CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: DECEPTION (aka The Reindeer Games)

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Charlize Theron (Prometheus)
Gary Sinise (The Green Mile)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
James Frain (Gotham)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Isaac hayes (South Park)
Clarence Williams III (The Butler)
Ashton Kutcher (Dude, Wheres My Car?)

Nick Cassidy and Rudy Duncan are cellmates in prison two days away from release. Nick has been corresponding with a young woman named Ashley Mercer, who is waiting for him on the outside. After Nick takes a shiv in a prison fight and dies, Rudy, who just wants to have a cup of hot chocolate after he reunites with his family, takes his place and lets the beautiful Ashley think he is the one who has been writing her. Gabriel, the leader of a gang who assaults Rudy and Ashley in their cabin, and is Ashley’s brother and tells “Nick” that the gang, with Nick’s help, will rob the casino he used to work at. Rudy reveals he is not Nick, but Ashley continues to confirm he is and that she wrote to him knowing Gabriel was going to kidnap and force Rudy to assist in the robbery. Rudy, while furious with Ashley, is reluctantly forced to go along with his ruse.

Using the information from the real Nick’s prison cell stories, Rudy is able to devise a robbery plan and informs Gabriel that the biggest loot is hidden inside a safe in the manager’s office (the “PowWow” safe). On the night of the robbery, Rudy breaks out of his holding in order to find a way to arm himself as he knows Gabriel will kill him after the robbery. He stumbles upon Gabriel and Ashley and learns that they are lovers and partners in crime.

The group robs the casino, each dressed as Santa Claus. Rudy, forced to take part in the robbery, hides the fact that he knows Ashley’s secret. Shots are fired and security guards and Santas are shot. Ashley drives into the Casino and lets Nick/Rudy know she is in on the heist. All meeting in the manager’s office, Gabriel introduces Rudy to the casino manager as Nick but the manager recognizes that he isn’t Nick and Rudy confesses. Gabriel, furious at Rudy’s deception, spares him for a moment when he demands to know where the “PowWow” safe is. When the manager opens the safe, he grabs guns from inside and kills one of the robbers as the rest flee. Rudy kills another one of the robbers and is then grabbed by Gabriel and Ashley who tie him up in their 18-wheeler truck.

They plan to drive him off the edge of a cliff in a burning vehicle with a little of the money so that officials will guess all had been burned. After accidentally revealing too much information during an argument with Rudy, Ashley shoots and kills the now suspicious Gabriel. Shortly after, Nick appears, having staged his death at the prison. It is revealed that Ashley’s real name is Millie Bobeck and Rudy learns that the two had collaborated to rob the casino using Rudy and Gabriel and his gang. Ashley had known the entire time who Rudy truly was. Nick also informs Rudy that the prison stories were part of a set-up.

After they tie Rudy to the steering wheel to drive off the cliff, he produces a knife he had gotten earlier, cuts his bindings, hot wires the car, sets it to reverse and crushes Nick. With Ashley firing at him, he rams the fiery car into her and dives out as the car and Ashley go over the cliff. Nick tries to convince Rudy that they can share the money but Rudy locks him in the truck and also sends it over the cliff. Rudy picks up the stolen cash and begins distributing it in mailboxes he comes across on the way home to his family, and eats a Christmas dinner with them. The film closes with Rudy smiling.

Though it is a basic Action Thriller, there are many subdivisions, that will leave fans of any genre satisfied. Don’t know why they changed the name for the UK.

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REVIEW: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN – SEASON 1-2

CAST (VOICES)

Josh Keaton (Green Lantern:TAS)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
Grey Delisle (The Replacements)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Alanna Ubach (Legally Blonde)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars Rebels)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters 2)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Alan Rachins (LA Law)
Kath soucie (Rugrats)
Crispin Freeman (Digimon)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Elisa Gabrielli (Mulan)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Courtney B. Vance (Flashforward)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Nikki Cox (Las Vegas)

It would be hard to argue that any comic book superhero has enjoyed a more sustained popularity over the last five decades than Spider-Man. The Marvel Comics character, the mainstay of that company’s flagship publication The Amazing Spider-Man, has been spun off  into numerous other venues, from cartoon and live action television shows to a rock album, a series of wildly popular theatrical movies, and even a recurring part in the old PBS series The Electric Company.

