REVIEW: WALKING TALL (2004)

CAST

Dwayne Johnson (Cental Intelligence)
Johnny Knoxville (The Ringer)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Barbara Tarbuck (Short Circuit)
John Beasley (The Purge: Anarchy)
Kristen Wilson (Dr. Dolittle)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)

Former U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant Chris Vaughn (The Rock) returns to his small home town in Kitsap County, Washington. Looking for work, he finds the local cedar mill was closed down three years prior by its heir, Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough), who opened a new casino that now accounts for the majority of revenue for the local area. Hamilton, who was also Vaughn’s school friend, invites him to a night of fun at the casino. While checking out the VIP lounge, Vaughn stumbles upon his childhood friend Deni (Ashley Scott), who is now working as a stripper. Later, he notices the craps dealer using loaded dice and demonstrates this to the patrons by placing a bet and calling out the roll before throwing the dice. When the floorman declares no payout, Vaughn instigates a fight. Although he beats down most of the security guards, he is subsequently subdued with a cattle prod and knocked unconscious. The security staff take Vaughn into the basement and Hamilton’s right-hand man and head of security Booth (Kevin Durand) tortures him by cutting his torso with a utility knife before dumping him on a roadside. He is found by a trucker and hospitalized, but recovers quickly.Vaughn goes to the sheriff, Stan Watkins (Michael Bowen), to press charges against the guards, but Sheriff Watkins refuses to allow him to do so because the casino is viewed as too important to the town’s economy, stating that because of its position, the casino is considered a “no fly zone”. After this, Vaughn also learns that his nephew, Pete (Khleo Thomas), experimented with crystal meth, which was sold to his friends by the casino security guards. Infuriated, Vaughn goes to the casino, and using a piece of lumber as a club, begins destroying casino property, and brutally beats the security guards when they attempt to stop him. Vaughn is apprehended by Sheriff Watkins and his deputies as he is driving away from the scene.In the ensuing trial, all of Hamilton’s security and staff testify against Vaughn. When the judge allows Vaughn to present his defense, he fires his appointed attorney, who is implicitly under Hamilton’s employ. After making a civic speech about the town’s great former self, Vaughn tells the jury and the rest of the town that if he’s cleared of the charges, he will run for sheriff and clean up the town. To further emphasize his plea, Vaughn reveals the grotesque scars on his torso from his being tortured by the casino staff. He is then acquitted and wins the election for sheriff. Upon taking office, he summarily dismisses the entire police force and deputizes his friend, Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville), whom Vaughn feels he can trust, as well as help Vaughn learn about narcotics (Templeton revealed earlier that he served time in prison after becoming a drug addict).Vaughn and Templeton find drugs on Booth and they take him into custody. In an attempt to make him reveal information on the town drug operation, they hold him captive in a garage and proceed to strip his truck into pieces in front of him, but he does not talk. Vaughn assigns Templeton to stand watch over his house, as he knows Hamilton will likely target his family. Vaughn himself remains at the sheriff’s office to supervise Booth. He is visited by Deni, stopping by under the pretense of bringing him food and reveals that she quit her job as the casino stripper. The two end up spending the night together in the office. The next morning, Watkins and his deputies arrive at the Sheriff’s office where they blow up Vaughn’s truck and fire upon the building with machine guns. Recognizing his dangerous predicament, Booth pleads for Vaughn to let him out of his cell, prompting Vaughn to use Booth’s perilous situation as leverage for information. Booth reveals that the old mill is where the drugs are being produced, but is immediately killed by the indiscriminate fire of the attackers. Vaughn manages to kill all of the attackers with Deni’s help.Vaughn’s parents’ house is attacked, but Templeton and Vaughn’s father are able to dispatch the gunmen. After ensuring their safety, Vaughn heads for the mill where he discovers a meth lab as well as Hamilton, calmly waiting in a control room. Hamilton attempts to kill Vaughn with the mill equipment by dropping him through a trap door, but Vaughn drags Hamilton down with him and the two fall through a chute. Vaughn, whose leg is injured, manages to tend to his injury in a nearby forest before Hamilton attacks him with an axe. The two fight for their lives, with Vaughn ultimately coming out on top by beating Hamilton with a nearby uprooted tree, breaking his leg. Vaughn repeats what Hamilton said to him earlier “You’re right, Jay. This does change our relationship. This is my town. You’re under arrest.” And Hamilton is arrested and taken into custody, with Templeton’s assistance, Vaughn shuts down the casino. In the closing scene it is revealed that the local mill is back in use.This movie is decidedly ‘heavier’ then Rock’s previous outings, dealing with more significant topics like prostitution and drugs, which gives it a more serious edge. Overall, I enjoyed Walking Tall, and would recommend it to anyone

