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: A SERIES OF UNFORTANTE EVENTS – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Malina Weissman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Louis Hynes (Barbarians Rising)
K. Todd Freeman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Presley Smith
Tara Strong (Batman: The KIlling Joke)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Aasif Mandvi (The Siege)
Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone)
Don Johnson (Machete)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
John DeSantis (Blade: The Series)
Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Will Arnett (The Lego Batman Movie)

Published between 1999 and 2006, A Series Of Unfortunate Events told the story of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, three intelligent and resourceful children who are orphaned when their parents are killed in a mysterious fire that destroys their home. Over the course of the books they are met with misfortune after misfortune as the evil Count Olaf attempts to get his hands on the money their parents left behind, with the orphans always just barely managing to escape Olaf’s clutches. Eventually they start to realise that there is more to Olaf and the death of their parents than they realise, and their attempts to survive converge more and more with a huge conspiracy that drags them deeper into a web of very furtive danger.

The books are oblique, absurd, repetitive and relentlessly dark. The last attempt at adapting them wrangled three books into one film along with a simplified version of the convoluted mystery that characterised the back half of the book series, which it chose to more or less resolve, while ramping up the buffoonery of Olaf and toning down his more menacing moments. All of these were choices that made sense from a commercial perspective; yet the film was met with a shrug. So when it was announced that Netflix was taking on the series, it was hard not to wonder just how that might look and whether it would be more successful than the last version. Adapting this series presents a challenge; a faithful retelling of the books runs the risk of being kind of repetitive, not to mention very expensive considering each book takes place in a different bizarre setting with a mostly different cast of supporting characters. So how do they manage it?

As it turns out, very, very well. And very faithfully to boot. The television series devotes two episodes to each book, with the first season covering the first four. Essentially this means that each individual novel gets more time than the film allowed for three, meaning that not only can the series depict just about every scene from each book, but it can embellish and explore certain aspects while threading new, fascinating subplots throughout the more familiar material. Consequently, the series offers something fresh and interesting for those unfamiliar with Snicket while being full of surprises and easter eggs for those who spent their childhoods scouring the books for clues, hints or things we might have missed. This is an adaptation that does fan service right. If you know the books reasonably well, you will have ample reasons to squeal with delight or gasp at your television while never once feeling like somebody is pandering to you.

Part of this is probably due to the heavy involvement of Daniel Handler, who wrote the teleplays for the four episodes. The tweaks the television series makes to the novels play more like minor corrections, the new subplots like we’re seeing important deleted scenes rather than anything added inorganically to fill screen time and above all the series just feels extremely true to the spirit of its source material in a way that the movie never quite did. Part of this is the dialogue, part of this is the theatrical set design and part of this is the fact that the series is unafraid to get dark.The first book, The Bad Beginning, features many disturbing elements but two that stand out are Count Olaf’s insidious plan to marry fourteen year old Violet Baudelaire in order to get his hands on her fortune, and an earlier scene in which a drunk, angry Olaf strikes Klaus across the face for talking back to him. The film included both these plot points, but they were both buried in lots of Jim Carrey mugging. This created the uncomfortable feeling that some awful stuff was being played for laughs, or at least that the impact of it was being softened to avoid upsetting anyone too much. The series does not shy away from either of these moments. The marriage plot is exactly as disturbing as it should be, while the attack on Klaus is followed by a loaded silence that lets you feel just how dreadful the circumstances of the Baudelaires and the man behind them is. When the humour does come it’s a welcome relief rather than an attempt to bury disturbing content beneath silly voices and kooky lines.Neil Patrick Harris walks a very particular tightrope in his portrayal of Olaf. The villain of the series is a terrible actor who uses a variety of ridiculous disguises and bizarre plots in his attempts to capture the orphans, but when all is said and done this man is still a dangerous murderer and serial arsonist. Predictably Harris is very funny, but it’s that crucial undercurrent of darkness that sells the character in a way that Jim Carrey didn’t quite manage and means that, no matter how much you’re laughing at him, you never forget the danger that he poses.

