REVIEW: THE GOOD PLACE – SEASON 1


MAIN CAST

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
William Jackson Harper (Paterson)
Jameela Jamil (T4 on The Beach)
D’Arcy Carden (Other People)
Manny Jacinto (The Romeo Selection)
Ted Danson (Cheers)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Adam Scott (Krampus)
Tiya Sircar (The Vampire Diaries)
Marc Evan Jackson (22 Jump Street)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Leslie Grossman (Nip/Tuck)

Michael Schur is not the first writer to create a comedy about the afterlife. Dante Alighieri, for one, beat him by about 700 years. But Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” had the advantage of drawing on theology widely accepted by his audience and not having to deal with network notes. (“Beatrice: Relatable enough?”) So in “The Good Place,” an ingenious metaphysical sitcom, Mr. Schur (the co-creator of “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) has a couple of challenges. First, how to invent a Great Beyond that amuses viewers of many faiths (or none). Second, how to introduce conflict — the engine of narrative and laughs — into a perfect world.

The second first: It turns out this heaven has a few bugs in it. The biggest is Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a self-centered heel who awakens after a fatal accident in what looks like a college admissions office. She’s greeted by Michael (Ted Danson), the bow-tied “architect” who designed the bespoke subdivision in which she will spend eternity.

The Good Place, as Michael calls this higher plane, is like heaven if it were run by Whole Foods. It’s a pristine, nonsectarian afterlife where arrivals are greeted by a sign reassuring them, “Everything is fine!” in the cheerful green letters of an organic cereal box.There’s no mention of any supreme beings, though, Michael says, “Every religion guessed about 5 percent” right. The residents are mostly young and attractive, by the demographic standards of the dead, and there is a ton of frozen yogurt.

Entrance into this hyperselective moral Harvard is determined by a complex algorithm in which one’s every act on earth is added or subtracted from a point score. Plus: “Plant baobab tree in Madagascar,” “Hug sad friend.” Minus: “Disturb coral reef with flipper,” “Tell a woman to ‘smile.’” Only a few souls make the cut. Everyone else goes to the Bad Place, including Christopher Columbus, every dead president except Lincoln and every deceased member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Mr. Schur, like Dante, realizes the most fun part of creating hell is getting to put people in it.

So how in the Bad Place did Eleanor get here? Mistaken identity: The management believes she’s a do-gooder who spent her life helping the unfortunate. But after she gets the grand tour and is assigned an eternal soul mate — Chidi (William Jackson Harper), an earnest philosophy professor from Senegal — she decides to fake it. This throws off the community’s cosmic balance, with disastrous and surreally C.G.I.-enhanced results.Like many high-concept sitcom pilots, “The Good Place,”  at first seems more like a movie idea  But the series  holds up.

The series expands its world and delves into back stories like a sitcom variation on “Lost.” (It begins, like that drama, with a tight shot of the protagonist’s eyes opening.) Supporting actors include Jameela Jamil as an upper-crust British humanitarian and D’Arcy Carden as Janet, sort of a Siri in human form. There’s more in this undiscovered country than first appears, and each episode ends on a twist or revelation that sparks the next. The performances help ground this cloud-nine soufflé. Ms. Bell, who could turn a nimble line in “Veronica Mars,” makes a natural sitcom lead, and Mr. Danson makes a fine, fastidious bureaucrat. But the show’s big find is Mr. Harper, whose line readings make Chidi’s moral nausea palpable as he tries to teach Eleanor to be a good person, or at least fake it. More important, Mr. Schur seems to have found a deeper idea behind the show’s premise: Is acting good the same as being good? Through Chidi’s tutorials, he even manages to work in a tidy primer of ethical philosophy (John Stuart Mill alert!).

And it’s hard not to be won over when Eleanor challenges the very idea of a snooty, meritocratic paradise that excludes 99.99 percent (give or take) of imperfect humanity. “I was a medium person!” she tells Chidi. “I should get to spend eternity in a medium place, like Cincinnati!” She may not belong in heaven, but it’s fun to watch her give it hell.

