REVIEW: SAFE HOUSE

CAST

Denzel Washington (Training Day)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Sam Shepard (Swordfish)
Ruben Blades (Predator 2)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop 2014)
Stephen Rider (Daredevil)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Sebastian Roche (The Originals)

In Cape Town, South Africa, ex-CIA NOC operative turned traitor and international criminal Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) acquires a data storage device from rogue MI6 agent Alec Wade (Liam Cunningham). After the pair is attacked by a team of mercenaries led by Vargas (Fares Fares), Wade is killed and Frost is cornered by the gunmen, leaving him no choice but to surrender to the American consulate.

Frost is transferred to a local safe house maintained by “housekeeper” Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a young agent on his first low-level CIA posting and then the CIA sends in a team led by veteran agent Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick) to interrogate Frost and bring him back to the US. Weston watches uneasily as Kiefer and his men waterboard Frost. When the power to the safe house is cut, the CIA team realize that they are in grave danger. Vargas and a heavily armed group attack the safe house, killing Kiefer and his team. Weston escapes, taking Frost as his charge. When Weston makes contact with his superior, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga), another CIA operative, orders Weston to lie low and await further instructions.

Weston hides out with Frost and calls his girlfriend Ana Moreau (Nora Arnezeder), a French medical resident who does not know that he works for the CIA, and tells her to leave the house. Barlow later tells Weston to go to Cape Town Stadium to retrieve a GPS device with the location of another nearby safe house. He retrieves the GPS at the stadium, but Frost creates a diversion and gets away by disguising himself as a policeman. Weston, detained by the police, escapes but is unable to catch Frost. Weston goes to recapture Frost but Frost ambushes him and aims a gun at him as if to shoot him, but then tells him “I only kill professionals”.

Weston is ordered to visit the nearest American embassy for debriefing. Instead he meets with Ana and reveals that he is a CIA agent. He tells her to return to Paris for her safety. Weston tracks Frost to a shantytown in Langa, where Frost is meeting Nicaraguan national Carlos Villar (Rubén Blades), an old contact and document forger. Vargas and his team attack again, killing Villar along with his wife, but Frost eludes him and his men with Weston’s help. Weston brutally interrogates one of Vargas’ wounded mercenaries, who reveals that Vargas is working for the CIA, which is seeking to retrieve the storage device Frost received from Wade. The device contains Israeli intelligence which contain details of corrupt officials and secret money transfers involving American CIA, British MI6, and other intelligence agencies; Weston recognizes the reference to the Mossad because the CIA accused Frost of selling secrets to them before he became a rogue agent. Weston’s own superiors may be implicated. Weston takes Frost to the new safe house, where Weston keeps the housekeeper, Keller (Joel Kinnaman) at gunpoint, because he no longer knows if he can trust the CIA.

Keller attacks Weston, and after a brutal struggle, Weston breaks Keller’s neck, but he is badly wounded in the fight. Frost leaves Weston, who passes out from his wounds. Meanwhile, Linklater arrives in South Africa with Barlow to collect Frost and Weston from the safe house, but on the way is shot and killed by Barlow, who goes to the safe house and reveals that he is Vargas’ employer. He confirms that the file contains incriminating evidence against him, and encourages Weston to lie about what has happened. Frost returns and kills Vargas and his men but is shot by Barlow. Weston then shoots Barlow in the chest, killing him. Frost gives Weston the file and tells Weston he is better than him before he dies from his injuries.
Image result for SAFE HOUSE 2012Back in the United States, Weston meets with CIA Deputy Director Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), who informs Weston that unflattering facts about the CIA must be removed from his report, but that he will be promoted. He asks Weston about the file’s location but Weston denies having been told about it by Frost. Whitford states that whoever has those files will have many enemies. Weston leaves, then leaks the files to the media, incriminating personnel from many intelligence agencies, including Whitford. Later on, Weston sees Ana across a street in Paris, France. She reads a note passed to her from him, looks up at Weston, and they both make eye contact and she smiles before Weston walks away.Image result for SAFE HOUSE 2012Safe House is a great action thriller with non-stop action. This is the first mainstream feature for Daniel Espinosa and he comes forth as promising due to his skillful camera work with the action scenes. One of the most impressive is the rooftop chase at night. The editing is pitch perfect as it allows the audience to feel the danger of the situation from each point of view. This film could have been bleak and predictable if the leads were miscast but Washington and Reynolds’ enigma make the film satisfyingly fun and fresh.

