REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

CAST

Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Jessie Usher (Almost Christmas)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Maika Monroe (The 5th Wave)
Sela Ward (Gone Girl)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Corin Nemec (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Angelababy (Hitman: Agent 47)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Chin Han (Arrow)
Ryan Cartwright (Bones)

Twenty years after a devastating alien invasion, the United Nations has set up the Earth Space Defense (ESD), a global defense and research program to reverse-engineer alien technology and serve as Earth’s early warning system against extraterrestrial threats. The main defense force utilizes equipment salvaged from the remains of the alien forces and operates military bases built on the Moon, Mars, and Rhea. The Area 51 base in Nevada has become the ESD Headquarters.The world is preparing to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their survival after the invasion. In the provincial African state Republique Nationale d’Umbutu, ESD Director David Levinson meets with Dr. Catherine Marceaux and warlord Dikembe Umbutu, who lead him to an intact alien destroyer. Aboard the ship, they discover that the alien occupants sent a distress call to their home planet before being defeated. Furthermore, Umbutu, former U.S. President Thomas Whitmore, and Dr. Brackish Okun (who awakens at Area 51 after a twenty-year coma)—all of them once telepathically linked with the aliens ever since their personal encounters with them—have of late been receiving strange visions of an unidentifiable spherical object.An unidentified spherical ship, with design and technology different from that of the aliens who attacked 20 years earlier, emerges from a wormhole near the ESD’s Moon defense headquarters. Levinson believes that it belongs to another extraterrestrial race that might be benevolent and urges the world’s Security Council not to attack, but they vote to shoot it down regardless. Against the Council’s orders, pilots Jake Morrison and Charlie Miller pick up Levinson, Marceaux, Umbutu, and U.S. federal controller Floyd Rosenberg on a space tug, and they head for the wreckage near the Van de Graaff crater, where they recover a container. An alien mothership 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in diameter suddenly emerges and destroys Earth’s planetary defenses before approaching the planet. The space tug is caught in the mothership’s gravitational pull, which lifts objects from across Asia, causing massive damage on its path. The debris falls all over Europe, where the tug manages to escape before heading on to Area 51. The mothership lands over the north of the Atlantic Ocean, destroying cities on the Eastern Seaboard, and begins drilling a hole through the bottom of the ocean floor to harvest the Earth’s core for fuel, which will destroy both its magnetic field and atmosphere in the process, killing all life.Whitmore’s group interrogates one of the aliens held in captivity from the war, who has recently awoken from a 20-year catatonic state. The ESD learns that the aliens exist in eusociality and that one of their colossal Queens is commanding the invasion. Levinson hypothesizes that, if they kill the supervising Queen, her forces will cease drilling and retreat. An ESD aerial fleet, led by Captain Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, stages a counterattack on the Queen’s chamber, but they are caught in a trap within the mothership, which nearly wipes out the entire unit.In Area 51, Okun opens the container and releases a giant white sphere of virtual intelligence; indeed benevolent and more advanced than the attacking aliens. It reveals that its mission is to evacuate survivors from worlds targeted by the aliens, whom it calls “Harvesters”, and that it has gathered a viable resistance force against the Harvesters, hidden in a refugee planet at a location unknown to the Harvesters. Despite being the last of its kind, the sphere implores the humans to destroy it in order to prevent the Harvesters from discovering the location of the planet where it has hidden the survivors. In the mothership, Dylan, Jake, and other survivors manage to escape by hijacking enemy attack craft, and pursue the Queen’s personal ship, which is heading to Area 51 with its convoy.Knowing the Queen has become aware of the sphere’s presence, the ESD forces hide it in an isolation chamber and use a decoy to lure the Queen’s ship to a trap filled with fusion weapons. Against his daughter Patricia’s wishes, Whitmore volunteers to pilot the space tug on the suicide mission, leading the warship to the trap and detonating the bombs, thus sacrificing himself and destroying the ship. However, the Queen survives by using an energy shield on her biomechanical suit. Several fighters fire at the Queen, but the shield protects her.However, Patricia manages to fire through a gap in the shield when the Queen prepares to fire her own gun, thereby disabling the Queen’s shield, allowing Dylan’s arriving party to kill the Queen before she can take the sphere. With the Queen dead, all the remaining alien fighters are rendered inactive, while the mothership stops drilling and retreats to space. Okun reveals that the sphere has asked humanity to lead its resistance and has offered the humans new technology in preparation for a counterattack to assault the Harvesters’ home world and take the fight to the aliens.The action is decent. The jeopardy level is good. What it can’t quite offer is the shock of the new that the original gave us. But for fun science fiction action blockbuster escapism, it’s not bad. So it’s an entertaining watch.

