REVIEW: DARKNESS (2002)

 

CAST

Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Lena Olin (Alias)
Iain Glen (Game of Thrones)
Giancarlo Giannini (Hannibal)
Fele Martínez  (Open Your Eyes)

Forty years after an unfinished occult ritual resulted in the disappearance of six young children, an American family has moved into a never-before inhabited house in Spain. The mother, Maria (Olin), wants to get the place in order, while the father, Mark (Glen), goes to work, and their children, teenager Regina (Paquin) and her younger brother Paul (Enquist), try to settle into their daily routines. It helps that Mark’s doctor-father, Albert Rua (Giannini) has furnished them with their residence and is nearby, especially when Mark begins to suffer from seizures again due to the progression of his Huntington’s disease, which also causes him to become increasingly mentally unstable. Regina is not only worried about him, but also Paul who is now scared of the dark for the first time. The young boy has reason for that, however, as there seems to be some sort of supernatural entity beneath his bed. Furthermore, there are instances when ghostly figures of children are seen standing in the shadow and darkness, watching the family.

As Paul becomes more scared and their father continues to mentally deteriorate, Regina eventually figures out it must have something to do with their home where the power is lost every day. With the help of her new friend, Carlos (Martinez), the two eventually meet the man, Villalobos (Reixach), who designed the house, and learn that it was built for a supernatural ritual requiring the sacrifice of seven children (each sacrificed by “hands that love them”) to coincide with an eclipse that only occurs every forty years. With the next one quickly approaching, and now armed with the knowledge that the earlier occult ritual needs one more death to be completed, Regina races to make sure that Paul is not the final victim. Stopping first at her grandfather Albert’s house to warn him as well, Regina finds out that her grandfather is, in fact, a member of the cult which has been performing these satanic rituals. Her grandfather explains that in the ritual forty years ago, there actually were seven children in the original ritual, the seventh child being none other than Regina’s father, Mark. Albert did not sacrifice his son because at the last minute he realized that he did not love Mark. Waiting 40 years he has brought Mark and his family to the house with the intention of completing the ritual during this eclipse. Regina also discovers the target is not Paul but still Mark, who is to be sacrificed by “hands that love him.”

Armed with this knowledge, Regina races back to her home to find her father in the midst of another attack, choking on pills as the eclipse begins. Maria tries to perform a tracheotomy on him, but is unable to bring herself to make the cut. Regina does instead, but Mark bleeds out and dies when the supernatural forces within the house hide the tube needed to complete the procedure. Since Regina genuinely loved Mark, the ritual is finally complete. The darkness then takes the form of Regina and Paul, convincing their mother to turn off the lights. The darkness kills Maria, and then takes the form of Regina’s friend Carlos, who picks them up in his car; shortly after they leave, the real Carlos arrives at the house, and is likely killed. The movie ends as Carlos’ doppelgänger drives Regina and Paul into a dark tunnel, implying their doom and meeting their demise.

This film was written and directed by an independent film-maker, and the combination of the suspenseful, tight script; the keen-edged performances by the actors; the director’s use of editing within the camera, and using lighting, to achieve special effects; and his variable pacing, all contribute to make Darkness a worthy entry in the horror/suspense genre..

REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST -THE ROGUE CUT

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CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
James McAvoy (wanted)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy)
Anna Paquin (She’s All That)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ian Mckellan (Lord of The Rings)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Omar Sy (Jurassic world)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Josh Helman (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Daniel Curdmore (Warcraft)
Bingbing Fan (Iron Man 3)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
Jason Marsden (Hop)
Lucas Til (Walk The Line)
Michael Lerner (Barton Fink)
Kelsey Grammer (Transformers 4)

Yes, this is even better than what we saw in the cinema. The theatrical version was very good, though we already knew that Rogue had been cut completely from the movie to make a more streamlined narrative (and possibly to meet studio demands over running time). Now the missing 17 minutes have been reinstated. We get a longer section in the future before the time travel takes place, a mission to rescue Rogue so she can take over from an injured and flagging Kitty, and a new section with Mystique visiting the mansion.

The extended future section gives additional dialogue to Bishop and also Storm – many viewers wanted more from the dystopian future and this goes a good way to satisfying that. And although Anna Paquin’s Rogue is reduced once again to a damsel in distress, the rescue mission is good and Paquin has a strong presence that’s very promising if we ever get to see any more of her version of Rogue. It also indicates that, like Magneto, her powers did return after she elected to be cured in X-Men: The Last Stand. The scene with Mystique at the mansion doesn’t feel so compelling, though it does continue the discussion with Beast over embracing one’s true self. Both versions of the film are very good, but for me the Rogue Cut feels a little more rounded. The mission to rescue Rogue fits in fine amid the film’s last act when everything becomes desperate and tense and the action really steps up, with parallels between past and future.This is a two disc set and it does also contain the original cinema version of the film. Disc 1 also contains a commentary by director Bryan Singer and writer/producer Simon Kinberg for the original cinema version, and a commentary by Bryan Singer and composer/editor John Ottman on the Rogue Cut. Disc 2 has special features including Mutant vs Machine (a 9-part making of documentary), X-Men Unguarded (informal conversations with the cast, it takes them a while to relax and get going but it’s quite nice to watch and hear what they think), a sneak peak of the new Fantastic Four and some image galleries.A great new cut for a great film.

REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
James McAvoy (wanted)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy)
Anna Paquin (She’s All That)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ian McKellan (Lord of The Rings)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Omar Sy (Jurassic world)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Josh Helman (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Daniel Curdmore (Warcraft)
Bingbing Fan (Iron Man 3)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
Jason Marsden (Hop)
Lucas Til (Walk The Line)
Michael Lerner (Barton Fink)
Kelsey Grammer (Transformers 4)
In the future, robots known as Sentinels are exterminating mutants and their human allies. A band of mutants, including Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Iceman, Bishop, Warpath, Blink and Sunspot, evade the Sentinels due to Pryde’s ability to send a person’s consciousness to the past. Pryde’s group convenes with Logan, Storm, Professor Charles Xavier, and Erik Lehnsherr at a monastery in China. Pryde sends Logan’s consciousness 50 years back in time to 1973 to prevent Mystique from assassinating Dr. Bolivar Trask, creator of the Sentinels. Following the assassination, Mystique was captured, and her DNA was used by Trask’s company to improve the Sentinels, whose ability to adapt to any mutant power makes them almost invincible. Xavier and Lehnsherr advise Logan to find both of their younger selves for help.
At the X-Mansion in 1973, Logan encounters Xavier and Hank McCoy. Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youngsters has closed after most of the teachers and students were drafted to the Vietnam War. Xavier, a broken man, has been overusing a serum that allows him to walk, but suppresses his telepathy. Logan explains his mission and persuades Xavier to help free Lehnsherr from a prison cell beneath The Pentagon, where he is being held for allegedly assassinating President John F. Kennedy. They rescue Lehnsherr with the help of Peter Maximoff, a mutant with super speed.
In Washington, D.C., Trask unsuccessfully tries to sway Congress to gain support for his Sentinel program. Meanwhile, in Saigon, Mystique prevents William Stryker from appropriating a group of mutant G.I.s for Trask’s research. Mystique investigates Trask’s office and discovers he has been capturing mutants to use for his experiments. Xavier, Lehnsherr, McCoy, and Logan fly to Paris to intercept Mystique, who is impersonating a North Vietnamese general to infiltrate the Paris Peace Accords. There, Trask attempts to sell his Sentinel technology to Communist nations. Xavier’s group arrives as Mystique is about to kill Trask. Lehnsherr tries to kill Mystique to ensure her DNA cannot be used for the Sentinels, but she jumps from a window. The fight spills onto the street in view of the public, allowing Lehnsherr and Mystique to escape.
Trask is saved, but the world is horrified by the existence of mutants. President Richard Nixon approves Trask’s Sentinel program and arranges an unveiling ceremony. Trask’s scientists recover Mystique’s blood from the street. Meanwhile, Lehnsherr—who has recovered his telepathy-blocking helmet—intercepts the prototype Sentinels in transit and laces their polymer-based frames with steel, allowing him to control them. At the mansion, Xavier stops taking his serum and slowly regains his telepathic powers, while losing the ability to walk. Through Logan, Xavier speaks to his future self and is inspired to work for peace between humans and mutants once again. He uses Cerebro to track Mystique, who is heading to Washington, D.C.
As Xavier, Logan, and McCoy search for Mystique, Nixon unveils the Sentinel prototypes at the White House. Lehnsherr commandeers the Sentinels and attacks the crowd, then sets the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium around the White House as a barricade. Nixon and Trask, accompanied by the Cabinet, Secret Service officers, and Mystique (disguised as a Secret Service member), are taken to a safe room. Logan and McCoy try to stop Lehnsherr, but he pits a Sentinel against them and then throws Logan into the Potomac River. In the future, the X-Men make their final stand as a large army of Sentinels attack the monastery. In 1973, Lehnsherr pulls the safe room from the White House and prepares to kill Nixon and his Cabinet. Mystique, who is disguised as Nixon, incapacitates Lehnsherr with a plastic gun. Xavier persuades Mystique to spare Trask and allows her and Lehnsherr to flee. Mystique’s actions are seen as a mutant saving the President, leading to the cancellation of the Sentinel program. Trask is arrested for trying to sell American military secrets.
Logan wakes up in the future to find Iceman, Rogue, Colossus, Pryde, McCoy, Storm, Jean Grey, Scott Summers, and Xavier are all alive. In 1973, Mystique, impersonating Stryker, takes custody of Logan. In a post-credits scene, a crowd chants to En Sabah Nur, who is using telekinesis to build pyramids as four horsemen watch from nearby.
The latest addition to the x-men series works well, using many of the original cast with those introduced in X-Men First Class. And it it does it very well. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, with their stage and theatre backgrounds set the bar very high when the first film came out in 2000. Bringing them back through the use of time travel and the sentinels story makes for a terrifically entertaining film.

