HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE BOOK OF LIFE

Starring

Diego Luna (Rogue One)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Ice Cube (Ride Along)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Kate del Castillo (No Good Deed)
Christina Applegate (Bad Moms)
Héctor Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Ana de la Reguera (Goliath)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Grey Griffin (Danny Phantom)
Carlos Alazraqui (Family Guy)
Cheech Marin (Coco)
Miguel Sandoval (Oculus)

Christina Applegate in The Book of Life (2014)Mary Beth, a museum tour guide, takes a group of school detention students on a secret museum tour, telling them, with wooden figures, the story of a Mexican town called San Angel from the Book of Life, holding every story in the world.Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, and Channing Tatum in The Book of Life (2014)On the Day of the Dead, La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, see Manolo Sánchez and Joaquín Mondragon competing over María Posada. They strike a wager: if María marries Manolo, Xibalba will no longer interfere in mortal affairs, but if she marries Joaquín, La Muerte and Xibalba will swap realms. However, Xibalba cheats by giving Joaquín his Medal of Everlasting Life, which grants the wearer invincibility.Ron Perlman and Kate del Castillo in The Book of Life (2014)Years later, Joaquín has become a hero with the Medal’s aid, but Manolo’s musical aspirations are suppressed by his father Carlos, who trains him to be a bullfighter in their family tradition. At Manolo’s first bullfight he defeats the bull but refuses to kill it, dismaying Carlos and the crowd but impressing María. That night, María is pressured by her father and mayor, General Ramiro Posada, to marry Joaquín for his protection from the Bandit King Chakal. María and Manolo both profess their love before dawn but are interrupted when Xibalba sends his dual-headed snake staff, who bites her and sends her into a coma. Devastated by María’s apparent death, Manolo allows Xibalba to kill him, believing he will be reunited with María in death.Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana in The Book of Life (2014)In the Land of the Remembered, Manolo reunites with his mother and his ancestral family. They travel to La Muerte’s castle, discovering Xibalba, now the ruler of the realm, who explains the bet. Manolo travels to the Cave of Souls to reach La Muerte. Inside, he meets the Candle Maker, the overseer of mortal lives and the Book of Life’s keeper. The Candle Maker sees that Manolo’s story in the Book of Life is blank and can be rewritten by himself, so he takes them to the Land of the Forgotten. They find La Muerte at Xibalba’s castle and expose his cheating. Furious, La Muerte lectures Xibalba before offering a new wager at Manolo’s request: Manolo’s life will be returned if he completes a challenge of Xibalba’s choosing, but if he fails, he will be forgotten and Xibalba will keep both realms. Xibalba sets Manolo against a giant bull skeleton made from the skeletons of every bull slain by the Sanchez family, believing that to be his greatest fear.Zoe Saldana in The Book of Life (2014)Meanwhile, María had been awaken from her coma, learns of Manolo’s death, and accepts Joaquín’s proposal. Their wedding is interrupted by Chakal, who leads his army to San Angel to find the Medal, which was previously his. Chakal kills Carlos, who arrives in the Land of the Remembered in time to see Manolo’s fight. Manolo, realizing his fear is actually of being himself, refuses to fight and instead sings an apology to the bull, appeasing it and touching everyone present. Impressed, the deities resurrect Manolo and send him and his family to San Angel to protect it. Manolo is knocked unconscious when Chakal destructs himself, but he is protected by the Medal, which Joaquín had slipped him earlier. Joaquín returns it to Xibalba and resolves to be a true hero, while Manolo and María are happily married as Xibalba and La Muerte reconcile.Diego Luna in The Book of Life (2014)In the present, Mary Beth finishes the story, and the amazed children leave the museum. Mary Beth and a security guard reveal themselves to be La Muerte and Xibalba in disguise. The Candle Maker appears and encourages the audience to write their own story.Zoe Saldana in The Book of Life (2014)This is a beautiful animated film. Very unique in comparison to other animated films out there. I loved that it had funny parts – for adults as well as kids – but it isn’t a silly comedy. It is a gorgeous, epic folkloric tale of family, tradition and finding your own way.  It felt very genuine and warm throughout but the sweet romantic story was especially touching. You could tell a lot of love went into making this film.