REVIEW: TORQUE

CAST

Martin Henderson (The Ring)
Ice Cube (Ghosts of Mars)
Monet Mazur (Blow)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Matt Schulze (Blade)
Will Yun Lee (Witchblade)
Jaime Pressly (Mom)
Max Beesley (Homeland)
Christina Milian (Bring it On 5)
Jay Hernandez (Suicide Squad)
Faizon Love (Animal)
Fredro Starr (Save The Last Dance)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Dane Cook (Employee of The Month)
John Doe (Roswell)
Eddie Steeples (My Name Is Earl)

The film begins with two cars racing in the middle of the desert. Biker Cary Ford (Martin Henderson) pulls up on his motorcycle and tries to pass them. He finally does so and stops at a diner which his old girlfriend Shane (Monet Mazur) owns. There are pictures all over the wall of Ford and Shane back when they were together. Ford takes one of the pictures. He then goes back outside and the two punks who didn’t let him pass show up. The three get into a fight but Ford beats up both of them.Next Ford meets up with his two best friends Dalton (Jay Hernandez) and Val (Will Yun Lee). They take a ride back to town to see a motorcycle party. Ford sees Shane and the two begin to talk with Shane saying that she is mad that Ford left. A biker gang called the Hellions pulls up which contains Henry James (Matt Schulze) the leader, his girlfriend China (Jamie Pressly) and his right-hand man Luther (Max Beesley) . Henry is saying that he is pissed at Ford for stealing his bikes (which contain drugs). Ford tells Henry that he stole the bikes to pay off bills and his own bike. The Hellions leave and Ford, Dalton and Val all take a ride on their bikes.Another biker gang who is friends with the Hellions pull up. The black biker gang called the Reapers, contains Trey (Ice Cube) the leader and his brother Junior (Fredro Starr). The gang says that Ford better stop stealing bikes or he is going down. Ford and his two friends and Shane arrive at a nightclub where tons of biker gangs hang out. The three gangs run into each other and cause a big brawl. Junior is scared and runs into the bathroom. Henry, China and Luther are in the bathroom also and confront Junior there. Junior says that he is sorry for not paying Henry back for a blown drug deal (which Trey refused to allow prior to this scene) and begs Henry to give him some time to work it out. But Henry refuses and kills Junior by strangling him to death with a biker chain. Ford, Shane and the two friends go back to a motel to stay for the night. Meanwhile Ford and Shane are in the back of the motel flirting and talking.At the murder scene where Junior was found dead, two FBI agents show up. A woman, Henderson (Justina Machado) and her partner, McPherson (Adam Scott). They say they will take care of the case and find out who killed Junior. China says that she was a witness to Junior’s death (obviously she is lying). She says that Cary Ford killed Junior. Trey finds out and tells his biker gang to catch Ford and kill him.Next Ford, Shane and the two friends stop at a diner. Shane sees on the TV that Ford is wanted for Junior’s murder. Shane tells Ford and the four leave the diner and hit the road. The Reapers pulled up at the diner and chases the four. The four ride into a forest full of palm trees to get away. Trey’s gang members meets up with them in the forest. Ford tells Shane and the friends to split up. Ford rides out of the forest into a desert. Trey follows. Here at the desert we see a train. Ford jumps up onto the train and Trey follows riding on top of the train. After a while Ford jumps off the train and Trey follows. Trey slips and falls in front of the train and his leg gets caught on the tracks. Ford decides to help Trey. (He helps Trey because Ford must tell Trey that he didn’t kill Junior). Ford saves Trey and gives him his bike. Shane, Dalton and Val meet up with Ford and the four find a cave for the night to stay.Ford talks it out with his friends and says that he should call the FBI agents to tell them that he is innocent. Ford calls them and McPherson picks up the phone. He says that he doesn’t believe Ford but Henderson does. We next see that it is morning and the four leave the cave and find a huge truck and hop in the back of it. The trucker doesn’t know that the four are in the back. As the truck is driving it gets stopped by the cops. The four in the back hear the cops and take what is inside the back of the truck….a fast car. Just before the agents open the back of the truck, Ford and Shane bust out of the truck in the car and the two friends on their bikes. The four drive onto a highway. The FBI agents follow and so does Trey.The next scene takes place on the highway