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REVIEW: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2

CAST

Tom Cruise (Rain Man)
Dougray Scott (Enigma)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Ving Rhames (Entrapment)
Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Rade Serbedzija (Stigmata)
William Mapother (Swordfish)
Dominic Purcell (Legends of Tomorrow)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)

 

Ethan Hunt is alerted by the IMF that someone has used his identity to assist bio-chemical expert Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich to enter the United States, only to kill him in a subsequent plane crash. Nekhorvich, an old friend of Ethan, had forewarned the IMF of his arrival, planning to deliver to them a new bioweapon, Chimera, and its cure, Bellerophon. He was forced to develop these by Biocyte Pharmaceuticals. IMF determines that rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose is responsible. IMF assigns Ethan to recover the virus and its cure. It also insists that he recruits Nyah Nordoff-Hall, a professional thief presently operating in Seville, Spain. Later, Ethan finds out that she is Ambrose’s ex-girlfriend.After recruiting Nyah, Ethan assembles his team, computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Billy Baird, in Sydney, Australia, where Biocyte laboratories are located and Ambrose is staying. As Ethan stakes out Biocyte, Nyah gets close to Ambrose and begins to learn about the Chimera virus. At a horse racing event, Ambrose meets with Biocyte’s CEO, John C. McCloy. He shows McCloy a video of Chimera affecting one of Nekhorvich’s colleagues. He then blackmails McCloy into cooperating with him. Nyah steals video footage and transfers it to Ethan. Ethan’s team learn that Chimera has a 20-hour dormant period before it causes death by mass destruction of the victim’s red blood cells. Bellerophon can only save the victim if used within that 20-hour window.The IMF team kidnaps McCloy to force him to give up Bellerophon. However, they learn that the only samples of Bellerophon were taken by Nekhorvich, and are now in Ambrose’s hands. Ambrose has the cure, but does not have the virus (which Nekhorvich injected himself with). As a result, Ambrose forced McCloy to exchange a sample of the virus for a sample of Bellerophon. The team break into Biocyte to destroy the virus. Ambrose, posing as Ethan, tricks Nyah into revealing his plan. Ambrose captures Nyah and raids Biocyte to secure the virus. Ethan is able to destroy all but one sample of the virus before Ambrose intervenes, and a firefight ensues. Ambrose orders Nyah to retrieve the last sample of Chimera. She injects herself with it, preventing Ambrose from simply killing her to get it. Ambrose takes Nyah away, and Ethan escapes from the laboratory.Ambrose lets Nyah wander the streets of Sydney in a daze, intending to start a pandemic. He offers to sell Bellerophon to McCloy in exchange for stock options, to make him the majority shareholder. He predicts that the price of Biocyte’s stock will skyrocket due to demand for Bellerophon after the Chimera outbreak. Ethan infiltrates the meeting and steals the remaining samples of Bellerophon. While Ethan is pursued by Ambrose, Luther and Billy locate Nyah, who has wandered to a cliff side, intent on killing herself to prevent Chimera from spreading. Ethan eventually gains the upper hand over Ambrose and kills him. With little time left on the 20-hour countdown, Luther reaches Ethan, takes Bellerophon and injects Nyah with it. IMF clears Nyah’s criminal record and Ethan starts his vacation with her in Sydney.If you like Mission Impossible then you’ll not be disappointed with this action packed film and if you have the others in this series then you’ll appreciate the efforts put in to improve plots, characters and special effects but each one for their time and budget stand on their own.