The Spectacular Spider-Man is a current incarnation of this comics legend that takes its name from a now-defunct spin-off comic book title. It’s a half-hour cartoon series, aimed primarily at kids but with some postmodern nods to adults, and basically offers an early 21st century update of the original Spider-Man comic books. Here, Peter Parker (voiced by Josh Keaton) attends high school with Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacey. Bully Flash Thompson is also around, and Parker’s future wife Mary Jane Watson transfers to his school midway in the series. Parker lives at home with his Aunt May, and moonlights as the crimefighting Spider-Man whenever he can. As he battles colorful super-villains, he’s taking snapshots of himself for the newspaper Daily Bugle. Several of the classic characters from that fictional periodical are here, including Betty Brant and the obnoxious J. Jonah Jameson (voiced hilariously by Daran Norris).spidey_wp-01

The series is light and fun, with a nice sense of humor. As such, it captures the essence of Spider-Man fairly well. Each episode is relatively self-contained, although certain plot points connect the episodes into a larger whole. The animation strikes me as bright and colorful – and certainly competent for a weekly television program. The characters are presented with some awkward angularity at times, but at least it’s consistent and uniform in presentation. As an old comics fan, I enjoyed this updating of the Spider-Man mythos, and I certainly imagine that it will entertain its core audience: adolescents.ranking-the-spider-man-animated-series_cgbj

In season 2 Peter Parker’s life becomes significantly more complicated as he finds himself torn between Gwen Stacy and Liz Allan, both of whom have confessed their feelings for him; he eventually chooses Liz. Norman Osborn takes on the role of Peter’s mentor, pulling strings to re-establish his job as Dr. Connors’ lab assistant, as well as overseeing the installment of the conniving Dr. Miles Warren into the ESU Labs. Meanwhile, as Spider-Man, Peter encounters new villains Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter, leading him to investigate the activities of a mysterious new crime lord known as the “Master Planner”.fe109-spiderman-animatedWhen the Master Planner’s first scheme fails, Spider-Man is faced with a three-way gang war between the Planner’s super-villain forces, the Big Man’s established order, and the old guard of Silvio “Silvermane” Manfredi’s family. Peter’s search for Eddie Brock also leads to the return of Venom, who attempts to expose Spider-Man’s secret identity and remove his powers. Finally, when the three major crime lords are arrested, Spider-Man once again goes up against the Green Goblin, who is once again bent on eliminating the wall-crawler once and for all.

ranking-the-spider-man-animated-series_cgbjOther new characters introduced in the second season include Calypso, Sha Shan Nguyen, Silver Sable, Roderick Kingsley and Molten Man. Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason return as Mysterio and the Tinkerer respectively.fe109-spiderman-animatedIt appears that the episodes in this eighth volume of The Spectacular Spider-Man are the swan song of the series. That’s a shame as this was a fun and energetic cartoon take on the classic Marvel superhero. Based upon content, The show was cancelled to make way for the Ultimate Spider-man cartoon which as we all know is just a train wreck.spidey_wp-01

REVIEW: HALLOWEEN (2007)

CAST

Scout Taylor-Compton (The Core)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Tyler Mane (X-Men)
Daeg Faerch (Hanock)
Sheri Moon Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Danielle Harris (Left For Dead)
Kristina Klebe (Police State)
Skyler Gisondo (The Three Stooges)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Bill Moseley (Army of Darkness)

