25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: STONEHEARST ASYLUM

CAST

Kate Beckinsale (Underworld)
Jim Sturgess (21)
Michael Caine (The Dark Knight)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
David Thewlis (Wonder Woman)
Brendan Gleeson (Paddington 2)
Sinéad Cusack (Wrath of The Titans)
Sophie Kennedy Clark (The Danish Girl)
Christopher Fulford (Tower Block)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)

Kate Beckinsale and Sophie Kennedy Clark in Eliza Graves (2014)In 1899, an Oxford University professor demonstrates a case of female hysteria, Lady (Eliza) Graves (Kate Beckinsale), before his class. The patient is drugged and protesting that she is sane, but the professor points out that all mental patients claim to be sane, much as all criminals claim to be innocent. He ignores her demands that he not touch her to induce a fit for the students to observe. The professor advises his students to believe nothing they hear and only half of what they see. Later, a young man, the newly-minted Dr. Edward Newgate, (Jim Sturgess), arrives at Stonehearst Asylum on Christmas Eve, where he desires to take up residency. A group of armed men led by Mickey Finn (David Thewlis) allow him entry. Finn escorts him to the office of the superintendent, Dr. Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley). Although Lamb was not expecting him, despite Newgate having sent letters preceding his arrival, he welcomes the help of an Oxford-educated doctor and grants him the residency.Eliza Graves (2014)Newgate is surprised by Lamb’s unorthodox methods and uncustomarily humane asylum. Lamb explains that he does not believe in drugging or incarcerating his patients, and he encourages their delusions when he feels it will bring them greater happiness, thus creating a kind and dignified environment at the asylum. Lady Graves, now a resident at Stonehearst, is introduced to Newgate, who appears immediately smitten. Lamb explains that Lady Graves has an abusive and painful past. She developed hysteria from enduring her husband’s “unnatural appetites” and can no longer bear emotional or physical contact without seizing in hysterical fits. She stabbed her husband in the right eye with a comb and bit off his left ear trying to protect herself, which led to her father committing her into the asylum to escape her marriage to her “monster” of a husband. Her husband has since been trying to free her back into his care. Dr. Lamb is currently prescribing musical therapy for her and refuses to declare her sane, for her own safety.Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess in Eliza Graves (2014)Though she brushes aside Newgate’s attempts at flirtation, she is struck by his empathy and respectful demeanor. An elaborate Christmas feast follows, during which the staff and patients mingle and a small fight between Newgate and Finn occurs, cementing their dislike for one another. After the dinner, Lady Graves delivers ominous warnings to Newgate, and quietly insists that he flee the asylum, but Newgate refuses to leave without her. The reason for Lady Graves’s warning soon reveals itself. Newgate discovers dozens of prisoners being kept in basement cells. The prisoners reveal that they are the true staff of Stonehearst, and the doctors and nurses Newgate has met upstairs are actually patients.Michael Caine in Eliza Graves (2014)The real superintendent, Dr. Benjamin Salt (Michael Caine), explains that Lamb and Finn drugged their drinks and led a revolt. Dr. Salt and Mrs. Pike (Sinéad Cusack), the matron, warn Newgate that Lamb is a dangerous madman – a surgeon who murdered his patients during wartime. Isolated and with limited options of regaining control over the asylum even should they be freed, the staff must remain in their cells to await outside assistance. They request that Dr. Newgate locate the keys in Finn’s possession to release them, or else escape to London and seek help. Lamb begins his unorthodox training for Newgate’s residency through an enlightening, if hands-on, lesson in patient dignity. Newgate attempts to recruit Lady Graves to his cause of freeing the true staff, but she declines to become involved and tells him of Salt’s and his staff’s inhuman abuses. Newgate reveals the scars of his own abusive past and tells her he understands.Kate Beckinsale in Eliza Graves (2014)Newgate sneaks into Lamb’s office and successfully retrieves Salt’s notes, but not the keys. While