REVIEW: THIS IS MY FATHER

CAST

Aidan Quinn (Paractical Magic)
James Caan (Elf)
Jacob Tierney (Preggoland)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Stephen Rea (V For Vendetta)
Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges)
John Cusack (Grosse Pointe Blank)

MSDTHIS EC024Widowed Kieran Johnson is a lonely, middle-aged, Chicago-based high school history teacher who feels disconnected to his life. He decides to take a trip to his mother’s small old hometown of Kilronan, County Galway, Ireland after he discovers an old photograph of her, she who now cannot speak due to a stroke, with a man he has never seen. He suspects this man may be his biological father. On the urging of his sister, Kieran takes his teen-aged nephew Jack on the trip. In Kilronan, Mrs. Kearney, the innkeeper’s mother and a bit of a gypsy woman who has lived in the area for the better part of her life, tells Kieran and Jack about life in the town in 1939 when a high-spirited Fiona Flynn, Kieran’s mother, started seeing a peat farmer named Kieran O’Day. Kieran O’Day grew up a “poorhouse bastard”, and as such he was always shy and considered an outsider amongst the townsfolk. MSDTHIS EC026Because of his standing in the community and the differences in their ages (she being only seventeen, he in his thirties), Fiona and Kieran’s relationship was looked down upon by those considered the upstanding in town, including Fiona’s widowed mother, Mary Flynn, and those associated with the church. Mrs. Kearney slowly tells the entire story of Kieran and Fiona’s relationship, the tragedy that prevented their love for not being enough to endure the scrutiny, the stories of the “curses” that befell the Flynn family, and the truth behind the person Kieran Johnson knew as his father.300761_originalGorgeous cinematography and solid acting make this a must see! Once again, it caters to my love of movies about people with flavor, zest, zeal and the bittersweet truths of life.

REVIEW: DARK BLUE

CAST

Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Scott Speedman (Underworld)
Michael Michele (Ali)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Ving Rhames (Misson Impossible)
Master P (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Kurupt (Hollywood Homicide)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Lolita Davidovich (JFK)
Khandi Alexander (Scandal)
Marin Hinkle (Two and a Half Men)

