REVIEW: THE RUM DIARY

CAST

Johnny Depp (Blow)
Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar)
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)
Michael Rispoli (Kick-Ass)
Amber Heard (Zombieland)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Karen Austin (Summer Rental)

Paul Kemp is an author who hasn’t been able to sell a book. He gets a job at a newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, he meets Sala, who gets him acclimatized and tells him he thinks the newspaper will fold soon. Kemp checks into a hotel and while idling about on a boat in the sea, meets Chenault, who is skinny-dipping while avoiding a Union Carbide party. Kemp is immediately smitten with her. Kemp and Sala immediately go on a drinking binge, which earns Kemp the enmity of his editor, Lotterman. Kemp also meets Moburg, a deadbeat reporter who can’t be fired. While waiting for an interview, Kemp meets Sanderson, a freelance realtor, who offers him a job writing ads for his latest venture. Sanderson is engaged to Chenault, who pretends not to know Kemp.Later, Kemp moves in with Sala, who also rooms with Moburg. Kemp begins to see the poverty of San Juan, but Lotterman doesn’t want him to write about it, as it’s bad for tourism. Moburg returns with leftover filters from a rum plant; they contain high-proof alcohol. Moburg has been fired, and rants about killing Lotterman. Kemp visits Sanderson and spies him making love to Chenault. He meets Zimburger and Segarra, who want him to help with a real estate scam. Later, Sala and Kemp go to a restaurant and berate the owner for refusing them service; Kemp senses that the owner wants to kill them, and he and Sala beat a hasty retreat, pursued by angry locals. The police arrive and break up the fight, then throw Sala and Kemp in jail. Sanderson bails them out.The next day, Kemp meets with Sanderson’s crew, who tell him that the US military is relinquishing the lease on some prime real estate, and is asked to pick up Chenault from her house. Kemp and Chenault share a moment, but resist temptation. Zimburger takes Kemp and Sala to see the island property, then they head to St. Thomas for Carnival. Kemp finds Chenault, and they wind up on Sanderson’s boat. Sanderson berates Kemp for involving Sala in the deal. At night, they go to a club, and a drunk Chenault dances with local men to provoke Sanderson, with whom she has been fighting. The owners of the bar beat up Sanderson and throw Kemp out of the club. Chenault is left behind at the bar, but where she ends up is not known.The next day, Chenault is gone, and Sanderson tells Kemp that their business arrangement is over. When Sala and Kemp return home, Moburg tells them that Lotterman has left and that the paper will go out of business. He also sells them hallucinogens, which they take. Kemp has an epiphany while under the influence, and resolves to write an exposé on Sanderson’s shady deals. Lotterman returns, but won’t publish Kemp’s story. Chenault shows up at Kemp’s place, after Sanderson disowns her. Out of spite, Sanderson withdraws his bail, meaning that Kemp and Sala are now wanted by the police. Moburg also tells them that Lotterman has closed the paper. Kemp decides to print a last issue, telling the truth about Lotterman and Sanderson, as well as the stories Lotterman declined.To make money to print the last edition, Kemp, Sala and Moburg place a big cockfighting bet. They visit Papa Nebo, Moburg’s hermaphrodite witch doctor, to lay a blessing on Sala’s prize cockerel. They win, but return to the office to find that the printing presses have been confiscated. Kemp continues his quest, leaving Puerto Rico on a sailboat. The end credits explain that Kemp makes it back to New York, marries Chenault, and becomes a successful journalist, having finally found his voice as a writer.Personally I loved every minute of this film and think it’s truly underrated

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REVIEW: THE CORE

CAST

Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight Rises)
Hilary Swank (The Reaping)
Delroy Lindo (Malcolm X)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Tchéky Karyo (Taking Lives)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Alfre Woodard (Iron Fist)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Glrenn Morshower (Supergirl)

