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.

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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!

REVIEW: THE ISLAND

CAST
Ewan McGregor (Mordecai)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Steve Buscemi (Ghost World)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Shawnee Smith (Anger Management)
Trent Ford (Gosford Park)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
In the year 2019, Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta live with others in an isolated compound. Their community is governed by a set of strict rules. The residents believe the outer world has become too contaminated for human life with the exception of one contagion-free island. Every week, a lottery is conducted and the winner gets to leave the compound to live on the island.
Lincoln begins having dreams that he knows are not from his own experiences. Dr. Merrick, a scientist who runs the compound, is concerned and places probes in Lincoln’s body to monitor his cerebral activity. While secretly visiting an off-limits power facility in the basement where his friend, technician James McCord, works, Lincoln discovers a live moth in a ventilation shaft, leading him to deduce the outside world is not really contaminated. Lincoln follows the moth to another section, where he discovers the “lottery” is actually a disguise to remove inhabitants from the compound, where the “winner” is then used for organ harvesting, surrogate motherhood, and other purposes for each one’s sponsor, who is identical to them in appearance.
Merrick learns Lincoln has discovered the truth, which forces Lincoln to escape. Meanwhile, Jordan has been selected for the island. Lincoln and Jordan escape the facility, where they emerge in an Arizona desert. Lincoln explains the truth to her, and they set out to discover the real world. Merrick hires Burkinabé mercenary Albert Laurent to find and return them unharmed to the compound. Lincoln and Jordan find McCord, who explains that all the facility residents are clones of wealthy and/or desperate sponsors, who are kept ignorant about the real world and conditioned to never question their environment or history. McCord provides the name of Lincoln’s sponsor in Los Angeles, and helps them to the Yucca railway station, before mercenaries kill him. Jordan’s sponsor, model Sarah Jordan, is comatose following a car accident and requires transplants from Jordan to survive. Lincoln’s sponsor, Tom Lincoln, gives Lincoln some explanation about the cloning institute, causing Lincoln to realize he has gained Tom’s memories. Tom agrees to help Lincoln and Jordan but, secretly contacts Merrick who sends Laurent and the mercenaries to their location. Lincoln tricks Laurent into killing Tom, allowing him to assume Tom’s identity.
Merrick realizes that a cloning defect was responsible for Lincoln’s memories and behavior, resulting in him and every future clone generation to question their environment and even tap into their sponsor’s memories. To prevent this, he decides to eliminate the four newest generations of clones. Lincoln and Jordan, however, plan to liberate their fellow clones. Posing as Tom, Lincoln returns to the compound (allegedly to have a new clone created) to destroy the holographic projectors that conceal the outside world. Jordan allows herself to be caught to assist Lincoln’s plan. Laurent, who has moral qualms about the clones’ treatment after witnessing their fight for survival and learning that Sarah Jordan may not survive even with transplants from Jordan, helps Lincoln. Merrick is killed and the clones are freed, seeing the outside world for the first time. The film fades out with Lincoln and Jordan sailing off in a boat together.
This is a slow film to start of with but the second half more than makes up for this with some great chase scenes using some futuristic style vehicles! If you like a film with a good twist or great big budget action scenes, or a fan of Scarlett Johasson you’ll love this!

REVIEW: ERAGON

CAST

Ed Speleers (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Jeremy Irons (Batman V Superman)
Sienna Guillory (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Robert Carlyle (Stargate Universe)
John Malkovich (Red)
Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy)
Alun Armstrong (The Mummy Returns)
Christopher Egan (Dominion)
Gary Lewis (Gangs of New York)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Rachel Weisz (The Shape of Things)
Tamsin Egerton (Camelot)

