REVIEW: ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

CAST

James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class)
Hugh Laurie (Tomorrowland)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Marc Wootton (Nativity)
Laura Linney (The Truman Show)
Eva Longoria (Over Her Dead Body)
Ramona Marquez (Outnumbered)
Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter)
Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Jane Horrocks (Little Voice)
Sanjeev Bhaskar (Notting Hill)
Iain McKee (The Parole Officer)
Andy Serkis (Lord of The Rings)
Dominic West (The Affair)

On Christmas Eve, hundreds of Christmas elves helm the command centre of Santa Claus’ mile-wide, ultra-high-tech sleigh-esque craft, the S-1. The current Santa (Malcolm) and the Christmas elves deliver presents to every child in the world using advanced equipment and military precision. These complex operations are micromanaged by thousands more elves, under the command of Malcolm’s militaristic eldest son Steve and his obsequious elfin assistant Peter at mission control underneath the North Pole. Meanwhile, his younger son – the clumsy, fearful yet enthusiastic Arthur – devotedly answers the letters to Santa. During one of the delivery operations in Germany a child wakes up and almost sees Malcolm; in the tense escape operation, a Christmas elf aboard the S-1 inadvertently leans on a button, causing a present to fall from the supply line and go unnoticed.Having completed his 70th mission, Malcolm is portrayed as far past his prime and whose role in field operations now is largely symbolic. Nonetheless, he is held in high esteem, and delivers a congratulatory speech to the enraptured elves. Malcolm announces he looks forward to his 71st, much to the frustration of heir-apparent Steve, who had prepared to succeed his father as Santa at the conclusion of this mission. During their family Christmas dinner, Arthur’s suggestion for the family to play a board game degenerates into a tense quarrel between Malcolm and Steve, while Malcolm’s father and predecessor Grandsanta, bored by retirement, resentfully criticises their over-modernization. After Grandsanta knocks the board off the table, Steve’s PDA (a high tech device named a ‘HOHO’) flashes and he leaves the table in a hurry. Later, their father shares with his wife Margaret his grave doubts about his self-identity should he retire.Arthur follows Steve, and the two learn that a Christmas elf named Bryony found the missed present – a wrapped bicycle for a little girl in England called Gwen, to whose letter Arthur had personally responded. Arthur alerts his father, who is at a loss as to how to handle the situation; Steve argues that one missed present out of billions is an acceptable error whose correction can wait a few days, citing this year’s Christmas as the most successful in history. Grandsanta on the other hand, on learning of the dire situation, proposes delivering the gift using Eve, his old wooden sleigh, and the great-great-grandchildren of the original eight reindeer, forcefully whisking away a reluctant Arthur and a stowaway Bryony. In the process the three get lost in three different continents, lose several of their reindeer, and land in danger several times, ultimately being mistaken for aliens and causing an international military incident. Through all this, Arthur eventually learns, to his compounding disappointment, that Grandsanta’s true motive is to fulfill his ego, Steve refuses to help them out of petty resentment and possibility of his brother being made hero overshadowing his work, and that his own father has gone to bed, apparently content even though a present was not delivered.Finally, stranded in Cuba after losing the sleigh and the remaining reindeer, Arthur renews his sense of purpose: that it all comes down to having presents delivered, regardless of how it is done and who did it. With Grandsanta’s and Bryony’s help, he manages to recover the sleigh. Meanwhile, the elves grow increasingly alarmed at rumours of the neglected delivery and the Clauses’ unthinkable indifference, sending them into a panic. In response, Malcolm, Margaret, and Steve take the high-tech sleigh-craft to deliver a superior present… albeit to the wrong child.Arthur and his party manage to reach England, but lose the remaining reindeer; furthermore a US Predator drone scrambled by Chief De Silva of UNFITA intercepts and opens fire on the sleigh believing them to be aliens. Grandsanta sacrifices the sleigh, while Arthur and Bryony to parachute to the ground. Ultimately with Margaret and Bryony’s help, all the male Clauses arrive at Gwen’s house before she awakens, only to have all but Arthur quarrel about who gets to actually place the gift. Noticing that only Arthur truly cares about the girl’s feelings, the elder Clauses collectively realize that he is the sole worthy successor. As a result, Malcolm gives Arthur the honour and Steve, recognizing his own shortcomings, forfeits his supposed birthright and acknowledges his brother’s worthiness to take up the mantle. In a fitting conclusion, Gwen glimpses a snow-bearded Arthur in a wind-buffeted sweater just before he vanishes up into the S-1.With the crisis resolved, Malcolm goes into a happy retirement with Margaret; he also becomes Grandsanta’s much-desired new companion and plays Arthur’s board game with him for many happy hours. Meanwhile, Steve finds true contentment as the Chief Operating Officer of the North Pole, while Bryony is promoted to Vice-President of Packing, Pacific Division. In a nod to traditionalism once neglected, the high-tech S-1 is re-christened EVIE in honour of Grandsanta’s old sleigh and refitted to be pulled by a team of five thousand reindeer – led by the original eight, all of whom managed to return home safely via innate navigational abilities. Finally, Arthur happily guides the entire enterprise in the proper spirit as the new Santa.Everything you would wish from a Chistmassy film. Strong story and lovely ideas about Father Christmas and the challenge of delivering a present to every child. A great family movie.