Geophysicist Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and scientists Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo) and Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) become aware of an instability of Earth’s magnetic field after a series of incidents across the globe. They determine that the Earth’s molten core, which generates this field, has stopped rotating, and within a year the field will collapse exposing the planet’s surface directly to devastating solar radiation. Backed by the U.S. Government, Keyes, Leveque, and Zimsky create a plan to bore down to the core and set off several nuclear explosions to restart the rotation. They gain the help of rogue scientist Ed “Braz” Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo) who has devised a vessel made of “Unobtainium” that can withstand the heat and pressure within the Earth’s crust and convert it to energy, as well as a laser-driven boring system that will allow them to quickly pass through the crust. Construction starts immediately on the Virgil, a multi-compartment vessel to be helmed by Space Shuttle pilots Commander Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and Major Rebecca “Beck” Childs (Hilary Swank) who will join Keyes and the others. To prevent a worldwide panic, Keyes enlists computer hacker Theodore Donald “Rat” Finch (DJ Qualls) to scour the Internet and eliminate all traces of the pending disaster or their plan.

Virgil is launched through the Marianas Trench from an offshore platform. The team accidentally drills through a gigantic empty geode structure 700 miles below the surface, damaging the lasers when it lands at its base and cracking the geode’s structure and causing magma to flow in from above. The crew repair and restart the laser array in time, but Iverson is killed by a falling crystal shard that hits him in the helmet and subsequently fell into magma, while returning to the ship. As Virgil continues, it clips a huge diamond that breaches the hull of the last compartment. Leveque sacrifices himself to save the nuclear launch codes before the compartment is crushed by extreme pressure.

Meanwhile, on the surface, the public becomes aware of problems after super storms and unfiltered patches of ultra-violet radiation destroy Rome and San Francisco. Finch is unable to stop worldwide panic but instead learns of the top-secret project “DESTINI” (Deep Earth Seismic Trigger INItiative), which is the government’s ‘secondary protocol’ and will be deployed should the Virgil mission fail. Finch relays his information to Keyes, who discovers that Zimsky was one of DESTINI’s lead scientists. DESTINI, according to Zimsky, was designed as a weapon to propagate earthquakes through the Earth’s core, but its first activation unintentionally stopped its rotation instead. Zimsky reveals the government will use it again to attempt a restart of the core. Keyes is convinced it will have disastrous results and has Finch hack into DESTINI’s system and cut its power supply to buy the Virgil more time.

Virgil eventually reaches the molten core, and, as they take readings, they discover that the density of the core is far different from what they expected, which will not allow their plan to work. They calculate that by splitting their nuclear weapons into the remaining compartments and jettisoning each at specific distances, they can create a “ripple effect”, where the power of each bomb will push against the blast of the next, generating the energy required to restart the core. However, because Virgil was not designed to jettison undamaged compartments, the plan requires someone to deactivate a safety switch that is in an area exposed to the extreme temperatures. Brazzelton volunteers and deactivates the switch, dying shortly afterwards.

Keyes and Zimsky race to reset the nuclear charges, and Zimsky gets trapped in one of the detaching compartments. Keyes believes they still may have too little yield, but Zimsky suggests they use the ship’s nuclear fuel source as well, which will leave the Virgil without power. Keyes deploys the nuclear core in the last compartment and detaches it just as the triggered detonations start, successfully restarting the core’s rotation. Drifting powerless in the core, Keyes and Childs realize they can use the unobtainium shell to convert the heat and pressure from the wavefront to power the Virgil, and they are able to escape the core. They break through the crust underwater, leaving them safe on the ocean floor but lacking power and communications. They believe themselves lost but use the remaining power to activate a weak sonar beacon. The beacon attracts a nearby whale pod, and Finch is able to trace their whale songs to locate the Virgil. A week after the mission, Finch unleashes the full details of the mission, including those lost, and of DESTINI to the public via the Internet.

All in all, this is a classic disaster flick, and for a disaster flick, this is above average.

REVIEW: SULLY

CAST

Tom Hanks (Catch Me If You Can)
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)
Laura Linney (TMNT: Out of The Shadows)
Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
Autumn Reeser (The OC)
Ann Cusack (What Planet Are You From)
Holt McCallany (The Losers)
Mike O’Malley (Leatherheads)
Jamey Sheridan (Arrow)
Jerry Ferrara (Battleship)
Molly Hagan (Election)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Jeff Kober (The Hills Have Eyes 2)
Michael Rapaport (The 6th Day)

