REVIEW: KAMEN RIDER GAIM: GREAT SOCCER BATTLE! GOLDEN FRUITS CUP !

Kamen Rider Gaim Great Soccer Battle

Starring

Gaku Sano (My Little Monster)
Yutaka Kobayashi (Meiji Tokyo Renka)
Mahiro Takasugi (Ghostwriter)
Yuumi Shida (Saki)
Yuki Kubota (Meiji Tokyo Renka)
Gaku Matsuda (Tenshi no iru toshokan)
Saku Momose (On)
Ryo Matsuda (Lychee Light Club)
Atsushi Shiramata (Mischievous Kiss)
Tsunenori Aoki (Stray Dogz)
Minami Tsukui (Geisha Assassin)
Kanon Tsuyama (Soften)
Miina Yokota (Hi-Zai)
Hiromi Sakimoto (Kamen Rider Zero-One)
Metal Yoshida (Last Mail)
Kazuki Namioka (13 Assassins)
Tomomitsu Yamaguchi (The Floating Castle)

640full-kamen-rider-gaim-the-movie_-great-soccer-battle!-golden-fruits-cup!-photoThere’s always been two types of Heisei era Kamen Rider summer movies – those set in parallel worlds separate from the main canon, and those that actually tie into the series. The pre-Kamen Rider Decade films mostly fell into the former category, while the post-Decade ones fell into the latter. Kamen Rider Wizard cleverly tried to avoid these categories with a film that had the show’s fall into a parallel universe, but Kamen Rider Gaim took it even further with a parallel universe movie which tied into the show itself – twice! But that’s not all there is to Kamen Rider Gaim: Great Soccer Battle! Golden Fruits Cup! – in the summer of 2014 Japan was firmly in the grips of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, prompting Gaim to do a very unlikely bit of cross-promotion. Kamen Rider Sengoku Movie Battle Bujin WAfter meeting a strange boy named Lapis in the ruins of the Helheim-infested Zawame City, Kouta Kazuraba finds himself transported to a parallel universe where the Beat Riders face off against each other in a football (or soccer if you prefer) tournament named the All Riders Cup. The prize – any wish you desire from the mystical Golden Fruit. Not only do things seem a lot more peaceful, but having never seen the threat of Helheim Kouta is surprised to see many people still alive – Hase, Sid, Takatora, even Yuuya.vlcsnap-2013-10-26-00h42m04s164But the peace doesn’t last, as one by one the Armoured Riders begin to inexplicably turn on each other before being enveloped by what seem to be Helheim vines. As Lapis watches the riders fall one by one, a rusted golden Lockseed begins to regain its colour. Mitsuzane (who slowly regains his memories of the real world) discovers that Ryouma had succeeded in resurrecting Kougane – an artificial version of the golden fruit created by the Overlords. Proclaiming himself “god of a new generation”, Kougane has set about using humanity’s desire for the Golden Fruit to break the seal placed on him and regain his power. Together with Lapis and his Armoured Rider allies, Kouta must face off against the darkness inside himself before putting a stop to Kougane once and for all.Kamen Rider Sengoku Movie Battle Gold Infinity Dragon Wizard ArmsSo yes, Kamen Rider has done the unthinkable and gone football mad. And not in half measures either, with the film also featuring cameos from a number of Japanese players. The leap from dancers to footballers would have been strange when the early, more carefree Gaim episodes were airing, so to see it happen around the considerably more serious mid 30s (where the film roughly takes place in-show) is one hell of a jump. Not just because of the massive juxtaposition of the Riders playing football, but how innocent everything has suddenly become. Baron’s fierce rivalry has turned into friendly sportsmanship, while Takatora is busy exclaiming that Yggdrasil will take the world over with soccer. At this point the television series was diving headfirst into all kinds of doom and gloom, so it’s actually kind of refreshing to see all the characters having a bit of fun for once. And by the looks of it, the actors are having a blast as well.Kamen Rider Sengoku Movie Battle Haruto's UnderworldIn true Kamen Rider movie style, the film also features a few new exclusive ones – adding three new Riders and one new Gaim form to the show’s already huge roster. That said, Kamen Rider Mars (the golden apple Rider form of Kougane) is the only one that’s at all memorable. The other two new riders (Lapis’ rider form Kamen Rider Kamuro and Shin Kurokage – the energy Rider form of Team Baron member Peko) are barely in it at all. Kamuro doesn’t even get a decent fight sequence, instead turning into a football almost immediately after transforming for the first (and only time). Finally Jimber Arms gets a black repaint, which is both everything you’d expect an evil Gaim that isn’t the infinitely better Bujin Gaim to be. The upside to all this though is the filmmakers’ remembering Gaim’s fruit swapping arms gimmick. Switching from his own forms into Banana, Durian and Donguri/Acorn arms, Gaim makes better use of this key feature in one fight than the 47-episode television series ever did.Kamen Rider Sengoku Movie Battle Legendary Rider ArmsKamen Rider Gaim: Great Soccer Battle! Golden Fruits Cup! is a real oddity. Despite revolving around a forced gimmick and not actually having a whole lot to it the film still manages to be something of an engaging watch – not just because of the sheer absurdity of it all but also by having some genuinely good action sequences.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: KAMEN RIDER x KAMEN RIDER GAIM & WIZARD: THE FATEFUL SENGOKU MOVIE BATTLE

