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.

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REVIEW: LAYER CAKE

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Sienna Miller (Factory Girl)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises)
Kenneth Cranham (Maleficent)
George Harris (The Interpreter)
Jamie Foreman (Ironclad)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Ben Whishaw (Bright Star)
Sally Hawkins (The Painted Vell)
Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones)
Dexter Fletcher (Kick-Ass)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Matt Ryan (Constantine)

An unnamed man—appearing in the end credits only as XXXX—is a London underworld figure who has established himself in the cocaine business as one of the city’s biggest suppliers, whilst presenting himself as a figure with legal business operations. Considering himself a businessman and a patient person, he leaves the darker aspects of the business to his henchman Morty, who had previously spent 10 years in prison for murder. Once he has earned enough to ensure his long-term financial security, XXXX plans to retire.

Approaching this point, his retirement plans go wrong when his powerful supplier Jimmy Price instructs XXXX to track down Charlie, the teenaged daughter of Price’s associate, Eddie Temple, who has fled a rehabilitation centre along with her drug-addicted boyfriend. To track her down, XXXX enlists the help of two con men known as Cody and Tiptoes. To the frustration of XXXX, the boyfriend is found dead and Charlie has apparently been kidnapped, although no ransom has been demanded.

At the same time, Price instructs XXXX to organise the purchase and distribution of one million ecstasy tablets from a low-level gangster styling himself as “The Duke”. XXXX does not know the pills had been stolen from a gang of Serbian war criminals based in the Netherlands, and who have been in hiding since the Yugoslav Wars and are now large-scale drug producers.

Meanwhile, XXXX encounters the Duke’s nephew Sidney at a bar and becomes attracted to his disillusioned girlfriend Tammy. XXXX tries to broker the sale of the ecstasy pills to Liverpool gangsters Trevor and Shanks, but they refuse, informing him of the drugs’ purloined nature and of the fact that the Serbs have sent an assassin, known as Dragan, to find the pills and kill those responsible for their theft. Because the Duke had mentioned XXXX’s name to the Serbs beforehand, he, too, is now in danger. Members of the Duke’s gang soon start turning up dead and the Duke himself goes missing.

XXXX arranges a tryst with Tammy, but before it can be consummated, he is kidnapped by henchmen of Eddie Temple (the father of Charlie). Temple informs him that Jimmy had lost £13 million in a failed investment in Africa and is now hoping to sell the pills to recoup his losses. He demands instead that XXXX sell the pills to him, and plays him a recording indicating that Jimmy has been a long-term informant for Scotland Yard and intends to betray XXXX to the police as soon as the deal is done, planning to gain clemency from the deal and also take away XXXX’s wealth.

A furious XXXX shoots and kills Jimmy at his home, but does so with a gun that Gene, Jimmy’s henchman, had used to commit a prior murder, putting both himself and Gene in danger. XXXX then discovers that his accountant, to whom Jimmy had referred him, has embezzled all of his money and disappeared. Gene and Morty, after being given evidence of Jimmy’s snitching, acknowledge XXXX as the new acting boss and show him the corpse of the Duke, whom Gene had killed along with Duke’s girlfriend, Slasher, when the latter threatened to alert the police about the pills.

To recoup something from the fiasco, XXXX tips the police off about the Duke’s hideout, who then conduct a raid. XXXX is intentionally present during the raid to feign purchasing the pills from the Duke’s crew, and Dragan, who has been following XXXX, watches the raid from afar as the police confiscate the drugs and as XXXX and Duke’s crew escape. Meanwhile, XXXX has arranged for Cody and Tiptoes to con the raiding police unit out of the pills. XXXX delivers the severed head of the Duke to Dragan as a peace offering, who reports back to his Serbian boss that the police have seized the drugs. Cody and Tiptoes return the drugs to XXXX in exchange for a fee. However, when he attempts to sell them to Eddie Temple at the latter’s bonded warehouse, Temple’s henchmen rob his crew of the drugs at gunpoint. To end XXXX’s faux assignment given by Jimmy, Temple reveals that he has put Charlie back into rehab.

