CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: FROZEN

CAST (VOICES)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Idina Menzel (Enchanted)
Jonathan Groff (American Sniper)
Josh Gad (New Girl)
Santino Fontana (Sisters)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
 Elsa, Princess of Arendelle, possesses cryokinetic powers, with which she is able to produce or manipulate ice, frost and snow at will. One night while playing, she accidentally injures her younger sister, Anna. Their shocked parents, the king and queen, seek help from the troll king, who heals Anna and removes her memories of Elsa’s magic. The royal couple isolate the sisters in the castle until Elsa learns to control her magical powers. Afraid of hurting Anna again, and with her ability to control her powers deteriorating, Elsa spends most of her time alone in her room, refusing even to speak to Anna and a rift develops between the sisters as they grow up. When the girls are teenagers, their parents die at sea during a storm.
When Elsa comes of age, the kingdom prepares for her coronation. Among the guests is the Duke of Weselton, who seeks to exploit Arendelle for profit. Excited to be allowed out of the castle again, Princess Anna explores the town and meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles; the two quickly develop a mutual attraction. Despite Elsa’s fears, her coronation takes place without incident. During the reception, Hans proposes to Anna, who hastily accepts. However, Elsa refuses to grant her blessing and forbids their sudden marriage. The sisters argue, culminating in the exposure of Elsa’s abilities in an emotional outburst.
Panicking, Elsa flees the castle, while inadvertently unleashing an eternal winter on the kingdom. High in the nearby mountains, she abandons her restraint, vowing to never return and building herself a solitary ice palace. Meanwhile, Anna leaves Hans in charge of Arendelle and sets out in search of her sister, determined to return her to Arendelle, end the winter and mend their relationship. While obtaining supplies, Anna meets an iceman named Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven, and convinces Kristoff to guide her up the North Mountain. On their journey, the group encounters Olaf, Anna and Elsa’s childhood snowman whom the latter recreated and unknowingly brought to life, who leads them to Elsa’s hideaway.
Anna and Elsa reunite, but Elsa still fears hurting her sister. When Anna insists that Elsa return, she becomes agitated and her powers lash out, accidentally striking Anna in the heart. Horrified, Elsa forces Anna, Kristoff and Olaf to leave by creating a giant snow creature named Marshmallow that chases them away from her palace. As they flee, Kristoff notices Anna’s hair turning white and deduces that something is very wrong. He seeks help from the trolls, his adoptive family, who explain that Anna’s heart has been frozen by Elsa. Unless it can be thawed by an “act of true love”, she will become frozen solid forever. Believing that only Hans can save her with a true love’s kiss, Kristoff races back with her to Arendelle. Meanwhile, Hans, who is leading a search for Anna, reaches Elsa’s palace. In the ensuing battle against the duke’s men, Elsa is knocked unconscious by a falling chandelier and imprisoned in Arendelle. There, Hans pleads with her to undo the winter, but Elsa confesses that she has no idea how. When Anna reunites with Hans and begs him to kiss her to break the curse, Hans refuses and reveals that his true intention in marrying her is to seize control of Arendelle’s throne. Leaving Anna to die, he charges Elsa with treason for her younger sister’s apparent death.
Elsa escapes and heads out into the blizzard on the fjord. Olaf comes across Anna and reveals Kristoff is in love with her; they then escape onto the fjord to find him. Hans confronts Elsa, telling her Anna is dead because of her. In Elsa’s despair, the storm suddenly ceases, giving Kristoff and Anna the chance to locate each other. Nevertheless, Anna, seeing that Hans is about to kill Elsa, throws herself between the two just as she freezes solid, blocking Hans’ attack. As Elsa grieves for her sister, Anna begins to thaw, since her decision to sacrifice herself to save her sister constitutes an “act of true love”. Realizing love is the key to controlling her powers, Elsa reforms by thawing the kingdom and helps Olaf survive in summer. Hans is deported to the Southern Isles to face punishment for his crimes against the royal family of Arendelle, while Elsa cuts off trade with Weselton. The two sisters reconcile and Elsa promises never to shut the castle gates again.
This is really a lovely, enjoyable cartoon. And it’s just that a lovely, enjoyable cartoon. And basically a fairy tale. Frozen turns out to be as spectacular as we wanted it to be.
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REVIEW: ROAD TO PERDITION

