REVIEW: LITTLE WOMEN

CAST

Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Gabriel Byrne (Stigmata)
Trini Alvarado (The Frighteners)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet)
Christian Bale (Batman Begins)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
John Neville (Odyssey 5)
Mary Wickes (Sister Act)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Seires)
Donal Logue (Gotham)

The film focuses on the March sisters: beautiful Meg (Trini Alvarado), tempestuous Jo (Winona Ryder), tender Beth (Claire Danes), and romantic Amy (Kirsten Dunst), who are growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during and after the American Civil War. With their father away fighting in the war, the girls struggle with major and minor problems under the guidance of their strong-willed mother, affectionately called Marmee (Susan Sarandon). As a means of escaping some of their problems, the sisters revel in performing in romantic plays written by Jo in their attic theater.Living next door to the family is wealthy Mr. Laurence (John Neville), whose grandson Theodore, nicknamed “Laurie” (Christian Bale), moves in with him and becomes a close friend of the March family, particularly Jo. Mr. Laurence becomes a mentor for Beth, whose exquisite piano-playing reminds him of his deceased daughter, and Meg falls in love with Laurie’s tutor John Brooke (Eric Stoltz). Mr. March is wounded in the war and Marmee is called away to nurse him. While Marmee is away, Beth contracts scarlet fever from a neighbor’s infant. Awaiting Marmee’s return, Meg and Jo send Amy away to live in safety with their Aunt March. Prior to Beth’s illness, Jo had been Aunt March’s companion for several years, and while she was unhappy with her position she tolerated it in the hope her aunt one day would take her to Europe. When Beth’s condition worsens, Marmee is summoned home and nurses her to recovery just in time for Christmas. Mr. Laurence gives his daughter’s piano to Beth, Meg accepts John Brooke’s proposal and Mr. March surprises his family by returning home from the war.Four years pass; Meg and John marry, and Beth’s health is deteriorating steadily. Laurie graduates from college, proposes to Jo and asks her to go to London with him, but realizing she thinks of him more as a big brother than a romantic prospect, she refuses his offer. Jo later deals with the added disappointment that Aunt March has decided to take Amy, who is now sixteen (and now played by Samantha Mathis), with her to Europe instead of her. Crushed, Jo departs for New York City to pursue her dream of writing and experiencing life. There she meets Friedrich Bhaer (Gabriel Byrne), a German professor who challenges and stimulates her intellectually, introduces her to opera and philosophy, and encourages her to write better stories than the lurid Victorian melodramas she has penned so far.In Europe, Amy is reunited with Laurie. She is disappointed to find he has become dissolute and irresponsible and scolds him for pursuing her merely to become part of the March family. In return, he bitterly rebukes her for courting one of his wealthy college friends in order to marry into money. He leaves Amy a letter asking her to wait for him while he works in London for his grandfather and makes himself worthy of her. Jo is summoned home to see Beth, who finally dies of the lingering effects of scarlet fever that have plagued her for the past four years. Grieving for her sister, Jo retreats to the comfort of the attic and begins to write her life story. Upon its completion, she sends it to Professor Bhaer. Meanwhile, Meg gives birth to twins Demi and Daisy. A letter from Amy informs the family Aunt March is too ill to travel, so Amy must remain in Europe with her. In London, Laurie receives a letter from Jo in which she informs him of Beth’s death and mentions Amy is in Vevey, unable to come home. Laurie immediately travels to be at Amy’s side. They finally return to the March home as husband and wife, much to Jo’s surprise and eventual delight.Aunt March dies and she leaves Jo her house, which she decides to convert into a school. Professor Bhaer arrives with the printed galley proofs of her manuscript but when he mistakenly believes Jo has married Laurie he departs to catch a train to the West, where he is to become a teacher. Jo runs after him and explains the misunderstanding. When she begs him not to leave, he proposes marriage and she happily accepts.It’s a small scale masterpiece that will leave you in tears. The film is honest and true in it’s portrayal of human emotion. It went from being an adaptation of the book to it’s own story and portrayal of people and their lives. It’s beautiful aesthetically and dramatically, and a real gem of a film.