To satisfy him, Temple then gives XXXX a “welcome to the layer cake” in the form of a membership to the Stoke Park Country Club of which he is a member and Jimmy was. Expecting betrayal, XXXX successfully arranges for Trevor, Shanks, and young Dizzy to steal the drugs back from Temple’s men. The gang assembles for lunch at the Stoke Park Club, honoring XXXX their new boss. However, he demurs, stating his intention to stick to his planned retirement. When leaving the club with Tammy, mentally running through the names of his fellow murdered businessmen, he is shot by a heart-broken Sidney. XXXX collapses bleeding, and the film ends with him twitching on the club’s front steps and thinking of his possible imminent death.Layer Cake is definitely not for all types. Those of you who do stick around through the reveals and character developments, I can assure you that the payoff is worth the investment.

REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011)

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Rooney Mara (The Scoial Network)
Christopher Plummer (Star Trek 6)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Steven Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange)
Robin Wright (Nine Lives)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Goran Višnjić (Elektra)
Geraldine James (Arthur)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop 2014)
Élodie Yung (Daredevil)

In Stockholm, Sweden, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), co-owner of Millennium magazine, has lost a libel case brought against him by businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström (Ulf Friberg). Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a brilliant but troubled investigator and hacker, compiles an extensive background check on Blomkvist for business magnate Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who has a special task for him. In exchange for the promise of damning information about Wennerström, Blomkvist agrees to investigate the disappearance and assumed murder of Henrik’s grandniece, Harriet, 40 years ago. After moving to the Vanger family’s compound, Blomkvist uncovers a notebook containing a list of names and numbers that no one has been able to decipher.

Salander, who is under state legal guardianship due to diagnosed mental incompetency, is appointed a new guardian, lawyer Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), after her previous guardian Holger Palmgren suffers a stroke. Bjurman abuses his authority to extort sexual favors from Salander and violently rapes her, not realizing she has a hidden video camera on her bag. At their next meeting she stuns him with a stun gun, rapes him with a dildo, and marks him as a rapist with a tattoo on his chest and stomach. Threatening to disclose the video recording, she blackmails him into writing a glowing progress report and granting her full control of her money.

Blomkvist’s daughter Pernilla (Josefin Asplund) visits him and notes that the numbers from the notebook are Bible references. Blomkvist tells Vanger’s lawyer, Dirch Frode (Steven Berkoff), that he needs help with his research, and Frode recommends Salander based on the work she did researching Blomkvist himself. Blomkvist hires Salander to investigate the notebook’s content. She uncovers a connection to a series of murders of young women from 1947 through 1967, with the women either being Jewish or having Biblical names; many of the Vangers are known antisemites. During the investigation, Salander and Blomkvist become lovers. Henrik’s openly national socialist brother Harald identifies Martin (Stellan Skarsgård), Harriet’s brother and operational head of the Vanger empire, and Blomkvist marks Martin as a possible suspect. Salander’s research uncovers evidence that Martin and his deceased father, Gottfried, committed the murders.

Blomkvist breaks into Martin’s house to look for more clues, but Martin catches him and prepares to kill him. While torturing Blomkvist, Martin brags of having killed women for decades but denies killing Harriet. Salander arrives, subdues Martin and saves Blomkvist. While Salander tends to Blomkvist, Martin flees. Salander, on her motorcycle, pursues Martin in his SUV. He loses control of his vehicle on an icy road and dies when it catches fire. Salander nurses Blomkvist back to health and tells him that she tried to kill her father when she was 12. Blomkvist deduces that Harriet is still alive and her cousin Anita (Joely Richardson) likely knows where she is. He and Salander monitor Anita, waiting for her to contact Harriet. When nothing happens, Blomkvist confronts her, deducing that the woman posing as Anita is Harriet herself. She explains that her father and brother had sexually abused her for years, and that Martin saw her kill their father in self-defense. Her cousin Anita smuggled her out of the island and let her live under her identity. Finally free of her brother, she returns to Sweden and tearfully reunites with Henrik.

As promised, Henrik gives Blomkvist the information on Wennerström, but it proves worthless. Salander hacks into Wennerström’s computer and presents Blomkvist with evidence of Wennerström’s crimes. Blomkvist publishes an article that ruins Wennerström, who flees the country. Salander hacks into Wennerström’s bank accounts and, travelling to Switzerland in disguise, transfers two billion euros to various accounts. Wennerström is found murdered. Salander reveals to her former guardian Holger Palmgren that she is in love with Blomkvist. On her way to give Blomkvist a Christmas present, Salander sees him with his longtime lover and business partner Erika Berger (Robin Wright). Heartbroken, she discards the gift and rides away.I recommend it whether or not you have seen the original series. I also recommend you do check out the original series. If they do complete the rest of the trilogy, there will be opportunities in those movies to vastly outshine the originals, certainly if they include more detail from the books as they do here.