On Halloween in Haddonfield, Illinois, having already shown signs of psychopathic tendencies, 10-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) murders a school bully. Later that night, he murders his older sister Judith (Hanna R. Hall), his mother’s abusive boyfriend Ronnie (William Forsythe), and Judith’s boyfriend Steve (Adam Weisman). Only his baby sister, Angel Myers, is spared. After one of the longest trials in the state’s history, Michael is found guilty of first degree murder and sent to Smith’s Grove — Warren County Sanitarium under the care of child psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Michael initially cooperates with Dr. Loomis, claiming no memory of the killings; his mother, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie), visits him regularly. Michael becomes fixated on his papier-mâché masks, closing himself off from everyone, even his mother. When Michael kills a nurse as Deborah is leaving from one of her visits, she can no longer handle the situation and commits suicide. For the next fifteen years, Michael (Tyler Mane) continues making his masks and not speaking to anyone. Dr. Loomis, having continued to treat Michael over the years, attempts to move on with his life and closes Michael’s case. Later, while being prepared for transfer to maximum security, Michael escapes Smith’s Grove, killing the sanitarium employees and a truck driver for his overalls, and makes his way back to Haddonfield. On Halloween, Michael arrives at his now abandoned childhood home, where he recovers the kitchen knife and Halloween mask.
The story shifts to Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), and her friends Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and Lynda Van Der Klok (Kristina Klebe) on Halloween. Throughout the day, Laurie witnesses Michael watching her from a distance. That night, she goes to babysit Tommy Doyle (Skyler Gisondo). Meanwhile, Lynda meets with her boyfriend Bob (Nick Mennell) at Michael’s childhood home. Michael appears, murders them, and then heads to the Strode home, where he murders Laurie’s parents, Mason (Pat Skipper) and Cynthia (Dee Wallace). Dr. Loomis, having been alerted of Michael’s escape, comes to Haddonfield looking for Michael. After obtaining a gun, Loomis attempts to warn Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) that Michael has returned to Haddonfield. Brackett and Dr. Loomis head to the Strode home, with Brackett explaining along the way that Laurie is actually Michael’s sister Angel.
Meanwhile, Annie convinces Laurie to babysit Lindsey Wallace (Jenny Gregg Stewart), a girl Annie is supposed to be watching, so she can have sex with her boyfriend Paul (Max Van Ville). Annie and Paul return to the Wallace home and during sex, Michael kills Paul and attacks Annie. Bringing Lindsey home, Laurie finds Annie on the floor, bloodied but alive, and calls the police. She is attacked by Michael, who chases her back to the Doyle home. Sheriff Brackett and Loomis hear the call announced over the radio and head toward the Wallace residence. Meanwhile, Michael kidnaps Laurie and takes her back to his home. Michael approaches Laurie and tries to show her that she is his younger sister, presenting a picture of the two siblings with their mother. Unable to understand, Laurie grabs Michael’s knife and stabs him before escaping the house; Michael chases her, but is repeatedly shot by Dr. Loomis.Laurie and Loomis are just about to leave when Michael grabs Laurie and heads back to the house. Loomis intervenes and tries to reason with Michael, but Michael attacks him by squeezing Loomis’s skull with his hands. Laurie takes Loomis’s gun and runs upstairs; she is chased by Michael, who, after cornering her on a balcony, charges her head-on, knocking both of them over the railing. Laurie finds herself on top of a bleeding Michael. Aiming Loomis’ gun at his face, she repeatedly pulls the trigger until the gun finally goes off just as Michael’s hand grips Laurie’s wrist.
I like this film. It does not diminish my enjoyment of Carpenter’s original, and neither does Carpenter’s original diminish my enjoyment of this film. As far as I’m concerned, they can co-exist as entirely separate entities, to be appreciated on their own terms.

REVIEW: BULLET (2014)

CAST

Danny Trejo (Machete)
Joanthan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
John Savage (Dark Angel)
Eva Mauro (Crepitus)
Seri De Young (Laid to Rest)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Torsten Voges (Funny People)
Emilio Rivera (Traffic)

movie-bullet-thumb4Nearing retirement, maverick Los Angeles-based detective Frank “Bullet” Marasco is assigned to hunt down the notorious drug baron Carlito Kane, following a tipoff from Leroy, who is later whacked to death with a golf club due to interrupting Kane’s golf game. Bullet and his team storm one of Kane’s hideouts but fail to capture him.Bo22_U_00_53_49_00007The plot thickens when Governor Johnson’s daughter is kidnapped by Kane along with her boyfriend, in a bid to save his son Manuel from execution via lethal injection. Kane streams the execution of the boyfriend on a phone to the Governor and says that his daughter is next if they don’t stop the execution of his son. Thereafter, Bullet send his grandson Mario to a community park where Kane exacts revenge on Bullet by kidnapping his grandson. Eventually Bullet himself is abducted too, but only for a brief period of time, as he is able to escape. After a lengthy car chase, Bullet successfully evades Kane and his men but gets ambushed by them once again the next day.Bullet-DIFinally, Bullet calls it quits as a civil servant and resigns, secretly becoming a vigilante and goes to his cousin for weaponry to take Kane down. He proceeds to interrogate one of Kane’s aides, killing her in her bathtub after she fails to fully cooperate. Panicking, Kane and his closest subordinates retreat to a desert where Bullet starts to kill Kane’s henchmen one by one, including his grandson’s four kidnappers. The final showdown between Kane and Bullet has the latter emerge as victor. Bullet reunites with his grandson and rescues Johnson’s daughter. The victory is sweetened when Manuel Kane is publicly executed. Bullet, his daughter and his grandson savour the evening at the beach, just as the credits begin to roll.Danny Trejo as BulletThis movie will keep you interested only if you are the action lover. There’s actually nothing new in the story. But one can always watch it as a time pass action flick.