with tons of other cars. Ford jumps out of the car and jumps onto Val’s bike and tells Val to ride with Shane. Trey and the two agents follow. The partners aren’t paying attention and their black Hummer hits a construction pipe and flies into the air and lands upside down(they survived though). Trey rides his bike into Ford’s and the two crash. Ford holding Trey at gunpoint explains to Trey that he did not kill Junior. He believes him says that he wants to find out who killed Junior. Ford says that it was Henry and that he set them both up. At Shane’s garage Ford calls Shane and tells her that he wants her and Val and Dalton to come and meet him and Trey there. Just after that, the two FBI agents bust in and tell Trey and Ford to get down. Henderson says that she wants an explanation since she believes Ford is innocent. Ford tells them and the two agents believe them. McPherson turns and shoots Henderson and she falls to the floor. McPherson reveals himself as Henry’s inside man and that he is working with the Hellions after making a deal with him. Henry, China and Luther show up revealing they have tied up Ford’s two friends with chains and have also taken Shane hostage. Ford says that Henry can take the bikes back but Henry wants to kill Ford and Trey (after admitting to Trey that he had killed Junior).There is a big fight scene with Trey killing Luther by hanging him with a chain. Henry and China leave the garage. Ford frees Shane while Trey unties Val and Dalton and they leave the garage. Just before they do Henderson gets up and tells McPherson that she is wearing a bullet proof vest. She tells Trey and the others to leave the garage which they do. Henderson then blows up the garage killing McPherson. Outside of the garage China meets up with Shane. The two fight on their bikes. The fight ends with Shane kicking China off her bike and throwing her through a car windshield, killing her.Finally Ford catches up with Henry on the street in a bike chase. Henry shoots at the gas of the bike Ford is driving causing gas to leak from it. As Henry is shooting at Ford the bullet hit the leaked gas causing a fire trail. Ford then soars through the air and lands on top of Henry’s bike, the fire catches up to them both causing both bike’s to explode throwing Ford in the air and killing Henry. Shane picks him up and they drive back to the garage to find the others. It is also revealed that Henderson survived but is injured. Ford and Shane get back together and decide that the four need a vacation (with Shane suggesting Mexico). Val picks up his girlfriend Nina (Christina Millian) and from a distance we see the four ride off in the desert as the screen fades to black and the credits role.Most people will take this film seriously and say its crap because it is unreel, flawed, has crap acting and stunts that simply are not possible. While this may be true, it doesn’t mean that the film is not an enjoyable one. So if you are one of those serious people, then i would advise you not to watch this, but you if just want to watch something cool with a couple of mates on a satarday night, then this would be a great choice. Recommended if you like slick action or enjoyed the fast and the furious!

REVIEW: STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT

CAST

Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The GIft)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Gates McFadden (Crowned and Dangerous)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Alice Krige (Silent Hill)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Jack Shearer (End of Days)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Patti Yasutake (Gung Ho)
Majel Barrett (Earth: Final Conflict)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)

Captain Jean-Luc Picard wakes from a nightmare in which he relived his assimilation by the cybernetic Borg six years earlier (shown in the television episode “The Best of Both Worlds”). Starfleet informs him of a new Borg attack against Earth, but orders the USS Enterprise-E to patrol the Romulan Neutral Zone so as not to introduce an “unstable element” to the fight. Learning that the fleet is losing the battle, the Enterprise crew disobeys orders and heads for Earth, where a single, damaged Borg Cube opposes a group of Starfleet vessels. The Enterprise arrives in time to save the crew of the USS Defiant, which is being commanded by Lieutenant Commander Worf. After Picard hears Borg communications in his mind, he orders the fleet to concentrate its firepower on a seemingly non-vital section of the Borg ship. The Cube is destroyed after launching a smaller sphere ship towards the planet.