Set in Los Angeles, in April 1992, Dark Blue takes place from a few days before and during the acquittal of four officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King and the subsequent L.A. riots. The film begins with footage of the Rodney King beating and switches to a scene showing Sergeant Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell) pacing in a motel room. Perry grabs a shotgun and pistol, and then the film cuts to a scene with two men in a car five days earlier, Darryl Orchard (Kurupt) and Gary Sidwell (Dash Mihok), appear to be robbing a convenience store, when they are actually after a safe in the room above the store. Four people are murdered in the robbery and one severely wounded. The story then shifts to Detective Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman), who is in a Gun Board hearing in relation to an application of deadly force. His partner, Perry, defends him, and the two leave.Perry, Keough, and Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson) are all sitting in a room when they find out that Keough is exonerated. Jack Van Meter is Keough and Perry’s superior and a man of poor moral character—he often has his subordinates fabricate stories and evidence. It is later discovered that Perry killed the man that the Gun Board thinks Keough killed, meaning Perry and Keough perjured themselves earlier. Later that night Van Meter goes to Orchard and Sidwell’s house and takes the money the two stole from the safe, indicating that the two work for him. That night Keough is shown having sex with a woman who is also a police officer (Michael Michele); the relationship is casual, and they do not reveal their surnames to one another.The next morning Van Meter tells Perry and Keough to investigate the convenience store murder-robbery. Their investigation ends with them finding Orchard and Sidwell as lead suspects; when this is brought to Van Meter, he tells them to pin it on someone else and provides a false alibi for Orchard and Sidwell. Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) finds Perry’s actions suspicious and also does not believe Keough killed the man he was charged with killing at the Gun Board hearing. He asks his assistant Sergeant Beth Williamson (Michael Michele), who has a mutual fling with Keough, to help him. When Williamson is pulling files on Perry and Keough, she discovers the identity of her lover to be Keough.Later in the night, after obtaining a search warrant with underhanded techniques, a SWAT team raids the house of the ex-cons who are to be the fall guys. One of the ex-cons escapes and goes into a back alley, but is chased by Perry and Keough. When they catch up, Perry tells Keough to kill the man, but Keough has trouble pulling the trigger. Ultimately, however, Keough does kill the innocent man and is visibly shaken. Later on, Perry arrives at home mid-day and sees a moving truck outside of his house. His wife informs him that she is leaving him for another man. Perry tells her that she can keep the house, and leaves. Keough, still distraught after shooting an unarmed man begging for his life, goes to Williamson’s house and confesses to her that he killed the man under Perry’s orders. During this time, Van Meter decides he wants Perry killed and calls Orchard and Sidwell to do the job.Van Meter calls Perry and tells him that there is a witness at the address 12657 Juliet. Perry initially balks at this proposal, citing the fact that this “witness” was not directly involved, and that this suggested murder would be far different. He finally accepts, and the call ends. Perry then runs the address 12657 Juliet with the department, and it is uncovered to be the address of Orchard and Sidwell. Shocked at this revelation, Perry ultimately decides to arm himself and head out to the address anyway, perhaps to kill Orchard and Sidwell. This links back to the start of the film.Believing that Perry was sent by Van Meter to Orchard and Sidwell (as they are unaware of Van Meter’s ambush for Perry), Keough and Williamson also drive to 12657 Juliet. It is while driving there that they learn that the officers involved in the Rodney King beating were found not guilty and the city begins to break down. Turning a corner near Orchard and Sidwell’s house, Perry sees Keough and Williamson and all three stop. This pause is only broken as Keough is killed by Orchard and Sidwell firing from the rooftop, and the latter subsequently flee. Before dying, Keough tells Perry that he has ratted him out. Infuriated, Williamson blames Perry for what happened, saying she hopes he will burn in Hell. Perry calls in the incident, hesitating briefly before stating his intention of pursuing Orchard and Sidwell.As they are driving through what are the L.A. riots, Sidwell is dragged out of his car and beaten to death by rioters while Orchard is captured by Perry. Perry then heads to the police academy promotions ceremony (he is promoted to Lieutenant), where he confesses about the corruption and implicates Van Meter. Van Meter attempts to discredit Perry, but ultimately fails as Perry volunteers himself to be arrested, and Holland orders an officer to do so. After the ceremony is adjourned, Perry and Holland chat briefly; Perry is well aware he will be incarcerated, and asks Holland to help him avoid the rougher prisons. Holland says he will see what he can do. The film ends with Perry gazing at a burning skyline of downtown Los Angeles.Now, this is definetly not an action movie. Instead it relies on its story and the characters, and that’s a very good move by the director. But there are still moments where we are in awe of the movie, such as the riot scenes. Scenes of absolute anarchy.

REVIEW: EDGE OF TOMORROW

CAST

Tom Cruise (Oblivion)
Emily Blunt (The Girl on The Train)
Bill Paxton (Aliens)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood)
Tony Way (The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo)
Franz Drameh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Noah Taylor (Powers)

