REVIEW: TITANIC: THE MINI SERIES

CAST

Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Mask of Zorro)
George C. Scott (Patton)
Peter Gallagher (New Girl)
Eve Marie Saint (Superman Returns)
Tim Curry (IT)
Roger Rees (The Scorpion King)
Marilu Henner (L.A. Story)
Mike Doyle (Green Lantern)
Harley Jane Kozak (Arachnophobia)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Kevin McNulty (Fantastic Four)
Kavan Smith (Stargate: Atlantis)
Barry Pepper (The Green Mile)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Molly Parker (The Wicker Man)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Aaron Pearl (Man of Steel)
Ron Halder (Stargate SG.1)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
John Tench (Watchmen)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)

titanic_1996_facebook_cover_by_thetitaniac-d6kjbf1Titanic follows three main story threads. Isabella Paradine is traveling on the Titanic to join her husband after attending her aunt’s funeral in England. On the Titanic, she meets Wynn Park, her former lover. She falls in love with him again, and after a brief affair, she sends her husband a wireless saying they cannot be together anymore (despite their daughter). When the ship starts sinking, Isabella reluctantly leaves Wynn when he forces her to board a lifeboat. As the boat is lowered, Isabella confesses a long kept secret that her daughter Claire is actually Wynn’s. Later on board the RMS Carpathia she is grief-stricken when she finds Wynn’s lifeless body on deck, having died of hypothermia, but luckily, when the Carpathia reaches New York she is reunited with her family who are blissfully unaware of Isabella’s tryst because the telegram was never sent out due to the sinking.
image-w1280Also in first class is the Allison family, a family travelling on the Titanic, returning home to Montreal with their two small children and new nurse, Alice Cleaver. They gradually become wary and suspicious of her hysterical and neurotic behavior. Later on, a fellow maid asks her if she’d seen her in Cairo the previous month, but soon realizes that she remembers her from the highly publicized trial where Alice was accused of throwing her baby off a train. When the Titanic starts sinking, Alice Cleaver panics and quickly boards a lifeboat with Trevor, the Allisons’ infant son. The parents with their small daughter are unaware that the baby is safe and refuse to leave the ship without him, which in the end costs them their lives.
maxresdefaultIn third class, a young vagrant named Jamie Perse steals a ticket to get on board. He manages to become friends with one of the crewmen, Simon Doonan, who is also a robber, but later is revealed to be a much more violent and callous criminal than Jamie. The young man falls in love with Aase (pronounced “Osa”) Ludvigsen, a recent Christian convert and missionary. On the night of the sinking, Aase is brutally raped and beaten by Doonan, causing her to lose her faith and will to live, but Jamie manages to get her into Isabella’s boat. Unbeknownst to them, Doonan also sneaks aboard that same boat, disguised as an old woman. After the ship sinks, Aase is knocked off the lifeboat by Doonan after she recognizes him, and he attempts to hold the passengers in the boat hostage at gunpoint, but Officer Lowe, who is in charge of the boat, hits Doonan in the head with a paddle, snapping his neck and killing him. Jamie himself manages to survive when he accidentally falls into one of the last lifeboats before the Titanic sinks. He subsequently atones for his past life after he finds Aase in the makeshift hospital aboard the Carpathia. In the end, upon arriving in New York, the two plan to start a new life together.6c6ff95454755dff4381e1617acca662This made-for-TV version of the famous disaster actually stands up fairly well against its $200 million James Cameron counterpart. The effects are good – and in a few cases even on par with Cameron’s version. Indeed, watching the two films back to back, you might be surprised at the similarities between the two versions, at least during some key moments. Both have steerage party scenes, for instance. The cast is generally strong too, particularly Catherine Zeta Jones in one of her first lead performances, and George C. Scott as Capt. Smith. But where Titanic (1996) hits all the wrong notes is in a poorly conceived subplot involving a crooked crewmember (Tim Curry). His character doesn’t really belong here, and his villainous actions get to be quite shocking near the end … it takes away from the human drama of the doomed people on the ship and actually comes close to ruining the movie (though no fault of actor Tim Curry, who turns in a great performance). If you only have time to see one super-long movie based on the disaster, see the Cameron film – if you’ve got time to see two, this one is worth a look.

REVIEW: PETER PAN (2003)

CAST

Jeremy Sumpter (Excision)
Jason Isaacs (Fury)
Rachel Hurd-Wood (Dorian Gray)
Lynn Redgrave (Kinsey)
Richard Briers (Murder She Said)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Ludivine Sagnier (The Young Pope)
Saffron Burrows (Deep Blue Sea)
Bruce Spence (Mad Max 2)
Tory Mussett (Boogeyman)

In the nursery of the Darling home located in Edwardian era London in 1904, Wendy Darling tells her younger brothers John and Michael stories about a boy called Peter Pan and his fairy friend Tinker Bell. Life is disrupted when their Aunt Millicent intervenes. Judging Wendy to be an “almost” full-grown woman, Aunt Millicent advises Mr. and Mrs. Darling to think of Wendy’s future, saying that Wendy should spend less time in the nursery, and more time with herself, to become a grown woman. The very idea terrifies the children.