The Borg sphere generates and enters a temporal vortex. As the Enterprise is enveloped in the vortex, the crew briefly glimpses an Earth populated entirely by Borg. Picard realizes that the Borg have used time travel to change history, and orders the Enterprise to follow. The Enterprise arrives in the past, on April 4, 2063, the day before humanity’s first encounter with alien life after Zefram Cochrane’s historic warp flight. The Borg sphere fires on the planet; the Enterprise crew then destroy the sphere and, realizing that the Borg were trying to prevent first contact, send an away team to the Montana missile complex where Cochrane is building his ship, the Phoenix, to look for survivors. Picard sends Cochrane’s assistant Lily Sloane to the Enterprise for medical attention, then returns to the ship and leaves Commander William Riker on Earth to make sure the Phoenix’s flight proceeds as planned. The Enterprise crew sees Cochrane as a legend, but the real man is reluctant to assume his historical role.

Borg survivors invade the Enterprise, and begin to assimilate its crew and modify the ship, planning to use it to attack and conquer Earth. Picard and a team attempt to reach engineering to disable the Borg with corrosive coolant used in the warp core, but the android Data is captured and meets the queen of the Borg Collective, who gains his trust by giving part of him human skin. A frightened Sloane seizes the captain but he gains her trust, and they escape the Borg-infested area of the ship by using the holodeck. Picard, Worf, and the ship’s navigator, Lieutenant Hawk, stop the Borg from calling reinforcements with the deflector dish, but Hawk is assimilated. As the Borg continue to assimilate, Worf suggests destroying the ship, but Picard angrily calls him a coward and vows to continue the fight. Sloane confronts the captain and, reminding him of Moby-Dick’s Captain Ahab, makes him realize his own irrational behavior. Picard activates the ship’s self-destruct mechanism, orders the crew to abandon ship, and then apologizes to Worf. While the crew heads to escape pods, Picard remains aboard to rescue Data.

As Cochrane, Riker, and engineer Geordi La Forge prepare to activate the warp drive on the Phoenix, Picard confronts the Borg Queen and discovers she has grafted human skin onto Data, giving him an array of new sensations. She has presented this modification as a gift to the android, hoping to obtain his encryption codes to the Enterprise computer. Although Picard offers himself in Data’s place, the android refuses to leave. He deactivates the self-destruct sequence and fires torpedoes at the Phoenix, but they miss and the Queen realizes Data has betrayed her. Data ruptures a coolant tank, and the corrosive substance fatally dissolves the Borg’s biological components. Cochrane completes his warp flight, and that night, April 5, 2063, the crew watches as Vulcans, attracted by the Phoenix warp flight, land and greet Cochrane. Having repaired history, the Enterprise crew returns to the 24th century.This film has it all. A well-conceived, intricate and dramatic plot, excellent acting, fantastic special effects, and real emotion on-screen. Picard’s chilling “the line must be drawn here” monologue to Lily represents a scene with such dramatic quality that is rarely seen in science-fiction films. You can completely suspend disbelief and feel the anger, the pain, the sheer hunger for revenge in this broken man. You are there with him, the future of humanity is on the line, and not for a second will you think otherwise.

