REVIEW: PACIFIC RIM

CAST

Charlie Hunnam (Crimson Peak)
Idris Elba (Prometheus)
Rinko Kikuchi (47 Ronin)
Charlie Day(The Lego Movie)
Max Martini (Colombiana)
Robert Kazinsky (Warcraft)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Clifton Collins, Jr. (Westowlrd)
Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones)
Diego Klattenhoff (After Earth)
Brad William Henke (Lost)

In 2013, alien monsters called Kaiju emerge from an interdimensional portal called “The Breach” at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Humanity responds by constructing giant mecha called Jaegers, to combat the alien threat. Each Jaeger is co-piloted by two or more people, who share a mental link via a process called “Drifting” to share the mental stress of piloting the machine.

In 2020, Gipsy Danger, piloted by brothers Raleigh and Yancy Becket, defends Anchorage from a Kaiju named Knifehead. They disobey orders from Marshal Stacker Pentecost to rescue a fishing boat, only for the Kaiju to ambush them, wrecking the Jaeger and killing Yancy. Raleigh manages to pilot Gipsy Danger alone, killing Knifehead, but quits the Jaeger Program. Several years later, the world governments decide to end funding for the continuous construction of Jaegers in favour of anti-Kaiju coastal walls, since Kaiju are appearing more frequently and Jaegers are being destroyed as quickly as they are built. The remaining Jaegers are relocated to Hong Kong under Pentecost’s command, who plans to destroy the Breach using a tactical nuclear weapon.

Pentecost tracks down Raleigh to a wall construction site to recruit him for the assault, though Raleigh still remains traumatised by Yancy’s death. Travelling to the Hong Kong base, the Shatterdome, Raleigh is introduced to Mako Mori, the director of the Jaeger’s restoration program and Pentecost’s adoptive daughter. Four Jaegers remain in operation – the refurbished Gipsy Danger, the Russian Cherno Alpha, Chinese Crimson Typhoon, and the Australian Striker Eureka, piloted by father and son Herc and Chuck Hansen. To find a new co-pilot, Raleigh participates in tryouts, deciding Mako is “drift-compatible”. During their first test, Raleigh falls out of alignment reliving Yancy’s death, causing Mako to become lost in the memory of a Kaiju’s attack on Tokyo, nearly firing Gipsy’s energy cannon. Pentecost grounds both pilots.

Pentecost consults Kaiju experts Newton Geiszler and Herman Gottlieb. Hermann claims the Breach will stabilise and the Kaiju will increase in number, but it will allow the assault to succeed, while Newton suggests attempting to drift with a Kaiju’s brain to learn more about them, but is dismissed by his colleagues. Newton attempts it regardless, discovering Kaiju are bioweapons grown by alien colonists. Pentecost instructs Newton to find black market dealer Hannibal Chau to obtain another Kaiju brain to drift with it. Newton realises the Kaiju hive mind gained access to his brain, since drifting is a two-way link, and two new Kaiju, Leatherback and Otachi, are sent simultaneously to find him.

All Jaegers save Gipsy Danger are dispatched to intervene. The Kaiju destroy Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha, while Leatherback paralyzes Striker Eureka with an EMP blast. Pentecost sends Gipsy Danger to help, the only Jaeger powered by a nuclear reactor while the others are digital. Gipsy kills Leatherback and Otachi shortly after during her search for Newton. Newton and Hannibal go to harvest Otachi’s secondary brain, discovering she is pregnant. The infant Kaiju bursts out, devours Hannibal, before choking on its own umbilical cord. Newton and Hermann drift with the infant’s brain, discovering the Breach only opens in the presence of a Kaiju’s DNA.

Pentecost reveals to Raleigh he has terminal cancer due to piloting a first-generation Jaeger, which lacked radiation shielding, the last time being in Tokyo. Two new Kaiju are detected guarding the Breach, prompting Gipsy and Striker, piloted by Pentecost and Chuck, to go ahead with the assault. Approaching the Breach, the Jaegers are attacked by the Kaiju, and a new “Category Five” Kaiju, Slattern, leading to Striker being crippled. Learning the truth from Newton and Hermann, Pentecost and Chuck decide to sacrifice Striker while Gipsy acts as the nuclear bomb to seal the Breach. After Striker self-destructs, Gipsy slaughters the Kaiju, riding Slattern’s corpse into the Breach. Raleigh removes Mako from Gipsy, manually causing Gipsy to self-destruct, escaping before it explodes and seals the Breach.