REVIEW: COWBOYS & ALIENS

 

CAST

Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Daniel Craig (Tomb Raider)
Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Paul Dano (Looper)
Abigail Spencer (Oz The Great and Powerful)
Buck Taylor (The Mist)
Keith Carradine (The Duelists)

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In 1873 New Mexico Territory, an unnamed loner awakens injured in the desert with no memory and with a strange metal object on his wrist. He wanders into the town of Absolution, where preacher Meacham treats his wound. Sheriff Taggart recognizes the stranger as wanted outlaw Jake Lonergan and attempts to arrest him. Jake beats up the posse sent to take him in and nearly escapes, but a woman named Ella Swenson knocks him out. Taggart prepares to transport both Jake and volatile drunk Percy Dolarhyde to Santa Fe for trial.
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Percy’s father, Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, a ruthless cattle baron, demands Percy be released. He also demands Jake be released to him, since Jake had stolen gold from him. During the standoff, alien spacecraft begin attacking the town. Percy, the sheriff and other townsfolk are abducted by long, whip-like feelers hanging from the bottom of the ships. Jake’s shackle unfolds and becomes a weapon; he shoots down a ship, ending the attack.
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Dolarhyde, Ella, and other townsfolk form a posse to track an injured alien that escaped from the downed ship. Meanwhile, Jake travels to an abandoned cabin and, in a flashback, recalls returning to it with stolen gold and then being abducted, along with a woman named Alice, by the aliens. His memories returning, Jake joins up with the posse. During the evening, the group comes upon a capsized paddle wheel steamboat that the aliens apparently dumped miles from any water. They camp in it, and during the night the alien they were tracking kills Meacham, who sacrifices himself to save Emmett, Taggart’s grandson.
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By morning, most of the posse has deserted, and those remaining are attacked by Jake’s former gang. Jake, who had stolen the gang’s loot after their last heist, attempts to retake control but it is foiled. The aliens begin attacking them again and Ella is captured. Jake jumps aboard the ship and attacks the alien pilot, causing the ship to crash fatally wounding Ella. The remaining posse is captured by Chiricahua Apache Native Americans, who blame them for the alien attacks. After Ella’s corpse is dumped on a fire by a Chiricahua warrior, she is resurrected and emerges from the fire. Ella reveals herself to be from another alien race, who had travelled to Earth to help resist the invaders after they destroyed her home world. The aliens, who are mining gold and abducting people to conduct experiments to find humans’ weaknesses, are far stronger and more durable than humans, and have superior weaponry, but are not invulnerable. They can be stabbed and shot to death, but only Jake’s gauntlet weapon or a well-aimed shot with a rifle can kill them with a single blast. Ella says the aliens that previously attacked them are just scouts.
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She also claims Jake holds the secret to the aliens’ whereabouts and argues they must defeat the aliens before the invaders exterminate all life on earth. After taking medicine offered by the Apaches’ medicine man, Jake recalls that Alice was euthanized after she was used in an alien experiment, but he had escaped, inadvertently stealing the gauntlet-like alien weapon encasing his wrist. He then also remembers the location of the aliens’ base of operations. Armed with this knowledge, the group, now led by Dolarhyde, prepares to attack the aliens’ grounded mother ship. Meanwhile, Jake returns to his old gang and persuades them to join the fight. After the humans maneuver the aliens into a ground battle, Jake and Ella board the ship and free the captives, but Jake is captured. Dolarhyde rescues him and both men escape the ship after killing the alien responsible for Alice’s death. As the remaining aliens are taking off in their damaged craft, Ella sacrifices herself by entering the ship’s core and destroying it by using Jake’s wrist gauntlet as a bomb, obliterating the alien ship.
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With the aliens gone the abducted townsfolk begin to remember their pasts. Still a wanted man, Jake decides to leave, though the sheriff and Dolarhyde say they will claim he was killed in the invasion. The citizens intend to reconstruct their town.