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Starring

Shunya Shiraishi (Good Morning Call)
Makoto Okunaka (The Ghost Photo Club)
Junki Tozuka (We Are)
Yuko Takayama (Travelers: Dimension Police)
Tasuku Nagase (Zutaboro)
Hisahiro Ogura (Killer Bride’s Perfect Crime)
Erina Nakayama (My Little Lover)
Shinta Sōma (April Fools)
Shingo Kawaguchi (Aragure)
Kaba-chan (Stormy Night)
Gaku Sano (My Little Monster)
Yutaka Kobayashi (Meiji Tokyo Renka)
Mahiro Takasugi (Ghostwriter)
Yuumi Shida (Saki)
Yuki Kubota (Meiji Tokyo Renka)
Ryō Matsuda (Lychee Light Club)
Atsushi Shiramata (Mischievous Kiss)
Gaku Matsuda (Tenshi no iru toshokan)
Kanon Tsuyama (Soften)
Miina Yokota (Hi-Zai)
Ren Ozawa (Magic Night)
Saku Momose (On)
Tomomitsu Yamaguchi (The Floating Castle)
Tsunenori Aoki (Stray Dogz)
Minami Tsukui (Geisha Assassin)

Bujin_Wizard_is_killed_by_Bujin_GaimAs a men Rider series draws to a close and another begins, one thing is always for certain – the two will be meeting up in a few months time for an annual Movie War crossover film. Kamen Rider Wizard and Kamen Rider Gaim are of course no exception, even if Toei have decided to slightly mix things up when it comes to the naming. Gone is the tiresome “Movie Wars…” monicker, replaced with Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Gaim & Wizard: The Fateful Sengoku Movie Battle – which is probably just in time as I’m not sure how many more random words could be added on the end of the “Movie Wars” titles.Kamen Rider Sengoku Movie Battle Bujin GaimUnlike the previous Movie Wars Ultimatum, this movie doesn’t feature a prologue setting everything up (nor does it feature any rebooted tokusatsu veterans), instead jumping straight into Kamen Rider Wizard’s grand finale . Following the end of the series, Haruto is now travelling the world alone along with the Hope Ring left after Koyomi’s death. During his journey he is attacked by the Ogre phantom, which seeks to become the ultimate Phantom by consuming all of the others and taking their power – and now Haruto’s dragon is on the menu. After returning home and meeting up with Nitoh, Rinko and the others, the Ogre Phantom attempts to bring Haruto to despair by resurrecting Koyomi using the Hope Ring. Only this time the magically-infused Koyomi (taking her father’s guise of the White Wizard) aims to help bring Haruto to despair by destroying everything around him.Kamen Rider Sengoku Movie Battle Bujin WWizard’s ending  was a fairly satisfying one – very much a “the story is over but the journey continues” kind of affair. So even though this epilogue to Wizard isn’t entirely necessary, it does to a good job of wrapping everything up neatly. Matoko Okunaka gives her strongest performance as Koyomi.  Her appearance here is more important than ever as helps bring out the emotional side of Haruto. Wizard’s swan song hits all the right emotional notes and succeeds at being the Kamen Rider Wizard finale we didn’t even know we wanted.Kamen Rider Sengoku Movie Battle KoyomiMoving into the Kamen Rider Gaim portion, the Armoured Riders (Gaim, Ryugen, Baron, Gridon and Kurokage) are in the midst of a battle royale tournament when a mysterious monster appears from a crack and attempts to capture Mai. When Gaim, Baron and Ryugen give chase they find themselves in a parallel universe where a warring states period is taking place – and the battles are between the previous 14 Kamen Riders. They soon learn that the balance of power has been shifted in favour of the mysterious Bujin Gaim, who has been consuming the Riders one by one. As Armoured Rider Zangetsu and Mai also join the group in this strange world, Kouta must not only help defeat his evil counterpart – he must also affirm what it is he’s fighting for. With so much going on in the world of Kamen Rider Gaim each week, it seems strange to step back an take a look a (canonically-debatable) side story when the characters were a lot less troubled. Sengoku Battle Royale takes the warring states motif of Gaim at its most literal, not only reimagining each Heisei-era Rider but also bringing back side characters as their reimagined versions of historical war lords. It’s a very cool concept that could have easily made its own film.vlcsnap-2013-10-26-00h42m04s164Bujin Gaim is a ridiculously cool villain, evoking a “Dark Rider” feel while at the same time doing enough to keep himself from being lumped in with the rest of them. But not nearly enough is revealed about him – we never find out who he is and his motivations are typical paper thin villain stuff.  Finally we come to the main event, which isn’t as neatly placed in its own section like previous Movie Wars so just flows straight from the Gaim section (let’s just say it begins as soon as the two stories have caught up with each other). As Bujin Gaim uses the powers of the 14 Bujin Riders to merge with the God Tree and gain the ultimate power, the six Kamen Riders – Wizard, Beast, Gaim, Baron, Ryugen and Zangetsu (who enters the alternate world later in the Gaim part) team up to defeat him, bring order to this alternate world and find a way to return home.Kamen Rider Sengoku Movie Battle Haruto's UnderworldThe conclusion of the Gaim section sets things up for a really explosive finale, but Sengoku Movie Battle never really delivers. It certainly has its moments and manages to impress while onscreen, but as the credits roll you soon realise there it actually had very little substance to it. Bujin Gaim’s “Lotus Position” form is both dumb-looking and underwhelming, making the climactic fight into an all-CGI fare where lots of shots are fired, details are blurred and explosions happen. Just about the norm for a Movie War finale then.

