REVIEW: GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE

CAST

Nicolas Cage (8mm)
Johnny Whitworth (The 100)
Fergusd Riordan (Fragile)
Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Violante Placido (The Lookout)
Idris Elba (Thor)
Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
Anthony Head (Buffy)
Vincent Regan (Camelot)
Spencer Wilding (The Legend of Hercules)

In Eastern Europe, a French priest named Moreau warns the monks of a monastery about an impending attack by the devil’s forces to obtain a boy named Danny. The monastery falls under attack; Moreau tries to help the boy and his mother Nadya escape, but the distrusting mother shoots at Moreau and flees with her son. Moreau manages to distract the men chasing Danny and Nadya, but nearly dies in the process and loses them. He believes that only the Ghost Rider is capable of protecting the boy. He finds the Rider and seeks his help.

Five years have passed since the events of the first film, which dealt with Johnny Blaze making a deal with the demon Roarke (Mephistopheles), and becoming the Ghost Rider — a vengeful, fiery spirit who feeds on the evil of his victims and consumes the souls of sinners. No matter how small the infraction — anything from genocide to a white lie — the Rider does not differentiate. This drives Blaze into hiding, fighting the evil spirit within him. Moreau finds him with some ease and convinces him to save the boy in exchange for his priesthood’s ability to restore Johnny’s soul and remove the Ghost Rider’s curse forever. Meanwhile, pursuers force Nadya and Danny from the road and bring them to their leader: her former boyfriend Ray Carrigan. Carrigan has Danny tied up and is about to execute Nadya when the Ghost Rider appears; the Ghost Rider kills several of Carrigan’s men and then moves in on Danny. Nadya distracts the Ghost Rider, who then is shot with grenades into submission. Carrigan leaves with Danny in tow.

Johnny awakens the next morning in a hospital. On the way out, he convinces Nadya not to trust him, but to accept his help to find Danny. However, Carrigan tells Roarke about the Rider, and Roarke speaks an incantation to Danny via phone; this, in effect, puts up a “firewall” preventing the Rider from sensing his whereabouts. He warns Carrigan it will not shield him from being sensed and gives him instructions to deliver Danny. Nadya later tells Blaze that as she lay dying, she made a deal with Roarke: her life in return for him impregnating her with Danny, making Danny a direct vessel for Roarke and the potential for him to have unlimited power on the surface world. Roarke lacks this power so far from Hell. Danny nearly escapes, but breaks his ankle and is recaptured. That night, Nadya and Johnny interrogate a known contact of Carrigan’s. Johnny takes off ahead of Nadya to deal with Carrigan. Nadya saves Danny as the Rider converts a mining machine into a massive fiery machine, destroying their hideout complex and mortally wounding Carrigan. When Ghost Rider catches up to Nadya and starts to use his Penance Stare on her, Danny is able to stop the rider with a word, exercising his hidden power.

Moreau catches up with the group as they ride off. Roarke is not done with Carrigan; using his power, he turns Carrigan into a demon called Blackout capable of instantly decaying anything he touches while shrouded in darkness. Johnny and Nadya bring Danny to Moreau’s monastery with warm reception. Moreau delivers on his end of the bargain and, after explaining that the Ghost Rider is the twisted incarnation of the Spirit of Justice, Zarathos, after being captured and tortured to madness while in Hell, he exorcises Johnny of the spirit and Johnny becomes human again. The head monk Methodius (Christopher Lambert) proclaims that Danny will never be safe from the influence of evil and says he must die, taking Johnny, Moreau, and Nadya captive in order to execute the boy. Carrigan intervenes, however, killing the monks and taking Danny captive again to deliver to Roarke. The others follow, with Johnny not wanting to desert Danny after having promised to protect him. With the ritual to transfer Roarke’s spirit and power into Danny underway, the three infiltrate the compound to save him. Carrigan kills Moreau, but Danny (who Roarke states has the same powers as he does) gives Johnny back the power of the Ghost Rider. Roarke manages to escape with Danny, and the Ghost Rider and Nadya give pursuit. After a vehicular struggle, Ghost Rider manages to defeat Carrigan and causes the SUV carrying Roarke and Danny to crash. The Ghost Rider literally sends Roarke back into hell while Danny, who had died in the accident, is returned to his mother. Channeling the blue flame of Zarathos, Johnny manages to revive Danny and assures him of his safety.

As the film closes, the Rider, now covered in angelic blue flames, rides off on his motorcycle, saying “My name is Johnny Blaze. I’m the Ghost Rider”.The effects are fun, the story is weak, the acting is patchy, the violence and threat could be better, and it’s still not the film we all hoped. Is it a disappointment? (Even to someone like me who’s not a die-hard comic book fan)? Yes. Is it still quite a lot of fun? Yes. Does it expand and improve on the original like a sequel should? Again, yes. Don’t write it off. If you’re looking for some decent entertainment, this Rider’s still got a few miles left in the tank.

