen, filmmaking is what I’m concentrating on. I’d like to think I’ve been somewhat prolific with my writing having had published an ungodly amount of content in the last four or so years, and also having made it to a platform like Ain’t It Cool News, but I want to see myself as Adam, the guy who makes films, rather than Adam, the guy who writes about films. That’s not to say I’m totally turning my back on it. I’d like to do bits and pieces here and there going forward, and it’s afforded me some amazing opportunities. Done In wouldn’t exist otherwise. I wouldn’t have known of my producer S.J. Evans if I hadn’t reviewed one of his films.

I can remember my very first interview clearly. I was 19 and incredibly nervous. Since then I believe I’ve managed 50 or 60 more, from horror legend Tony Todd to Luke Goss to Verne Troyer, with the last being Sir Roger Moore at the tail-end of 2012 to discuss the classic The Wild Geese. If that was to be my last interview, I’d say chatting to James Bond is a high to go out on.

MH: Wow … that is amazing…

So who are you? Sure, you’ve got a ton of talent and Done In is terrific … but what about you?

AK: Strip away filmmaking and writing about film and the Adam you have left is simply a 23-year-old guy who loves cinema. Better yet, entertainment as a whole. There are never too many films that I could watch in a single day, nor too many great TV shows, nor too many pro wrestling matches. It’s just what I like to do. As proactive as I may look in terms of the career, I have to be the ultimate couch potato.

MH: I am fascinated with the way you funded your film. Tell me about your Kickstarter and Sponsume campaigns.

AK: One way or another, SJ and I were always determined that Done In would come to fruition. Crowd-funding seemed like the natural first step as I have friends who had ran successful campaigns for their own short films and that to me was inspiring. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that just because you’ve launched a campaign that suddenly everyone is going to reach into their pockets and that your dream project is definitely a go. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While we never fell into that trap, it definitely took us our first campaign to realize just what it takes to be successful on such a platform. While we were fortunate enough to raise nearly £1000 (about $1700 US), we didn’t reach our target, as ambitious as it was. Our second, however, was very successful and we actually surpassed our goal. I’m thankful for the original campaign as I feel it taught me a great deal about the whole process. You’ve really got to be relentless as far as spreading the word goes, and that means spamming the heck out of Twitter and Facebook without worrying that you’re annoying everyone and their dog.


MH: And you managed to make this film with a budget of only about $10,000 dollars?!

AK: SJ is more of the guy to ask about equipment and such but we knew that we wanted it to look great, and naturally cameras aren’t cheap. It may seem redundant but we didn’t just want to bash out a short film and shove it on YouTube. We really believed in the script and wanted it to be the best that we could possibly make it – to do the material justice. That meant having a great director of photography, a terrific camera like the Canon C300, and an actor with the presence and ability to convey the emotion and heart of the story we tell in 8 minutes.

MH: How were you able to get the equipment and secure the services of a real live actor like Guy Henry?

You didn’t take him hostage and make him work for free, did you?

AK: Working with Guy was an absolute joy. He’s a tremendous talent and gives an impeccable performance in the film. As far as getting him involved goes, we reached out to his agent as appropriate and it all worked out from there. The key was finding an actor of great ability to do the material justice who was also a notable star with an audience we could appeal to for our crowd-funding campaign.  I’m ever so thankful that we were able to bring him in.

MH: Will you need to do another Kickstarter or Sponsume in order to afford your upcoming trip to Cannes?

AK: Haha, no, thankfully no campaign is needed to get to Cannes! We’re absolutely thrilled that it’s the very first stop on our festival tour. Even though at this stage it’s just the Court Metrage (Short Film Corner), which features a lot of films, as the official competition selection hasn’t been announced yet (but fingers crossed!), we’re generally just really happy to have been accepted.

MH: So, what’s your next project?

AK: As far as my next project goes, I’m not really sure! I have scripts and treatments knocking about, but Done In has really been the focus ever since I wrote it. It’s the old film-maker’s cliche of carrying a film around for so long and nurturing it like a baby, then you let it out for the world to see, but I now see just how true that is, so the focus remains on Done In. Seeing the incredible reviews has truly been overwhelming and we’re just really excited to see how it goes down at festivals.

MH: What sort of work are you doing when you aren’t working on your films or reviewing movies?

