REVIEW: THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL

CAST

Natalie Portman (Thor)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Eric Bana (Hanna)
Jim Sturgess (Across The Universe)
Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission Impossible)
David Morrissey (Basic Instinct 2)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones)

King Henry VIII’s (Eric Bana) marriage to Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent) does not produce a male heir to the throne; their only surviving daughter is Mary (Constance Stride). Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey) and his brother in law Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance), plan to install Boleyn’s older daughter Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman), as the king’s mistress. They hope Anne will bear him a son. Anne’s mother, Lady Elizabeth Boleyn (Kristin Scott Thomas), is disgusted by the plot. Anne eventually agrees to please her father and uncle. Anne’s younger sister, Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson), marries William Carey (Benedict Cumberbatch), even though his family had asked for Anne’s hand.

While visiting the Boleyn estate, Henry is injured in a hunting accident, indirectly caused by Anne, and, urged by her scheming uncle, is nursed by Mary. While in her care, Henry becomes smitten with her and invites her to court. Mary and her husband reluctantly agree, aware that the king has invited her because he desires her. Mary and Anne become ladies-in-waiting to Queen Catherine and Henry sends William Carey abroad on an assignment. Separated from her husband, Mary finds herself falling in love with Henry. Anne secretly marries the nobleman Henry Percy (Oliver Coleman), although he is betrothed to Lady Mary Talbot. Anne confides in her brother George Boleyn (Jim Sturgess), who is overjoyed and proceeds to tell Mary. Fearing Anne will ruin the Boleyn family by marrying such a prominent earl without the king’s consent, Mary alerts her father and uncle. They confront Anne, annul the marriage, and exile her to France.

Mary becomes pregnant. Her family receives new grants and estates, their debts are paid, and Henry arranges George’s marriage to Jane Parker. When Mary nearly suffers a miscarriage, she is confined to bed until her child is born. Norfolk recalls Anne to England to keep Henry’s attention from wandering to another rival. In her belief that Mary exiled her to increase her own status, Anne successfully campaigns to win Henry over. When Mary gives birth to a son, Henry Carey, Thomas and Norfolk are overjoyed, but the celebration is short lived, as Anne whispered to Henry that the baby was born a bastard, which infuriates Norfolk. Henry then has Mary sent to the country at Anne’s request. Shortly after, Mary is widowed. Anne encourages Henry to break from the Catholic Church when the Pope refuses to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine. Henry succumbs to Anne’s demands, declares himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, and gets Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to annul the marriage.

Anne’s schemes drive Henry to the breaking point, and in a fit of rage, he rapes her. A pregnant Anne marries Henry to please her family and becomes Queen of England. Despite the birth of a healthy daughter, Elizabeth, Henry blames Anne for not producing a son, and begins courting Jane Seymour (Corinne Galloway) in secret. After Anne suffers the miscarriage of a son, she begs George to have sex with her to replace the child she lost, because if anyone found out about the miscarriage, she would be burned as a witch. George at first agrees, realizing that it is Anne’s only hope, but they do not go through with it. However, George’s neglected wife Jane witnesses enough of their encounter to become suspicious. She reports what she has seen and both Anne and George are arrested. The two are found guilty and sentenced to death for treason, adultery and incest. Distraught by the news of the execution of George, his mother disowns her husband and brother, vowing never to forgive them for what their greed has done to her children.

After Mary learns that she was late for George’s execution, she returns to court to plead for Anne’s life. Believing that Henry will spare her sister, she leaves to see Anne right before the scheduled execution. Anne asks Mary to take care of her daughter Elizabeth if anything should happen to her. Mary watches from the crowd as Anne makes her final speech, waiting for the execution to be cancelled as Henry promised. A letter from Henry is given to Mary, warning her not to come to his court further, and implicitly revealing his decision to execute Anne after all. Ten days after Anne’s execution, Henry and Jane are married, Norfolk is imprisoned, and the next three generations of his family are executed for treason. Mary marries William Stafford (Eddie Redmayne) and they have two children, Anne and Edward. Mary takes an active role in raising Anne’s daughter Elizabeth (Maisie Smith), who grows up to become Queen of England, and reigns for 44 years.