 

 

 

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REVIEW: KAMEN RIDER GAIM

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Starring

Gaku Sano (My Little Monster)
Yutaka Kobayashi (Meiji Tokyo Renka)
Mahiro Takasugi (Ghostwriter)
Yuumi Shida (Saki)
Yuki Kubota (Meiji Tokyo Renka)
Kanon Tsuyama (Soften)
Miina Yokota (Hi-Zai)
Ren Ozawa (Magic Night)
Gaku Matsuda (Tenshi no iru toshokan)
Saku Momose (On)
Atsushi Shiramata (Mischievous Kiss)
Ryō Matsuda (Lychee Light Club)
Metal Yoshida (Last Mail)
Tsunenori Aoki (Stray Dogz)
Minami Tsukui (Geisha Assassin)
Rika Izumi (Koisuru Hae Onna)
Tomohisa Yuge (Higanjima)
Kazuki Namioka (13 Assassins)
Tomomitsu Yamaguchi (The Floating Castle)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Yui Natsuki (Kamen Rider Fourze)
Hiromi Sakimoto (Kamen Rider Zero-One)
Takashi Kitadai (Jyouou Virgin)
Meiya Yuma (Girls Step)
Jingi Irie (Kamen Rider Zi-O)
Hiromi Iwasaki (Last Doctor)

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Kamen Rider Gaim we all  loved. Written by anime hot topic Gen Urobuchi and his first foray into writing both Kamen Rider and tokusatsu as a whole, Gaim has been a hotly talked about series thanks to its imaginative gimmicks, multiple riders and multi-layered story.Kamen Rider Gaim New Generation RidersGaim takes place in the fictional Zawame City, which is now largely maintained by the massive Yggdrasil Corporation. In order to escape the sense of oppression brought on by the city, the youths of Zawame have formed dance crews to help bring joy into people’s lives – calling themselves Beat Riders. Coinciding with this is the rise of the popular Inves Game – where players use devices known as Lockseeds to summon monsters that battle each other. Kouta Kazuraba is a former member of the dance group Team Gaim, who is now trying to go on to find his place in the world and a proper job. But when Team Gaim’s captain goes missing after telling Kouta of a strange belt known as a Sengoku Driver, Kouta discovers the truth behind the Lockseeds and the Inves – they both come from an alternate dimension known as Helheim Forest. i_ZOMBIE_311_005Using the belt and an Orange Lockseed he becomes the Armoured Rider Gaim to fight off a rampaging Inves and rejoin Team Gaim as their champion. However Kouta also receives a warning from a mysterious girl that resembles his teammate Mai to be wary of the path he has chosen.  It isn’t long before the leader of Gaim’s biggest rivals Team Baron, Kaito Kumon, gains his own Sengoku Driver – becoming Armoured Rider Baron and challenging Kouta. Soon more Beat Riders gain their own Drivers and a power struggle begins to emerge between them. Unknown to them is that they are being monitored by Yggdrasil, the creators and distributors of the Drivers. As the Helheim Forest’s influence begins to spread further in Zawame, Kouta and the rest of the Armoured Riders learn the full story behind it and Yggdrasil’s plans. In Zawame City, nothing is quite as it originally seemed.Kamen Rider Gaim Kikaider Crossover.pngThis is a show that’s full to the brim with story and it can get incredibly difficult to describe things without giving too much away. This is a show with constantly raising stakes, with the Zawame City we begin at slowly breaking down as things progress. Urobuchi has always done a wonderful thing with settings and giving them a rich mythology, and with a year-long show at his disposal he is really able to go to town with both Zawame and Helheim. It also helps that Gaim drops the 2-episode story format the franchise had been using since around 2007, instead opting for varying formats that come together to form much larger arcs within the series itself.Kamen Rider Gaim But as rich as the setting of Kamen Rider Gaim is, that pales in comparison to the strength of its characters. With a total of 12 main Riders (plus a further three movie exclusives and one epilogue appearance) it could have been very easy for Gaim to throw a significant portion of these to the wayside and use them just to sell toys. However while the show gives a primary focus to four Riders in particular (Gaim, Baron and the Kureshima bros Takatora and Mitsuzane/Micchy, aka Zangetsu and Ryugen), almost all of them have a significant impact on the show, great characterisation for the most part and manage to leave some sort of emotional resonance when they’re gone. After all, this is a show written by the Urobutcher, so not everyone is lucky enough to be getting out alive.IMG_1694These characters go through so many changes throughout the course of the series that it really hammers home the theme of growing up. In a world filled with backstabbing Riders with ulterior motives, Kouta really shines as the Zawame’s ray of hope. His naivety and eagerness to see the best of everything certainly gets him into a lot of trouble, but Kouta is everything you want in a main Rider – incredibly selfless and willing to sacrifice a lot in order to protect the ones he loves. This parallels nicely to the ideals of Kaito, who instead is obsessed with gaining the strength – not only to protect the weak but in order to topple those that have oppressed him throughout his life. Meanwhile Takatora is much more than his initial appearance of Yggdrasil’s “white armoured Rider” suggests, with him being the character that’s had to make some of the hard decisions in order to save humanity. Finally Micchy is perhaps one of the most ranged characters you’ll ever see in a Kamen Rider series, playing pretty much every field that’s available to him. Any love you have for the character will eventually turn to hate, and in turn that hate will turn to sympathy and pity.1477536195-tacad14 Then of course there’s the likes of shorts-wearing megalomaniac Professor Ryouma Sengoku, shady Lockseed dealer Sid, flamboyant ex-miliary pastry chef Oren Pierre Alfonzo and more – all with their own Rider personas and impacts on the series. Again it’s a topic that’s difficult to talk about without giving too much away because the show is so full of surprises, but as a show that even manages to make most of its non-Rider characters memorable you should get a good idea of how strong the extended cast of Gaim is. There’s also the subject of the fruit lock/gimmick, which sounds completely ridiculous on its own. But woven in with the Sengoku era themes and armour styles, it’s surprising how much colourful padlocks that summon fruit that unfold into armour actually work. It makes for a brilliant gimmick both visually and practically, with the various fighting styles each Arms commands adding an extra kick to the show’s already great fight scenes. As the show and technology progresses into the likes of Yggdrasil’s New Generation Energy Riders and Gaim’s various power ups, the armours become start to look a little like the fruits their supposed to as the armour inspiration becomes more apparent. Whether intentional or not, it also feels like this ties into the show’s larger theme of growing up and getting “serious” – as Gaim goes from a samurai wearing a giant orange as armour to a silver Sengoku warlord with an armada of weaponry at his disposal.vlcsnap-2013-10-26-00h42m04s164In conclusion, Kamen Rider Gaim is a brilliant show and great entry point for new fans to the Kamen Rider franchise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: EVIL NEVER SLEEPS (AKA Terrified)

