REVIEW: SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011)

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Claire Foy (Going Postal)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Thing)
Stephen Campbell Moore (The Bank Job)
Stephen Graham (This Is England)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Brian F. O’Byrne (Flashforward)
Robert Sheehan (Mortal Engines)

In Villach in the year 1235, three women are accused of witchcraft by a priest. While one claims to be a witch through persuasion from the church, one denies it, another does neither and curses the priest. He orders them hanged and drowned. That done, he urges the guards to pull them back up for a ritual to make sure the so-called witches never come back to life. The guards refuse, claiming they are dead enough. The priest returns late at night to perform the ritual. One of the corpses, one of a hag with a blind eye suffers a seizure but dies, While another corpse, a younger woman takes on a demonic appearance and kills the priest and burns his book with the rites in it.In the 14th century, Teutonic Knights Behmen von Bleibruck (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) are engaged on a crusade, taking part in several different battles throughout the 1330’s (1332 Gulf of Edremit, 1334 Siege of Tripoli, 1337 Imbros & 1339 Artah) and eventually in the Smyrniote crusades. After witnessing the massacre of civilians during the 1344 capture of Smyrna, the two knights desert the Order and the crusade and return to Austria.While traveling through Styria, Behmen and Felson encounter the grotesque sight of people infected with the Black Death and discover that the Holy Roman Empire has been swept by the plague. They enter an unnamed town, trying to conceal their identity as deserters, but are revealed as knights by the crest on Behmen’s sword. They are arrested and taken to Cardinal D’Ambroise, who is infected with the plague. The Cardinal asks the knights to escort an alleged witch suspected of causing the plague to a remote monastery, where an elite group of monks reside. These monks can determine if the girl is truly a witch, and if she is found guilty, know a sacred ritual to cancel her powers and stop the plague that is devastating Europe. The two knights agree under the condition she be given a fair trial and that the charges of desertion against them be dropped. The Cardinal agrees and they set out accompanied by a priest, Debelzaq; a young altar boy, Kay von Wollenbarth, who wants to become a knight like his deceased father; a knight, Johann Eckhardt, whose family was killed by the plague; and the well-traveled swindler Hagamar, who will serve as their guide to the monastery in return for a pardon. The witch, a young girl later identified as Anna from Marburg, shows hatred towards Debelzaq and forms a bond with Behmen.Shortly after setting off, the group camp for the night. Johann decides to take first watch. When Debelzaq comes to relieve him of the watch, Johann says how much she remind him of his dead daughter, then goes on to speak of the politics of her trial, and how the Church cannot have her not be guilty. Johann decides to give up the mission and goes to convince the others to do the same, leaving Anna alone with Debelzaq. Anna becomes hysterical at the prospect of being left alone with Debelzaq. She attacks him and grabs his key to the cage, then escapes, fleeing toward a nearby village. The search for her leads the group to a mass grave, where Eckhart has visions of his dead daughter. Chasing the visions, he impales himself on Kay’s sword and dies. When they recapture her, the tearful Anna explains that she only ran away for fear of Debelzaq. However the group gradually becomes less trusting of her. They cross a rickety rope bridge, where Anna saves Kay from falling to his death by grabbing him with one hand, showing unnatural strength. The group enters the dark forest called Wormwood, where Hagamar attempts to kill Anna so that the group can go home, only to be stopped by the others. Anna appears to summon monstrous wolves, which chase the group and kill Hagamar. An enraged Behmen tries to kill Anna, but is stopped by Debelzaq and Felson, who point out that the monastery is in sight.At the monastery, the men find that all the monks have been killed by the plague, but locate the Key of Solomon, an ancient book filled with holy rituals used to defeat evil. The men confront Anna, and Debelzaq begins to perform a ritual used on witches. However, as Anna begins precisely recounting Behmen’s past actions during the Crusades, Debelzaq realizes that she is not a witch, and begins frantically performing an exorcism. However, the demon that is possessing Anna reveals himself and melts the metal of the cage. He fights off the knights effortlessly, but when Debelzaq throws a vial of holy water on him, the demon flies out of sight. As the men search for the demon, they realize he is not trying to escape, but to destroy the book so that nothing can stop his powers. They find a room where the monks were writing copies of the book, where the demon, revealing himself to be Baal, destroys the copies and possesses the dead monks’ bodies to use as weapons. The three men fight the possessed monks while Debelzaq continues the exorcism ritual. During the fight, Baal/Anna breaks Debelzaq’s neck, then kills Felson.Kay picks up the book and continues the ritual, while Behmen continues fighting Baal/Anna. Behmen is mortally wounded during the fight, but Kay is able to finish the ritual and Baal is expelled from Anna’s body, freeing her. Behmen asks Kay to keep Anna safe and then dies of his wounds. Kay and Anna bury their fallen friends. Anna asks Kay to tell her about the men who saved her. They depart from the monastery with the book.