hiding, he overhears Lamb and Finn discussing him. Finn is deeply suspicious of Newgate, but Lamb believes Newgate shows promise and could be a great asylum doctor one day. Both acknowledge the prisoners in the basement, and Lamb promises that the loose ends will be tied up by the New Year. Salt’s notes detail his barbaric medical treatments used against Lamb, who had been under his care for nine years without cracking before the uprising. Newgate is conflicted when, after two of the prisoners in the basement escape to seek help, both die under suspicious circumstances after being caught by Finn.Ben Kingsley and Jim Sturgess in Eliza Graves (2014)While the patients are happy and thriving, there are some definite failings to Lamb’s method of running the asylum. They are quickly running out of provisions and having difficulties keeping up with the every-day demands of the large institution, such as heating the building in winter. Some of the more violent patients, such as Finn, are also difficult to control, and he eventually murders a female patient. By New Year’s Eve, the patients are burning the furnishings for warmth and Lamb has destroyed Salt’s mind via cranial electroshock, turning him into a patient in his own institution. Newgate is convinced the situation must come to an end and that he and Lady Graves should escape.Ben Kingsley in Eliza Graves (2014)Newgate’s attempt to drug the patients and gain control of the asylum is thwarted and Lamb prepares Newgate for electric shock therapy to turn him into a mental patient to live among them. It is revealed that Newgate had come to the asylum specifically to rescue Lady Graves, whom he had seen at the Oxford medical demonstration and become fixated with. Before the treatment, Lamb grants Newgate a final request: to see a picture of Lady Graves that he keeps in his pocket. The true object in his pocket, a picture of one of the young soldiers Lamb shot (which Newgate discovered in the padded cell Salt kept Lamb in), causes Lamb to stagger out of the room in a fugue. Finn goes to pick up the electric prods to finish the job, but Newgate is rescued by Lady Graves who overcomes her hysterical fits to kill Finn via electrocution. A fire starts and spreads as Lady Graves rescues the staff from their cells and leads the patients out of the building.Kate Beckinsale in Eliza Graves (2014)Lamb has now become near-stuporous from the crushing flashbacks of his past actions when, under extreme pressure during his time as a field doctor, Lamb had snapped and executed his battlefield patients as a form of mercy killing before attempting to kill himself. After all are rescued, as daylight breaks, Newgate again asks Lady Graves to leave with him, but she says that she cannot be with him because he is sane and she is not. Newgate says that he is not sane, as he is madly in love with her, and he intimates that he has a secret to tell her. Later, Lady Graves’ husband and the earlier Oxford professor arrive at the asylum. The asylum has been restored to a gentler order under the kind hand of Mrs. Pike, who is now in charge and has incorporated many of Lamb’s methods of treatment.The professor demands Lady Graves’ release, but Mrs. Pike says that Dr. Newgate already released her weeks ago. The professor reveals that he is the true Dr. Newgate and the one they knew is an impostor. The Dr. Newgate they met was never a medical student, nor a doctor at all, but an escaped mental patient who had also been part of the exhibition. Dr. Lamb, playing chess with the reduced Dr. Salt, hears this and shows a spark of his previous self as he gleefully remarks “Checkmate.” Lady Graves and the impostor Newgate end the film at the Santa Cristina Asylum in Tuscany, Italy, where they are known as Dr. and Mrs. Lamb, treating mental patients with the original Lamb’s methods. The two dance happily and embrace in a beautiful garden.Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess in Eliza Graves (2014)LIkely the film would not have worked so well under less competent actors hands, but Anderson was wise in casting David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Kingsley, Michael Cain, Sinéad Cusack, Jason Flemyng, as well as Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess. It may at first seem like another Brad Anderson thriller, but there are some twist and turns that alter the story into a truly psychological examination of just what is insanity.