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Randy Quaid (Kingpin)
Margaret Colin (Gotham)
James Rebhorn (Meet The Parents)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Harvey Fierstein (Kull The Conqueror)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
James Duval (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Lisa Jakub (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Iron Man)
Kiersten Warren (13 Going on 30)
Harry Connick Jr. (The Iron Giant)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Erick Avari (Stargate)

On July 2, 1996, an enormous alien mothership that has one fourth the mass of the Moon enters orbit around Earth, deploying 36 smaller spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, that take positions over some of Earth’s major cities and military bases. David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, decodes a signal embedded in the global satellite transmissions that he determines is a timer counting down to a coordinated attack. With the help of his former wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano, Levinson, and his father Julius, gain access to the Oval Office and warn President Thomas J. Whitmore that the aliens are hostile. Whitmore orders large-scale evacuations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., but it is too late; the timer reaches zero and the ships activate devastating directed-energy weapons, killing millions. Whitmore, the Levinsons, and a few others, narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the capital is destroyed, along with other locations over which the ships are positioned.On July 3, international military leaders begin ordering individual counterattacks. Their aviation forces attack destroyer ships positioned above the ruins of the cities, but they are protected by force fields. Each destroyer launches a swarm of attack fighters, which wipe out the human fighter squadrons. Captain Steven Hiller, a pilot with the Marine Corps squadron VMFA-314 based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, survives by luring his attacker to the enclosed spaces of the Grand Canyon and sacrificing his plane, forcing the alien to crash-land. He subdues the injured alien pilot and flags down a convoy of refugees, hitching a ride with former combat pilot Russell Casse. They transport the unconscious alien to nearby Area 51 where Whitmore’s group has landed. Through Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki, they learn that a faction of the government has been involved in a UFO conspiracy since 1947, when one of the invaders’ attack fighters crashed in Roswell. Area 51 houses the refurbished alien fighter and three alien corpses recovered from the crash.When eccentric scientist Brackish Okun examines the alien captured by Hiller, it regains consciousness and attacks. It telepathically invades Okun’s mind and uses his vocal cords to communicate with Whitmore before launching a psychic attack against him. Whitmore sees visions of the alien’s plans: their entire civilization travels from planet to planet, exterminating all indigenous life and harvesting the planet of all natural resources. After Secret Service agents and military personnel kill the alien, Whitmore reluctantly authorizes a nuclear attack; a B-2 Spirit fires a nuclear cruise missile at an alien destroyer positioned above Houston, but the ship remains intact.On July 4, Levinson demonstrates that the key to defeating the aliens lies in deactivating their force fields, and devises a way to do so by uploading a computer virus into the mothership. He proposes using the refurbished alien fighter to implement the plan, which Hiller volunteers to pilot. The two are able to implant the virus and deploy a nuclear weapon on board the mothership. With military pilots in short supply, Whitmore enlists the help of volunteers with flight experience, including Casse, and leads an attack on a destroyer ship bearing down on Area 51. With the alien’s shields deactivated, the fighters are able to inflict damage but their supply of missiles is quickly exhausted. As the destroyer prepares to fire on the base, the last missile, equipped on Casse’s plane, jams, and Casse decides to sacrifice his own life. He flies his plane kamikaze-style into the directed-energy weapon port, which results in an explosion that destroys the ship. Human resistance forces around the world successfully destroy the other craft using this vulnerability. As humankind is rejoicing in victory, Hiller and Levinson return to Area 51 unharmed and reunite with their families. They and military officers nearby accompany Whitmore and his daughter in watching the wreckage from the mothership burn up, resembling a fireworks display as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.Independence Day is arguably one of the greatest SF disaster movies of all time. With REM’s ‘It’s the end of the world’ sampled near the beginning of the movie, you definitely know that Roland Emmerich’s view about alien encounters is more akin to War of the Worlds than E.T. Filled with stunning special effects, stirring music, unpretentious sentimentality and laced with good natured humour there is no need to bemoan the lack of character development or obvious narrative coincidences. There is no pretence at being a great cinematic masterpiece examining deep philosophical themes. This is a two hour long, ludicrously enjoyable, preposterously pompous, unbelievably incredible ‘backs against the wall’ slice of SF fantasy which still entertains after numerous viewings.