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: BIRDS OF PREY – DEVIL’S EYES

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MAIN CAST

Ashley Scott (Into The Blue)
Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Shemar Moore (Criminla Minds)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Mia Sara (Lost In Oz)

he-lives

RECURRING /NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Shawn Christian (Famous In Love)
Steve Hytner (Roswell)
Rob Benedict (Waiting…)

hillary-quinn

Long before comic book superhero TV shows were as common as they are today, the WB launched a live-action Birds of Prey TV series that lasted just thirteen episodes.

final-clocktower-powwow

Devil Eyes

Having discovered that Helena is Huntress, Harley Quinn uses a machine that gives her metahuman hypnotic powers. She then hypnotizes Helena and persuades her to knock Barbara unconscious and steal an access disk. Barbara recovers and uses her subneural device to enable her to stand and fight Helena, eventually neutralizing the trance. But Harley uses the disk to gain complete control of the clock tower and, after killing Wade, she broadcasts the hypnotic signal to every television set in New Gotham. Working together with Alfred, Dinah, and Reese, Helena must infiltrate the clock tower and battle Harley and her cohorts before they gain control of the entire city. It is hinted that Bruce Wayne/Batman is probably still alive, as just before the end credits, Alfred speaks to “Master Bruce” on the phone at Wayne Manor, talking about his daughter Helena and that he would be proud of her.

jester

This episode is probably tied with episode eight, “Shiva,” for my favourite of the series. Everything the show did a lot of things right, as it did here. I would have been down for another season of it, especially after seeing this episode. A great ending to a series tat hopefully one day will be fondly remembered

 