REVIEW: HUGO

CAST

Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Ben Kinglsey (Iron Man 3)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real Girl)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Jude Law (Spy)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Men In Black 3)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Frances de la Tour (The Lady In The Van)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Michael Pitt (Murder By Numbers)

In 1931, 12-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in Paris with his father (Jude Law), a widowed, but kind clockmaker who also works at a museum. One day his father finds a broken automaton, a mechanical man designed to write with a pen, at the museum, and he and Hugo try to repair it, his father documenting the automaton in a notebook. When his father is killed by a fire at the museum, Hugo is forced to live with his resentful, alcoholic uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), and made to learn how to maintain the clocks at the railway station of Gare Montparnasse. When Claude goes missing for several days, Hugo continues to maintain the clocks, fearing that he would be sent away as an orphan by the vindictive Station Inspector Gustave (Sacha Baron Cohen) if Claude’s absence is discovered. Hugo attempts to repair the automaton with stolen parts, believing it contains a message from his father, but the machine still requires a heart-shaped key that his father could not find.Hugo is caught when stealing from the toy store owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), who looks through his father’s notebook and threatens to destroy it. Hugo encounters Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who offers to help get the notebook back. Hugo learns Georges has forbidden Isabelle from going to the cinema, and introduces the medium to her as his father had done for him. As their friendship grows, he shows her the automaton, and is surprised when Isabelle inadvertently reveals she wears the key as a necklace given to her by Georges. When started, the machine draws out a scene that Hugo recognizes from his father’s description of the film A Trip to the Moon. Isabelle identifies the signature, that of a “Georges Méliès”, as her godfather. She sneaks Hugo into her home, where they find a hidden cache of more imaginative drawings of Méliès, but are caught by Georges, who banishes Hugo from his home.Hugo and Isabelle go to the Film Academy Library and find a book about the history of cinema that praises Méliès’ contributions. They meet the book’s author, René Tabard (Michael Stuhlbarg), a film expert who is surprised to hear that Méliès may still be alive, as he had disappeared after World War I along with nearly all copies of his films. Excited at the chance to meet him, René agrees to meet Isabelle and Hugo at Georges’ home to show his copy of A Trip to the Moon, hoping it will invigorate Georges. On the scheduled night, Georges’ wife Jeanne (Helen McCrory) tries to turn them away, but René compliments Jeanne as Jeanne d’Alcy, an actress in many of Méliès’ films, and she allows them to continue. As the film plays, Georges wakes up at the sight, and Jeanne finally convinces him to cherish his accomplishments rather than regret his lost dream. Georges recounts that as a stage magician, he had been fascinated by motion pictures and used the medium to create imaginative works through his Star Film Company, but was forced into bankruptcy following the War, closing his studio and selling his films to be turned into raw materials. He laments that even an automaton he made that he donated to a museum was lost. Hugo recognizes this is the same automaton he has, and races to the station to retrieve it. He is caught by Gustave, who has learned that Claude’s body was found some time ago, and threatens to take Hugo to the orphanage. Georges arrives and tells Gustave that he will now see to Hugo, adopting him as his son.Some time later, Georges is named a professor at the Film Academy, and is paid tribute through a showcase of his films recovered by René. Hugo joins in with his new family as they celebrate, while Isabelle starts to write down Hugo’s story.Martin Scorcese’s Hugo is one of the best cinematic experience, I’ve had in years.  The visual effects, cinematography, art direction, just technically superb. Finally a smart, awe-aspiring family film, which are really rare nowadays. A definite surprise coming from legendary director, Martin Scorcese, who’s known for movies with a lot of swears, violence, drugs and other adult-themed subjects.

REVIEW: MARVEL ONE-SHOT: ALL HAIL THE KING

All Hail the King poster.jpg

 

CAST

Ben Kingsley (Species)
Scoot McNairy (Batman V Superman)
Sam Rockwell (Galaxy Quest)

Ben Kingsley in Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King (2014)Trevor Slattery, having been captured at the end of Iron Man 3, is now being held in Seagate Prison. At the prison he is living luxuriously, having his own personal “butler”, Herman, as well as other inmates who act as his fan club and protection from other inmates. Looking on at the attention Slattery receives in the cafeteria is Justin Hammer, who wonders what makes him so special. Slattery has been talking with a documentary filmmaker, Jackson Norriss, to chronicle the events of the Mandarin situation seen in Iron Man 3. Norriss, trying to learn more about Slattery personally, recounts his past from his first casting as a child as well as starring in a failed CBS pilot. Norriss eventually informs Slattery that his portrayal has angered some people, including the actual Ten Rings terrorist group, which Slattery did not know existed. Norriss tells him the history of the Mandarin and the terrorist group, before revealing that he is actually a member of the group. The real reason for Norriss interviewing Slattery is to break him out of prison so he can meet the actual Mandarin. Hearing this, Slattery still has no idea of the full ramifications of his posing as the Mandarin.Ben Kingsley in Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King (2014)A return to the lovable personality of the hapless Trevor and a step forward for the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has its twists that should satisfy both lovers and haters of Trevor Slattery. But it’s the approach that Pearce takes with the material, from the kung-fu movie style credit sequences to the light-hearted tone that takes a sudden and jarring turn. Kingsley once again shines in the role of Slattery, aloof and ignorant, but more than happy to slide back into Mandarin mode if it will please his adoring fans. .”