REVIEW: THE HARRY HILL MOVIE

CAST

Harry Hill (This is Jinsy)
Julie Walters (Harry Potter)
Johnny Vegas (Grimsby)
Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners)
Guillaume Delaunay (Victor Frankenstein)
Matt Lucas (Alice In wonderland)
Sheirdan Smith (The Huntsman)
Jim Broadbent (Vera Drake)

51zcd3nwyolThe movie begins with an electric scooter chase between Harry and his nan because she didn’t know it was him. Afterwards, Harry is sent to get a chicken for lunch, but they fire a machine gun at him and throw a grenade, which Harry throws into the chicken shed, blowing them up. They then discover that their beloved pet hamster Abu is ill so they take him to the vet. He is almost put down until Harry takes him back home. Ed the vet and his assistant, Kisko, are working for Harry’s neo-Nazi twin brother Otto who was abandoned by his nan in the 1970s, claiming it was because she couldn’t look after them both, and raised by dogs.
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After another failed attempt to capture Abu (by disguising as a priest and a nun), Harry and his nan decide to take him on a trip in their Rover P6 to Blackpool for a week before he dies. Ed and his assistant pursue them on the road, until they arrive in “Blackpole” by mistake. The next day, Harry and his nan take Abu on a personal guided tour around the nuclear power plant by the cleaner. Ed and Kisko attempt to capture him again only for him to end up turned into a destructive giant caused by radiation which wears off shortly. While walking on the beach they encounter Barney Cull, a member of the Shell People.
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He asks Harry and the others to save his people’s children from a gift shop. They succeed and they are invited back to the Shell People’s cave where Harry falls for the Shell King’s daughter, Michelle. He leaves after being unable to cope living under water. They continue their road trip only to end up in a boxing match where Harry has to fight Kisko to keep Abu. He successfully wins with a free stick of rock. Later on, the car runs out of petrol in the middle of the woods and Harry and his nan leave Abu behind while they search for a petrol station. He’s almost kidnapped again by Ed and Kisko only to leave the car in pieces.
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Meanwhile, Otto teams them up with a master of disguise fox. Harry, his Nan and Abu hitch a ride with Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez (actually Ed and Kisko in disguise) and they arrive in Blackpool to see a show. After they finally arrive there, Harry is reunited with Michelle (much to his Nan’s dismay) and Abu is finally kidnapped and replaced with the fox. Harry later finds out and they go looking for Abu. They follow a trail of steak barbecue hulahoops (which is what Otto was left with to eat when he was abandoned) to his hideout where he reveals his plan to turn Abu into a model figurine for his collection as an act of revenge for being deserted. During a fight between the two, Harry’s nan reveals that she got rid of Otto because she kept getting him and Harry mixed up. After being chased away by killer brains, Harry and his nan are saved by the Shell People, to which his Nan accepts his and Michelle’s love. Harry pursues his brother to the top of the Blackpool tower.
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His Nan rescues him and Abu in a helicopter when Otto falls to the ground after taking a punch from Kisko after he and Ed thought they were working for the wrong brother. After defeating Otto, Abu coughs up a green felt tip pen which turned out to be the cause of his illness. Ed explains that hamsters like sucking on pens and he gave it to Abu so he would be sick and start this whole plan, even though he could’ve kidnapped Abu at the time. Abu lives and the movie ends with a big end song with everyone in the film. Just before the final credits, a hamster appears on screen, riding on a model train. He gets off at the model station when the train stops. The hamster can only be thought to belong to Harry Hill, but there is no evidence for this.51zcd3nwyolIts a madcap, surreal, silly mayhem. The film rather lulls in the middle when you feel its run out of steam and laughs. The humor is a bit hit and miss, however switch your brain off,  and it is mildly entertaining and amusing.

REVIEW: A BELFAST STORY

CAST

Colm Meaney (Star Trek: DS9)
Malcolm Sinclair (V for Vendetta)
Tommy O’Neill (Veronica Guerin)
Paddy Rocks (Starred Up)

In a city left torn by war, when a series of murders awaken dormant memories, many fear the worst. Colm Meaney  and Malcolm Sinclairstar in a film set between war and peace. Times are changing, car bombs are less common and terrorists find themselves out of work, but old habits die hard. And while most go quietly into the night, one man must find the few who won’t comply. A greying assassin has stopped walking his son to school. With motives buried deep in the Irish conflict, everyone is about to discover that the past matters to someone.