Wendy daydreams about having seen Peter in the night, and along with the family’s “nurse” dog Nana, embarrasses her father in front of his superiors. As a punishment, Mr. Darling chains Nana outside and declares it time for Wendy to grow up. Peter visits the nursery again looking for his shadow, which Nana had bitten off, and introduces himself. After being acquainted, Wendy sews his shadow back on and is enchanted by Peter’s tales of his adventures in Neverland. She asks Peter if she can kiss him, but because he does not know what a kiss is, ends up giving him a thimble instead. He returns the “kiss” by plucking an acorn from his shirt and giving it to her. Peter invites her to be “mother” to his gang of Lost Boys. She asks to bring her brothers, John and Michael, to which Peter agrees. He grabs Tinker Bell and shakes fairy dust on the children and tells them to think of happy thoughts. Nana, having escaped her chain, leads Mr. and Mrs. Darling back home, but they arrive too late to stop the children.

The Children fly over London and then to Neverland. They spy on Captain Hook’s(Isaacs) ship from a cloud. The pirates spot them and attack with their cannons. One knocks Wendy far away and the other causes Michael and John to fall towards the island below. Peter tells Tinker Bell to find Wendy and take her back to the hideout while he gets the boys. But Tinker Bell reaches the hideout without Wendy and out of jealousy, tricks the Lost Boys into shooting Wendy with an arrow. The boys learn the truth and confess to Peter but Wendy is revealed not to have been killed as the arrow hit the acorn necklace hung around her neck. Angry, Peter banishes Tinker Bell and ends their friendship. When Wendy finally awakens she finds the Lost Boys on their knees begging her to be their mother, which she accepts. They blindfold her and lead her to their hideout, and she finally realizes her brothers are missing. Michael and John stumble across the crocodile that ate Hook’s hand then encounter the Native American princess Tiger Lily (Carsen Gray). All three are then captured by Hook and taken to the Black Castle to use as bait for Peter Pan. Wendy and Peter visit the mermaids’ lagoon to ask the dark and mysterious creatures to help in locating John and Michael, and learn that Hook has her brothers. Peter and Hook engage in a duel but it is stopped when the ticking crocodile arrives and tries to eat Hook, allowing the children to all escape.

That night, after a celebration at the Indians’ camp, Peter shows Wendy the fairies’ home and the two share a dance. Hook spies on the two and soon comes across Tinker Bell, who is still hurt and upset from being banished, and charms her into telling him more about Peter and Wendy. Peter becomes upset with Wendy after she tries to get him to tell her if he loves her in return and tells her to go home and grow up if she’s not happy. Wendy, hurt, leaves to be alone. Hook has the sleeping Wendy carried to his ship. There, he entices her to become a pirate but sends a spy to follow her to the Lost Boys’ underground hideout afterwards. Wendy soon comes to her senses and tells her brothers that the three of them will be going home, which upsets Peter. The Lost Boys ask if they can go too, upsetting Peter even more. Wendy tries to say goodbye to Peter but he turns away in sadness. She leaves him a cup of medicine and tells him not to forget to take it.

The pirates capture the boys outside and Hook goes down into the tree and puts a drop of poison in Peter’s medicine. He is about to drink the medicine, but Tinker Bell stops him and drinks the poison herself. Peter telepathically reaches out to children sleeping around the world, the Darlings, Aunt Millicent, the Lost Boys, and even the pirates to assert their belief in fairies, which brings Tinker Bell back to life. Peter and Tinker Bell save Wendy and the boys from walking the plank by making the pirates think the crocodile is on board, and a battle soon breaks out. Hook sprinkles himself with Tinker Bell’s fairy dust and fights Peter in a duel while flying. Hook taunts him about Wendy abandoning him and forgetting all about him when she grows up. Weakened by those thoughts and unable to fight, Peter gives in to his inevitable death. Seeing this as goodbye, Wendy gives Peter her hidden kiss, which gives him the strength to recover. Peter re-engages Hook, who loses his confidence and falls into the waiting jaws of the crocodile.

With the ship covered in fairy dust, Peter flies Wendy and the boys back to London. Mr. and Mrs. Darling are overjoyed at the return of their children, and adopt the Lost Boys. Slightly, who got lost on the way to London and arrives at the house too late, is adopted by the lonely Aunt Millicent. Peter promises never to forget Wendy and to return someday before heading back to Neverland with Tinker Bell. According to the adult Wendy, she never saw Peter again, but she continues to tell his story to her own children and grandchildren so that his legacy will last forever.

