REVIEW: KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

CAST

Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)
Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey (Pirates of The Caribbean 4)
Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond)
Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones)
Jude Law (spy)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Kingsley Ben-Adir (The Commuter)
Craig McGinlay (Snapshot)
Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy)
Katie McGrath (Supergirl)
Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones)

Mordred, an iron-fisted warlock, and his armies lay siege to Camelot, seeking to establish the dominance of magic-wielding mages over humankind. Uther Pendragon, king of the Britons, infiltrates Mordred’s lair and beheads him, saving Camelot. Uther’s treacherous brother Vortigern, who covets the throne, orchestrates a coup and sacrifices his wife Elsa to moat hags to become a demon knight, who kills Uther’s wife and slays him in combat. The only survivor is Uther’s son, who drifts away in a boat and ends up in Londinium, where he is found and raised by prostitutes.Arthur grows into a skilled fighter and man of the streets. Arthur and his friends confront a group of Vikings who had mistreated one of the prostitutes, forcing him to pay her restitution. Afterwards, the brothel is raided by the Blacklegs, Vortigern’s minions, and Arthur learns that the Vikings were under the king’s protection. Arthur tries to escape the city but is caught and put on a ship with hundreds of other men; the Blacklegs have been forcing all men of Arthur’s age to try to pull a sword that has appeared near the castle from the surrounding stone. Arthur is able to remove the sword but is quickly overwhelmed by its power and passes out. Vortigern meets with him in the dungeon, revealing his true lineage.Meanwhile, a mage identifying herself as an acolyte of Merlin presents herself to Uther’s former general, Sir Bedivere. At Arthur’s planned execution, the mage uses her magic to stage a diversion while Bedivere’s men rescue Arthur. Taken to Bedivere’s hideout, Arthur initially refuses to help them. The mage persuades Bedivere to take Arthur to a realm called the “Darklands,” where he’s given a vision of how Uther sacrificed himself to save Arthur and entomb the sword in stone. Arthur learns Vortigern was responsible for persuading Mordred to rebel against humanity, and he returns determined to destroy Vortigern.With his friends and Bedivere’s men, Arthur stages a series of ambushes against Vortigern, culminating in an assassination attempt in Londinium. The rebels sense a trap but attack anyway, fleeing to a fighters’ school run by Arthur’s mentor George, where they are overrun by the Blacklegs. Seeing the mage held at knifepoint, Arthur unleashes Excalibur’s potential, single-handedly killing all of the soldiers. The rebels are able to escape the city except for Arthur’s injured friend Back Lack, who is killed at Vortigern’s hand in front of his son Blue.Ashamed of his failures, Arthur tries to throw away the sword, but the Lady of the Lake returns it and shows him a vision of England’s future under Vortigern’s rule. Coming to terms with his responsibility, Arthur reunites with Bedivere. When they return to the rebel hideout, however, they discover all of their allies dead, Vortigern having found them and delivered an ultimatum: if Arthur does not surrender himself, the captured mage and Blue will die.Arthur surrenders himself, but as Vortigern is about to execute his nephew, a giant snake summoned by the mage attacks and devours Vortigern’s men. While Bedivere and the others lead an attack on the castle, a desperate Vortigern sacrifices his only daughter and is transformed into the demon knight, confronting Arthur in a separate dimension. Despite his fighting skill, Arthur is beaten, and he is about to submit when he witnesses a vision of his father, convincing him to accept the sword and his character as his own. Arthur violently slays Vortigern but blesses him as he dies. In the aftermath, Arthur dissolves Vortigern’s pact with the Vikings and begins building a Round Table where his knighted friends will meet. Blue and the prostitutes arrive with the crown of Uther, which Arthur accepts, holding the sword aloft.The true test of a fantastic movie is when you get immersed in it. When the show grabs your attention at the onset and keeps you interested the entire time. Your mind doesn’t wander about anything else but whats happening on the silver screen. And that is precisely what this movie does. Loved the beginning with the fantasy action. Immediately developed a dislike for the villain well played by Law. Charlie Hunnam had the presence and moxie to carry the lead role for the first time. Most characters were very well developed and the story line was tight. Really enjoyed the soundtrack too. Entertainment at its finest. Don’t let the critics on Rotten Tomatoes fool you. The critic score was 27%, but the audience gave it a 77 %. Sadly the critics only want to give a movie a great rating when there’s an oppressed group wronged, and this movie is not that.

