REVIEW: WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005)

CAST

Tom Cruise (Minoity Report)
Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire)
Justin Chatwin (Dragonball Evolution)
Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstein)
Tim Robbins (Green Lantern)
Rick Gonzalez (Arrow)
Yul Vazquez (The Ex)
Lenny Venito (The Neighbors)
Lisa Ann Walter (Killers)
Ann Robinson (Imitation of Life)
Gene Barry (The Atomic City)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Ty Simpkins (Iron Man 3)
Daniel Eric Gold (Ugly Betty)
Columbus Short (The Losers)

A narrator explains how humans were unaware that a race of extraterrestrials was making plans to occupy Earth. Ray Ferrier is a divorced crane operator longshoreman who works at a dock in Brooklyn, New York and lives in Bayonne, New Jersey. Ray is estranged from his children. His former wife, Mary Ann, later drops off the children, 10-year-old daughter Rachel and teenage son Robbie, at Ray’s house on her way to visit her parents in Boston. Unexplained changes in the weather occur, including lightning that strikes multiple times in the middle of an intersection and disrupts all electricity.

Ray joins the crowd at the scene of the lightning strikes, and witnesses a massive “Tripod” war machine emerge from the ground and use alien weaponry to incinerate most of the witnesses, zapping them out of existence, turning them to a grey dust and the remains of their clothes fluttering down. Ray collects his children, steals a car and drives to Mary Ann’s home in suburban New Jersey to take refuge. The next morning, he discovers that a Boeing 747 has crashed in the street. A news team scavenging for food explain that there are multiple Tripods that have attacked major cities including New York City, Paris, Washington, D.C., and London, and have force shields to protect them from human weapons. They also explain that the lightning was how the aliens were able to enter the Tripods. Ray decides to take the kids to Boston to be with their mother. The three are forced to abandon the stolen car after a mob takes it by force. They later survive a Tripod attack which causes a Hudson River ferry to sink. During a desperate battle between U.S. Marines and the aliens, Ray is forced to choose between being separated from Rachel and preventing Robbie from joining the fight; he lets Robbie go with the Marines, who are overwhelmed. While escaping, Ray and Rachel are offered shelter by Harlan Ogilvy, who presumes that the aliens had buried their technology on Earth millions of years ago and has delusions that they can fight against the aliens themselves by observing their operations, as they are right next to their camp.

The three remain undetected for two days, even as a probe and a group of the aliens themselves explore the basement. The next morning, Ogilvy suffers a mental breakdown while witnessing a Tripod harvesting human blood and tissue to fertilize an alien vegetation. The tripod’s inject a tube into the humans and drain out their blood, in a very vicious manner. Convinced that Ogilvy’s mad shouting jeopardizes his daughter’s life, Ray reluctantly kills him. The basement hideout is exposed when a second probe catches them sleeping. Rachel is soon abducted by a nearby Tripod; Ray immediately allows himself to be abducted, being placed in the same cage with Rachel and other prisoners. As the aliens select him for harvesting, Ray takes a belt of grenades into the machine, having pulled out the pins. The Tripod is destroyed and releases the cage, with Ray and Rachel, and a number of other prisoners, making it out alive.

Ray and Rachel arrive in a devastated Boston, where the vegetation is dying and most of the Tripods have collapsed. Ray notices birds landing on an active Tripod, indicating that its shields are off. Ray alerts the soldiers escorting his refugee group and they shoot it down. As the soldiers advance on the downed Tripod, a hatch opens releasing a liquid; a sickly alien struggles halfway out, and then dies immediately. Ray and Rachel reach Mary Ann’s parents’ house, where they are reunited with Mary Ann and, to their surprise, Robbie. The closing narration reveals that the aliens were immune to man’s machines but they and their vegetation were not immune to the microbes present on Earth and that “from the moment the invaders arrived, breathed our air, ate and drank, they were doomed,” finally quoting Wells himself, that given mankind’s birthright “neither do men live nor die in vain”.A loose adaptation of H. G. Wells’s novel of the same name, ‘War of the Worlds’ directed by Cinema Giant Steven Spielberg is a Magnificent Watch. Compelling, Shocking, Solid & Unforgettable, This 2005 Box-Office Blockbuster holds tremendous repeat viewing value!