 

REVIEW: TALES OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MONSTERS AND MUTANTS

MAIN CAST

Seth Green (Family Guy)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Josh Peck (Red Dawn)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brian Bloom (The A-Team)
Ashley Johnson (Avengers Assemble)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Grant Moninger (The Avengers: EMH)
Dana Delorenzo (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Dimitri Diatchenko (Get Smart)
Chris Sarandon (Child’s Play)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Nolan North (Con man)
Cassandra Peterson (Elvira)
Peter Sormare (22 Jump Street)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Zelda Williams (House of D)

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THE CURSE OF SAVANTI ROMERO

Renet returns to ask the Turtles for help, to stop Savanti Romero from unleashing an undead army on Modern-day New York.

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THE CRYPT OF DRACULA

Count Dracula is awakened, and turns Raphael into a vampire.

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THE FRANKENSTEIN EXPERIMENT

Savanti recruits Frankenstein’s Monster and will soon unleash his creatures on the 21st Century.

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MONSTERS AMONG US

When Renet and the Turtles return to a world run by monsters, they realize they have made the situation even worse.

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WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE – PART 1 & 2

The Newtralizer returns to New York City, more powerful than ever before, and joins forces with a dangerous and unexpected ally. With the help of Raphael’s Salamandrian girlfriend, Mona Lisa, the Turtles fight back to defend their city.The-Newtralizer-When-Worlds-Collide-Tales-Of-The-Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-TMNT-Nickelodeon-Nick-Press-993Although meant to be volume 1 of Season 5, this volume does come without the opening 4 episodes of the season instead focusing more on the Halloween themed episodes. While it is a shame not to include the opening episodes it’s still a fun ride and some great episodes for the Halloween season.

 

REVIEW: PREDATORS

CAST
Adrien Brody (Hollywoodland)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3)
Alice Braga (I Am Legend)
Walton Goggins (Django Unchained)
Oleg Taktarov (National Treasure)
Danny Trejo (Eyeborgs)
Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Royce (Adrien Brody) awakens to find himself parachuting into an unfamiliar jungle. He meets several others who arrived in the same manner: Mexican drug cartel enforcer Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Spetsnaz soldier Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Israel Defense Forces sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga), Revolutionary United Front officer Mombasa (Mahershala Ali), death row inmate Stans (Walton Goggins), Yakuza enforcer Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), and a general practice doctor Edwin (Topher Grace).
Upon landing, they discover that all are armed and lethal killers, with the apparent exception of Edwin, though none know where they are or how they got there. The group follows Royce, who Isabelle suspects is a former black operations soldier turned mercenary. In the jungle they find empty cages, plants with a neurotoxic poison that Edwin collects on a scalpel, and a deceased US Special Forces soldier. Arriving at higher ground, they find themselves staring at an alien sky and realize that they are not on Earth.
The party is attacked by a pack of quadruped alien beasts, and Cuchillo is killed. His body is then used as bait to lure the survivors into a trap, but they avoid it. Royce guesses they are on a planet used as a game preserve, where humans are hunted as game. The group follows the quadrupeds’ tracks to a camp and find a captive Predator. The “hunters”, three larger Predators attack the group. Mombasa is killed and the rest of the group escapes. Isabelle reveals that she has heard of the Predators before, from a report by the only survivor (Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer) a Special Forces team who encountered one in Guatemala in 1987.
The group next meets Noland (Laurence Fishburne), a lone soldier who has survived on the planet for “10 seasons” by hiding and scavenging from the Predators and their victims. At his hideout, he explains that the Predators sharpen their killing skills by collecting warriors and dangerous beasts from other worlds and bringing them to the planet to hunt. Noland also reveals that there is a blood feud between the larger Predators and the smaller ones. Royce hopes that if the group can free the smaller Predator being held prisoner in the encampment, it may take them home using the other Predators’ spaceship. When the group fall asleep, Noland traps them in a room and attempts to use smoke to suffocate them. Having gone mad, he plans to kill them for food. Royce uses an explosive to break out of the room, attracting the Predators to the hideout. Noland tries to escape, but a Predator kills him. In the ensuing chase, Nikolai uses a claymore mine to kill a Predator, sacrificing himself. Stans savagely attacks another Predator with his shiv, buying time for the others to escape, and is killed. Hanzo duels the third Predator with a katana, killing it at the cost of his own life.
As Royce, Isabelle and Edwin head for the Predators’ camp, Edwin is injured by a trap. When Isabelle refuses to abandon him, Royce leaves them both behind and they are caught by the remaining hunter. Royce frees the smaller Predator and heads for the ship as the two Predators confront each other. The larger Predator kills the smaller one and destroys the ship as it takes off. Meanwhile, Edwin paralyzes Isabelle with the neurotoxic poison on his scalpel and reveals that on Earth he was a murderer, and feels that he fits in on this planet among the monsters. Royce appears, never having boarded the ship, and stabs Edwin with his own scalpel, paralyzing him.
Royce booby-traps Edwin with grenades, using him as bait to injure the Predator. While Isabelle covers him with her sniper rifle, he proceeds to fight the Predator with an axe and eventually decapitates it. As Royce and Isabelle rest, they see parachutes opening at a distance. Royce, surmising that more Predators will soon arrive to hunt the new prey, tells Isabelle they must find another way to get off the planet, and they make their way towards the new hunting ground.
This film does exactly what you would want from a predator film. It takes a little while to get going but once it does it goes at a very entertaining pace. It’s a 15 rating so its not as blood thirsty as the first 2 predator films but there is plenty of action and enough blood to keep everyone happy.