 

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REVIEW: DEEP RISING

CAST

Treat Williams (Hair)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Kevin J. O’Connor (Amistad)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Derrick O’Connor (Alias)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Cliff Curtis (Fear The Walking Dead)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)

Amidst a storm, Finnegan and his crew, Joey and Leila, are hired by a group of mercenaries led by Hanover to pilot their boat across the South China Sea to an undisclosed location in the middle of the ocean. Meanwhile, the luxury cruise ship Argonautica, the brainchild of Simon Canton, is undertaking its maiden voyage, when a saboteur disables the ship’s navigation and communication systems. A large object rises from beneath and collides with the vessel, leaving it dead in the water, while the panicking passengers are attacked by unseen creatures.Finnegan’s boat collides with a speedboat shaken loose during the collision, at which point the mercenaries take over and reveal they intend to rob the ship’s vault and passengers, before sinking it with torpedoes. The crew transfer over to the ship, leaving Leila and a mercenary behind to repair the boat, where they are both killed. The boarding party find only blood and no sign of any of the passengers. Finnegan and Joey are forced down into the engine room to scavenge parts to repair their vessel’s engines, under guard of two mercenaries who are both killed; as they are escaping, they run into Trillian, a passenger who was imprisoned for stealing. Hanover’s group opens the vault to find Canton, Captain Atherton and three other passengers hiding and they explain that the ship was attacked by unknown creatures that killed everyone else on board.After questioning, Canton is found to be responsible for the ship’s sabotage after having realised he created an unprofitable vessel, and hired the mercenaries to sink the ship so that he could collect on the insurance. The group is attacked by the creatures, revealed to be giant spike-covered tentacles, which eat Captain Atherton. Canton theorises that the creatures are an extreme evolution of the Ottoia which liquefy their victims and then eject the carcass. With the rest of the mercenaries being killed, the survivors are herded towards the bow, where they find a “feeding room” full of skeletal remains. The creatures break through the hull, flooding the lower decks and separating the survivors. Hanover tries to sacrifice Joey to save himself, but is instead eaten himself.Finnegan and Joey spot an island in the distance and make it back to Finnegan’s boat, but they have lost their engine parts, rendering it useless as a means of escape. They instead set the boat’s autopilot to crash into the Argonautica and detonate the mercenaries’ torpedoes. As Finnegan and Trillian find jet skis they can use to reach the island, the tentacles smash through the main deck, revealed to be part of a single giant creature. Finnegan discovers Joey has gone missing, leaving him and Trillian to escape while being pursued by the creature. Canton jumps onto Finnegan’s boat, but is unable to disable the autopilot, causing it to crash into the Argonautica, destroying both ships and killing Canton and the creature. Finnegan and Trillian reach the nearby jungle-filled island where they are reunited with Joey, who survived the ordeal and paddled ashore using Finnegan’s surfboard. As the three relax, a loud roar echoes from the forest and something huge crashes toward them through the trees. As the camera pulls back, the island is revealed to be primordial, with an erupting volcano, and Finnegan is heard saying his movie catch phrase, “Now what?!”, as the film ends.There are times when nothing satisfies like a good ol’ B-movie action-adventure, not meant to be deep or serious, just good excitement and fun. Yet truly excellent B-movies are not easily come by.  B-movie fans know who they are and what they want, and they will not be disappointed here. I rank Deep Rising very highly.