Season of the witch was a far better film than critics and fellow moviegoers lead you to believe. If you want to see a fun yet dark heroic adventure, go see Season of the Witch!

REVIEW: MILLION DOLLAR BABY

Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby (2004)

CAST
Hilary Swank (The Reaping)
Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Jay Baruchel (Robocop 2014)
Mike Colter (Jessica Jones)
Brian F. O’Byrne (Flashforward)
Anthony Mackie (Ant-Man)
Margo Martindale (Mike & Molly)
Riki Lindhome (The Muppets)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Benito Martinez (Sons of Anarchy)
Tom McCleister (Twins)
Spice Williams-Crosby (Star Trek V)
Kim Strauss (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
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Margaret “Maggie” Fitzgerald, a waitress from a Missouri town in the Ozarks, shows up in the Hit Pit, a run-down Los Angeles gym owned and operated by Frankie Dunn, an old, cantankerous boxing trainer. Maggie asks Frankie to train her, but he initially refuses. Maggie works out tirelessly each day in his gym, even after Frankie tells her she’s “too old” to begin a boxing career at her age. Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris, Frankie’s friend and employee (as well as the film’s narrator), encourages and helps her.
Frankie’s prize prospect, “Big” Willie Little, signs with successful manager Mickey Mack after becoming impatient with Dunn’s rejecting offers for a championship bout. With prodding from Scrap and impressed with her persistence, Frankie reluctantly agrees to train Maggie. He warns her that he will teach her only the basics and then find her a manager. Other than Maggie and his employees, the only person Frankie has contact with is a local pastor, with whom he spars verbally at daily Mass.
Before her first fight, Frankie leaves Maggie with a random manager in his gym, much to her dismay; upon being told by Scrap that said manager deliberately put her up against his best girl (coaching the novice to lose) to give her an easy win, Frankie rejoins Maggie in the middle of the bout and coaches her instead to an unforeseen victory. A natural, she fights her way up in the women’s amateur boxing division with Frankie’s coaching, winning many of her lightweight bouts with first-round knockouts. Earning a reputation for her KOs, Frankie must resort to bribery to get other managers to put their trainee fighters up against her.
Eventually, Frankie risks putting her in the junior welterweight class, where her nose is broken in her first match. Frankie comes to establish a paternal bond with Maggie, who substitutes for his estranged daughter. Scrap, concerned when Frankie rejects several offers for big fights, arranges a meeting for her with Mickey Mack at a diner on her 33rd birthday. Out of loyalty, she declines. Frankie begrudgingly accepts a fight for her against a top-ranked opponent in the UK, where he bestows a Gaelic nickname on her. The two travel Europe as she continues to win; Maggie eventually saves up enough of her winnings to buy her mother a house, but she berates Maggie for endangering her government aid, claiming that everyone back home is laughing at her.
Frankie is finally willing to arrange a title fight. He secures Maggie a $1 million match in Las Vegas, Nevada against the WBA women’s welterweight champion, Billie “The Blue Bear”, a German ex-prostitute who has a reputation as a dirty fighter. Overcoming a shaky start, Maggie begins to dominate the fight, but after a round has ended, Billie knocks her out with an illegal sucker punch from behind after the bell has sounded to indicate the end of the round. Before Frankie can pull the corner stool out of the way which was inappropriately placed on its side by Frankie’s assistant, Maggie lands hard on it, breaking her neck and leaving her a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.
Frankie is shown experiencing the first three of the five stages of grief: first seeking multiple doctors’ opinions in denial, then blaming Scrap in anger and later trying to bargain with God through prayer. In a medical rehabilitation facility, Maggie looks forward to a visit from her family, but they arrive accompanied by an attorney and only after having first visited Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood; their only concern is to transfer Maggie’s assets to them. She orders them to leave, threatening to sell the house and inform the IRS of her mother’s welfare fraud if they ever show their faces again.
As the days pass, however, Maggie develops bedsores and undergoes an amputation for an infected leg. She asks a favor of Frankie: to help her die, declaring that she got everything she wanted out of life. A horrified Frankie refuses, and Maggie later bites her tongue repeatedly in an attempt to bleed to death, but the medical staff saves her and takes measures to prevent further suicide attempts. The pastor Frankie has harassed for 23 years, Father Horvak, warns him that he would never find himself again if he were to go through with Maggie’s wishes.
Frankie sneaks in one night, unaware that Scrap is watching from the shadows. Just before administering a fatal injection of adrenaline, he finally tells Maggie the meaning of a nickname he gave her, Mo Chuisle (spelled incorrectly in the film as “mo cuishle”): Irish for “my darling, and my blood” (literally, “my pulse”). He never returns to the gym. Scrap’s narration is revealed to be a letter to Frankie’s daughter, informing her of her father’s true character. The last shot of the film shows Frankie sitting at the counter of a diner where Maggie once took him.
The ending was haunting but incredibly poignant. This film was impressive, excellently crafted and definately worthwhile seeing, not least for the excellent performances of the cast