Hogan and company have brought the Barrie work to the screen and have rightly restored to it a child’s sense of awe and wonder, of both beauty and terror co-existing side by side and for this reason alone it is the definitive film version of Peter Pan

REVIEW: KISS TOLEDO GOODBYE

CAST

Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Michael Rapaport (The 6th Day)
Robert Forster (Dragon Wars)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Jamie Anderson (Catch Me If You Can)
Nancy Allen (Robocop)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Paul Ben-Victor (Daredevil)
Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives)

junior_this_is_the_endTo prevent a gang war, a young Ohio investment advisor (Michael Rapaport) must impersonate a Mafia Godfather for a few weeks following the assassination of his crime-boss biological father (Robert Forster) whom he had not even known existed. He tries to keep this new life secret from his real family, especially from his very jealous fiancee (Christine Taylor), with the help of his new Cosa Nostra “family,” especially his father’s chief lieutenant (Christopher Walken).

junior-1994

There was not one surprise in the plot past the first scene. But the performances of Robert Forster and Christopher Walken diverted my attention enough so that it was a pleasant experience. Forster did a wonderful job considering the completely unbelievable character he was saddled with, although his accent needed improvement. Of all the gangsters I’ve seen Walken portray, this one was the most delightful. His boyish charm as a cold-blooded gangster made for hilarity every time he was given the spotlight. If the entire movie had been watching Chris, it would earn five stars. But whenever the focus is shifted to another character the film sank. Michael Rappaport and Christine Taylor were adequate, but only a thespian as gifted as Walken can get through so preposterous a script with dignity intact

 

REVIEW: THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (2004)

CAST

Emile Hirsch (Killer Joe)
Elisha Cuthbert (House of Wax)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
James Remar (Gotham)
Chris Marquette (Fanboys)
Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man)
Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy)
Sunny Leone (Pirate’s Blood)
Amanda Swisten (The Last Run)
Sung-Hi Lee (Birds of Prey)
Timothy Bottoms (Shanghai Kiss)
Autumn Reeser (The OC)

Ambitious high school senior Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) has been accepted to Georgetown University, but cannot afford the tuition. He has raised $25,000 in order to bring a brilliant Cambodian student, Samnang, to study in the United States, but finds little else truly memorable about his high school experience. His life suddenly changes when charismatic Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next door. Matthew witnesses her undressing from his bedroom window, until she sees him and storms over, knocking on the door and introducing herself to his parents. They suggest to Matthew that he show Danielle around town.While driving around, Danielle stops the car and forces Matthew to get out and strip for her. The two get to know each other through weird adventures, which includes Matthew finding himself in his principal’s pool. He and Danielle sneak away and pick up his friends before going to a party. When a few of Matthew’s athlete classmates attempt to get him away from Danielle and kick him out of the party, he finds the courage to walk right up and kiss her. Matthew’s world is suddenly rocked the next day when his friend Eli informs him that Danielle is an adult film actress.On Eli’s advice, Matthew takes Danielle to a sleazy motel. Danielle, insulted, realizes that he has discovered her past and abruptly ends the relationship. Matthew later attempts to apologize and reconcile, but Danielle believes that she will never be able to escape her past and decides to return to the adult industry. Matthew tracks Danielle down at an adult film convention in Las Vegas where Kelly (Timothy Olyphant), a porn producer and Danielle’s ex, menacingly warns Matthew not to interfere with his business. Matthew ignores him, convincing Danielle both to leave the adult industry and to begin their relationship anew. Next morning, Kelly furiously abducts Matthew from school and assaults him, saying that Danielle’s failure to film has cost him $30,000. Kelly offers to let Matthew erase his debt by stealing an award statuette from porn mogul Hugo Posh (James Remar), but once Matthew has entered the house Kelly calls in a burglary report and leaves the premises. Matthew narrowly avoids the police and rushes to a scholarship award dinner. High on ecstasy that Kelly gave him as aspirin, he gives a deeply sentimental speech but loses out on the scholarship.Kelly exacts further revenge by stealing all the money Matthew raised for Samnang. Matthew fears that he will be implicated in the crime and expelled from school. He turns to Danielle for help in recouping his losses. Danielle calls in two friends from her porn star days, and they agree to make a video for Hugo Posh on prom night using Matthew’s classmates as actors. After the successful shoot, Danielle and Matthew have sex in their limousine. Despite Danielle’s past, it is the first time she has truly made love. The next morning Eli calls Matthew, panicked because the prom night tape has been stolen, jeopardizing their hopes of financial recovery. Matthew enters his home to find Kelly (and the stolen tape) in his home, along with his parents and Principal Salinger. Kelly, in private, tells Matthew that unless he is given half of all profits, he will play the tape immediately for Matthew’s family. Matthew dares him to show the tape, asserting that he no longer cares about his “now-ruined future,” and Kelly obliges. Surprising everyone, Matthew and his friends have made a progressive, comprehensive sex ed tape rather than a porn film. With no more cards left to play, Kelly admits defeat as well as a grudging respect for Matthew.Hugo Posh and Matthew make millions from the video. Hugo Posh pays for Samnang to come to the USA, while Matthew has enough money to attend Georgetown and take Danielle to DC with him. Matthew’s story ends with him getting the girl of his dreams and a chance at the future he has always wanted.This movie really was a very pleasant suprise. Not the sell out that could possibly have been expected, but a very good film about coming of age, tasting life and of course, getting the girl. Excellent performances from all parties, a great soundtrack with songs very well used, and above all very funny well placed jokes make this a very appealing package. This comes highly recommended.