CAST

Tom Hanks (The Terminal)
Tyler Hoechin (Supergirl)
Paul Newman (The Hustler)
Jude Law (Spy)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Liam Aiken (The Frontier)
Dylan Baker (Changing Lanes)
Ciarán Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Anthony LaPaglia (The Custodian)

In 1931, during the Great Depression, Michael Sullivan, Sr. is an enforcer for Irish mob boss John Rooney in Rock Island, Illinois. Rooney raised the orphan Sullivan and loves him more than his own biological son, Connor. Rooney sends Connor and Sullivan to meet with disgruntled associate Finn McGovern, but Connor shoots McGovern, resulting in Sullivan gunning down McGovern’s men. Sullivan’s twelve-year-old son Michael, Jr. had hidden in his father’s car and witnesses the event. Despite Sullivan swearing his son to secrecy and Rooney pressuring Connor to apologize for the reckless action, Connor murders Sullivan’s wife Annie and younger son Peter. At the same time, he sends Sullivan to an ambush at a speakeasy. Sullivan realizes it’s a set-up, kills two men at the bar, and escapes. He goes to Chicago with his son to seek Al Capone, for work and to discover the location of Connor, who has gone into hiding.Capone’s underboss Frank Nitti rejects Sullivan’s proposals, before informing Rooney of the meeting. Rooney reluctantly allows Nitti to dispatch assassin Harlen Maguire, who is also a crime scene photographer, to kill Sullivan. Maguire tracks him and his son to a roadside diner, but fails to kill Sullivan; realizing Maguire’s intentions, Sullivan escapes through the bathroom and punctures Maguire’s car tire before fleeing. In reaction to the ordered hit, Sullivan begins robbing banks that hold Capone’s money, hoping to trade it for Connor. Sullivan is impeded when the mob withdraws its money, so he visits Rooney’s accountant Alexander Rance at his hotel. The encounter is a set-up, with Rance stalling Sullivan until Maguire enters with a shotgun. In the ensuing crossfire, Rance is killed, Maguire is injured by flying glass shards, and Sullivan escapes with the ledgers; as Sullivan flees, Maguire shoots him in his left arm.When his father collapses from his wound, Michael Jr. drives his father to a farm, where a childless elderly couple help him recover. Sullivan bonds with his son and discovers from the ledgers that Connor has been embezzling from his father for years, using the names of dead men. As the Sullivans depart, they give the couple much of the stolen money. Sullivan confronts Rooney with the information while they attend Mass. Rooney already knew about the embezzlement and that Connor was likely to die, if not by Sullivan’s hand then by the Chicago Outfit once Rooney dies. He still refuses to give up his son. He encourages Sullivan to leave with his son. Later one night, cloaked by darkness and rain, Sullivan dispatches Rooney’s entire entourage with his Thompson submachine gun and walks directly up to Rooney. As Rooney mutters that he is glad his killer is Sullivan, a reluctant Sullivan pulls the trigger. Seeing no further reason to protect Connor, Nitti reveals his location, after making Sullivan promise to end the feud. Sullivan goes to the hotel where Connor is hiding and kills him.Sullivan drives his son to stay at his Aunt Sara’s beach house in Perdition, a town on the shore of Lake Michigan. However, he is ambushed and shot by a disfigured Maguire. As Maguire prepares to photograph the dying Sullivan, Michael, Jr. appears and points a gun at Maguire but cannot muster the will to fire. Sullivan pulls out his gun and kills Maguire, before dying in his son’s arms. Mourning his father’s death, Michael, Jr. returns to live with the elderly farm couple. Growing up, Michael, Jr. reflects that his father’s only fear was that his son would become like him. Michael states he has never held a gun since the fatal encounter between Maguire and his father. When asked if Sullivan was a good or bad man, he replies “he was my father.”Based on a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, “Road to Perdition” is a powerful, atmospheric crime thriller that blends “Godfather”-style mayhem with philosophical meditations on the nature of good and evil, and the relationship between sons and their fathers.

