REVIEW: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017)

CAST

Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie)
Penélope Cruz (Grimsby)
Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man)
Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul)
Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Josh Gad (Frozen)
Derek Jacobi (Cinderella)
Leslie Odom Jr. (Red Tails)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Dark Shadows)
Daisy Ridley (Star wars: The Last Jedi)
Olivia Colman (I Give It a Year)
Lucy Boynton (Miss Potter)
Tom Bateman (Into The Dark)
Adam Garcia (Coyote Ugly)

Johnny Depp in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)In 1934, famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot solves a theft at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The obsessive-compulsive—who seeks balance in life, and considers his case-solving ability to see a lie amid truth to be a curse — wants to rest in Istanbul, but must return to London for another case. His friend Bouc, director of the Simplon Orient Express, offers him a room aboard the train.Judi Dench and Olivia Colman in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)Unscrupulous businessman Edward Ratchett offers to hire Poirot as his bodyguard during the three-day journey, having received threatening letters from an unknown party, but Poirot refuses. That night, Poirot hears strange noises coming from Ratchett’s compartment, and later sees someone in a red kimono running down the hallway. An avalanche derails the train’s engine, stranding the passengers.Kenneth Branagh in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)The next morning, Poirot discovers Ratchett was murdered during the night after having been stabbed a dozen times. Poirot and Bouc investigate the other passengers as repairs begin. Evidence indicates that Ratchett was murdered by one person, and Caroline Hubbard, a fellow passenger, claims that a man had been in her compartment in the night. Poirot discovers a partially burned note connecting Ratchett to the kidnapping of Daisy Armstrong, a child who was abducted from her bedroom and held for ransom. After the ransom was paid, Daisy was found murdered. Ratchett’s true identity is revealed: he was John Cassetti, Daisy’s kidnapper and murderer. The shock of her death caused her mother Sonia to die after giving premature birth to a stillborn baby; her father, Colonel John Armstrong, then committed suicide. The family’s nursemaid Susanne was wrongly suspected of complicity, leading to her being arrested and subsequent suicide in police custody, only to be found innocent afterward.Daisy Ridley in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)More evidence is found, including a bloodstained handkerchief, and, in Mrs. Hubbard’s compartment, the button of a conductor’s uniform. The uniform is later found, as is the red kimono — in Poirot’s own suitcase. Hubbard is suddenly stabbed in the back; she survives but cannot identify the culprit. Poirot discovers many of the passengers have direct connections to the Armstrong family and uncovers their hidden pasts. While interviewing governess Mary Debenham, Doctor John Arbuthnot shoots Poirot in the shoulder, claiming responsibility for the murder, but Bouc stops him from killing Poirot. Poirot realizes that Arbuthnot — a medical doctor and former army sniper — never meant to kill him.Kenneth Branagh and Daisy Ridley in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)Poirot confronts the suspects outside the train, offering two theories of how Cassetti died. The first is simple but does not meet all of the facts: A murderer disguised as a conductor boarded the train at a previous stop, murdered Cassetti, and fled at the stop as the train left. The second is more complex: with every single suspect connected to the Armstrongs, Susanne, or her trial in some way, they all had a motive against Cassetti. Poirot predicts that they acted together. Hubbard is revealed to be Linda Arden, a former stage actress and aspiring director, and Sonia Armstrong’s mother.Michelle Pfeiffer in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)Hubbard confirms the latter, admitting that she planned the murder and had recruited everyone else to help her. All the other passengers and the Conductor, Pierre Michel (Susanne’s brother), took turns stabbing Cassetti. Mary wore the kimono, and Arbuthnot stabbed Hubbard without endangering her life, to convince Poirot of a lone killer. Poirot challenges the passengers and Michel to shoot him with a confiscated gun since he is the only one who can expose their plot; Bouc can lie, but Poirot, obsessed with truth and balance, cannot. Hubbard grabs the gun and tries to kill herself, but it is not loaded; Poirot wanted to see how the suspects would react. With the train back on track, Poirot concludes that justice is impossible in the case, as Cassetti deserved death; for the first time, Poirot will have to live with a lie and imbalance. He presents the lone killer theory to the Yugoslavian police, allowing the others to leave on the train. As he disembarks, a British Army messenger asks him to investigate a death on the Nile. Poirot accepts the case.
Kenneth Branagh in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)I love the book so I was really excited to see this, and I have to say I was not disappointed. The acting was brilliant and the film very well made. Aside from a few changes it mostly follows the book quite closely which I was pleased about and the end was especially well done. I have to confess that I haven’t actually got round to seeing any of the other adaptions of the book yet but I certainly enjoyed this one.