REVIEW: PIRANHA 3D

CAST

Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Elisabeth Shue (Hollow Man)
Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future)
Steven R. McQueen (The Vampire Diaries)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Jessica Szohr (Ted 2)
Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds)
Kelly Brook (Three)
Adam Scott (Kampus)
Riley Steele (Pirates II)
Richard Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Dina Meyer (Birds of Prey)
Bonnie Morgan (The Devil Inside)
Paul Scheer (Year One)

Fisherman Matt Boyd is fishing in Lake Victoria when a small earthquake hits, splitting the lake floor and causing a whirlpool. Boyd falls in, and is ripped apart by a shoal of piranhas that emerge from the chasm.

Jake Forester is admiring attractive tourists as spring break begins. He reunites with his old crush Kelly Driscoll and meets Derrick Jones, a sleazy pornographer, as well as Danni Arslow, one of his actresses. Derrick convinces Jake to show him good spots on the lake for filming a pornographic movie. That night, Jake’s mother, Sheriff Julie Forester, searches for the missing Matt Boyd with Deputy Fallon. They find his mutilated body and contemplate closing the lake. This decision, however, is made difficult as two-thousand partying college students are on spring break, which is important for bringing revenue to the small town. The next morning, a lone cliff diver is attacked and consumed by the vicious, marauding piranhas.

Jake bribes his sister, Laura, and brother, Zane (Sage Ryan), to stay home alone so that he can show Derrick around the lake. After Jake leaves, Zane convinces Laura to go fishing on a small sandbar island. They forget to tie the boat down and are stranded in the middle of the lake. Meanwhile, Jake goes to meet with Derrick and runs into Kelly, who accepted Derrick’s invitation on board his boat, The Barracuda. Jake meets Crystal Shepard, another one of Derrick’s actresses, and cameraman Andrew Cunningham.  Julie takes a team of seismologist divers—Novak Radzinsky, Sam Montez, and Paula Montellano to the fissure. Novak speculates that the rift leads to a buried prehistoric lake. Paula and Sam scuba dive to the bottom and discover a large cavern filled with large piranha egg stocks. Both are killed by the piranhas before they can alert the others to the discovery. Novak and Julie find Paula’s corpse and pull it onto the boat, capturing a lone piranha, which they take to Carl Goodman, a marine biologist who works as a pet store owner. He explains that it is a highly aggressive prehistoric species, long believed to be extinct, and that the piranhas have survived through cannibalism. The species is able to vigorously devour its prey in seconds.
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Julie, Novak, Fallon, and Deputy Taylor Roberts try to evacuate the lake, but their warnings are ignored, until the piranhas begin to fiercely attack the tourists. Novak boards a jet-ski with a shotgun to help while Fallon drags people to shore, and Julie and Taylor try to get swimmers into the police boat. Almost everyone in the lake is either wounded, dismembered, or killed by the piranhas altogether, while the remaining surviving tourists escape. The party spot rapidly turns into a bloodbath.
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Meanwhile, Jake spots Laura and Zane on the island and forces Derrick to rescue them. Derrick crashes the boat into some rocks, flooding the boat’s lower deck and causing the boat to begin sinking. Kelly is trapped in the kitchen while Derrick, Crystal and Andrew fall overboard from the impact of the collision. Crystal is devoured, and Andrew escapes to shore unharmed. Meanwhile, Danni manages to get a partially eaten Derrick back on board, where he then dies.  Deputy Fallon makes a last stand, taking a boat motor and using its propeller to shred many piranhas, though he is presumed to be killed by the Piranhas. After the chaos settles, Julie receives a call from Jake pleading for help. Julie and Novak steal a speedboat and head off towards the kids. They reach Jake and attach a rope to his boat. Julie, Danni, Laura, and Zane start crossing the rope, but the piranhas latch onto Danni’s hair, causing her to lose her grip on the rope and fall into the water, where she is quickly devoured. The others make it across safely, but the rope comes loose. Using Derrick’s corpse as a distraction, Jake ties the line to himself and goes to save Kelly. He ties Kelly to him and lights a flare after releasing the gas from a pair of stored propane tanks. Novak starts the boat and speeds away just as the piranhas surround Kelly and Jake. They are dragged to safety as the propane tanks explode, destroying the boat and killing most of the piranhas.
Image result for piranha 2010Mr. Goodman calls Julie on the radio, and Julie tells him that they seem to have killed the majority of the piranhas. A horrified Goodman tells her that the reproductive glands on the piranha they obtained were not mature, which means that the fish they have killed were only the babies. As Novak wonders aloud where the parents are, the human sized-Piranha Queen leaps out of the water and eats him.