REVIEW: THE SUM OF ALL FEARS

CAST

Ben Affeck (Batman V Superman)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Bridget Moynahan (John Wick)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Alan Bates (The Mothman Prophecies)
Michael Byrne (A Bridge Too Far)
Colm Feore (Gotham)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Philip Baker Hall (The Truman Show)
Philip Akin (Highlander: The Series)

In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, an Israeli A-4 Skyhawk jet carrying a nuclear weapon is shot down; 29 years later, a Syrian scrap collector uncovers a large unexploded bomb buried in a field within the Golan Heights. He sells it to a South African black market arms trafficker named Olson (Feore), who recognizes it as the nuclear bomb that was lost during the war. He then sells it to a secretive far-right cabal seeking to impose a fascist world order, led by Austrian billionaire and Neo-Nazi Richard Dressler (Bates). Dressler’s aim is to transform Europe into a united fascist superstate. He intends to start a nuclear war between the United States and Russia that will devastate them both.CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Affleck) is summoned by Director William Cabot (Freeman) to accompany him to Russia to meet President Nemerov (Hinds). In Moscow, Cabot and Ryan are allowed to examine a Russian nuclear weapons facility as prescribed by the START treaty, where Ryan notices the absence of three scientists listed on the facility’s roster. Cabot sends Special Activities Division operative John Clark (Schreiber) to Russia to investigate the missing scientists. Clark tracks the missing scientists to a former Soviet military facility in Ukraine, where Cabot suspects they are building a secret nuclear weapon that Russia could use without any way to trace it back to them.Ryan and his colleagues discern that a crate from the facility in Ukraine was flown to the Canary Islands, then sent to Baltimore on a cargo ship. Ryan warns Cabot, who is attending a football game in Baltimore with the President, about a bomb threat being in play. The President is evacuated before the bomb detonates, but the city is wrecked by the ensuing shock wave. To escalate the situation, a corrupt Russian Air Force general who has been paid by Dressler sends Tu-22M Backfires to attack a U.S. aircraft carrier operating in the North Sea.Ryan learns from the radiation assessment team that the isotopic signature from the nuclear blast pinpoints it as having been manufactured at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina in 1968; evidence which would seem to exonerate the Russians. In Syria, Clark tracks down Ghazi, one of the men who found the bomb, now dying of radiation exposure. He tells Clark that he sold the bomb to Olson, who lives in Damascus. Ryan’s colleagues at Langley infiltrate Olson’s computer and download files that implicate Dressler as the person who bought the plutonium and who is behind the Baltimore attack.

Ryan is able to reach the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon and get a message to Nemerov, saying that he knows that Russia was not behind the attack, while also asking Nemerov to stand down his forces as a show of good faith. Nemerov agrees to do so as President Fowler follows suit. The participants in the conspiracy, including Dressler, are later assassinated. Presidents Fowler and Nemerov announce new nuclear disarmament and counter-proliferation measures in joint speeches at the White House, as Ryan and his fiancee Dr. Catherine Muller (Moynahan) listen in.

If you love Tom Clancy and you’ve read  his books, you’re probably going to hate this movie. If you have never read the book, and have no real interest in Clancy’s work, you’ll probably at least enjoy it. If your like me, and you don’t mind films that let drama interfere with rationality, you’ll probably love it.

REVIEW: THE WOMAN IN BLACK

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Janet McTeer (Insurgent)
Liz White (Our Zoo)
Sophie Stuckey (I Capture The Castle)
Misha Handley (Parade’s End)

In an English village, Crythin Gifford, in 1889, three young girls are having a tea party with their dolls. They suddenly look up at something off-screen and, as though hypnotized, jump to their deaths from the bedroom window.