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REVIEW: PARANORMAN

CAST

Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Bernard Hill (The Lord of The Rings)
Tucker Albrizzi I Am Number Four)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass)
Leslie Mann (This Is 40)
Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs)
Elaine Stritch (Romance & Cigarettes)
John Goodman (Red State)
Tempestt Bledsoe (Guys With Kids)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Ariel Winter (Excision)
Bridget Hoffman (Hercules: TLJ)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Eddie Frierson (Hotel Transylvania)

Kodi Smit-McPhee in ParaNorman (2012)In the small town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, Norman Babcock is an 11-year-old boy who speaks with the dead, including his late grandmother and various ghosts in town. Almost no one believes him and he is isolated emotionally from his family while being ridiculed by his peers. His best friend, Neil Downe, is an overweight boy who is bullied himself and finds in Norman a kindred spirit. After rehearsal of a school play commemorating the town’s execution of a witch three centuries ago, the boys are confronted by Norman’s estranged and seemingly deranged uncle, Mr. Prenderghast, who tells his nephew that he soon must take up his regular ritual to protect the town. Soon after this encounter, Mr. Prenderghast dies.Kodi Smit-McPhee in ParaNorman (2012)During the official performance of the school play, Norman has a vision of the town’s past in which he is pursued through the woods by townsfolk on a witch hunt, embarrassing himself and leading to his father Perry grounding him. His mother Sandra tells him that his father’s stern manner is because he is afraid for him. The next day, Norman sees Prenderghast’s spirit who tells him that the ritual must be performed with a certain book before sundown that day; then making him swear to complete the task, Prenderghast’s spirit is set free and crosses over. Norman is at first reluctant to go because he is scared but his grandmother tells him it is all right to be scared as long as he does not let it change who he is. Norman sets off to retrieve the book from Prenderghast’s house (having to take it from his corpse).Kodi Smit-McPhee in ParaNorman (2012)He then goes to the graves of the five men and two women who were cursed by the witch, but finds that the book is merely a series of fairy tales. Alvin, a school bully, arrives and prevents Norman from reading the story before sundown. Norman attempts to continue reading from the book, to no effect. A ghostly storm resembling the witch appears in the air, summoning the cursed dead to arise as zombies, who chase the boys along with Norman’s 17-year-old sister, Courtney; and Neil’s older brother Mitch, down the hill and into town. Having realized that the witch was not buried in the graveyard, Norman contacts classmate Salma (who tells them to access the Town Hall’s archives for the location of the witch’s unmarked grave) for help. As the kids make their way to the Town Hall, the zombies are attacked by the citizenry. During the riot, Norman and his companions break into the archives but cannot find the information they need. As the mob moves to attack Town Hall, the witch storm appears over the crowd. Norman climbs the Hall’s tower to read the book, in a last-ditch effort to finish the ritual, but the witch strikes the book with lightning, hurling Norman from the tower and deep into the archives.Kodi Smit-McPhee in ParaNorman (2012)Unconscious, Norman has a dream where he learns that the witch was Agatha Prenderghast, a little girl of his age who was also a medium. Norman realizes that Agatha was wrongfully convicted by the town council when they mistook her powers for witchcraft. After awakening, Norman encounters the zombies and recognizes them as the town council who convicted Agatha. The zombies admit that they only wanted to speak with him to ensure that he would take up the ritual, to minimize the damage of the mistake they made so long ago. Norman attempts to help the zombies slip away so they can guide him to Agatha’s grave, but is cornered by the mob. Courtney, Mitch, Neil, and Alvin rally to Norman’s side and confront the crowd, arguing that their rage, fear, and misunderstanding make them no different than the cursed townsfolk from long ago. Although the mob calms down, the witch unleashes her powers to create greater havoc throughout the town.John Goodman and Kodi Smit-McPhee in ParaNorman (2012)Judge Hopkins guides Norman’s family to the grave in a forest. Before the grave is reached, Agatha’s magical powers separate Norman from the others. Norman finds the grave and interacts with Agatha’s vengeful spirit, determined to stop the cataclysmic tantrum she has been having over the years. Though she attempts to push him away Norman holds his ground, telling her that he understands how she feels as an outcast, that her vengeance has only made her like the ones who wronged her, and eventually forcing her to remember happier days. Having finally encountered someone who understands her plight, Agatha is able to find a measure of peace and cross over to the afterlife. The storm dissipates, and she and the zombies all fade away. The town cleans up and regards Norman as a hero. In the end, Norman watches a horror film with the ghost of his grandmother and his family, who have grown to accept Norman for who he is.Kodi Smit-McPhee and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in ParaNorman (2012)ParaNorman works on many levels. Adults will love the stylish, almost Gothic atmosphere; older teens will love the menace of both the zombies and the townspeople, not to mention the witch herself. There are, for an animated film, plenty of scares and dark themes – slightly offset by the themes of loneliness, friendship, heroism, and getting adults to just listen to you. There’s a sort of beauty in ParaNorman, as horror and light comedy are somehow blended to form a rich animated film.

