REVIEW: THE DANISH GIRL

CAST

Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them)
Alicia Vikander (Seventh Son)
Matthias Schoenaerts (Red Sparrow)
Ben Whishaw (Paddington)
Amber Heard (Drive Angry)
Sebastian Koch (Homeland)
Pip Torrens (The Iron Lady)

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl (2015)In mid-1920s Copenhagen, portrait artist Gerda Wegener asks her husband, popular landscape artist Einar Wegener, to stand in for a female model who is late to come to their flat to pose for a painting she’s working on.The act of posing as a female figure unmasks Einar’s life-long identification as a woman, who names herself Lili Elbe. This sets off a progression, first tentative and then irreversible, of leaving behind the identity as Einar, which she has struggled to maintain all her life. This takes place as both Lili and Gerda relocate to Paris; Gerda’s portraits of Lili in her feminine state attract serious attention from art dealers in a way that her previous portraiture had not. It is there that Gerda tracks down art dealer Hans Axgil, a childhood friend of Lili (whom Lili had kissed when they were young). Hans and Gerda’s mutual attraction is a challenge, as Gerda is navigating her changing relationship to Lili; but Hans’ long-time friendship with and affection for Lili cause him to be supportive of both Lili and Gerda.Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl (2015)As Lili’s continued existence presenting as male becomes too much to bear, she starts to seek help from psychologists, but none yields any result, and, in one instance, almost leads her into being committed to an asylum. Eventually, at Hans’s recommendation, Lili and Gerda meet Dr. Kurt Warnekros. Dr. Warnekros explains that he has met several people like her, who are physically male but identify as female, and proposes a new, innovative and controversial solution: male to female sex reassignment surgery. This would entail a two-part procedure that involves first removing Lili’s external genitalia and then, after a period of recovery, fashioning a vagina. He warns Lili and Gerda that it is a very dangerous operation that has never been attempted before, and Lili would be one of the first to undergo it. Lili immediately agrees and, soon after, travels to Germany to begin the surgery.Lili eventually dies of complications from the surgery. The film ends with Gerda and Hans on a hilltop back in Denmark, in front of the five trees Lili had painted. The scarf that Lili had originally given Gerda, and that had subsequently been given back and forth several times, is carried away on the wind, dancing.Because of the subject matter in The Danish Girl I wasn’t sure this was going to be a film that I would particularly like but I need not have have worried because I thought this was a fascinating movie that justified it’s plaudits. This is the story of Danish artist Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) who realised that despite being born a man he is really a woman and that woman is called Lile. Although Redmayne will quite obviously get all the praise for his role as Lile but I think the outstanding performance of this film comes from Alicia Vikander who plays his wife. As an actor she is exposed unlike Redmayne who has the make up to hide behind. Instead of being about Lile this film for me is more about the love of his wife who will do anything to make her husband happy. Even if that means losing him. in the process.

Advertisements

REVIEW: LES MISERABLES

CAST

Hugh Jackman (Logan)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Helena Bonham Carter (Dark Shadows)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Grimsby)
Amanda Seyfried (Gone)
Samantha Barks (Dracula Untold)
Aaron Tveit (Premium rush)
Colm Wilkinson (The Tudors)
Josef Altin (Game of Thrones)
Charlotte Hope (The Nun)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)

Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables (2012)In 1815, French prisoner Jean Valjean is released on parole from the Bagne of Toulon after serving nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread and trying to escape multiple times. On the outside, Valjean’s paroled status prevents him from getting work. He is offered shelter by the kindly Bishop of Digne, but Valjean steals his silverware. Captured by police and taken to the Bishop, Valjean is shocked when the Bishop says that he gave him the silver, telling him to use it to do something worthwhile with his life. Valjean breaks his parole to start a new life.Cavin Cornwall and Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables (2012)Eight years later, Valjean is factory owner and mayor of Montreuil, Pas-de-Calais. He is shocked when a Toulon prison guard Javert arrives as his new chief of police. Javert suspects Valjean’s identity when he rescues an injured worker trapped under a heavy cart. One of Valjean’s workers, Fantine, is dismissed by the factory foreman upon learning she is sending her earnings to her illegitimate daughter Cosette, who lives with the greedy innkeepers, the Thénardiers. To support her daughter, Fantine becomes a prostitute but is arrested by Javert when she attacks an abusive customer. Valjean, learning who she is, rescues her and takes her to the hospital.Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables (2012)Valjean learns a man has been wrongly identified as him, and reveals his true identity to a court before returning to the dying Fantine, promising to care for Cosette. Javert arrives but Valjean escapes, finding Cosette and pays Fantine’s debts to the Thénardiers. Valjean and Cosette flee Javert, hiding in a convent, aided by the worker Valjean rescued before. Nine years later, Valjean has become a philanthropist and helps the poor in Paris. General Lamarque, the only government official sympathetic to the poor, dies, and a group of revolutionists called the Friends of the ABC plot to rebel against the monarchy. Marius Pontmercy, a member of the Friends, encounters Cosette and they fall in love, asking Éponine, the Thénardiers’ daughter to help find her.Helena Bonham Carter in Les Misérables (2012)After Marius and Cosette meet and confess their love, Éponine prevents her father from robbing Valjean’s house. Valjean, believing Javert is near, makes plans to flee to England with Cosette. Cosette writes a letter for Marius, but Éponine hides it, intending on dying with Marius during the rebellion. During Lamarque’s funeral procession, the revolt begins and barricades are built across Paris. Javert pretends to be an ally to spy on the rebels but the street urchin Gavroche exposes him as a policeman. During the first skirmish against the soldiers, Éponine takes a bullet for Marius and dies in his arms, giving him Cosette’s letter and confesses to him beforehand. Gavroche takes Marius’ reply to Valjean, who joins the revolution to guard Marius.Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables (2012)Valjean offers to execute Javert but actually releases him, faking his death. By dawn, the soldiers are close to ending the revolution, storming the students’ barricade and execute everyone save Marius and Valjean, who escape into the sewers. Thénardier comes across Valjean and the unconscious Marius, stealing the latter’s ring, before pointing a way out. Valjean finds Javert waiting for him, ignoring his nemesis’ threats. Javert, morally confused by the mercy of Valjean, commits suicide by throwing himself in the Seine. Marius recovers but is traumatised by the death of his friends.Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne in Les Misérables (2012)Marius and Cosette plan to marry but Valjean, concerned his presence would threaten their happiness, makes plans to leave and reveals his identity to Marius, who promises to remain silent. Cosette and Marius marry but the Thénardiers crash the wedding to try and blackmail Marius, Thénardier saying he witnessed Valjean carrying a murdered corpse and produces the stolen ring. Marius assaults Thénardier who reveals Valjean is at the convent. The dying Valjean reunites with Cosette and Marius, giving them letters of confession, before peacefully dying, guided away by Fantine and the Bishop’s spirits.Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables (2012)This is a movie that both fans of the novel as well as fans of the musical can both fall in love with, since even though there are some deviations from the novel this is still the closest a film version has ever come to being completely faithful to the book. Additionally, this movie is a perfect chance for those who have never read the book or haven’t heard of or had a chance to see the Broadway show. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to everyone.

REVIEW: BLACK DEATH

CAST

Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them)
Carice Van Houten (Valkyrie)
John Lynch (Sliding Doors)
Tim McInnerny (Automata)
Kimberley Nixon (Wild Child)
Andy Nyman (Dead Set)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Johnny Harris (Monsters: Dark Continent)
Emun Elliott (Filth)