Elsewhere, the acting is just as strong. Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes are both excellent as Violent and Klaus respectively, while K. Todd Freeman threatens to steal the show as inept banker Mr Poe. Aasif Mandvi makes for a warm and endearingly quirky Uncle Monty while Patrick Warburton very quickly becomes the only Lemony Snicket you’ll be able to imagine. Where Jude Law in the film depicted the narrator as a softly spoken reclusive writer, Warburton is more of a droll noir detective, walking in and out of scenes to comment on proceedings with wry humour and occasional flashes of melancholy and gravitas. In short, he is a pitch perfect, if unexpected, take on arguably the most important character in the series.

One of the most distinctive things about the books was how it handled its tone; veering quickly from oddball humour to reflective sadness. The television series handles this with deft expertise; just watch how Snicket reacts in pained silence to the Baudelaires learning about their parents’ death even as Mr Poe fumbles breaking the news. The series is not quite as funny as the trailers may have led you to believe, but this isn’t a bad thing. It only means that humour never disguises just how dire the circumstances of the orphans are. We feel for Violet, Klaus and Sunny and we hate Count Olaf even as we chuckle at his one liners and over the top behaviour. It’s a balancing act that could so easily fall apart but never does due to the simple fact that everyone involved in this series knows exactly what they’re doing.The series feels fresh, new and different to just about anything that has ever been on television before. Netflix took a risk on this and evidently let the creators do exactly what they wanted in bringing the novels to life. At its heart, A Series of Unfortunate Events is about the fact that life rarely goes the way we want it to and trouble and treachery can strike at the worst possible times. And while they may not offer a permanent solution, intelligence, curiosity, decency and literacy are lights in the darkness, tiny glimmers of hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The plight of the Baudelaire orphans, ultimately, is not a case of relentless misery being played for our entertainment, but a story of hope and resilience built around the honest truth that life isn’t fair. Perhaps the greatest trick of the book series, and now the TV show, is disguising a message of hope in a story of seemingly endless gloom. In that regard, this brave, funny, exciting, imaginative new show is as big of a success as anyone could have hoped for. It’s an absolute treat.

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: LOST SOULS

CAST

Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Sarah Wynter (The 6th Day)
Philip Baker Hall (Bruce Almighty)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Elias Koteas (Gattaca)
Brian Reddy (Dante’s Peak)
John Diehl (Stargate)
Brad Greenquist (Heroes)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Alfred Woodard (Luke Cage)

This is a subtle religious horror flick that I have to assume people rejected because of the lack of scares and gore. However, the performances, direction and cinematography are all top notch. Though Lost Souls was marketed to look like a demonic scare-fest, I would compare this film to the likes of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. In fact, I would not be surprised if the makers of that film borrowed quite heavily from this one, both in style and effects.

The premise is relatively simple: A small religious sect believe the coming of the anti-Christ to be near, sitting dormant in a human body.

The biggest praise that I can bestow upon this film is that over 12 years later, this film still looks like it could have been made yesterday. In fact, it looks uncannily more modern than a large majority of recent horror efforts. Lost Souls simply does not age.

Another popular factor in why this movie is so poorly rated and received is the fact that audiences just did not like the ending. I feel sorry for those that do not. The ending is original, and though it did not satisfy blood thirsty Hollywood horror fans, it is very much appropriate for this film. To put it simply without spoiling anything: faith is the central core to Lost Souls, those with it and those without. That is what this ending plays off of, and I think it’s perfect. Please do not let any of these negative reviews divert you from seeing this film.

This is not End of Days or Stigmata. Lost Souls is not camp in the slightest. It is a dark, beautifully shot and well acted film that is significantly ahead of it’s time

REVIEW: LUKE CAGE – SEASON 1

CAST

Mike Colter (Ringer)
Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Simone Missick (A Taste of Romance)
Theo Rossi (Cloverfield)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Frank Whaley (Broken Arrow)
Sônia Braga (Alias)
Frankie Faison (The Silence of The Lambs)
Rob Morgan (Stranger Things)
Sean Ringgold (American Gangster)
Parisa Fitz-Henley (Even Money)
Karen Pittman (The Ameircans)
Erik LaRay Harvey (Twister)
Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot)
Sonja Sohn (The Originals)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)