REVIEW: SEVENTH SON

CAST

Ben Barnes (Westworld)
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Jeff Bridges (Iron man)
Alicia Vikander (Jason Bourne)
Antje Traue (Man of Steel)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
John DeSantis (The New Addams Family)
Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Gerard Plunkett (Travelers)
Jason Scott Lee (Timecop 2)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)

In a prologue, the witch Mother Malkin is imprisoned in an underground chamber by Gregory, the last of a knightly order known as the Falcons, who have long defended mankind against supernatural threats. Several decades later, Gregory now works as a “Spook,” a roving witch hunter. The rise of the centennial blood moon allows Malkin to regain much of her power and break free from her prison. In a confrontation with the aged Gregory, she kills his apprentice, William Bradley, before escaping. Malkin returns to her dilapidated mountain fortress, restoring it, and her sister, Bony Lizzie, to their former condition.Gregory then seeks out Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, on a local farmstead, and recruits him as his newest apprentice. Before Tom leaves, his mother gives him her pendant as a talisman. On their way to Gregory’s home, Tom sees a girl about to be burned by a mob as a witch. Recognizing her from clairvoyant visions he has had, he takes her from the mob and releases her. The girl, Alice, warns him not to let Gregory know about her. Alice is revealed to be Lizzie’s daughter, who spies on Gregory for her. Malkin begins gathering her army to conquer mankind.Tom meets Gregory’s assistant Tusk, and rushes to learn what he needs to become a Spook before he and Gregory leave to confront Malkin at her fortress. Gregory warns that they only have a week before the blood moon is full, after which Malkin will become too powerful for them. En route to the fortress, Gregory is summoned to a walled city by an Inquisitor whose forces have subdued one of Malkin’s followers, a werebear named Urag. Gregory instructs Tom to burn the warlock alive, but Tom hesitates, causing Gregory to dismiss him while burning Urag himself. Tom meets Alice again and, after having sex, the two briefly consider going off on their own, but Tom has a vision of Malkin killing Gregory and unleashing destruction upon the world. Tom rejoins Gregory, who reveals that he once loved Malkin, and that is why he could not kill her, even after she murdered Gregory’s own wife. Gregory feels responsible for every person killed by Malkin since then, and warns Tom that Alice must be killed, like all witches.Gregory, Tom, and Tusk are attacked on the road by an enormous boggart, and Tom narrowly manages to kill it and survive being swept down a waterfall. Tom is then confronted by Bony Lizzie, who attacks but is repelled by the necklace around his neck. Gregory recognizes it as the Umbran Stone, which increases the power of witches. It originally belonged to Malkin, but one of her witch followers, Tom’s mother, stole it from her, weakening her enough for Gregory to trap her. Malkin instructs Alice to steal the stone from Tom, promising to spare his life if she does. Malkin and her minions then raze the aforementioned walled city to the ground to avenge the death of Urag. Tom’s family happens to be in the city, and his mother sends her husband and daughter to safety, before managing to kill Strix the warlock and confronting Malkin with her own powers. Malkin kills her, mocking her for giving away the stone that would have saved her life.Out in the country, Alice reappears before Tom and pleads with him to leave with her, as he had suggested in their earlier meeting. Gregory tries to kill her, but Tom, blinded by love, stops him, proclaiming “She’s not the enemy!”. He lets her flee, but Gregory points out she has taken the Umbran stone from around Tom’s neck, replying, “Now tell me she’s innocent!”. Tom realizes her reappearance had been a ruse, and pursues her, with Gregory and Tusk following. Then Malkin’s servant Radu attacks them, capturing Gregory and driving Tusk and Tom over a cliff, wrongly believing them dead. Tom has a vision of his mother, telling him that as both the seventh son of a seventh son, and the son of a witch, he is unique and has the power to defeat Malkin.The witches gather as Malkin attempts to seduce Gregory with her magic. Alice is horrified to hear that Tom was left for dead. In remorse, she grabs the stone from Malkin, breaking Malkin’s hold on Gregory. As Malkin transforms into a dragon to kill Alice, Lizzie also transforms, to protect her daughter. Tom retrieves the stone and, fighting together, Gregory, Tom and Alice kill several of Malkin’s minions. Malkin defeats and kills Lizzie for her disloyalty, but is seriously wounded in turn. Gregory confronts Malkin in her room, alone. She appears close to death, bitterly recalling her and Gregory’s relationship, but then she seizes him with her claws. Tom arrives and hurls a blade at Malkin, freeing Gregory, who retreats. Tom finishes her off by burning her body. Afterwards, Gregory acknowledges Tom’s training is complete and brands his hand as a new Falcon knight. Alice appears, but accepts that Tom’s commitment to his new vocation means they cannot be together at the present. She promises Tom that they’ll meet again, before disappearing. Gregory departs for an unknown destination, leaving Tom with Tusk as the town bells ring, calling for the new Spook’s services.If you want an experience like the Hobbit or the Harry Potter movies, don’t watch this. But if you like fantasy movies like Willow or Dragonheart (and maybe Stardust), give it a chance.

