REVIEW: PATHFINDER (2007)

CAST

Karl Urban (Dredd)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation)
Russell Means (Natural Born Killers)
Nathaniel Arcand (Heartland)
Ralf Moeller (The Scorpion King)
Michelle Thrush (Highlander: The Series)
John Mann (The Tall Man)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)

A Viking Age expedition arrives in America, intending to slaughter the native “Skræling” population. The party is itself killed by another native tribe, the only survivor being the leader’s son, who is adopted by a native woman. The boy is named “Ghost” for his paleness.Fifteen years later, Ghost (Karl Urban) still lives among the tribe, but has never been accepted as a full member. His romantic interest is Starfire (Moon Bloodgood), the daughter of the Pathfinder (Russell Means), an elderly chief of a neighboring tribe.

In an attack by a new group of Viking raiders, Ghost’s village is destroyed and all inhabitants killed, except a few tribesmen whom the attackers want to combat individually. Viking leader Gunnar (Clancy Brown) challenges Ghost, who is still in possession of his father’s sword. He defeats Ulfar (Ralf Möller), cutting out his eye before escaping.

Ghost is pursued by the Vikings and receives an arrow wound. He reaches the neighboring tribe and is tended to by Pathfinder and his daughter. Ghost advises the villagers to flee, then he departs to take on the Vikings alone, but is joined by Jester, a mute admirer, who refuses to leave his side, and Starfire, who decides to leave the tribe for him. They defeat a few Vikings and collect their arms and armour. Pathfinder goes after his daughter and also joins the fight. Eventually, both Jester and Pathfinder are executed brutally, and Ghost and Starfire are captured. The Vikings threaten to torture Starfire if Ghost will not betray the location of the other villages. Ghost pretends to lead the Vikings to the tribe, and manages to kill most of them on the way, some drowning in a lake and others caught in an avalanche. Ghost eventually kills Gunnar in a duel on a cliff’s edge.45e1d958ec503b8a3a95ac956a519bf4

Ghost returns to Starfire with Pathfinder’s necklace, thus making Starfire the new Pathfinder after her father. Ghost, now finally respected as the bravest of the tribe and one of their own, assumes his position watching over the coast in case the Vikings ever return.broken-arrow-john-travolta-small-head-2

An enjoyable film and certainly not worthy of some of the slating reviews it has received!

 

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REVIEW: BROKEN ARROW

CAST

John Travolta (The Punisher)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Samantha Mathis (American Psycho)
Delroy Lindo (Up)
Bob Gunton (Argo)
Frank Whaley (Vacancy)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Casey Biggs (Star Trek: DS9)
Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
French Stewart (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)

Major Vic Deakins (John Travolta) and Captain Riley Hale (Christian Slater) are pilots in the United States Air Force. After a sparring match, they are assigned to a top secret evening exercise over Utah, flying a B-3 Stealth Bomber (a fictional iteration of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber) with two B83 nuclear bombs on board. After successfully evading Air Force radar during the exercise, Deakins distracts and attacks Hale. A struggle ensues, ending when Deakins ejects Hale. Deakins then releases the bombs from the plane without detonating them, and reports that Hale’s gone rogue. He then ejects from the bomber himself, leaving it to crash on the mountainside over the Utah canyons.broken-arrow-john-travolta-small-head-2