In 2015, a horde of aliens called the Mimics arrived in Germany and began to spread to the rest of continental Europe, killing all humans in its way. Five years later, the United Defense Force has achieved only one victory, at Verdun, and is holding the Mimics back at the English Channel. In Britain, General Brigham, head of the UDF, orders Major William Cage, a public affairs officer with no combat experience, to cover the next day’s massive assault on France. Cage objects to the dangerous assignment and threatens to put the blame on Brigham if the landing fails. Brigham orders the arrest of Cage, who is tasered when he attempts to escape. He awakes in handcuffs at Heathrow Airport, having been demoted to private, labelled a deserter, and assigned to the J squad under the command of Master Sergeant Farell.The invasion proves to be a trap. The famous Sergeant Rita Vrataski (the “Angel of Verdun”) dies before Cage’s eyes. Shortly thereafter, he uses a Claymore mine to kill an unusually large Mimic, and dies covered with its blood. He wakes up and finds himself back at Heathrow the previous morning. No one believes his story that the invasion is doomed. Cage repeats the loop of dying on the beach and waking at Heathrow over and over again, becoming more competent in combat and learning to predict what happens. During every loop, he tries to save the life of Vrataski, until eventually she sees that he knows the movements of the attacking Mimics in advance, and tells him to find her when he “wakes up”.When Cage next awakens, he finds Vrataski. She takes him to Dr. Carter, an expert in Mimic biology. Carter explains that the Mimics are a superorganism in which the “Omega” plays the role of the cerebrum, while the “Alphas” act as the ganglia through which the Omega controls the ordinary Mimics. If an Alpha is killed, the Omega turns time back a day, thus giving the Mimics a seemingly unbeatable advantage. Cage “hijacked” their ability by being doused in Alpha blood. Vrataski had herself gained this ability at Verdun, but lost it by receiving a blood transfusion after being wounded. She tells Cage that they must destroy the Omega.Over numerous iterations of the same day, Vrataski trains Cage to fight better. Frustrated by his continued failures, he retreats to London, but discovers that the Mimics will attack there after defeating the invasion force. Eventually, he has a vision of a dam in Germany (which Carter said meant that the Omega was trying to locate him). Cage and Vrataski spend many loops figuring out how to get to the dam. Cage comes to know Vrataski, who is humourless and only interested in defeating the Mimics, having lost her loved one to them. Upon reaching a point where she dies whatever they do, Cage decides to fly to the dam alone. Inside the dam, he discovers it is a trap. Ambushed by an Alpha and another Mimic, Cage drowns himself before the Alpha can bleed him out and destroy his ability to trigger a time reset.Cage and Vrataski infiltrate the MoD Main Building to obtain a prototype built by Carter that can locate the Omega. Cage finally compels General Brigham to give him the device. During the ensuing car chase, Cage discovers the Omega is under the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. However, Cage is captured and seriously injured. He wakes up in a hospital to find he has been given a transfusion and thus has lost the ability to reset the day. Vrataski frees Cage. Having recruited the J squad to help destroy the Omega before the invasion begins, they fly to Paris, where the other soldiers sacrifice themselves so that Cage and Vrataski can get into the Louvre. Just before luring away an Alpha standing between them and the submerged Omega, Vrataski kisses Cage to thank him for getting her as far as he did. The Alpha kills Vrataski and mortally wounds Cage, but he manages to drop a belt of grenades, killing the Omega.The dying Cage floats down through the water into the Omega’s blood. He awakens en route to his first meeting with Brigham, who is announcing on TV that Mimic activity has ceased following a mysterious energy surge in Paris. Cage, still a major, goes to Heathrow to find Vrataski. She greets him with the same curtness as in previous iterations, but he only chuckles gladly.One of the most ingenious film concepts ever created, a cross between ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Groundhog Day’, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is a gripping and clever blockbuster sci-fi thrill-ride accompanied with taut, fast-paced action and compelling direction. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt form a perfect chemistry that takes them from the training ground, to the battlefield through to the action-bound finale in Paris. The premise of the time-loop has been used many times before, but this time round there are enough exciting visuals and dynamic storytelling skills employed to make this one thrillingflick that is unpredictable and expertly designed.

REVIEW: GREEN ZONE

CAST

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Greg Kinnear (Movie 43)
Yigal Naor (300: Rise of An Empire)
Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery)
Khalid Abdalla (East To West)
Michael O’Neill (Transformers)