REVIEW: FLATLINERS (2017)

Starring

Ellen Page (The Umbrella Academy)
Diego Luna (Rogue One)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
James Norton (Rush)
Kiersey Clemons (Bad Neighbours 2)
Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys)
Beau Mirchoff (I Am Number Four)
Steve Byers (Immortals)

Ellen Page, Martha Girvin, Beau Mirchoff, Nina Dobrev, Emily Piggford, and Jelena Savic in Flatliners (2017)A medical student, Courtney (Ellen Page), is obsessed with the idea of the afterlife, wanting to find out what happens after death. She invites fellow students Jamie (James Norton) and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) to join her in an experiment, in an unused hospital room: using defibrillation to stop her heart for sixty seconds while recording her brain, and then reviving her. She assures them they would not be held responsible for any accidents. Sophia is against this, but Jamie does it anyway. After sixty seconds, they panic as they are unable to revive her, but eventually manage to with the help of fellow student Ray (Diego Luna). Later, Marlo (Nina Dobrev), a rival of Ray, arrives and learns of the experiment.Ellen Page in Flatliners (2017)Initially Courtney begins to recall memories of past events such as her grandmother’s recipe for bread. Courtney experiences increased intelligence and euphoria, being suddenly able to play the piano after 12 years and answer questions in class perfectly. Envious, Jamie flatlines, but has a disturbing near death experience as he meets his ex-girlfriend. Marlo and Sophia follow suit and flatline, for an increasing number of minutes. During Sophia’s turn they are nearly caught and flee the hospital and arrive at a party. Courtney and Jamie start seeing visions of past mistakes, but do not tell the others.Ellen Page and James Norton in Flatliners (2017)It soon turns into a living horror as those who flatlined find themselves haunted by their visions: Courtney is haunted by her dead sister Tessa from a car crash she caused because she was using her phone. Jamie is haunted by the baby of his ex-girlfriend whom he got pregnant and begged to get an abortion. Marlo is haunted by a man named Cyrus (who was stung by jellyfish) whom she killed when she accidentally mixed up his medication, and Sophia is haunted by a girl named Irina whose life she ruined out of jealousy by hacking her phone and sending out her nudes. This allowed Sophia to become valedictorian. They realize there is a downside to flatlining.Kiefer Sutherland, Ellen Page, and Nina Dobrev in Flatliners (2017)The hauntings get more and more intense. Courtney, traumatised by her visions, records a message apologising for the consequences and admitting that her interest in flatlining was due to the death of her sister, not for scientific discovery. Shortly after, she is chased by visions of her dead sister and falls to her death from the fire escape of her apartment building after her sister’s ghost appears in front of her and pushes her off. The others are devastated when they learn of Courtney’s death and then panic when they realize they may be implicated if anyone discovers their experiments. After attempting to remove all notes and evidence from Courtney’s apartment, Marlo is sent to the morgue to find Courtney’s phone. She is once again haunted by visions. Meanwhile, on his boat, Jamie again hears the cries of a baby and a woman weeping. He falls out of his boat and swims to the dock where a figure stabs him in his hand.Diego Luna, Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, and James Norton in Flatliners (2017)The group watches Courtney’s recording and find out that she had encountered similar hauntings. They come clean to the mistakes that they made and soon come to the conclusion that the hauntings they’re experiencing are their hallucinations because of guilt from their past sins, not paranormal beings. Ray, the only one who didn’t flatline, initially disbelieves what’s happening. The group takes action to stop the hallucinations by fixing their past mistakes. Sophia visits Irina to apologize, which Irina accepts. Jamie visits his ex-girlfriend and discovers she didn’t get an abortion, but kept the baby; he apologizes and promises to provide for his son. Later, Ray and Marlo get into a fight when Ray finds out Marlo covered up the real reason Cyrus died and she refuses to come clean. Marlo hallucinates being suffocated while driving and crashes her car. Tired of being haunted by her hallucinations, Marlo flatlines on her own in the hope of asking forgiveness of the patient that died due to her mistake.Kiersey Clemons in Flatliners (2017)Ray, Sophia, and Jamie rush to stop her and are successful in resuscitating Marlo after she sees an apparition of Courtney who tells Marlo that she needs to forgive herself. In the end, Marlo, Ray, Sophia, and Jamie reminisce about Courtney and celebrate their friendships in the little restaurant they hang out at, where there is a performance of the piano piece that Courtney played. The movie ends with Jamie proposing a toast, honoring Courtney.Nina Dobrev in Flatliners (2017)Flatliners is never boring, capturing the fun lives of the up and coming professionals of tomorrow, and the horror of when things go terribly wrong. The latter however is not given the depth it deserves, and coupled with its weak conclusion, the richness of the films potential goes largely untouched.