REVIEW: X-MEN 1,2 & 3

CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
Patrick Stewart (TMNT)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
James Marsden (Gossip)
Halle Berry (Swordfish)
Anna Paquin (The Darkness)
Tyler Mane (Halloween 2007)
Ray Park (Heroes)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
Bruce Davison (High Crimes)
George Buza (Mutant X)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
In 1944 German-occupied Poland, 13-year-old Erik Lehnsherr is separated from his parents upon entering a concentration camp. While attempting to reach them, he causes a set of metal gates to bend towards him, as though attracted by a magnetic force, before being knocked out by guards. Decades later, U.S. Senator Robert Kelly attempts to pass a “Mutant Registration Act” in Congress, which would force mutants to publicly reveal their identities and abilities. Present are Lehnsherr, now known as Magneto, and the telepathic Professor Charles Xavier, who privately discuss their differing views on the relationship between humans and mutants.
In Meridian, Mississippi, 17-year-old Marie D’Ancanto accidentally puts her boyfriend into a coma upon kissing him, which is caused by her superhuman ability to absorb the life force and mutant abilities of anyone she touches. In fear, Marie, now going by the name Rogue, runs away to Laughlin City, Alberta. While at a bar, she meets Logan, also known as “Wolverine”, who possesses superhuman healing abilities, heightened senses, and metal claws that protrude from his knuckles. While on the road together, they are attacked by Sabretooth, a fellow mutant and an associate of Magneto. Cyclops and Storm arrive and save Wolverine and Rogue and bring them to the X-Mansion in Westchester County, New York. They are introduced to Xavier, who leads a group of mutants called the X-Men, who are trying to seek peace with the human race, educate young mutants on their powers, and stop Magneto from escalating the war with humanity.
Senator Kelly is abducted by Magneto’s allies Toad and the shapeshifter Mystique and brought to their lair, where Magneto uses Kelly as a test subject for a machine that artificially induces mutation. Kelly uses his new mutant abilities to escape imprisonment. After Rogue uses her powers on Wolverine, she is convinced by Mystique (disguised as classmate Bobby Drake) that Xavier is angry with her and she should leave the school. Xavier uses his mutant-locating machine Cerebro to find Rogue at a train station. Mystique later infiltrates Cerebro and sabotages the machine.
At the train station, Wolverine convinces Rogue to stay with Xavier, but a fight ensues when Magneto, Toad and Sabretooth arrive and kidnap Rogue. Kelly arrives at Xavier’s school, but dies shortly after due to the instability of his artificial mutation, which causes his cells to break down into a puddle of water. The X-Men learn that Magneto was severely weakened while testing the machine on Kelly, and realize that he intends to use Rogue’s power-transferring ability so that she can power the machine in his place, which will kill her. Xavier attempts to use Cerebro to locate Rogue, but Mystique’s sabotage causes him to fall into a coma. Fellow telepath Jean Grey fixes Cerebro, and learns that Magneto plans to place his mutation-inducing machine on Liberty Island and use it to mutate the world leaders meeting for a summit on nearby Ellis Island.
The X-Men scale the Statue of Liberty. Storm electrocutes Toad, and Wolverine stabs Mystique. Magneto transfers his powers to Rogue, and forces her to use them to start the machine. Wolverine kills Sabretooth with the help of Scott and Jean. Storm uses her weather-controlling powers and Jean uses her telekinesis to lift Wolverine to the top of Magneto’s machine. Wolverine saves Rogue when Cyclops knocks out Magneto, and destroys the machine. Wolverine touches the dying Rogue’s face, and his regenerative abilities are transferred to her, causing her to recover.
Professor Xavier recovers from his coma. The group learns that Mystique is still alive, and impersonating Senator Kelly. Xavier tells Wolverine that near where he was found in Canada is an abandoned military base that might contain information about his past. Xavier visits Magneto in a prison cell constructed entirely of plastic, and the two play chess. Magneto warns him that he will continue his fight, to which Xavier promises that he and the X-Men will always be there to stop him.
This is an extremely intelligent and well thought out movie. If you are a fan of the X-Men, there is no way you can miss out on this
CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
James Marsden (Gossip)
Halle Berry (Swordfish)
Anna Paquin (The Darkness)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
Bruce Davison (High Crimes)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Brian Cox (Manhunter)