A search and rescue team is sent to recover the warheads. They do not find the warheads and report a “Broken Arrow”, a situation wherein nuclear weapons are missing. The team later locates the warheads in a canyon but are killed by mercenaries, including Sgt. Kelly (Howie Long), a corrupt member of the team. Deakins arrives moments later and plots his next move with Pritchett (Bob Gunton), the operation’s financier. They plan to blackmail the government with the threat of detonating the warhead in a civilian area. Hale survives the ejection and is found by Park Ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis). He convinces her to help him track down Deakins and foil his plot. After recovering one of the warheads from a hijacked Humvee and escaping to a nearby copper mine, Hale attempts to disable them using a safety feature which would render them unusable, by intentionally entering the arming code incorrectly. However, Deakins had anticipated this possibility, and rigged the device. As a result, Hale’s action instead arms the warhead, setting the detonation timer for 30 minutes.tftds_shot7lUnable to disarm the warhead, Hale hides the unarmed one deep in an abandoned mine. Deakins arrives and secures the unarmed warhead. He then shortens the detonation time to 13 minutes and destroys the keyboard so the device cannot be stopped, then leaves Hale and Terry to die. A NEST team helicopter chases Deakins’ team. During the chase, Deakins kills Pritchett when he becomes fed up with the latter’s complaints. Hale and Terry escape from the mine via an underground river just before the bomb detonates. The bomb’s EMP destroys the NEST helicopter, allowing Deakins to escape. Terry and Hale track him to a motorboat used for transporting the warhead. While trying to steal the boat, Terry is forced to hide on board while Deakins moves the warhead. Military forces rescue Hale.lovers-vow2Hale deduces that Deakins intends to use a train to transport the warhead. Travelling on helicopter with Colonel Wilkins (Delroy Lindo), Hale locates and infiltrates the train, and finds Terry. A gunfight ensues and the helicopter is destroyed; Wilkins and most of Deakins’ mercenaries are killed. With his own helicopter sabotaged by Hale and his plan falling apart, Deakins decides to detonate the nuke regardless. Not wanting to die, Kelly holds Deakins at gunpoint and orders him to disarm the weapon. Hale takes advantage of the situation and kicks Kelly out of the train to his death.Terry detaches the rear section of the train (with the bomb) from the front, but gets into a shootout with the engineer. The latter is shot and falls on the train brakes, causing the train to stop. The detached boxcars continue to coast at high speed. Meanwhile, Deakins, still in possession of a device that can either disarm or detonate the bomb instantly, forces Hale to drop his gun and challenges him to close-quarters combat. Hale eventually overpowers Deakins, acquires the detonator, disarms the warhead and leaps out of the train. As the detached boxcars slam into the halted front half, the warhead flies into Deakins, and the entire train derails and explodes, incinerating him.Hale finds Terry and the damaged nuclear warhead. The two formally introduce themselves to each other amidst the wreckage.tales-from-the-darkside-deborah-harry-blondie-matthew-lawrenceTravolta ham’s it up a bit but makes an impressive villain. Slater is a bit underplayed as the hero. The action is fast flowing with no disjointed bits for love scenes etc. The special effects are good and as with most modern day action movies you have to sit back and watch, tongue in cheek for the most part, letting your vision take control and ignore some of the more unbelievable bits.

REVIEW: TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE

CAST

Deborah Harry (Elegy)
Matthew Lawrence (The Hot Chick)
Christian Slater (Broken Arrow)
Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs)
Julianne Moore (Carrie)
Robert Sedgwick  (Vibrations)
Kathleen Chalfant (Dulicity)
William Hickey (puppet Master)
Alice Drummond (Ghostbusters)
James Remar (Judge Dredd)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)

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Intro

The movie opens with Betty, an affluent suburban housewife and modern-day witch (Deborah Harry), planning a dinner party. The main dish is to be Timmy (Matthew Lawrence), a young boy whom she has captured and chained up in her pantry. To stall her from stuffing and roasting him, the boy tells her three horror stories from a book she gave him, titled Tales from the Darkside.darkside2Lot 249

In the first segment, Michael McDowell adapts Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, “Lot No. 249”. A graduate student named Bellingham (played by Steve Buscemi) has been cheated by two classmates, Susan (Julianne Moore), and Lee (Robert Sedgwick), who framed him for theft to ruin his chances of winning a scholarship for which they were competing. As revenge, Bellingham reanimates a mummy and uses it to murder them both. Susan’s brother Andy (Christian Slater) kidnaps Bellingham, and burns the parchment and mummy. He considers killing Bellingham, but in the end cannot bring himself to commit real murder. However, Bellingham brings Susan and Lee back from the dead (having switched the reanimation parchment with a similar one) and dispatches them to Andy’s dorm, where they greet the terrified Andy by saying that Bellingham sends his regards.