 

REVIEW: TOLKIEN

Starring

Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite)
Lily Collins (MIrror Mirror)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek: DS9)
Derek Jacobi (Tomb Raider)
Anthony Boyle (The Lost City of Z)
Patrick Gibson (Neverland)
Tom Glynn-Carney (Dunkirk)
Craig Roberts (Kill Your Friends)
Pam Ferris (Children of Men)
Laura Donnelly (Dread)
Genevieve O’Reilly (The Snowman)
Owen Teale (Game of Thrones)
Harry Gilby (Just Charlie)
Mimi Keene (Sex Education)

Nicholas Hoult in Tolkien (2019)As young children being raised by a single mother, Tolkien and his brother receive help from a local priest who must relocate them from their home to small apartments in Birmingham due to financial hardships. Their mother is supportive and loving, filling her sons’ minds with narrated stories of adventure and mystery which she recites by the fireplace at night to the boys. She is ill, however, and one day on return from school, Tolkien finds his mother slumped in her chair in an unusual position and upon touching her shoulder, discovers that his mother has died. The local priest returns again to try to find a local home or orphanage that will take the boys in.Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins in Tolkien (2019)A kindly rich woman is found in town who will support Tolkien and his brother with room and board while they continue their childhood education. There, Tolkien meets Edith Bratt, who lives in the same home into which he has been adopted and who loves music. She and Tolkien bond as friends because of their mutual passion for music, and the two attend local concerts and musical events.Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins in Tolkien (2019)When he is sent to school, J. R. R. Tolkien befriends a group of three fellow students, with whom he finds inspiration and courage. Their bond of fellowship grows with the years, as they experience life together. Meanwhile, Tolkien continues his relationship with Edith, with whom he falls in love. When the priest who has been supporting Tolkien finds out about their affair, he reminds Tolkien that she is not a Roman Catholic. He further states that as Tolkien’s legal guardian after the death of Tolkien’s mother, he forbids Tolkien from having a relationship with Edith until Tolkien is 21 years of age. The news is devastating to Tolkien, though he does not want to lose his financial aid from the priest without which he would be forced to withdraw from college.When WWI breaks out, the four friends all enlist for military service. The consequences of their loyal military service is devastating to them. Two of the friends die, and one is handicapped by shell shock and is no longer functional after the war due to his mental incapacity. Tolkien himself is gravely injured, though he is evacuated to hospital in England, and he remains unconscious for many weeks. When he awakens, he finds that Edith has been faithfully attending him on a daily basis while he has been in hospital never leaving his side. Deeply moved by her loyalty to him, Tolkien proposes marriage to her as his only true love. The two survive to older age when Tolkien becomes a professor at his old school teaching the young students now enrolled in his classes.Tolkien works well as a film showing the early years of the life of the titular writer. The actors nail their performances, and Tolkien fans will have a good time with it, despite some pacing problems. However, it doesn’t really offer enough for non-fans to get into the film, so it would likely be boring to anyone not interested in Tolkien or his work. Otherwise, it’s a good depiction of the life of one of the greatest writers ever.

REVIEW: GOOD OMENS

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)

Starring

David Tennant (Mary Queen of Scots)
Michael Sheen (Passengers)
Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland)
Jon Hamm (Baby Driver)
Josie Lawrence (Humans)
Lourdes Faberes (Knightfall)
Adria Arjona (Life of The Party)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jack Whitehall (Bad Education)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Mireille Enos (Hanna TV)
Yusuf Gatewood (The Originals)
Brian Cox (Rise of TPOA)
Reece Shearsmith (Stag)
Nina Sosanya (Marcella)
Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders)
Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Grinch)
Steve Pemberton (Psychoville)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
Nick Offerman (The Lego Movie 2)
Daniel Mays (The Bank Job)
Sian Brooke (Sherlock)
Simon Merrells (Legends of Tomorrow)
Susan Brown (Game of Thrones)
Paul Kaye (Anna and the Apocalypse)
David Morrissey (The Walking Dead)