Alan Cumming (Son of The Mask)
Aaron Stanford (Nikita)
Kelly Hu (The Vampire Diaries)
Katie Stuart (she’s The Man)
Kea Wong (Snow Day)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
At the White House, brainwashed teleporting mutant Nightcrawler tries to assassinate the President of the United States but fails and escapes, leaving a note demanding “mutant freedom now.” At Alkali Lake, X-Men member Wolverine finds nothing left of the military base from the previous movie. He returns to Professor Xavier’s school for mutants, while fellow X-Men Storm and Jean Grey find Nightcrawler with the help of Xavier and the mutant-tracking machine Cerebro.
Xavier and Cyclops visit Magneto in his plastic prison cell, inquiring about the assassination attempt. Xavier discovers that a covert government operative, William Stryker, has been extracting information from a brainwashed Magneto using an injectable drug. Stryker and his assistant Yuriko Oyama capture Cyclops and Xavier and raid Xavier’s school. Wolverine kills many of Stryker’s men, while Colossus, Rogue, Iceman, Pyro, and most of the students escape through hidden tunnels. Wolverine confronts Stryker, who fails to shed light on Wolverine’s past. Iceman helps Wolverine escape, but Stryker’s soldiers succeed in sedating six students and breaking into Cerebro.
Impersonating Senator Robert Kelly and Yuriko, the shape-shifting Mystique gains information about Magneto’s prison and aids his escape, and learns plans of another Cerebro. Wolverine, Rogue, Iceman, and Pyro visit Iceman’s parents in Boston. Responding to a 9-1-1 call from Bobby’s brother Ronny, the Boston Police Department arrives just as the group is leaving. Pyro uses his fire-projection power to fend off the police, and Rogue stops him when he starts attacking savagely.
The X-Jet arrives to pick them up, and is targeted by two Air Force fighter jets. They are hit by a missile, but Magneto saves their jet from crashing. The X-Men team up with Magneto and Mystique to stop Stryker. At their camp, Magneto informs them that Stryker orchestrated the attack on the president to provide rationale to raid Xavier’s school in order to steal Cerebro’s parts; he plans to connect Xavier to a second Cerebro rebuilt at a secret base. Jean reads Nightcrawler’s mind and determines that Stryker’s base is inside the dam at Alkali Lake.
Through his son, Jason, Stryker gains control over Xavier, who is brainwashed to use the second Cerebro to find and kill all mutants. Mystique infiltrates Stryker’s base by impersonating Wolverine. Storm and Nightcrawler search for the students. Jean, Magneto, and Mystique are attacked by a brainwashed Cyclops while trying to rescue Xavier, and cause damage to the generators that keep the dam from collapsing in the process. The force of Jean’s telekinetic blast clashing with Cyclops’ optic blast awakens him from his brainwashing, but also cracks the dam. Wolverine finds Stryker in an adamantium smelting room, where he recovers some of his memory. Wolverine fights and kills Yuriko, then finds Stryker on a landing pad, where Stryker bargains for his life by offering to reveal Wolverine’s past. Wolverine refuses, and instead binds Stryker in chains.
Storm and Nightcrawler find the students, while Magneto and Mystique kill the rest of Stryker’s men. Magneto stops Jason and Xavier from using Cerebro to kill mutants. Disguised as Stryker, Mystique uses Jason to convince Xavier to kill every human instead; she and Magneto, along with new initiate Pyro, use Stryker’s helicopter to escape Alkali Lake, after chaining Stryker to concrete rubble. Nightcrawler teleports Storm inside Cerebro, where she creates a snowstorm to break Jason’s concentration and free Xavier from his control. The X-Men flee the base as water engulfs it, and discover that Magneto, Mystique, and Pyro have escaped on the helicopter. Iceman and Rogue arrive with the X-Jet and get everyone on board. The dam bursts, flooding the landscape and killing Stryker. A malfunction aboard the X-Jet prevents it from taking off; Jean sacrifices herself by using a telekinetic wall to shield the flood. She activates the X-Jet’s primary engines until the torrent of water manages to take over her, which presumably kills her.
The X-Men give the President Stryker’s files, and Xavier warns him that humans and mutants must work together to build peace. Back at the school, Xavier, Cyclops, and Wolverine remember Jean, and Wolverine tells Cyclops that Jean chose Cyclops over him. As the film ends, a Phoenix-like shape forms beneath Alkali Lake.
X Men 2 was very much as good, if not better, as the first. Bryan Singer seemed much more comfortable with the original characters who’s background were developed in the first film and the addition of Nightcrawler was a particular hit who allied with the good guys made a formidable team.
CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
Kelsey Grammer (Transformers 4)
James Marsden (Gossip)
Halle Berry (Swordfish)
Anna Paquin (The Darkness)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Aaron Stanford (Nikita)
Vinnie Jonees (Arrow)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Daniel Cudmore (Alone In The Dark)
Kea Wong (Snow Day)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Eirc Dane (Feast)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Julian Richings (Kingdom Hospital)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Twenty years ago, Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet young Jean Grey at her parents’ house to invite her to join their school. Ten years later, the industrialist father of Warren Worthington III discovers his son is a mutant as Warren tries to cut off his wings.
In the present, Worthington Labs announces it has developed an inoculation to suppress the X-gene that gives mutants their abilities, and offer the “cure” to any mutant who wants it. The “cure” is created from the genome of a young mutant named Jimmy, who lives at the Worthington facility on Alcatraz Island. While some mutants are interested in the “cure”, including the X-Men’s Rogue, many others are horrified by the announcement and are offended by the very idea of “curing” mutation. In response to the news, Lehnsherr, now known as the X-Men’s adversary Magneto, reestablishes his Brotherhood of Mutants with mutants who oppose the “cure”, warning his followers that the “cure” will be forcefully used to exterminate the mutant race.
With help from Mystique and Pyro, Magneto recruits Callisto, Juggernaut, and Multiple Man, along with a few others. They attack the team holding Mystique to free her. Mystique, while trying to save Magneto, is shot by a round containing the mutant “cure”, rendering her human. Magneto thanks her, but his hatred for humans makes him abandon her, much to her shock. Meanwhile, Cyclops, still distraught over the loss of his fiancée Jean Grey, drives to her resting location at Alkali Lake. Jean appears to Cyclops but, as the two kiss, Jean starts disintegrating her lover. Sensing trouble, Xavier sends Wolverine and Storm to investigate. When they arrive, they find telekinetically floating rocks, Cyclops’ glasses, and an unconscious Jean. Cyclops himself is nowhere to be found.
When they return to the X-Mansion, Xavier explains to Wolverine that when Jean sacrificed herself, she unleashed a powerful alternate personality called the “Phoenix”, which Xavier had telepathically repressed, fearing the Phoenix’s destructive potential. Wolverine is disgusted to learn of this psychic tampering with Jean’s mind but, once she awakens, Wolverine realizes she killed Cyclops and is not the Jean Grey he once knew. The Phoenix emerges, knocks out Wolverine, and escapes to her childhood home.
Magneto learns of Jean’s resurrection through Callisto, and the X-Men arrive at the Grey home at the same time as the Brotherhood. Magneto and Xavier vie for Jean’s loyalty until the Phoenix resurfaces. She destroys the house and disintegrates Xavier before leaving the property with Magneto. The Brotherhood decides to strike Worthington Labs, and Magneto uses his powers to move the Golden Gate Bridge so he can connect Alcatraz to the San Francisco mainland and facilitate the attack. The X-Men confront the Brotherhood, despite being significantly outnumbered, and arrive just as the military troops, who thus far had been neutralizing the attacking mutants, are overwhelmed by the Brotherhood.
During the fight, Kitty Pryde saves Jimmy from the Juggernaut, and Beast injects Magneto with the “cure”, nullifying his powers. Army reinforcements arrive and attack Jean, awakening the Phoenix, who disintegrates the troops in retaliation. As the Phoenix begins to destroy Alcatraz and anyone within range of her powers, Wolverine realizes that, due to his healing factor, only he can stop the Phoenix. Wolverine approaches her, and Jean momentarily gains control, begging him to save her. Wolverine fatally stabs Jean, destroying the Phoenix, but mourns her death.
Sometime later, Xavier’s school is still operating with Storm as headmistress, and the President of the United States appoints Beast as ambassador to the United Nations. Rogue reveals to Bobby Drake that she has taken the cure, while Magneto sits alone at a chessboard in a San Francisco park. As he gestures toward a metal chess piece, it moves slightly, proving that the effects of the “cure” are only temporary.
In a post-credits scene, Dr. Moira MacTaggert checks on a comatose patient[6] who greets her with Xavier’s voice, leaving her startled.
Not the greatest of the X-Men films, but not too bad nonetheless. I enjoyed it, some of the action set pieces are very impressive.