darkside1

Cat from Hell

In the second tale, George A. Romero adapts a Stephen King short story of the same name. Drogan is a wealthy, wheelchair-bound old man (William Hickey) who brings in a hitman named Halston (David Johansen) for a bizarre hire: kill a black cat, which Drogan believes is murderously evil. Drogan explains that there were three other occupants of his house before the cat arrived: his sister, Amanda (Dolores Sutton), her friend Carolyn (Alice Drummond), and the family’s butler, Richard Gage (Mark Margolis). Drogan claims that one by one, the cat killed the other three, and that he is next. Drogan’s pharmaceutical company killed 5,000 cats while testing a new drug, and he is convinced that this black cat is here to exact cosmic revenge.darkside1Halston doesn’t believe the story, but is more than willing to eliminate the cat since Drogan is offering $100,000. But when Drogan returns to the house to see if the deed is done, he finds that the cat has killed Halston by climbing down his throat. The cat emerges from the hitman’s corpse and jumps at Drogan, giving him a fatal heart attack.

talesgargoyle-1024x576Lover’s Vow

The third and final segment is written by Michael McDowell and based on the Yuki-onna, a spirit or yōkai in Japanese folklore or more specifically Lafcadio Hearn’s version in Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. A despondent artist named Preston (James Remar) witnesses a gruesome murder committed by a gargoyle-like monster. The monster agrees to spare Preston’s life as long as he swears never to speak of what he saw or describe the monster’s appearance to anyone. The monster vanishes, leaving Preston traumatized and confused, but bound by his oath never to talk about the incident.tales-from-the-darkside-the-movie-lovers-vow-demon-gargoyle

After that night, Preston’s life takes many turns for the better. He meets a beautiful woman named Carola (Rae Dawn Chong), and they fall in love, marry, and have two children. Preston’s struggling art career becomes wildly successful, and life seems promising, but he is tormented by memories of his encounter with the monster, and his vow of silence weighs on him. One night he breaks down and tells Carola about the monster, even showing her a statue he sculpted of it. She appears upset and at first Preston assumes she thinks he is lying. But then she lets out a heartbroken screech and reveals herself to be the very same creature he met that night.lovers-vow2With Preston’s promise broken she can no longer remain human, and their children transform to monstrous forms as well. She kills Preston (though she says that she loved him), gathers their children and flies away. The final scene shows that the gargoyle and children have turned to stone upon a building ledge, staring down at Preston’s body with sorrowful expressions.tftds_shot7l

Epilogue

Betty remarks that Timmy saved the best story (“Lover’s Vow”) for last, but he says that he hasn’t told her the really best story yet and that this one has a happy ending. She tells him that he should have done it earlier, because now it’s too late and she has to start cooking him to be ready in time for her party, and that none of the stories in the book have happy endings. As Betty advances on Timmy, he tells her this story, his own, narrating his own actions as he trips her by throwing some marbles on the floor. Betty slips and falls on her butcher’s block, impaling herself on her tools. Timmy releases himself and pushes her into her own oven. The film ends with Timmy helping himself to a cookie and breaking the fourth wall by asking us, “Don’t you love happy endings?”tales-from-the-darkside-deborah-harry-blondie-matthew-lawrence

There are a few flaws, though the climax of “Cat From Hell” is a little silly. But the stories themselves are excellent. The first is a gritty, slightly cheesy tale of mummies and revenge; the second is a more cartoonish, almost Tim-Burtonesque story that has you cheering for the homicidal cat; and the third is a surprisingly tragic story that echoes of classic fairy tales.Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is a thoroughly solid collection of tales, which are all spooky in different ways. A fun little movie for Halloween.