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: JUST FRIENDS

CAST
Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern)
Amy Smart (Roas Trip)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Chris Klein (Election)
Chris Marquette (Fanboys)
Fred Ewanuick (The Core)
Julie Hagerty (Airplane)
Barry Flatman (Odyssey 5)
Robin Dunne (Sanctuary)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
In 1995, Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) is an obese, curly-haired high school student with a lisp, braces, and a “gentle giant” demeanor. He attends the graduation party of his best friend, Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart), whom he secretly has a huge romantic crush on. He plans to confess his feelings by writing them in Jamie’s yearbook. When Chris tries to return Jamie’s yearbook, it is taken by her despicable ex-boyfriend, Tim (Ty Olsson). Chris is publicly humiliated when Tim reads his (Chris) confession aloud to the party but is further demoralized when Jamie doesn’t reciprocate his intense and close romantic feelings and affections. After they share a kiss, Tim and the class burst out and humiliate Chris again. Embarrassed, Chris leaves on his bicycle tearfully and vows to leave town and never return in order to achieve greater success than his classmates.
Ten years later, Chris has lost weight, is handsome, lives in Los Angeles, womanizer who has dated supermodels, starlets and socialites and works as a highly successful artists & repertoire rep (record producer) for a record label. Prior to Christmas, Chris’ employer, KC (Stephen Root), asks Chris to accompany an emerging, self-obsessed pop singer named Samantha James (Anna Faris) to Paris to ensure Samantha signs with him, an order to which Chris reluctantly complies. During the trip to Paris, Samantha accidentally sets her private jet on fire resulting in an emergency landing in New Jersey, near Chris’s hometown.
Chris takes Samantha to his mother’s house for a place to spend the night and re-engages with his teenage past, including his unresolved feelings for Jamie. Samantha meets Chris’s mother and 18 year old brother Mike (Christopher Marquette) who, ironically, has a bigger crush on Samantha than she has on Chris. At the local bar, Chris encounters some old classmates, including his best friends who is Clark and his wife Darla who are married and have a kid and a successful dental practice, including Tim, who is now balding, fat and a heavy drinker. Jamie also appears, working as a bartender to support herself through graduate school.
Chris plans to impress and seduce Jamie. He gets Mike to keep Samantha busy which Mike was only too thrilled about. Unfortunately Samantha ended up with a head concussion. Meanwhile a number of unexpected problems, including a growing realization that Jamie’s platonic friendship is important to him, hamper Chris’ plan. Chris bonds with Jamie on several occasions and during a friendly ice skating “day date”, Chris is taken away in an ambulance after being injured in a game of hockey. Jamie is reunited with Dusty Dinkleman (Chris Klein), a paramedic and former high school nerd who was also romantically in love with her. When Chris gets home he finds Samantha attempting to seduce Mike, who was in the process of giving her a backrub, and ends up fighting with them.
That night, in an attempt to rectify his situation, Chris again leaves Samantha in Mike’s hands and takes Jamie to a movie showing of The Notebook, which he could not bring himself to enjoy. Chris’ mother and Dusty join them and Dusty’s sensitivity due to the movie causes Jaime to bond with him instead, much to Chris’ annoyance. Meanwhile, Samantha tries playing a gig at a club, gets booed off the stage and assaults a member of the audience.
The next night, Chris went to Jaime’s for a Christmas party, planning to reveal his feelings for her. But Dusty was already there and winning the guests over with his charm and musician talents, causing Chris to give up. Back at Chris’place, Samantha ambushes Mike and pushes him against the bathroom wall demanding to find out Chris’ location. Following initial resistance, Samantha, fully aware of Mike’s strong feelings towards her, passionately tongue kisses him, resulting in Mike’s immediate disclosure (thinking that Chris and Jamie have made love already, Mike uses the term “lover”). Samantha consequently becomes jealous towards Jamie, believing that the old classmates are in a relationship, and in an angry rage, Samantha destroys Jamie’s family’s Christmas decorations. Embarrassed by Samantha’s actions, Chris returns home but is visited by Jamie there. Jamie reveals that she is not mad at Chris and plans to spend the night with him; but, due to Chris’ continuing lack of assertion, the two end up falling asleep and no romance ensues.
The day after Samantha’s vandalism, Jamie speaks with Darla (Amy Matysio), who is now married to Clark (Fred Ewanuick), about the night before and her fear that Chris’ lack of affection might mean that he doesn’t like her. Jamie admits that whilst the two are “just friends”, she tried to “put herself out there” to Chris, to show Chris that she is interested in a relationship.
Meanwhile, Chris attends Clark’s workplace, a dental surgery, to talk to Clark, revealing to him that “the timing wasn’t right” and that their shared history hinders his willingness to have sex with her. Chris explains that he feels like he is in high school again. Later, Chris and Clark catch Dusty singing to a sexy nurse and then kissing her. Dusty then reveals to Chris and Clark that he only plans to have sex with Jamie, as he wants to humiliate her in the same way that he felt she used to humiliate him. Chris tries to warn Jamie about Dusty during a children’s Christmas pageant, but instead ends up attacking Dusty and ruining the play. Jamie refuses to listen when Chris tries to tell her about the nurse, leaving Chris angry and disappointed with both Jamie and her family. Chris consequently gets drunk and enters the bar where Jamie works, proceeding to blame her for keeping him in the “friend zone”; he also exclaims that Jamie will never amount to anything romantic or meaningful. Jamie punches Chris and he is tossed out of the bar at her request. Upon returning to LA, and proceeding a rather frightening reunion with Samantha (who snuck into Chris’s house to “surprise him”), Chris realizes that Jamie is his one and only official and true love interest and returns to New Jersey hoping to finally be with her. Chris declares his genuinely intense romantic love for Jamie at her house and the two share a romantic kiss outside in view of the neighborhood kids.
Brilliant! Really good movie with a fun storyline and terrific actors. Ryan and Anna really make this movie. Anna is hilarious!!