Some years later, in Edwardian era London, widowed lawyer and father Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is instructed to visit Crythin Gifford to orchestrate the sale of Eel Marsh House, an estate on the marshland, and retrieve any relevant documents left by the deceased owner Alice Drablow. Upon arrival, Arthur finds many of the villagers rather unwelcoming, though he finds sympathy in a wealthy local landowner Samuel Daily (Ciarán Hinds).

The next morning, Arthur goes to meet his legal contact, Mr. Jerome, who tries to hurry him away from the village. Arthur, undeterred, travels to Eel Marsh. During his initial visit to the house, Arthur is distracted by odd noises, a bolted nursery, and the appearance of a spectral entity in funerary garb. He hears sounds on the marshes of a carriage in distress and a screaming child, but sees nobody on the causeway. He later attempts to alert the village constable, who dismisses him. Two children enter the station with their sister Victoria, who has ingested lye, and subsequently vomits blood, dying.

That night, Sam reveals that he and his wife Elisabeth (Janet McTeer) lost their young son to drowning. Elisabeth suffers from fits of hysteria, which she attributes to her boy speaking through her. When Sam attempts to drive Arthur to Eel Marsh the next day, a fleet of local men attempt to drive him off. Victoria’s father blames Arthur for his daughter’s death, as Arthur saw “that woman” at Eel Marsh.

At the house, Arthur uncovers correspondence between Alice and her sister Jennet Humfrye (Liz White). In her letters, Jennet denies Alice’s verdict that she is “mentally unfit” and demands to see her son Nathaniel, whom the Drablows formally adopted and barred her from contacting. A death certificate reveals that Nathaniel drowned in a carriage accident on the marsh. Jennet blames Alice for saving only herself and leaving Nathaniel’s body in the marsh. Jennet hangs herself in the nursery, vowing never to forgive Alice. Arthur also sees visions of dead children in the marshes, Victoria among them.

Arthur finds the nursery no longer locked. Inside, he has a vision of the Woman in Black hanging herself, alarming him. In town, Jerome’s house catches fire with his daughter still inside. When Arthur attempts to save her, he sees the Woman in Black goading the girl into immolating herself. The townspeople blame Arthur for this death as well.

At her son’s grave, Elisabeth tells Arthur that the Woman in Black is Jennet, who claims the souls of the village children by having them take their lives in penance for her own son being taken. Through another episode of delirium, she informs him that his son Joseph, who is coming to Crythin Gifford that night, is Jennet’s next victim. In an effort to lift the curse, Arthur and Sam find Nathaniel’s body in the carriage on the marsh, and place it in his nursery, where Arthur lures Jennet to him. Arthur and Sam bury Nathaniel with Jennet, though her voice echoes through the house that she will never forgive the wrongs she suffered.

Assuming Jennet pacified, Arthur and his son Joseph meet at the railway station. While bidding farewell to Sam, Arthur sees the Woman in Black lure Joseph onto the tracks towards an oncoming train. Though he attempts to save him, both Arthur and Joseph are killed by the oncoming train while a horrified Sam sees the spirits of the village children, and the Woman in Black. After the train passes, Joseph spots a woman on the tracks, and Arthur identifies her as his late wife, the family now happily reunited. The Woman in Black watches them walk away, before sharply turning to face the audience, at which point the screen turns black.

Daniel Radcliffe is perfectly cast in this role, as Arthur Kipps, and plays it brilliantly. This version is truer to the book than the 1989 TV version, This film was a long time coming. An Excellent Horror.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Kelly Macdonald (Anna Karenina)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Dinnerladies)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Ciarán Hinds (Munich)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Bonnie Wright (The Sea)
Jim Broadbent (Superman 4)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd)