An interesting take on the story of the Boleyn sisters (who did both have a relationship with Henry), and if it encourages more people to find out about the real historical events then in my opinion that can only be a good thing. Henry’s relationship with Anne changed England through his break with the catholic church, and is both fascinating and tragic.

REVIEW: HANNA

CAST

Saoirse Ronan (The Host)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Vicky Krieps (Colonia)
John MacMillan (Fury)
Tim Beckmann (Foster)
Jessica Barden (The Lobster)
Tom Hollander (Enigma)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Michelle Dockery (Self/Less)

Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)

Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan) is a 15-year-old girl who lives with her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana) in rural northern Finland, near Kuusamo. The film opens with her hunting and killing a reindeer. Since the age of two, Hanna has been trained by Erik, an ex-CIA operative from Germany, to be a skilled assassin. He teaches her hand-to-hand combat and drills her in target shooting. He left the agency, going incognito into the Arctic. Erik knows a secret that cannot become public, and Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), a senior CIA officer, searches for him in order to eliminate him. Erik has trained Hanna with the intent that she will kill Marissa. Due to her upbringing in the wilderness, she is unfamiliar with much of the modern civilisation although she has great encyclopedic knowledge.Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)One night, Hanna tells Erik that she is “ready” to face their enemies. Erik digs up a radio beacon that eventually will alert the CIA to their presence. Although he warns Hanna that a confrontation with Marissa will be fatal for either her or Marissa, he leaves the final decision to Hanna who activates on the beacon. Erik leaves, instructing her to meet him in Berlin. A special forces team arrives to capture Hanna and Erik, but Erik is already gone and while Hanna kills two soldiers, the rest of the soldiers assume Erik killed them before escaping. Hanna is taken to an underground CIA complex where Marissa, being suspicious, sends a body double (Michelle Dockery) to talk to Hanna. While talking to the double Hanna starts to cry and crawls sobbing into the lap of the double, which makes her captors uneasy. They send some guards to her cell to sedate her. As they enter the cell, Hanna kills the double along with some of the guards and escapes.
hanna1-1024x576
In a flashback, Marissa is seen firing at a car that is carrying Hanna’s mother; two-year-old Hanna; and Erik. The car crashes but the trio flees. Marissa shoots Johanna, but Erik escapes with Hanna into the woods. Hanna finds herself on the run in the Moroccan desert, where she meets bohemian British people couple Sebastian (Jason Flemyng) and Rachel (Olivia Williams), who are on a camper-van holiday with their teenage daughter, Sophie (Jessica Barden), and their younger son, Miles (Aldo Maland). She stows away in the family’s camper-van on the ferry ride to Spain seeking to reach Berlin. The family is nice to her, and she and Sophie become friends. Marissa hires Isaacs (Tom Hollander), a former agent, to capture Hanna. Hanna travels with the family as they drive north. Isaacs and two skinheads trail them and eventually corner Hanna and the family in France, but she manages to escape, killing one of the assailants. Marissa catches up with the British family and during interrogation finds out that Hanna is heading to Berlin.
Cate Blanchett in Hanna (2011)
Arriving at the address that Erik had told her, Hanna meets with Knepfler (Martin Wuttke), an eccentric old magician and a friend of Erik’s, who lives in an abandoned amusement park. Hanna plans a rendezvous with her father. However, Marissa and Isaacs arrive. Hanna escapes, but overhears comments that suggest Erik is not her biological father. Later, Hanna goes to her grandomother’s apartment where she finds her grandmother murdered. In a conversation Erik admits to Hanna that he is not her biological father. Erik once recruited pregnant women into a program where their children’s DNA was enhanced in order to create super-soldiers. After the project was shut down, its subjects were eliminated. Marissa and Isaacs arrive, intent on killing them; Erik acts as a distraction to allow Hanna to escape. Erik kills Isaacs in a fight, but is shot by Marissa, who goes to Knepfler’s house. Hanna is there, having just discovered Knepfler dead. They wound each other and eventually Marissa becomes disoriented from her wound, slows down and loses her weapon. Hanna finds the weapon and kills Marissa, echoing the deer hunting scene from the start of the film.Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)Quirky, dark, neat. Saoirse Ronan is terrific.  The cinematography is strong, the locations are diverse and far more imaginative than most films. The script is flawless. All in all an excellent movie.