 

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REVIEW: SHARK NIGHT 3D

CAST

Sara Paxton (Superhero Movie)
Dustin Milligan (The Butterfly Effect 2)
Chris Carmack (Into The Blue 2)
Katharine McPhee (The Hosue Bunny)
Chris Zylka (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Sinqua Walls (Teen Wolf)
Alyssa Diaz (Red Dawn)
Joshua Leonard (Bates Motel)
Donal Logue (Gotham)

Seven Tulane University undergraduates – Sara, Nick, Beth, Malik, Maya, Blake and Gordon – drive to Sara’s family vacation home on a private lake. There, Sara encounters her old boyfriend, Dennis, and his friend Red. Nick, Blake, Malik and Maya go wake-boarding when a shark attacks Malik. He is able to swim back to shore – missing his right arm. When Nick swims into the lake to retrieve Malik’s arm, he is pursued by the shark, barely making it to shore. Being a pre-med student, he stabilizes Malik, and they all take him to the hospital. Blood from Malik’s wound attracts a shark that attacks the boat. Maya (Malik’s girlfriend who he was about to propose to) is knocked into the water and eaten. The shark damages the steering column of the boat, causing it to crash in front of the boathouse. Sara, Nick and Malik make it to shore.Dennis and Red arrive and agree to take Beth and Gordon to the mainland. During the boat trip, Dennis reveals that he and Red put the sharks in the lake and feed college students to them. Dennis forces Gordon into the water by shooting him; he swims to a mangrove tree but is devoured by a bull shark. Red and Dennis force Beth to strip down and feed her to cookiecutter sharks. Malik arms himself with a harpoon and ventures into the water to kill the shark that killed Maya. His wound attracts a hammerhead shark; he kills it but is further wounded. Nick and Blake pull the shark to shore, and Nick finds a camera attached to its belly. Blake decides to take Malik to the mainland on a jet ski. When they are pursued by sharks, Malik sacrifices himself and later Blake is killed by a great white shark.Sheriff Sabin visits Sara and Nick and gives them soup, which makes Nick and Sara’s dog, who has also eaten the soup, pass out. Sara hears Dennis and Red speaking from Sabin’s radio, describing Beth’s death. Dennis and Red then appear and take Sara to their boat, while Sabin prepares to dunk Nick into the lake, where sand tiger sharks wait. Sabin reveals that he, Dennis and Red have been inspired by the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and Faces of Death videos to film people being eaten by sharks. Nick is able to break free and ignite a can of gas. Badly burned, Sabin plunges into the lake and is eaten by a sand shark.Dennis reveals the reason why he is bitter at Sara: three years ago, while they were dating Sara had to go off to college and she and Dennis had a farewell swim at their favorite diving spot. The day is ruined when Sara almost drowns and Dennis, who is angry with her for having to leave him, refuses to help her. As revenge she runs him over with a jet ski, damaging half his face. Red throws her dog into the water and soon after Dennis calls up Carl, the man from the bait shop, telling him to release another great white shark, Dennis and Red lower her into the lake in a shark cage. As Dennis is about to release her, Nick arrives and takes Red hostage. After a scuffle during which Dennis kills Red in order to catch Nick offguard, Nick shoves Dennis into the water and tries to set Sara free but Dennis appears and tries strangling him. Nick escapes as a great white shark devours Dennis. Nick kills the shark and frees Sara. Nick, Sara, and Sara’s dog swim to the boat, having survived. A distance away, another great white shark breaches, signifying that sharks remain in the lake.If you like your B-movies and don’t take things too seriously, you’ll enjoy this.