 

 

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI

 

CAST

Mark Hamill (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row)
Daisy Ridley (Murder on The Orient Express)
John Boyega (Pacific Rim: Uprising)
Adam Driver (Logan Lucky)
Oscar Isaac (Mojave)
Andy Serkis (King Kong)
Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther)
Domhnall Gleeson (American Made)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)
Kelly Marie Tran (XOXO)
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park)
Frank Oz (The Dark Crystal)
Benicio del Toro (The Wolfman)
Billie Lourd (Scream queens)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho)
Kate Dickie (Prometheus)
Lily Cole (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises)

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)Resistance forces, led by General Leia Organa, flee D’Qar when a First Order fleet arrives. Poe Dameron leads a costly counterattack that destroys a First Order dreadnought, but after the Resistance escapes to hyperspace, the First Order tracks them and attacks the Resistance convoy. Kylo Ren, Leia’s son, hesitates to fire on the lead Resistance ship after sensing his mother’s presence, but his TIE fighter wingmen destroy the bridge, incapacitating Leia. Disapproving of new leader Vice Admiral Holdo’s passive strategy, Poe helps Finn, BB-8, and mechanic Rose Tico embark on a secret mission to disable the tracking device on the lead ship.Mark Hamill in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)Meanwhile, Rey arrives on Ahch-To with Chewbacca and R2-D2 aboard the Millennium Falcon to recruit Luke Skywalker to the Resistance. Disillusioned by his failure to train Kylo as a Jedi, and under self-imposed exile from the Force, Luke refuses to help—even after he learns of Han Solo’s death at Kylo’s hands—and believes that the Jedi should become extinct. Unbeknownst to Luke, Rey and Kylo can communicate through the Force, puzzling the two enemies. As the rival Force users learn about each other, each has future visions of themselves as partners.Gwendoline Christie and James Cox in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)R2-D2 persuades Luke to train Rey. After Kylo tells Rey what happened between him and Luke that caused him to choose the dark side of the Force, Luke confesses that he momentarily contemplated killing Kylo upon sensing that Supreme Leader Snoke was corrupting him, causing Kylo to destroy Luke’s new Jedi Order in retaliation. Convinced that Kylo can be redeemed, Rey leaves Ahch-To to confront Kylo without Luke. Luke prepares to burn the Ahch-To Jedi temple and library, but hesitates. Yoda’s ghost appears and destroys the temple by summoning a thunderstorm, claiming Rey has all she needs to learn, and encourages Luke to learn from his failure.Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)Holdo reveals her plan to discreetly evacuate the remaining Resistance members using small transports. Believing her actions cowardly and risky, Poe leads a mutiny. Finn, Rose, and BB-8 travel to the Canto Bight casino and acquire the help of the hacker DJ, who says he can help them disable the tracking device. They infiltrate Snoke’s ship, but all but BB-8 are captured by Captain Phasma. Meanwhile, Rey lands on the ship, and Kylo brings her to Snoke, who claims that he facilitated the mental connection between her and Kylo as part of a plan to destroy Luke. Ordered to kill Rey, Kylo instead kills Snoke and, with Rey, defeats Snoke’s guards. Rey believes that Kylo has returned to the light side of the Force, but he instead invites her to rule the galaxy with him, which she refuses. They use the Force to fight for possession of Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, which splits in two.Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)Leia recovers and stuns Poe, allowing the evacuation to begin. Holdo remains on the ship to mislead Snoke’s fleet as the others flee to an abandoned Rebel Alliance base on Crait. DJ reveals the Resistance’s plan to the First Order, and the evacuation transports are slowly destroyed. Holdo sacrifices herself by ramming Snoke’s fleet at lightspeed; Rey escapes in the chaos, while Kylo declares himself Supreme Leader. BB-8 frees Finn and Rose, who escape after defeating Phasma, and they join survivors on Crait. When the First Order arrives, Poe, Finn, and Rose attack with old speeders. Rey and Chewbacca draw the TIE fighters away with the Falcon, while Rose stops Finn from completing a suicide run against the enemy siege cannon, which penetrates the Resistance fortress.Luke appears and confronts the First Order to enable surviving Resistance members to escape. Kylo orders the First Order’s forces to fire on Luke to no effect. He then engages Luke in a lightsaber duel; upon striking Luke, Kylo realizes he has been fighting a Force projection of him. Rey uses the Force to help the Resistance escape on the Falcon. Luke, exhausted, dies peacefully on Ahch-To. His death is sensed by Rey and Leia, but Leia tells surviving rebels that the Resistance has all it needs to rise again. At Canto Bight, one of the children who helped Finn and Rose escape grabs a broom with the Force and gazes into space.Mark Hamill in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)This movie was fun, exciting, and expanded the Star Wars universe more. Since when has Star Wars been about answering all of the nitty gritty questions of how the force and the universe work. When people are upset about that, I am astounded that they “expected more” explanation from the series. Since the prequels, people have been crying that there was too much revealed, and not enough mystery, as there had been with the originals. I for one am glad that we are introduced to characters who aren’t fleshed out here, that leaves room for the imagination and the extended universe to delve into. I’ve seen some reviewers complain that the movie is too slow, some that it is too scatterbrained, but I think the nuance of the movie outweighs either of these.  I think that what they did with each character felt good, and by no means did I feel cheated by the movie. I loved the questions it left unanswered and the new questions it posed, and am excited to have months of speculative discussions again.