After burying Dobby, Harry Potter asks the goblin Griphook to help him, Ron, and Hermione break into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts bank, suspecting a Horcrux may be there. Griphook agrees, in exchange for the Sword of Gryffindor. Wandmaker Ollivander tells Harry that two wands taken from Malfoy Manor belonged to Bellatrix and to Draco Malfoy, but Malfoy’s has changed its allegiance to Harry.In Bellatrix’s vault, Harry discovers the Horcrux is Helga Hufflepuff’s cup. He retrieves it, but Griphook snatches the sword and abandons the trio, leaving them cornered by security. The three release the dragon guardian and flee on its back. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort killing goblins, including Griphook, and learns Voldemort is aware of the theft. Harry also realises there is a Horcrux at Hogwarts somehow connected to Rowena Ravenclaw. The trio apparate into Hogsmeade, where Aberforth Dumbledore reluctantly instructs the portrait of his deceased younger sister, Ariana, to fetch Neville Longbottom, who leads the trio through a secret passageway into Hogwarts.Severus Snape hears of Harry’s return and warns staff and students of punishment for aiding Harry. Harry confronts Snape, who flees after Minerva McGonagall challenges him to a duel. McGonagall gathers the Hogwarts community for battle. At Luna Lovegood’s insistence, Harry speaks to Helena Ravenclaw’s ghost, who reveals that Voldemort performed “dark magic” on her mother’s diadem, which is in the Room of Requirement. In the Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Hermione destroy the Horcrux cup with a Basilisk fang. In the Room of Requirement, Draco, Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle attack Harry after he finds the diadem, but Ron and Hermione intervene. Goyle casts a Fiendfyre curse and, unable to control it, is swallowed up by the flames while Harry and his friends save Malfoy and Zabini. Harry stabs the diadem with the Basilisk fang and Ron kicks it into the Room of Requirement, where it is destroyed. As Voldemort’s army attacks, Harry, seeing into Voldemort’s mind, realises that Voldemort’s snake Nagini is the final Horcrux. After entering the boathouse, the trio witness Voldemort incorrectly telling Snape that the Elder Wand cannot serve Voldemort until Snape dies since he killed its last owner (Dumbledore); he then orders Nagini to kill Snape, which Nagini does. Before dying, Snape tells Harry to take his memories to the Pensieve. In the chaos at Hogwarts, Fred, Lupin, and Tonks have been killed.Harry learns from Snape’s memories that Snape loved Harry’s late mother, Lily, but despised his father, James, who had bullied him. Following her death, Snape worked secretly with Dumbledore to protect Harry from Voldemort because of his love for Lily. Harry also learns Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him, and that the Patronus doe he saw in the woods that led him to the sword had been conjured by Snape. Harry discovers that he himself became a Horcrux when Voldemort originally failed to kill him and that Harry must die to destroy the piece of Voldemort’s soul within him. Harry then surrenders himself to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. Voldemort casts the Killing Curse upon Harry, who finds himself in limbo, where Dumbledore’s spirit meets him and explains that the part of Voldemort within Harry was killed by Voldemort’s own curse. Harry then returns to his body, determined to defeat Voldemort once and for all.Voldemort announces Harry’s apparent death to everyone at Hogwarts and demands they all surrender. As Neville gives a defiant response and draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat, Harry reveals he is still alive. While Harry confronts Voldemort in a duel throughout the castle, Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix in the Great Hall, and Neville decapitates Nagini, leaving Voldemort mortal. Harry and Voldemort’s fight ends with Voldemort’s own Killing Curse rebounding, killing and obliterating him. After the battle, Harry explains to Ron and Hermione that the Elder Wand had recognised him as its true master because he had disarmed Draco, who earlier had disarmed its previous owner, Dumbledore, but instead of claiming the Elder Wand, Harry breaks and discards it. Nineteen years later, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco proudly watch their own children leave for Hogwarts at King’s Cross station.What an amazing achievement to faithfully bring Rowling’s epic saga to the big screen with the same cast and largely the same crew, maintaining the brilliant quality right to the end.