 

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: 300

CAST

Gerard Butler (The Ugly Truth)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Dominic West (Punisher Warzone)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Vincent Regan (Lookout)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Tom Wisdom (Dominion)
Andrew Pleavin (Inception)
Andrew Tiernan (The Pianist)
Rodrigo Santoro (Lost)
Stephen McHattie (Watchmen)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Michael Sinelnikoff (The Lost World)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)

In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army in the mountain pass of Thermopylae. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the enemy in one of the most famous last stands of history. Persian King Xerxes lead a Army of well over 100,000 (Persian king Xerxes before war has about 170,000 army) men to Greece and was confronted by 300 Spartans, and several hundred Arcadians. Xerxes waited for 10 days for King Leonidas to surrender or withdraw left with no options he moved. The battle lasted for about 3 days and after which all 300 Spartans were killed. The Spartan defeat was not the one expected, as a local shepherd, named Ephialtes, defected to the Persians and informed Xerxes of a separate path through Thermopylae, which the Persians could use to outflank the Greeks.

300 is basically  just one epic fighting scene after another. Most noticeably is the camera work and the visual effects. Every shot seems like it was intended to be a work of art. The colors, the characters, the costumes, the backgrounds… every little detail has been given so much attention. During the big fights you’ll also instantly notice the unique editing. There are a lot of “time slowdowns” throughout the battles which show what exactly is happening. Fatal wounds that slowly leak blood spatters in the air, decapitated heads traveling in slow-motion across the screen… it’s all there.

The story on the other hand isn’t very complicated, in the sense that the whole movie could probably be described in a sentence or two. The dialog is simple and most often talk about moral values like freedom and honor.

For me the good outweighs the bad by miles. From the second the movie started it grabbed me and didn’t let go. Every battle, every scene of the movie had me at the tip of my chair. Everything from the strong acting to the wondrous visuals to the war-shouts of the soldiers was just so stunning… it was truly a wonderful experience.I did not one single moment felt like the movie lacked anything.

REVIEW: ROCK STAR

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Transformers 4)
Jennifer Aniston (Rumor Has It..)
Dominic West (Punisher: Warzone)
Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Matthew Glave (Stargate SG.1)
Michael Shamus Wiles (Fight Club)
Beth Grant (Donnie Darko)
Jason Flemyng (Kick-Ass)
Kristin Richardson (Lost)
Kara Zediker (Hercules: TLJ)
Carrie Stevens (Black Scorpion)
Amy Rolle (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)

Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg) is a Pittsburgh fanatical admirer of a 1980s heavy metal band called Steel Dragon. By day, Chris is a photocopier technician and by night, he is the lead singer of a Steel Dragon tribute band called Blood Pollution (the name is taken from a Steel Dragon song).

Internal struggles among the actual Steel Dragon band members culminate with the firing of their lead singer, Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng), and the starting of recruitment sessions to find a new vocalist. Chris experiences his own strife with his Blood Pollution bandmates, particularly guitarist Rob Malcolm (Timothy Olyphant). During a live performance, Rob’s playing fails to live up to Chris’ over-demanding standards regarding note-for-note accuracy to the original Steel Dragon recordings, and Chris sabotages Rob’s amplifier mid-song – a fight breaks out between the two onstage. The next day, Chris arrives at Blood Pollution’s rehearsal space (the basement of an X-rated theater) to find that he’s been fired and replaced with his arch-rival, the (now former) lead singer of another Steel Dragon tribute band. Rob also cites Chris’ inability to create his own musical style, preferring to remain the singer in a tribute band.

One day in 1984, Chris receives an unexpected phone call from Steel Dragon’s founder and rhythm guitarist, Kirk Cuddy (Dominic West), and is offered an audition for the band (thanks to two of Blood Pollution’s groupies, who showed Kirk a videotape of one of Blood Pollution’s concerts). After hanging up on Kirk once, thinking he’s being made fun of, Chris ecstatically agrees. At the studio, he meets the band, as well as learning that Bobby Beers was fired because he was a closeted gay, and gives an outstanding performance of “We All Die Young” (a Steel Dragon song in the movie, but it is actually a song by Steelheart, whose lead vocalist Miljenko Matijevic provides Cole’s singing voice for the film). Chris joins the band as their new singer, adopting the stage name “Izzy”. Following a successful debut concert with Steel Dragon, Izzy must come to grips with the pressures of his new-found fame and success. The band embarks on a lengthy tour and Izzy experiences the excesses of the lifestyle, with the group’s manager, Mats (Timothy Spall), serving as a sympathetic mentor to Izzy.