Carice van Houten in Black Death (2010)The film takes place in 1348 in plague-ridden medieval England. Osmund, a young monk, has been separated from other people in order to see whether he shows any symptoms of having the plague. After he is released, he sneaks away to meet with a woman, Averill, whom he loves despite his vows of chastity to God as a result of being a monk. Osmund tells Averill the plague has reached the monastery and she must leave to escape the disease. Though Averill asks him to run away with her, he wants to stay at the monastery. She promises to wait for him for one week at a meeting place in the forest in case he changes his mind. Osmund prays to God asking for guidance on whether he can serve God outside of the monastery in order to join his lover Averill. Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, and Keith Dunphy in Black Death (2010)At that moment knight Ulric arrives with orders from the Bishop to take a monk as a guide on a quest into the forest. Osmund decides this is a sign from God and volunteers to go. After leaving, Osmund learns that Ulric and his group of mercenaries are tasked with finding a remote marshland village which has remained untouched by the Black Death. The town is said to sacrifice people in order to remain free of the plague, and they are rumored to be led by a necromancer who is able to bring the dead back to life. Their mission is to capture the necromancer, put a stop to the town’s sacrifices, and bring the necromancer back to the Bishop. Osmund is supposed to guide them to the village because he has knowledge of the surrounding forest and marsh from his childhood.Eddie Redmayne in Black Death (2010)On the way to the village, Osmund leaves the group while they are sleeping one morning in an attempt to meet with Averill at their meeting spot. Osmund finds Averill’s horse and her torn blood-stained clothing in their meeting spot. He also sees a group of bandits and thieves nearby in the forest and runs back to Ulric and the mercenaries. The bandits from the forest attack Ulric, Osmund, and the mercenaries. Though the bandits are defeated, one member of the mercenary group is killed and Osmund is stabbed (not fatally, but badly). Eventually, Ulric and his group find the village they seek beyond the forest and marsh. The village is an eerie disease-free utopia led by a beautiful woman, Langiva. Ulric’s group initially claims to be seeking shelter (hiding their true purpose) because they are unsure who the necromancer in the village is and want to draw the necromancer out with deceit.  Carice van Houten in Black Death (2010)Ulric does not trust the villagers. Ulric tells Osmund that an earlier group of four men had been sent by the church to find the village as well, none of the four men had returned, and Ulric found one of the group’s church-medallions being worn by a villager who claimed to have found it in the marsh. Langiva treats Osmund’s wound from the bandit attack and then leads Osmund to the body of Averill. Langiva claims that she had found Averill injured in the woods, and that Averill had spoken about Osmund just before her death. While treating Osmund’s wounds Langiva reveals that her husband had been killed by “men of God”. That night the town has a feast welcoming their guests. As everyone eats Langiva leads Osmund into the forest where many women are performing a ritual over the buried body of Averill. During this ritual Langiva appears to resurrect the dead body of Averill, and Osmund runs away upon seeing this. Osmund runs into the crucified corpses of the four men who had previously been sent by the church, and he is taken prisoner by the town. At the feast, Ulric and his mercenaries are drugged and then taken prisoner by the town. They all awake the next day tied in a pit of water.Sean Bean, Johnny Harris, and Emun Elliott in Black Death (2010)Langiva and the villagers tell the prisoners they know the men had come to the village to do them harm, and they had found Ulric’s torture machine which he had brought and hidden in the forest for the purpose of capturing and transporting the necromancer to the Bishop. They offer the men a choice of death or to renounce God and be allowed to leave the village. The first mercenary refuses to renounce God, he is crucified, and his stomach is split open. A second mercenary agrees to renounce God and is led away by the villagers while being told he will be freed at the edge of the village in the forest; in reality, once outside of the village they hang him by his neck from a tree until he is dead. Langiva then takes Osmund from the pit and says that she has brought Averill back to life, she says Osmund must renounce God, but then he will