Raleigh and Mako’s escape pods surface in the Pacific Ocean, where both embrace as rescue helicopters arrive. In a mid-credits scene, Hannibal cuts his way out of the Kaiju infant.Pacific Rim is just simply awesome. Now, it may not be for everyone, but if you love action, giant monsters, and giant robots, you’ll definitely love this. Or if you’re just trying to have some fun, watch this. It’s got both brains and brawn.

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REVIEW: COLD MOUNTAIN

 

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Bewitched)
Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jude Law (Spy)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job)
Ray Winstone (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands)
James Gammon (The Iron Giant)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)
Jena Malone (Sucker Punch)
Lucas Black (Fast & Furious 7)
Taryn Manning (The Breed)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Richard Brake (Hannibal Rising)

Cold Mountain Screen

When North Carolina secedes from the Union on May 20, 1861, the young men of a rural, provincial, North Carolina backwater known only as Cold Mountain hurry to enlist in the Confederate military. Among them is W.P. Inman (Jude Law), a carpenter who has fallen in love with Ada (Nicole Kidman), a minister´s daughter, and finds their whirlwind courtship interrupted by the American Civil War.

Cold Mountain 550
Three years later, Inman finds himself in the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia, during the Battle of the Crater. Union soldiers tunneling beneath Confederate fortifications detonate over 300 kegs of gunpowder, in a futile attempt to undermine the position prior to their assault. As the ill-fated attack begins, Oakley (Lucas Black) an old acquaintance of Inman’s from Cold Mountain, is impaled on a bayonet and mortally wounded. Inman rescues him from the fighting and takes him to a field hospital. Later that day Oakley dies in the hospital, with Inman and Stobrod Thewes (Brendan Gleeson) beside him. The next night, Inman, along with his Cherokee friend Swimmer (Jay Tavare), are sent to flush out surviving Union troops trapped behind their lines. During the raid, a burst of friendly fire kills Swimmer and seriously injures Inman. As Inman lies in the hospital near death, he has a letter from Ada read to him in which she pleads with him to stop fighting, stop marching, and come back to her. Inman recovers, and—with the war drawing ever closer to an inevitable Confederate defeat—decides to go home to Cold Mountain.

On his journey he meets the corrupt preacher Reverend Veasey (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is about to drown his pregnant slave lover. Inman stops Veasey, and leaves him tied up to face the town’s justice. Exiled from his parish, Veasey later rejoins Inman on his journey. They help a young man named Junior (Giovanni Ribisi) butcher his cow, and join him and his family for dinner. Junior leaves the house after the feast, the women in Junior’s family seduce Veasey, and Junior’s wife, Lila, tries to seduce Inman. Junior returns home with the Confederate Home Guard, and both Inman and Veasey are arrested and led away with other deserters. During a subsequent skirmish with Union cavalry, Veasey is killed and Inman left for dead. An elderly hermit living in the woods (Eileen Atkins) finds him and nurses him back to health.
Cold Mountain
Inman later meets a grieving young widow named Sara (Natalie Portman), who is raising her infant child Ethan alone; he stays the night at her cabin. The next morning, a party of Union foragers arrive demanding food. Sara orders Inman away for his protection, but he hides only a few feet away from the house. The leader, Nym (Richard Brake), and his lieutenant harass Sara, steal her livestock, and leave Ethan in the cold, though the third soldier (Cillian Murphy) attempts to keep the baby warm. Nym tries to rape Sara but both he and the lieutenant are killed by Inman. Inman forces the kind forager to surrender and lets him go, but as the latter flees, an enraged Sara fatally shoots him. In parallel with Inman’s adventures, the film follows Ada’s wartime experiences. Ada is a city gentlewoman who only recently moved to the rural farm named Black Cove. She met Inman on her first day at Cold Mountain and had a brief, chaste romance with him the night before he left for the army. Shortly after Inman leaves, Ada’s father (Donald Sutherland) dies, leaving her alone on the farm with no money, food, or livelihood, and with little prospect for help, as the young, able-bodied men are off at war.
nicole-kidman-cold-mountain-qa-1
Ada is completely inept at working the farm, having been raised as a southern lady. She manages to survive thanks to the kindness of her neighbors, one of whom eventually sends Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger) to her. Ruby is a young woman who has lived a hard-scrabble life and is very adept at the tasks needed to run the farm. Ruby lives at the farm with Ada, and together they take the farm from a state of disaster to working order. Meanwhile, Ada writes constant letters to Inman in hopes of meeting him again and renewing their romance. The two women form a close friendship and become each other’s confidantes. They also are friends with the Swangers (James Gammon and Kathy Baker), who live down the road from Ada’s farm Black Cove. It is at the Swangers’ well that Ada “sees” a vision of Inman coming back to her in the snow, surrounded by crows.