REVIEW: ALMOST FAMOUS

CAST

Patrick Fugit (Saved)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Fairuza Balk (Return To Oz)
Bijou Phillips (Hostel: Part II)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby)
Jimmy Fallon (Taxi)
Rainn Wilson (House of 1,000 Corpses)
Eric Stonestreet (Bad Teahcer)
Pauley Perrette (NCIS)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)

In 1973, William Miller is a 15-year-old boy aspiring to be a rock journalist. His mother, Elaine, wants him to become a lawyer. Shunned by his classmates, he writes for underground papers in San Diego, sharing the love of rock music instilled in him through a gift of albums left behind on the day his sister Anita left home.
William listens to an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs. William has sent Bangs copies of his work, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a review of a Black Sabbath concert. At first reluctant to assist a journalist, the band Stillwater brings William backstage after he praises their work. The guitarist, Russell Hammond, takes a liking to William, partly because of William’s friendship with a groupie he has romantic feelings for, Penny.
William goes with Penny to the Riot House – the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard – to meet Stillwater. Penny, feigning retirement from her rock glory days, acts as William’s chauffeur, but only to get close to Russell, for whom she has genuine feelings and a past relationship. William is called by Ben Fong-Torres, editor of Rolling Stone, who wants him to do a story, believing William is several years older than he really is. When William convinces Ben to let him do a story on Stillwater, he is instructed to go on the road with them.
On the first leg of the trip, William makes his first in an increasingly frustrating number of attempts to interview Russell. Penny watches the interaction and sympathizes with William. William experiences tensions with the band due to his role as a journalist. new manager, Dennis, comes on board to help steer the band, and it is revealed that Penny must leave the tour before New York, where Leslie, Russell’s ex-wife/girlfriend, will join them. During a poker game he allows Dick to put up the groupies as a stake. The band loses the groupies to the band Humble Pie for $50 and a case of Heineken. When William tells Penny, she acts nonchalant but is devastated. Penny and Doris, the band’s tour bus, are left behind; Dennis has piled the band into a plane for more gigs.
Penny goes to New York on her own, and as the band gathers in a restaurant with Russell’s girlfriend, Penny shows up. As they celebrate making the cover of Rolling Stone, Penny makes Leslie uncomfortable and Dick asks her to leave. William chases Penny back to her hotel and finds her overdosed on Quaaludes. Believing they will die during a plane ride, the group confesses their secrets. When Penny is insulted by Jeff, the band’s lead singer, William defends her and discloses his love. The plane lands safely, leaving everyone to ponder the changed atmosphere. William continues to San Francisco to finish the story, parting ways with the band in the airport. Upset about Penny, he rewrites the article, telling the truth. The Rolling Stone editors cannot wait to publish it, but have to ask the band to verify it. Fearful of how the article will affect their image, the band makes William look like a liar. William is crushed and the story is dead. Sitting dejected in the airport, he sees his sister, who has become a stewardess and lives on her own terms. She tells him they should go on a trip together and, exhausted, William chooses to go home to San Diego.
Backstage at the Miami Orange Bowl on the Stillwater tour, Sapphire talks to Russell about Penny’s near-suicide and how despite the warnings she received about letting people fall in love with her, one of them saved her life. Russell is curious about the person in question, but Sapphire chastises him, saying that everyone knows what the band did to William and how awful they think it is. Russell calls Penny and asks for her address, telling her he wants to meet. Unbeknownst to Russell, she gives him William’s address in an attempt to resolve their conflict. Russell goes to the house, thinking it is Penny’s, but finds Elaine instead. Learning who he is, she lets him in to see William as Russell realizes where he is. They reconcile and Russell reveals that he called Rolling Stone and told them William’s story is true. Russell gives William a proper interview, Penny purchases a ticket to Morocco, and William’s story is published, with Stillwater on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The movie is a wonderful coming of age story with a fantastic soundtrack

REVIEW: SCREAM 1,2,3 & 4

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Skeet Ulrich (As Good as it Gets)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Drew Barrymore (Charles Angels)
Liev Schreiber (The Fifth Wave)
Rose McGowan (Jawbreaker)
W. Earl brown (Bates Motel)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Joseph Whipp (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Linda Blair (The Exorcist)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

Sidney Prescott isn’t your typical hometown girl… at least, not anymore. She’s been trying to cope with the brutal rape and murder of her mother for almost a year now, but the town of Woodsboro just isn’t willing to let her move on. It’s a small town where hardly anything of interest ever happens, so it didn’t even take a heartbeat’s notice for a small time reporter, Gale Weathers, to start spreading tabloid propaganda about Sid’s mom. More or less, she pegged Mrs. Prescott as the town bicycle that everyone got a chance to ride, and unfortunately, this ongoing story has made it very difficult for Sidney to find peace with the biggest tragedy she’s ever had to face. Not that you can blame the poor girl, what with her mom’s good name and reputation constantly being soured and all. To top things off, her father is always away on business, and she’s catching some flak from her boyfriend for being intimately distant. Sid’s nightmare is about to get worse however, as a killer in a generic five-and-dime Ghostface costume has gutted two of her classmates. It isn’t long before Sid realizes that the timing of the latest deaths in Woodsboro (leading up to the one year anniversary of her mother’s death) isn’t a coincidence. After being put into protective custody by local Deputy Dewey, everyone close to Sidney starts dropping like flies, making it painfully clear that she’s at the center of the killer’s murderous rampage. Finding the killer will unfortunately be no easy feat however, as everyone is seemingly a suspect.
The plot’s implementation in Scream is what really allowed Wes Craven to once again change the face of the genre. Unlike any horror film before its time, the characters in Scream are completely self aware. That is, thanks to the Ghostface killer pretending like he’s the star in some slasher flick, everyone knows they’re playing by the rules of a horror movie – If you don’t want to die, don’t say something to foreshadow your own demise like ‘I’ll be right back’, don’t drink or do drugs, and above all else, you better hope to God that you’re a virgin.