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REVIEW: SAVE THE LAST DANCE 2

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CAST

Izabella Miko (The Cape)
Columbus Short(Death at A Funeral)
Jacqueline Bisset (The Survivors Club)
Aubrey Dollar (Children of The Corn II)

Image result for save the last dance 2The film continues the story of Sara Johnson (originally played by Julia Stiles and now portrayed by Izabella Miko). She recalls how she was born to be a dancer. Her mother would often comment that she knew how to pirouette before she could properly walk. From her earliest memories Sara always wanted to be a ballerina, a graceful dancer who could glide across the stage. It seemed that there was something that caused conflict in Sara’s ambition. She also loves the urban dance form of hip-hop. While ballet is highly structured, full of rules and standards, hip-hop gives Sara a chance to let go and follow the beat. Sara wants the best of both worlds but the conflict between structure and independence affects her performance in both genres.Related imageThe film is set soon after the original. Sara has made the first part of her dream come true. Her audition with the Juilliard School of Dance worked out well and she was accepted, resulting in her moving from Chicago to New York City. Sara would soon find out that as rough as it was to get there, staying would require raising the bar to almost painful heights. Her main dance teacher, Monique Delacroix (Jacqueline Bisset), is old school when it comes to demanding each student master the traditional and arduous curriculum. She has little to no use for the influence of any other form of dance on ballet, so the concept of hip-hop is not only foreign to the staid teacher, it is repugnant.Image result for save the last dance 2During orientation on her first day at Juilliard, Sara meets Miles Sultana (Columbus Short), who takes her for a trombone player. When she tells him she is there for ballet, he questions whether she is a ballerina. Sara boldly states that she is already a ballerina; she is there to become a prima ballerina. This sets up a playful antagonism that ends up in a romantic relationship. Sara also has to deal with the students at her new school. In a high pressure school like Juilliard, the more favor you gather with the teachers the more jealousy you encounter from the students. It is a cut-throat environment with an extremely high failure rate. Among her new classmates is Marcus (Matthew Watling), who infuriates Ms Delacroix the first day for wearing pants that ‘swish’. Then there is Katrina (Maria Brooks), who is destined to be the main rival for Sara. It also turns out that Miles is actually her professor for ‘Introduction to Hip-Hop Theory’. Miles invites Sara and her friend Zowi to a club, where Sara shows her skills by dancing with a girl. Due to her activities in the club she is late for her ballet class and is scolded and punished by Ms Delacroix. Despite that, Sara tries to impress Ms Delacroix by taking ballet very serious, which makes her decline Miles’ request for her to lead them in choreography. However, she later agrees after Ms Delacroix tells her that she is not going to drop her.Image result for save the last dance 2Overall, it’s fine: some good music on the soundtrack, some decent performances, some good dancing and a couple of really clever shots cinematically. It’s reasonably rewarding to watch. Just don’t expect anything of the calibre, thematically or in terms of the quality of performances etc, that you saw in the first movie.

 

REVIEW: THE LOSERS

CAST
Idris Elba (Prometheus)
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchemen)
Chris Evans (Captain America)
Columbus Short (Accepted)
Oscar Jaenada (Cantinflas)
Jason Patric (The Lost Boys)
Holt McCallany (Heroes)
Mark Ginther (Iron Man 3)
The Losers are an elite black ops team of United States Special Forces operatives, led by Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and formed by Roque (Idris Elba), Pooch (Columbus Short), Jensen (Chris Evans), and Cougar (Óscar Jaenada), who are sent to Bolivia in a search and destroy mission on a compound run by a drug lord. While painting a target for an upcoming air strike, the Losers spot slave children in the compound and try to call off the attack, but their superior, codenamed “Max” (Jason Patric), ignores their pleas.
With no other option, the Losers enter the compound, successfully rescue the children and kill the drug lord in the process. As a helicopter arrives to pick them up, Max, convinced that they know too much, orders it to be destroyed, unaware that they decided to rescue the children first. The Losers watch as a missile destroys the helicopter and kills 25 innocents. Knowing that the attack was meant to kill them, they fake their deaths and become stranded in Bolivia, determined to get revenge on the mysterious Max.
Four months later, Clay is approached by Aisha (Zoe Saldana), a mysterious woman who offers him the chance to kill Max, against whom she wants revenge. Clay accepts and Aisha arranges for the Losers to return to the United States, where they proceed to attack a convoy supposedly carrying Max, only to discover that they were tricked by Aisha into stealing a hard drive with Max’s secrets.
Unable to access the files, Jensen infiltrates the company that made the drive and steals an algorithm that allows him to crack the code, discovering that the drive contains credits for a $400 million transfer in Max’s name, which he received for selling “Snukes”—eco-friendly bombs with the potency of a nuclear warhead, but no fall-out—to international terrorists. Tracing the money flow to the Los Angeles International Port Of Entry, which the Losers deduce is Max’s base, a plan is formed to attack it and kill Max. While studying the drive, Jensen discovers that their mission in Bolivia was a cover so Max could eliminate the drug lord—who had discovered his plan—and that Aisha is the man’s daughter, seeking revenge for his death. After her cover is blown, Aisha shoots Jensen and escapes. Believing that she might betray them, the Losers decide to speed up their attack on Max’s base, only to be betrayed by Roque and captured by Max and his right-hand man and chief of security, Wade (Holt McCallany).
As the Losers are lined up to be executed, Aisha returns and ambushes Max’s team. In the ensuing fight, Clay confirms that he killed Aisha’s father. Roque attempts to steal Max’s plane, loaded with his money, and tries to escape. As Roque’s jet heads down the runway, Wade takes a motorcycle and goes after him to retrieve Max’s money. Cougar shoots the motorcycle’s engine, causing Wade to be hurled into the jet’s engine and the flaming motorcycle to be hurled into the cockpit of the plane, which explodes, killing Roque.
As Jensen, Cougar and Aisha help Pooch, who has been shot in both legs by one of Max’s security guards, Clay pursues Max to a crane, where Max says that he has activated a Snuke that will destroy Los Angeles, and Clay will have to choose between de-activating it or killing Max. Clay chooses the former and Max escapes, but Clay affirms that he now knows what Max looks like and will soon find him. Max escapes on a bus and is robbed by two thugs. His fate after this is unknown. Shortly thereafter, the Losers help Pooch reach the hospital where his pregnant wife is giving birth to their son and attend Jensen’s 8-year-old niece’s soccer game.
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At times the film does favor banter over action, but there’s enough of both to go round and it’s hard to complain when one of the villains gets one of the more spectacular exits in recent years. Ultimately it’s nothing more than an entertaining action movie with a sense of humor, but when it’s done this well that’s more than enough.