REVIEW: GHOST RIDER

CAST

Nicolas Cage (8mm)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games)
Sam Elliott (Hulk)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Peter Fonda (Easy Rider)
Brett Cullen (Injustice)
Rebel Wilson (Grimsby)
Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead)

The Devil, Mephistopheles, sends his bounty hunter of the damned, the Ghost Rider, to retrieve the contract of San Venganza for control of a thousand corrupt souls. Seeing that the contract would give Mephistopheles the power to bring Hell on Earth, the Rider refuses to give him the contract.
In 1986, Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) reaches out to 17-year-old stunt motorcycle rider Johnny Blaze, offering to cure his father’s (Brett Cullen) cancer in exchange for Blaze’s soul, to which he hastily accepts. The next morning, Blaze awakes to discover that his father’s cancer is cured, but he is killed that same day in a motorcycle stunt in which he falls into the ring of fire he is jumping through. Blaze accuses Mephistopheles of causing his father’s death, but Mephistopheles considers their contract to be fulfilled and promises to one day see him again.
21 years later, Blaze (Nicolas Cage) has become a famous stunt motorcycle rider known for surviving numerous deadly crashes. Blaze meets his lifelong sweetheart Roxanne Simpson (Eva Mendes), now a news reporter, whom he abandoned after his father’s death. He convinces her to attend a dinner date. Meanwhile, Blackheart, the demonic son of Mephistopheles, comes to Earth, along with three fallen angels who bonded with the elements Air, Earth and Water. They are tasked to find the lost contract of San Venganza. In response, Mephistopheles makes Blaze the new Ghost Rider and offers to return his soul if he defeats Blackheart. Blaze is driven straight to the station on his “first ride”, where he transforms into the Ghost Rider and kills the Earth Angel Gressil. The next day, he meets a man called the Caretaker, who seems to know all about the history of the Ghost Rider. He tells him everything that happened was not a dream and that it will happen again, especially at night when he is near an evil soul.
When he arrives home, Blaze finds Simpson and reveals himself as the Devil’s bounty hunter. Unconvinced, she walks away in disbelief. After a brief imprisonment for the murders that Blackheart committed, Blaze kills the Air Angel Abigor and goes back to the Caretaker who tells him of his predecessor, Carter Slade, a Texas Ranger who hid the contract of San Venganza. Blaze returns home to find that Blackheart has killed his friend Mack and has taken Roxanne captive, threatening to kill her if Blaze does not deliver the contract.
Blaze returns to the Caretaker and obtains the contract. The Caretaker reveals that he is Carter Slade. Slade tells Blaze that he is more powerful than his predecessors since he sold his soul for love as opposed to greed. Slade leads Blaze to San Venganza, then gives Blaze a lever action shotgun before fading away.
After killing the Water angel Wallow, Blaze gives the contract to Blackheart. He quickly transforms into Ghost Rider in an effort to subdue Blackheart, but dawn arrives and he is rendered powerless. Blackheart uses the contract to absorb the thousand souls into his body. He attempts to kill Blaze, but is distracted when Simpson uses Blaze’s discarded shotgun to separate them. After Blaze tries to kill Blackheart with the shotgun, he moves in and uses his Penance Stare to render him catatonic, burning all the corrupt souls within Blackheart.
Mephistopheles appears and returns Blaze his soul, offering to take back the curse of the Ghost Rider. Determined not to make another deal, Blaze declines, saying that he will use his power against him, and against all harm that comes to the innocent. Infuriated of being robbed of the power, Mephistopheles vows to make Blaze pay, but Blaze tells Mephistopheles that he is not afraid. Mephistopheles then disappears, taking Blackheart’s body with him. Later, Simpson tells Blaze that he got his second chance before sharing a final kiss with him. Blaze then rides away on his motorcycle, turning into the Ghost Rider.Mark Steven Johnson (also director of Daredevil) has done a good job with the adaptation, but having watched either Daredevil or Ghost Rider it’s obvious that dialog isn’t his strong point. Despite Cage’s passion for the role, if you’re expecting academy award winning acting from this flick, you’re gonna be sorely disappointed. That said, Peter Fonda is very well cast as Mephistopholes and Wes Bentley does a good job at playing the bad-guy particularly in comparison to his slightly wet counter-parts.  A Good Marvel but not a great one.