Of course, despite the fact everyone is actually aware of the ‘horror movie as life’ analogy at play, most people dismiss the genre clichés that could potentially save their lives, and inevitably end up meeting their maker anyway. By taking the bold step to often times put the main characters in the very situations they’re attempting to satire. So, without question, Craven and Williamson revitalized the horror scene in 1996 with this film. Not only because it was actually able to deliver legitimate scares and keep the audience guessing who the killer was until the very end, but because it’s genuinely entertaining throughout its entirety.

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Liev Schreiber (The Fifth Wave)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Gotham)
Laurie Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory)
Omar Epps (House)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Gruel Intentions)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Joshua Jackson (Cursed)
Heather Graham (Killing Me Softly)
Duane Martin (Any Given Sunday)
Rebecca Gayheart (Dead Like Me)
Portia de Rossi (Stigmata)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and A Half Men)
Elise Neal (Hustle & Flow)
Lewis Arquette (Tango & CAsh)
Marisol Nichols (Riverdale)
Tori Spelling (Scary Movie 2)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)
David Warner (Tenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Selma Blair (Hellboy)
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo)

Scream 2 is a surprising success as a film and a sequel, instead of simply trying to play around the rules from the first film, Scream 2 builds a separate story while acknowledging the Rules of Sequels. Again, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson have teamed up to create an entertaining, suspenseful horror film that rises to a cerebral level unparalleled by all the films in the genre except its predecessor.While the film contains an exchange between Dewey (David Arquette) and Randy (Jamie Kennedy) the film’s slasher-fan movie geek about the rules of sequels, an even more impressive exchange is a classroom discussion of sequels and whether they are inherently inferior or if there are sequels which can actually outdo their predecessors. The discussion is an accurate and realistic one that real people, especially film students would have, mentioning such great sequels as “Aliens,” “Terminator 2,” and the Oscar-winning “The Godfather, Part II.”.Another great plot device in the film is the movie within the movie- “Stab”. Based on the events of the first film and starring  Tori Spelling, the film is basically a typical horror flick without ambition or originality. It also brings up the interesting issue of what relationship films, particularly violent films, have with the violence perpetrated by its viewers. Neither “Scream” nor “Scream 2” gets overly preachy on the subject, however, and Craven seems to ultimately reject any direct link.Scream 2 updates the story of Sydney Prescott, now in college and trying to get past her traumatic experiences, who once again hears a familiar voice on the telephone and soon finds her friends and acquaintances turning into victims of a familiar ghost-mask wearing killer. Once again, there are many “red herrings” throughout the film, as the audience must once again figure out who the mysterious killer might be, and Craven does cause the viewer to keep guessing throughout the film. As in Scream, the film is driven by an all-star cast, including the return of most of the principals from Scream, as well as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jada Pinkett Smith, Laurie Metcalf, Jerry O’Connell and Omar Epps.Although Craven did a great job building suspense in the first film, he does manage to improve upon his efforts in the second film. While some of the killings are shockingly abrupt, the suspense in the film is quite impressive. While Scream will be revered for years as a modern horror classic, “Scream 2” is a worthy successor. While likely not destined to be a classic on its own, it is clear that Williamson and Craven did not rest on their laurels and truly put an impressive effort into this film, which pays off well, and helps to establish the whole trilogy as a landmark in the horror film genre.

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Liev Schreiber (The Fifth Wave)
Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl)
Heather Matarazzo (The Princvess Diaries)
Beth Toussaint (Red Eye)
Richamond Arquette (Zodiac)
Patrick Dempsey (Transformers 3)
Scott Foley (Felicity)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men)
Emily Mortimer (Hugo)
Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Kevin Smith (Mallrats)
Jason Mewes (Dogma)

Scream 3 is a fitting end to the Scream trilogy. It contains much of what made the first two films great, lots of frights, a few laughs, a good cast, a few great cameos and a self-awareness of both the horror genre and the first Scream film expressed this time in the filming of “Stab 3” throughout much of the first half of the movie.


Because each of the three movies focuses in large part on who the killer is and there are references to the earlier culprits in this film, one should definitely watch the films in order and not watch Scream 3 first. Those who have seen the first two films however, will enjoy the subtle references made throughout the film to earlier events, particularly those in the original film.