REVIEW: DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2010)

 

CAST

Chris Rock (Dogma)
Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Loretta Devine (Crash)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Danny Glover (Earthsea)
Regina Hall (Scary Movie)
Kevin Hart (Ride Along)
James Marsden (Gossip)
Tracy Morgan (Cop Out)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Columbus Short (The Losers)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)

The film revolves around the funeral service for the father of Aaron (Chris Rock) and Ryan. Aaron, the older son, and his wife Michelle (Regina Hall) live at his parents’ home. For the past five years, Aaron has been taking care of his parents, as his job as a tax account has been supporting them. Aaron and Michelle have been trying to buy their own home and have children but have been unsuccessful. Aaron envies Ryan (Martin Lawrence) because Ryan is a successful author, while he has not yet had his novel published, and resents his brother because Ryan would rather spend money on a first class airline ticket than help him pay for the funeral expenses.

Aaron and Ryan’s cousin Elaine (Zoe Saldana) and her boyfriend Oscar (James Marsden) are on their way to pick up Elaine’s brother Jeff (Columbus Short) before heading to the funeral. To ease Oscar’s nerves, she gives him a pill from a bottle labeled as Valium. Jeff later reveals to Elaine that it is actually a powerful hallucinogenic drug he has concocted for a friend. Chaos ensues when Oscar hallucinates that the coffin is moving. He knocks it over, and the body falls out of the coffin. Aaron is approached by an unknown guest, a dwarf named Frank (Peter Dinklage), who reveals himself to be the secret lover of his late father. Frank shows Aaron photos as proof and threatens to reveal them to Aaron’s mother unless he is paid $30,000. Aaron tells Ryan, who suggest Aaron pay the money because Ryan claims he is buried in debt. While Aaron and Ryan meet with him to pay him, Frank starts to deride Aaron’s ability as a writer and Aaron refuses to pay.

Frank begins to turn violent and puts his hand in his pocket, and tries to leave the room. Ryan attacks Frank and both Aaron and Ryan tie Frank up to prevent him from leaving. Norman (Tracy Morgan) comes in and sees what has happened. He gives Frank several doses of what he also believes is Valium to try to calm him down, before Jeff tells them it is actually the same hallucinogen Oscar took earlier. While Jeff and Norman who are supposed to be watching Frank get distracted by Uncle Russell (Danny Glover), Frank frees himself from his bonds, jumps off the couch, and hits his head on the coffee table. With Aaron, Ryan, Jeff and Norman believing Frank is dead, they plan to put him in the coffin. While everyone is outside watching Oscar, who is now naked on the roof, threatening to jump because he saw Elaine’s ex-boyfriend Derek (Luke Wilson) kissing her, Aaron and Ryan put Frank in the coffin.

Elaine tells Oscar that Derek forced himself on her and calms him down by revealing she is pregnant. With everyone back inside, they continue the eulogy. While Aaron awkwardly tries to give his speech, Frank shakes the coffin from inside it; then suddenly forces it open and emerges. The pictures fall out of his pocket, and Cynthia (Loretta Devine), who is Aaron and Ryan’s mother and the widow, sees the pictures, screams at Frank, and starts to attack him. Aaron yells for everyone’s attention as he delivers a moving, impromptu eulogy saying that his father was a good man with flaws like everyone else. The film ends with Aaron and Ryan saying goodbye while Ryan gets a ride to the airport by Martina, whom he had been trying to seduce all day. Aaron and Michelle are finally alone and going to try to have a baby. Aaron asks where Uncle Russell is and Michelle tells him that she gave him what she believes is Valium to calm him down. In the final scene Uncle Russell is on the roof naked, like Oscar had been, complaining about how “everything is so green”.

A fun and watchable film with a great supporting cast, including James Marsden, Zoe Saldana and Kevin Hart.