REVIEW: MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009)

CAST

Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Jaime King (Sin City)
Kerr Smith (Final Destination)
Betsy Rue (Halloween II)
Ed Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Tom Atkins (Halloween III)
Kevin Tighe (Lost)
Megan Boone (The Blacklist)
Marc Macaulay (Swamp Thing: The Series)

On the Valentine’s Day of 1997, in a small town, a cave-in on the north side of a Hanninger mine trapped six miners. Six days later, rescue teams found five dead miners and the comatose Harry Warden (Richard John Walters), who survived by killing the other miners with a pickaxe, allowing himself to breathe. Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) the owner’s son, was blamed for the mine disaster because he forgot to vent the methane lines and caused a cave-in, but also Harry Warden for killing the miners.
A year later, Valentine’s Day, Warden wakes from his coma in the hospital, and goes on a murderous rampage. Soon after, Sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins) arrives, finding multiple mutilated bodies many of which have been severed in half and the heart of a nurse inside a candy box. Burke and his partner come to the conclusion that Warden had awoken from his coma and, realizing they don’t have much time left, they try to figure out where he’s headed. Meanwhile, at the abandoned mine shaft that was the site of the disaster, a party is in full swing, attended by many teens, including Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith), his girlfriend, Irene (Betsy Rue), Tom Hanniger and his girlfriend, Sarah (Jaime King). Tom was initially reluctant to go, but he goes anyway. He leaves Sarah and goes back to his car to pick up some beers before going inside.

Sarah goes alone and gets lost looking for Axel and Irene. She runs across a teen and a few seconds later, he is stabbed through his eye. She is confronted by Warden in full miner’s garb, carrying a bloody pickaxe, and she flees, finding several dead bodies. Axel grabs her and they, along with Irene, hide from the killer. Warden eventually sees the trio, and they run out of the mine, meeting Tom as he comes in. Warden hits Tom with the pickaxe, injuring him, while the other three run for the car. Sarah tries to go back for Tom but Warden throws a pickaxe into the windshield of Axel’s truck, just an inch away from stabbing Sarah in the eye. Axel, realizing he has no other choice starts up his truck and leaves Tom behind. Warden turns his attention towards Tom, who runs back into the mine in an attempt to escape from him. Before Tom can be killed, Burke and his partner arrive and shoot Warden, who makes his getaway back into the mine. Tom also appears shocked by the events.  Ten years later, in 2008, Tom’s father, from whom Tom has been estranged, dies and Tom inherits the mine. Tom returns to town after his father’s funeral to sell the mine, having vanished since the incident; it was unknown where he was, since he was devastated by the events and unable to see Axel and Sarah after they had abandoned him in the mine to die. Axel is now sheriff and married to Sarah and they have a son, but he is cheating on her with Megan (Megan Boone), who works with Sarah at Sarah’s grocery store.