REVIEW: RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN


CAST

Dwayne Johnson (G.I. Joe Retaliation)
AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge To Terabithia)
Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games)
Ciarán Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Carla Gugino (Sin CIty)
Garry Marshall (Soapdish)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Chris Marquette (Freddy vs Jason)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Billy Brown (Starship Troopers 2)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)

An alien spaceship crashes near Searchlight, Nevada, outside Las Vegas. Project Moon Dust, a secret Defense Department unit led by Henry Burke (Ciarán Hinds), arrives in black helicopters. Men in Black seize the ship and search for its passengers.
Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) is a former mob get-away driver who drives a cab to avoid returning to jail. One of his passengers is Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), a failed scientist who is in Las Vegas to speak at a UFO convention at the Planet Hollywood hotel.
After resisting two thugs who seek his services for a mob boss, Bruno finds two teenagers, Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig), in his cab. They offer $15,000 to drive to a certain destination. Burke’s men follow the cab; Bruno believes that the government agents are more mob thugs, and evades them with his driving skills. Seth’s ability to vary his molecular density helps the group to escape.
When they arrive at an abandoned house, Bruno follows them out of concern and curiosity. The teenagers retrieve the device they were looking for within a hidden underground laboratory, but the three are attacked by a “Siphon” (Tom Woodruff, Jr.), a powerful armored alien assassin. The Siphon pursues the group until its spaceship crashes into a train and the creature is wounded. The three again escape Burke’s agents, in part due to Sara’s telepathy and telekinetics.
The teenagers explain to Bruno that they are from a dying planet 3,000 light years from Earth. Its government intends to invade Earth, despite the idea being unpopular among the majority of their race, so that their kind may survive. Seth and Sara’s parents are scientists who sought a way to save their planet without invasion but were arrested before completing their experiment. The teenagers came to retrieve the successful results, but the alien government sent the assassin to stop them. To save both worlds, they must retrieve their spaceship and return home.
Bruno brings Seth and Sara to Dr. Friedman at the UFO convention, who realizes that the teenagers are what she has been searching for and joins the group. Fellow UFOlogist and conspiracy theorist Dr. Donald Harlan (Garry Marshall) tells them that the spaceship was taken to the secret California government base Witch Mountain. Harlan and his men distract the soldiers with Bruno’s taxi while the others escape to Witch Mountain on Harlan’s RV. The group arrives at the base but are captured; Burke orders that the teenagers be prepared for vivisection, but frees the adults as no one will believe their story.
The Siphon attacks Witch Mountain and battles the soldiers, allowing Bruno and Friedman to infiltrate the base and free Seth and Sara. They launch the ship, escape through the mountain’s tunnels, and finally kill the assassin who has stowed away on the spaceship. The teenagers give Bruno and Friedman a tracking device that will allow the aliens to always find them, tearfully wish them farewell, and return to their planet. Bruno and Friedman become successful authors of Race to Witch Mountain: A True Story. They promote their book and knowledge on the UFO convention circuit, explaining that the publicity protects them from government reprisal. As they leave a convention the alien device activates, implying that the teenagers may be returning to Earth.

Race to Witch Mountain is a typical movie from Disney, i.e., a delightful family entertainment. The story is predictable and uses the usual clichés of the genre, with the heart-warming hero; the despicable villain; the chase and the car race; the corny conclusion after the first contact; despite of that, I liked Race to Witch Mountain a lot. The pleasant cast performs enjoyable characters, and I particularly like The Rock, AnnaSophia Robb and Carla Gugino very much. A very enjoyable film.

REVIEW: GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE

CAST

Nicolas Cage (8mm)
Johnny Whitworth (The 100)
Fergusd Riordan (Fragile)
Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Violante Placido (The Lookout)
Idris Elba (Thor)
Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
Anthony Head (Buffy)
Vincent Regan (Camelot)
Spencer Wilding (The Legend of Hercules)

In Eastern Europe, a French priest named Moreau warns the monks of a monastery about an impending attack by the devil’s forces to obtain a boy named Danny. The monastery falls under attack; Moreau tries to help the boy and his mother Nadya escape, but the distrusting mother shoots at Moreau and flees with her son. Moreau manages to distract the men chasing Danny and Nadya, but nearly dies in the process and loses them. He believes that only the Ghost Rider is capable of protecting the boy. He finds the Rider and seeks his help.