be allowed to live in the village with Averill for the rest of his life. She points him towards a hut where Averill is located. Osmund walks into the hut alone and finds Averill alive, but seeming to be possessed. She is drooling, she can not focus her eyes at all, she does not speak except gibberish, she does not react to or recognize his presence, and she is holding a knife which she stabs into a wooden table and into a wall. She even briefly seems to half-hardheartedly (though not vigorously) try to attack Osmund when he touches her. Black Death (2010)Osmund believes Averill is a zombie or possessed, or that her soul is trapped in purgatory, and he kills Averill in order to free her soul from purgatory and from the witch’s spell so that Averill’s soul may ascend to heaven. He carries Averill’s dead body to the villagers, and Langiva says that the Christians are so cruel that they kill the ones they love. Osmund slashes at Langiva’s face. The villagers stop Osmund and beat him bloody and near unconsciousness. During the beating, Osmund drops his knife next to the remaining prisoners. The villagers then take Ulric from the pit and tie his arms and legs to ropes attached to two horses pulling in opposite directions. Langiva attempts to make Ulric renounce God. Ulric calls for Osmund (who is permitted to approach), and Ulric orders Osmond to remove his shirt. When Osmund removes Ulric’s shirt it is seen Ulric is infected with the plague and that he has thereby brought the plague into the uninfected village. The villagers then whip the horses so that they pull Ulric’s body apart limb from limb.Black Death (2010)At that moment the remaining two prisoners/mercenaries grab the knife Osmund had dropped earlier and free themselves. The two mercenaries are battle-tested and manage to kill all of the untrained villagers that oppose them, though one of the two mercenaries dies in the battle. The last remaining mercenary takes the village’s second-in-command male as prisoner to be presented to the Bishop as the necromancer the group had been sent to find. During the final battle, Osmund chases Langiva into the marsh in an attempt to kill her. In the marsh, Osmund loses Langiva in the mist and fog, though they shout to each other through the fog. Langiva reveals that she is not a witch at all but simply a herbalist who is skilled with plants and drugs. She says that Averill had never been dead at all, Langiva had drugged Averill, and that Osmund killed her himself for the one and only time. Osmund asks why they had buried Averill if she had not really been dead, and Langiva says that it is because “people need miracles” and people worship the one who provides the miracles. Eddie Redmayne and Kimberley Nixon in Black Death (2010)Langiva had used drugs and fake ceremonies to make herself appear powerful in order to gain leadership over the village. She also did this to sway the villagers away from Christianity which Langiva believes is evil because it leads men to commit terrible acts in the name of God and religion. Osmund collapses from grief and shouts at Langiva to bring Averill back (seeming as if he does not believe or is unwilling to believe that Langiva has no powers). Langiva says that she can’t bring Averill back and that Osmund should pray to his God for help. Langiva disappears into the mist and escapes. Osmund and the last surviving mercenary return to the monastery with the male “necromancer” villager in tow as their cargo.Sean Bean in Black Death (2010)In the final scenes, the last surviving mercenary acts as a narrator. He says the village had been untouched by the plague because it had been remote and far removed from other towns (and not because of the “witch’s protection”). However, after the mercenaries brought the plague with them, the surviving people in the remote village and forest also fell victim to the plague. Finally he says that in the years that followed he heard stories that Osmund had lost his heart, had grown cruel, and took up the sword in God’s name. An older church-empowered Osmund sets out with soldiers to hunt and kill Langiva and other witches throughout England. The audience is shown scenes where Osmund appears to falsely mistake other women for Langiva, as well as falsely accuse many other women of witchcraft, all of whom are ultimately tortured and executed in the name of God.It isn’t a standout film, but it’s certainly an interesting one. It’s well made and acted and it leaves you with plenty to think about. Any film-maker who wants to truly convey the feel of the Middle Ages – brutal and squalid, and at once alien and familiar – should watch Black Death and take notes.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