REVIEW: JUNIOR

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
Emma Thompson (Beautiful Creatures)
Frank Langella (All Good Things)
Pamela Reed (Kindergarten Cop)
Aida Turturro (Mickey Blue Eyes)
Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Fred Stoller (The Change-Up)
Anna Gunn  (Sully)
Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs)
Monika Schnarre (Andromeda)
Tracey Walter (Batman)

Austrian Research geneticist Dr. Alex Hesse (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his OB/GYN colleague Dr. Larry Arbogast (Danny DeVito) have invented a fertility drug, “Expectane”, that is supposed to reduce the chances of a woman’s body rejecting an embryo and thus prevent a miscarriage. Unfortunately, they are not allowed to test it on women since the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the drug; so Hesse and Arbogast cannot move forward in their research. In response, Hesse breaks into the laboratory and locks himself in. The head of the review board, Noah Banes (Frank Langella), informs Arbogast that while the FDA has denied their team the right of human experimentation, the team has managed to receive a donation from fellow geneticist Dr. Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson) from the ovum cryogenics department. When Hesse questions the chances of a woman taking an unapproved drug during pregnancy, Arbogast reveals that there is no need to identify the gender of the experiment and convinces Hesse to impregnate himself, using an ovum codenamed “Junior”.

That night, Hesse has a nightmare in which his potential offspring has his own face pasted onto it. That day, he complains to Arbogast that his nipples are hurting him. Later, the normally aloof Hesse inexplicably lightens up and chats incessantly about walks, massages, and naps. Reddin tells Hesse that being a woman is not as great as it sounds, citing the menstrual cycles which do not stop until menopause. Meanwhile, Arbogast’s pregnant ex-wife, Angela (Pamela Reed), wants him to be the doctor delivering her baby. Hesse begins to wonder what it would be like to be a father and watches some television commercials to have himself a good sobbing. He later begins overreacting, with Angela noting his practice of “mixing cuisines”.

It is revealed that the “Junior” ovum is actually from Reddin’s own body, making her the mother of Hesse’s child. Banes wants to take credit for the experiment despite having no role in it. Arbogast disguises Hesse as a woman and hides him in a retreat for expecting mothers outside the city, passing off his masculine appearance as past anabolic steroid use. Eventually, after a visit from Reddin, Hesse experiences abdominal pain due to the damage that the baby is doing to his abdomen. While shut away in his resort room, Hesse calls both Arbogast and Reddin. As Reddin rushes to the resort from the laboratory, Arbogast calls a fellow doctor and tells him to evacuate the hospital and prep it for an emergency c-section for Hesse, but a hospital staffer overhears the doctor’s conversation and alerts Banes about it. Banes calls the media to the hospital, to take credit and become famous, but Arbogast’s fellow doctor alerts him about the media and Arborgast makes a detour to get a decoy for Hesse so he can have a private c-section.

Junior (1994)

When Arborgast’s car arrives at the hospital, he disappoints the media when he brings out his own pregnant ex-wife. Banes, who had summoned the university dean and the press to witness the world’s first pregnant man, is discredited and fired. Meanwhile, Reddin and Hesse have snuck to the back of the hospital and use the fire escape to get in. While acting as Hesse’s decoy double, at the hospital, Angela goes into labor. Hesse has an emergency caesarean section, where he is given an epidural even though he’s at high risk as is the baby. Reddin, not being able to help Hesse through this time, is sent by Arbogast to keep Angela company. Reddin walks into the waiting room to find Angela in labor and ends up being her labor coach, since there’s no hospital staff available. Hesse feels emotionally scared and horrible, as Arbogast and the other surgeon cut through the last few layers of tissue, to get to the baby, Arbogast announces that Hesse’s water shows no signs of fetal distress.

junior_this_is_the_end

Arbogast announces the arrival to Reddin, who is on hands and knees helping Angela cope with contractions. Reddin hands Angela over to Arbogast and rushes off to see Hesse as Arbogast has Angela prepped for childbirth. Reddin visits Hesse in the Post-op, getting her first glance at her baby, and together they decide to name the baby girl Junior. Arbogast delivers Angela’s child and the two reconcile to raise the boy, Jake, as their own. In the final scene, the two families are on a beach on vacation celebrating the birthdays of Junior and Jake. Reddin is heavily pregnant with her and Hesse’s second child, and when Angela mentions that she would like to have another baby but does not want to go through pregnancy again, they all begin trying to convince a reluctant Arbogast to carry the child.