REVIEW: IRON MAN 3

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Gwyneth Paltrow (A Perfect Murder)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Rebecca Hall (Town)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Ben Kingsley (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Badge Dale (World War Z)
Stephanie Szostak (R.I.P.D.)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
William Sadler (Roswell)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Mark Ruffalo (Just Like Heaven)
Joan Rivers (Spaceballs)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)As the start of “Phase Two” of Marvel’s ever-expanding film lore, Iron Man 3 picks up shortly after the events of The Avengers, where Tony Stark (RDJ) played a crucial role in stopping an other-worldly invasion in New York City. Shaken by the experience to a point of acute panic attacks, Stark finds himself obsessed with his mechanical tinkering, creating and modifying suits in the hours where he can’t sleep or spend time with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), now CEO of Stark Industries. During that time, a bearded fanatic known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) claims responsibility for curiously evidence-free terrorist activities through hacked television broadcasts, backed up by cryptic “lessons” about American indulgence, artifice, and claim to territory. In a fragile state of mind and dealing with the reemergence of a momentary colleague from his past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), whose radical plans for human advancement (and his attractiveness) draw Pepper’s attention, Tony flexes his Iron Man muscle by publicly provoking The Mandarin.Ben Kingsley in Iron Man Three (2013)Before that, Iron Man 3 offers a glimpse nearly fifteen years into the past as a quasi-preamble, before Stark made his reputation as a public hero. Outside of Black and co-writer Drew Pearce’s evident character reasons for doing so — namely introducing Killian at a younger age, as well as the beautiful, brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) and her invaluable yet unstable work in organic regeneration — this also serves as a reminder of a Tony Stark before he stumbled into the duties of a narcissistic hero in a near-impervious suit of his design. Thus begins a personal journey for Stark: complete with voiceover directed at an unspecified listener (you find out who in the post-credit sequence) that transitions to the present era, the strain on his persona created by a near-death sacrificial decision in New York flirts with the comic-book’s famous “Demon in a Bottle” story arc … without ever mentioning alcohol.Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)The script from Black and Pearce expands on that internal crisis by finding a way to leave Stark without his gear, his girl, and his support structure at a pivotal point, where he’s abandoned in the middle of nowhere with only his wits and scientific knowledge (and a boy essentially embodying a young engineering-savvy version of Tony Stark) to guide him. Some will find this change of pace refreshing, a return to those moments in the Afghanistan cave where he constructed the first rudimentary suit; once again, he’s using only his inventiveness to weave in and out of tricky situations and get Iron Man in fighting shape. Others will find the lack of higher-octane action and similarities to other recent “fallen, morale-damaged hero” storylines frustrating, and that’s partially due to circumstances that are wobbly even for comic-book logic. The pressure rests on Downey Jr. to convince those watching of his fraught situation, and his charisma — now with the added touch of Shane Black’s humorous edge — keeps the attitude upbeat, hectic, and faintly mythic, bolstered by scenes such as Tony literally dragging the weight of his armor over his shoulder across a snowy field.Iron Man Three (2013)As  the film approaches a climax full of Iron Men, fireworks, and plenty of Hail Mary leaps within a dangerous shipyard, backed by a reliably fierce performance from Guy Pearce as his role in the Extremis program comes to fruition. What surprised me the most about the ending, once the smoke clears, is how final and cathartic it ends up feeling, as if it very well could be the bookend to Iron Man himself if they decided not to move the series forward. Giving closure to Stark’s tribulations as a self-focused hero and his rocky relationship with Pepper Potts, it’ll make the eminent day when the Avengers come knocking on his door again all the more intriguing.

REVIEW: BLOODRAYNE

CAST

Kristanna Loken (Painkiller jane)
Michael Madsen (Powers)
Matthew Davis (The Vampire Diaries)
Michelle Rodriguez (S.W.A.T.)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Will Sanderson (Alone in The Dark)
Geraldine Chaplin (Chaplin)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Meat Loaf (Fight Club)
Michael Pare (The Virgin Suicides)
Billy Zane (The Scorpion King 3)
T.J. Storm (VR Troopers)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)