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Once upon a time, Good Omens was considered unadaptable. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s sprawling, 400-page fantasy novel was notorious within the film and TV industries. Screenwriters turned their noses up at the project, and various attempts over the years to bring page to screen ended in disappointment. However, an adaptation of the unadaptable proved to be Pratchett’s last request to his co-author before he died in 2015, and Gaiman set about writing the screenplay for what would become an epic six-part BBC/Amazon co-production.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)So first things first: was the unadaptable, well, adaptable, after all? The short answer is, yes. Gaiman — also showrunner on the series — has pulled off a colourful, quirky, funny, poignant (although not entirely flawless) feat. One might even suspect there’s been a spot of divine (or devilish) intervention… The true triumph is the casting. Michael Sheen shines (quite literally, in some scenes) as the angel Aziraphale, a celestial field agent who teams up with his opposite number, the stylish demon Crowley — played with a Bill Nighy-esque swagger by David Tennant — in order to prevent Armageddon.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)It’s this pairing that proves to be the beating heart of the series. Crowley and Aziraphale have been on Earth since the very beginning, and in their own ways they’ve both “gone native”. Aziraphale owns a Soho bookshop, and likes gravlax salmon with dill sauce. Crowley drives a pristine 1926 Bentley and listens to Queen. They’ve formed a professional agreement not to meddle in each other’s affairs, and in their spare time they’ve enjoyed a series of rather nice clandestine lunches. Every time either actor appears onscreen, you can almost hear the costume department’s (and fandom’s) squeals of joy. David Tennant in snakeskin boots! Michael Sheen with artfully tousled bleached hair! A tartan bow tie! Tennant also sports appropriately flame-red hair (not in the books, but worth it for Doctor Who fans’ realisation that the Tenth Doctor finally got his wish) that frequently changes style. In one particularly memorable moment during episode one, Crowley disguises himself as a bobbed-haired nanny, a Satanic crossover between Nanny McPhee and Mrs Doubtfire.good-omensHe and Aziraphale have a teasing, love/hate relationship that fans of the book have shipped for almost two decades. Gaiman has since promised that “the TV series gets deeper into Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship,” and some viewers will be hoping that that will translate into a burgeoning romance. Certainly in episode one, Aziraphale seems rather overexcited at the prospect of he and Crowley becoming joint “godfathers” to the infant Antichrist, whose arrival on Earth threatens to catalyse the apocalypse. Gabriel has bright purple irises in the series, a nod to Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary lilac eyes according to the show’s companion book, The Nice and Accurate Good Omens TV Companion. However, as anyone who’s worn thick coloured lenses for Halloween and lived to tell the tale will know, the effect is rather distracting and painful to look at, as are Crowley’s reptilian yellow eyes (thankfully hidden away under trendy shades for much of the show). Gabriel barely appears in the book, and he’s a welcome and much-needed addition to the series: someone to put the proverbial heat on Aziraphale.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Various sets are also new for the TV show: Heaven is now a vast corporate headquarters, while Hell resembles an overcrowded basement office. A rather gloomier version of The IT Crowd, if you will. Some of the show’s special effects can feel a bit hammy (think Russell T Davies-era Doctor Who with a couple of rubber frogs thrown in), but the scene depicting the entrances to both Heaven and Hell features a pretty cool bit of cinematography, including a mirror effect and an upside-down Tennant. However, despite the addition of characters like Gabriel, much of the show remains doggedly faithful to the books. Reams of dialogue are almost word-for-word during episode one, to the extent that there are certain moments and scenes where one feels that the show’s pace has been sacrificed in favour of preserving the ‘voice’ of the book. Of course, it’s understandable given the circumstances — Gaiman has spoken about the pressure to protect Pratchett’s narrative creations in his absence. For example, he made sure that one of Pratchett’s characters, the 17th century witch Agnes Nutter, remained in the show despite calls to replace her (and an expensive, explosive period shoot) with a series of woodcuts.good-omens-key-art-600x314In Agnes’s case, it makes sense to preserve her: her spookily accurate prophecies drive much of the plot and predict the present-day apocalypse. But there are chunks of God’s narration (voiced by Oscar-winner Frances McDormand) that feel a bit laboured. Some sections, like the bit about demons’ talents for “lurking” around graveyards, must have read well on the page in that distinctive Terry/Neil voice, but in reality they fall rather flat — much like a certain angel’s misguided attempts to pull a rabbit out of a top hat at a children’s birthday party. At the end of the day, however (and according to Agnes Nutter, there aren’t many more days left), the series is a love letter to the book, combining Gaiman and Pratchett’s brilliant characterisation and quippy jokes with vivid, gorgeous sets and memorable costumes.

 

 

REVIEW: THERE BE DRAGONS

CAST

Charlie Cox (Daredevil)
Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II)
Wes Bentley (Ghost Rider)
Golshifteh Farahani (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech)
Lily Cole (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus)
Geraldine Chaplin (The Orphanage)

A young journalist long ago rejected by his now aged and dying father finds himself investigating one of his father’s former friends, a candidate for canonization. Uncovering the two men’s complicated relationship from childhood through the horrors of the Spanish Civil War unveils a compelling drama filled with passion, betrayal, love and religion. An action packed story set during a murderous time in history that ultimately serves the present by revealing the importance and timeless power of forgiveness.The film explores the senseless nature of war and its consequences, the spiral of hatred that slowly engulfs men, the repentance for terrible mistakes and the struggle to forgive them. Each character follows a path filled with dilemmas and suffering at the end of which they must fight themselves and their dragons. Do not expect an action packed war film. For those who have interest in the roots of Opus Dei, this film will not help you there. It deals with the repercussions of war and strife in people, it does not deal with the grander scale of things. there Be Dragons is a deeply personal and spiritual film. It is very intense and reflects unapologetically the worst side of humanity.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: GLADIATOR

CAST

Russell Crowe (Man of STeel)
Joaquin Phoenix (Quills)
Connie Nielsen (Basic)
Oliver Reed (Tommy)
Richard Harris (Unforgiven)
Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Ralf Moeller (The Scorpion King)
Spencer Treat Clark (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
David Hemmings (Deep Red)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Tony Curran (Outlaw King)