On January 15, 2009, US Airways pilots Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles board US Airways Flight 1549 from LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Three minutes into the flight, at an approximate altitude of 2,800 feet (approx. 850 m), the Airbus A320 strikes a flock of birds, disabling both engines. Without engine power and judging themselves unable to reach nearby airports (Teterboro Airport being the closest), Sully ditches the aircraft on the Hudson River. The crew and passengers evacuate without casualty. The press and public hail Sullenburger a hero, but the incident leaves him with symptoms of PTSD, and he repeatedly imagines the plane crashing into a building.Sully learns that preliminary data from ACARS suggest that the port engine was still running at idle power. Theoretically, this would have left him with enough power to return to LaGuardia or land at Teterboro. The National Transportation Safety Board claims that several confidential computerized simulations show the plane could have landed safely at either airport without engines. Sully, however, insists that he lost both engines, which left him without sufficient time, speed, or altitude to land safely at any airport.Sully realizes that the Board believes the accident may have been pilot error, which would end his career. He arranges to have the simulations rerun with live pilots, and the results are relayed to the public hearing. Both simulations result in successful landings, one at each airport. Sully argues that they are unrealistic because the pilots knew in advance of the situation they would face and of the suggested emergency action, and were able to practice the scenario several times. The board accepts that in real life the pilots would have taken some time to react and run emergency checks before deciding to divert the plane.The two simulations are rerun and relayed to the hearing, this time allowing a 35-second pause before the plane is diverted. The simulated diversion to LaGuardia ends with the plane landing short of the runway, and to Teterboro with a crash into buildings before the airport. The board announces that analysis of the port engine, now recovered from the river, confirms Sully’s account that it was disabled by the bird strikes. The board concludes that Sullenberger acted correctly in selecting the best of the options available to him, which in the event saved the lives of everyone aboard.In the end this movie is about heroes, not just Sully but everyone involved in the US Airways Flight 1549 water landing. From the well trained flight attendances to the rescue police on the water fairy. Its about the 155 passengers and the their accounts of what happen. It’s about how sometimes we forget how to treat a hero, but true heroes will always shine though, and Eastwood tells the story as real as possible knowing that he has an incredible story here.

REVIEW: PAYCHECK

 

CAST

Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)
Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Colm Feore (Gotham)
Joe Morton (Smallville)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Fulvio Cecere (The Tortured)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Callum Keith Rennie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Krista Allen (The Final Destination)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)

In the near future, Michael Jennings (Affleck) is a reverse engineer; he analyzes his clients’ competitors’ technology and recreates it, often adding improvements beyond the original specifications. To protect his clients’ intellectual property and himself, Jennings, with the aid of his friend Shorty (Giamatti), undertakes a memory wipe to remove knowledge of his engineering.

Jennings is approached by his old college roommate, James Rethrick (Eckhart), the CEO of the successful Seattle technology company Allcom. Rethrick proposes a lengthy three-year reverse engineering job to Jennings, requiring him to live on Allcom’s secured campus until its conclusion but rewarding him handsomely with company stock. Jennings agrees and, after arranging for his long-term absence, arrives at Allcom, turns in his personal possessions, and is given a brief tour of the facility where he meets and flirts with botanist Dr. Rachel Porter (Thurman). He is injected with a long-term memory marker for the post-job memory wipe.

Three years later (June 2007), at the conclusion of the memory wipe, Jennings is sitting in Rethrick’s office, being thanked for a successful job. On returning home, Jennings finds that, although his Allcom shares would have been worth around $92 million, he had signed them away near the end of his tenure. Furthermore, he finds that his personal possessions have been replaced with an envelope containing a random assortment of everyday items. Soon after, the FBI captures him; and Agent Dodge (Morton) interrogates him on charges related to the death of physicist William Dekker. Jennings is able to escape custody, finding that the items in the envelope can be used at the right time to evade capture. After warning Shorty of his plight, he finds the items pointing him to a café meeting with Porter. Rethrick, who has been watching Jennings’ movements, discovers a message to Porter about this meeting and sends a body double to take her place to try to recover the envelope. The real Porter shows up and helps Jennings escape from both the FBI and Rethrick’s men.