REVIEW: BIKER BOYZ

CAST

Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel)
Derek Luke (Self/Less)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Lisa Bonet (Road to Paloma)
Brendan Fehr (Bones)
Larenz Tate (Crash)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Rick Gonzalez (Arrow)
Meagan Good (D.E.B.S.)
Kid Rock (Joe Dirt)
Salli Richardson (I Am Legend)
Vanessa Bell Calloway (Lakeview Terrace)
Kadeem Hardison (Showtime)
Eriq La Salle (A Gifted Man)

In the world of underground motorcycle drag racing, the undefeated racer known as Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) is the undisputed “King of Cali.” But Smoke’s dominance of the set is about to be threatened by a young motorcycle racing prodigy called Kid (Derek Luke), who is determined to win Smoke’s crown and earn the coveted title. Kid says that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn – and that his father, Slick Will, taught him plenty.The film starts with Kid, a novice rider and motorcycle club “prospect,” assisting his father, Slick Will, as they prepare Smoke’s bike for the evening’s drag races. A biker issues a challenge to Smoke, who accepts, and the race begins. In the midst of the race, the other biker suffers a hydraulics malfunction and spins out of control, sending his bike flying from under him into a row of parked bikes, one of which heads right into Slick Will, throwing him through a store window and killing him instantly. At the funeral, dozens of bikers from the “Black Knights” (to whom Slick Will was the mechanic) show up with Smoke, who drops a rose and a signed Black Knights flag into his grave.Six months later, Kid is now a familiar racer with his custom-powered bike, and he shows up at the events. His first “race” was when he interfered with Stuntman’s race with Donny. As he interrupts the race, he pulls off several stunts, notably standing on top of the motorcycle while it is still moving. He wins the race and the crowd seem to like his stunts, much to the dissatisfaction of Smoke. Kid demands to race with Smoke but Smoke says he is too inexperienced and should get experience first.Kid then goes to a diner where he meets Stuntman, and it is revealed that the two were hustling in the previous race. Fellow biker Primo tells them to create a bike club; after a bit of persuasion they agree, and Kid goes to the biker jury consisting of 8 leaders of the most powerful biker gangs, where Smoke is the chairman. He apologizes for his disrespect towards Smoke and they all agree to verify the club, calling themselves the “Biker Boyz.” Kid is set to race Motherland to prove himself to Smoke. However he has showed up late to “make an entrance” after Smoke has already beaten his long-time rival Dogg, who is continually after Smoke’s helmet. Kid is arrested when racing Motherland, and the rest of the bikers manage to escape. Anita confronts Kid, saying that if he ever races again, she will kick him out of the house.One night at a Black Knights dance, Kid is challenged to race Dogg and accepts in a fit of rage. Having overheard, Anita finds Smoke before the race, and demands that he stop the race. Angry, Smoke confronts her and demands a reason, and she tells him