In AD 180, Hispano-Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius leads the Roman army to a decisive victory against the Germanic tribes near Vindobona on the northern frontier. Now weary of battle, Maximus only desires to retire to his Spanish farm estate. But Emperor Marcus Aurelius tells him that his own son and heir, Commodus, is unfit to rule and that he will appoint Maximus as regent to help save Rome from corruption. When the Emperor reveals his plan to his son, Commodus murders him in a fit of rage.Commodus announces he is the new Emperor and asks Maximus for his loyalty. When the general refuses, he is arrested by his officers and is sentenced to death at dawn. Maximus kills his captors and rides for his farm. However, he arrives too late, and finds it destroyed and his family murdered, by Commodus’ orders. Maximus buries his wife and son, and then collapses from his wounds and grief. He is found by slavers who take him to Zucchabar, a colonia in the Roman North African province of Mauretania Caesariensis, where he is sold to a lanista (gladiator trainer) named Proximo.Although reluctant at first, Maximus fights in local tournaments and makes friends with two other gladiators: Juba, a Numidian who holds onto Maximus’s figurines of his wife and child, and Hagen, a German. As he wins every match because of his military skills and indifference to death, he gains fame and recognition. But Proximo, who reveals that he himself was once a gladiator who fought well enough to be given his freedom, advises Maximus that being a good killer is not enough; a good gladiator is one who can “win the crowd”. Proximo encourages Maximus to go to Rome and fight in the Colosseum, because Commodus has organized 150 days of games. He could then use the power he commands in the arena as leverage against the Emperor.Maximus’ first gladiatorial combat in the Colosseum is a re-enactment of the Roman victory over Carthage at the Battle of Zama. Although the gladiators (portraying the Carthaginians) are expected to be massacred, Maximus leads them to victory over the legionaries of Scipio Africanus. This prompts a surprised and delighted Commodus to enter the arena to offer his personal congratulations. When the emperor’s young nephew, Lucius, also joins them, Maximus decides not to kill Commodus. Instead he reveals himself and vows to have vengeance. The Praetorian Guard is ordered to attack but this angers the crowd. Under pressure to keep the mob of Rome happy, Commodus angrily relents.Maximus’ next fight is a victory against a large undefeated gladiator. Despite Commodus’s orders to kill the loser, Maximus spares his defeated opponent’s life. This defiance earns him the nickname “Maximus the Merciful” and more cheers of adulation. Angered at this outcome, Commodus enters the arena to taunt Maximus about his family’s death. But the gladiator turns his back and walks away, another defiant act that is making him more popular than the Emperor. Maximus discovers from Cicero, his ex-orderly, that his former legions remain loyal. Lucilla, Commodus’ sister, and Gracchus, from the Senate, meet secretly with Maximus. He obtains their promise to help him escape Rome, rejoin his soldiers, topple Commodus by force, and hand power back to the Roman Senate. However, Commodus learns of the plot from Lucilla by threatening her son Lucius. The Praetorian Guard arrest Gracchus while others are sent to the gladiators’ barracks. Maximus escapes after Proximo and his men (including Hagen) sacrifice themselves. But at the rendezvous point, Maximus is captured and Cicero is killed.To win the crowd back, Commodus challenges Maximus to a duel in the Colosseum. However, he secretly stabs Maximus in the side before the match to gain an advantage. Nevertheless Maximus eventually disarms Commodus during their duel. When his Praetorian Guards refuse to give him another sword, the emperor tricks Maximus into disarming and produces a hidden knife, but Maximus drives the blade back into Commodus’s throat. Maximus, however, succumbs to his wounds shortly thereafter.Maximus’s last words are to ask for political reforms, for his gladiator allies to be freed, and for Senator Gracchus to be reinstated. While the body of Commodus is left unceremoniously on the floor of the arena, Maximus is solemnly carried away by his friends and allies to be given an honorable funeral as a “soldier of Rome”. The crowd stands as a sign of respect as Maximus is carried out. Later, a now-free Juba revisits the Colosseum at night. He buries the figurines of Maximus’ wife and son at the spot where he died. He says he is now going back to his own family and promises to see Maximus again, “but not yet”.It’s true that this movie does pretty much follow the Braveheart formula. However, this movie includes some elements, such as the cinematography and the incredibly graphic battle scenes that are spectacular in itself. Overall, a great movie that I highly recommend.

REVIEW: BASIL

CAST

Christain Slater (True Romance)
Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)
Claire Forlani (Mallreats)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Casino Royale)

81nzzxt0ul__sl1500_Basil (Jared Leto) is a young British aristocrat who grew up on the country estate of Windermere Hall. His father, Frederick (Derek Jacobi), is a traditionalist who believes that there are things people of their class should never do. One of those things is romancing the women of lower classes, and Frederick threatens to disinherit Basil as he did Ralph, his elder son, should he also succumb to this temptation.81nzzxt0ul__sl1500_Whilst on holiday from his studies in Oxford, young Basil happens to meet a commoner named John Mannion (Christian Slater) whom he later befriends, against his father’s wishes and behind his back. Through John the young aristocrat meets Julia Sherwin (Claire Forlani), the beautiful daughter of a London merchant. Later, in a rash move shortly before he can inherit, and against the initial council of John, Basil secretly marries Julia. She uses his amorous advances to extract gifts and even his promise that she should own Windermere Hall. By chance, he finds Julia in bed with John, following which Basil viciously attacks him in the street, kicking him repeatedly. Afterwards, Basil delivers Julia’s child, then hears John coming up the stairs. Basil hides, seeing John with a mask covering his face. As Julia tries to lift it, John says, “Remember me as I was, not what I am now”. Julia dies in John’s arms after confessing the child is his, not Basil’s.81nzzxt0ul__sl1500_All John wants is to take the child and leave. Basil hears this and chases after John with a knife. As they fight, Basil pulls down John’s mask, revealing John’s mutilated face. John sees the reflection of his face in the blade of the knife, leading him to take his life by jumping off a cliff. Basil takes the newborn child and escapes to Ireland, naming her Clara, after his childhood friend and orphaned cousin Clara Fairfax. On his return to England over a decade later, whilst walking with his daughter, Basil chances to meets his cousin Clara. She then takes Basil’s daughter for hot chocolate, telling him to speak once more to his aged father. Basil’s father admits that he disowned both Basil, and Ralph before him, because his son’s affairs both reminded him of his own betrayal of his bedridden wife in his youth. Basil’s father now regrets his infidelity, professing he loved Basil’s mother deeply. Basil and his father reconcile as the film ends.81nzzxt0ul__sl1500_