They take shelter at a local school, examining the remaining items in the envelope while Porter tries to convince Jennings of the relationship they shared during his tenure at Allcom. One of the stamps holds a microdot that, on enlargement, reveals several pictures of newspaper headlines taken from a machine’s display showing Allcom becoming financially successful with a device that can depict future events, but the resultant doomsday visions ultimately lead to a series of self-fulfilling prophecies resulting in financial panic, political strife and America launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Jennings realizes he must have built this device based on Dekker’s invention and, on realizing the horrors that will come, prepared the envelope, using the forecasts from the machine to allow his future self to return to Allcom and destroy the machine. Furthermore, as Rethrick shortly discovers, Jennings rigged the device to malfunction, preventing Rethrick from anticipating Jennings’ actions.

Jennings and Porter return to Allcom and make their way to the machine room undetected, jamming the door behind them. Jennings determines the location of the defective circuit and removes it, subsequently rigging the machine to explode in a few minutes. Jennings uses the machine one last time, seeing a vision of himself being shot by an FBI agent in the catwalks above the machine. Soon, Rethrick’s men storm the room and, after a brief shootout, Jennings and Porter escape to the catwalks. Rethrick is waiting there, holding them at gunpoint, the same tableau Jennings previously saw. When Jennings’ watch, taken from the envelope, beeps, Jennings ducks in time to avoid the FBI Agent’s bullet that then kills Rethrick. The machine is destroyed, and Jennings and Porter escape the FBI in the chaos. When Agent Dodge and his men arrive and investigate, they take sympathy and report Jennings killed in the destruction.

In the film’s conclusion, Jennings, Porter, and Shorty have opened a greenhouse nursery. Jennings recalls a fortune cookie note from the envelope and discovers one last act he had done with the machine, foreseeing the results of a $90 million lottery and leaving the winning ticket in Porter’s birdcage

This is a good movie for spending a couple of hours entertained, but it is not one I would enjoy seeing repeatedly.

 

REVIEW: LOVE HAPPENS

CAST

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

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

 

REVIEW: THE MISSING

CAST

Tommy Lee Jones (Batman Forever)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)
Jenna Boyd (The Hunted)
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)
Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)

In late 19th-century New Mexico, Samuel Jones reappears hoping to reconcile with his adult daughter Maggie Gilkeson. She is unable to forgive him for abandoning the family and leaving her mother to a hard life and early death. This situation changes when Pesh-Chidin and a dozen of his followers (who have left the reservation) pass through the area, ritualistically killing settlers and taking their daughters to be sold into slavery in Mexico. Among those captured is Maggie’s eldest daughter, Lilly. Maggie’s rancher boyfriend Brake Baldwin was among the settlers killed.

The U.S. Cavalry refuses to help retrieve the captive women as its resources are tied up conducting forced relocation of captive Native Americans. This leaves Maggie, her father, and her younger daughter Dot alone in tracking the attackers. The group unexpectedly meets up with Kayitah, a Chiricahua, and an old friend of Jones, who also happens to be tracking the attackers with his son Honesco, because among the captives is a young Chiricahua woman who is engaged to Honesco. After the two agree to join the group, and Maggie treats Honesco’s injuries, Kayitah informs Maggie that Jones had been a member of their Chiricahua band where he gained the name Chaa-duu-ba-its-iidan (“shit for luck”) during his wanderings.

It is finally with the combined efforts of the two families that they are able to free the women, at the cost of Kayitah’s life, and immediately flee to the mountains with the kidnappers behind them. Knowing they have no other choice but to stand their ground, the group fights off the remaining kidnappers. During the battle, Jones fights El Brujo, the one responsible for kidnapping his granddaughter. When Brujo attempts to kill Maggie with a shotgun, Jones sacrifices his life to save his daughter as both he and Brujo fall off a cliff to their deaths. Maggie shoots at the last remaining kidnappers to scare them off. She realizes her father’s love for her and finally forgives him. Then she goes home with her father´s body, her daughters and the other kidnapped girls.

This is a film that uses the western genre to explore the nature of the father/daughter relationship. Both Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett give superb performances as the estranged pair. The writing and the acting in this film complement each other beautifully, and this film could well make it into the category of “The Great Western”.