What can I say about Junior? It was a good movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger was good. He is reunited with his co-star from Twins, Danny DeVito and his co-star from Kindergarten Cop, Pamela Reed. Also here is Emma Thompson. Everybody was good in their parts. Sure the movie may be absurd and bizarre at times, but if you like if  Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito then I recommend Junior

 

REVIEW: DAVE

CAST

Kevin Kline (Chaplin)
Sigourney Weaver (Avatar)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Tom Dugan (Beethoven’s 2nd)
Charles Grodin (The Ex)
Laura Linney (The Truman Show
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Bonnie Hunt (Jumanji)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Junior)
Bonnie Bartlett (Firefly)

Dave Kovic runs a temporary employment agency in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., and has a side job impersonating President Bill Mitchell. He is requested by Secret Service agent Duane Stevensen to make an appearance as the President at a hotel. Dave assumes it is a matter of security, but it is really to cover up Mitchell’s extramarital affair with a White House staffer. Mitchell suffers a severe stroke during the rendezvous, leaving him in a coma. White House Chief of Staff Bob Alexander and Communications Director Alan Reed convince Dave to continue impersonating the President, telling him that Vice President Gary Nance is mentally unbalanced. Only Bob, Alan, the Secret Service, and the medical staff know of the switch. First Lady Ellen Mitchell leads a separate life, rarely seeing the President.The public is notified that Mitchell has had a “minor circulatory problem of the head.” With Dave established as President, Bob and Alan send Nance on a 12-nation goodwill tour of Africa and implicate him in a savings and loan fraud. Once Nance is forced to resign, Bob plans for Dave to nominate him as Vice President, whereupon Mitchell will have a more serious stroke and Bob will ascend to the Presidency. Dave’s enthusiasm revives Mitchell’s popularity. He visits a homeless shelter with Ellen, who does not understand why he has taken a sudden interest. Bob forges Mitchell’s veto of a funding bill that includes the shelter. When Dave is confronted about the veto by Ellen, he confronts Bob, who offhandedly tells him that if he can cut $650 million from the federal budget he can keep the shelter. Dave has his accountant friend Murray Blum help him rewrite the budget so that the project may be reinstated. To make sure that Bob doesn’t stop him, Dave does it publicly in front of the press.Suspecting that he is not really her husband, Ellen tricks Dave into revealing the truth. Dave and Duane show her Bill on life support in the White House basement. She and Dave decide to leave the White House. However, after a night out, they realize all the good they could still do and decide to return. Dave blackmails Bob into resigning by threatening to go public with the switch, then announces a plan to find a job for every American who wants work. Nance returns from Africa and confronts Dave about the savings and loan scandal, insisting they both know there is no merit to the allegations. Dave talks to Alan, who reveals the whole plan was Bob’s idea. Meanwhile, Bob reveals Mitchell’s involvement in the savings and loan scandal while pushing his own candidacy for the presidency. Realizing that he can’t go into hiding, Dave decides to take responsibility for Mitchell’s actions.The scandal will make the jobs program difficult to pass, but Nance tells Dave that it is a wonderful idea. Dave tells Ellen that Nance is a good man and he would make a great president. Realizing what is planned, Ellen tells him that she does not want to lose him. The next day in a joint session of Congress, Dave admits to Mitchell’s role in the scandal, but introduces evidence proving Bob was the mastermind and Nance is innocent. Bob realizes that Alan has betrayed him. Dave fakes a stroke and makes a switch with the real Mitchell in an ambulance en route to the hospital. Nance becomes Acting President under the terms of the 25th Amendment and is sworn in as President five months later when Mitchell dies. Bob and eight other members of the Mitchell Administration are indicted on 34 charges of law violations and obstruction of justice two days after Dave’s jobs initiative passes. Dave decides to run for city council and Ellen comes to the office to volunteer. As they embrace, Duane stands guard outside the office door.To those who may say that “Dave” doesn’t give a true reflection on American politics or make a political statement, I would agree with them, but then it surely didn’t mean to. Its just a charming little comedy and/or love story that’s easy on mind and eye, and for what its worth I thought it was great.

REVIEW: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS

CAST

Jackie Chan (Rush Hour)
Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Steve Coogan (The Other Guys)
Jim Broadbent (The Legend of Tarzan)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Luke Wilson (Charlies Angels)
John Cleese (Rat Race)
Cécile de France (The Jungle Book)
David Ryall (Outnumbered)
Roger Hammond (Rome)
Ian McNeice (Dune)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Rob Scneider (Big Daddy)
Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting)
Adam Godley (Powers)
Will Forte (MacGruber)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
Mark Addy (Game of Thrones)
Macy Gray (Fuller House)

In the late 19th century, a Chinese man, Lau Xing, robs the Bank of England. To evade the police, Xing becomes the valet for Phileas Fogg, an inventor, taking the pseudonym Passepartout. Phileas, just before Xing arrived, had been trying to break the 50-mph speed barrier, and after succeeding with the help of Passepartout, they head to the Royal Academy of Science. There, Fogg is insulted by the other “brilliant minds”, in particular Lord Kelvin, who believes that everything worth discovering has already been discovered. After a debate between the scientists about the bank thief, Phileas is pressured into a bet to see whether he can travel around the world in 80 days. If he wins, he will become Minister of Science in Lord Kelvin’s place, if not, he will destroy his lab and never invent anything again. Phileas and Xing start their journey around the world, taking a carriage and leaving London after a confrontation with Inspector Fix, a corrupt officer hired by Lord Kelvin to stop them.

Xing and Phileas journey to Paris. Pretending to take Phileas to a convention with Thomas Edison, Xing leads him to an art school where Phileas meets Monique La Roche, a would-be impressionist. There, Xing is attacked by disguised warriors, the Black Scorpions, sent by General Fang, a female Chinese warlord who is after the Jade Buddha that he stole. Fang had previously given it to Kelvin in exchange for military assistance in China. When Monique learns of Phileas’s ambition, she convinces them to take her with them. They depart in a hot-air balloon, chased by Fang’s warriors.