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After a somewhat slow start, Cowboys And Aliens turns into a fun scifi western. It’s a surprisingly dark and gritty film, playing like a straight western at first. Imagine you’re watching an old John Wayne movie. You’re enjoying it, and suddenly alien spaceships come out of nowhere blasting everything in sight and kidnapping the locals. Very good fx and good action scenes make this a fun movie.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS

 

CAST
Daisy Ridley (Scrawl)
John Boyega (Attack The Block)
Oscar Isaac (Ex_Machina)
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row)
Adam Driver (Bluebird)
Andy Serkis (Lord of The Rings)
Domhnall Gleeson (The Revenant)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)
Simon Pegg (The World’s End)
Kiran Shah (The Hobbit)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The originals)
Warwick Davis (The Ewok Adventures)
Mark Stanley (Kajaki)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Billie Lourd (Scream Queens)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (The Maze Runner)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Ewan McGregor (Mordecai)
Approximately 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker, has disappeared. The First Order has risen from the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate the New Republic. The Resistance, backed by the Republic and led by Luke’s twin sister, General Leia Organa, opposes them while searching for Luke to enlist his aid.
Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location. Stormtroopers commanded by Kylo Ren destroy the village and capture Poe. Poe’s droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and encounters the scavenger Rey near a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe using the Force, and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187, unable to bring himself to kill for the First Order, frees Poe, and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”. They crash on Jakku, and Finn survives but is unable to determine if Poe did as well. He encounters Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. Finn, Rey, and BB-8 flee the planet in the Millennium Falcon, which they steal from a junkyard.
The Falcon breaks down and is captured by a larger ship piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, looking to reclaim their former vessel. Two rival gangs, seeking to settle debts with Han, board and attack, but Han and company manage to escape in the Falcon. The gangs inform the First Order of the events. At the First Order’s Starkiller Base – a planet converted into a superweapon that harnesses energy from stars – Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to use the weapon for the first time. Snoke questions Ren’s ability to deal with emotions relating to his father, Han Solo; Ren replies that Han means nothing to him.
The Falcon crew views BB-8’s map and determines it is incomplete. Han explains that Luke attempted to rebuild the Jedi Order but exiled himself when an apprentice turned to the dark side. The crew travels to the planet Takodana and meet with cantina owner Maz Kanata, who offers assistance in getting BB-8 to the Resistance. Rey is drawn to a vault on the lower level and finds the lightsaber that once belonged to Luke and his father Anakin Skywalker. She experiences disturbing visions and flees into the woods. Maz gives Finn the lightsaber for safekeeping.
Starkiller Base fires and destroys the Republic capital and fleet. The First Order attacks Takodana in search of BB-8. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn are saved by Resistance X-wing fighters led by Poe, revealing that he survived the earlier crash. Leia arrives at Takodana with C-3PO and reunites with Han and Chewbacca. Meanwhile, Ren captures Rey and takes her to Starkiller Base, but when he interrogates her about the map, she is able to resist his mind-reading attempts. Discovering she can use the Force, she escapes using a Jedi mind trick on a nearby guard.
At the Resistance base on D’Qar, BB-8 finds R2-D2, who has been inactive since Luke’s disappearance. As Starkiller Base prepares to fire on D’Qar, the Resistance devises a plan to destroy the superweapon by attacking a critical facility. Leia urges Han to return their son alive. Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca, and Finn infiltrate the facility and plant explosives. Han confronts Ren, calling him by his birth name, Ben, and implores him to abandon the dark side. Ren kills Han, enraging Chewbacca, who fires and wounds Ren. He sets off the explosives, allowing the Resistance to attack and destroy Starkiller Base.
Ren pursues Finn and Rey to the surface. A lightsaber battle between Ren and Finn ensues, leaving Finn badly wounded. Rey takes the lightsaber and uses the Force to defeat Ren, before they are separated by a fissure as the planet begins to disintegrate. Snoke orders Hux to evacuate and bring Ren to him to complete his training. Rey and Chewbacca escape with Finn in the Falcon. On D’Qar, the Resistance celebrates while Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn Han’s death. R2-D2 awakens and reveals the rest of the map, which Rey follows with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to a distant planet. She finds Luke and presents him with the lightsaber.
Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series’ former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.