On March 19, 2003, Iraqi General Mohammed Al-Rawi (Yigal Naor) flees his residence amid the bombardment of Baghdad. Before leaving the compound, he passes a notebook to his aide Seyyed, instructing him to warn his officers to get to their safehouses and wait for his signal.Four weeks later, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) and his platoon check a warehouse for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. To Miller’s surprise, the warehouse has not been secured, with looters making their way in and out, as soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division are too few to do much. After a firefight with a sniper, Miller finds that the warehouse is empty, the third consecutive time he has found nothing. Later, at a debriefing, Miller brings up the point that the majority of the intel given to him is inaccurate and anonymous. High-ranking officials quickly dismiss his concerns. Afterward, CIA agent Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) tells him that the next place he is to search was inspected by a UN team two months before and that it too has been confirmed empty.Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Defense official Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) welcomes returning Iraqi exile politician Ahmed Zubaidi (Raad Rawi) at the airport. There Poundstone is questioned by Wall Street Journal reporter Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan). She says she needs to speak directly to “Magellan”, but Poundstone brushes her off.Meanwhile, while checking another unpromising site, Miller is approached by an Iraqi who calls himself “Freddy” (Khalid Abdalla). Freddy tells him that he saw some Ba’ath Party VIPs meeting in a nearby home. They include Al-Rawi and his officers and aides in Baghdad, who are discussing the current situation. Al-Rawi decides to wait for the Americans to offer him a deal, and attack if they don’t. As the meeting ends, Miller and his men burst into the house. Al-Rawi narrowly escapes, but Seyyed is captured. Before Miller can extract much information, Seyyed is taken away by Special Operations personnel – however, Miller keeps Al-Rawi’s notebook. Dayne complains to Poundstone again, but he states that the stakes are much larger than her role in selling newspapers.Miller goes to Brown’s hotel room in the Green Zone, where he tells him what happened and gives him the notebook. Brown arranges for Miller to get into the prison where Seyyed is being interrogated. Miller is then approached by Dayne, who questions him about the false reports of WMDs. Miller bluffs his way in to see Seyyed. Near death after being tortured, he tells Miller that they “did everything you asked us to in the meeting.” When Miller asks what meeting he is talking about, he says one word: “Jordan.” Miller then confronts Dayne about the bogus intel she published, but she refuses to identify Magellan, her source. After Miller tells her he suspects that Al-Rawi is Magellan, Dayne reluctantly confirms that Magellan met with a high-ranking official in February in Jordan.Miller realizes that Poundstone’s men are hunting Al-Rawi, and can think of only one reason: Al-Rawi confirmed there was no Iraqi WMD program and is now a major liability. Poundstone confiscates the notebook from Martin; it contains the locations of Al-Rawi’s safe houses. When Miller tries to arrange a meeting with Al-Rawi, he is abducted by Al-Rawi’s men following Poundstone’s announcement of the decision to disband the entire Iraqi army. Al-Rawi tells Miller that he informed Poundstone that the WMD program had been dismantled after the First Persian Gulf War; Poundstone, however, reported that Al-Rawi had confirmed there were WMDs so the US government would have an excuse to invade. Poundstone’s men attack the locations listed in the notebook. When they get to the general’s hiding place, he flees, ordering one man to kill Miller. Miller manages to kill his captor and races after Al-Rawi. Miller finally captures Al-Rawi, but Freddy suddenly appears and shoots the general, stating that the fate of Iraq is “not his to decide.” With his only witness against Poundstone now dead, Miller tells Freddy to flee.Later, Miller writes a scathing report. He confronts Poundstone in a meeting and gives him the report, but Poundstone dismisses it, telling Miller that WMDs do not matter. Poundstone then rejoins the meeting, only to see Iraqi factional leaders reject Zubaidi, the US’s choice as leader of Iraq, as an American puppet and storm out. Afterwards, Dayne receives Miller’s report by email. The recipient list includes reporters for major news agencies around the world.Green Zone is an excellent movie that will be thoroughly enjoyed by fans of political conspiracy thrillers.

REVIEW: THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!