His new lifestyle impacts his life both for better and worse, particularly with his relationship with his supportive girlfriend, Emily Poule (Jennifer Aniston), when she decides not to continue with him throughout the remainder of the tour as a rock star girlfriend, though Emily and Izzy agree to get back together when the tour reaches Seattle. Eventually, Steel Dragon stops in Seattle for a show, and Emily arrives at his hotel room as they had previously arranged, although Izzy had become so inebriated while on tour he forgot about the arrangement and did not even know what city he was in. Although taken aback by all the groupies, Emily still tries to reconnect with him, reminding him of their plans to meet up once he got to Seattle, however he is too intoxicated to really understand what she is saying, eventually suggesting they go to Seattle together. Heartbroken with his inconsiderate behavior, intoxication and the fact that he is sleeping with so many groupies, Emily leaves him.

After the end of the tour, Izzy reports to the next series of Steel Dragon recording sessions with song concepts for the band’s next album. The rest of the band rejects Izzy’s ideas, with Kirk explaining that the band has to stay true to the “Steel Dragon thing” to fulfill fan expectations. Izzy is angered upon realizing that he was only recruited for his vocal abilities. After a heartfelt conversation with Mats about how he feared he had no control over the direction life has taken him, Izzy begins to reconsider his rock star lifestyle. On the next tour, in a scene directly paralleling one near the beginning of the film with their roles reversed, Izzy hears a fan (Myles Kennedy) singing along with him toward the end of a live concert. Impressed, Izzy pulls the fan, who introduces himself as Mike, onstage and hands him the microphone to finish the concert. Backstage, Izzy realizes that what he wanted for so long was not what he thought, and he says goodbye to Mats, departing from the band while doing so.

Upon ditching his stage name, Izzy, Chris makes his way to Seattle and starts a new band with his old friend and former bandmate Rob. At the same time Steel Dragon, failing to evolve to changing tastes and styles, has its fame fizzle out. Chris finds Emily working in the coffee shop she and her roommate purchased a few years earlier, but is initially too ashamed to speak to her. While walking one evening, Emily sees a flyer for his band posted on the wall and takes it down. In the final scene, Chris is singing with his band in a bar and Emily walks in. Chris leaves the stage and speaks to her. They reconcile, ending the film with a kiss and the final note of Chris’ first original song “Colorful”.

After reading previews for this movie I thought it would be a let down, however after I got my dvd  I was pleasantly surprised, strong performances from all cast members make this a very enjoyable movie.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

CAST

Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Jake Lloyd (Jingle All The Way)
Ian McDiarmid (Margaret)
Pernilla August (Search)
Samuel J. Jakcson (Jackie Brown)
Oliver Ford Davies (Johnny English)
Hugh Quarshie (Highlander)
Ahmed Best (Poolboy)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Frank Oz (Sesame Street)
Terence Stamp (Superman 1 & 2)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Ray Park (Heroes)
Warwick Davis (Willow)
Celia Imrie (Our Zoo)
Dominic West (300)
Keira Knightley (King Arthur)
Peter Seafinowicz (Spy)
Richard Armitage (The Hobbit)

Supreme Chancellor Valorum, leader of the Galactic Republic, dispatches Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to negotiate with the Trade Federation leadership to end a blockade of battleships around the planet Naboo. Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord and the Trade Federation’s secret adviser, orders Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray to kill the Jedi and invade Naboo with an army of battle droids. The Jedi flee to Naboo, where Qui-Gon saves Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks from being killed during the invasion. Indebted to the Jedi, Jar Jar leads them to an underwater Gungan city. The Jedi try but fail to persuade the Gungan leader, Boss Nass, into helping the people of Naboo, though they are able to obtain transportation to Theed, the capital city on the surface. They rescue Queen Amidala, the ruler of the Naboo people, and escape the planet on her royal starship, which is damaged as they pass the Federation blockade.

Amidala’s ship is unable to sustain its hyperdrive and lands for repairs on the desert planet Tatooine. Qui-Gon, Jar Jar, astromech droid R2-D2, and Amidala (in disguise as a handmaiden) visit the settlement of Mos Espa to buy new parts at a junk shop. There they meet the shop’s owner Watto and his nine-year-old slave Anakin Skywalker, who is a gifted pilot and engineer, and has created a protocol droid called C-3PO. Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force within Anakin and is convinced that he is the “chosen one” of Jedi prophecy who will bring balance to the Force. Qui-Gon wagers Anakin’s freedom with Watto in a Podrace, which Anakin wins. Anakin joins the group to be trained as a Jedi, leaving his mother Shmi behind. En route to their repaired starship, Qui-Gon enters a brief lightsaber duel with Darth Maul, Darth Sidious’ Sith apprentice who was sent to capture Amidala.