Like the other two films before it, Scream 3 has an enjoyable cast, featuring returning cast members Courtney Cox Arquette, David Arquette, Neve Campbell and Jamie Kennedy and featuring new cast members Scott Foley, Lance Henriksen, Jenny McCarthy, Parker Posey, Emily Mortimer and Patrick Dempsey who does a surprisingly good job as a cop with more than a passing interest in the plight of Sydney Prescott, Neve Campbell’s character as the people she knows and the people playing the people she knows find themselves in grave danger. Also extremely enjoyable in the film are the cameos of Carrie Fisher, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, and in a larger role, Patrick Warburton, (“Puddy” from Seinfeld) Warburton’s use of the word “Aight” is a true high point in the film.


The suspense of the film is quite good and the audience is continually left guessing who the murderer might be. The killing scenes are at times graphic but will often leave viewers on the edge of their seats. Wes Craven unquestionably proves his mettle as a master of horror and suspense and does a good job of crowning off the trilogy with a good film. While many other horror franchises, including Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street have gone on to boast a series of eight or more films, Craven deserves a great amount of credit for making the film into a trilogy and settling there. This film does have a number of parallels with “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” the first horror film in the genre to truly deconstruct the genre from within, but even for those who have seen “New Nightmare,” Scream 3 is still a very enjoyable film

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Emma Roberts (Scream Queens)
Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars)
Shenae Grimes-Beech (90210)
Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Britt Robertson (The Secret Circle)
Alison Brie (The Lego Movie)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Hayden Panettiere (Heroes)
Marley Shelton (Sin City)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Rory Culkin (Mean Creek)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Adam Brody (The OC)
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo)

Scream 4 arrived in 2011 promising new rules for a new decade, suggesting innovation and inspiration provided by the Asian remake craze, torture porn, and reboots. Instead, the best thing about the new film is its insistence on preserving the formula that made it popular in the first place. As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Once again, the film reunites survivors Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers-Riley (Courteney Cox), and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) in the town of Woodsboro. It’s the last stop on a nationwide tour promoting Sidney’s book about her experiences, but before she can sign a single copy, dead bodies start turning up and all-too-familiar feelings start flooding back. Among the targets: Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), her friends Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and Olivia (Marielle Jaffe), and local film nerds Robbie (Erik Knudsen) and Charlie (Rory Culkin).

It’s a relief to discover that the screenplay by original writer Kevin Williamson is pointedly focused on Sidney, Gail, and Dewey, and remains refreshingly faithful to the tone and style of the original films. There’s one swipe at torture porn and an even better jab at remakes, but Williamson doesn’t seem that interested in what’s been going on in the genre since Ghostface last graced the silver screen. The script is careful to tread the line between heightened and over-the-top: any horror that has changed as a reaction to older trends is inherently meta, and it’d be easy for looping back even further to become obnoxious. Instead, Williamson saves his poison pen for a wicked, inspired ending.

In terms of direction, Craven brings his A-game. The original Scream made waves for its violence, which holds up even today as excruciatingly brutal. Scream is bloody, no doubt about it, but it’s less the splatter and more the almost sadistic glee with which Craven pummels some of its victims that keeps the original shocking. This new sequel never climbs to the same level of ferociousness, but Craven isn’t pulling his punches, either, splattering bedroom walls with a ridiculous amount of blood.Scream 4 is not only one of the best in the series, but also one of the best slasher movies in at least a decade.

REVIEW: SHE’S ALL THAT

 

CAST

Freddie Prinze. Jr (Bones)
Rachael Leigh Cook (Antitrust)
Paul Walker (The Fast and The Furious)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Kevin Pollak (Mom)
Usher (The Faculty)
Lil Kim (Superhero Movie)
Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Kieran Culkin (Home Alone 2)
Elden Henson (Daredevil TV)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy)
Gabrielle Union (Flashforward)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Alexis Arquette (Pulp Fiction)
Chris Owen (American Pie)
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Flex Alexander (The Hills Have Eyes 2)

Taylor Vaughn (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) is supposed to be a lock for prom queen, but her newly-minted ex Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) shrugs that off. Grab any girl on campus, give her the right look, and pair her with the right dude, and — flash forward a month and a half! — she’s the one getting a sparkly tiara placed atop her immaculately-coiffed head. Über-bro Dean Sampson (Paul Walker) sez that it’s a bet, and as part of the terms, he even gets to choose the girl. ‘Course, Dean’s not gonna make it easy.  The unwittingly lucky lady…? Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook)! A standoff-ish klutz.

She’s All That isn’t exactly going to blindside you with outta-left-field twists or anything. You know Laney isn’t gonna give Zack so much as the time of day. You know he’ll wind up wearing her down and that the two of ’em will get to be buddies. You know they’re gonna fall in doe-eyed love. You know that whole bet thing will come back to bite Zack on the ass. You know they’ll break-up-to-make-up, that there will be a big thing at the prom, that the bad kids will get what’s coming to ’em, and that it’ll all end happily ever after. You know beat-for-beat how things are gonna go, and that predictability is kinda part of the appeal.it’s a film you can sit down to and not have to think much.

NOTE: there is a blink and miss it cameo from Sarah Michelle Gellar