CAST

Hugh Grant (Two Weeks Notice)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Jeremy Piven (The Kingdom)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Lenny Henry (Postman Pat: The Movie)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Russell Tovey (Quantico)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Ben Whitehead (Wallace & Gromit)
David Schneider (A Knights Tale)

In 1837, the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), inexpert in the ways of pirates, leads a close-knit, rag-tag group of amateur pirates who are trying to make a name for themselves on the high seas. To prove himself and his crew, the Pirate Captain enters the Pirate of the Year competition, with the winner being whoever can plunder the most. After several failed attempts to plunder mundane ships, they come across the Beagle and capture its passenger Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin recognises the crew’s pet Polly as the last living dodo, and recommends they enter it in the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Society of London for a valuable prize. Secretly, Darwin plans on stealing Polly himself with the help of his trained chimpanzee, Mr. Bobo, as to impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) whom he has a crush on; the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) becomes suspicious of Darwin’s motive after one failed attempt to steal Polly.The pirates disguise themselves as scientists to enter the competition, and the dodo display wins the top prize, which turns out to be minuscule trinkets and a meeting with the Queen. The Pirate Captain hides Polly before the meeting. There, the Queen requests that the Pirate Captain donate Polly for her petting zoo. The Pirate Captain refuses and accidentally reveals his true self, but Darwin steps in to spare the Captain’s life, secretly telling the Queen that only the Captain knows where Polly is kept. The Queen lets the Pirate Captain go and orders Darwin to find Polly by any means necessary. Darwin takes the Pirate Captain to a tavern and coaxes out of him that Polly is stashed in his beard. Darwin and Mr. Bobo are able to steal the bird, leading on a chase into the Tower of London where the Queen is waiting. She dismisses Darwin, and instead offers the Pirate Captain a large sum of money in exchange for Polly, which for the Pirate Captain would be enough to assure his win as Pirate of the Year. He accepts the offer and returns to his crew, assuring them Polly is still safe in his beard, though the Pirate with a Scarf is suspicious of his newfound wealth.At the Pirate of the Year ceremony, the Pirate Captain wins the grand prize from the Pirate King (Brian Blessed), but rival pirate Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) makes the Queen’s pardon known to all and explains that if the Pirate Captain has been pardoned, then technically, he is no longer a pirate and, as such, can’t be Pirate of the Year. The Captain is stripped of the prize, treasure, pirate attire, and his pirating license and is banished from Blood Island by the Pirate King, and admits his loss of Polly to his crew who abandon him. The Captain returns to London, intent on rescuing Polly. He reunites with Darwin, learning that the Queen is a member of an exclusive dining society of world leaders that feast on endangered creatures, and that Polly is likely on her flagship, the QV1 to be served at the next meal. The Pirate Captain and Darwin work together to steal an airship to travel to the QV1. Mr. Bobo, meanwhile, goes to find the rest of the Captain’s crew to enlist their help.Aboard the QV1, the Queen locates the Pirate Captain and Darwin and attempts to kill both of them, but together they best her. In the battle, they accidentally mix the ship’s store of baking soda with vinegar, causing a violent reaction that rends the ship in two. The Pirate Captain rescues Polly and they escape safely, leaving behind a furious Queen. With his reputation among pirates restored because of the large bounty now on his head, the Pirate Captain is reinstated as a Pirate, and he and his crew continue to explore the high seas in search of adventure.In a few post-credits scenes, they leave Darwin on the Galapagos Islands, Mr. Bobo joins the Pirate Captain’s crew, the Queen is left at the mercy of some of the rare animals she had planned on eating, Black Bellamy is forcefully stripped of his trophy by the Pirate King because of the Pirate Captain’s new infamy, and the crew present the Pirate Captain with their own homemade Pirate of the Year trophy.The cast itself was one of the film’s main attractions and the voice work is first rate. Hugh Grant shows impeccable comic timing, and Salma Hayak voices Cutlass Liz with lots of sass. Jeremy Piven shows that he can do wonderfully with a character that is strongly-written and provides a good contrast to Grant’s Pirate Captain. Brendan Gleeson and Brian Blessed give rousing turns, David Tennant’s Charles Darwin charms and Imelda Staunton voices Queen Victoria as if she were born to do it. A wonderful family film that anybody could enjoy