The Jedi escort Amidala to the Republic capital planet Coruscant so she can plead her people’s case to Chancellor Valorum in the Galactic Senate. Qui-Gon asks the Jedi Council to train Anakin as a Jedi, but the Council are concerned that Anakin is vulnerable to the dark side of the Force and decline. Undaunted, Qui-Gon vows to train Anakin himself. Meanwhile, Naboo senator Palpatine persuades Amidala to make a vote of no confidence in Valorum to elect a more capable chancellor to resolve the crisis on Naboo. Though she pushes for the vote, Amidala grows frustrated with the corruption in the Senate and decides to return to Naboo with the Jedi.

On Naboo, Padmé reveals herself to the Gungans as Queen Amidala and persuades them into an alliance against the Trade Federation. Jar Jar leads his people in a battle against the droid army while Padmé leads the hunt for Gunray in Theed. In a starship hangar, Anakin enters a vacant starfighter and inadvertently triggers its autopilot, joining the battle against the Federation droid control ship in space. Anakin ventures into the ship and destroys it from within, deactivating the droid army. Meanwhile, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan battle Darth Maul, who mortally wounds Qui-Gon before being bisected by Obi-Wan. As he dies, Qui-Gon asks Obi-Wan to train Anakin. Subsequently, Palpatine is elected as the new Supreme Chancellor and Gunray is arrested. The Jedi Council promotes Obi-Wan to Jedi knighthood and reluctantly accepts Anakin as Obi-Wan’s apprentice. At a festive ceremony, Padmé presents a gift of appreciation and friendship to the Gungans.I always felt it grossly unfair that many Star Wars fans are quick to denounce The Phantom Menace as the worst Star Wars film in the entire saga. I suppose in a certain aspect they are right: in every set of slightly different things, there statistically always has to be a best and a worst one. However “worst” doesn’t necessarily mean terrible. Each Star Wars film is still above and beyond in terms of budget, quality and entertainment, most other sci-fi films out there.  I can summarize that The Phantom Menace serves as a solid opener to one of the greatest sci-fi film series ever made, and does a good job setting the scene and introducing the characters who we’ll be spending a lot of time with and watching them develop over the coming films, while at the same time also serving as a workable and enjoyable film in its own right.