AK: I’m the Marketing Executive at Richwater Films, a British production and financing company that specialises in genre films. My friend Jonathan Sothcott, brought me in at the end of last year to work on the revenge thriller Vendetta starring Danny Dyer and it was a blast. It was actually promoting Done In that landed me the job, so again it’s a case of creating your own opportunities. Jonathan is one of the leading producers in the UK and so sharing an office with him and having first-hand experience of how he does business is incredibly rewarding and will undoubtedly enrich my film-making abilities beyond writing, directing and marketing!

MH: It just sounds like good things keep happening to you again and again… Good luck and thanks.

Interview by Lead Entertainment Writer and Film Critic, Martin Hafer

TCM Classic Film Festival 2014 – Part 2

Some classic celebrities shine at TCM in April.

While at the Turner Classic Movies film festival, I had some opportunities to see a variety of celebrities interviewed.  I also had the chance to briefly talk with a few of them—though with over a bazillion people on hand for the festival, getting one-on-one time with the stars was practically impossible. However, as there were so many interviews and celebrities, I could only see a fraction of the wonderful special guests present for the festivities.

The toughest of these stars to see was Maureen O’Hara.  Not surprisingly, the el Capitan Theater was filled with her adoring fans for the screening of How Green Was My Valley—the Best Picture winner for 1941. Lines reached around the corner and I felt darn lucky to sit up front for this nice interview.  Miss O’Hara is 93 years-old and time has certainly not diminished her appeal.  In addition to the interview before the picture, Robert Osborne also filmed a short interview with her on the final day of the festival and it should be airing on TCM in the very near future as well as on their YouTube page.

Following How Green Was My Valley, Jerry Lewis was on hand at the el Capitan for a screening of The Nutty Professor.  While the theater was not as full, his fans were the loudest and most boisterous I heard.  Much of this is because at 88 years-old, Lewis sounded and looked significantly younger.  His amazing memory, love of laughter, the sheer length of the interview as well as his ability to tell a great story made this truly one of the best appearances at the festival.  Additionally, earlier that day, Lewis had his handprints immortalized at a Grauman’s Chinese Theater ceremony—and huge crowds of fans were also on hand for that.

Margaret O’Brien was a bit tough to recognize, since most everyone remembers her as the adorable and precocious child actress.  Now at 77, she introduced not only Meet Me in St. Louis but also a hastily arranged tribute to Mickey Rooney with a showing of National Velvet.  Much of her talk at Meet Me in St. Louis was about her love for Judy Garland and recollections of what it was like to work with this great star.

Quincy Jones was interviewed by Robert Osborne as well as introduced the wonderful car caper The Italian Job (1969).  While known for his work in the music industry, Jones has created many wonderful soundtracks for such films as The Pawnbroker, In the Heat of the Night, In Cold Blood as well as The Italian Job.  Jones spent much of the introduction talking about his career as well as talking glowingly of his love and admiration for his now-famous daughter, Rashida.


While Carl Davis is a name and face most won’t recognize, he was a special treat for me.  In addition to creating film scores for a variety of recent films, he’s quite famous for his work creating scores for silent films such as Abel Gance’s Napoleon (which, in its current abbreviated form runs well over five hours), the Kevin Brownlow and David Gill documentaries about the silent comedians as well as the Harold Lloyd film Why Worry?—which was screen at the festival.  In addition to being a wonderful man to listen to during the interview, he conducted an 18-piece orchestra when Why Worry? was screened later that same day.

Richard Sherman was interviewed following the screening of Mary Poppins and the crowd was thrilled—especially when he talked about his experiences with P.L. Travers.  He confirmed most of what was in the recent film, Saving Mr. Banks and had several amusing tales about Travers’ difficult temperament and the problems he and his brother had working with her to get the film made.

Finally, in addition to being the headline guest who introduced the film Oklahoma at the red carpet gala, Shirley Jones was on hand to autograph her new autobiography.  Her husband, Marty Ingels, was also on hand—mostly to get the crowd laughing and lend his support.

While many other celebrities were on hand, there was only one of me.  So, wonderful guests like Alan Arkin, Richard Dreyfus, Alex Trabek, Mel Brooks and many others were there—mostly when other great guests were also there being interviewed.  Picking which films and folks to see was often rather painful and it’s one of the few times I wished cloning was an option!

To view my photos from the festival CLICK HERE

Article by Lead Entertainment Writer and Film Critic, Martin Hafer

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