REVIEW: RISE OF THE ZOMBIES

CAST

Danny Trejo (Machete)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Mariel Hemingway (Star 80)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Heather Hemmens (Hellcats)
French Stewart (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)

14444786133A water-borne virus has led to a widespread outbreak of zombies in San Francisco. A group of survivors, including Dr. Lynn Snyder (Mariel Hemingway) and others, create a refuge on Alcatraz Island. Snyder receives communications from Dr. Arnold (French Stewart), a scientist conducting experiments to create a cure for the virus. Meanwhile, Dr. Dan Halpern (LeVar Burton), another of the refugees, is studying parts culled from the bodies of the zombies, but he is unable to make much headway because he only has access to ‘dead’ zombies. His research is further hindered when Caspian (Danny Trejo) and other refugees burn the zombie corpses being stored on the island.zombies27tvf-1-webA horde of zombies are washed onto the island by the tides, causing panic in the camp. While they are defeated, many of the refugees are killed, and two are infected by the virus, one of them being Halpern’s daughter, Julie (Kerisse Hutchinson). The survivors decide to set out for the mainland, while Halpern stays to study the two infected victims. Later in the film, Halpern is forced to kill himself by detonating a grenade when his daughter bites him, before the virus can claim him as well. The group on the mainland splits in two because of conflicting goals. Snyder wishes to find Dr. Arnold, as she believes he has found a cure, while Caspian’s group instead wants to find supplies and ultimately reach what they believe to be an evacuation point. Caspian and several others are soon infected, and the group’s numbers dwindle. It is eventually revealed that the ‘evacuation point’ has already been overrun by the zombies, rendering escape seemingly impossible. As the group siphones gas from a car, Ashley commits suicide on a trolly by rolling it down the street colliding with a bus.maxresdefaultThe last survivors of the group – Snyder, Kyle (Chad Lindberg) and Marshall (Ethan Suplee) – discover Dr. Arnold’s refuge, the water treatment plant where the outbreak began. Arnold reveals that he has indeed discovered a cure, based on his tests on animal subjects. As the five flee for a chopper on the roof of the plant, both Kyle and Marshall are attacked, but Arnold’s vaccine saves them. The group escapes the city, and Arnold requests a laboratory to manufacture his cure, expressing optimism that anything is possible.img_4355Rise of the Zombies is actually a good enough movie to watch for any zombie fans. It is nothing extraordinary or exceptional, but still worth a watch.