CAST

Heather Graham (The Hangover)
Lisa Zane (Freddys Dead)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Paul Herman (American Hustle)
Rustam Branaman  (Iron Man 3)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Balthazar Getty (Alias)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Paul Ben-Victor (Daredevil)

terrified_001Traumatized after witnessing her jealous husband kill her adulterous lover and then himself, an unbalanced, nymphomaniac young woman finds herself stalked by an unknown assailant, but she cannot make anyone believe her desperate situation. MSDTERR EC001When I saw this, I felt like looking a little independent movie with potential for a little cult movie… Heather Graham gives a grippy performance… yes, the camera angles and cuts are really kinda culty, the costumes are very stylish (both a bit 60ies-like) and the story is , not although, but because it is confusing, quite exciting and suspense, with several surprising and unexpected turns…yeah, but the storyline doesn’t count that much, it’s how it is put in action… As far as the style is concerned, it reminds me a bit of a mix of “Carnival Of Souls” and “Blow Up

REVIEW: BLIND DATE (1984)

 

BLIND DATE

CAST

Kirstie Alley (Scream Queens)
Joseph Bottoms (The Net TV)
Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG)
Valeria Golino (Hot Shots!)
Lana Clarkson (Barbarian Queen)
Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey)

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A man goes blind when remembering his lost girlfriend, but the doctors can’t find anything wrong with his eyes. They fit him with an experimental device which allows him to see with the aid of a computer interface and brain electrodes. Meanwhile, a taxi driver is taking young women up to their apartments, giving them gas, and performing a little fatal amateur surgery on them. Their paths inevitably converge, and the blind man must try to stop the psychopath. 0036223aThere are a few minor moments in the film which resemble those in other popular movies (for example one scene is unmistakably reminiscent of Rear Window) but Blind Date  largely avoids the pitfall of becoming too clichéd. It does, howeve, offer plenty of realism and raw characters, some mild horror, a few shocks and plenty of suspense and atmosphere towards the end. The only thing missing is real excitement, thrills and chills.