CAST

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury)
Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs)
Alison Sudol (Other Peoples Children)
Colin Farrell (Phone Booth)
Carmen Ejogo (The Purge: Anarchy)
Ezra Miller (batman V Superman)
Samantha Morton (Minority report)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Jon Voight (Transformers)
Ronan Raftery (Crossing Lines)
Johnny Depp (Dark Shadows)
Jenn Murray (Brooklyn)
Zoe Kravitz (Divergent)

In 1926 the British wizard and “magizoologist” Newt Scamander arrives by ship to New York City en route to Arizona. He encounters Mary Lou Barebone, a non-magical woman (“No-Maj” or “Muggle”) who heads the New Salem Philanthropic Society, which claims that witches and wizards are real and dangerous. As Newt listens to her speak, a Niffler escapes from his magically expanded suitcase, which houses multiple magical creatures. As he attempts to capture it, he meets No-Maj cannery worker and aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski, and they accidentally swap suitcases. Demoted Auror (a hunter of dark wizards) Tina Goldstein arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard and takes him to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) headquarters, hoping to regain her former position. However, as Jacob’s suitcase contains only baked goods, Newt is released. At Jacob’s tenement apartment, several creatures escape from Newt’s suitcase.After Tina and Newt find Jacob and the suitcase, Tina takes them to her apartment and introduces them to Queenie, her Legilimens sister. Queenie and Jacob are mutually attracted, though American wizards are forbidden to marry or even socially interact with No-Majs. Newt takes Jacob inside his magically expanded suitcase, where Jacob encounters a contained Obscurus, a dark, destructive parasite that develops inside magically gifted children if they suppress their magical abilities. Newt extracted it from a young girl who has died, those afflicted rarely living past the age of ten. Newt persuades Jacob to help search for the missing creatures. After re-capturing two of the three escaped beasts, they re-enter the suitcase, which Tina takes to MACUSA. Officials arrest them, believing one of Newt’s beasts is responsible for killing Senator Henry Shaw Jr. They decide to destroy Newt’s suitcase and erase Jacob’s recent memories. Director of Magical Security Percival Graves accuses Newt of conspiring with the infamous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Newt and Tina are sentenced to immediate death, but Queenie and Jacob rescue them. Thanks to the help of Goblin gangster Gnarlack, Tina’s old informant, the foursome then find and re-capture the last of the creatures.Meanwhile, Percival Graves approaches Credence Barebone, Mary Lou’s adopted son, and offers to free him from his abusive mother. In exchange, he wants Credence to find an Obscurus. Graves believes it has caused the mysterious destructive incidents around the city. Credence finds a wand under his adopted-sister, Modesty’s, bed. Mary Lou assumes it is Credence’s wand, but Modesty claims it is hers. When she is about to be punished, the Obscurus is unleashed, killing everyone except Modesty and Credence. Graves arrives and dismisses Credence as being a Squib (a non-magical person of wizard ancestry), and refuses to teach him magic. Credence reveals he is the Obscurus’ host, having lived longer than any other host due to the intensity of his magic. In a rage, he unleashes the Obscurus upon the city.Newt finds Credence hiding in a subway tunnel, but he is attacked by Graves. Tina, who knows Credence, arrives and attempts to calm him, while Graves tries to convince Credence to listen to him. As Credence begins to settle into human form Aurors arrive. They apparently disintegrate him to protect the magical society, but a tiny Obscurus fragment escapes. Graves admits to unleashing the Obscurus to expose the magical community to the No-Majs, and angrily claims that MACUSA protects the No-Majs more than themselves. After being subdued by one of Newt’s beasts, he is revealed as Grindelwald in disguise and taken into custody by MACUSA Aurors.MACUSA fears their secret world has been exposed, but Newt releases his Thunderbird to disperse a poultice as rainfall over the city that erases all New Yorkers’ recent memories as MACUSA wizards repair the destruction. Queenie kisses Jacob goodbye as the rain erases his memories. Newt departs for Europe, but promises to return and visit Tina when his book is finished; he also anonymously leaves Jacob a case of silver Occamy eggshells to fund his bakery. His breads and pastries are unknowingly inspired by Newt’s creatures, and Queenie visits him in his shop.Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them stands perfect on its own and doesn’t need Harry Potter or any of the planned movies to get you invested in its story and yet it is an obligation for every J.K. Rowling wizarding world-fan to go see this movie. The director David Yates found this perfect balance and ended up with a result that has to be seen in theaters by everyone.

REVIEW: THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

CAST

Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts)
Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Charlie Cox (Daredevil)
Emily Watson (Miss Potter)
Simon McBurney (The Duchess)
David Thewlis (Wonder Woman)
Maxine Peake (Room at The Top)
Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones)
Charlotte Hope (Allied)