After Megan and Axel have sex at his family’s old house in the woods, Megan gives Axel a Valentine’s Day card and a box of candy and tells him that she is pregnant with his child. Meanwhile, at the motel where Tom is staying, Irene is having sex with a local trucker named Frank (Todd Farmer). After they finish, Frank reveals that he has been filming her. Irene goes out completely naked and angry about the events, drawing a gun on him. After he reveals that the gun is empty, she throws it and hits him, but he ignores her. Just as he enters the truck, he is impaled with a pickaxe through the head by a man in full miner garb, face completely covered by his mask. The killer chases Irene through the motel, but she hides under the bed. The noise draws Selene (Selene Luna), the midget motel owner, into the room, and the miner kills her by impaling her whole body through the head on the lights above. Irene makes a noise and is discovered by the killer, who removes the bed mattress and stabs her to death. Axel is called to the scene of the crime, and finds Irene cut open, her heart missing; he also discovers Tom’s name on the register of people staying at the motel.

He returns to his office, where he sees a video of the miner following Irene. Axel and his partner Martin talk about how it can’t be Warden, despite the rumors. Then Axel receives a candy box with Irene’s heart inside, just like Warden had done with the nurse ten years ago. Meanwhile, Tom is visiting his newly inherited mine. In the mine, the killer traps Tom in a cage while William “Red” Kirkpatrick (Jeff Hochendoner) is calling for Ben, who is an old friend of the Hannigers. ‘Warden’ proceeds to murder Red and a group of miners show up seconds later. Suspicion falls on Tom, despite the fact that he was locked in a cage the entire time. At the hospital afterwards, Axel asks Burke what happened to the killer. Burke says that he and Ben Foley (Kevin Tighe), the mine manager, killed and buried Warden. But when Axel, Tom, and Sarah accompany them to the burial spot, Warden’s body is no longer there. Later on, Foley is at his house when he hears a noise. He goes outside with a shotgun to find nobody there, but when he goes back inside he is attacked by ‘Warden’, who knocks him down and impales his head with the pickaxe. The police find his body at the burial spot with his chest cut open. Axel, angry about the events, orders a police guard on his home to protect his son.Meanwhile, Sarah is with Megan at the store when ‘Warden’ arrives. He chases them through the store, but they lock themselves in the office. The window is locked, but Megan finds the key while Sarah is blocking the door with a table. Just as ‘Warden’ breaks a hole in the door and unlocks it, Megan goes through the window and Sarah, who is right behind her, turns around and notices that ‘Warden’ has disappeared from the office door. She quickly tries to pull Megan back into the office, knowing that ‘Warden’ is going to the outside window but she’s too late, as ‘Warden’ arrives outside and grabs Megan. Sarah runs back through the store and encounters Axel outside. They find Megan’s mutilated body in the alley with the message “Be Mine 4 Ever” scrawled in blood on the wall above. Sarah ponders why Megan was killed when she had no relation to the mine. Sarah comes to the conclusion that the killer was trying to get at Axel, and she admits she knew about their affair. Axel then sends her to the hospital. Meanwhile, at Axel and Sarah’s home, their son Noah is watching TV with his babysitter Rosa (Joy de la Paz), while Deputy Ferris (Karen Baum) is in the squad car watching the premises. Suddenly, ‘Warden’ arrives and impales Rosa with the pickaxe and throws her into the washing machine, scalding her. Burke arrives and warns Ferris about ‘Warden’s’ presence.

Ferris goes to check the house, while Burke is at the porch. Ferris finds Noah and warns him to hide, and she finds Rosa’s mutilated body in the washing machine. She warns Burke, but he is killed by ‘Warden’. Meanwhile, Sarah is in the hospital and Tom calls her and convinces her that Warden is not the killer. He tells her that he needs her to trust him as he has found something he needs to show her. On the road Tom tries to convince Sarah that Axel is the killer. Axel calls Sarah while she and Tom are in the car; Axel tells her that Tom has been in a mental hospital for the last seven years since Harry Warden’s rampage and that he is the killer.

Shocked, Sarah attempts to get Tom to drive her home and, when he refuses, she grabs the wheel and crashes Tom’s car. Tom is knocked out momentarily and Sarah escapes. She calls Axel and he instructs her to go to his father’s old house. When she enters she finds hundreds of candy heart boxes and her old picture with Tom. The killer, confirming that he is not Warden, appears. Sarah distracts him and runs into the mine shaft where the original murders took place. She runs into Axel and steals his gun. Pointing the gun at Axel she asks him about the hundreds of candy boxes. He seems confused and blames Tom. Tom then appears and Sarah points the gun at him too. Both men accuse the other of being the killer.
Tom gives himself away when he points out that the message over Megan’s dead body (“Be Mine 4 Ever”) was the same as what Megan wrote to Axel in the Valentine card, revealing that he knows Megan is dead which is information that only Axel and Sarah knew. Tom begins to hallucinate when what seems to be Warden appears in the mine with them. Tom tries to warn Sarah but Axel points his flashlight into the area that Tom is pointing to and shakes his head no, she tells him that nothing is there. Warden walks right up to Tom then disappears. A montage then plays out all the murders in the film again, revealing Tom to be the true killer. Sarah tells Tom that Harry isn’t there with them, to which Axel replies “Oh, he’s here, aren’t you Harry? You living inside Tom?” Tom turns to him, smirks, and says, “Oh, I’m right here”. This also reveals that Tom has developed a split personality: as himself and as Harry Warden. Axel is infuriated and grabs the pickaxe, rushing at Tom. The two fight, Axel gains the upper hand and knocks Tom onto the ground, but Tom injures him with the pickaxe. Tom runs off and Sarah and Axel try to hide. Tom comes and finds them, smashing out lights with the pickaxe as he goes. As each light goes out, Tom flashes between being him, and being the miner. Sarah shoots Tom through his side and the bullet hits a gas tank, causing an explosion that causes the mine to collapse.