 

REVIEW: BATTLE: LOS ANGELES

CAST

Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)
Michelle Rodriguez (Machete)
Ramón Rodríguez  (Day Break)
Cory Hardrict (American Sniper)
Bridget Moynahan (Coyote Ugly)
Ne-Yo (Red Tails)
Michael Peña (American Hustle)
Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Lost)
Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Joey King (The Conjuring)

On August 12, 2011, large masses thought to be meteors land in the oceans near several major coastal cities. The objects are discovered to be spacecraft containing hostile extraterrestrial life. Marines from Camp Pendleton arrive in Los Angeles, including SSgt. Michael Nantz (Eckhart), an Iraq War veteran. Nantz was to begin retirement, but because of the attack, he is made the acting platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, Echo Company, of the 2nd Battalion 5th Marines.
Under the command of 2ndLt William Martinez (Rodríguez), the platoon arrives at Santa Monica Airport, now a Forward Operating Base. The alien ground forces have no apparent air support, so the Air Force prepares to carpet bomb the Santa Monica area, and the platoon is tasked with rescuing civilians from an LAPD police station in West Los Angeles before the bombing. As they advance through the city, they are ambushed and suffer multiple casualties, namely Grayston, Guerrero and Lenihan in the firefight. Nantz takes Imlay and Harris to look for Lenihan, who is missing from the group after having been wounded. After fighting off a hostile alien, they manage to regroup and team up with a group of Army National Guard soldiers from the 40th Infantry Division, and an Air Force intelligence TSgt, Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez). At the police station, the platoon finds five civilians: veterinarian Michele (Moynahan), children Hector Rincon (Cass), Kirsten (King) Amy (Gould), and Hector’s father Joe (Peña). A helicopter arrives to evacuate the wounded Marines, but cannot rescue the civilians due to weight restrictions. As the helicopter takes off, it is destroyed by alien air forces, killing Grayston, Guerrero, Lenihan and Simmons.
The Marines commandeer a city bus for evacuation. They also vivisect a wounded alien with the help of Santos and find a vulnerable spot in its torso, as well as learning that the alien aircraft are drones that track down humans through radio transmissions. Santos reveals that her original mission was to locate the aliens’ central command center, believing that its destruction would deactivate the drones. On the I-10 freeway, the bus comes under attack. Because the off-ramp is destroyed, the Marines are forced to rappel the civilians off the freeway. Marines Stavrou (Pesi) and Mottola (Liao) and the National Guard soldiers are killed, while Joe and Lieutenant Martinez are wounded. Martinez detonates explosives inside the bus, killing himself and the aliens, leaving Nantz in command. The surviving Marines Nantz, Santos, Imlay, Kerns, Lockett, Harris, Adukwu and the civilians escape the bombing zone. A news report speculates that the aliens are seeking Earth’s water for fuel while attempting to colonize the planet and eradicate humans. The team prepares for the bombing, but nothing happens. Returning to the FOB, the Marines find that it is destroyed and the military is retreating from Los Angeles. The Marines plan to escort the civilians to an alternate extraction point. Joe dies from his wounds and Lockett confronts Nantz over his brother, Cpl Dwayne G. Lockett and the others who were killed in Nantz’s last tour. They come to peace when Nantz explains that he thinks of them every day, and recites each person’s name, rank and serial number. Nantz then says that the surviving Marines should move forward united to honor their fallen comrades, including Joe. They successfully reach the extraction point and evacuate through a helicopter.
In mid-air, the chopper experiences a brief loss of power. Nantz theorizes that they are hovering over a location occupied by the alien command center as it relays radio energy to its drones. He decides to recon the area alone, but his team insists on accompanying him. Searching underground, the Marines confirm the presence of a large alien vessel. Kerns radios in to request for missiles, which Nantz manually directs using a laser designator while the others defend his position. Despite Kerns being killed when a Drone spots his signals, the Marines succeed in routing a missile to the command module, which is destroyed. The alien ground forces retreat as their uncontrolled drones crash, just as reinforcements for the Marines arrive. At a Temporary Operating Base in the Mojave Desert, Nantz, Imlay, Lockett, Harris, and Adukwu, the six survivors of the original platoon along with Santos, are greeted as heroes. Despite orders to rest, they re- arm themselves and join the rest of the Marines in retaking Los Angeles as other countries wage similar military operations against the hostile species.
If you know what films you like, you’ll probably already know whether you want to see/own this film. It’s not going to disappoint unlike some other ‘actioners’ I could name.