Image result for A BELFAST STORYI must admit I was skeptical about this one at first but I thought I’d at least give a local film a chance. I was pretty surprised. Going in expecting some sort of troubles rehash the first few scenes immediately set the film in a more gritty reality. With a nice balance between familiar scenery and bloody murders the film flows better than I’d have thought and haunting music gave the whole piece additional atmosphere. Colm Meaney certainly pulled his weight as an aging detective alongside a cast which seemed to be entirely Irish . Over all the acting pleasantly surprised me, proving our performing heritage once more.
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The concept is definitely daring and certain areas might struggle a little now and then from the sheer weight but having seen it for myself I’m surprised by the bad press it’s gotten, especially for a local film. I know I myself will recommend it.

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REVIEW: LOVE HAPPENS

CAST

Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)
Jennifer Aniston (Rumor Has It)
Dan Fogler (Fanboys)
John Carroll Lynch (Zodiac)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Frances Conroy (The Aviator)
Joe Anderson (Hannibal)
Anne Marie Deluise (Highlander: The Raven)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Alessandra Juliani (Man of Steel)

Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart), is a successful Ph.D. and author of a self-help book that gives advice about dealing with the loss of a loved one. He writes the book after his wife dies in a car accident as a way to deal with the grief. While giving a workshop in Seattle, where his wife was from, he meets Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), a creative floral designer who owns her own flower-shop.She spurns his initial advance as her past relationships with men have not gone well, but after a heated exchange in the men’s restroom, she meets him for dinner. Even though the dinner is awkward, they begin spending time together although she insists to her mother and her employee Marty (Judy Greer) that they are not “dating”. It seems, however, that Burke has not been following his own advice, and in fact has not been dealing with the loss of his wife.In the end, he confesses to an audience that he was driving the car, and not his wife, as he previously maintained. Due to this, he blames himself for her death. Eloise, along with his wife’s father (Martin Sheen), help Burke move past his wife’s death. Burke goes to Eloise, telling her that she had spent the last few days getting to know the part of him that was not available and wondered was she interested in getting to know the part of him that was available.I was pleasantly surprised by this film and how much I enjoyed it. The setting was lovely and really gave the film a good depth and allowed for the melancholy mood of a lot of the scenes. I felt the cast did a really job given the requirements of their characters, in particular I have to complement Eckhart and Lynch on their roles. It was pretty long and could have been shorter in parts, but once you’re into watching it, it’s very enjoyable

 

REVIEW: THE SESSIONS


CAST

John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Helen Hunt (As Good as It get)
William H. Macy (Jurassic Park 3)
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator: Salvation)
Annika Marks (Grace)
Adam Arkin (Halloween: H20)
Rhea Perlman (Cheers)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Robin Weigert (Deadwood)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander 2)

In Berkeley, California in 1988, Mark O’Brien is a poet who is forced to live in an iron lung due to complications from polio. Due to his condition, he has never had sex. After unsuccessfully proposing to his caretaker Amanda, and sensing he may be near death, he decides he wants to lose his virginity. After consulting his priest, Father Brendan, he gets in touch with Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a professional sex surrogate. She tells him they will have no more than six sessions together. They begin their sessions, but soon it is clear that they are developing romantic feelings for each other. Cheryl’s husband, who loves her deeply, fights to suppress his jealousy, at first withholding a love poem that Mark has sent by mail to Cheryl, which she eventually finds. After several attempts, Mark and Cheryl are able to have mutually satisfying sex, but decide to cut the sessions short on account of their burgeoning feelings.

One day sometime later, the power goes out in the building in which Mark lives, causing the iron lung to stop functioning and making it necessary for Mark to be rushed to the hospital. However, he survives and meets Susan Fernbach, a young woman with whom the audience senses he will finally find happiness. The film then cuts to Mark’s funeral, held sometime later, and attended by four of the women he came to know and care for, including Cheryl. Father Brendan gives the homily and Susan reads the poem he had previously sent Cheryl.As a whole, the film doesn’t shy away from much. The sex “therapy” sessions are depicted as realistically as possible and are both funny and touching. Ben Lewin’s direction is simple yet it manages to adequately depict O’Brien’s world without sensationalizing it. It’s an all round simple tale that is well told. This is an adult drama that will make you laugh, cry and look more positively at your own life. There aren’t many films that do that these days.