REVIEW: THE SIN EATER (AKA The Order)

CAST

Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Shannyn Sossamon (Sleepy Hollow)
Benno Furmann (In Darkness)
Mark Addy (Game of Thrones)
Peter Weller (Star Trek Into Darkness)

The film’s premise is that there is another way to heaven than adherence to the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. A secular Sin Eater can remove all taint of sin, no matter how foul, from the soul just before death. The purified soul can then ascend into heaven. The Roman Catholic Church, according to the film, considers this heresy.Heath Ledger plays an unhappy and disillusioned priest, Alex Bernier, a member of a fictitious religious order The Carolingians which specializes in fighting demons and other hell spawn. Father Dominic, the head of the Carolingians, has died in Rome under suspicious circumstances and Alex leaves the United States to investigate. In Rome, Alex visits the morgue and sees strange markings on Dominic’s corpse. After some investigation, he comes across a book that explains the markings as being the sign of a Sin Eater’s work. He heads to the Vatican, where an official tells him that Sin Eaters don’t exist and that Dominic may not be buried on sacred ground because he had been excommunicated for his beliefs. Alex, moving ever farther from his vocation, defies his superiors and secretly reads a holy service over the body and buries Dominic in the Carolingian cemetery (the service takes place off screen but is referred to later).Thomas Garrett, another Carolingian (there seem to have only been a total of three including Dominic), arrives in Rome to help investigate Dominic’s death. Early in the film we meet Mara Williams, an artist Alex once exorcised, who has escaped from a mental hospital and come to Alex at his church in the USA because she has a feeling that something terrible is going to happen to him. The police come looking for her, but Alex lies and denies that he’s seen her and through this exchange we learn that Mara was in the hospital because she had tried to kill Alex during the exorcism. Mara goes to Rome with Alex after promising that she won’t try to kill him again.Cardinal Driscoll (Peter Weller), who is introduced at the beginning of the film and who is tipped to be the next Pope, arrives in Rome from the USA and gives Alex a special dagger. According to a fragment of parchment Alex and Thomas find among Dominic’s books, the dagger is to be plunged into the Sin Eater while reciting a text in Aramaic. Alex and Thomas take these instructions to mean that the dagger and incantation will kill the Sin Eater and they begin hunting for the Sin Eater and the remainder of the parchment instructions. Thomas leads Alex to a nightclub where they are taken to the underground base of operations of a masked man called Chirac, the ‘Black Pope.’ The Black Pope owes a favor to Thomas and Alex asks where to find the Sin Eater. The Black Pope then hangs three people and tells Alex to ask his question of the dying men who can see what the living cannot. One of the dying tells Alex a riddle that leads to a rendezvous with the Sin Eater.On the way out of the Black Pope’s headquarters, demons attack and injure Thomas, but Alex saves him and gets him to a hospital. Alex leaves Thomas in the hospital and meets the Sin Eater, William Eden, at St. Peter’s Cathedral who explains that he has been a Sin Eater for centuries, taking over for an earlier Sin Eater (a Carolingian priest) who ate the sins of Eden’s brother. Eden is very charismatic and talks with Alex about the priest’s desires, and Alex admits he wants Mara. He then goes and presumably tells Mara this, and they make love. Afterward, Alex leaves Mara asleep and goes to Eden, who tells Alex that he is tired and ready to die and asks Alex to take his place. Alex has the dagger with him, but is curious and so doesn’t use it to kill Eden. Instead, he assists Eden with a sin eating ritual. But in the end, Alex refuses Eden’s offer because he has decided to leave the priesthood to be with Mara.Later Alex returns to their lodgings and finds Mara near death, an apparent suicide. In actuality, Eden slit her wrists and left her for Alex to find. Mara is beyond medical help and Alex quickly performs the sin eating ritual so that she can go to heaven. After absorbing Mara’s sins, though, Alex sees that there is no sin of suicide on Mara’s conscience and realizes Eden’s deception. Alex goes after Eden to kill him. The rationale that leads Alex to perform the sin eating ritual instead of giving Mara Roman Catholic Last Rites is that Alex has already made the decision to leave the priesthood to be with Mara and he has broken his vows of obedience and of sexual abstinence. He therefore considers himself ineligible to offer Mara Last Rites.Meanwhile, the injured Thomas is out of the hospital and goes to see the Black Pope who reveals himself to be Cardinal Driscoll. Driscoll shows Thomas the second half of the parchment which instead of being instructions on how to kill a Sin Eater is actually instructions on how to become a Sin Eater. The entirety of Alex’s and Mara’s lives have been a plot among Dominic, Eden and Driscoll to entrap Alex. Eden wants to die, Driscoll wants to be Pope and Dominic wanted the financial resources to pursue arcane knowledge. Driscoll prevents Thomas from leaving to warn Alex.  Alex cannot find Eden and returns to the Black Pope to learn where Eden is. The Black Pope (face hidden) tells Alex again to ask the dying. Alex recognizes that Thomas is the man being hanged, and frees him using a pistol. However, Thomas’s throat is too injured by the noose to tell Alex the truth of the parchment. Alex finds Eden and stabs him with the dagger while reciting the incantation. He quickly realizes what is actually happening but it is too late, Eden’s powers are transferred to Alex, and Eden, happy to be free of his burden of the sins of others, dies. In the mean time, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome crumbles around them.Thomas, who arrives at the scene too late to prevent the transfer, vows he will find a way to save Alex, even if it means killing him. Alex informs the church about Driscoll’s activities and Driscoll is ruined. Driscoll then decides to kill himself and calls on the Sin Eater, now Alex, to remove his sins. Driscoll slits his wrists and when he is near death, Alex tells him that he knows that Eden and Driscoll caused Mara’s death. Alex does not eat Driscoll’s sins but forces them down Driscoll’s throat. Driscoll dies a painful death and presumably goes straight to hell. The Sin Eater William Eden used his power to accumulate wealth. The Sin Eater Alex Bernier decides to act as a power for good, saving only those who deserve it and allowing evildoers to die in sin.This film creates a sense of doom and inevitability that constantly grows with its progression. That is what drew me to keep watching. I am not generally a fan of Religious horror. I shall gladly make an exception for The Sin Eater.