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL – BOO

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BOO

MAIN CAST

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Kevin Durad (X-Men Origins)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
J.C. MacKenzie (The Aviator)
Valarie Rae Miller (La La Land)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)

GUEST CAST

Sarah Carter (Smallville)
G. Michael Grady (The Tall Man)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)

It’s Halloween, and the employees of Jam Pony convince Normal to close early so that they can get busy partying. Honestly, I don’t think Halloween is such a big deal these days, but I can see how that kind of release would be much more important in more depressed times. Max and Original Cindy visit Joshua, who is living in Sandeman’s house (located in “Proof of Purchase”). Joshua thinks he would be able to go to the party at Crash with Max because everyone will believe he is in costume. Max is way too paranoid about what could happen, and convinces Joshua to stay in. Max drops by Logan’s apartment to ask him to go to the party, but he and Asha are trying to track a hitman that is supposedly going to be taking out a good guy sometime soon. Max heads home for a bath before the party.

Image result for DARK ANGEL BOOMax falls asleep in her bubble bath, and almost all of the rest of the episode is a dream.  Of course, we as the audience don’t know that it’s a dream, and we get to ride along as things get weirder and weirder.In the dream, Max’s possible-boyfriend Rafer shows up to pick her up for the party at Crash. His mother wants to meet her, so they go by his place. His mother turns out to be a psychic, and she weirds Max out by correctly “seeing” some of Max’s past and telling Max that she’s going to be chased until she’s dead. Joshua follows Max to Rafer’s place, and Max sneaks out to try to convince him to go home. However, Joshua has brought another transgenic that has a problem. This transgenic is superflexible and has somehow accidentally gotten his head turned around 180 degrees and can’t get it back straight. When Max and Joshua try to twist it around, the head snaps off and the body runs off. The head is OK and can speak and think.Max is in a panic to track down the headless body before the public starts to panic. Joshua helps the head call a couple other transgenics to help them. Then Max hides the head, and she and Joshua convince Rafer to drive them on an errand in his paramedic ambulance. (Rafer thinks Joshua is in costume.) They meet Dieter (a lizard guy) and Katarina (with lots of cat traits) in a diner, where it is haggis night. It’s a hoot when the three animal transgenics flip over the idea of haggis. Normal is at the diner, in traditional costume, for haggis night and stops by to harass Max. The head finally tells Max that he had planned to go to Jam Pony to find a package that was supposed to be delivered to him that day, but hadn’t been because the business closed early. The head supposes that that’s where his body has gone. Everyone piles into Rafer’s ambulance and head off, having told Rafer that they are participating in a German scavenger hunt.At Jam Pony, they hardly get started searching when they have to hide because Normal and some other employees show up. Normal tells his minions that he has confirmed that there are mutants around, and hands them all pictures of Max and the others from the diner. (This shows up in Max’s dreams because in real life Sketchy had been talking to Normal about mutants in the tabloids.) He has additional proof from his surveillance cameras at Jam Pony, because a headless mutant showed up and stole a package. Normal orders his minions to track down all the mutants – after they have cake and ice cream. After Normal and friends leave, Max consults the head about where his body might go next. Apparently he had planned to go to Crash, where the Halloween party is. They catch up with the body there and discover he has a sniper rifle, but the body manages to get away. Max breaks up a couple that she thinks is Logan and Asha making out, but it is look-alikes. Max realizes that the head (and his body) is the hitman Logan and Asha are looking for, so they go to Logan’s apartment to try to find his target since he refuses to reveal it.Things had been strange up to this point, but now they get truly bizarre. While Max, the head, and Logan dig for information, the other transgenics and Asha play charades. Logan says that his informant told him the hitman’s target is “a priest, a minister, or a rabbi.”. Max gets fed up with the head’s refusal to help and begins dunking him in the toilet. Just as the head finally confesses the target, Rafer comes in and sees the head. He doesn’t believe Max’s explanation that it’s a “voice-activated fully articulated animatronic head”  and realizes that none of the transgenics are in costume, but they are actually mutants. Max knocks out Rafer and leaves him with Logan and Asha while she and the others go to save one Father McAllister, who is participating in the dress rehearsal of an award ceremony he will be in. Max and the others manage to foil the body and save the Father. As the Father is thanking them, Logan and Asha show up and announce their identities as Eyes Only and the “supreme commandant” of S1W and claim credit for the rescue. Then the police bust in and arrest all of the transgenics except Max. When questioned, Max denies that she is a transgenic.Image result for DARK ANGEL BOOThe episode seems to begin wrapping up with Max lamenting the sad turn of events for Joshua and the others while seated on the Space Needle. Then Original Cindy arrives and chides Max for denying who she is, which is probably really the only serious message in the entire episode. Then to emphasize that the events have been a dream, Max is suddenly naked.  We jump back to real life, with Cindy waking Max up in the bathtub. Max cancels on the party with Rafer, and instead takes Joshua trick-or-treating.This episode was truly bizarre and funny. The writers must have had a lot of fun with this episode. It felt like they took all their ideas that had been deemed just a little to weird for a “real” episode and dumped them into this. Someone must have had quite the imaginations to think of the transgenic losing his head, and setting up a situation with one normal human and a bunch of transgenics playing charades was near genius. It’s a great fun Halloween episode.