REVIEW: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

CAST

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
Diego Luna (Milk)
Alan Tudyk (Powerless)
Donnie Yen (Highlander: Endgame)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Forest Whitaker (Arrival)
Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue)
Wen Jiang (Devils on The Doorstep)
Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises)
Guy Henry (V For Vendetta)
Riz Ahmed (Four Lions)
Genevieve O’Reilly (The Legend of Tarzan)
Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Ingvild Deila (This Is Not Happening)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)

Research scientist Galen Erso and his family are in hiding on the planet Lah’mu. Imperial weapons developer Orson Krennic arrives to press him into completing the Death Star, a space station-based superweapon capable of destroying planets. Galen’s wife Lyra is killed in the confrontation while their daughter Jyn escapes and is taken to safety by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera.
Fifteen years later, cargo pilot Bodhi Rook defects from the Empire, smuggling a holographic message from Galen to Gerrera on the desert moon Jedha. Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor frees Jyn from an Imperial labor camp at Wobani before bringing her to the Rebel leader Mon Mothma, who convinces her to find and rescue Galen so the Alliance can learn more about the Death Star. Cassian is covertly ordered by General Draven, an Alliance military officer, to kill Galen rather than extract him.
Jyn, Cassian, and reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO travel to Jedha, where the Empire is removing kyber crystals from the holy city to power the Death Star while Gerrera and his partisans are engaged in an armed insurgency against them. With the aid of blind spiritual warrior Chirrut Îmwe and his mercenary friend Baze Malbus, Jyn makes contact with Gerrera, who has been holding Rook captive. Gerrera shows her the message, in which Galen reveals he has secretly built a vulnerability into the Death Star and directs them to retrieve the schematics from a high-security Imperial data bank on the planet Scarif.
On the Death Star, Krennic orders a low-powered shot from the superlaser to destroy Jedha’s capital. Jyn and her group take Rook and flee the planet, but Gerrera remains to die with the city. Grand Moff Tarkin congratulates Krennic before using Rook’s defection and security leak as a pretext to take control of the project.
Rook leads the group to Galen’s Imperial research facility on the planet Eadu, where Cassian chooses not to kill Galen. When Krennic orders Galen’s team killed for causing the security leak, Galen confesses that he is responsible. The research team is executed anyway. Jyn makes her presence known moments before Rebel bombers attack the facility. Galen is wounded and dies in his daughter’s arms, before she escapes with her group on board a stolen Imperial cargo shuttle. Krennic is summoned by Darth Vader, to answer for the attack on Eadu. Krennic seeks his support for an audience with the Emperor, Vader ignores it and orders him instead to ensure no further leaks about the Death Star occur.
Jyn proposes a plan to steal the Death Star schematics using the Rebel fleet but fails to get approval from the Alliance Council, who feel victory against the Empire is now impossible. Frustrated at their inaction, Jyn’s group is supported by a small squad of Rebel volunteers intent on raiding the databank themselves. Arriving at Scarif via the stolen Imperial ship, which Rook dubs “Rogue One”, a disguised Jyn and Cassian enter the base with K-2SO while the other Rebels attack the resident Imperial garrison as a distraction. The Rebel fleet learns about the raid from intercepted Imperial communications and deploy in support. K-2SO sacrifices himself so Jyn and Cassian can retrieve the data. Îmwe is killed after activating the master switch to allow communication with the Rebel fleet. Rook is killed by a grenade after informing the Rebel fleet that it must deactivate the shield surrounding the planet to allow the transmission of the schematics. Malbus dies in battle shortly after. Jyn and Cassian seize the schematics, but they are ambushed by Krennic, who shoots Cassian.
Krennic corners Jyn, declaring the Empire’s victory, but Cassian, who has survived, shoots and wounds Krennic. Jyn transmits the schematics to the Rebel command ship. The Death Star enters orbit above Scarif, where Tarkin uses another low-power shot from the superlaser to destroy the Empire’s base. Krennic is killed instantly, while Jyn and Cassian embrace on a beach before dying in the blastwave. The Rebel fleet prepares to jump to hyperspace but are intercepted by Vader’s flagship. Vader invades the command ship and kills many rebels in his pursuit of the schematics, but a small starship escapes with them on board. Aboard the fleeing ship, Princess Leia declares that the schematics will provide hope for the Rebellion.I would find it hard to believe anyone would not be impressed by this movie, if you are a serious Star Wars fan. Perhaps if you don’t take Star Wars seriously but prefer films that are all action and special effects you might find the slow build hard to take. But for me, and a large number of other Star Wars fans this is the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back. It may be a dark time for the Rebellion, but its a great time to be a fan of Star Wars.