Really enjoyed this film, has many good points, supported by an ample qualified set of actors and actresses, along with some really clever twists of fate that will keep you glued and intrigued, whilst trying to wonder just how twisted this story can get. I was well intrigued throughout and certainly not disappointed

 

REVIEW: UNDERWORLD 2: EVOLUTION

CAST

Kate Beckinsale (Total Recall)
Scott Speedman (The Vow)
Bill Nighy (Wrath of The Titans)
Tony Curran (Gladiator)
Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech)
Sophia Myles (Transformers 4)
Steven Mackintosh (Kick-Ass 2)
Shane Brolly (Spread)
Briane Steele (Hellboy)
Zita Gorog (8mm 2)
Michael Sheen (Kingdom of Heaven)
John Mann (Dark Angel)
Sean Rogerson (Grave Encounters)
Adrian Hough (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Andrew Kavadas (Ninja Turtles@ The Next Mutation)
Michasha Armstrong (Chaos)

In 1202, an army led by the three vampire elders (Markus, Viktor, and Amelia) arrives at a Lycan-ravaged village. Viktor and Amelia capture their target, Markus’ brother, William Corvinus, the first and most powerful werewolf. Despite Markus’ defiance, Viktor orders that William be imprisoned in a secret location forever.

In the present day, vampire Selene takes Michael to a safe house so that she can confront the vampire regent Kraven; she knows that Kraven intends to kill Markus and plans to stop him. However, Markus has awakened before Kraven arrives. Markus kills Kraven and his men. Lorenz Macaro, an elderly man, sends in a team of “cleaners” to investigate the aftermath from the battle in the Lycans’ lair. When Lorenz Macaro examines Viktor’s corpse he finds a metal disc inside it which is the match to a pendant originally worn by Sonja. The other half of the pendant is now possessed by Selene and Michael after the deaths of Viktor and Lucian.

Markus tracks Selene and Michael down and attacks them, but they evade him and hide in a warehouse. There, Selene and Michael share their feelings and have passionate sex together. Now knowing that the pendant is important to Markus, Michael and Selene set out to discover why Markus wants it. Selene recalls that she saw it as a child, but does not know its significance. They travel to the hideout of the exiled vampire historian Andreas Tanis who reveals that Markus was the first vampire; one of the three sons of Alexander Corvinus, the first immortal. Markus was bitten by a bat and became a vampire, while his twin brother William was bitten by a wolf and became a werewolf. The third son remained human and gave rise to a line of mortal descendants including Michael who became the first Lycan–Vampire hybrid. The first werewolves created by William were entirely animal and unable to assume human form. Due to William’s destructiveness, Markus approached Viktor, who was a dying mortal warlord at the time, and offered to turn him and his army into immortal vampires in exchange for tracking down and stopping William, and in destroying those he had infected.

Viktor did not kill the brothers because he was deceived by Markus into believing that doing so would result in the immediate extinction of all other vampires and his Lycan slaves. Tanis reveals that Selene’s father was the architect who built William’s prison and that the pendant is the key. Viktor killed Selene’s family as they knew the prison’s location, but turned Selene into a vampire so the memory of the prison’s location would be kept in her blood. Tanis then refers Selene and Michael to Macaro for help. After Selene and Michael leave Tanis’ residence, Markus arrives and drinks Tanis’ blood to learn Selene and Michael’s location, killing Tanis.

Selene and Michael visit Macaro and discover that he actually is Alexander Corvinus. Alexander reveals that he has devoted his entire immortal life to keeping the Vampire-Lycan war a secret. However, he refuses to assist Selene in killing his sons. Then Markus arrives, impaling Michael and learns the location of William’s prison by drinking Selene’s blood. He mortally wounds his father and obtains the other half of the pendant, after deriding his father’s refusal to help William and revealing that he intends with William to rule the world as the god-like master of a race of vampire-Lycan hybrids. On Alexander’s bidding, Selene drinks his blood, enhancing her physical strength and healing abilities to a level equivalent to that of a hybrid. Afterwards, Alexander blows up his ship, killing himself.

Selene, aboard Corvinus’ helicopter, leads his cleaners to the prison to confront and destroy Markus, but he has already freed William. A battle ensues in which William bites the cleaners who, as a result, are turned into werewolves. Michael, who is presumed to be dead and is carried aboard the helicopter, regenerates and joins the fight in his hybrid form, killing William by ripping his head off. Selene engages Markus in hand-to-hand combat, killing him by kicking him into the rotor blades of the cleaners’ crashed helicopter. After the battle, Selene realizes that Alexander’s blood has made her immune to the lethal effects of sunlight on vampires.