REVIEW: JOHN CARTER

CAST
Taylor Kitsch (Battleship)
Lynn Collins (The Number 23)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Samantha Morton (Minority Report)
Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
Mark Strong (Kick-Ass)
Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Dominic West (Punisher Warzone)
James Purefoy (Solomon Kane)
Bryan Cranston (Drive)
Polly Walker (Caprica)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
After the sudden death of John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a former American Civil War Confederate Army captain, Carter’s nephew, Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), attends the funeral. Per Carter’s instructions, the body is put in a tomb that can be unlocked only from the inside. His attorney hands Burroughs Carter’s journal, which Burroughs reads in the hope of finding clues to Carter’s cause of death and the reason he is willed heir. The bulk of the film is enactment of what Burroughs reads.
Burroughs reads of Carter’s exploits in the Arizona Territory as a prospector, where Union Colonel Powell (Bryan Cranston) arrests him. Powell, knowing about Carter’s military background, seeks his help in fighting the Apache, insisting that Carter owes it to his country. Carter refuses, stating that he paid any debt he had when he lost his family. Carter escapes his holding cell, but is pursued by Powell and his cavalry. After a run-in with a band of Apaches, Carter and a wounded Powell are chased until they take to hiding in a cave that turns out to be the object of Carter’s earlier searching, the “Spider Cave of Gold”. A mysterious being, called a Thern, appears in the cave at that moment; Carter kills him but accidentally activates the Thern’s powerful medallion, and is unwittingly transported to a ruined and dying planet, Barsoom, later revealed as Mars.
Because of his different bone density and Barsoom’s low gravity, Carter is able to jump high and perform feats of incredible strength. He is captured by the 4-armed Green Martian clan, the Tharks and their Jeddak (chieftain) Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe). Tars instructs Sola (Samantha Morton) to watch over Carter which results in her feeding him a liquid that enables him to understand the Martian language. Elsewhere on Barsoom, the human Red Martian city of Helium led by Thardos Mors (Ciarán Hinds) and the mobile scavenger city of Zodanga, led by the villainous Sab Than (Dominic West), have been at war for a thousand years. Sab Than, who wants to conquer Barsoom, is armed with a special weapon obtained from Matai Shang (Mark Strong), the leader of the Therns. He proposes a cease-fire and an end to the war by marrying Mors’ daughter, the Princess of Helium Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). Disguised as a soldier, the Princess escapes in a Helium ship.
When Tars Tarkas wants John Carter to show off his jumping abilities, a Thark states the sightings of one ship from Helium and one ship from Zodanga scattering the Tharks to their hiding place. John Carter takes action and saves Dejah from falling. He does manage to kill some Zodanga soldiers and have a brief fight with Sab Than. Following the fight, which leads to Sab Than’s ship retreating, John Carter is hailed as Dotar Sojat (which roughly translates to “My Right Arms”) by Tars Tarkas due to his strength and skill. Tarkas even has Dejah given to him as part of the Thark spoils. Sometime after that, Carter, accompanied by Dejah, tries to find a way to get back to Earth, and stumbles upon a temple ruin sacred to the Tharks where Sola encounters them and tries to stop them from entering, but fails. After discovering an inscription depicting a way back to Earth in the sacred river of Iss, Carter, Dejah, and Sola are caught by Sarkoja (Polly Walker) and Tal Hajus (Thomas Haden Church). The three are sentenced to death due to the Thark code, but are aided in their escape by Tars Tarkas, who reveals to Carter that Sola is his daughter. When Tal and Sarkoja find the prisoners gone, Tal Hajus states that Tarkas has betrayed them.
Carter, Dejah, Sola, and Woola (a Martian Calot – which is somewhat like a mixture of a lizard and a dog) embark on a quest to get to the end of a sacred river to find a way for Carter to get back home. They obtain information about the “ninth ray”, a means of utilizing infinite energy and also the key to understanding how the medallion works. But they are attacked by the Green Martian Clan of Warhoon, which were manipulated by Matai Shang to pursue them, as part of a new plan by Sab Than. After initially fleeing, Carter decides to buy the others time by fighting the horde himself as atonement for not being able to save his family. Though defeating many Warhoon, Carter is ultimately overpowered and is saved when a Helium ship intervenes. Sab Than is also in the company of Thardos Mors as he mentions that Sab came alone and stated that he organized the rescue party. The demoralized Dejah grudgingly agrees to marry Sab Than as Carter is taken to Zodanga to be healed.
When Carter awakens, he is guided to Dejah’s room. After the servant girls leave, Dejah gives Carter his medallion and tells him to go back to Earth. As Dejah leaves with Sab Than, Carter is met by Matai Shang, who takes Carter for a walk around Zodanga. In different Zodangan forms, Shang explains to Carter the purpose of Therns and how they manipulate the civilizations of different planets into total self-destruction, also revealing Sab Than’s secret plan that he will kill Dejah once he marries her and destroy Helium and rule Barsoom, at the same time completing the course the Therns have set for Barsoom. (Shang also mentions that he and the Therns have been doing the same process for millions of years.) Carter is able to make an escape thanks to Woola as he and Sola go back to the Tharks requesting their help. There, they discover Tars Tarkas has been overthrown by Tal Hajus. Tarkas, Carter, and Sola are put on trial in a Colosseum battle with two enormous vicious creatures, the four-armed Great White-Apes. After defeating them and then challenging and easily killing Hajus, Carter becomes the leader of the Tharks.
Carter and the Thark army charge on Helium and defeat the Zodangan army in a huge battle, killing Sab Than. Carter marries Dejah and becomes prince of Helium. On their first night, Carter decides to stay forever on Mars and throws away his medallion. Seizing this opportunity, Matai Shang, in the form of a Helium Guard, sends him back to Earth before leaving Mars forever. Back on Earth, Carter embarks on a long quest looking for clues of the Therns’ presence on Earth and hoping to find one of their medallions; after several years he appears to die suddenly and asks for unusual funeral arrangements — consistent with his having found a medallion, since his return to Mars would leave his Earth body in a coma-like state. He makes Burroughs his protector, giving him clues about how to open the tomb.
The film reverts to the present, where Burroughs runs back to Carter’s tomb and opens it, hoping to find Carter’s body. A Thern in the form of a man with a bowler hat, who had been following Carter over the ten years he’d returned, appears holding a knife, having followed Burroughs. But as he prepares to strike, both he and Burroughs see the tomb is empty. A shot suddenly rings out and the Thern drops dead. Carter emerges and confesses to Burroughs that he never found a medallion. Instead, he devised a scheme to lure a Thern into revealing himself in order to get that Thern’s medallion. After suggesting to Burroughs that he enjoy his life on Earth and to try writing books (alluding to the fact that Burroughs is the real-life author of the “Barsoom” novels), Carter takes the Thern’s medallion, whispers the code, and is then transported back to Barsoom and Dejah.
thought it was amazing.
I loved the way there was a mystery at the beginning of the film and it all got pieced together at the end. I also liked the really good CGI with the awesome aliens and battle ships. I would definitely recommend this to people looking for a good film to watch.

