REVIEW: SEVENTH SON

CAST

Ben Barnes (Westworld)
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Jeff Bridges (Iron man)
Alicia Vikander (Jason Bourne)
Antje Traue (Man of Steel)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
John DeSantis (The New Addams Family)
Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Gerard Plunkett (Travelers)
Jason Scott Lee (Timecop 2)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Zahf Paroo (Malibu Rescue)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
David Cubitt (Van Helsing)

In a prologue, the witch Mother Malkin is imprisoned in an underground chamber by Gregory, the last of a knightly order known as the Falcons, who have long defended mankind against supernatural threats. Several decades later, Gregory now works as a “Spook,” a roving witch hunter. The rise of the centennial blood moon allows Malkin to regain much of her power and break free from her prison. In a confrontation with the aged Gregory, she kills his apprentice, William Bradley, before escaping. Malkin returns to her dilapidated mountain fortress, restoring it, and her sister, Bony Lizzie, to their former condition.Gregory then seeks out Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, on a local farmstead, and recruits him as his newest apprentice. Before Tom leaves, his mother gives him her pendant as a talisman. On their way to Gregory’s home, Tom sees a girl about to be burned by a mob as a witch. Recognizing her from clairvoyant visions he has had, he takes her from the mob and releases her. The girl, Alice, warns him not to let Gregory know about her. Alice is revealed to be Lizzie’s daughter, who spies on Gregory for her. Malkin begins gathering her army to conquer mankind.Tom meets Gregory’s assistant Tusk, and rushes to learn what he needs to become a Spook before he and Gregory leave to confront Malkin at her fortress. Gregory warns that they only have a week before the blood moon is full, after which Malkin will become too powerful for them. En route to the fortress, Gregory is summoned to a walled city by an Inquisitor whose forces have subdued one of Malkin’s followers, a werebear named Urag. Gregory instructs Tom to burn the warlock alive, but Tom hesitates, causing Gregory to dismiss him while burning Urag himself. Tom meets Alice again and, after having sex, the two briefly consider going off on their own, but Tom has a vision of Malkin killing Gregory and unleashing destruction upon the world. Tom rejoins Gregory, who reveals that he once loved Malkin, and that is why he could not kill her, even after she murdered Gregory’s own wife. Gregory feels responsible for every person killed by Malkin since then, and warns Tom that Alice must be killed, like all witches.Gregory, Tom, and Tusk are attacked on the road by an enormous boggart, and Tom narrowly manages to kill it and survive being swept down a waterfall. Tom is then confronted by Bony Lizzie, who attacks but is repelled by the necklace around his neck. Gregory recognizes it as the Umbran Stone, which increases the power of witches. It originally belonged to Malkin, but one of her witch followers, Tom’s mother, stole it from her, weakening her enough for Gregory to trap her. Malkin instructs Alice to steal the stone from Tom, promising to spare his life if she does. Malkin and her minions then raze the aforementioned walled city to the ground to avenge the death of Urag. Tom’s family happens to be in the city, and his mother sends her husband and daughter to safety, before managing to kill Strix the warlock and confronting Malkin with her own powers. Malkin kills her, mocking her for giving away the stone that would have saved her life.Out in the country, Alice reappears before Tom and pleads with him to leave with her, as he had suggested in their earlier meeting. Gregory tries to kill her, but Tom, blinded by love, stops him, proclaiming “She’s not the enemy!”. He lets her flee, but Gregory points out she has taken the Umbran stone from around Tom’s neck, replying, “Now tell me she’s innocent!”. Tom realizes her reappearance had been a ruse, and pursues her, with Gregory and Tusk following. Then Malkin’s servant Radu attacks them, capturing Gregory and driving Tusk and Tom over a cliff, wrongly believing them dead. Tom has a vision of his mother, telling him that as both the seventh son of a seventh son, and the son of a witch, he is unique and has the power to defeat Malkin.The witches gather as Malkin attempts to seduce Gregory with her magic. Alice is horrified to hear that Tom was left for dead. In remorse, she grabs the stone from Malkin, breaking Malkin’s hold on Gregory. As Malkin transforms into a dragon to kill Alice, Lizzie also transforms, to protect her daughter. Tom retrieves the stone and, fighting together, Gregory, Tom and Alice kill several of Malkin’s minions. Malkin defeats and kills Lizzie for her disloyalty, but is seriously wounded in turn. Gregory confronts Malkin in her room, alone. She appears close to death, bitterly recalling her and Gregory’s relationship, but then she seizes him with her claws. Tom arrives and hurls a blade at Malkin, freeing Gregory, who retreats. Tom finishes her off by burning her body. Afterwards, Gregory acknowledges Tom’s training is complete and brands his hand as a new Falcon knight. Alice appears, but accepts that Tom’s commitment to his new vocation means they cannot be together at the present. She promises Tom that they’ll meet again, before disappearing. Gregory departs for an unknown destination, leaving Tom with Tusk as the town bells ring, calling for the new Spook’s services.If you want an experience like the Hobbit or the Harry Potter movies, don’t watch this. But if you like fantasy movies like Willow or Dragonheart (and maybe Stardust), give it a chance.