Whilst on the Orient Express, Monique learns that Xing is trying to return the Jade Buddha back to his village, and is travelling with Phileas to get there quickly. Monique keeps his secret in exchange for him convincing Phileas to let her travel with him. They travel to Turkey, where the train stops. Guards climb onboard and inform the trio that they are greeted by Prince Hapi. During the Prince’s banquet, he orders Monique to stay as his seventh wife while the men are ordered to leave. The men blackmail Prince Hapi into releasing Monique using a prized but apparently flimsy “The Thinker” statue of the Prince. The statue is destroyed, much to Hapi’s anger, but the trio escape from the guards. Lord Kelvin, learning that Phileas has been abetting a thief’s escape, orders the British colonial authorities in India to arrest both. Xing notices this and warns his companions, disguising themselves as Indian women to evade capture and successfully flee to China.

Xing leads his friends to his village, Lanzhou, where they are happily greeted. His real identity is revealed and they are held captive by the Black Scorpions. Xing challenges the leader of the group to a fight, during which he is joined by the martial arts masters of the “Ten Tigers of Canton”, of which Xing is a member. The Tigers drive the Black Scorpions from the village and free the Westerners. The Buddha is returned to the village temple. Phileas, feeling used by Xing and Monique, leaves for San Francisco alone, only to be proven wrong when the latter decide to help him win his bet. In New York City, Fang’s disguised minions trick the trio to an ambush site. Fang reveals the nature of their arrangements with Lord Kelvin to take Lanzhou and tap the jade reserves underneath it. A battle against Fang and her minions commences in the workshop where the Statue of Liberty is being constructed, resulting in Phileas missing a boat to help Xing, Fang being knocked out by Monique with a punch (revealing Monique to be the fabled 11th Tiger) and Fang’s minions being either killed or knocked out. Phileas feels he has lost, but the other two say they may still make it if they catch the next ship.

They board an old ship and Phileas convinces the captain to let him build a plane out of the ship’s old wood in exchange for a new ship. Using an altered version of the Wright brothers’ plans, Phileas builds the plane while the ship’s crew builds a catapult to launch it into the sky. They reach London, where the machine falls apart and they crash in front of the Royal Academy. Lord Kelvin sends police to arrest them for robbing the bank, in order to stop them from making it to the top step of the Academy, and proclaims himself the victor when Big Ben strikes noon, seemingly ending the wager. Monique, Fix and other ministers attest to Kelvin’s unfair methods and his bullying nature, but Kelvin scoffs at them. In the process he insults Queen Victoria, who arrives on the scene. She learned that he had sold her arsenal to Fang in exchange for jade mines in China thanks to one of his aides. Kelvin is arrested and sent to prison, and Phileas realizes he is one day early thanks to crossing the international date line. He victoriously ascends the stairs of the Academy and kisses Monique.

The end result is a beautiful film that is suitable for all ages and provides that wonderful feel-good sensation that only the greatest adventures can provide.

REVIEW: SHADOW HOURS

CAST

Balthazar Getty (Alias)
Peter Weller (Robocop)
Rebeca Gayheart (Dead Like Me)
Peter Greene (The Mask)
Frederic Forrest (Apocalypse Now)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: DS9)
Corin Nemec (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Whitworth (Ghost Rider 2)
Clayton Landey (Stargate: Atlantis)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Tane McClure (Legally Blonde)
Mark Ginther (MMPR: The Movie)
Aloma Wright (Scrubs)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)

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The devil feeds from your weaknesses and enstills good in temptation. “Shadow Hours” definitely understands this, and shows an interesting Lucifer who dwells in the seedy underworld of Los Angelos.  To say the least, I wasn’t blown away by the story’s originality, but director Isaac H. Eaton has some brilliant style tricks to keep it fun and intriguing. He is an adroit director working with a mediocre script, and the results are surprisingly good.

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Balthazaar Ghetty plays Michael Halloway, a recovering alcoholic who tries to support himself as well as his wife Chloe by working at a seedy gas station on graveyard shift. In this environment, he’s bound to see some interesting things. It seems everyone who comes through has exhausted themselves with something…most likely some sort of sin. They are all running on empty as they scurry through the night. There are wonderful sequences where gas meters rise as different things happen, communicating this theme perfectly.  Anyway, he runs into a mugger and a homeless man (who symbolizes his bottom of the barrel outlook), but most importantly, a writer named Stuart Chappell (played by Peter Weller, in easily one of his best performances). Chappell has a strange fixation on Michael, and he takes care of him, clothing him with nice suits, and giving him tons of money to gamble. From the start, it is obvious this guy’s a little shady, however. He neglects the fact that Michael is recovering on AA and influences him to start drinking again. Soon, he plunges Michael into a truly harrowing underworld of fight clubs, gambling, drugs and sex.