that Kid is actually his son, not Slick Will’s. Smoke successfully stops the race by punching out Kid and stealing his keys, but this only leads to a fight between the two, from which Kid comes off considerably worse than Smoke. Smoke then tells him that he is his son, to which Kid angrily goes home and confronts Anita, who confesses that it’s the truth. In a rage, he leaves home and moves in with his girlfriend Tina.Kid decides to turn renegade and after gaining quite a few more followers for his club, announces that “we’re gonna win more lids than any crew on the set and we’re gonna out hustle every crew off the set” and indicates that from that point on, “Biker Boyz set their own rules.” The Biker Boyz get their own hangout and begin hustling several races, but when Stuntman successfully hustles the nephew of a dangerous biker, he and Primo are ambushed at a party. Kid comes to the rescue but is quickly overpowered as the leader of the other club pulls a gun on him; Smoke and some of the other Black Knights intervene and convince the other bikers to stand down. Smoke takes Kid inside and sits down to give him a stern talking-to, but Kid shrugs it off angrily. Aggravated, Smoke finally agrees to race Kid, under the condition that whoever loses will never race again. But first Kid has to race Dogg – this time, at the track.On the race track, everybody shows up, including the Black Knights. At the race, Dogg and Kid race down, and Kid is going to win, but Dogg plays dirty and causes him to crash; although Kid survives, his bike is wrecked. Later that day, Smoke talks to Kid, and informs him that the authorities are going to close the track, due to many crashes, but he managed to rent a local farm outside of town to race on it. Kid agrees to arrive the next day. Later that night, Kid, Primo, and Stuntman are trying unsuccessfully to fix Kid’s bike until Dogg’s crew arrives to confront them, but Dogg’s mechanic admits that the damage is too severe to be fixed in time for the race. Dogg informs Kid; “There are only 2 bikes as strong and fast as Smoke’s: yours, and mine.” As a peace offering, Dogg offers to lend Kid his bike, but only if Kid promises him that he will beat Smoke tomorrow.On the day of the race, both the crew of the Black Knights and the Biker Boyz arrive. Smoke wants it to be a fair race, with no N20 system, and Kid wants Tina to start the race. Smoke and Kid are racing on a farm with open fields. With the finish line in sight, it is obvious that Smoke will win – however, filled with emotions, he decides to slow down and let his son win the race, becoming the new “King of Cali.” Kid tells Smoke to hang onto his crown for a while, and that he’ll come and get it someday. Kid rides off, repeating his sentiment that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn, and that his father taught him plenty.It’s not a good movie, but it makes an effort to be one, which counts for something. For all it’s lack of realism, it gets points for not having the absurd stunts that Torque did, like flipping a huge street bike mid air, and riding on top and through the passenger sections of moving trains. Biker Boyz isn’t good by any means, but it’s not quite that bad.