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This film was of course, filmed in 3D (there are two discs, one 2D, one 3D) with dismembered body parts and voracious piranhas coming at you in abundance. Strangely enough, I found that the 3D effects worked rather better in 2D and wearing the gasses provided was little more than a gimmick and made everything a bit monochrome. Still, it is all great fun and I enjoyed every bloody minute of it and, provided that you throw your artistic sensibilities out of the window, so, I am sure, will you!

REVIEW: STEP BROTHERS

CAST

Will Ferrell (The Other Guys)
John C. Reilly (Guardians of The galaxy)
Richard Jenkins (Burn After Reading)
Mary Steenburgen (Elf)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Kathryn Hahn (The Dictator)
Andrea Savage (Izombie)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)

39-year-old Brennan Huff and 40-year-old Dale Doback are men-children still living at home. Brennan lives with his mother, Nancy; and Dale has been living with his father, Robert; the parents meet and fall in love. Robert and Nancy get married, forcing Brennan and Dale to live with each other as step brothers.

Brennan and Dale dislike each other, blaming the other for interfering with their lifestyles. Brennan plays Dale’s drum set and a brawl on the front lawn ensues. They are grounded for a week and they must find jobs within a month or they will be forced out of the house.

When Brennan’s younger brother Derek, a helicopter leasing agent, comes to visit with his family, he mocks their unsuccessful lives and being spoiled brats, which entices Dale to punch him in the face. Brennan is awed that Dale stood up to Derek, while Derek’s wife Alice finds Dale’s courage a turn on, beginning a sexual affair between the two. Brennan and Dale use the incident to discover their shared interests and develop a brotherly friendship.

Robert schedules several job interviews for Brennan and Dale, who offend the interviewers with their disrespectful attitudes. Robert and Nancy reveal their plans to retire and sail the world on Robert’s boat and allow Derek to sell the house, and demand that Brennan and Dale attend therapy and find other living arrangements.

Dale and Brennan decide to start an entertainment company, “Prestige Worldwide”. They present their first music video at Derek’s birthday party, which includes footage of them accidentally wrecking Robert’s boat. Robert refuses to make an investment and spanks Brennan after a heated verbal exchange between the two. On Christmas Day, Robert announces he wants to divorce Nancy, causing Brennan and Dale to break down.
Blaming each other for their parents’ divorce, the boys fight, but they decide to go their separate ways. Brennan works for Derek’s helicopter leasing firm and Dale works for a catering company. Weeks later, Brennan and Dale are fully mature adults and are becoming successful.
Brennan manages the Catalina Wine Mixer for Derek’s company and invites Robert and Nancy. They hire the catering company for which Dale works. The party is a success, until the lead singer of Uptown Girl, a 1980s Billy Joel cover band, responds to a man in the crowd by using explicit profanity, and is removed from the event. With the stage empty, Derek fires Brennan for the singer’s mishap, Robert ultimately encourages Brennan and Dale to be their eccentric child-at-heart selves again. Brennan and Dale take the stage and perform “Con Te Partiro.” Derek is so moved by the performance that he and Brennan make amends. Dale terminates his affair with Alice to her dismay.
Six months later, Robert and Nancy are reunited and move back into their old home. Brennan and the therapist Denise get married, while Brennan and Dale form a successful entertainment company that runs karaoke events. Robert has his boat repaired and put in the backyard. In a mid-credits scene, Brennan and Dale stand up to a group of bullies from a middle school who abused Dale a year before. In a post-credits scene, Brennan and Dale sleepwalk once more.This is a great comedy. Will Ferrel and John C Reilly are hilarious as adult step brothers who refuse to grow up! There are some brilliant laugh out loud moments and some cracking scenes. I love the Job interview scenes and when Brennon burys Dale in the garden during an argument, hilarious. If you want a laugh you will find loads here