Rescue teams enter the mine, searching for the survivors. One lone rescuer finds Tom, barely conscious and covered in debris and planks of wood. He tells Tom not to worry, help is coming, when Tom suddenly grabs his pickaxe and impales the rescuer through his mask. Sarah and Axel get out, and Axel is taken away in an ambulance while Sarah is taken by Martin. Then a miner holding his injured side is seen leaving the mine. It is revealed to be Tom as he takes off the mask and walks away.Overall My Bloody Valentine, delivers an entertaining ride through dark alleys, mine shafts and the evil minds of writers Todd Farmer and Zane Smith. Slightly on the lighter side of the horror genre this film develops enough jump scares, with the help of three dimensional effects to deliver a fun and fast 101 minutes. See this one with a friend and laugh out loud when a 20′ branch comes screaming at your head (and try not to duck)!

 

REVIEW: THE LEGO MOVIE

CAST (VOICES)

Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Will Ferrell (Elf)
Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games)
Will Arnett (Blades of Glory)
Nick Offerman (Sin City)
Alison Brie (The Five Year Engagement)
Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Morgan Freeman (Bruce Almighty)
Billy Dee Williams (tar Wars)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Anthony Daniels (Star Wars)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)

In a Lego world populated by anthropomorphic minifigures, the evil Lord Business finds a super weapon called the “Kragle”. The wizard Vitruvius attempts to stop him, but is blinded by Business’ robots; he prophesies that a person called “the Special” will find the Piece of Resistance, a brick capable of stopping the Kragle.8½ years later, construction worker Emmet Brickowski finds a woman named Wyldstyle searching for something at his construction site after hours. When he investigates, Emmet falls into a hole and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences vivid visions and passes out. He awakens with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back, in the custody of Bad Cop, Lord Business’s lieutenant. Wyldstyle rescues Emmett, believing him to be the Special, and takes him to meet Vitruvius in the Old West. Emmet learns that Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are “Master Builders”[7]—people capable of building anything from their imagination without the need of instructions—who oppose Business. Wyldstyle explains Business wants to use the Kragle, a tube of Krazy Glue with a weathered label, to freeze the world into perfection. Though disappointed to find Emmet is not a Master Builder, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are convinced of his potential when he recalls visions of a seemingly human deity referred to as “the Man Upstairs”.Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius evade Bad Cop’s forces with the aid of Batman, Wyldstyle’s boyfriend. They go to the hidden Cloud Cuckooland where they attend a council of Master Builders, who are unimpressed with Emmet and refuse to fight Business. Bad Cop’s forces attack, having placed a tracking device on Emmett, and capture everyone except Emmet and a small team of Master Builders. Escaping, Emmet devises a plan to infiltrate Business’s office tower and disarm the Kragle, but the group is captured and imprisoned in the Think Tank, where all the Master Builders are forced to make instructions. Trying to retaliate, Vitruvius is decapitated by Business, who sets a self-destruct protocol and leaves everyone to die, including Bad Cop. As he dies, Vitruvius reveals he made up the prophecy. He soon reappears to Emmet as a ghost and tells him that his belief makes him the Special. Strapped to the self-destruct mechanism’s battery, Emmet jumps into the abyss outside the tower and severs the connection, saving his friends. Inspired by Emmet’s sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight against Lord Business’s forces.Emmet finds himself in the human world as a Lego minifigure unable to move. The events of the story are being played out by a little boy named Finn on his father’s expansive Lego set in their basement. His father—”the Man Upstairs”—comes home from work and chastises his son for ruining the set by creating variations of different playsets, and proceeds to permanently rebuild and glue his perceived perfect creations together. Realizing the danger his friends are in, Emmet wills himself to move and gains Finn’s attention.Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet now possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business. Meanwhile, Finn’s father looks at his son’s creations and realizes that Finn had based the villainous Business on him and his perfectionism. Through a speech Emmet gives Business, Finn tells his father that he is special and has the power to change everything. Finn reconciles with his father, which plays out as Business having a change of heart, capping the Kragle, and ungluing his victims with mineral spirits. Emmet is hailed as a hero, and begins a relationship with Wyldstyle with Batman’s blessing.As a result of Finn’s father allowing Finn’s younger sister to join them in playing with his Lego sets, aliens from the planet Duplon beam down and announce their plans to destroy them.The Lego Movie accurately and effectively recreates that creative space through accessible movie magic. It exhibits a fun hero story that may not be treading new narrative ground but nonetheless feels fresh and new. Finally the themes and occasionally biting humour makes The Lego Movie a kid’s film that isn’t just for kids but the child in all of us.