In 1963, Cambridge University astrophysics student Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) begins a relationship with literature student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). Although Stephen excels at mathematics and physics, his friends and professors are concerned over his lack of a thesis topic. After Stephen and his professor Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis) attend a lecture on black holes, Stephen speculates that black holes may have been part of the creation of the universe and decides to write his thesis on time.
While pursuing his research, Stephen’s muscles begin to fail, eventually causing him to fall and hit his head. He learns he has motor neurone disease; he will be unable to talk, swallow, breathe or move most of his body, and has approximately two years to live. Stephen asks what will happen to his brain. The doctor tells Stephen that the disease doesn’t affect the brain and that Stephen’s thoughts won’t change but eventually, no one will know what they are. As Stephen becomes reclusive, focusing on his work, Jane confesses her love to him. She tells Stephen’s father she intends to stay with Stephen even as his condition worsens. They marry and have a son.
Stephen presents his thesis to the examination board, arguing that a black hole created the universe in a Big Bang, that it will emit heat, and that it will end in a Big Crunch. While celebrating with Jane and his friends, Stephen realises he cannot walk and begins using a wheelchair. After having a second child, a daughter, Stephen develops a theory about the visibility of black holes and becomes a world-renowned physicist. While focusing on the children, Stephen’s health and his increasing fame, Jane is unable to work on her own thesis and is frustrated; Stephen tells her he understands if she needs help. She joins the church choir, where she meets widower Jonathan (Charlie Cox). She and Jonathan become close friends, and she employs him as a piano teacher for her son. Jonathan befriends the entire family, helping Stephen with his illness, supporting Jane, and playing with the children.
When Jane gives birth to another son, Stephen’s mother asks Jane if the baby is Jonathan’s. Jane is appalled; seeing that Jonathan overheard the conversation, when they are alone they admit their feelings for one another. Jonathan stays away from the family, but Stephen visits him, saying that Jane needs him. While Jane and Jonathan take the children camping, Stephen is invited to attend an opera performance in Bordeaux and contracts pneumonia. While in the hospital, the doctors tell Jane that Stephen needs a tracheotomy, which will leave him unable to speak. She agrees to the surgery.
Stephen learns to use a spelling board and uses it to communicate with Elaine (Maxine Peake), his new nurse. He receives a computer with a built-in voice synthesiser, and uses it to write a book, A Brief History of Time, which becomes an international best-seller. Stephen tells Jane that he has been invited to America to accept an award and will be taking Elaine with him. Jane faces the realisation that her and Stephen’s marriage has not been working, telling him she “did her best.” Jane and Stephen agree to divorce. Stephen goes to the lecture with Elaine, the two having fallen in love, and Jane and Jonathan reunite. At the lecture, Stephen sees a student drop a pen; he imagines getting up to return it, almost crying at the reminder of how his disease has affected him. He goes on to give an inspiring speech, saying, “There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”
Stephen invites Jane to meet the Queen with him; they share a happy day together with their children, with Stephen saying “Look what we made”. An extended closing series comprises select moments from the film shown in reverse back to the moment Stephen first saw Jane. A final title sequence brings the lives of the lead characters up to date. Jane and Jonathan are happily married and she has completed her PhD. She and Stephen remain close friends. Stephen declines a knighthood and continues his research with no plans to retire.A beautiful story that shows how time and love are limitless.

REVIEW: JUPITER ASCENDING

CAST

Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Mila Kunis (Ted)
Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Douglas Booth (Noah)
Tuppence Middleton (Trance)
Christina Cole (Hex)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
Vanessa Kirby (About Time)