Like the first film in the series, Evolution is a dark, Gothic film with elaborate sets, props, and costuming. The acting (one again) is top notch and the script highly intriguing! The story/plot of Evolution is just a wonderful as the first film in the series. So much action to watch, a superb story and fine performances by all.

REVIEW: THE KING’S SPEECH

CAST

Colin Firth (Love Actually)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice In Wonderland)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Geoffrey Rush (Quills)
Jennifer Ehle (The Ides of March)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Claire Bloom (The Haunting)
Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd)
Robert Portal (The Iron Lady)
Prince Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V, stammers through his speech closing the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium. The Duke has given up hope of a cure, but his wife Elizabeth persuades him to see Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist living in London. During their first session, Logue insists on being called Lionel by his patient and on breaching royal etiquette by calling the Prince “Bertie”, a name used only by his family. When the Duke decides Logue’s treatment is unsuitable, Logue bets him that he can recite Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy without trouble and distracts him by playing music through headphones while recording his performance on an acetate record. Prince Albert leaves in anger but Logue offers him the recording as a keepsake.

After King George V makes his 1934 Christmas radio address, he explains to his son the importance of broadcasting to a modern monarchy and demands that Albert train himself, starting with a reading of his father’s speech. His attempt to do so is a failure. Later, the Duke plays Logue’s recording and hears himself reciting unhesitatingly. He therefore returns to Logue, where he and his wife both insist that Logue focus only on physical exercises, not therapy. Logue teaches his patient muscle relaxation and breath control but continues to probe gently and persistently at the psychological roots of the stutter. Albert eventually reveals some of the pressures of his childhood and the two men start to become friends. With George V’s death in 1936, his eldest son David ascends the throne as King Edward VIII, but causes a constitutional crisis with his determination to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite divorcée who is still legally married to her second husband. It is pointed out that Edward, as head of the Church of England, cannot marry her, even if she receives her second divorce, because both her previous husbands are alive.
At his next session, Albert expresses his frustration that while his speech has improved when talking to most people, he still stammers when talking to his own brother and reveals the extent of Edward VIII’s folly with Simpson. When Logue insists that Albert could be a good king instead, the latter labels such a suggestion as treason and dismisses Logue. When King Edward decides to abdicate in order to marry Simpson, Albert reluctantly succeeds as King George VI. The new king and queen visit Logue to make up the quarrel, startling Mrs. Logue, who was unaware that the new King had been her husband’s patient. During preparations for his coronation in Westminster Abbey, George learns that Logue has no formal qualifications. When confronted, Logue explains how he was asked to help shell-shocked Australian soldiers returning from The Great War. Since George remains unconvinced of his own fitness for the throne, Logue sits in King Edward’s Chair and dismisses the underlying Stone of Scone as a trifle. Goaded by Logue’s seeming disrespect, the King surprises himself with his own sudden burst of outraged eloquence and allows Logue to rehearse him for the ceremony.
Upon Britain’s declaration of war with Nazi Germany in 1939, King George summons Logue to Buckingham Palace to prepare for his upcoming radio address to Britain and the Empire. Knowing the challenge that lies before him, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain are present to offer support. George and Logue are then left in the broadcasting room. He delivers his speech with Logue conducting him, but by end is speaking freely. Preparing to leave the room for the congratulations of those present in the palace, Logue mentions to the King that he still had difficulty enunciating ‘w’ and the King jokes back, “I had to leave something in or no one would have believed it was me”.  After the King and his family step onto the balcony of the palace and are applauded by the crowd, a title card explains that Logue was always present at King George VI’s speeches during the war and that they remained friends for the rest of their lives.
I enjoyed watching this more than I thought I would. It’s respectful but truthful in its content and subject and gives an interesting insight into the miseries of stuttering. On the other hand the pace of the film was never impaired by what could have been unexciting content. It was lively and maintained interest throughout.

 

 