 

REVIEW: HELLRAISER IV: BLOODLINE

CAST

Doug Bradley (Wrong Turn 5)
Bruce Ramsey (Killing Zoe)
Valentina Vargas (Faces In The Crowd)
Charlotte Chatton (Titanic)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Kim Myers (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2)
Paul Perri (Freeway)
Pat Skipper (Demolition Man)

In 2127, Dr. Paul Merchant, an engineer, seals himself in a room aboard The Minos, a space station that he designed. As armed guards attempt to break through the door, Merchant manipulates a robot into solving the Lament Configuration, destroying the robot in the process. The guards break through the door and apprehend Merchant, who agrees to explain his motivations to their leader, Rimmer.

The film flashes back to Paris, France, 1796. Dr. Merchant’s ancestor, Phillip LeMarchand, a French toymaker, makes the Lament Configuration on commission from the libertine aristocrat Duc de L’Isle. Unbeknownst to LeMarchand, L’Isle’s specifications for the box make it a portal to Hell. Upon delivering the box to L’Isle, LeMarchand watches as he and his assistant Jacques sacrifice a peasant girl and use her blood to summon a demon, Angelique, through the box. LeMarchand runs home in terror, where he begins working on blueprints for a second box which will neutralize the effects of the first. Returning to L’Isle’s mansion to steal the box, LeMarchand discovers that Jacques has killed L’Isle and taken control over Angelique, who agrees to be his slave so long as he does not impede the wishes of Hell. The pair kill LeMarchand, and Jacques informs him that his bloodline is now cursed for helping to open a portal to Hell.

In 1996, LeMarchand’s descendant, John Merchant, has built a skyscraper in Manhattan that resembles the Lament Configuration. Seeing an article on the building in a magazine, Angelique asks Jacques to take her to America so that she can confront him. When Jacques denies her request, Angelique kills him, as Merchant poses a threat to Hell. Angelique travels to America, where she fails to seduce Merchant. Discovering the Lament Configuration in the building’s foundation, Angelique tricks a security guard into solving it, which summons Pinhead. The two immediately clash, as Pinhead represents a shift in the ideologies of Hell, which she left behind two hundred years ago: while Angelique believes in corrupting people through temptation, Pinhead is fanatically devoted to pain and suffering. Despite their conflicting views, the pair forge an uneasy alliance to kill Merchant before he can complete The Elysium Configuration, an anti-Lament Configuration that creates perpetual light and would serve to permanently close all gateways to Hell.

Angelique and Pinhead initially collaborate to corrupt Merchant, but Pinhead grows tired of Angelique’s seductive techniques and threatens to kill Merchant’s wife and child. Having grown accustomed to a decadent life on Earth, Angelique wants no part of Hell’s new fanatical austerity, and she intends to force Merchant to activate the Elysium Configuration and destroy Hell, thus freeing her from its imperatives. However, Merchant’s flawed prototype fails. Pinhead kills Merchant, but his wife opens Angelique’s Lament Configuration, sending Pinhead and Angelique back to Hell.

In 2127, Rimmer disbelieves Dr. Merchant’s story and has him locked away. However, Pinhead and his followers—now including an enslaved Angelique—have already been freed after Merchant opened the box. Upon learning of Dr. Merchant’s intentions, they kill the entire crew of the ship, save for Rimmer and Paul, who escape. Paul reveals that the Minos is, in fact, the final, perfected form of the Elysium Configuration, and that by activating it, he can kill Pinhead and permanently seal the gateway to Hell.

