Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tall Tales: Phantasm III

We're halfway through the 21-year journey that is the Phantasm series.  What have we learned so far?  We've learned that The Tall Man is a freaky dude, that Mike has a case of face-changing disorder and that Reggie is, well Reggie.  After two films, the villainous Mr. Scrimm has killed a bunch of people and is after Mike for some unknown reason.  Maybe it's his weird DNA, I don't know!  Oh and despite constantly regenerating and/or being immortal, The Tall Man is visibly getting older.  Have you heard of Just For Men, Don?  The journey only gets darker, gooier and more violent from hereon out.  If you want answers, you're really not picking up how this series works, are you?  For me, this is the film that lost me on the whole series, but your experience might be different.  Get out your brain-sucking orbs for my review of...
Right after the twist ending of Phantasm II, the clone/hybrid of Alchemy is dead and a new Tall Man emerges from that weird phantom dimension.  A couple things come up right away that piss me off.  For starters, we have a new adult Mike in the form of A. Michael Baldwin, who was the old kid Mike.  Secondly, the four-barreled shotgun shows up again- as does the ammo belt-, despite Reggie leaving both things in the mortuary...before blowing it up!  Third, the blond love interest character is dead, since that actress didn't sign up for this film.  Anyhow, Reggie grabs a grenade...which he has for some reason and threatens to blow himself and Mike up, forcing The Tall Man to leave.  At the hospital, Mike has a dream and nearly dies, but is stopped from entering 'the light' by the series' villain.  He is also visited by the ghost/vision of his brother, who has apparently aged.  I didn't realize that people aged in Heaven, movie!  Back in the hospital, Reggie goes to visit, but learns that the nurse in Mike's room is a demon.  He kills her, causing her to spew green fluid and have one of the orbs fly out of her head.  Explain, movie.
After returning to Reggie's new house, Mike is kidnapped by The Tall Man.  The vision/spirit of Mike's brother Jody shows up again and tries to stop the abduction, only to get turned into a charred orb.  Um, okay.  In the wake of this, Reggie goes off in search of both Mike and The Tall Man, traveling in his wake and finding deserted city after deserted city.  He finds a hot skank in one of them, only to find out that she's part of a gang of robbers.  They toss him in the trunk and try to rob a big house, only to find a Home Alone-wannabe in there.  His traps, however, are deadly and take out all three of them.  If you ever wanted to see a man killed by a bladed frisbee, this is your movie!  The street-wise kid joins forces with Reggie, even after the man tries to leave the kid with a foster home mere hours after they meet.  Reggie ends up in the next town and gets captured by another woman, only this time she's black and has a friend with her.  Unfortunately, they run into the film's trademark orbs and the lead woman is killed by it, leading to a nice bit of projectile blood spray.  The partner tries to fend off the thing with a single nunchaku, but that fails.  Fortunately, the kid is there to shoot it, setting up an awkward three-way partnership.
You may notice that I barely mentioned Mike in the last several sentences.  Well, that's because he's not been in any of the last dozen scenes.  We finally get some bits with him being captured by The Tall Man and placed in his most-current mortuary home.  Reggie, the black woman and the kid make it to the lair of the villain, only to find that there is some fierce resistance.  The trio of robbers are back as zombies...since apparently the orbs can be put into people's heads, allowing The Tall Man to control them.  I yearn for the days when those things just shot lasers!  Anyways, we get a bunch of different fight scenes awkwardly-edited together as the zombies battle our heroes.  All of the zombies finally go down as our heroes try to stop The Tall Man from doing some sort of experiment on Mike.  They stop him for a little while, but it's too late to save Mike from getting one of those orbs stuck in his head.  In a bit of a ret-con, they set up a weakness to ice for The Tall Man, despite him surrounding himself with frozen material.  They kill him, only to find Mike and Jody leave together, the black woman leaves (how anti-climactic) and Reggie is caught by the re-rejuvenated Tall Man.  How uplifting.
This film....really lost me.  There are some good ideas, but so much of it is just weird and unexplained.  Why do the orbs work differently?  These things are confusing enough without you changing the rules every film, you know!  Why did they return to using the old Mike actor when the other one was actually much better?  Were you just really 'in-love' with Baldwin and wanted him back, even if he's kind of a creepy-looking adult- no offense.  Why is the character of Mike such a small part of the story?  When I saw the movie, I didn't know about the whole James LeGros/Michael Baldwin thing, so I just figured that they cast a new guy, since LeGros was smart enough to avoid this nothing role.  Evidently, that's not the case, so I don't get it.  The new characters are alright, but it's hard to get connected with them when you know that they're going to die/leave at the end and play no further part.  The return of Jody is interesting, but is not really explained enough.  I get that you used the same actor, but why did Jody age in the story, since he is just a brain in an orb.  When I have time to ask all these questions, your movie is not doing a good job.  I'm sorry, Don, but this is just not that good.
Up next, we wrap up the month and the Phantasm series with the 1998 film.  Can it save the series or will it seal the coffin for good?  Stay tuned...

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