Saturday, October 31, 2009

Movie Review: The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion
Rated PG
3 Slimes
Copyright Walt Disney Pictures 2003
THE CHARACTERS

Jim Evers: Eddie Murphy! He is a workaholic real estate agent who often puts his work ahead of his own family. You know; the usual thing you find in movies. However, his views and priorities change after his crazy adventure in the mansion. He has the creepiest smile you will ever see.

Master Edward Gracey: Nathaniel Parker! He is the owner of the mansion and a ghost who committed suicide after Elizabeth apparently killed herself as well. Kids just love that stuff. He hopes that Sara is the reincarnation of Elizabeth from what I understand. In the end, he is able to ascend to heaven with his dear after the curse is lifted and he finds his beloved. Aww.

Sara Evers: Marsha Thomason! She the wife and business partner of Jim and I think she is the reincarnation of Elizabeth. She dies, but then comes back to life! Theology!

Michael Jordan Evers: He is a big scaredy cat when it comes to spiders. The only other time I’ve seen a person scream like that was when they encountered one of those slasher killers.

Megan Evers: I got to admit that she has the most relaxed and calm person to ever see one of those floating spirit balls.

Madame Leota: Jennifer Tilly! She is a spirit that resides inside of a crystal ball. She is the all knowing spirit that provides clues that can break the curse of the mansion. I wonder how she even got the job to do that.

Ezra and Emma: Wallace Shawn and Dina Walters! They are the two servants of the mansion who try to help the Evers family get out of the mansion. They are able to ascend to heaven in the end in the film.

Elizabeth Henshaw: Marsha Tomason! She is Edward Gracey’s love and they were two marry, until Ramsley killed her, in fear that she would ruin the reputation of the family and the mansion itself. Her spirit roams the mansion until the curse is broken, allowing her to rise up to heaven with Edward.

Ramsley: Terence Stamp! He the butler of the mansion and has the same expression on his face throughout the entire film. However, he is extremely creepy and scary in his own way and he also serves as the film’s villain. At the end of the film, he is dragged down into Hell.

LESSONS LEARNED
+ Never, ever, mention ghosts when trying to sell houses. Mention bathrooms instead.
+ Zombies are very protective of their keys.
+ When ghosts lock a house, they lock a house!
+ There is swearing some Disney movies surprisingly.
+ The way to hell is through a giant fireplace.
+ Plugs are often a big selling point to certain costumers in the real estate business.
+ Trespassers get cookies.
+ Musical instruments are mean.
+ You can fit over 50 bodies in a mausoleum.

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
2 min – Hmm… this is for kids, right?
3 min – Some people are just not photogenic.
8 min – WIMP!!!!
13 min – Ah… suspicious? Also, where did that lock go?
16 min – Again, suspicious.
18 min – How tacky.
20 min – Didn’t he notice that Ramsely did not mention him?
24 min – WHOA! Where did he come from?!
29 min – Hey girl! Emotion, please show it!
31 min – AUGH! Will you stop doing that!?
35 min – What the hell…
40 min to 41 min – RANDOM LONG EXTENDED FREAK OUT MOMENT!46 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A WALL!
49 min – Well, at this point, nothing really surprises me anymore or seems odd.
53 min – IT’s A TRAP!
55 min – Ah crap.
56 min – Double crap! ZOMBIES!!!
63 min – This is going to hurt.
70 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A CONSERVATORY WINDOW!
71 min – You just can’t catch a break can you?
74 min – RANDOM FREAK OUT MOMENT!
75 min 1 sec – HOLY CRAP!!!
76 min 35 sec – You know, for kids!
Ending Credits – What the hell? What kind of music is this!?

NOTABLE QUOTES
Michael: Dad?
Jim: Yeah, son?
Michael: I see dead people.

Ramsley: Damn you. Damn you all to Hell!

Master Gracey: Tell me, Mr. Evers. Do you believe in ghosts?

Ramsley: The Master must never know. Edward and his love will be reunited and this curse will be broken.
Jim: That's not her, that's my wife!
Ramsley: And what she sees in you, I'll never know.

Jim: Wait a minute. You're telling me this guy is dead, and the only reason we were brought here is he wants to get jiggy with my wife.
Ezra: Pretty much. Are you upset?

THE PLOT

I am very annoyed with something. No, it is not the movie itself. I really enjoy the movie and find it amusing. However, many critics hate it and cannot fathom why. Maybe the plot bugs them, it could be Eddie Murphy, maybe that it doesn’t act like a children’s movie, or could be something else. Whatever the reason is, maybe I’ll see it when I closely examine this film now.

The movie begins with a lengthy opening credit scene that serves as our prologue to the future events. There is no talking, just visuals, but I believe you can get the basic gist of what is happening. From that, we meet our overworking and success seeking realtor named Jim Evers. After skipping out on his anniversary dinner with his wife and also business partner, Sara Evers, he decides to take her and his kids to a lake for the weekend. However, they are diverted when they get a strange call to come and appraise a mansion.

Jim takes her and their kids, Michael and Megan, to Gracey Manor before heading to the lake. Once they have arrived, they are greeted by the mansion’s butler named Ramsley who invited them to stay for dinner. During which, we also meet Edward Gracey, the owner of the mansion, and the two other servants of the place, Ezra and Emma. During dinner, they discuss the mansion and reasoning behind why Gracey wants to get rid of the mansion. I can certainly guarantee you that no kid will be following this discussion or even understand most of it, up until they bring up the word, ‘ghost.’