REVIEW: THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE

CAST

Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Al Pacino (Simone)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Jeffrey Jones (Deadwood)
Judith Ivey (Flags of Our Father)
Connie Nielsen (wonder Woman)
Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles)
Heather Matarazzo (Hostel: Part II)
Tamara Tunie (Flight)
Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Selma)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)
Vyto Ruginis (Broken Arrow)
James Saito (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Vincent Laresca (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Monica Keena (Freddy vs jason)

Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), a defense attorney from Gainesville, Florida, has never lost a case. He defends a schoolteacher, Lloyd Gettys (Chris Bauer), against a charge of child molestation. Kevin believes his client is guilty, and a reporter tells him a guilty verdict is inevitable. However, through a harsh cross-examination, Kevin destroys the victim’s credibility, securing a not guilty verdict.A representative of a New York City law firm offers Kevin a large sum of money to help with a jury selection. After the jury delivers a not guilty verdict, the head of the firm, John Milton (Al Pacino), offers Kevin a large salary and an upscale apartment if he joins the firm. Kevin accepts the job, along with his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) to stay in Manhattan. He is soon spending all his time at work, leaving Mary Ann feeling isolated. Kevin’s mother, Alice (Judith Ivey), visits New York and suggests they both return home. He refuses.Kevin defends Alex Cullen (Craig T. Nelson), a billionaire accused of murdering his wife, her stepson and a maid. This case demands more of Kevin’s time, further separating him from Mary Ann. He begins to fantasize about co-worker Christabella (Connie Nielsen). Mary Ann begins seeing visions of the partners’ wives becoming demonic, and has a nightmare about a baby playing with her removed ovaries. After a doctor declares her infertile, she begs Kevin to return to Gainesville. Milton suggests Kevin step down from the trial to tend to his wife; but Kevin claims that if he steps down and his wife recovers, he may resent her.Eddie Barzoon (Jeffrey Jones), the firm’s managing partner, is convinced that Kevin is competing for his job when he discovers Kevin’s name is on the firm’s charter. Although a surprised Kevin denies any knowledge, Eddie threatens to inform the United States Attorney’s office of the law firm’s activities. Kevin tells Milton about Eddie’s threats, but Milton dismisses them. Meanwhile, Eddie is beaten to death by vagrants, who take on demonic appearances. Mary Ann witnesses this, disturbing her further.While preparing Melissa (Laura Harrington) to testify about Cullen’s alibi, Kevin realizes she is lying and tells Milton he believes Cullen is guilty. Milton offers to back Kevin no matter what he decides to do. Kevin proceeds with her testimony and wins an acquittal. Afterwards, Kevin finds Mary Ann in a nearby church covered with a blanket. She claims Milton raped and mutilated her, but Kevin knows this cannot be true as he was with Milton in court. Mary Ann drops her blanket, revealing her naked body covered with cuts. Kevin believes Mary Ann injured herself and has her committed to a mental institution. Alice, along with Kevin and Pam Garrety (Debra Monk), Kevin’s case manager from the firm, visit Mary Ann at the mental institution. After seeing Pam as a demon, Mary Ann hits her with a hand mirror and barricades the room. As Kevin breaks down the door, Mary Ann commits suicide by cutting her throat with a shard of broken glass.Alice reveals that Milton is Kevin’s father. Kevin leaves the hospital to confront Milton, who admits to raping Mary Ann. Kevin fires a pistol into Milton’s chest, but the bullets are ineffective and go straight through him. Milton reveals himself as Satan. Kevin blames Milton for everything that happened, but Milton explains that he merely “set the stage” and that Kevin could have left at any time. Kevin realizes he always wanted to win, no matter the cost. Milton tells Kevin that he wants Kevin and Christabella, Kevin’s half-sister, to conceive a child: the Antichrist. Kevin appears to acquiesce at first, but then abruptly cites free will and shoots himself in the head, rejecting his Satanic heritage. Kevin finds himself back in time at the recess of the Gettys trial. Choosing to do the right thing, Kevin announces that he cannot represent his client despite the threat of being disbarred. The reporter pleads for an interview, promising to make Kevin a star. Encouraged by Mary Ann, Kevin agrees. After they leave, the reporter transforms into Milton. In an aside, he quotes himself saying, “Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.”This is clearly one of the most clever and stunning works of art I’ve ever seen, and a pivotal film of the 90’s.