Arya, an elf and princess of Ellesméra, runs for her life with a “stone” stolen from the evil king, Galbatorix. She is surrounded by a ring of fire created by a Shade (dark sorcerer) called Durza, and to protect the stone from him she uses her magic to send it to a distant forest, where Eragon (Ed Speleers), a 15-year-old farm boy from the small village of Carvahall in the country of Alagaësia, is hunting for food. When the stone magically appears before him, he takes it to his hometown in hopes of trading it for food. After he brings it home, he realizes it is an egg, as a blue dragon hatches from it. As he reaches to touch the dragon, a magical mark is burned into his palm, magic that is felt all across the land by those who have a connection to legend of the dragon, mainly Arya, a former dragon rider named Brom, and Galbatorix himself. Eragon tries to keep the dragon and take care of it until Galbatorix sends his monstrous minions, the Ra’zac, to capture Eragon and the dragon. Eragon sends the dragon into the sky so she may learn to fly, which she succeeds before she returns to him fully grown due to her magic. She reveals herself to him that her name is Saphira, and that they are able to hear each other’s thoughts. After seeing the Ra’zac in town, Eragon hurries home to protect his uncle, but Saphira picks him up and tells him that the Ra’zac are after him. When he gets home, Eragon finds his uncle dead and blaming Saphira, he sends her away. As he mourns over his uncle’s body, Brom arrives, and asks Eragon to call his Saphira. After a brief scuffle, Brom implores Eragon to leave town, which they do after Brom sets fire to his uncle’s barn, burning his remains.

On the way to see the rebel freedom fighters devoted to destroying Galbatorix called the Varden, Eragon learns that he and Saphira have a special attachment like other dragon riders, and that if he dies, she will die as well. Brom also tells him that he is not fully ready to face the Ra’zac or Durza, and starts training him in sword-fighting and magic. On the way they take shelter in a small village, where a fortune-teller tells Eragon that a woman is calling her name so that he can save her and that his path is full of deadly obstacles. Soon they are attacked by Galbatorix’s servants, the Urgals, but Eragon unintentionally produces magic that wipes them out, but the strain of doing this causes him to fall unconscious. Eragon soon learns how to produce small scale magic and to bond his powers with Saphira.

After seeing Ra’zacs fall, Durza uses his black magic on Arya, setting a trap to lure Eragon. Even after Brom’s warning, Eragon arrives to rescue Arya, but is confronted by Durza. During their battle, Durza magically hurls a spear at Eragon, but Brom throws himself in its path and is mortally wounded. Eragon shoots an arrow into Durza’s head, causing him to disappear. The trio escapes, and Brom dies of his wounds while flying on the wings of a dragon one last time.

Following the way to find the Varden, Eragon takes oath so that he may fulfill Brom’s destiny: to overthrow the tyrannical empire of the evil king, Galbatorix. As Arya goes weak from Durza’s poison, Eragon confronts a hooded figure that has been following him. He reveals himself to be Murtagh, who offers to take them to the Varden. Once there, the Varden welcome the new rider, but expose Murtagh for what he really is, the son of the traitorous Morzan, who betrayed the dragon riders. Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and the Varden prepare for war as Durza and his men surround the rebel camp. The Varden fight Galbatorix’s forces as Eragon and Saphira duel in the skies with Durza, flying on a shadowy beast of dark magic. Eragon and Saphira kill Durza, but not before Saphira is mortally wounded in the battle. Eragon uses his magic to heal her wounds and once again passes out from the strain.

The following morning, Eragon awakes with Murtagh at his side. He calls for Saphira, fearing she might have died from the battle, but she appears fully healed. They fly off together to catch up with Arya, who is on her way to Ellesméra to help lead the elves against Galbatorix in the coming war. She calls Eragon “Shadeslayer” and bids him goodbye. Meanwhile, in Galbatorix’s castle, angered that his men were defeated by a mere boy, the King rips off a curtain, revealing his pitch black dragon, Shruikan, who breathes fire.

The special effects, created by LORD OF THE RINGS’ Digital Magic and STAR WARS’ Industrial Light and Magic, more than live up to the precedent set by those films, while the dragon is film’s true star

REVIEW: LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER 1 & 2

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

CAST

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

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