REVIEW: UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 4: DAY OF RECKONING

CAST

Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD)
Dolph Lundgren (Masters of The Universe)
Scott Adkins (The Legend of Hercules)
Anfrei Arloviski (Limitless TV)
Mariah Bonner (The Social Network)

John awakens from a coma to find that his wife and daughter were brutally murdered in a home invasion. With the help of FBI Agent Gorman, the still amnesiac John identifies the perpetrator as former Universal Soldier (UniSol) Luc Deveraux, now a wanted man. Gorman activates sleeper agent Magnus, one of the cloned Next Generation UniSols from Regeneration. Magnus reaches a brothel and kills all the women working there and most of the patrons, all men with exceptional physical resistance. His last adversary, a clone of UniSol Andrew Scott and Deveraux’s former nemesis, negotiates Magnus and injects him with a serum that frees him from government control. Magnus is introduced to a separatist group led by Deveraux and Scott, who are taking in wayward UniSols to turn them against the government, thus establishing a new order ruled by UniSols.Determined to find Deveraux, John receives a call from someone claiming to be his friend Isaac, urging the two to meet. At his house, he finds Isaac long dead and evidence of Isaac’s involvement with the UniSol government program. A matchbox found on the scene leads John to a strip club. There, he is recognized and sent off by a stripper named Sarah, whom he cannot remember. Magnus injects John with Scott’s serum, whereupon John hallucinates about Deveraux but retains his will. John follows Sarah to her apartment, where they are attacked by Magnus again. Though in the confrontation John loses some phalanges, they escape. Sarah tells John she remembers him working as a truck driver, living in a riverside cabin, and that the two were romantically involved.Calling his own memories into question, John requests a meeting with Agent Gorman. He learns Deveraux was often seen at the docks from where John used to take shipments. John goes to the docks, inspects the last unshipped cargo and meets with local manager Ron Castellano, who plays hidden camera footage that shows John brutally murder Isaac. As John and Sarah drive towards the cabin, they are once more intercepted by Magnus. Upon finally eliminating Magnus, John realizes he possesses superior strength, resistance and fighting abilities; his severed fingers have regrown in the meantime. John and Sarah reach the cabin to find it inhabited by an exact duplicate of John, who reveals himself as the original who had killed Isaac and been in contact with Sarah and Castellano in the past. The original John had been mind-controlled into hunting down Deveraux, but was turned by him and hired as a transporter and assassin for his organization, until he met Sarah and deserted Deveraux. He tries to kill Sarah but is shot dead by the other John, now suspecting himself to be a UniSol sleeper agent.By the river, a rogue UniSol takes John to the separatists’ underground headquarters. There, he is greeted by Dr. Su, a former scientist of the UniSol program, who reveals John had been synthetically created a few weeks earlier, therefore his family never existed. Dr. Su also says the missing shipment contains the hardware that will allow Deveraux to create clones. John accepts Su’s offer to surgically sever his emotional bond with the fake memories of his family, but the pain and attachment to those memories drive John insane. He kills every UniSol in his path, culminating with Andrew Scott in a one-on-one confrontation. John then reaches Deveraux himself; in the ensuing fight, Deveraux eventually gains the upper hand. Realizing the cycle of sending clones of John against him is destined to repeat, and seeing John as a worthy successor, Deveraux allows John to kill him.Later, John meets with Agent Gorman again. Gorman admits to his involvement with the UniSol program and that he had purposefully put an unaware John on Deveraux’s trail. Gorman ascribes John’s success to his familial attachment, as opposed to the patriotism implanted in his predecessors. John kills Gorman, then a clone of Gorman and three UniSols emerge from John’s van. The clone leaves in Gorman’s car, hinting that John has acquired the cloning equipment and taken over the separatist group, now determined to infiltrate the government which he holds responsible for his pain.01-158520Day of reckoning is crass, extremely violent, uneven, and low budget, but it should also be commended for being ambitious, and shot through with passion and creative vision. It is absolutely not a movie for everyone — if you want a safer trip up action-memory-lane stick with The Expendables 2 — but if you fancy a detour of the beaten path, and are willing to forgive the flaws the flaws that are a consequence of the directorial ambition, then by all means give this a shot.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: FROZEN