REVIEW: FLASHFORWARD

CAST

Joseph Fiennes (Hercules)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Courtney B. Vance (Final Destination 5)
Sonya Walger (Lost)
Christine Woods (The Walking Dead)
Jack Davenport (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Zachary Knighton (Cherry Falls)
Peyton List (The Flash)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Brían F. O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ryan Wynott (The Cape)
Lennon Wynn (Jennifers Body)
Barry Shabaka Henley (Heroes)
Genevieve Cortese (Supernatural)
Michael Ealy (Almost Human)
Gabrielle Union (10 Things I Hate About You)
Michael Masse (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Lee Thompson Young (Smallville)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Rachel Roberts (Simone)
Yūko Takeuchi (Ring)
James Callis (Battlestar Galacitca)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Gil Bellows (Sanctuary)
Mark Famiglietti (Terminator 3)
Annabeth Gish (Mystic Pizza)
Alex Kingston (Arrow)
Ricky Jay (Lie To Me)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Kim Dickens (Lost)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Keir O’ Donnell (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Navi Rawat (Thoughtcrimes)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Lee Garlington (A Lot Like Love)
Callum Rennie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Peter Coyote (Sphere)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Michael O’Neill (Transformers)
Patti Yasutake (Drop Dead Gorgeous)
Jessica Tuck (True Blood)
John Prosky (Bowfinger)
Anthony Azizi (Priest)
James Frain (Star Trek: Discovery)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Paula Newsome (Guess Who)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Yûko Takeuchi (Midnight Eagle)
Ravi Kapoor (Flight)

In the summer of 2009 ABC realized that their ratting juggernaut, Lost, was coming to an end. When it started, Lost was the first real hit they’d had in half a decade and the network wanted to replace it with another show that would keep viewers coming back week after week for years. Their answer: Flashforward. Reportedly planned to last five seasons, the show starts out with a deep mystery that gets more complex and intricate as the show progresses. Unfortunately the show wasn’t renewed for a second season.


On October 6th, 2009 at precisely 11:00:00 PST on the dot, without warning, every person in the world blacked. This caused mayhem as planes fell out of the sky, cars plowed into crowds, and helicopters crashed into skyscrapers. Two minutes and seventeen seconds later everyone woke up, having all experienced the same thing: they saw what they would be doing on April 29, 2010, six month in the future.


People started calling this event a flashforward and it naturally affected people in different ways. To many the glimpse of what was to come was life altering, both good and bad. One man sees his daughter, who he thought was killed in Afghanistan, alive but wounded. A happily married woman sees a strange man in her bed. An alcoholic sees himself drinking. A few people don’t see anything. Does that mean that they’ll be dead in half a year?An FBI agent, Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes), sees himself investigating who or what triggered the flashforward as armed gunmen break into the LA branch of the FBI with the purpose of killing him. Armed with what he can remember from the bulletin board covered with leads, Benford and his partner, Demetri Noh (John Cho), head up the investigation of the event. They start a web site, Mosaic, where people can publically post what they saw in their future and use the data to come up with a picture of what the world will look like in 6 months. They also discover some very interesting things that are hard to explain. Like the fact that not everyone was knocked out. Examining camera footage from a baseball stadium they discover images of a person calmly walking through the thousands of unconscious people towards an exit. He  is labeled ‘Suspect Zero’ and finding this person is the agency’s top priority. Second only to the person he was talking to on his cell phone.

When it originally aired, the program ran ten episodes and then took a three-and-a-half month break, then came back for another 12 installments. The show really hits its stride in that later half .  it was cancelled at the end of the first season. The show was conceived to run for 5 years and when this set ends, there are still a lot of plot lines that are unresolved. That’s going to be really disappointing to a lot of people who get hooked on this show