REVIEW: MILK

CAST
Sean Penn (Gangster Squad)
Josh Brolin (W.)
Emilie Hirsch (Alpha Dog)
Diego Luna (Elysium)
James Franco (Spring Breakers)
Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs the World)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Dennis O’ Hare (The Proposal)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Boyd Holbrook (Gone Girl)
Ted Jan Roberts (Masked Rider)
Dave Franco (Bad Neighbours)
Peter Jason (Mortal Kombat)
The film opens with archival footage of police raiding gay bars and arresting patrons during the 1950s and 1960s, followed by Dianne Feinstein’s November 27, 1978 announcement to the press that Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) and Mayor George Moscone (Victor Garber) had been assassinated. Milk is seen recording his will throughout the film, nine days (November 18, 1978) before the assassinations. The film then flashes back to New York City in 1970, the eve of Milk’s 40th birthday and his first meeting with his much younger lover, Scott Smith (James Franco).
Dissatisfied with his life and in need of a change, Milk and Smith decide to move to San Francisco in the hope of finding larger acceptance of their relationship. They open Castro Camera in the heart of Eureka Valley, a working-class neighborhood in the process of evolving into a predominantly gay neighborhood known as The Castro. Frustrated by the opposition they encounter in the once Irish-Catholic neighborhood, Milk utilizes his background as a businessman to become a gay activist, eventually becoming a mentor for Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch). Early on, Smith serves as Milk’s campaign manager, but he grows frustrated with Milk’s devotion to politics, and he leaves him. Milk later meets Jack Lira (Diego Luna), a sweet-natured but unbalanced young man. As with Smith, Lira cannot tolerate Milk’s devotion to political activism, and eventually hangs himself. Milk clashes with the local gay “establishment” which he feels to be too cautious and risk-averse.
After two unsuccessful political campaigns in 1973 and 1975 to become a city supervisor and a third in 1976 for the California State Assembly, Milk finally wins a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 for District 5. His victory makes him the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in California and the third openly homosexual politician in the entire US. Milk subsequently meets fellow Supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin), a Vietnam veteran and former police officer and firefighter. White, who is politically and socially conservative, has a difficult relationship with Milk, and develops a growing resentment for Milk when he opposes projects that White proposes.
Milk and White forge a complex working relationship. Milk is invited to, and attends, the christening of White’s first child, and White asks for Milk’s assistance in preventing a psychiatric hospital from opening in White’s district, possibly in exchange for White’s support of Milk’s citywide gay rights ordinance. When Milk fails to support White because of the negative effect it will have on troubled youth, White feels betrayed, and ultimately becomes the sole vote against the gay rights ordinance. Milk also launches an effort to defeat Proposition 6, an initiative on the California state ballot in November 1978. Sponsored by John Briggs (Denis O’Hare), a conservative state legislator from Orange County, Proposition 6 seeks to ban gays and lesbians (in addition to anyone who supports them) from working in California’s public schools. It is also part of a nationwide conservative movement that starts with the successful campaign headed by Anita Bryant and her organization Save Our Children in Dade County, Florida to repeal a local gay rights ordinance.
On November 7, 1978, after working tirelessly against Proposition 6, Milk and his supporters rejoice in the wake of its defeat. A desperate White favors a supervisor pay raise, but does not get much support, and shortly after supporting the proposition, resigns from the Board. He later changes his mind and asks to be reinstated. Mayor Moscone denies his request, after being lobbied by Milk. On the morning of November 27, 1978, White enters City Hall through a basement window to conceal a gun from metal detectors. He requests another meeting with Moscone, who rebuffs his request for appointment to his former seat. Enraged, White shoots Moscone in his office and then goes to meet Milk, where he guns him down, with the fatal bullet delivered execution-style. The film suggests that Milk believed that White might be a closeted gay man.
The last scene is a candlelight vigil held by thousands for Milk and Moscone throughout the streets of the city. Pictures of the actual people depicted in the film, and brief summaries of their lives follow.
Sean Penn played the role of Harvey Milk so well that it really felt like I was getting a historic glimpse on what it might have felt like for Harvey Milk and for those that were the closest to him and helping him out. I normally love and prefer to watch only cheerful feel good movies. However, this movie pulled at my heartstrings because a very powerful, caring, and intelligent man was taken at such a stage in his life where he was just starting to reap the benefits of his hard work. Aside from this caveat, I still feel that this was a terrific movie with some convincing and talented actors and actresses.

REVIEW: ELYSIUM

CAST

Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity)
Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Sharlto Copley (Powers)
Alice Braga (I am Legend)
Diego Luna (The Terminal)
Wagner Moura (Elite Squad)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Brandon Auret (Chappie)
Emma Tremblay (The Judge)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Disturbia)
Carly Pope (Popular)
Ona Grauer (Arrow)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Christina Cox (Mutant X)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Pauline Egan (Sanctuary)

Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Kendall Cross (Androemda)