REVIEW: WOMAN IN GOLD

 

CAST

Helen Mirren (Red)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Daniel Bruhl (Captain Ameirca: Civil War)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Max Irons (The Host)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Antje Traue (Man of Steel)
Elizabeth McGovern (Kick-Ass)
Jonathan Pryce (Brazil)
Henry Goodman (The New Pope)

In a series of flashbacks throughout the film, Maria Altmann recalls the arrival of Nazi forces in Vienna, and the subsequent suppression of the Jewish community and the looting and pillaging conducted by the Nazis against Jewish families. Seeking to escape before the country is completely shut off, Maria Altmann and members of her family attempt to flee to the United States. While Altmann and her husband are successful in their escape, she is forced to abandon her parents in Vienna. In the present, living in Los Angeles, a now elderly and widowed Altmann attends the funeral for her sister. She discovers letters in her sister’s possession dating to the late 1940s, which reveal an attempt to recover artwork owned by the Altmann family that was left behind during the family’s flight for freedom and subsequently stolen by the Nazis. Of particular note is a painting of Altmann’s aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, now known in Austria as the “Woman in Gold”.Altmann enlists the help of E. Randol Schoenberg (the son of her close friend, Barbara), a lawyer with little experience, to make a claim to the art restitution board in Austria. Reluctantly returning to her homeland, Altmann discovers that the country’s minister and art director are unwilling to part with the painting, which they feel has become part of the national identity. Altmann is told that the painting was in fact legitimately willed to the gallery by her aunt. Upon further investigation by her lawyer and Austrian journalist Hubertus Czernin, this claim proves to be incorrect, as the alleged will is invalid due to the fact that her aunt did not own the painting in question, the artist’s fee having been paid by Altmann’s uncle; moreover, Adele Bloch-Bauer wanted the painting to go to the museum at her husband’s death while in fact it was taken from him by the Nazis and placed in the museum by a Nazi-collaborating curator. Schoenberg files a challenge with the art restitution board, but it is denied and Altmann does not have the money needed to challenge the ruling. Defeated, she and Schoenberg return to the United States.Months thereafter, happening upon an art book with “Woman in Gold” on the cover, Schoenberg has an epiphany. Using a narrow rule of law and precedents in which an art restitution law was retroactively applied, Schoenberg files a claim in US court against the Austrian government contesting their claim to the painting. An appeal goes to the Supreme Court of the United States, where in the matter of Republic of Austria v. Altmann, the court rules in Altmann’s favor, which results in the Austrian government attempting to persuade Altmann to retain the painting for the gallery, which she refuses. After a falling out over the issue of returning to Austria for a second time to argue the case, Altmann agrees for Schoenberg to go and argue the case in front of an arbitration panel of three arbiters in Vienna.In Austria, the arbitration panel hears the case, during which time they are reminded of the Nazi regime’s war crimes by Schoenberg. Schoenberg implores the arbitration panel to think of the meaning of the word “restitution” and to look past the artwork hanging in art galleries to see the injustice to the families who once owned such great paintings and were forcibly separated from them by the Nazis. Unexpectedly, Altmann arrives during the session indicating to Czernin that she came to support her lawyer. After considering both sides of the dispute, the arbitration panel rules in favour of Altmann, returning her paintings. The Austrian government representative makes a last minute proposal begging Altmann to keep the paintings in the Belvedere against a generous compensation. Altmann refuses and elects to have the painting moved to the United States with her (“They will now travel to America like I once had to as well”), and takes up an offer made earlier by Ronald Lauder to acquire them for his New York gallery to display the painting on condition that it be a permanent exhibit.Such a great movie,  the acting is superb and the content, because it deals with real events in a tasteful and honest way.