REVIEW: GOSFORD PARK

CAST
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission Impossible)
Camilla Rutherford (Rome)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Helen Mirren (Red)
Geraldine Somerville (Harry Potter)
Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions)
Emily Watson (Red Dragon)
Tom Hollander (Valkyrie)
Stephen Fry (Bones)
Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)
Natasha Wightman (V For Vendetta)
Jeremy Northan (The Net)
Bob Balaban (The Monuments Men)
Trent Ford (The Vampire Diaries)
Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood)
Alan Bates (The Sum of All Fears)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Richard E. Grant (Dracula)
Ryan Phillippe and Kristin Scott Thomas in Gosford Park (2001)
In November 1932, Constance, Countess of Trentham (Maggie Smith), and her lady’s maid, Mary MacEachran (Kelly Macdonald) travel to Gosford Park for the weekend. On the way, they encounter actor Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam), American film producer Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban) and Weissman’s valet, Henry Denton (Ryan Phillippe). At the house, they are greeted by Lady Trentham’s niece Lady Sylvia McCordle (Kristin Scott Thomas), her husband Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon), and their daughter, Isobel (Camilla Rutherford). The other guests include Lady Sylvia’s sisters, Louisa, Lady Stockbridge (Geraldine Somerville) and Lady Lavinia Meredith (Natasha Wightman) and their husbands, Raymond, Lord Stockbridge (Charles Dance) and Commander Anthony Meredith (Tom Hollander). Also in attendance are the Honourable Freddie Nesbitt (James Wilby) and his wife, Mabel (Claudie Blakley); Isobel’s suitor, Lord Rupert Standish (Laurence Fox) and his friend Jeremy Blond (Trent Ford).
Commander Meredith is in financial difficulty and brings up the matter with Sir William, who reveals that he is rescinding his investment in Meredith’s new business scheme. Sir William also reveals privately to Lady Sylvia that he may stop paying Lady Trentham’s allowance. Mary and Lord Stockbridge’s valet, Parks (Clive Owen), are attracted to one another and exchange pleasantries. Denton asks a number of questions about life in service and Parks reveals that he was brought up in an orphanage. Denton meets Lady Sylvia and during the night, he goes to her room.
The next morning the men go out early on a pheasant shoot, and Sir William is slightly injured by a low shot. Later, the ladies join the gentlemen for an outdoor luncheon on the estate grounds, where Commander Meredith pleads with Sir William to not back out of the investment, breaking decorum by grabbing Sir William’s arm and causing him to shatter his cocktail glass on the ground. While dressing for dinner, Lady Trentham and Mary are visited by Lady Sylvia, who reveals that Sir William is in a terrible mood with all of his guests after the events of the weekend and that he may stop paying his wife’s aunt her allowance. Lady Trentham is upset by this, and tersely tells Mary to be discreet about this unwelcome news (after having encouraged her to share downstairs gossip about the other guests).
Dinner that evening is tense and sombre, with the announcement that Commander Meredith will be leaving in the morning and that he now must prepare for bankruptcy thanks in part to Sir William’s withdrawal of his investment—news to which Sir William reacts with callous indifference. As the conversation progresses, tempers flare and Lady Sylvia attacks Sir William, implying that he was a First World War profiteer. The head housemaid, Elsie (Emily Watson), rises to his defence, breaking the class barrier, and thus revealing her affair with Sir William to everyone at the table. Everyone watches in shocked silence at this indiscretion, and Elsie hurries from the room—knowing that she will be dismissed.  Sir William abruptly storms away from the dinner table and goes to the library, where the housekeeper, Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren) brings him coffee. He demands a glass of whisky instead.
Kristin Scott Thomas and Stephen Fry in Gosford Park (2001)
Lady Sylvia asks Mr. Novello to entertain the guests. George (Richard E. Grant, first footman), Parks, Mr. Nesbitt and Commander Meredith disappear and an unknown person goes to the library and stabs Sir William as he sits slumped in his chair. Minutes later, Lady Stockbridge goes to the library to entice Sir William to return to the party and her screams bring everyone to the room. Commander Meredith and Mr. Nesbitt do not offer an explanation of their disappearances, while George says he was fetching milk for the coffee service and Parks claims to have been fetching hot water bottles. Inspector Thompson (Stephen Fry) and Constable Dexter (Ron Webster) arrive to investigate the murder. Dexter suggests that Sir William was already dead when he was stabbed. It is eventually surmised that Sir William was poisoned before being stabbed. Denton confesses to Jennings (Alan Bates), the butler, that he is not a valet but an American actor preparing for a film role. The next morning, Lady Sylvia goes for her usual morning ride, which surprises Inspector Thompson. Barnes (Adrian Scarborough) overhears Commander Meredith tell Lady Lavinia that Sir William’s death was lucky for them, as the investment is now secure. Barnes tells Inspector Thompson, who interrogates Meredith.
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Mrs. Croft (Eileen Atkins) tells the kitchen maid, Bertha (Teresa Churcher), that Sir William was known for seducing the women working in his factories. If a woman became pregnant, Sir William offered two choices: keep the baby and lose your job, or give the baby up and keep your job. Those who gave up their babies were told that the adoptions were being arranged with good families. In reality, Sir William paid squalid orphanages to take the children. Mary goes to Parks’ room and tells him that she knows he is the murderer. Parks tells her that he discovered Sir William was his father, entered service and attempted to gain employment with someone in his circle. Parks tells Mary that he did not poison Sir William and Mary is relieved, as Parks only stabbed the corpse. Mary listens to Lady Sylvia and Lady Constance discussing why Mrs. Croft and Mrs. Wilson are enemies. Lady Sylvia believes that the tension between them stems from the fact that Mrs. Wilson now outranks Mrs. Croft. Lady Constance asks if Mrs. Wilson was ever married and Lady Sylvia replies that her name was once Parks or Parker. Mary goes to Mrs. Wilson and the older woman reveals that she poisoned Sir William to protect her son, because she knew that Parks was there to kill Sir William. She also reveals that she and Mrs. Croft are sisters. After talking to Dorothy (Sophie Thompson), Mrs. Wilson goes to her room distraught and is comforted by Mrs. Croft.
The guests drive away with the dismissed Elsie joining them, though she has taken an unusual souvenir from the house — Sir William’s pet dog. Lady Sylvia waves good-bye to her guests and re-enters Gosford Park, while Jennings closes the doors.
Superbly written with a twist in the tale well worth two hours of anyones time hugely entertaining