During the war, Ada and Ruby, and other members of their community, have several tense encounters with men of the Home Guard. This branch of the Home Guard is led by Captain Teague (Ray Winstone), whose grandfather once owned much of Cold Mountain. He and his deputies hunt deserters, partially with the goal of Teague’s seizing their land. Teague also lusts after Ada. Although the purpose of the Home Guard was to protect the South and its citizen population from the North, they have become violent vigilantes who hunt and often kill deserters from the Confederate Army, and terrorize citizens who they believe are housing or helping the deserters. This includes the Swangers’ sons, who, by torturing their mother, they coax out of hiding and kill. Esco Swanger—the family patriarch—is also killed protecting his sons.

Ruby’s estranged father Stobrod, a Confederate deserter and a violin player, arrives, reconciles with her, and convinces her to make a coat for his intellectually challenged banjo player Pangle (Ethan Suplee). Ruby finds herself drawn to mandolin player Georgia (Jack White). While camping, Stobrod, Pangle, and Georgia are cornered by the Home Guardsmen led by Teague. Pangle unintentionally reveals the band as the deserters Teague is seeking. Georgia is hidden a few feet away and witnesses the shooting of Pangle and Stobrod. He escapes to Black Cove Farm and informs Ruby and Ada, who rush to the campsite to find Pangle dead and Stobrod badly injured. Ada helps Ruby remove a bullet from Strobrod’s back, and they decide to take shelter in some cabins in the woods to avoid Teague and his men.

At this point the two story lines come together. Inman, half-dead from starvation, finally reaches Cold Mountain and is almost killed by Ada before she recognizes him. They later consummate their love and spend the night together.  The Home Guardsmen, however, soon find them, having captured and tortured Georgia to learn that the women are harboring deserters. In the ensuing gunfight Inman ambushes and kills Teague and most of his band, but Teague’s violent young lieutenant Bosie (Charlie Hunnam), escapes up the mountain. Cornering him near the top, Inman urges him to surrender peacefully, but Bosie draws, forcing him to fire; both men are mortally wounded. Ada goes after Inman, and finds him just as she saw him in her vision at the well… coming back to her in the snow surrounded by crows. He dies in her arms. The film ends several years later with Ada, Ruby and their families celebrating Easter. Ruby has married Georgia, and the two have a young daughter and an infant child. It is also revealed that Ada’s night with Inman has produced a child, Grace Inman.

 

A very intense and sometimes moving movie experience with a brutal battle sequence, and indeed many further violent incidents both at Cold Mountain itself and indeed on ‘Inman’s’ journey. The film harbours many fine performances from it’s star-studded cast-list. Well worth a re-visit or indeed a first viewing.