In 2154, Earth is overpopulated and polluted. Most of the earth’s citizens live in poverty, on the edge of starvation, and with little technology and medical care. The rich and powerful live on Elysium — a gigantic, terraformed space habitat located in Earth’s orbit. Elysium is technologically advanced with some of its technology including Med-Bays: medical machines that can cure all diseases, reverse the aging process and regenerate new body parts. A long-running feud exists between the wealthy residents of Elysium and the citizens of Earth, who want Elysian technology to cure their medical ailments.
Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car thief on parole lives in the ruins of Los Angeles, and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, a company run by John Carlyle (William Fichtner), who originally designed Elysium, and now supplies its weaponry as well as the robots that police Earth. During an industrial accident at the factory, Max is trapped in a chamber and is hit by a lethal dose of radiation. After being rescued he is informed that he has five days to live before succumbing to radiation poisoning. Desperate for a cure, he and his friend Julio (Diego Luna) seek help from a human smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium; his only chance for survival is using a Med-Bay.
Meanwhile, when a trio of ships full of illegal immigrants from Earth attempts to reach Elysium and its Med-Bays, Elysian Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) orders a sleeper agent, Kruger (Sharlto Copley), to destroy the shuttles. While two of the shuttles are shot down in space, killing everyone on board, the third shuttle makes it but once on Elysium, everyone on board is either killed or arrested and deported. Elysian President Patel (Faran Tahir) reprimands her for her immoral and unsubtle methods, and threatens to fire her unless she tones down her actions. Regarded as a loose cannon, Kruger is dismissed from service. Delacourt, vowing to protect Elysium and her own power, bargains with John Carlyle to create a program that can override Elysium’s computer core to give her the Presidency. Carlyle stores the reboot program in his brain for transport to Elysium and encrypts it with a lethal protection program.
Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he can steal financial information from Carlyle. To assist him, Spider’s men surgically attach a powered exoskeleton to Max. With Julio and a team of Spider’s men, Max shoots down Carlyle’s ship, and in the ensuing firefight with Carlyle’s security droids, Carlyle is fatally wounded. Max downloads the program to his suit’s neural implant, but realizes that the encryption makes it unusable. Alerted to the data theft by Carlyle’s medical implant, Delacourt secretly reinstates Kruger and deploys him to recover the program. In the ensuing firefight, Julio is killed, and Max is wounded. He reaches out to his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga), now a nurse, whose daughter Matilda has leukemia. Frey begs Max to take Matilda to Elysium to be cured, but Max refuses in order to protect them. Soon after Max leaves, Kruger arrives and takes Frey and Matilda prisoner aboard his ship, while his drones hunt for Max. Delacourt orders an airspace lockdown over Los Angeles to buy enough time to recover Carlyle’s program.