REVIEW: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

CAST

Dev Patel (Chappie)
Freida Pinto (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Madhur Mittal (Treasure Island)
Anil Kapoor (Race 2)
Irrfan Khan (Jurassic world)

18-year-old Jamal Malik, an Indian Muslim from the Juhu slum, is a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and is one question away from the grand prize. However, before the ₹20 million (US$300,000) question, he is detained and tortured by the police, who suspect him of cheating because of the impossibility of a simple “slumdog” with very little education knowing all the answers. Jamal recounts, through flashbacks, the incidents in his life which provided him with each answer.

Jamal’s flashbacks begin with his managing, at age five, to obtain the autograph of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, which his brother Salim then sells, followed immediately by the death of his mother during the Bombay riots. As they flee the riot, they meet Latika, a girl from their slum. Salim is reluctant to take her in, but Jamal suggests that she could be the “third musketeer”, a character from the Alexandre Dumas novel The Three Musketeers (which they had been studying—albeit not very diligently—in school), whose name they do not know. The three are found by Maman—a gangster who tricks and then trains street children into becoming beggars. When Salim discovers Maman is blinding the children in order to make them more effective beggars, he flees with Jamal and Latika to a departing train.Latika fails to board the train as Salim purposefully lets go of her hand, thus resulting in her being recaptured by Maman. Over the next few years, Salim and Jamal make a living travelling on top of trains, selling goods, picking pockets, working as dish washers, and pretending to be tour guides at the Taj Mahal, where they also steal people’s shoes. At Jamal’s insistence, they return to Mumbai to find Latika, discovering that she is being raised by Maman to be a prostitute, to fetch him soon a high price and as a virgin. The brothers rescue her, and while escaping Maman they shoot him to death. Salim then manages to get a job with Javed—Maman’s rival crime lord. Back at their room, Salim orders Jamal to leave him and Latika alone. When Jamal refuses, Salim draws a gun on him, whereas Latika persuades Jamal to obey his brother and go away.
Years later, Jamal, now a tea-boy in an Indian call centre, searches the centre’s database for Salim and Latika. He fails in finding Latika, while succeeding in finding Salim, now a high-ranking lieutenant in Javed’s crime organisation. Jamal reproaches Salim, who then pleads for forgiveness, and offers him to stay in his luxurious apartment. Jamal later bluffs his way into Javed’s residence to reunite with Latika but as he professes his love for her, Latika asks him to forget about her. Jamal nevertheless promises to wait for her every day at five o’clock at the VT station. Latika attempts to meet him there, but is recaptured by Javed’s men, led by Salim, and once Javed moves to another house, outside Mumbai, the two again lose contact. Jamal becomes a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, knowing that she watches the show regularly. Much to the consternation of Prem Kumar, the show’s host, Jamal becomes a wonder across India. He uses the 50/50 lifeline on the penultimate question and during the following break, whilst in the men’s room, Kumar tries to fail Jamal, feeding him with a wrong answer, yet Jamal chooses the other one, which turns out to be the correct answer.
Assuming Jamal is cheating, the police are involved. After an initial beating up, the police inspector listens to Jamal’s explanation of how he reached each answer. Finding all of them “bizarrely plausible”, he allows him back to the show. At Javed’s safehouse, Latika sees Jamal on the news and Salim, in an effort to make amends for his past behaviour, gives Latika his mobile phone and car keys, and asks her to forgive him and to go to Jamal. Latika is reluctant out of fear of Javed, but agrees and escapes. Salim fills a bathtub with money and sits in it, awaiting for Javed and his men as they realise that he let Latika free. Jamal’s final question is the name of the third musketeer in The Three Musketeers, which he never learned.Jamal uses his “Phone-A-Friend” lifeline to call Salim’s cell, as it is the only phone number he knows. Latika answers the phone, and, while she does not know the answer, tells Jamal that she is safe. Relieved, Jamal randomly picks Aramis, the right answer, and wins the grand prize. Javed hears Latika on the show and realises that Salim has betrayed him. He and his men break down the bathroom door but Salim kills Javed before he is shot, gasping, “God is great.” Jamal and Latika meet on the platform at the railway station; they kiss, and they dance energetically to the song “Jai Ho”.This is an extraordinary film. From the original concept of the novel on which it is based (Q&A by Vikas Swarup), the screenplay by Simon Beaufoy (Full Monty) but especially the masterful creation and direction of the film by Danny Boyle. From the opening moments until the final scene,you will be fully engaged.