 

REVIEW: SERIAL MOM

CAST

Kathleen Turner (The Virgin Suicides)
Sam Waterston (Law & Order)
Ricki Lake (Cry-Baby)
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo)
Scott Morgan (Species II)
Walt MacPherson (Donnie Brasco)
Justin Whalin (Lois & Clark)
Traci Lords (Blade)
Joan Rivers (Spaceballs)
John Waters (Seed of Chucky)
Suzanne Somers (Step By Step)
Mary Jo Catlett (The Benchwormers)
Bess Armstrong (Jaws 3D)

Beverly Sutphin appears to be a typical suburban housewife living with her dentist husband, Eugene, and their teenage children, Misty and Chip, in the suburbs of Baltimore. However, she is secretly a serial killer, murdering people over the most trivial of perceived sleights, including mere faux pas. During breakfast, Detectives Pike and Gracey arrive to question the family about the vulgar harassment of their neighbor, Dottie Hinkle. After the police and her family leave, Beverly disguises her voice to make obscene phone calls to Dottie, because Dottie stole a parking space from Beverly. Later that day, Mr. Stubbins, Chip’s math teacher, becomes Beverly’s first known murder victim after he criticizes Chip’s interests and questions the boy’s mental health and family life, as well as berating her parenting; Beverly runs him over with her car, and is witnessed by Luann Hodges, a young woman smoking marijuana nearby. The next day, Misty is upset when Carl Pageant stands her up for a date. Beverly spots Carl with another girl at a swap meet and murders him in the bathroom with a fireplace poker.i_ZOMBIE_311_005Eugene discovers that Beverly has hidden a collection of serial killer memorabilia beneath their mattress. That evening at dinner, Chip comments that his friend Scotty thinks that she is the killer. Beverly immediately leaves in her car, prompting the family to rush to Scotty’s house for fear that Beverly plans to kill him; however, Beverly has actually gone to kill Eugene’s patient Ralph Sterner and his wife, Betty, for calling Eugene away to treat her husband’s chronic toothache on a Saturday they were supposed to spend birdwatching and for eating chicken that reminds her of the starlings. She stabs Betty with scissors borrowed from Rosemary, and causes an air conditioner to fall on Ralph, who caught her killing his wife. Meanwhile, the rest of the family arrive at Scotty’s house only to find him in his room masturbating to an old porn video.1477536195-tacad14That Sunday, police follow the Sutphins to church and a news report names Beverly as the suspect in the murders of the Sterners. The church service ends in pandemonium when a suspicious sound causes everyone to panic and flee the church. Police detectives confirm that Beverly’s fingerprints match those at the Sterner crime scene and attempt to arrest her, but she escapes. She hides at the video rental store where Chip works, but a customer, Mrs. Jensen, argues with Chip over paying a fee for failing to rewind a videotape and calls him a “son of a psycho”. Beverly follows Mrs. Jensen home and bludgeons her to death with a leg of lamb while she sings along to “Tomorrow” on her rented copy of Annie. Scotty witnesses the attack through a window, Beverly sees him, and a car chase ensues. Catching him at a local club, Hammerjack’s, Beverly sets Scotty aflame onstage in front of a deranged crowd during the set of an all-girl band called Camel Lips. The Sutphin family arrive, as do the police, and Beverly is arrested.rings-movieBeverly’s trial becomes a national sensation. The media dub her “Serial Mom”, Chip hires an agent to manage the family’s media appearances, and Misty sells merchandise outside the courthouse. During opening arguments, Beverly’s lawyer claims that she is not guilty by reason of insanity, but she fires him and proposes to represent herself, citing various law books she has read to her prosecutor’s dismay. The judge reluctantly agrees and the trial begins. Beverly proves to be extremely skilled and formidable in defending herself, systematically discrediting nearly every witness against her by; using trick questioning to incite Dottie to contempt of court by repeated obscenities, finding a transsexual-themed magazine in Detective Gracey’s trash, invoking judging a person by what they choose to read proves nothing, badgering Rosemary into admitting she doesn’t recycle, and fanning her legs repeatedly at pervert Marvin Pickles, whose over-arousal causes him to commit perjury. The only witness she does not discredit is Luann Hodges, who cannot provide a credible testimony due to being under the influence of marijuana. During a second detective’s crucial testimony, the entire courtroom is distracted by the arrival of Suzanne Somers, who plans to portray Beverly as the heroine of a television film.

IMG_1694Beverly is acquitted of all charges, stunning her family, who vow to “never get on her nerves”. Throughout the trial, Beverly has been displeased that a juror (Patty Hearst) is wearing white shoes after Labor Day. Beverly follows her to a payphone and fatally strikes her in the head with the receiver. Suzanne Somers then angers Beverly into an outburst by trying to pose for a picture that will show Beverly’s “bad side”, just as the juror’s body is discovered. The film ends with a close-up of Beverly’s wicked smile and a caption stating that Beverly “refused to cooperate” with the making of the film.19366170_754444704734913_594717877546801125_nSerial Mom is a ridiculously charming and clever film that never really received the credit it deserved. It is John Waters’ best mainstream film

REVIEW: THE LORAX

CAST

Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Zac Efron (Bad Neighbors)
Taylor Swift (The Giver)
Betty White (The Golden Girls)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jenny Slate (The Lego Batman Movie)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heores)
Elmarie Wendel (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Danny Cooksey (The Cavanaughs)
Joel Swetow (The Orville)