Netflix’s latest drama may not be a great superhero series, but it’s searingly relevant and entertaining. Premiering on Friday, Sept. 30, Luke Cage is vital and alive and of-the-moment. It sings with the rhythms and swagger of Harlem and it’s a genre show that wears its intellectual curiosities like a badge. It’s so satisfying as badass street poetry and muscular urban renewal parable that after watching the seven episodes made available for critics, I barely cared that as a superhero show, Luke Cage is often repetitive and a little underwhelming. It’s the logical extension of Marvel’s niche-y approach to its Netflix offerings, a specificity that has yielded shows that are far more provocative, but far less universally accessible than the company’s blockbuster movies.The Marvel movies try to tick every box, but staying true to Netflix’s general business model, their comic book shows have just gone after one or two boxes aggressively. Jessica Jones used a snarky heroine and a mind-controlling bad guy to craft a story about consent and the power of sisterhood. Daredevil was using blindness and the darkness of Hell’s Kitchen as a platform for a story of Catholic guilt and challenged faith. Run by Cheo Hodari Coker, Luke Cage is the Harlem Renaissance intersecting with the comic book renaissance, a confrontational act of all-too-real wish fulfillment imagining a young black male as bulletproof.

Mike Colter’s Luke Cage was introduced in Jessica Jones as a haunted love interest for the main character, where we learned about his powers, basically being super-strong and impervious to bullets (or pretty much anything that might pierce/penetrate/crush his skin). We pick up with Luke sweeping the floors at the neighborhood barbershop run by Frankie Faison’s Pop. It’s the sort of community institution where people sit around all day debating the coaching styles of Pat Riley and Phil Jackson or whether Easy Rawlins or Kenyatta was the better urban fiction hero. By night, he works as a dishwasher at Harlem’s Paradise, a nightclub with a tremendous talent booker and operated by mobster Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali), cousin of local politician Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard). Immediately, we see a harsh contrast between the greedy capitalist renewal espoused by Cottonmouth and Dillard and the grassroots Harlem that Luke Cage wants to be a part of and wants to elevate. Naturally, conflict is a-brewing between the two Harlems.Like Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, Cottonmouth is a vicious, remorseless killer, but he’s also got a somewhat noble sense of how what he’s doing is good for the borough he grew up in. Cottonmouth’s ties are to family and also to the idea of legacy and the protection of a renowned family name, key details that Coker and his writers hit hard.The Marvel movies rely on outsized special effects to capture their heightened take on reality, but the Netflix shows don’t have the budget for that, so they opt for outsized thematics instead. Like Jessica Jones before it, Luke Cage is aggressively unsubtle, but it’s also aggressively smart. Sure, having Luke Cage wandering around, wearing a hoodie as an act of defiance, reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man feels a bit on the nose, but once you throw in the references to Walter Mosley and Donald Goines and Ta-Nehisi Coates, it becomes clear that this show doubles as a superlative summer reading list, which has value beyond computer-generated scenes of mass destruction or a really cool mocap villain.The early episodes are so charmingly brainy and move with such a light step — Paul McGuigan of Sherlock and Scandal knows his way around a flashy pilot — and the cinematography is so stylish — not surprisingly, everybody loves photographing Mike Colter — that you only sometimes realize that the things you expect to get out of a superhero show are largely missing. Luke Cage is, to his great detriment, initially much too powerful, and while he’s certainly a reluctant hero, when he actually goes to work on the bad guys, it’s pointless to try stopping him. The “Ruckus” set piece in the third episode stands out because nothing else even comes close in scope or action execution. Of the seven episodes, the one that was least successful for me, and by a wide margin, was the most comic book-y, an origin-story fourth episode that hews reasonably closely to Luke’s ’70s Marvel origins. It’s fitting that Luke would want to debate pulp and elevated pulp-fiction African-American heroes, because that’s the tradition Luke Cage operates best in, which is great if that’s what you’re looking for the show to be.Ali makes great use of a classic villain cackle, and he gives Cottonmouth a coiled, psychotic rage and disarming glimpses of reasonableness. Woodard’s Mariah is Cottonmouth’s opposite, all superficial gentility and then undercurrents of something unhinged that become more frequent. Faison and Ron Cephas Jones, as a barbershop chess wiz named (or nicknamed) Bobby Fish, offer grounded decency, and I’m enjoying what Theo Rossi is doing, skulking around the edges, as a criminal intermediary dubbed Shades. Simone Missick’s Misty Knight and Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple are there half as proactive female leads, half as potential love interests for Luke, but sometimes are confusing reminders that Luke was mighty hung up on a deceased ex — and then on Jessica Jones — just one TV show ago and they feel like they ought to be mentioned.Just as Colter moves with purpose, Luke Cage moves with purpose, even if that purpose isn’t the same as what Civil War or Age of Ultron have led audiences to anticipate from Marvel. It’s a series infused by the conversations we’re having about race and gender and the American urban space in 2016, and it’s a series built to inspire additional conversations about black masculinity and representations of heroism in an age in which the news is too often focused on the tragic disposability of black masculinity. Luke Cage is another great staple for Marvel and its Cinematic Universe.

REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

CAST

Chris Evans (The Losers)
Robert Downey, Jr (Sherlock Holmes)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Sebastian Stan (The Covenant)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House)
Paul Rudd (Role Models)
Emily VanCamp (Revenge)
Tom Holland (The Impossible)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Marisa Tomei (The Fighter)
John Kani (Coriolanus)
Hope Davis (About Schmidt)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

In 1991, the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up, hoping to kill Rogers. When Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.
U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the team. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because of his role in Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s devastation, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers intends to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from T’Challa and the authorities, but all four including T’Challa are apprehended.
Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed “Winter Soldiers” are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’ permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff goes into exile.

Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and convinces Wilson to give him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware they were secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, dismembering Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.

In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, Barnes, granted asylum in Wakanda, chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget.

The best Marvel film to date: great, charisma from the leads delivered through fantastic action that’s actually driven, for once, by a tight, believable and interesting storyline.

REVIEW: ANNABELLE

CAST

Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class)
Ward Horton (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Kerry O’Malley (The Happening)
Brian Howe (Deja Vu)
Eric Ladin (The Killing)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)

The film starts with the same opening scene from The Conjuring, in which two young women and a young man are telling Ed and Lorraine Warren about their experiences with a doll called Annabelle which they believe is haunted. In 1969, John and Mia Form live in Santa Monica and are expecting their first child. John gives her a doll that she has been trying to find. At night, Mia hears a murder occurring at their neighbors’, the Higgins. When Mia calls the police, she is attacked by a woman holding the doll and a male accomplice. John and the police arrive and kill the man while the woman kills herself by slitting her own throat. A drop of her blood falls on the face of the doll in her arms. A news report shows that the assailants were Annabelle Higgins and her boyfriend. They are said to have been part of the Disciples of the Ram, a satanic cult, in which they worship a demon with horns.
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Since Annabelle was holding the doll while dying, Mia asks John to throw it away. Later, after a fire caused by the doll, Mia trips over furniture escaping from the fire and goes into labor. Mia gives birth to a healthy baby girl named Leah. The family moves into a new apartment and Mia finds the doll they thought they had discarded. More strange activity plagues Mia and her new baby. She contacts the detective, who informs her of Annabelle’s history in a cult that seeks to summon a demon by claiming a soul. Mia goes to a bookstore run by a woman named Evelyn and determines that the presence haunting her wants Leah’s soul. Evelyn tells Mia that she had a daughter named Ruby who died in a car accident caused by Evelyn. She was so guilt-ridden that she attempted suicide. However, she claims to have heard Ruby’s voice telling her it wasn’t her time.
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The couple contacts their church’s priest, Father Perez, who tries to take the doll with him to church. Annabelle’s ghost attacks him, and the doll disappears. Perez warns John that it was Annabelle’s spirit that caused his injuries. During another attack, Annabelle appears to levitate, but Mia sees the demon holding Annabelle, manipulating its actions. Mia attempts to kill Annabelle and asks him if there is another way, and it says that she can offer him her soul. John and Evelyn break open the door to find Mia ready to jump out the window with Annabelle. John saves Mia; Evelyn takes hold of Annabelle and decides to make the sacrifice, knowing this is the way she can atone for Ruby’s death. Evelyn then jumps out of the window to her death. However, the Annabelle doll disappears. Six months later, the Forms have moved on and have not seen Annabelle since then. Elsewhere, the mother of one of the girls in the opening scene purchases Annabelle as a gift for her child. The ending text states that the real Annabelle doll resides in a case in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s museum and that it is blessed by a priest twice a month to keep the public safe from the evil that the doll possesses.

Annabelle film still

A good movie. The start goes back to the start of the movie The Conjuring and is set a few years before. It is supposedly based on true events, though the Anabelle doll in the movie is much creepier than the real life one was. It is a good storyline and there are a few scary moments. If you liked the Conjuring you may like this movie.