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In one of the most disturbing scenes of recent memory, they go to a bondage club where people get sadomasochistic pleasure from torture. At first, I was angry that Eaton would use this smut to manipulate his audience into feeling shocked (like how Todd Solondz did in his terrible film “Happiness”). Then I realized, Chappell, a satan figure, is indeed masochistic in that he feeds off his victim’s pain. Little did Michael know as he looked at these twisted acts, that he was being used as a partner to Chappell’s atrocity.  When Michael becomes closer with Chappell, he realizes how much of a lie this man really is. But the perks of being with him are too great, and soon Michael goes too deep into the dark side, hurting Chloe and damaging the new life he forged after leaving AA. I didn’t like how the film ends. It takes an easy (and largely taken) way out, keeping itself on a level of simplicity. I believe Eaton is a genius director, but he sells himself short in “Shadow Hours”.

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I did like a lot of things in this film. I loved the performances by Getty (who also produced), and more so Peter Weller. He plays Stuart as attractive, fun and seemingly caring, but always dark somewhere deep. I liked how the story was paced and told, but it is lacking in overall freshness.

REVIEW: THE SWEENEY (2012)

CAST

Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Plan B (Adulthood)
Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter)
Steven Mackintosh (Kick-Ass 2)
Paul Anderson (The Revenant)
Alan Ford (Snatch)
Damien Lewis (Homeland)
Caroine Chikezie (Eragon)
Ed Skrein (Deadpool)

Flying Squad officers Detective Inspector Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) and Detective Constable George Carter (Ben Drew) arrive at the scene of a warehouse robbery; four armed men are attempting to steal gold bars. After Regan and Carter capture the robbers, Regan takes some of the gold bars to give to his informant Harry (Alan Ford). Detective Chief Inspector Ivan Lewis (Steven Mackintosh) from Internal Affairs starts to scrutinise Regan’s activities, unaware that Regan is having an affair with his estranged wife, Flying Squad officer Nancy Lewis (Hayley Atwell).Regan receives information about a planned robbery on a private bank, but he has to cease surveillance when an armed robbery at an insignificant jewellers places £200,000 of jewellery in the hands of a dangerous criminal, and one civilian dead. Regan suspects that his long-time adversary Francis Allen (Paul Anderson) is responsible, but cannot contradict Allen’s alibi that he was out of the country. After evidence links violent Serbian criminal Makin Trebolt (Kevin Michaels) to the crime Regan is forced to release Allen.When the private bank is robbed the Flying Squad arrives in time to confront the heavily armed robbers, against the orders of their boss Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins (Damian Lewis). After a long chase and shootout the robbers escape, with Makin deliberately shooting Nancy dead in front of an incapacitated Regan. A grieving Inspector Lewis uses the shootout as justification to suspend the entire Flying Squad. Determined, Regan obtains a fake badge and illegal weapon and interrogates a local thug, who unexpectedly confesses that Allen paid him to fake his alibi. Before he can share this information with Carter, Regan is arrested and jailed.Working separately, Carter tracks down and interrogates a robber wounded in the shootout, who reveals that Makin is planning to escape via a boat named Pegasus. Shortly after the armed Carter is arrested at gunpoint, only for Haskins to intervene in the hopes of saving Carter’s career. Despite this, Haskins is unwilling to hear what Carter discovered until the latter spots the name “Pegasus” in the Flying Squad’s notes: the name of Allen’s boat.With a firm connection between Allen and the crimes, Haskins arranges for Regan’s release, and Regan and Carter head to the docks to intercept Makin and Allen. Allen and Makin manage to escape via car, the two cops pursuing; the chase eventually leads to a trailer park where both vehicles crash. Carter exits the vehicle and tries to fire on Makin and Allen as they attempt to flee, only to be struck by their vehicle. Makin points his weapon at the wounded Carter, but is fatally shot by Regan. Regan then points the gun point blank at a heavily injured Allen, telling him “you’re nicked,” before lowering the gun. Some time later, Regan returns to the now reactivated Flying Squad offices, reinstated. He and the rest of the Squad leave on a case, with Inspector Lewis watching Carter and Regan as they go.Performances are pretty wooden, as you would expect from a gung-ho police drama. Ray Winstone is…Ray Winstone. Always good to see Hayley Atwell.

REVIEW: MONSTER BRAWL

CAST

Dave Foley (Vampires Suck)
Art Hindle (Offspring)
Robert Maillet (300)
Jimmy Hart (Thunder In Paradise)
Herb Dean (Choke Hold)
Kevin Nash (John Wick)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Jason David Brown (Septic Man)
RJ Skinner (The Masked Saint)