CAST (VOICES)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Idina Menzel (Enchanted)
Jonathan Groff (American Sniper)
Josh Gad (New Girl)
Santino Fontana (Sisters)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
 Elsa, Princess of Arendelle, possesses cryokinetic powers, with which she is able to produce or manipulate ice, frost and snow at will. One night while playing, she accidentally injures her younger sister, Anna. Their shocked parents, the king and queen, seek help from the troll king, who heals Anna and removes her memories of Elsa’s magic. The royal couple isolate the sisters in the castle until Elsa learns to control her magical powers. Afraid of hurting Anna again, and with her ability to control her powers deteriorating, Elsa spends most of her time alone in her room, refusing even to speak to Anna and a rift develops between the sisters as they grow up. When the girls are teenagers, their parents die at sea during a storm.
When Elsa comes of age, the kingdom prepares for her coronation. Among the guests is the Duke of Weselton, who seeks to exploit Arendelle for profit. Excited to be allowed out of the castle again, Princess Anna explores the town and meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles; the two quickly develop a mutual attraction. Despite Elsa’s fears, her coronation takes place without incident. During the reception, Hans proposes to Anna, who hastily accepts. However, Elsa refuses to grant her blessing and forbids their sudden marriage. The sisters argue, culminating in the exposure of Elsa’s abilities in an emotional outburst.
Panicking, Elsa flees the castle, while inadvertently unleashing an eternal winter on the kingdom. High in the nearby mountains, she abandons her restraint, vowing to never return and building herself a solitary ice palace. Meanwhile, Anna leaves Hans in charge of Arendelle and sets out in search of her sister, determined to return her to Arendelle, end the winter and mend their relationship. While obtaining supplies, Anna meets an iceman named Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven, and convinces Kristoff to guide her up the North Mountain. On their journey, the group encounters Olaf, Anna and Elsa’s childhood snowman whom the latter recreated and unknowingly brought to life, who leads them to Elsa’s hideaway.
Anna and Elsa reunite, but Elsa still fears hurting her sister. When Anna insists that Elsa return, she becomes agitated and her powers lash out, accidentally striking Anna in the heart. Horrified, Elsa forces Anna, Kristoff and Olaf to leave by creating a giant snow creature named Marshmallow that chases them away from her palace. As they flee, Kristoff notices Anna’s hair turning white and deduces that something is very wrong. He seeks help from the trolls, his adoptive family, who explain that Anna’s heart has been frozen by Elsa. Unless it can be thawed by an “act of true love”, she will become frozen solid forever. Believing that only Hans can save her with a true love’s kiss, Kristoff races back with her to Arendelle. Meanwhile, Hans, who is leading a search for Anna, reaches Elsa’s palace. In the ensuing battle against the duke’s men, Elsa is knocked unconscious by a falling chandelier and imprisoned in Arendelle. There, Hans pleads with her to undo the winter, but Elsa confesses that she has no idea how. When Anna reunites with Hans and begs him to kiss her to break the curse, Hans refuses and reveals that his true intention in marrying her is to seize control of Arendelle’s throne. Leaving Anna to die, he charges Elsa with treason for her younger sister’s apparent death.
Elsa escapes and heads out into the blizzard on the fjord. Olaf comes across Anna and reveals Kristoff is in love with her; they then escape onto the fjord to find him. Hans confronts Elsa, telling her Anna is dead because of her. In Elsa’s despair, the storm suddenly ceases, giving Kristoff and Anna the chance to locate each other. Nevertheless, Anna, seeing that Hans is about to kill Elsa, throws herself between the two just as she freezes solid, blocking Hans’ attack. As Elsa grieves for her sister, Anna begins to thaw, since her decision to sacrifice herself to save her sister constitutes an “act of true love”. Realizing love is the key to controlling her powers, Elsa reforms by thawing the kingdom and helps Olaf survive in summer. Hans is deported to the Southern Isles to face punishment for his crimes against the royal family of Arendelle, while Elsa cuts off trade with Weselton. The two sisters reconcile and Elsa promises never to shut the castle gates again.
This is really a lovely, enjoyable cartoon. And it’s just that a lovely, enjoyable cartoon. And basically a fairy tale. Frozen turns out to be as spectacular as we wanted it to be.