 

 

 

REVIEW: A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

CAST

Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense)
Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes)
Frances O’Connor (Bedazzled)
Sam Roberds (American Beauty)
Jake Thomas (The Cell)
William Hurt (Captain America: Civil War)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Jack Angel (Transformers)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Robin Williams (Hook)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Chris Rock (Rush Hour)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Clark Gregg (Agents of SHIELD)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang theory)
April Grace (Whiplash)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Daveigh Chase (S.Darko)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Adrian Grenier (Drive Me crazy)
Paula Malcolmson (Capria)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)

A.I. began life as a short story by Brian Aldiss, but it blossomed into something more sprawling under Kubrick. It is the story of the first-ever robot boy. Set in a future where climate change has left multiple major cities underwater, a refocused society has made many technological advancements since the cataclysm–including synthesized life. Robots have different functions in society, but largely act as servants, be it of the more traditional kind (maids, chauffeurs) or less domestic (sexbots). At the start of the movie, a scientist (William Hurt) proposes a new function: true love. What if they could create a simulacrum of a real child, one that could be programmed to love its adoptive parents unconditionally? Could then the humans love it in return?The prototype is David (Haley Joel Osment), a specially built android that looks real in every way. He is given to a married couple (Sam Robards and Frances O’Connor) whose own child is currently in cryogenic stasis until a fatal health problem can be solved by medical science. Stuck in her grief, the mother, Monica, takes to her new “son,” developing a strong attachment to him. Only, when her actual child (Jake Thomas) is healed and returned to her, the human boy’s jealousy makes it impossible to keep David. Monica is unwilling to send David back to the factory for destruction and so lets the robot boy go instead. Devastated by this rejection, David takes his animated toy teddy bear (voiced by Jack Angel) and goes looking for the Blue Fairy, the angel who turned Pinocchio into a real boy at the end of the story Monica read to him. If he can become real, she can love him as much as her flesh-and-blood offspring.What follows is David’s fairy-tale journey. Like Pinocchio, he will run into many hazards, including a destructive carnival where robot-hating humans dismantle artificial life as a form of entertainment. There David meets Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), a pleasure robot who is on the run, as well. He agrees to help David find the Blue Fairy, detouring to a dazzling futuristic city where all manner of carnal delights can be found before finally heading to Manhattan and, supposedly, the edge of the world.The philosophical question at the core of A.I. Artificial Intelligence is the difference between authenticity and artifice. Are they mutually exclusive, or is that just a matter of perception? Kubrick famously put off making the movie for over a decade in hopes that an actual robot could be built to play the part of David. Spielberg came into the mix after Kubrick had seen Jurassic Park. It apparently made Stanley realize that if an approximation of a dinosaur was good enough, fake robots would be, as well. Extending the metaphor into the creative process, he embraced the idea that artifice could stand in for the authentic. One could even take it further to say this necessary balance was also the difference between the two directors, why it took both of them to make this extraordinary picture: the authenticity of Stanley Kubrick lent credibility to the artifice of Steven Spielberg, and vice-versa.