At the beginning of the story, Earth’s residents are unaware that the human species on Earth and countless other planets were established[17] by families of transhuman and alien royalty[18] for the purpose of later “harvesting” the resulting organisms to produce a type of youth serum for the elites on still other planets.[19] After the death of the matriarch of the House of Abrasax, the most powerful of the alien dynasties,[9] her children, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth), quarrel over the inheritance, with Balem inheriting an enormous refinery on Jupiter and Titus spending his inheritance on a lavish spaceship, declaring his intention to dismantle the youth serum trade, of which Earth is the next intended source.Protagonist Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) narrates that her father, Maximilian Jones (James D’Arcy), met her mother, Aleksa (Maria Doyle Kennedy), in Saint Petersburg. After Maximilian is killed in a robbery, Aleksa names their daughter Jupiter, after his favorite planet, and they move to Chicago to live with Aleksa’s family. Many years later, Jupiter works with Aleksa and her Aunt Nino (Frog Stone) to clean the homes of wealthy neighbors. To buy a telescope, Jupiter agrees to sell her egg cells with the help of her cousin Vladie (Kick Gurry), under the name of her friend Katharine Dunlevy (Vanessa Kirby). At Katharine’s house, Jupiter and Katharine are attacked by extraterrestrial ‘Keepers’; and when Jupiter photographs these, they erase both of their memories of the incident. Jupiter stumbles upon the strange photograph on her phone while waiting at an egg donation clinic, but could not recall anything about it. During the procedure, the doctors and nurses are revealed to be Keepers, sent to kill her, and she is saved by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a former soldier sent by Titus to bring her to him.While Caine and Jupiter ascend to a ship, it is destroyed by a squad of Keepers who then attack them. Caine fends off the attack and manages to kill the Keepers and hijack one of their vehicles while protecting Jupiter. Afterwards, Caine realizes that Jupiter must be of great significance to both Titus and Balem, who is revealed to have sent the Keepers to Earth to capture her. He takes Jupiter to the hideout of Stinger Apini (Sean Bean), another former soldier living in exile on Earth. As Jupiter discovers that she can control the bees in Stinger’s residence, she is revealed to be a galactic royalty. Stinger agrees to help Jupiter, but a group of hunters who initially were hired by Balem but bribed by Kalique capture her and take her to Kalique’s palace on a distant planet, where Kalique explains that Jupiter is genetically identical to the dead matriarch, and therefore the Earth’s rightful owner. Supported by Captain Diomika Tsing (Nikki Amuka-Bird) of the Aegis (an intergalactic police force), Caine retrieves her from Kalique, and brings her to the planet Ores (the intergalactic capital planet) to claim her inheritance.In another attempt to lure Jupiter to him, Balem sends Greeghan (Ariyon Bakare) to kidnap Jupiter’s family. On the way back to Earth, Titus’s henchmen capture Jupiter and detains Caine, as punishment for not bringing Jupiter to him as promised. Titus reveals to Caine his plan to marry and kill Jupiter and claim Earth. He then throws Caine into the void; but Caine survives and returns with Stinger to save Jupiter at the altar before she signs her life away to Titus. Jupiter asks to return home, but learns that her family has been taken hostage by Balem. In his refinery in the Great Red Spot, Balem demands Earth in exchange for Jupiter’s family. Realizing that Balem can “harvest” Earth only with her permission, Jupiter refuses. Caine infiltrates the refinery and damages its gravity hull, causing the refinery to begin collapsing. While the occupants evacuate the refinery, Tsing’s ship moves in and rescues Jupiter’s family.Jupiter survives the collapsing structures, only to land at the feet of Balem who tries to kill her; but she fights him off, and is rescued by Caine while Balem falls to his death. As the refinery is in its final stages of collapse, Tsing opens a portal to Earth and prepares to evacuate, potentially leaving Caine and Jupiter behind. However, she is relieved to find that they have survived and crossed the portal along with Tsing’s ship. Jupiter’s family is returned home with no memory of their disappearance, while Jupiter secretly retains ownership of the Earth. Caine’s rank with the Aegis is restored, and he and Jupiter begin a relationship.A surprisingly good sci-fi, if you are into that sort of thing. If you aren’t an SF geek, then it probably won’t appeal, as it didn’t to the critics. A tricky plot but not bad once you got into it. Think watching it thru again is advisable.

REVIEW: THE GOOD SHEPHERD

CAST

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Alec Baldwin (Mission: Impossible 5)
William Hurt (The Host)
Joe Pesci (Home Alone)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Tammy Blanchard (Into The Wood)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Timothy Hutton (Secret Window)
Keir Dullea (Black Christmas)
Gabriel Macht (Suits)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)

A photograph and an audio recording on reel-to-reel tape are dropped off anonymously at the home of Edward Wilson (Matt Damon), a senior CIA officer, after the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba fails due to an undisclosed leak. In 1939 Edward is at Yale University and is invited to join Skull and Bones, a secret society. He is compelled to disclose a secret as part of his initiation: he reveals that as a young boy in 1925 he discovered the suicide note left by his father, Thomas (Timothy Hutton), although he says he never read it. After the ceremony, a fraternity brother tells him that Edward’s father, an admiral, was to be chosen as Secretary of the Navy, until his loyalties were questioned. Afterwards Edward is recruited by an FBI agent, Sam Murach (Alec Baldwin), who claims that Edward’s poetry professor, Dr. Fredericks (Michael Gambon), is a Nazi spy, asking Edward to expose his professor’s background. Edward’s actions result in Dr. Fredericks’ forced resignation from the university.