Five years have passed since the events of the first film, which dealt with Johnny Blaze making a deal with the demon Roarke (Mephistopheles), and becoming the Ghost Rider — a vengeful, fiery spirit who feeds on the evil of his victims and consumes the souls of sinners. No matter how small the infraction — anything from genocide to a white lie — the Rider does not differentiate. This drives Blaze into hiding, fighting the evil spirit within him. Moreau finds him with some ease and convinces him to save the boy in exchange for his priesthood’s ability to restore Johnny’s soul and remove the Ghost Rider’s curse forever. Meanwhile, pursuers force Nadya and Danny from the road and bring them to their leader: her former boyfriend Ray Carrigan. Carrigan has Danny tied up and is about to execute Nadya when the Ghost Rider appears; the Ghost Rider kills several of Carrigan’s men and then moves in on Danny. Nadya distracts the Ghost Rider, who then is shot with grenades into submission. Carrigan leaves with Danny in tow.

Johnny awakens the next morning in a hospital. On the way out, he convinces Nadya not to trust him, but to accept his help to find Danny. However, Carrigan tells Roarke about the Rider, and Roarke speaks an incantation to Danny via phone; this, in effect, puts up a “firewall” preventing the Rider from sensing his whereabouts. He warns Carrigan it will not shield him from being sensed and gives him instructions to deliver Danny. Nadya later tells Blaze that as she lay dying, she made a deal with Roarke: her life in return for him impregnating her with Danny, making Danny a direct vessel for Roarke and the potential for him to have unlimited power on the surface world. Roarke lacks this power so far from Hell. Danny nearly escapes, but breaks his ankle and is recaptured. That night, Nadya and Johnny interrogate a known contact of Carrigan’s. Johnny takes off ahead of Nadya to deal with Carrigan. Nadya saves Danny as the Rider converts a mining machine into a massive fiery machine, destroying their hideout complex and mortally wounding Carrigan. When Ghost Rider catches up to Nadya and starts to use his Penance Stare on her, Danny is able to stop the rider with a word, exercising his hidden power.

Moreau catches up with the group as they ride off. Roarke is not done with Carrigan; using his power, he turns Carrigan into a demon called Blackout capable of instantly decaying anything he touches while shrouded in darkness. Johnny and Nadya bring Danny to Moreau’s monastery with warm reception. Moreau delivers on his end of the bargain and, after explaining that the Ghost Rider is the twisted incarnation of the Spirit of Justice, Zarathos, after being captured and tortured to madness while in Hell, he exorcises Johnny of the spirit and Johnny becomes human again. The head monk Methodius (Christopher Lambert) proclaims that Danny will never be safe from the influence of evil and says he must die, taking Johnny, Moreau, and Nadya captive in order to execute the boy. Carrigan intervenes, however, killing the monks and taking Danny captive again to deliver to Roarke. The others follow, with Johnny not wanting to desert Danny after having promised to protect him. With the ritual to transfer Roarke’s spirit and power into Danny underway, the three infiltrate the compound to save him. Carrigan kills Moreau, but Danny (who Roarke states has the same powers as he does) gives Johnny back the power of the Ghost Rider. Roarke manages to escape with Danny, and the Ghost Rider and Nadya give pursuit. After a vehicular struggle, Ghost Rider manages to defeat Carrigan and causes the SUV carrying Roarke and Danny to crash. The Ghost Rider literally sends Roarke back into hell while Danny, who had died in the accident, is returned to his mother. Channeling the blue flame of Zarathos, Johnny manages to revive Danny and assures him of his safety.

As the film closes, the Rider, now covered in angelic blue flames, rides off on his motorcycle, saying “My name is Johnny Blaze. I’m the Ghost Rider”.The effects are fun, the story is weak, the acting is patchy, the violence and threat could be better, and it’s still not the film we all hoped. Is it a disappointment? (Even to someone like me who’s not a die-hard comic book fan)? Yes. Is it still quite a lot of fun? Yes. Does it expand and improve on the original like a sequel should? Again, yes. Don’t write it off. If you’re looking for some decent entertainment, this Rider’s still got a few miles left in the tank.