REVIEW: CRIMSON PEAK

CAST

Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland)
Tom Hiddleston (Thor)
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar)
Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)
Jim Beaver (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises)
Leslie Hope (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Jonathan Hyde (Jumanji)
Bruce Gray (Evan Almighty)
Emily Coutts (Barn Wedding)

In 1887, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), the young daughter of wealthy American businessman Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), is visited by her mother’s ghost who warns her, “beware of Crimson Peak.”
Fourteen years later, Edith is now a budding author who prefers penning ghost stories to writing the romance novels that her editor wants. She meets Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), an English baronet who has come to the United States seeking investors, including Edith’s father, for his clay-mining invention. Disdaining privileged aristocracy and unimpressed with Sharpe’s prototype and previous failures to raise capital, Cushing rejects Thomas’s proposal. Edith notices that Thomas and his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), wear expensive but outdated and somewhat-frayed fashions. Shortly after, Edith once again is visited by her mother’s spirit bearing the same warning. Sir Thomas is determined to persuade Mr. Cushing to change his mind. However, when he and Edith become romantically attached, Cushing and Edith’s childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), disapprove. Mr. Cushing hires a private detective who uncovers unsavory facts about the Sharpes. Mr. Cushing confronts the siblings and bribes them into returning to England. As Cushing insisted he do, Sir Thomas abruptly and cruelly ends his and Edith’s relationship, but the next morning, he sends her a note explaining his actions. Not long after, Mr. Cushing is brutally murdered, though his death is ruled accidental. Edith and Sir Thomas eventually marry and return to England. They arrive at Allerdale Hall, the Sharpes’ dilapidated mansion, which sits atop a red clay mine. As Edith settles in, she finds that Lucille acts somewhat cold toward her while Sir Thomas remains physically distant. Edith is left confused and uncertain by their behavior.
Gruesome ghosts begin appearing to Edith throughout the mansion. To help calm Edith, Sir Thomas takes her into town. After being snowed in for the night, they finally consummate their marriage. Lucille angrily lashes out when they return the next morning, frightening Edith. By the time Sir Thomas mentions that the estate is also referred to as “Crimson Peak,” due to the warm red clay seeping up through the snow, Edith is growing increasingly weaker and coughing up blood.
Edith explores the mansion and begins piecing clues together, discovering that Sir Thomas previously married three wealthy women who were fatally poisoned for their inheritances. She realizes she, too, is being poisoned. She also discovers the siblings have had a long-term incestuous relationship, resulting in a sickly infant that died. Lucille murdered their mother after she had discovered her children’s incest. Sir Thomas inherited the family manor that, like many aristocratic estates of the era, is no longer profitable; the Sharpes are virtually penniless. The brother and sister began the “marriage and murder” scheme to support themselves and to fund Thomas’s inventions.

Back in the United States, the detective that Mr. Cushing had hired tells Alan what he uncovered about the Sharpes, including Thomas’s multiple marriages and Lucille’s time in a mental institution. Realizing Edith is in danger, Alan arrives at Allerdale Hall to rescue her. Lucille stabs him in the left armpit, then demands that Sir Thomas finish him off. Sir Thomas, who has fallen in love with Edith and does not want her harmed, inflicts a second, non-fatal stab wound to Alan before hiding him in the cellar. Lucille forces Edith to sign a transfer deed granting the Sharpes ownership of the Cushing estate and also confesses to her that she was the one who murdered Edith’s father. After Edith signs the deed, she stabs Lucille in the chest with a pen and tries to flee. Sir Thomas burns the deed and promises to protect Edith so that she and Alan can escape. Lucille, jealous over Sir Thomas falling in love with Edith, murders him in a rage. She then pursues Edith. Aided by Sir Thomas’ ghost, Edith kills Lucille with a shovel. Sir Thomas bids Edith a silent farewell as his spirit departs. Edith and Alan are rescued, and Lucille’s ghost now haunts Allerdale. The end credits imply that Edith has written a novel titled Crimson Peak based on her experiences.This is an intensely visual film that held my attention for all two hours. The performances are very good, but the hero is the production design. ‘Crimson Peak’ is unashamedly set-driven and there are times when the actors start to disappear in amongst their vast surroundings. This is a terrific horror film that gets very close to sheer. It is also an intelligent film that is awash with symbols, metaphors and allegories.