Paul distracts Pinhead with a hologram while he boards an escape pod with Rimmer. Once clear of the station, he activates the Elysium Configuration. A series of powerful lasers and mirrors create a field of perpetual light, while the station transforms and folds around the light to create a massive box. The light is trapped within the box, killing Pinhead and his followers, thus ending Pinhead’s existence, this time, permanently.

The true Hellraiser movies are 1 and 2, the third one was very hit or miss…but it works. And bloodlines compliments these, because it’s not just about Pinhead, the main character in this one is the Puzzle Box.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: HIGH CRIMES

 

 

CAST

Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Morgan Freeman (Along Came A Spider)
Jim Caviezel (The Passion of Teh Christ)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Amanda Peet (Identity Thief)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Tom Bower (Crazy Heart)
Emilio Rivera (Bruce Almighty)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)

Attorney Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) and her woodworker husband Tom (James Caviezel) find their idyllic life in Marin County, California shattered when, during a Christmas shopping excursion in San Francisco’s Union Square he is captured by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and charged with the murders of nine peasants in a remote village in El Salvador in 1988. Claire is shocked to discover Tom, whose real name is Ronald Chapman, was a covert military operative serving in the United States Marine Corps and has been on the run for the past twelve years.

Tom admits he was present at the scene of the mass murders but staunchly denies any involvement in the killings. He insists he has been scapegoated in order to conceal the identity of the real culprit, Major James Hernandez (Juan Carlos Hernández), now the aide of Brigadier General Bill Marks (Bruce Davison).

First Lieutenant Terence Embry (Adam Scott) is assigned to defend Tom, but his youth and lack of experience prompt Claire to decide to defend her husband, as well. When she realizes she needs help from someone familiar with the workings of a military court, she hires Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman), an embittered former military attorney who has a grudge against the military brass, to assist her. Three of the five key witnesses, who previously testified Tom was guilty, have died under seemingly mysterious circumstances, raising Claire and Charlie’s suspicions. As the trial proceeds, they uncover a massive cover-up perpetrated by one of the military’s highest-ranking officials. Also creating problems are the sudden appearance of a resident (Emilio Rivera) of the village where the mass murder took place, who insists Tom was responsible; Embry’s romantic involvement with Claire’s irresponsible sister Jackie (Amanda Peet), which leads Claire to assume that he leaked details about secrets she has uncovered to the prosecution; and Charlie’s falling off the wagon after more than a year of sobriety.

The Salvadorian witness identifies an injured Hernandez as the culprit responsible for a bombing incident prior to the massacre. With aid from Embry, whom Claire realizes is innocent, Claire recovers classified medical files from the FBI as evidence of the cover-up. Claire blackmails Marks by threatening to reveal what she knows about the cover-up and asks him to make the case go away; the next day, the U.S. Defense Department has the case thrown out of court due to “security reasons”.

Just as Claire is about to celebrate her victory in court, Charlie discovers the truth, while in Mexico, that Tom had murdered one of the witnesses in front of his family. The widow who witnessed the act described Tom’s having tossed his gun from one hand to the other (a habit Tom displayed with keys and other objects throughout the film) and his shooting his gun first using one hand, then the other (revealing his ambidexterity); the match between these descriptions also indicated that Tom committed the massacre and also murdered two of the other key witnesses years prior to his arrest. After Tom overhears Claire talking to Charlie on the phone, a short scuffle between Claire and Tom ensues, during which Claire fears for her life. The Salvadoran witness shoots Tom through the window, and the film ends with Charlie and Claire’s starting a new partnership-based law firm.

This film was excellent. The plot was perfectly timed and new twists and turns were added at the right time. The timing in the film keeps the watcher genuinely interested from start to finish. Throughout the film, you are supplied with just the right information to keep you guessing but not so little that you have no clues as to what is happening! The performances put in by Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman were, as always, superb!