REVIEW: THE INVASION

CAST
Nicole Kidman (The Others)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Jeremy Northam (The Net_
Jackson Bond (Memorial Day)
Jeffrey Wright (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
Veronica Cartwright (Alien)
Celia Weston (The Village)
Malin Ackerman (Watchmen)
 After the space shuttle Patriot crashes on Earth, a fungus-like alien lifeform is discovered on the remaining parts scattered over US territory. Once people come into contact with the organism, they are controlled by it when they enter REM sleep. One of the first people infected is Tucker Kaufman, a CDC director investigating the crash.
Tucker’s ex-wife, psychiatrist Carol Bennell, begins to feel something is amiss when people seem to have “changed”. Her patient Wendy Lenk describes how her husband “is not her husband”, and one of her son’s friends acts detached and emotionless. At a neighborhood Halloween party, Carol’s son Oliver finds a “skin” on a partier which is initially believed to be costume make-up. Carol speculates that the skin may be an organism connected to reports of a fast-spreading flu. Carol takes the organism to her doctor friend Ben Driscoll to have it checked. Carol attends a friendly dinner meeting between Russian diplomat Ben and Czechoslovakian diplomat Yorish (along with female companion Luddie) and discusses her post-modern feminism views over caviar and champagne. Meanwhile, Tucker uses the CDC to spread the disease further, disguising the spores as flu vaccine.
Ben and Dr. Stephen Galeano, a biologist, discover how the spore takes over the brain during REM sleep. During this investigation Luddie calls Ben, worried about Yorish’s behavior. Driscoll and Galeano also find that people who had brain affecting illnesses, such as encephalitis or ADEM, are immune to the spore because their previous illnesses prevents the spore from “latching on” to the brain matter. Carol’s son, Oliver, is immune to the spore because of the ADEM he had as a young child. Carol decides to get her son, who might show a way to a cure, back from Tucker. Before she drives to Tucker’s house, she joins Ben’s team who is called to the house of the Belicecs, the Czech ambassador and his wife, in a case of emergency. There they witness the transformation of Yorish, the Russian ambassador and the Belicecs’ friend.
When Carol arrives at Tucker’s house, he and several colleagues close in on her. He explains that the changed humans, devoid of irrational emotions, are offering a better world, and asks her to join them. When Carol resists, he holds her to the ground and infects her by spurting his saliva on her. She escapes and returns to Ben at the Belicecs’ house. They flee when Belicec returns with more transformed people intent on infecting anyone in the house. Galaneo and one of his assistants head to a base outside Baltimore where they and other scientists attempt to find a cure for the alien virus. Carol and Ben separate to find Oliver, who texts his location, the apartment of Tucker’s mother, to Carol. Finally Ben arrives, but Carol realizes that he too has become one of the infected. He tries to seduce her to give in to the new society, but also frankly states that there is no room for people like Oliver who are immune. Carol shoots him in the leg with a handgun she stole earlier from a transforming policeman, and flees with her son. With the infected closing in on them, Galeano picks them up with an army helicopter at the last second. They head back to the base, where scientists use Oliver’s blood to create a vaccine.
One year later, most victims of the infection have been cured, having no memory of the events which took place during their illness. Asked by a reporter if he considers the virus to be under control, Galeano replies that a look at the newspaper headlines should be proof enough that humanity acted human again. At her home, Carol helps her son to get ready for school, while Ben, now apparently her partner, reads the morning newspaper. He expresses his dismay about the violence in the world. Carol remembers Yorish’s remark that a world without violence would be a world where human beings ceased to be human.
The Invasion is a much better take on the ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ than it is given credit for. It was so crucified after its troubled production, that when I first saw this, I wasn’t expecting much. Instead, I was treated to a very slick and well thought out science fiction thriller. The Body Snatcher movies have at their best, always made a comment about our society, and this does it rather nicely for our decade.