The film centers on the character of Rayne, an unholy breed of human and vampire called a Dhampir. Dhampir are unaffected by crucifixes and do not thirst for human blood. She is the daughter of the Vampire King Kagan who has gathered an army of thralls, both vampire and human, in order to annihilate the human race. She was conceived when Kagan raped her mother, and she later witnessed him killing her.Sebastian, Vladimir, and Katarin are three members of the Brimstone Society, who fight vampires. They hear of a carnival freak who may be a Dhampir, so Vladimir plans to recruit her in order to kill Kagan. Kagan is also hunting for her, fearing she will interfere with his plans. Rayne escapes captivity at the carnival. On the road, she encounters and saves a family being attacked by vampires. A fortune teller reveals to Rayne that Kagan has become the most powerful vampire in the land and resides in a well-protected castle. She tells Rayne that Kagan seeks an ancient talisman, a mystical eye, and if she finds it, it would allow her to gain an audience with Kagan. Rayne sets out to the monastery to find it.2006_bloodrayne_013Rayne shelters for the night at the monastery and later sneaks away to where the talisman is guarded by a hammer-wielding, deformed monk. The talisman is further protected by booby traps, and when Rayne lifts it from its pedestal, the chamber floods with holy water. As Rayne hangs from the ceiling to avoid the water, the talisman falls from the box but she catches the eyeball. Examining it closely, the eye magically becomes absorbed into her own eye, and when she falls into the water she is somehow unaffected by it. When she leaves the chamber, the monks explain the artifact is one of three body parts which came from an ancient vampire called Belial, who had found a way to overcome the weaknesses of a vampire. The eye overcomes holy water; the rib overcomes the cross; and the heart overcomes sunlight. The parts have been hidden across the lands. As Kagan wants all these parts, it becomes the heroes’ mission to stop him.maxresdefaultRayne is brought to the headquarters of the Brimstone society and they agree to work together to kill Kagan. Katarin does not trust Rayne and betrays Brimstone to her father, Elrich, who has fallen in league with Kagan, but seeks to betray him and gain power for himself. The location of the heart talisman is known to Katarin as her grandfather hid it in water-filled caves. She seeks it out but Rayne fights and kills her for it. With the talisman, Rayne attempts to gain an audience before Kagan, but he takes the heart and throws her in the dungeon. He plans to extract the eye as part of a ritual. He realizes too late Rayne had only given him an empty box and not the heart. Sebastian and Vladimir intervene, battling Kagan and his minions, but both are fatally wounded, leaving Rayne in a final battle against Kagan. As Sebastian dies he fires a final bolt from his crossbow, but Kagan is too quick and is able to catch it. Rayne is able to summon her last reserves of strength and plunge the bolt into his heart. The battle ends. Rayne seats herself in Kagan’s throne. The film ends when Rayne leaves the castle and goes to the mountains.bloodrayne00As an adaptation of the video game, BloodRayne fails pretty miserably because it changes too many character traits in the lead and completely disregards important plot points in the source material. As a horror movie, BloodRayne also fails pretty miserably because it just isn’t scary or even particularly suspenseful. When all things are seriously considered, BloodRayne is in fact a pretty bad film full of predictable characters, obvious plot twists. Ben Kingsley simply sleepwalk through the film and to see Michael Madsen trying his damnedest to look like he knows what is happening around him. All of this while Lokken chops peoples heads off, screams a lot, and generally overacts. BloodRayne is a train wreck, but it sure is a fun one.