Max delivers the program to Spider, who discovers that the program can be used to make all Earth residents Elysian citizens. However, because the lockdown makes it impossible to leave Earth, Max bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, not knowing that Kruger has already found out that Frey assisted Max and is holding her and Matilda hostage on the ship. As Kruger’s ship leaves Earth, Spider and his men take advantage of the lockdown lift and also board a ship towards Elysium. Meanwhile, in Kruger’s ship, a fight ensues and Kruger is grievously wounded by a grenade blast, which also disables the ship’s engines. After Kruger’s ship crashes on Elysium, Max, Frey and Matilda are arrested and taken to Delacourt, who orders the download of the program, despite the fact that it will kill Max.
After being restored in a Med-Bay by his lackeys Drake and Crowe, a defiant Kruger kills Delacourt after she chastises him for his recklessness. On Kruger’s orders, Drake and Crowe exterminate the Elysian political officers in order to seize control for themselves. Meanwhile, having escaped his confinement, Max, knowing that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens, resolves to use Carlyle’s program to give everyone on Earth Elysian citizenship. He rescues Frey and Matilda, killing Drake and Crowe on the way. He then meets Spider and heads for Elysium’s core but is ambushed by Kruger, now equipped with a military-grade exoskeleton far superior to Max’s. In the ensuing fight, Max manages to rip out Kruger’s neural implant, rendering his suit immobile. However, Kruger tethers himself to Max’s suit and arms a grenade with the intent of killing them both. Max rips off the tether and hurls Kruger over a ledge to his death.
Spider and Max reach Elysium’s computer core, where Spider realizes that the program’s activation will kill Max. Max personally activates the program, having spoken a last time with Frey via radio. As Max dies, Elysium’s computer core reboots and registers every Earth resident as an Elysian citizen. President Patel arrives with security guards but the robots refuse to arrest Spider, whom they now recognize as a citizen. Matilda is cured by a Med-Bay and Elysium’s computer dispatches a huge fleet of medical ships to begin treatment of the citizens of Earth.
Neil Blomkamp, who dazzled audiences with district nine 4 years prior, does a fantastic job once again with this flick. His vision made the story very real to movie goers everywhere