REVIEW: THE GOLDEN COMPASS

CAST
Nicole Kidman (Australia)
Daniel Craig (Tomb Raider)
Dakota Blue Richards (Skins)
Freddie Highmiore (Bates Motel)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Eva Green (Dark Shadows)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Sam Elliott (Hulk)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission Impossible)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Clare Higgins (Hellraiser)
At the beginning of the film, we learn that the story takes place in one of many alternate worlds, in which a person’s soul is contained within an animal companion called a dæmon (pronounced demon). The Magisterium, represented as a unified religious power, exercises power in the secular world. Lyra Belacqua, an orphan that resides in Jordan College, in a city that resembles Oxford, with her dæmon Pantalaimon (Pan), accidentally witnesses a Magisterium member poison her uncle’s bottle of Tokay. Lyra then warns her uncle, Lord Asriel, who instructs her to remain in hiding. Lyra watches Asriel give a presentation regarding Dust, a particle that the Magisterium has forbidden the mention of. The college gives Asriel a grant to fund a northern expedition. At dinner, Lyra meets Mrs. Coulter, who insists on taking Lyra north as her assistant. Before Lyra leaves, the Master of the college entrusts her with the only remaining alethiometer, a compass-like artifact that reveals the truth. The Magisterium has destroyed all the others. He instructs her to keep it secret, especially from Mrs. Coulter.
At Mrs. Coulter’s house in a city that resembles a futuristic London, Lyra mentions ‘dust’, a type of mysterious particle. This puts Mrs. Coulter on edge and she warns Lyra never to mention it again, and also insists that she leave the bag containing the aleithiometer. Mrs. Coulter’s dæmon (a golden monkey) attacks Pan, causing Lyra to give in. Lyra and Pan discover that Mrs. Coulter is head of the General Oblation Board, the “Gobblers”, who have been kidnapping local children. She also discovers that her best friend Roger and her Gyptian friend Billy have been taken by the Gobblers.
Lyra and Pan walk in on Mrs. Coulter’s dæmon attempting to steal the alethiometer. They escape into the streets. The “Gobblers” pursue her, but she is saved by some Gyptians. Aboard a Gyptian boat heading north to rescue their children, Lyra shows the alethiometer to a Gyptian wise man, Farder Coram. On deck that night Serafina Pekkala, the witch queen, tells Lyra that the missing children are in a place called Bolvangar. Mrs. Coulter sends two mechanical spy flies after Lyra and Pan; one is batted away but the other is caught and sealed in a tin can by Farder Coram, who explains that the spy fly has a sting with a sleeping poison. Lord Asriel is captured by Samoyeds hired by Mrs. Coulter on his expedition but he bribes his captors into releasing him.
At a northern port, Lyra is befriended by a Texan aeronaut named Lee Scoresby, who advises her to hire an armoured bear. Exiled in shame, the giant polar bear Iorek Byrnison has been tricked out of his armour by the local townspeople. Using the alethiometer Lyra tells Iorek where to find his armour. Armoured again, the fearsome Iorek and his friend Lee Scoresby join the trek northward. That night while riding on Iorek’s back, Lyra finds a cowering and changed Billy separated from his dæmon Salcilia. Lyra reunites Billy with his mother just as the group is attacked by Samoyeds who capture Lyra. Taken to the armoured bear king Ragnar Sturlusson, Lyra tricks him into fighting Iorek one on one. At first, Ragnar seems to have the upper hand in the fight, but Iorek eventually tricks his rival and kills him. He then becomes the new king. Iorek carries Lyra near to a thin ice bridge near Bolvangar. Reaching the station, Lyra is taken to eat with the missing children. While hiding again Lyra discovers that the Magisterium scientists, under the guidance of Mrs. Coulter, are performing experiments to sever the bond between a child and his or her dæmon. Caught spying, Lyra and Pan are thrown in the intercision chamber, and end up unconscious from the energy force that tries to cut them. On seeing Lyra in the guillotine, Mrs. Coulter rescues her and takes her to her quarters.
When Lyra wakes up she is comforted by a distraught Mrs. Coulter, who explains the dæmon cutting to Lyra and also tells Lyra that she is her mother. Lyra then guesses that Lord Asriel is her father. When Mrs. Coulter asks for the alethiometer, Lyra gives her the can containing the spy fly. The spy fly stings Mrs. Coulter, knocking her and her dæmon out. Lyra runs to the room with the intercision machine. The growing chain reaction builds as Lyra yanks a control box loose and hurls it into the intercision machine, causing it to explode. This sets off a series of explosions that tear the facility apart.
Outside, the children are attacked by Tartar mercenaries and their wolf dæmons. The battle is joined by Iorek, the Gyptians, and a band of flying witches led by Serafina Pekkala. The Tartars are defeated and the children are rescued. Rather than returning south, Lyra, Roger and Iorek fly north with Lee Scoresby in search of Lord Asriel. Unaware that he is in mortal danger, Lord Asriel has set up a laboratory to investigate the glowing Dust from another world.
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The Golden Compass is hardly Lord of the Rings as many had hoped for, but thankfully it looked it is very much worth watching.