Edward begins a relationship with a deaf student named Laura (Tammy Blanchard), but while on Deer Island, Edward meets his friend John Russel’s (Gabriel Macht) family and is later aggressively seduced by his sister Margaret ‘Clover’ Russell (Angelina Jolie). General Bill Sullivan (Robert De Niro) asks Edward to join the OSS, offering him a post in London. Later while Edward and Laura are at the beach, Margaret’s brother privately reveals that she is pregnant, so Edward marries her. At the wedding reception Edward accepts the London OSS office position, while his new wife remains in the United States. In London he meets Dr. Fredericks again, who is actually with British intelligence. An intelligence officer in the British SOE, Arch Cummings (Billy Crudup), tells Edward that Fredericks’ indiscriminate homosexual relationships pose a security risk. Edward is asked to deal with his mentor, who refuses to protect himself by returning to teaching. Shortly afterwards, he is brutally killed and his body is dumped into the Thames, all while Edward watches.In post-war Berlin, where both Allies and Soviets are recruiting German scientists. Edward encounters his Soviet counterpart, code named “Ulysses”, for the first time. After learning from his son, Edward Jr., during a phone call home that his wife is having an affair, Edward has a one-night stand with interpreter Hanna Schiller (Martina Gedeck); the same night, he realizes she is a Soviet agent and she is killed. Edward returns home to his wife and son. His wife confesses her adultery, and Edward confesses his. General Sullivan approaches Edward again to help form a new foreign intelligence organization – the CIA – where he would work with his former colleague, Richard Hayes (Lee Pace), under Phillip Allen (William Hurt). Edward accepts, hiding the details of his position from everyone but his wife.Edward’s first assignment deals with coffee in Central America where the Russians are trying to gain influence. Edward spots Ulysses in the background of footage of the country’s leader, but doesn’t disclose this. Edward arranges for airplanes to fly over and release locusts during a public event where the Russians (including Ulysses) are present in order to intimidate the Central American leader. An American agent’s severed finger is sent to Edward in a coffee can. At a Christmas party, Edward’s son wets himself. At the same party, General Sullivan tells Edward that Phillip Allen was going to be on the Mayan Coffee Company’s board of directors, prompting Edward to ask Sam Murach to look into Phillip’s finances.A Russian man requests asylum and claims to be high-ranking KGB agent Valentin Mironov. While attending the theater with Mironov and Cummings, Edward encounters his former sweetheart, Laura. They begin seeing each other again. Sometime later, Margaret receives photos of Laura and Edward getting into a taxi together and kissing. After she confronts him, Edward ends the relationship with Laura. Another Russian defector appears, claiming that he is the real Valentin Mironov, the other man being an impostor called Yuri Modin, a KGB operative working for Ulysses. Thinking he is lying, agents torture him, and administer liquid LSD believing it to be a potential truth serum. The second defector does not break, instead telling them how the Soviets’ power is just a myth, before hurling himself through a window and down several stories. The first man claiming to be Valentin Mironov, who has watched the entire ordeal together with Edward, offers to take LSD to prove his innocence, but Edward does not take him up on his offer. Edward visits his son, who has, like his father, joined the Skull and Bones society at Yale, and been approached by the CIA, which he joins despite his mother’s misgivings, widening the rift between his parents. Edward Jr. overhears his father and Hayes discussing the imminent Bay of Pigs invasion. His father warns him to be silent. Margaret leaves Edward.

Returning to the recording at the beginning of the story, detailed analysis points to Leopoldville, in the Congo. Having tracked down the room where the recording was made, Edward realizes that the source of the leak was his son speaking to his lover, revealed to be a Soviet agent by Ulysses when he appears and plays Edward an unedited version of the recording in an attempt to turn him. Edward confronts his son, who plans to marry the woman. Growing suspicious, Edward discovers evidence that Cummings and Mironov (really Yuri Modin) are double agents. Meeting Ulysses in the National Air and Space Museum, Edward finally refuses his offer, but argues that, having won in Cuba, there is nothing to be gained for the Soviets in hurting his son. On their wedding day, Edward Jr.’s fiancée is killed by being thrown out of the plane she was taking to the ceremony. When Edward Jr. asks if his father was responsible, he denies it.

Edward meets with Hayes at the new CIA headquarters still under construction. Allen is resigning under a cloud of financial improprieties, and the President has asked Hayes to be the new director. Hayes makes Edward the first head of counter-intelligence, an entire wing of new building. At home, Edward retrieves and reads his father’s suicide note. In the letter, his father confesses to having betrayed his country. Edward burns the note. The final scene shows Edward leaving his old office for the new position.

Some might wonder how so many actors could be recruited for such small roles, like Alec Baldwin, Michael Gambon, and Joe Pesci, but one only has to see as far as the director to get their answer. Don’t let the big names and the anagram CIA get you. This movie is as edgy as it is intricate with twists and turns that take the viewer through the world of trust and the human element. A man like Edward Wilson is just the perfect vessel for the journey.