6199_5The film depicts a wrestling-style fight to the death set inside an abandoned and cursed graveyard, shown in a pay-per-view style atmosphere. The fighters are eight classic movie monsters – Cyclops, Swamp Gut, Frankenstein’s Monster, Lady Vampire, Werewolf, Mummy, Witch Bitch and Zombie Man. Acting as play-by‐play announcer is Buzz Chambers (Dave Foley) with color commentating by former champ Sasquatch Sid (Art Hindle). The Brawl itself is divided into two classes: The Creature class and the Undead class. For the Creatures: Cyclops, Werewolf, Witch Bitch and Swamp Gut. For the Undead: Lady Vampire, Zombie Man, The Mummy and Frankenstein. Each round is preceded by the origin of the combatants.Announcers_with_DoomsayerFor the first round, Cyclops, revealed to have received a message of the tournament goes to prove himself to the world and eventually to crush Hades who had cursed him with his foreseeing eye, while Witch Bitch is recruited by a diminutive troll named Grub who is a renowned monster combat trainer to overcome her small village’s hatred of her through fear and dominance. As their combat starts off, Cyclops clearly has the advantage, but Witch Bitch is tenacious and fights viciously. As the combat ensues, she attempts to slam and pin the Cyclops down, her efforts leading to an illegal move called by the referee. Cyclops counters her attacks by bringing out a small mallet to brutally bludgeon her. Her retaliation is by whipping out a carving knife and attacking, inadvertently slashing the ref’s throat in the process. She tries to blind Cyclops, but he turns his legendary optic beam on her, melting her face clean off and killing her. Outraged by the loss, Grub attempts to attack the Cyclops, only to be decapitated in a single punch. Cyclops stands as winner for round one.ScreenShot377Round two faces off the mummy, who was the subject of a national search when he escaped from his crate at a museum and killed the loading dock worker there, while Lady Vampire is hunted in her mysterious home by a man who tries to gun her down, only to be bitten and chased off in fear. Mummy has the advantage of no blood or feeling to the vampire’s throws and attacks. He out-muscles most of her attacks and keeps on coming, he blinds her and knocks her out with a sleeper hold. But when he goes to get a wooden stake and bring it back, she revives and continues to wail on him. He has a brief advantage with his magical amulet that harnesses the power of the sun, burning half of Lady Vampire’s face. But she throws him from the ring, separating him from his amulet, after hitting him with a tombstone, she punches him through his chest, ripping out his black heart and killing him. She is declared the winner of the Undead lightweight round. The third round, featuring the heavyweight combatants Werewolf and Swamp Gut, they are preceded by the Werewolf’s story, having witnessed his wife’s death at the hands of a werewolf, he goes out in search to kill him. Monster-Brawl-2011-Movie-Image-600x262

However the werewolf attacks and bites him, cursing him even though he manages to finish the wolf off. He is smarmy and sarcastic and viciously self-confident with the advantage of the full moon showing that night. Swamp Gut’s story is portrayed as a documentary where, like a crocodile he hunts unassuming victims in his swamps, paralyzing them with his toxic spit and devouring them. As the match starts, Werewolf proves little effectiveness in his body slams due to Swamp Gut’s girth, but his agility keeps him one step ahead as he attacks the gut’s weak spot, his stomach. Sid makes reference to King Hippo of Punch Out in comparison to the battle. Werewolf’s blows weaken his opponent who collapses to the ring. He does a dive from the corner onto Swamp Gut, causing his stomach to explode, killing him. Werewolf is the king of the creature heavyweight championship and moves on to the final match. The second match is between Frankenstein and Zombie Man, Frankenstein’s life beginning after a German doctor’s attempts to reanimate the dead are successful, he calls his creator ‘father’ and has an emotional attachment to him immediately, while Zombie Man, a kidnapped government experiment at the ultimate soldier is trained specifically for this tournament. Colonel Crookshank sacrifices men to feed the zombie’s appetite for human flesh and earn trust. As the pair match off, Zombie Man is much faster than Frankenstein, but his bites are ineffective. The pair match blow for blow, but much to his father’s disdain, Frankenstein does not realize he needs to destroy Zombie Man’s head. As the doctor climbs into the ring and attacks Zombie Man with a wrench, Crookshank does the same and kills the doctor with a hatchet to the back. This enrages Frankenstein who brutally attacks Zombie Man, eventually crushing his skull with his foot. In his death throes, Zombie Man summons up a horde of six zombies, one of which bites Sid in the booth before they combine their efforts and attack Crookshank before the caretaker kills them all.monster_brawl_review

The final match is between Werewolf and Frankenstein, Sid slowly loses his composure and becomes a zombie during the round, forcing Buzz to kill him. Meanwhile, Werewolf is at a severe disadvantage with the towering undead. His blows don’t phase Frankenstein, who, despite having his leg practically torn off in a figure four hold from the Werewolf manages to beat him into submission by crushing his skull with his hands. Frankenstein starts to walk away the victor but Werewolf recovers, attacking him more viciously, taking several tombstones and crushing them over Frankenstein’s head. He takes the belt for himself, but Frankenstein wakes and attacks the unaware werewolf, grabbing his jowls before ripping his head apart. Finally victorious, Frankenstein takes his hard-earned belt and starts to leave. But Crookshank, now a sentient zombie challenges him to a fight. Both men standing at even height and muscle they start to wield a mighty blow at one another when the screen freezes and goes dark. In a post credit scean Jimmy Hart is speaking on the phone while a zombie walks behind him grabs and pull him under the ring.Monster_Brawl_Wolf_Man_Swamp_GutIf you enjoy wrestling and you enjoy horror this may be one for you!