REVIEW: MONA LISA SMILE


CAST
Julia Roberts (Mystic Pizza)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Julia Stiles (A Guy Thing)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk The Line)
Dominic West (300)
Juliet Stevenson (Bend It Like Beckham)
Marica Gay Harden (Mystic River)
John Slattery (Iron Man 2)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Kristen Connolly (The Cabin In The Woods)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
In 1953, Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), a 30-year-old graduate student in the department of Art History at Oakland State, takes a position teaching “History of Art” at Wellesley College, a conservative women’s private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, because she wants to make a difference and influence the next generation of women. At her first class, Katherine discovers that her students have already memorized the entire textbook syllabus, so she uses the classes to introduce them to Modern Art and encourages discussion about topics such as what makes good art and what the Mona Lisa’s smile means. This brings her into conflict with the college president (Marian Seldes), who warns she must stick to the syllabus if she wants to keep her job. Katherine comes to know her students and seeks to inspire them to achieve more than marriage to eligible young men.
Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst) is highly opinionated and outspokenly conservative like her mother, the head of the Alumnae Association. Betty doesn’t understand why Katherine is not married and insists that there is a universal standard for good art. She writes editorials for the college paper, exposing campus nurse Amanda Armstrong (Juliet Stevenson) as a supplier of contraception, which results in Amanda being fired; another editorial attacks Katherine for advocating that women should seek a career instead of being wives and mothers as intended. Betty can’t wait to marry Spencer (Jordan Bridges) as their parents have arranged and expects the traditional exemptions from attending class as a married woman: Katherine insists she will be marked on merit and attendance, resulting in more conflict.
Connie Baker (Ginnifer Goodwin) begins dating Betty’s cousin, Charlie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) but Betty persuades her that he is only using her his parents have arranged for him to marry Deb MacIntyre. After a disastrous date, where Charlie and Connie very nearly cross paths with Deb’s parents on a weekend away at the shore, Connie ends the relationship, believing Betty’s story to be true. However, some weeks later, Connie and Charlie reconnect, with Charlie saying he has already decided for himself that he is not going to marry Deb, so he and Connie get back together. Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles) dreams of being a lawyer and has enrolled as pre-law, so Katherine encourages her to apply to Yale Law School, where she is accepted; Katherine is affronted when Joan’s fiancé Tommy (Topher Grace) comments Joan “will always have that”, intimating his own expectations of what his wife should be. Joan eventually elopes with Tommy, and professes to Katherine she is very happy—she had decided that what she wants most is to be a wife and mother after graduation and asks Katherine to respect her choice. Giselle Levy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has liberal views and supports Katherine because she sees her as having chosen what she wants in her life and because she has often felt out of place at the school being Jewish among the mostly WASP student body. Her parents divorced after the war and her father left them for a new family. Giselle brazenly has affairs with a professor and a married man.
During “truth or consequences” in a secret society meeting, Katherine confides to the girls that she was engaged when she was younger, but that she and her fiancé were prevented from marrying by the war and their relationship fizzled out. Katherine declines a proposal from her California boyfriend (John Slattery) because she doesn’t love him enough and begins seeing the Wellesley Italian professor, Bill Dunbar (Dominic West). Bill is charming and full of stories about Europe and his heroic actions in Italy during the war. He has also had affairs with students (including Giselle), and Katherine makes him promise that it will never happen again. The relationship progresses but when Katherine learns that Bill spent the entire war at the Army Languages Center on Long Island, she decides to break up with him because he is not trustworthy. Bill responds that Katherine didn’t come to Wellesley to help the students find their way, but to help them find her way.
Within six months of the wedding Betty’s marriage falls apart as Spencer has an affair, hiding it from his wife by pretending to be away on business. Betty seeks refuge at her parents’ house but her mother turns her away, telling her that her home is with Spencer now. Betty lashes out at Giselle in rage and pain and then breaks down in tears while Giselle hugs her. Mrs Warren begs Betty to stay married to Spencer, saying that she should try for a year and that she must avoid a scandal. Betty shows her mother a picture of the Mona Lisa and asks if her smile means she is happy. She answers her own question: “Who cares, as long as she’s smiling?” and warns her mother that not everything is what it seems. At graduation, Betty begins to ask Katherine about apartments in Greenwich Village, New York, but their conversation is interrupted by Mrs. Warren. Betty tells her mother that she filed for divorce that same morning and she is going to room with Giselle. She tells Katherine that she is considering applying to Yale Law School.
Katherine’s course is highly popular, so the college invites her to return but with certain conditions: she must follow the syllabus, submit lesson plans for approval, keep a strictly professional relationship with all faculty members, and not talk to the girls about anything other than classes. Katherine decides to leave in order to explore Europe. In the final scene, Betty dedicates her last editorial to Katherine, claiming that her teacher is “an extraordinary woman who lived by example and compelled us all to see the world through new eyes.” As Katherine’s taxi speeds up, all her students follow on their bicycles and Betty is seen struggling to keep up with the taxi as a last effort to thank Katherine for changing her life.
This is a wonderful, highly enjoyable film in which the social mores and style of the nineteen fifties are well depicted