REVIEW: LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER 1 & 2

CAST
Angelina Jolie (Hackers)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Jon Voight (Transformers)
Iain Glen (Game of Thrones)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Chris Barrie (Red Dawrf)
Julian Rhind-Tutt (Rabbit Fever)
The film opens with Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) in an Egyptian tomb, seeking a diamond at one end of a chamber. As she approaches she is attacked by a large robot. After an intense chase and battle, she disables it by ripping out its motivational circuits. She takes the diamond, which is revealed to be a memory card labeled “Lara’s Party Mix”, and inserts it into a laptop computer inside the robot, whereupon it plays music. Now it is revealed that the scene took place in a practice arena in her home, and that her assistant Bryce (Noah Taylor) programmed the robot, SIMON, to challenge her in combat.
It is the day of the first phase of a planetary alignment, culminating in a solar eclipse, which (in the film) happens once every 5,000 years. In Venice, the Illuminati search for a key to rejoin halves of “the triangle”, which must be done by the final phase of the alignment. Mr. Powell (Iain Glen), an Illuminati member, makes assurances that they are almost ready, but in reality he has no idea where to find the key. Lara’s butler, James “Hilly” Hillary (Chris Barrie), tries to interest her in several projects; but she ignores them. May 15, as Hilly is aware, is the day that Lara’s father disappeared many years earlier. She has not recovered from his loss.
Later that night, Lara has a dream reminding her what her father said about the alignment and an object linked to it called the Triangle of Light. Waking, she is aware of a clock ticking. Searching for it, she discovers a secret chamber under the staircase with a carriage clock that had spontaneously begun ticking. Bryce probes it and discovers a strange device hidden inside the clock.
Since the device resembles a clock, Lara consults a clock expert friend of her father’s, Mr. Wilson (Leslie Phillips). She believes it is connected to the “Triangle of Light”, but Wilson disavows knowledge of the clock or the Triangle. Lara encounters Alex West (Daniel Craig), a fellow tomb raider with unscrupulous methods. They are attracted to each other, but Croft cannot abide his for-profit attitude. That night, Lara is contacted by Wilson, who tells her that he gave her name to a man named Manfred Powell in regards of the clock. In reality, Wilson is also a member of the Illuminati.
The next day, Lara sees Powell in his home, and shows him photographs of the clock. Later, while discussing it with Bryce, she points out that Powell was lying about his knowledge. That night, as Lara does a bungee ballet, armed commandos invade the house and steal the clock despite her attempts to fend them off.
 The next morning, Lara receives a letter from her father, arranged to arrive after the beginning of the alignment, where he explains that the clock is the key to retrieve two halves of the mystic Triangle of Light, which is revealed to be an object of phenomenal destructive power that granted its wielder power over time and space. He says that it was made from a metal found in a meteor crater made by a meteor that had fallen to earth during a previous alignment. Initially housed in a city built in the meteor crater by those who worshiped the object, misuse of the Triangle’s power destroyed the city and so it was split into two halves; one was hidden in a tomb in Cambodia, the other half in the ruined city itself, in modern-day Siberia. Her father urges her to find and destroy both halves before the Illuminati can find it.
In Cambodia, West figures out part of the puzzle on how to retrieve the triangle half, but Lara manages to successfully grab the piece. Before everyone can leave, the liquid metal which came out with the piece brings the statues in the temple to life and attacks the team killing some members. Lara is left to fight off and destroy a huge six-armed guardian statue which is the last one to come to life. She successfully defeats it and leaves the temple by diving through a waterfall. She then travels to a Buddhist town where a young monk welcomes her. After a worship service, an aged monk who is the leader there gives Lara some tea and as they converse, he tells her that he knew her father before.
She and Powell arrange to meet in Venice, since each of them has what the other needs to finish the Triangle. Powell proposes a partnership to find the Triangle, and informs Lara that her father was a member of the Illuminati, which she vehemently denies. Though hesitant at first, she, along with Bryce, meets with Powell for the trip to Siberia. Inside the tomb, there is a giant model of the solar system, which activates as the alignment nears completion. Lara retrieves the last half of the Triangle, but when Powell tries to complete it, the halves will not fuse. He realizes that Lara knows the solution to the puzzle, and kills West in order to persuade her to complete the Triangle to save both West’s life and her father’s. Lara reluctantly complies, and they then struggle for control of the Triangle, with Lara prevailing.
Lara then finds herself in a strange alternate existence facing her father Lord Richard Croft (Jon Voight). He explains that it is a “crossing” of time and space, and urges her to destroy the Triangle instead of using it to save his life. She leaves her father and returns to the chamber, where time is slowly running backwards from the point where Powell killed West. Croft takes the knife he threw into West’s chest and reverses it, then destroys the Triangle, which returns time to its normal flow and directs the knife into Powell’s shoulder. The chamber begins to self-destruct, Everyone turns to leave, but Powell tells Croft that he killed her father and retrieved his pocket watch with a picture of Lara’s mother inside. Lara and Powell engage in a hand-to-hand fight. Lara kills him, retrieves it, and escapes as the chamber crumbles.
At the mansion, Hilly and Bryce are shocked to see Lara wearing a dress. She goes into the garden to her father’s memorial, then returns inside, where Bryce has a reprogrammed SIMON, ready to challenge Lara once again. Hilly reveals a silver tray holding Lara’s pistols, which she takes with a smile.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider is a fairly good effort considering that it is a movie based on a video game series. The story is rather on the cheesy side; but if you’re a Tomb Raider fan, or you just love guns and the occasional bit of scenery destruction, then this 1½ hour offering of action and adventure is well worth your time.