REVIEW: CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER

CAST

Chow Yun-fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Gong Li (Memoirs of a Geisha)
Jay Chou (The Green Hornet)
Qin Junjie (Rise of The Legend)
Liu Ye (Sky Lovers)
Ni Dahong (A Simple Noodle Story)
Chen Jin  (Aftershock)
Li Man (Lost on Journey)

On the eve of Double Ninth, the Emperor (Chow Yun-fat) and his second son Prince Jai (Jay Chou) return from their military campaign to Nanjing, so they can celebrate the holiday with their family. The Empress has been in an affair with her stepson, Crown Prince Wan (Liu Ye), who was born of the Emperor’s first wife. Crown Prince Wan, meanwhile, is planning to reject the throne so he can run away with his secret lover, Jiang Chan (Li Man), the daughter of the Imperial Doctor. Prince Jai worries about his mother’s persistent illness, and is confused by her sudden interest in golden flowers. In response, the Empress reveals that the Emperor has been poisoning her tea and that she is planning on overthrowing him. Prince Jai agrees to lead the rebellion.The Empress hires a mysterious woman to discover which substance she is being poisoned with, but Crown Prince Wan later captures the woman and takes her to the Emperor. The woman turns out to be Jiang Shi (Chen Jin), the Imperial Doctor’s wife, who was the Emperor’s first wife whom he imprisoned and believed dead. She carries the brand on her cheek from her time of incarceration. The Emperor decides to release her and to promote the Imperial Doctor to governor of Suzhou. As the Imperial Doctor’s household rests at an inn on the way to Suzhou Jiang Chan tells Crown Prince Wan, who has come to meet her secretly, that the Empress has woven 10,000 scarves with golden flower sigils. Crown Prince Wan returns to the palace, followed by Jiang Chan, and confronts the Empress, and when she admits to planning a rebellion, he is anguished, and stabs himself with a knife, but survives.In the inn the Imperial Doctor’s family is betrayed and attacked at night by the Emperor’s assassins. Jiang She, the only survivor, escapes and travels to the imperial palace, where she demands the Emperor for answers. When he remains silent, the Empress reveals that Jiang Shi was the Emperor’s first wife, meaning that Jiang Chan and Crown Prince Wan are half-siblings. Jiang Chan screams upon hearing this, and flees from the palace, where she and her mother are promptly cut down by more assassins. Suddenly, the youngest son, Prince Yu, stabs and kills Crown Prince Wan with a sword, and summons a group of his own soldiers to kill the Emperor and seize the throne. He reveals that he knows about the Emperor’s poisoning of the Empress, and of the Empress’s affair with Crown Prince Wan, and of the coup. Since the rest of the family is morally unfit, the throne should be his. However, more of the assassins descend from the ceiling and easily kill Prince Yu’s soldiers. The Empress leaves the room as the Emperor whips Prince Yu to death with his belt.Meanwhile, the outer square of the palace is stormed by 10,000 soldiers wearing golden armor and golden flower sigils, with Prince Jai in the lead. They overpower the assassins and advance into the inner square of the palace, trampling the bed of golden flowers arranged for the ceremony. However, thousands of silver armored soldiers appear, being the reserve army of the Emperor, bearing shields or bows-and-arrows, and slaughter the golden soldiers to the last man. Prince Jai rises from the sea of bodies and is taken captive. Behind him, the courtyard is cleaned with mechanical efficiency by a legion of servants, with bodies being removed, floors being scrubbed and laid with carpets, and pots of yellow flowers being replaced, making it seem as if the entire rebellion never happened. At midnight, the Festival of Chrysanthemums begins as scheduled. At the table, the Emperor expresses disappointment with Prince Jai, saying that he was already planning to give Prince Jai the throne. He offers to pardon Prince Jai if he cooperates with his mother’s poisoning. Prince Jai refuses and kills himself. Another cup of poisoned tea is offered to the Empress, but she slaps it away, and the liquid is shown to corrode the table’s wood, and the golden flower image engraved in the wood. This is a reference to the Chinese proverb jinyuqiwai baixuqizhong (金玉其外败絮其中) which means All that glitters is not gold. (Literally: “Gold and jade outside, withered cotton inside”).The story of betrayal, illicit affairs, chilled relations and dysfunctional families may be run on the mill and overdone. Drawing parallels with The Banquet by Zhang Ziyi is inevitable. Both are about an obsessed empress who craves for a relationship with the prince and demands for more power from the emperor. Curse of the Golden Flower is not just soap drama but a period epic to impress with colours, opulence and sheer indulgence.