REVIEW: JOHNNY ENGLISH 1 & 2

CAST
Rowan Atkinsion (Mr. Bean)
John Malkovich (Red)
Natalie Imbruglia (Underdogs)
Ben Miller (The Prince and Me)
Greg Wise (Sense and Sensibility)
Kevin McNally (Pirates of The Caribbean)
MV5BMTYxMDQ1ODcyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjIxNDUxMg@@._V1_
Johnny English is an inept MI7 agent with dreams of being their most trusted employee. After Agent One dies in a submarine accident (courtesy of English making a mistake on checking the submarine hatch code), the remaining agents are assassinated via a bombing at Agent One’s funeral (again courtesy of English’s incompetence at security), leaving English as the lone survivor. English is assigned to follow a plot to steal the Crown Jewels, which are on display at the Tower of London. At the display, English is head of security, and meets the mysterious Lorna Campbell. The power is cut, and the jewels are stolen. During the chaos, English knocks out a security guard in the process and pretends to fight the assailant (in reality fighting himself). He later makes up a false description of the assailant to Pegasus. English and his assistant Angus Bough find the jewels were removed via a hole dug beneath their display case. The two follow a tunnel, confronting the two thieves Klaus Vendetta and Dieter Klein. The two escape in a hearse, with English trying to pursue them, but mistakes another hearse for the escape vehicle, crashing a funeral until Bough comes to his aid.
Johnny English
English connects the thieves to Pascal Sauvage, a French prison entrepreneur who helped restore the Crown Jewels. Pegasus, head of MI7, finds the claims of his involvement absurd and warns English not to involve Sauvage. In the car park, English and Bough are attacked by the thieves, but are unharmed beyond Bough getting a nose bleed (courtesy of English mistaking him for one of the thieves and covering up for himself by saying that there could have been other thieves and adamantly insisting that Bough drop the issue and move on). English again encounters Lorna Campbell in a Japanese restaurant as he recognized her motorcycle. During their meeting English is suspicious of her since he has seen her at two of their crime scenes and her records cannot be found on any government computer. English and Bough decide to break into Sauvage’s headquarters via parachutes, but English lands in the Royal London Hospital by mistake taking hospital employees hostage until he sees the “SAUVAGE” building with Bough inside. He then covers for himself by telling the employees that the hold up was just a test of their emergency response systems while telling Bough that he merely did a precautionary sweep of the immediate environment. Going to the correct building, the two learn Sauvage, who is a descendant of William the Conqueror, plans on making himself king, using an imposter to impersonate the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lorna arrives, revealed to be an Interpol agent tracking Sauvage. With evidence of Sauvage’s involvement, English crashes a party hosted by Sauvage but he is suspended from work by Pegasus.
With English knowing their plans, Sauvage scraps the fake Archbishop and instead sends his minions to force Queen Elizabeth II to abdicate by threatening her Corgies, causing the entire line of succession to be swept clean for Sauvage to become king. Lorna visits the depressed English, now in charge of the assignment by Pegasus, and convinces him to travel with her to Sauvage’s French chateau to spy on him. Eavesdropping on Sauvage’s meeting with renowned criminals, English and Lorna learn Sauvage plans to turn the United Kingdom into the world’s biggest prison when he becomes king. English and Lorna are exposed when the former accidentally activates a microphone, and they are taken prisoner. English tries to steal the DVD of Sauvage’s plan but picks up the wrong DVD. Bough rescues the two and they race to stop Sauvage’s coronation.
MV5BMTYxMDQ1ODcyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjIxNDUxMg@@._V1_English crashes the coronation and discovers the Archbishop is the genuine article. Undeterred, English orders Bough to play the DVD, only to find it is camera footage of himself dancing in his bathroom to “Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA, Sauvage having bugged English’s house beforehand, much to Pegasus’s disgust. English sneaks away but swings in on a wire to steal St. Edward’s Crown from Sauvage. Sauvage angrily shoots at English with a pistol, causing him to drop the crown. Moments before Sauvage is crowned king, English lands on the throne and is crowned instead. In his singular act as king, English has Sauvage arrested and restores the Queen to the throne, requesting a knighthood as a reward. In the final scene, English and Lorna drive to southern France for a romantic holiday, only for English to accidentally launch Lorna out the car by pressing the ejection seat button. Lorna lands in a hotel swimming pool, where Bough happens to be vacationing as well as the assailant that English described to Pegasus earlier in the film.
Johnny English is no where near as bad as what I expected. While it’s not the greatest nor the most intelligent film of recent times, it’s one that’s entertaining none the less. If your looking for something to sit down and watch, a film that will make you laugh without demanding much use of your Brain, then Johnny English is an ideal choice.
CAST
Rowan Atkinsion (Mr. Bean)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Dominic West (Punisher: Warzone)
Eric Carte (Run For Your Wife)
Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Richard Schiff (The Cape)
Isla Blair (Valmont)