 

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: THE EX

CAST
Zach Braff (Garden State)
Amanda Peet (Igby Goes Down)
Charles Grodin (Beethoven)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s baby)
Lucien Maisel (Everybody’s Fine)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Amy Poehler (Mean Girls)
Fred Armisen (Anchorman)
Marin Hinkle (Two and a Half Men)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Robert John Burke (Robocop 3)
Romany Malco (No Ordinary Family)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Living in Manhattan, Tom (Zach Braff) is a cook who has a hard time keeping his job. His wife, Sofia (Amanda Peet), is an attorney. When their first child is born, they agree that she will be a full-time mom and he will work hard to get a promotion. When Tom gets fired after defending his friend Paco (Yul Vazquez), he takes a job in Ohio working at the ad agency where his father-in-law is the assistant director. Tom is assigned to report to Chip (Jason Bateman). Chip is a strict and hard-working wheelchair-using man who is coincidentally Sofia’s ex-boyfriend from high school. Chip still carries an obsession with her, so he conspires to make Tom’s work life miserable. As Tom’s frustrations mount, Chip begins to sway Sofia to his side.
Tom begins to suspect that Chip isn’t handicapped at all and goes through his desk. He finds a photo of Chip playing tennis and rushes to his in-laws’ house to see his wife and show her the picture. He finds Chip having dinner with Sofia and her parents and holding Tom’s child. Tom mercilessly tries to prove that Chip isn’t actually paralyzed by dragging him up a flight of stairs and then throws him, expecting him to stand up to prevent falling. Chip doesn’t stand up and Tom is humiliated in front of his family. Later, he confronts Chip outside his house and attacks him, where Chip reveals that he really can walk, but can’t fight outside of his chair. After sitting back down, Chip beats him severely and reveals that he plans to sleep with Sofia, much to Tom’s already-increased rage.
It’s revealed that Paco had called Chip under the guise of being an ad agency boss in Barcelona, telling Chip that he got a job and convincing him to fly to Spain. Excited by the news, Chip goes to Sofia and asks her to come with him. However, Tom accosts them both and convinces her not to go with Chip. Chip, angry that Sofia chose Tom over him, heartlessly mocks Tom and reveals he “faked his orgasm” to Sofia before getting out of his chair and walking out. While chastising them from outside, Chip is hit by a bus and ends up breaking both of his legs, crippling him for real. Tom and Sofia have moved out of Ohio and Sofia’s dad is helping Tom start his own ad business. Tom and Sofia are shown to have switched positions, Tom becoming a stay-at-home dad while Sofia becomes a full-time worker. During the credits Chip is shown being tossed out of the ad company in Spain, and later on Tom’s friend sees Chip in the middle of the running of the bulls on TV.
This is a very good film, admittedly it feels more like a TV movie, yet is well written, funny in places and well acted. I appreciate Zach Braff’s acting skills and his comedic abilities,  Don’t expect a life altering experience, it is just a movie, but a worth while one.

 

 

 

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: DECEPTION (aka The Reindeer Games)

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Charlize Theron (Prometheus)
Gary Sinise (The Green Mile)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
James Frain (Gotham)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Isaac hayes (South Park)
Clarence Williams III (The Butler)
Ashton Kutcher (Dude, Wheres My Car?)

Nick Cassidy and Rudy Duncan are cellmates in prison two days away from release. Nick has been corresponding with a young woman named Ashley Mercer, who is waiting for him on the outside. After Nick takes a shiv in a prison fight and dies, Rudy, who just wants to have a cup of hot chocolate after he reunites with his family, takes his place and lets the beautiful Ashley think he is the one who has been writing her. Gabriel, the leader of a gang who assaults Rudy and Ashley in their cabin, and is Ashley’s brother and tells “Nick” that the gang, with Nick’s help, will rob the casino he used to work at. Rudy reveals he is not Nick, but Ashley continues to confirm he is and that she wrote to him knowing Gabriel was going to kidnap and force Rudy to assist in the robbery. Rudy, while furious with Ashley, is reluctantly forced to go along with his ruse.