 

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: SLINGSHOT

agents-shield-slingshot-poster

CAST

Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Los Simuladores)
Clark Gregg (Avengers Assemble)
Chloe Bennett (Nashville)
Yancey Arias (Legion)
Alexander Wraith (Westworld)
Jason O’Mara (Son of Batman)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Iain De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Wolves at The Door)
Henry Simmons (Noo Good Deed)

agents-of-shield-spinoff-hunter-bobbiThe miniseries was released on December 13th. Released in six episodes ranging from three to six minutes, fans get some insight into some missing time between Season 3’s end and Season 4’s start, which is a great bonus because these scenes are not needed to enjoy the main show but are a fun extra. We watch as Elena signs the Sokovia Accords, becomes a SHIELD agent under Mace’s control, and tracks down a criminal. Plus, the old 0-8-4 from Season 1 is also involved because, as any fan of the show knows, it’s all connected! In fact, Slingshot references a lot of things in Agents Of SHIELD and even the MCU, so it fits in well.16174889_1836004673347908_6687458020023952722_nAnd, if that weren’t enough to convince you, know that Slingshot stars all the other SHIELD characters, too, interacting with Yoyo in interesting ways, which really made the series seem like a bonus AoS episode. While I’m very glad to get this bonus material, I wish it were a bit longer. The whole thing only takes about 20 minutes to watch. Because it was so short, things moved very quickly and felt a bit rushed.So how can you watch Slingshot? If you have the ABC app, they’re all on there for your streaming pleasure, but, if you’re like me and reside outside of America, ABC so nicely put them all on YouTube, so you can watch them there.aiden-romero-300x169I liked Slingshot, overall. Seeing more of Yoyo was awesome, and, despite the time constraint, these episodes had some humor, some romance, some action and some drama. What more could I want? I think it was great of Marvel and Agents Of SHIELD to end the year in such a fun way, and I hope the success of this leads to more miniseries in the future.

REVIEW: ROAD TO PALOMA

CAST

Jason Momoa (Justice League)
Sarah Shahi (Bullet To The Head)
Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show)
Michael Raymond-James (Black Snake Moan)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Jill Wagner (Blade: The Series)
Timothy V. Murphy (MacGruber)
Chris Browning (Supergirl)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)

This is a great film for those who honor the journey. With a beautiful display of desert landscapes, this movie let’s you feel the freedom of living life moment to moment. I don’t think that the point of the story was to examine morality in any great way; aside from the pain of suffering loss and the injustice that often prevails. The film does a good job of contrasting the shortcomings of western culture with the simplicity of a more ancient one. As a result, you get a story of blended and contrasting themes, filled with the tension of an impending doom.I enjoyed the characters as well. Jason Momoa created a lovable hero that is easy to empathize with. His friends and family all admire the depth of his character, drawing the viewer into their world. It helps that he’s a good looking dude, with all of the swagger you could ask of a mystery rogue biker. It’s hard to imagine a woman who would say no.
This movie won’t rock your world or change your stance on anything. It’s simply a great indie flick into a world that most of us will never see, with freedom that we will never experience. It will leave you with lingering images of endless highways cut through a land that would rather forget about us.

REVIEW: DRIVEN

CAST

Sylvester Stallone (Bullet To The head)
Burt Reynolds (In The Name of The King)
Kip Pardue (Thirteen)
Til Schweiger (This Means War)
Gina Gershon (Bound)
Estella Warren (The Cooler)
Cristián de la Fuente (Basic)
Stacy Edwards (Superbad)
Richard Zeppieri (Earth: Final Conflict)

Halfway through the (Fictionalized) 2001 Champ Car season, rookie driver Jimmy Bly has already won 5 races. His brother/business manager Demille is seems more concerned with working out endorsement deals and press engagements than racing, putting tremendous pressure upon Jimmy. His success has also drawn the ire of the reigning champion and series points leader Beau Brandenburg, who believes he’s not doing as well as he should because of his fiancée Sophia becoming “a distraction”. He breaks up the engagement and he regains his winning ways.