REVIEW: LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN

CAST
Josh Hartnett (Halloween: H20)
Bruce Willis (Sin City)
Lucy Liu (Charles Angels)
Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Michael Rubenfeld (The Recruit)
Peter Outerbridge (Beauty and The Beast)
Stanley Tucci (Transformers 4)
Kevin Chamberlin (Road To Perdition)
Dorian Missick (The Cape)
Mykelti Williamson (Con Air)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Corey Stoll (Ant-Man)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
During the film’s opening credits, two bookies are separately ambushed and murdered by their unseen killers; elsewhere, a young man is killed by a sniper. In a bus terminal, a young man is approached by Goodkat (Bruce Willis), who tells the story of Max and the Kansas City Shuffle: two decades earlier, Max borrowed money from the mob to bet on a fixed horse race, only for the horse to die mid-race. To set an example to make sure nobody else would try to bet on a fixed race, the mob killed Max, his wife and young son Henry. Goodkat concludes that a “Kansas City Shuffle” is a misleading double bluff, and so tricks and kills the young man, before loading his body into a truck.
In New York City, Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) is staying in his friend Nick Fisher’s apartment and, upon being visited by Nick’s neighbor Lindsey (Lucy Liu), discusses Nick’s disappearance and why his apartment was unlocked. Lindsey suggests that Nick may be missing and, after she leaves, Slevin is kidnapped by two henchmen, who take him to “The Boss” (Morgan Freeman). Mistaking Slevin for Nick, The Boss orders him to repay a large gambling debt or kill the son of his rival, “The Rabbi” (Ben Kingsley); The Boss believes The Rabbi is responsible for assassinating his son (seen in the intro), and wants The Rabbi’s homosexual son, Yitzchok “The Fairy”, to be killed in revenge. Slevin then returns to the apartment, but is kidnapped again by two Jewish henchmen working for The Rabbi. The Rabbi also mistakes Slevin for Nick, and also demands he repay a large gambling debt. Slevin returns to The Boss and agrees to kill The Fairy. Concurrently with Slevin visiting the mob bosses, it becomes apparent Goodkat is involved in both sides and is responsible for Nick’s debts being called in, and he plans to kill Slevin after The Fairy dies (though his motivations remain unknown).
Slevin and Lindsey go out to dinner, where Slevin arranges a date with The Fairy. Slevin is approached by Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci), who is investigating The Boss and The Rabbi; the detective hassles him again later; Slevin reveals his full name. Slevin arrives at The Fairy’s apartment and fatally shoots him, only for Goodkat to appear; rather than shoot Slevin, however, he finishes The Fairy, who pulls out a gun, revealing Slevin and Goodkat are affiliated. Slevin then brings the bus terminal victim’s body, revealed to be Nick Fisher, into the apartment while Goodkat kills The Fairy’s bodyguards. Together they blow up the apartment and the bodies, faking Slevin’s death in the process. Goodkat and Slevin kidnap The Boss and The Rabbi, with both awakening restrained in The Boss’s penthouse. Slevin appears and explains the overarching twist: Slevin is Henry, the son of the ill-fated Max, and the mobsters who killed Max were The Boss and The Rabbi. Goodkat is revealed as the assassin hired to kill young Henry, but after an attack of conscience took him in and raised him instead.
Twenty years later, Goodkat and Slevin killed The Boss’ son and both mobsters’ bookies, stealing the bookies’ ledgers in the process; after finding Nick Fisher owed a great deal of money to both sides, they killed him and stole his identity. As gang warfare loomed, both mobsters went to Goodkat, who agreed to both kill and protect The Fairy on the condition they call in Nick’s debts, granting Slevin and Goodkat unhindered access to the heavily guarded mobsters and Nick Fisher as an ally respectively. After revealing his plan, Slevin suffocates The Rabbi and The Boss by taping plastic bags over their heads, killing them the same way they killed his father. Since Lindsey earlier photographed Goodkat for Slevin, Goodkat shoots her to protect his identity. Finally, it is revealed that Detective Brikowski killed Slevin’s mother when his own gambling debts were called in by the mobsters; Slevin kills Brikowski as the pseudonym “Slevin Kelevra” is explained: “Lucky Number Slevin” was the horse his father had bet on, and “Kelevra” is Hebrew for “bad dog,” mirroring Goodkat’s name.
Sometime later at the bus terminal, Slevin is met by Lindsey, and it is revealed that Slevin, aware of Goodkat’s intentions, explained his true identity to her and helped fake her death. Goodkat appears, aware of the trickery; since Goodkat spared Slevin as a boy, he sympathizes and agrees to let her live. The film closes with a flashback to Goodkat deciding not to kill Henry; “Kansas City Shuffle” by Bennie Moten (Performed by J. Ralph) starts playing on the radio as they drive away together.
A clever film with a twist at the end. I enjoyed it and so might you if you like thrillers with a twist at the end. An all star cast adds to the pleasure.

REVIEW: EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS

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CAST

 Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises)
Maria Valverde (Cracks)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Ewen Bremner (Snatch)

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Tara Fitzgerald (Game of Thrones)

 