CAST

Angelina Jolie (Wanted)
Chris Barrie (Red Dawrf)
Gerard Butler (300)
Ciaran Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Robert Cavanah (Highlander: The Raven)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)

On Santorini island, Greece, a wedding is interrupted by a strong earthquake. The earthquake uncovers the Luna Temple, built by Alexander the Great to house his most prized treasures. Among these treasures is a glowing orb with a pattern resembling a code etched into it. Lara (Angelina Jolie) finds this orb; but it is stolen by the crime lord Chen Lo (Simon Yam). Lara only just manages to escape with a strange medallion, while her two companions are killed by Chen’s men.
Lara is tasked by MI6 to find Pandora’s Box, an object from ancient legends that supposedly contains a deadly plague (the companion to the origin of life itself), before Nobel Prize-winning scientist turned bio-terrorist Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) can get his hands on it and unleash it on the world. The key to finding the box, which is hidden in the mysterious Cradle of Life, is a magical luminous sphere that serves as a map – the one stolen by Chen Lo, who plans to sell the sphere to Reiss.
MI6 offers Lara the help of two of their best operatives, but she flat-out refuses them, insisting she needs to work with an old flame of hers who has knowledge of Chen Lo’s criminal operation. Reluctantly, but having no other choice, they relent and release Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) from a maximum security prison. Terry is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Lara again, (after their previous ‘heated’ five months). They infiltrate Chen Lo’s lair, where he is excavating/smuggling Terracotta Soldiers. Lara defeats him in a fight, winning back the medallion and forcing him to reveal the location of the stolen orb/map.
Lara and Terry then meet up with Kosa (Djimon Hounsou), an African friend who serves as translator as they question a local tribe about the Cradle of Life. Kosa translates the tribe’s Chief as stating that the Cradle of Life is in a crater protected by the “Shadow Guardians”. As the expedition sets out, Lara, Kosa, and the tribesmen with them are ambushed by Reiss’ soldiers. As the fight continues, more tribesmen are killed by the soldiers, and Lara kills some of the soldiers. The battle ends when Lara surrenders in the face of overwhelming odds, as Reiss’ helicopter lands.
Reiss and Sean (Til Schweiger) threaten to kill Bryce, Hillary and Kosa unless Lara leads him and his Tribeman to the Cradle of Life. Upon arrival at the crater, they encounter the Shadow Guardians, humanoid creatures which kill immediately when they sense movement and vanish into wet patches on dead trees. Sean and most of Reiss’ soldiers are killed by the creatures. When Lara drops the Orb into the hole that opens the entrance to the Cradle of Life, the Guardians disintegrate and both Lara and Reiss are drawn into the Cradle, a labyrinthine cavern made of a strange crystalline substance, racked by bolts of energy. Inside, they find a pool of highly corrosive black acid (linking back to one of the myths about Pandora’s Box), in which the box floats. Normal laws of physics seem not to apply, as Lara and Reiss are able to walk (upside down) along the ceiling of the cave. Terry arrives, frees Reiss’ captives, and catches up to Lara.
Following a climactic fistfight between Lara and Reiss, Reiss is knocked into the acid pool by Lara after being distracted by Terry. The acid kills him and dissolves his flesh. As the couple prepares to leave, Terry retrieves the box, claiming it as compensation for finding it; but Lara staunchly refuses to let him take it, knowing the danger if the box were ever opened. When he challenges her willingness to stop him, she regretfully shoots him dead and leaves him lying by the pool, then replaces the box to float in the acid.
This film is a big budget, action adventure, with a likeable female lead, decent stunts, and consistently energetic direction and pacing.