As they are eating, they discover that they are flooded in by the rainstorm, forcing them to all stay the night in the mansion. Jim and Sara get into a big fight over the whole situation when they get to their room about how they aren’t suppose to be here and they should be at the lake. During which, Sara locks herself in the bathroom and Jim is confronted by Ramsely, who leads him to the library to discuss things with Gracey.

While Jim is waiting for Gracey in the room, he discovers a secret passageway and gets trapped in it. He is forced to find his own way out of the passageway, while his kids and wife are having their own adventure. Sara meets Gracey in the library herself when she goes looking for Jim and there she learns of the history of the mansion. Megan and Michael encounter a spirit ball that leads them up into the attic where they discover a portrait of Elizabeth Henshaw, the lover of Edward’s grandfather that had tragically committed suicide.

As Jim wanders around the secret passageway, he discovers the fortune teller’s room and in it, the crystal ball spirit of Madame Leota. She tells him that he needs to break the curse of the mansion in order to leave it safely with his family. He doesn’t believe this until he finds out from his kids and Ezra & Emma explain to them the whole situation.

Apparently, the whole mansion and its residents, who are all ghosts, are cursed and forced to remain down on Earth, unable to cross into the afterlife. They believe that Sara is able to break the curse since she maybe Elizabeth, who Gracey had fallen in love with back in the 1800s. They assume if the two get together, the whole curse will be broken. What is the curse exactly? They never explain it, so chop it up to bad writing. My best explanation and the best reason that could make sense is that after Elizabeth had died and Gracey committed suicide, there despair and tragedy formed together and forced them and the residents from ever crossing over. That my guess, what about you?

So, to break the curse, Leota sends Jim and his kids to the graveyard to enter a mausoleum where they need to retrieve a key. Jim and Megan head into the crypt while Michael waits outside. Inside, the y open up a black coffin and take the key from the skeleton inside it. As soon as they begin to leave, this causes all the skeletons and corpses to rise up and attack them. They flee and lock the mausoleum up, keeping the undead from following them out.

They return the key to Madame Leota, who then tells them to use the key on a chest in the attic. They unlock the chest and discover a letter in it from Elizabeth to Edward. In it, she accepts his proposal to marry him. This stuns everyone and they all realize that she didn’t kill herself after all. Ramsley then shows up and reveals to everyone that he killed her in order to stop Edward from ruining his family’s reputation, himself, and the entire mansion. He didn’t realize however that all this would cause the curse to happen. He explains that he lured her to the mansion so that Edward and her could marry and break the curse. He also plans on killing her so that she could join in him the afterlife. This is a pretty dark kids’ movie but it is pretty good.

Jim refuses to allow this to happen and wants Ramsley to let them all go. Instead, he throws Jim out of the mansion, seals the mansion, and holds the kids hostage. Meanwhile, Gracey confronts Sara about her hopefully being Elizabeth. She realizes he is a ghost then and flees in terror from him. Ramsley confronts her and tells her that she has to marry him, otherwise her kids die. Again, this is a rather dark kids’ movie.

Outside, Jim tries breaking into the mansion, but cannot since every attempt he breaks in, the mansion heals itself! Cool! The mansion is burglar proof. Should mention that in the listing. Anyways, Madame Leota shows up (Where did she come from?) and encourages him to give it another shot. This time, he breaks into the mansion with his car and goes to find his kids and wife. He first rescues his kids from a bunch of living suits of armor and then they confront everyone at the wedding.

He gives Edward the real letter from Elizabeth and he finally realizes the truth. He asks Ramsley for the truth. He tells him everything and everything then goes to hell. The lights go out and tons of evil spirits rush into the room. The fireplace opens up, revealing the actual entrance to Hell. The spirits and flames from Hell form a fiery dragon monster that drags Ramsley down into Hell for the rest of entirety. Very fitting and also, remember, this is all a kids’ movie.

Tragedy then strikes as Sara dies from the poison she was forced to consume during the wedding. However, the spirit ball from earlier shows up and enters her body, revealing to everyone that the ball is Elizabeth. She explains to them that she was finally able to appear because the truth has finally come to light. Sara comes back to life (God is a nice guy isn’t he?) and the spirits all descend to Heaven with the curse gone now. The rest of the family now heads out on vacation with everything done. Plus, they also take Madame Leota with them as well. Don’t know why she didn’t ascend to Heaven as well.

After watching the movie again, I can see some problems people have with it. There are a bunch of plot holes, inconstancies with the film, and Eddie Murphy wasn’t the best cast choice for the lead (He was pretty good though). They also say that it wasn’t faithful to the ride (How deep is that story for the ride anyways?) However, almost everything is great. The acting was fine with Edward Gracey being the best (The girl who played Megan kind of sucks though), the plot was a bit cliché but still appropriate, the special effects were incredible and amazing, the sets were great, the soundtrack was nice to listen to, makeup was good (those zombie skeletons were awesome), and there were other great things about this film as well. Anyways, you owe to yourself to ignore the bad press around the movie and see it. It’s a good watch for the whole family.

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