REVIEW: FAST & FURIOUS 7

CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Paul Walker (Brick Mansion)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Ludacris (Gamer)
Djimon Hounsou (Staragte)
Tony Jaa (XXX: The Return of Xander Cage)
Ronda Rousey (Blindespot)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones)
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Jason Statham (Safe)
Lucas Black (Jarhead)
Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane)
Noel Gugliemi (Old School)
John Brotherton (Fuller House)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)

After defeating Owen Shaw and his crew and securing amnesty for their past crimes, Dominic “Dom” Toretto, Brian O’Conner and the rest of their team have returned to the United States to live normal lives again. Brian begins to accustom himself to life as a father, while Dom tries to help Letty Ortiz regain her memory. Meanwhile, Owen’s older brother, Deckard Shaw, breaks into the secure hospital that the comatose Owen is being held in and swears vengeance against Dom and his team, before breaking into Luke Hobbs’ Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) office to extract profiles of Dom’s crew. After revealing his identity, Shaw engages Hobbs in a fight, and escapes when he detonates a bomb that severely injures Hobbs. Dom later learns from his sister Mia that she is pregnant again and convinces her to tell Brian. However, a bomb, disguised in a package sent from Tokyo, explodes and destroys the Toretto house just seconds after Han, a member of Dom’s team, is killed by Shaw in Tokyo. Dom later visits Hobbs in a hospital, where he learns that Shaw is a rogue special forces assassin seeking to avenge his brother. Dom then travels to Tokyo to claim Han’s body, and meets and races Sean Boswell, a friend of Han’s who gives him personal items found at Han’s crash site.Back at Han’s funeral in Los Angeles, Dom notices a car observing them, and after a chase, confronts its driver, who is revealed to be Shaw. Both prepare to fight, but Shaw flees when a covert ops team arrives and opens fire, led by Frank Petty, a man who calls himself Mr. Nobody. Petty says that he will assist Dom in stopping Shaw if he helps him obtain God’s Eye, a computer program that uses digital devices to track down a person, and save its creator, a hacker named Ramsey, from a mercenary named Mose Jakande. Dom, Brian, Letty, Roman Pearce, and Tej Parker then airdrop their cars over the Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan, ambush Jakande’s convoy, and rescue Ramsey.The team then heads to Abu Dhabi, where a billionaire has acquired the flash drive containing God’s Eye, and manages to steal it from the owner. With God’s Eye near telecommunications repeaters, the team tracks down Shaw, who is waiting at a remote factory. Dom, Brian, Petty and his team attempt to capture Shaw, but are ambushed by Jakande and his men and forced to flee while Jakande obtains God’s Eye. At his own request, the injured Petty is then left behind to be evacuated by helicopter while Brian and Dom continue without him. Left with no other choice, the crew returns to Los Angeles to fight Shaw, Jakande and his men. Meanwhile, Brian promises Mia that once they deal with Shaw, he will retire and fully dedicate himself to their family.While Jakande pursues Brian and the rest of the team with a stealth helicopter and an aerial drone, Ramsey attempts to hack into God’s Eye. Hobbs, seeing the team in trouble, leaves the hospital and destroys the drone with an ambulance. Ramsey then regains control of God’s Eye and shuts it down. Meanwhile, Dom and Shaw engage in a one-on-one brawl on a parking garage, before Jakande intervenes and attacks them both. Shaw is defeated when part of the parking garage collapses beneath him. Dom then launches his vehicle at Jakande’s helicopter, tossing Shaw’s bag of grenades onto its skids, before injuring himself when his car lands and crashes. Hobbs then shoots the bag of grenades from ground level, destroying the helicopter and killing Jakande. Dom is pulled from the wreckage of his car, believed to be dead. As Letty cradles Dom’s body in her arms, she reveals that she has regained her memories, and that she remembers their wedding. Dom regains consciousness soon after, remarking, “It’s about time”.Shaw is taken into custody by Hobbs and locked away in a secret, high-security prison. At a beach, Brian and Mia play with their son while Dom, Letty, Roman, Tej, and Ramsey observe, acknowledging that Brian is better off retired with his family. Dom silently leaves, but Brian catches up with him at a crossroad. As Dom remembers the times that he had with Brian, they bid each other farewell and drive off in separate directions.Fast & Furious 7 is a no-holds, over- the-top and mindless action film, but this aside, it is an extremely entertaining and fun film to watch. With an all-star cast and some brilliant action sequences, Fast & Furious 7 is proof that certain franchises can continually make great movies. The most notable moment however in the entire film is the emotional and respectful ending during the send-off of Paul Walker, the film finishing with a montage of Walker in the previous six films, finishing with just two words. A fitting end for a great actor.

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)

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: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN

CAST

Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on a Plane)
Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Casper Crump (Legends of Tomorrow)
Hadley Fraser (Les Miserables)
Genevieve O’Reilly (Avatar)
Simon Russell Beale (Spooks)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)