Spielberg doesn’t so much repress his style for A.I. as he tries on another man’s clothes and walks around in them for a while. The final movie has the chilly rigor of a Kubrick movie, but with touches of Spielberg’s slick storytelling. The teddy bear that serves as David’s Jiminy Cricket is perfectly integrated into the live action, and the fully imaginary Rouge City, inspired as it was by European comics, is just as believable–and indeed, indistinguishable in terms of craft–as the version of New York City that Spielberg sinks into the Atlantic. One is created from whole cloth, the other uses reality as its starting point–and neither is more real or unreal than its counterpart.

In terms of acting, it’s easy to see why Osment was viewed as the leading actor of a new generation. His performance as David is remarkably subtle. He uses carefully choreographed body language to convey the character’s “otherness.” He carries himself awkwardly, maintaining a blank naïveté that is essential to illustrating David’s lack of experience. It’s a far more complex construction than it might appear. Also good are O’Connor as the grieving mother (she has the widest range of emotions of anyone in the movie) and Jude Law as the charming hustler. He brings a touch of classic Hollywood style to the role–a gigolo is just another type of actor, after all.

There is nothing else quite like A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and given that once upon a time Stanley Kubrick showed us the dawn of humanity, it seems fitting that his career should end by showing us what the world would be like once humanity was gone.

REVIEW: S.W.A.T. 1 & 2

 

CAST

Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Colin Farrell (Minority Report)
Michelle Rodriguez (Blue Crush)
LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea)
Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Brian Van Holt (House of Wax)
Olivier Martinez (Taking Lives)
Larry Poindexter (Blade: The Series)
Lindsey Ginter (Gattaca)
Lucinda Jenney (Rain Man)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Ken Davitian (Borat)
Jenya Leno (Mutant X)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)

 

The story has plenty of turns to keep things moving. There is a distinct three act setup with a definite conflict and climax in each act. In act one, we meet Jim Street, a S.W.A.T. officer for the L.A.P.D. in the middle of a compromising hostage situation. The split-second decision of his partner will cost him a demotion from S.W.A.T. and an important friendship. Lucky for Street, a legendary S.W.A.T. officer named “Hondo” has just arrived in his division to put together a new S.W.A.T. team full of hot, young talent . Controversial and untested, the team must complete an intense simulation involving a plane hijacking. If they fail, both Street and Hondo will lose their S.W.A.T. designation and their police badges forever. Act three centers around the prison transport of a master criminal who has offered 100 million dollars to anyone who can free him.

This structured story coupled with very simple scene composition gives S.W.A.T. the feeling of a TV cop show injected with blockbuster-style action. The formula works well and makes a lot of sense considering S.W.A.T. is based on a television show and is the feature film directorial debut of Clark Johnson. Johnson’s previous work included directorial stints for acclaimed TV crime dramas such as N.Y.P.D.

Not every scene is a success. The S.W.A.T. training sequence is a little tired and the film would really benefit from having ten minutes trimmed out of it. Additionally, the film comes across as a bit of a propaganda piece for Homeland Security. But all in all, the positives outweigh the negatives for S.W.A.T.