 

 

REVIEW: MAN OF STEEL

CAST

Henry Cavill (The Immortals)
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire)
Diane Lane (Unfaithful)
Russell Crowe (Gladiator)
Antje Traue (Seventh Son)
Harry Lennix (Dollhouse)
Richard Schiff (Seven)
Christopher Meloni (Underground)
Kevin Costner (Waterworld)
Ayelet Zurer (Daredevil TV)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Mackenzie Gray (Smallville)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Julian Richings (Doom Patrol)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
David Lewis (Unspeakable)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Chad Krowchuk (RV)
Aaron Pearl (Stargate SG.1)
Jacqueline Scislowski (Power Rangers Beast Morphers)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Rebecca Buller (Sirens)
Michael Kelly (Changeling)

film_supermanreturns_featureimage_desktop_1600x900The planet Krypton, unstable from years of industrial mining, faces impending destruction. Jor-El, chief advisor to Krypton’s supreme council, recommends a full-scale evacuation of the planet’s inhabitants. Before any action can be taken, soldiers led by General Zod, an old friend of Jor-El’s, launch an uprising and arrest the councilors. Realizing that Krypton is doomed, Jor-El steals genetic codes sought by Zod and infuses them into the DNA of his infant son, Kal-El – the first naturally born Kryptonian child in centuries. Donning his old armor, Jor-El sacrifices his life to allow his son to escape on a preprogrammed spacecraft. Zod orders the rocket’s destruction, only to learn that forces loyal to the council have suppressed the rebellion. In a brief trial, Zod and several of the surviving rebels are convicted of treason and sentenced to the Phantom Zone seconds before Krypton explodes.
8610986058_9dfa00c53c_bFollowing Jor-El’s coordinates, the ship crash lands on Earth in Smallville, Kansas. A childless couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, find Kal-El and raise him as their own, naming him Clark. As he grows up, Clark becomes an isolated young man as a result of developing superhuman powers. He then learns his true origins from Jonathan, who urges him to keep his powers hidden. Several years later, Jonathan dies in a tornado while refusing to let Clark save him. Burdened by guilt, Clark leaves to travel the world under several aliases, seeking a new purpose.
man-of-steel-was-pretty-boringLois Lane, a reporter at the Daily Planet in Metropolis, receives an assignment to investigate the discovery of a Kryptonian scout ship in the Canadian Arctic. Disguised as a worker, Clark enters the ship and activates its central computer using a key left by Jor-El, allowing him to communicate with an artificial intelligence modeled after his father. The AI explains that Clark was sent to Earth to guide its people, and presents him with a Kryptonian uniform bearing his family’s symbol. While following Clark, Lois inadvertently triggers the ship’s security system. Clark uses his powers to rescue Lois before donning the uniform and testing his ability to fly. Lois attempts to have her supervisor Perry White publish an article on the incident, but he refuses to do so without proof. After tracking down Clark, Lois eventually agrees to keep his secret safe.
MAN OF STEELEscaping the Phantom Zone, Zod and his crew travel to Earth after intercepting a transmission from the scout vessel. Deducing that Kal-El is nearby, they broadcast a global address demanding that he surrender or risk war. Clark meets with the U.S. Army and agrees to comply, with Lois joining him as a hostage. Zod reveals that he possesses advanced terraforming equipment salvaged from Kryptonian outposts, which he intends to use to transform Earth into a new Krypton. His science officer, Jax-Ur, extracts Clark’s genes to create Kryptonian colonists who will exterminate humanity and build a society based on Zod’s ideals of genetic purity. With help from Jor-El, Clark and Lois escape and warn the Army, just as Zod orders an invasion.
superman_man_of_steelGiven the codename “Superman”, Clark destroys the terraforming platform, while his human allies launch a suicide attack, killing Zod’s troops. Vowing to eradicate humanity himself, Zod battles with Superman, and the two eventually crash into a train station. Zod turns his own heat vision on a group of passengers, but Superman kills him. Now the last surviving Kryptonian, Superman persuades the Army to let him act independently, so long as he does not turn against humanity. To allow access to dangerous situations without attracting attention, Superman is hired as a freelance reporter for the Daily Planet.man_of_steel_hero1The most striking thing about Man of Steel is how grim it is compared to the previous Superman entries. Christopher Reeve’s Superman was confident and heroic, but here Henry Cavill’s rendition doesn’t seem so sure of himself. He can take off flying much faster though, and isn’t afraid to throw a few punches. The tights that Christopher Reeve wore have been replaced here by a more menacing chain-mail suit. The movie’s general atmosphere is pretty dark, with a blue tint given to the entire movie and a score by Hans Zimmer that is quite a contrast to that of John Williams in the earlier movies. However, it seems like the Superman comic books have recently taken a dark turn as well.  Keeping an open mind while watching Man of Steel, I accepted most of the liberties being taken and enjoyed it for what it was.