Using the information from the real Nick’s prison cell stories, Rudy is able to devise a robbery plan and informs Gabriel that the biggest loot is hidden inside a safe in the manager’s office (the “PowWow” safe). On the night of the robbery, Rudy breaks out of his holding in order to find a way to arm himself as he knows Gabriel will kill him after the robbery. He stumbles upon Gabriel and Ashley and learns that they are lovers and partners in crime.

The group robs the casino, each dressed as Santa Claus. Rudy, forced to take part in the robbery, hides the fact that he knows Ashley’s secret. Shots are fired and security guards and Santas are shot. Ashley drives into the Casino and lets Nick/Rudy know she is in on the heist. All meeting in the manager’s office, Gabriel introduces Rudy to the casino manager as Nick but the manager recognizes that he isn’t Nick and Rudy confesses. Gabriel, furious at Rudy’s deception, spares him for a moment when he demands to know where the “PowWow” safe is. When the manager opens the safe, he grabs guns from inside and kills one of the robbers as the rest flee. Rudy kills another one of the robbers and is then grabbed by Gabriel and Ashley who tie him up in their 18-wheeler truck.

They plan to drive him off the edge of a cliff in a burning vehicle with a little of the money so that officials will guess all had been burned. After accidentally revealing too much information during an argument with Rudy, Ashley shoots and kills the now suspicious Gabriel. Shortly after, Nick appears, having staged his death at the prison. It is revealed that Ashley’s real name is Millie Bobeck and Rudy learns that the two had collaborated to rob the casino using Rudy and Gabriel and his gang. Ashley had known the entire time who Rudy truly was. Nick also informs Rudy that the prison stories were part of a set-up.

After they tie Rudy to the steering wheel to drive off the cliff, he produces a knife he had gotten earlier, cuts his bindings, hot wires the car, sets it to reverse and crushes Nick. With Ashley firing at him, he rams the fiery car into her and dives out as the car and Ashley go over the cliff. Nick tries to convince Rudy that they can share the money but Rudy locks him in the truck and also sends it over the cliff. Rudy picks up the stolen cash and begins distributing it in mailboxes he comes across on the way home to his family, and eats a Christmas dinner with them. The film closes with Rudy smiling.

Though it is a basic Action Thriller, there are many subdivisions, that will leave fans of any genre satisfied. Don’t know why they changed the name for the UK.

REVIEW: JERRY MAGUIRE

 

CAST

Tom Cruise (Top Gun)
Cuba Gooding Jr. (Boat Trip)
Renee Zellweger (Cinderella Man)
Kelly Preston (Twins)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Jay Mohr (Small Soldiers)
Bonnie Hunt (Cars)
Regina King (The Big Bang Theory)
Jonathan Lipnicki (Stuart Little)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Drake Bell (Superhero Movie)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
Reagan Gomez-Preston (The Cleveland Show)
Lucy Liu (Charlies Angels)
Justian Vail (Kiss The Girls)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Emily Procter (CSI: Miami)
Beau Bridges (Stargate: Atlantis)

The title character is played by Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible), a sports agent in a high-powered firm who continues to support and advocate for his client, sometimes at all physical costs to the athlete. In a moment of revelation, he thinks that the firm can do better, be more human, as it were, and one night writes and publishes a manifesto of sorts that illustrates how to do this. Of course, the firm’s main motivation is to be profitable and not nice, so he is unceremoniously dumped, and he is unable to retain his clients either, except for one, a middle-of-the-pack football player named Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr., A Few Good Men).

He also has Dorothy (Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain), a secretary who read Jerry’s memo, enjoyed it and leaves the firm with him. From there, each of the male characters seem to have separate revelations from their work; Rod’s willingness to take a hit or two quietly elevates his status within the NFL, and Jerry’s personal adaptation into a relationship, where he had previously feared commitment, but was almost addicted to companionship that was far from serious.Jerry Maguire is still watchable after so many years, along with the charm and wit that Crowe has been known for delivering for over two decades now.