 

 

CAST

Gabriel Macht (The Recruit)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Carly Pope (Arrow)
Giancarlo Esposito (The Jungle Book)
Kristanna Loken (Painkiller jane)
Matt Bushell (Twilight)
Nicholas Gonzalez (The Flash)
Shannon Kane (The Originals)

A hotshot S.W.A.T. commander in Los Angeles, Paul (Gabriel Macht) is ordered to travel to Detroit to shape up the local squad, preparing them for a critical police certification test. Finding the officers lippy and lax in their discipline, Paul initiates a grueling regiment of weapons training and tactical thought. At first rebuffing the new commander’s demands, the team gradually comes around to respect Paul’s challenging ways, embarking on an exhausting education that comes in handy when Walter (Robert Patrick), a rogue government spook, aims to exact revenge on the gang after the death of his romantic fixation (Kristanna Loken, here for roughly 90 seconds) during a chaotic skirmish.

The original film also embraced the art of the training montage, allowing the cheerful roughhousing to continue in the sequel. The film is well stocked with bullets and brawn. More stunt work, less camera nonsense. Firefight is a  decent action film, but a lowkey sequel.

REVIEW: INTO THE BLUE 1 & 2

 

CAST

Paul Walker (Hours)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Scott Caan (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex)
James Frain (Gotham)

Jared (Paul Walker) is a  handsome scuba instructor living in a trailer in the Caribbean with his  attractive girlfriend Sam (Jessica Alba).  They are poor but happy.  After all they are in love, and if you’re in love you don’t need things like money.  At least according to Sam. Things change a bit when Jared’s friend Bryce (Scott Caan) comes down for a visit and brings along his coke-whore girlfriend Amanda (Ashley Scott).  While the four of them are scuba diving, Jared finds the remains of a sunken ship.

 

It appears to be the Zephyr, a ship that was loaded down with pirate-plundered gold.  The ship was scuttled by its captain in the 1800’s in order to confuse the Navy that was searching for him and his woman.  Instead of living a life of luxury, the pirate gave up a treasure so he could be with the woman he loved.

So, everything will be great just as soon as the quartet prove that the ship they discovered is the Zephyr.  Then they can lay claim to it and take their time harvesting the riches.  Before that however, anyone can steal their find.  The excavation is complicated by something else too.  Just a few hundred feet from the Zephyr is a downed plane full of cocaine worth a fortune.   Idiot Bryce and his skanky girlfriend want to sell the drugs to finance the recovery of the sunken ship, something the honorable Jared and Sam are opposed to.


The story is solid enough, and in truth it was well above expectations, captivating my interest very early on and remaining suspenseful and intriguing enough throughout the picture. The cast are all good enough, although they were probably chosen as much for their looks as their acting abilities, but who can deny that Jessica Alba and Ashley Scott did add a sexy feel for the male audience.

What really made the film for me was the truly fantastic scenery and the underwater camera work; it was flawless and stunningly beautiful in a way that is rarely captured on film.

CAST

Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Chris Carmack (The Butterfly Effect 3)
David Anders (Izombie)
Marsha Thomason (The Haunted Mansion)
Michael Graziadei (Booegeyman 2)
Mircea Monroe (The Change-Up)
Audrina Patridge (Scary Movie 5)

Into the Blue 2: The Reef follows the effervescent diving couple Sebastian and Dani. Their dream is to discover the San Cristobol wreck, but they take out diving anyone who’ll pay them some bucks. Played by television actors Laura Vandervoort (Smallville) and Chris Carmack (The O.C.).

One day, the ultra-evil Carlton (David Anders) and his mysterious martial arts girlfriend Azra (Marsha Thomason) show up claiming they too are looking for the San Cristobol and are willing to pay Sebastian and Dani their going rate to help them look for it. Of course, Carlton and Azra are not really looking for the San Cristobol; instead, they’re seeking a couple large containers that were dumped by smugglers upon a reef. And, Carlton claims, there are evildoers who will kill everyone.

I have seen some really bad sequels  but this is not one of them. I bought this one for my DVD collection to go right beside the first one that was also a great movie. I’m a huge fan of Laura Vandervoort and have been following her career every since she guest starred on Mutant X.