As Brandenburg returns to form, Bly’s paraplegic team owner Carl Henry is concerned that Bly is becoming more prone to driving errors. He sees parallels to his former driver and Champ Car Champion, Joe Tanto, whom he convinces to come out of retirement to mentor Jimmy. Joe agrees and is brought in to replace Jimmy’s teammate, Memo Moreno. To complicate matters, Joe’s ex-wife Cathy Heguy is now married to Memo, the driver that Joe replaced. Despite all this, Joe and Memo are still friends. Joe’s comeback race is extremely close, with Jimmy leading and Brandenburg a close second. Jimmy can’t seem to pull away from him so Carl orders Joe to pit and holds him there until the leaders are about to come by, despite Joe’s protests. At the last second, Joe leaves the pit just in time to block out Brandenburg, allowing Jimmy to win the race. Jimmy’s brother/manager takes a dislike to Joe’s mentoring, implying that Joe should just act as a blocker. After the race, Joe urges Brandenburg to reconcile with Sophia because she has started an affair with Jimmy, which is causing him to further lose his form on the track, resulting in Jimmy crashing out in Japan.

At a party in Chicago, where the prototypes of next year’s cars are being introduced, Brandenburg gives Sophia her ring back, apologizes for his behavior towards her, and they reconcile, much to Jimmy’s indignation. Sophia apologizes to Jimmy, but he is so upset that he takes one of the new cars and races it out of the convention center. Joe hops into another of the new cars and chases him down the streets of Chicago, eventually bring Jimmy back to his senses after they stop driving. In the coming race in Germany, Carl decides that bringing back Joe isn’t getting the results he wants, so he reinstates Jimmy’s original teammate Moreno while making Joe mentor Jimmy from the pit lane.

In the next race, it’s another close one with Jimmy and Brandenburg fighting it out for first. Bly needs one more win to take the championship, and Moreno is instructed to block for Jimmy, and keep out of his way. Cathy gets on the radio and convinces Memo to go for the win, and, as a result, he collides with Bly in a horrific crash that sends him flying through the air and crashing into a lake on the far end of the course. Jimmy does a quick u-turn and drives his car to the lake and dives in after him. Brandenburg does the same and the two of them rescue Memo just as a burning tree having caught fire in the crash collapses into the burning car igniting the fuel on top of the water and it explodes.

Carl, angered by Jimmy’s decision to stop and rescue Moreno instead of fighting on for the championship argues with Joe who was examining what’s left of Memo’s car. He decides to replace Jimmy with Brandenburg for the coming season and negotiates a deal with Jimmy’s brother who will now represent Brandenburg. Demille tries to get Brandenburg to sign the new contract but he rips it up and Sophia punches Demille in the face for the way he treated her previously. With Memo now hospitalized, Joe is racing again as Jimmy’s teammate. Initially, Jimmy was barred from competing due to an foot injury he sustained while rescuing Memo but Carl finally decides to clear him for the race after Jimmy passes Carl’s strength test.
At the final race of the year in Detroit, Jimmy and Brandenburg are contenders for the championship. In the final laps, Joe has taken the lead but by avoiding an accident, goes flying through the air, landing safely but damaging his front suspension. He can no longer contend for the win and the two leaders pass him on the final lap. It’s neck and neck coming down to the finish. Jimmy is starting to have a mental lapse, but then he hears Joe’s words of wisdom and in a long slow motion sequence, we see Jimmy beating Brandenburg by just a few inches as Joe crosses in third while doing doughnuts in his now out of control car due to its damaged suspension breaking. Jimmy is the new champion and he, Tanto and Brandenburg, celebrate together on the podium drinking champagne.
08A masterpiece it aint, but better than i expected and easy to watch.