As a result of the Berlin Conference, the Congo Basin is claimed by King Leopold II of the Belgians, who rules the Congo Free State in personal union with the Kingdom of Belgium. The country is on the verge of bankruptcy, Leopold having borrowed huge amounts of money to finance the construction of railways and other infrastructure projects. In response, he sends his envoy Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to secure the fabled diamonds of Opar. Rom’s expedition is ambushed and massacred, with only Rom surviving. A tribal leader, Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), offers him the diamonds in exchange for an old enemy: Tarzan.The man once called “Tarzan”, John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård), has long since left Africa behind and settled down in London with his American-born wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie), and has taken up both his birth name and ancestral family residence. In the eight years since returning from Africa, Lord Greystoke’s story as Tarzan has become legendary among the Victorian public, although Lord Greystoke himself wishes to leave the past behind him. Through the British Prime Minister (Jim Broadbent), he is invited by King Leopold to visit Boma and report on the development of the Congo by Belgium, though Greystoke politely declines the invitation. An American envoy, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), who recognises John from the stories of “Tarzan”, privately reveals to him that he suspects the Belgians are enslaving the Congolese population, and persuades him to accept the invitation in order to prove his suspicions.Jane is disappointed when John tells her that she cannot come, as he believes the trip to be too dangerous, remembering how both his parents died as a result of the jungle’s brutality following their shipwreck there – his mother of disease and his father later killed by the Mangani apes – leaving the baby John to be raised as Tarzan by his Mangani “mother” Kala and “brother” Akut. However, Jane reminds him that she grew up in Africa as well, and misses her home. John relents, and allows Jane to accompany him.John, Jane and Williams take the trip to the Congo. There, the trio encounters a tribal village and villagers who knew John and Jane during their stay in the jungle. Jane explains to Williams that her husband was once considered an evil spirit by the African tribes, including that of Chief Mbonga. She recalls how, when she was younger, she and her father lived in the tribal village helping to care for local children. There she met Tarzan (made feral and physically enhanced by his life with the apes) who shielded her from a vicious mangani attack, saving Jane’s life but being severely injured in the process. Jane took the injured Tarzan home, nursed him back to health, and the two fell in love. That night, as the tribe sleeps, Rom and his mercenaries attack the village and kidnap John and Jane and kill the tribe’s leader. They then escape to a nearby steamboat with Jane and several of the tribe’s members, but Williams is able to rescue John before he can be taken to the boat.With the aid of the tribe’s warriors, John and Williams intercept a Belgian military train carrying captured slaves, providing Williams with the evidence he needs to expose King Leopold. They also discover that Rom intends to use the diamonds to pay for a massive army to subdue the Congo, and allow Belgium to mine its wealth for Leopold’s benefit. As John and Williams continue onward, John encounters the adult Akut, who is now leader of the apes. Aware that Akut considers him a deserter, John prepares to fight Akut, though he soon loses. That night, as John recovers, Williams recalls the massacres of Native Americans during the Civil War, comparing his actions to be as bad as Rom’s and Leopold’s.On Rom’s steamboat, Jane dines with Rom, before escaping and swimming to shore. Jane stumbles into a group of mangani apes, where she is rescued by Rom, whose men then shoot and kill many of the apes. John saves the remaining group, reconciling with Akut, before pursuing Rom. He is cornered by Mbonga and his tribe, where it is revealed that John once killed Mbonga’s only son for previously killing Kala. A defeated Mbonga tearfully accuses John of lacking honor, as his son was just a young boy when John killed him. John spares Mbonga, just as Akut and the manganis arrive to subdue the tribe. Rom takes Jane and the diamonds to Boma, where he plans to take control of the army. John, Williams and Akut trigger a massive stampede of wildebeest through Boma, destroying the town and distracting the soldiers, allowing John to rescue Jane. As Rom attempts to escape by boat, Williams sinks it with a machine gun as John swims aboard. Rom incapacitates John by strangling him and then tying him by the neck to the ship’s railing, before trying to escape again. John then summons crocodiles with a mating call to devour him, before escaping the destroyed vessel himself.Williams returns to England and presents the Prime Minister with evidence exposing the slave trade in the African Congo. One year later, John and Jane, having remained in Africa and settled in Jane’s father’s old house, welcome their first child, as John, Lord Greystoke, returns to his rightful place among the great apes as Tarzan.They finally portrayed the Tarzan character more like Burroughs wrote him! This is the best Tarzan movie I have ever seen. The acting is superb, and the settings are beautiful. The movie was so good that it seemed like I wanted it to last longer. It was sheer entertainment!