In 1300 BC, Moses, a general and member of the royal family, prepares to attack the Hittite army with Prince Ramesses. A High Priestess of Sekhmet (the war goddess) divines a prophecy from animal intestines, which she relates to Ramesses’ father, Seti I. He tells the two men of the prophecy, in which one (of Moses and Ramesses) will save the other and become a leader. During the attack on the Hittites, Moses saves Ramesses’ life, leaving both men troubled. Later, Moses is sent to the city of Pithom to meet with the Viceroy Hegep, who oversees the Hebrew slaves. Upon his arrival, he encounters the slave Joshua, who is the descendant of Joseph, and Moses is appalled by the horrific conditions of the slaves. Shortly afterwards, Moses meets Nun, who informs him of his true lineage; he is the child of Hebrew parents who was sent by his sister Miriam to be raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses is stunned at the revelation and leaves angrily. However, two Hebrews also overhear Nun’s story and report their discovery to Hegep.
Seti dies soon after Moses’ return to Memphis, and Ramesses becomes the new Pharaoh (Ramesses II). Hegep arrives to reveal Moses’ true identity, but Ramesses is conflicted about whether to believe the story. At the urging of Queen Tuya, he interrogates the servant Miriam, who denies being Moses’ sister. When Ramesses threatens to cut off Miriam’s arm, Moses comes to her defense, revealing he is a Hebrew. Although Tuya wants Moses to be put to death, Ramesses decides to send him into exile. Before leaving Egypt, Moses meets with his adopted mother and Miriam, who refer to him by his birth name of Moishe. Following a journey into the desert, Moses comes to Midian where he meets Zipporah and her father, Jethro. Moses becomes a shepherd, marries Zipporah and has a son Gershom.
Nine years later, Moses gets injured during a rockslide. He comes face to face with a burning bush and a boy called Malak, who serves as a representative of the God of Abraham. While recovering, Moses confesses his past to Zipporah and reveals what God has asked him to do. This drives a wedge between the couple, because Zipporah fears he will leave their family. After he arrives in Egypt, Moses reunites with Nun and Joshua, as well as meeting his brother Aaron for the first time. Moses returns to confront Ramesses, demanding the Hebrews be released from servitude. Ramesses refuses to listen, insisting that to free the slaves would be economically impossible. Upon Moses threatening Ramesses’ life, Ramesses orders the death of Moses, executing random Hebrew families until he is found.
Using his military skills, Moses trains the slaves in the art of war. The Hebrews start attacking the Egyptians, prompting Ramesses to raid slave villages. Malak appears to Moses and explains that ten plagues will affect Egypt. All the water in the land turns to blood, and the Egyptians are further afflicted by the arrival of frogs, lice, and flies. The plagues of the death of livestock, boils, hail and thunder, locusts, and darkness continue to affect the Egyptians. While conversing with Malak, Moses is horrified at learning the tenth plague will be the death of all firstborn children. The Hebrews protect themselves by covering their doors with the blood of lambs, as instructed by Moses. Ramesses is devastated over his son’s death and relents, telling Moses and the Hebrews to leave.
During the exodus from Egypt, the Hebrews follow Moses’ original path through the desert and towards the Red Sea. Still grieving for his son, Ramesses decides to go after the Hebrews with his army. After making their way through a dangerous mountain pass, Moses and the Hebrews arrive at the edge of the sea, uncertain about what to do. Moses flings his sword into the water, which begins to recede. Ramesses and his army pursue the Hebrews, but Moses stays behind to confront them. The Red Sea reverts to its normal state, drowning the majority of the Egyptians (crossing the Red Sea). Moses survives and makes his way back to the Hebrews. Ramesses is revealed to have survived, but he is distraught over the destruction of his army. Moses leads the Hebrews back to Midian, where he reunites with Zipporah and Gershom. At Mount Sinai, after seeing Malak’s displeasure at the Hebrews’ construction of the Golden Calf, Moses transcribes the Ten Commandments. Years later, an elderly Moses riding with the Ark of the Covenant sees Malak walking with the Hebrews through the desert.
For those worried about the much-hyped portrayal of God as a young ‘brat’, I think this is in the most part a misunderstanding of what Scott was trying to do here. Yes, God is shown to ‘appear’ to Moses as a young child, but is it mere coincidence that the child is of roughly the same age as Moses’s son at the time? It can be argued that, in Scott’s depiction, God merely appears to Moses in a form he knows he will relate to. I think it also gives realism and a more human face to Moses that means we can relate to him – after all, it’s clear from the Biblical account that he has imperfections.
Exodus makes an interesting attempt to show his inner battles, frustrations and complexity of his relationship with God, those he grew up with and those he then leads. This includes the struggles of his family to accept God’s will for him (which is an interesting addition by Scott) and another interesting focus on Moses’s struggle to accept that God is in control and be humbled.

For me, Exodus harks back to the true Biblical epic in a way I’d not expected would be possible in this age. Unlike all the recent output and even going back to the Passion of the Christ, The Last Temptation… and others, there is no agenda here. It is a fair account done with impressive visual flair.