Eight years after the events of the first film, former Sir Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is learning martial arts in Tibet as penance for a botched mission in Mozambique which resulted in him being stripped of his Knighthood. However, he is contacted by MI7, who arrange for him to be flown back to London and call him back to service. Johnny returns to MI7’s London headquarters (now Toshiba British Intelligence) and assigned by new boss “Pegasus” (Gillian Anderson) to stop a plot to assassinate the Chinese Premier during scheduled talks with the Prime Minister. Johnny also meets with fellow agent Simon Ambrose (Dominic West) and MI7’s resident inventor, Patch Quartermain (Tim McInnerny). He is also assigned a junior agent, Colin Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya). In Hong Kong, English discovers an address that leads him to ex-CIA agent Titus Fisher (Richard Schiff). Fisher reveals that he is a member of ‘Vortex’, a group of three assassins and several accomplices, who sabotaged English’s mission in Mozambique. Vortex holds a secret weapon, which requires three metal keys to unlock when used together, and Fisher reveals that he is in possession of one. Fisher is then killed by an assassin (Pik-Sen Lim) disguised as a cleaner and the key falls into the hands of a Vortex member.
English chases the Vortex agent across Hong Kong and eventually retrieves the key from him. On a flight back to London, Johnny gives a suitcase containing the key to a flight attendant, who is revealed to be another Vortex agent. English is humiliated in front of the Foreign Secretary and Pegasus by the loss of the key, and assaults Pegasus’s mother, mistaking her for the killer cleaner.
Kate Sumner (Rosamund Pike), MI7’s behavioural psychologist, uses hypnosis on English to help him recall the events of his mission in Mozambique, and the identity of the second Vortex operative, Artem Karlenko (Mark Ivanir), a Russian spy. Johnny meets him at an exclusive golf course outside London. As they are playing golf, the same assassin from Hong Kong reappears and uses a sniper rifle disguised as a golf club to attack the party, claiming the life of Karlenko’s bodyguard and critically injuring Karlenko. Johnny takes Karlenko and escapes the golf course in a helicopter. They fly to the nearest hospital, and before dying, Karlenko reveals that the third assassin in Vortex is a member of MI7.
In a meeting at MI7 with Pegasus and the British Prime Minister, it is revealed that talks between Britain and China will continue in a heavily guarded fortress called ‘Le Bastion’ in the Swiss Alps. Over dinner, English informs Ambrose that he knows of a mole in MI7. Ambrose prepares to kill English, until it becomes clear that the traitor’s identity is unknown. Tucker confronts Ambrose in the bathroom, knowing he is the mole, but English scolds Tucker and orders him to leave. Ambrose convinces English that Quartermain is the traitor. English entrusts the key to Ambrose, who then tells Pegasus that English is the traitor. English confronts Quartermain, and realises that he has been framed. He is then shot at by MI7 snipers and agents posing as worshippers in a church, using suppressors on their guns to fool the priest. He is shot once in the left leg and fools Quartermain before escaping in a modified electric wheelchair after holding Quartermain at gunpoint. English goes to Kate’s flat, and convinces her that he is not the traitor.
Kate, scrutinising footage of the Mozambique mission, realises that the assassin behaved abnormally. They learn that Vortex owns a lethal drug called timoxeline barbebutenol that allows them to control a person for a brief time before they die of heart failure. Ambrose, the only surviving member of Vortex, plans to use the drug to kill the Premier in exchange for 500 million USD.
English visits Tucker and convinces him to help infiltrate ‘Le Bastion’. After passing through security at the fortress, English warns Pegasus (who now knows who the real traitor is) of the threat, and unknowingly drinks the spiked drink, rendering him vulnerable to Ambrose’s commands. Ambrose orders English to kill the Premier using a pistol disguised as a tube of lipstick. English tries to resist the effects of the drug, and engages in a fight with himself while Tucker attempts to interrupt communication between Ambrose and English. Tucker disrupts the frequency, replacing it with a song being played on a radio station, resulting in English beginning to dance. Ambrose reasserts his command, exposing himself in the process. English resists, shooting at Ambrose, who escapes. The effects of the drug wear off and English seemingly dies of heart failure. The paramedics try to save English with CPR but fail; he is eventually revived by Kate via a kiss on the lips, reviving him and making his heart rate boost. English pursues Ambrose, parachuting from the building and hijacking a snowmobile. English reaches Ambrose, who is in a cable car. The two fight, with English falling out of the car. Ambrose tries to shoot English, who shoots a rocket disguised as an umbrella at the cable-car, killing Ambrose. English then sits back and says happily – “Tucker, you clever boy!”
Because of his actions, English is due to have his knighthood reinstated by The Queen, but as the ceremony takes place, the apparent Queen reveals herself to be the killer cleaner dressed up as the Queen and attempts to kill English with the knighthood sword. English fends off the cleaner, to which she runs off. English attempts to catch and attack her, but when guards come in with the killer cleaner. English realizes that he has assaulted the real Queen and has been tricked once again. A post-credits scene, influenced by the barber scene in The Great Dictator, sees English preparing a meal for Kate to the tune of “In the Hall of the Mountain King”

If you enjoyed the first Johnny English film, you’ll enjoy this one too