Ted Wiggins is an idealistic boy, who lives in Thneedville, a walled city that, aside from the human citizens, is completely artificial; everything is made of plastic, metal, or synthetics with no living plants. Ted has a crush on local environmentalist Audrey, who wants to see a “real tree” more than anything in the world, and decides to find one in order to impress her. His energetic Grammy Norma secretly tells Ted the legend of the Once-ler, who will tell anyone about trees if they brought him fifteen cents, a nail, and a shell of a great-great-great grandfather snail. When Ted leaves Thneedville in search of the Once-ler, he discovers that the outside world is a contaminated, empty, barren wasteland. Once the boy finds him, the Once-ler agrees to tell Ted about the trees on the condition that he listens to the story over multiple visits. Ted agrees, but on his way home, he encounters the mayor of Thneedville, Aloysius O’Hare, who is also the proprietor of a company that sells bottled oxygen to Thneedville residents. O’Hare explains to Ted that because trees produce oxygen free of charge, he considers it a threat to his business whenever he hears people talking about them. After revealing that he has “security camera eyes” all over the city, O’Hare pressures Ted to stay in town. However, Ted continues to sneak out of O’Hare’s sight (with his grandmother’s encouragement) and learns more of the trees’ history.Over Ted’s various visits, the Once-ler recounts the story that when he was a young man, he departed his family to find good material for his Thneed invention and make a business. The Once-ler meets the guardian of the forest, the Lorax, after cutting down a Truffula tree in a lush Truffula tree forest valley. The Lorax urges the Once-ler to leave the forest, but the Once-ler refuses. Eventually, the Once-ler promises not to chop another tree down, and the two seem to begin a friendship of sorts. Then, the young businessman’s Thneed invention becomes a major success and the Once-ler’s family arrives to participate in the business. At first keeping his promise, the Once-ler continues Thneed production by harvesting the Truffula tree tufts in a slow, but sustainable manner. However, his greedy and lazy relatives soon convince him to resume chopping down the trees. Over time, the Once-ler’s deforestation spirals into a mass overproduction. Flushed with wealth, the Once-ler rationalizes his short-sighted needs into arrogant self-righteousness, and the Lorax’s helpless protests do not stop him. The Once-ler pollutes the sky, river, and landscape, until the very last Truffula Tree falls. With no further chance of business, he is left broken and abandoned by his family, with his mother disowning him, and with the region uninhabitable because of his business’s pollution, the Lorax sends the animals off to find a new place to live before he departs into the sky, leaving only a stone-cut word: “Unless”. Distraught and ruined, the Once-ler becomes a recluse.After he finishes telling his story, the Once-ler finally understands the meaning behind the Lorax’s last message, and gives Ted the last Truffula seed in hopes that he can plant it and make others care about real trees once more. Ted’s desire to impress Audrey also becomes a personal mission to remind his town of the importance of nature. O’Hare, still determined not to have trees undermine his business, takes heavy-handed steps such as covering Audrey’s nature paintings, closing off the door that Ted uses to see the Once-ler, and forcibly searching Ted’s room for the seed. Ted enlists his family and Audrey to help plant the seed, which has begun to germinate after water was accidentally spilled on it. O’Hare and his employees pursue the dissidents until they manage to elude him and reach the town center. When Ted finally attempts to plant the seed, he is interrupted by O’Hare, who rallies the population to stop them by telling the people that trees are dangerous and filthy. To convince them otherwise, Ted takes an earthmover and rams down a section of the city wall to reveal the environmental destruction outside, thereby showing them what O’Hare is encouraging. Horrified at the sight and inspired by Ted’s conviction (as though a part of the Lorax is within him), the crowd turns against O’Hare when they discover his true nature, with his own henchmen expelling him from the town (with a jet pack-like helmet), and the seed is finally planted. Time passes and the land starts to recover; new trees sprout, the animals begin to return, and the redeemed, now-mustached Once-ler happily reunites with the Lorax.Loved it, great animation, great for kids and entertaining for adults. Good all round.

REVIEW: SWEET KARMA

CAST

Shera Bechard (Dog Whisperer)
John Tokatlidis (Compulsion)
Frank J. Zupancic  (Suicide Squad)
Christian Bako (Nikita)
Patricia Stasiak  (The Last Kiss)

37550204_7199Karma Balint is a shy, mute Russian woman whose sister Anna left for Canada with bright hopes of making some money for the two of them. But after being whisked away by the Russian recruiter of Canada-bound housemaids , Anna never sent the money, she never wrote back… she just disappeared. When Karma discovers that Anna s body has been found in the woods on the outskirts of Toronto, the apparent victim of a Russian mafia hit, she sets off on a bloody, intercontinental trail of revenge that sees her face off – armed with only two hands, a calculating brain and a hefty dose of willpower – with some of the sleaziest elements of Toronto s organized criminal underground.37550204_7199It’s an excellent take on the old revenge theme. For a purely independent film, the production values were really high, even matching or exceeding some of the stuff coming out of Hollywood these days… especially the ones that pretend to be “nitty gritty”.