REVIEW: STAR TREK (2009)

CAST

Chris Pine (Into The Woods)
Zachary Quinto (Heroes)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Simon Pegg (Paul)
John Cho (Total Recall)
Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog)
Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Ben Cross (Live Wire)
Winona Ryder (Little Women)
Clifton Collins, Jr. (Westworld)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Jennifer Morrison (How I Met Your Mother)
Rachel Nichols (GI. Joe)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Brad William Henke (Lost)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Tyler Perry (Gone Girl)
Majel Barrett (Earth: Final Conflict)
Amanda Foreman (Alias)
Jimmy Bennett (No Ordinary Family)
Bob Clendenin (Scrubs)
Lisa Vidal (The Event)
Oz Perkins (Secretary)
Mark Bramhall (Annabelle Creation)
T.J. Storm (VR Troopers)
Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory)

In the 23rd century, the Federation starship USS Kelvin is investigating a “lightning storm” in space. A Romulan ship, the Narada, emerges from the storm and attacks the Kelvin. Narada’s first officer, Ayel, demands that the Kelvin’s Captain Robau come aboard to negotiate a truce. Robau is questioned about the current stardate and an “Ambassador Spock”, whom he does not recognize. Narada’s commander, Nero, kills him, and resumes attacking the Kelvin. George Kirk, the Kelvin’s first officer, orders the ship’s personnel, including his pregnant wife Winona, to abandon ship while he pilots the Kelvin on a collision course with the Narada. Kirk sacrifices his life to ensure Winona’s survival as she gives birth to James T. Kirk.

Seventeen years later on the planet Vulcan, a young Spock is accepted to join the Vulcan Science Academy. Realizing the Academy views his human mother Amanda as a “disadvantage”, he joins Starfleet instead. On Earth, Kirk becomes a reckless but intelligent young adult. Following a bar fight with Starfleet cadets accompanying Nyota Uhura, Kirk meets Captain Christopher Pike, who encourages him to enlist in Starfleet Academy, where Kirk meets and befriends doctor Leonard McCoy.

Three years later, Commander Spock accuses Kirk of cheating during the Kobayashi Maru simulation. Kirk argues that cheating was acceptable because the simulation was designed to be unbeatable. The disciplinary hearing is interrupted by a distress signal from Vulcan. With the primary fleet out of range, the cadets are mobilized. McCoy and Kirk board Pike’s ship, the Enterprise. Realizing that the “lightning storm” observed near Vulcan is similar to the one that occurred when he was born, Kirk breaks protocol to convince Pike that the distress signal is a trap.

Enterprise finds the fleet destroyed and the Narada drilling into Vulcan’s core. The Narada attacks the Enterprise and Pike surrenders, delegating command of the ship to Spock and promoting Kirk to first officer. Kirk, Hikaru Sulu and Chief Engineer Olson perform a space jump onto the drilling platform. Olson is killed but Kirk and Sulu disable the drill. Despite their efforts, Nero launches “red matter” into Vulcan’s core, forming an artificial black hole that destroys Vulcan. Spock rescues the high council and his father Sarek, but Amanda dies.

As the Narada moves toward Earth, Nero tortures Pike to gain access to Earth’s defense codes. Spock maroons Kirk on Delta Vega after Kirk attempts mutiny. Kirk encounters an older Spock, who explains that he and Nero are from 129 years in the future. In that future, Romulus was threatened by a supernova. Spock’s attempt to use “red matter” to create an artificial black hole and consume the supernova failed, and Nero’s family perished along with Romulus. The Narada and Spock’s vessel were caught in the black hole, sending them back in time. Nero stranded Spock on Delta Vega to watch Vulcan’s destruction.

Reaching a Starfleet outpost, Kirk and the elder Spock meet Montgomery Scott. With the elder Spock’s help, Kirk and Scott beam onto the Enterprise. Following the elder Spock’s advice, Kirk provokes younger Spock into attacking him, forcing Spock to recognize he is emotionally compromised and relinquish command to Kirk. After talking with Sarek, Spock decides to help Kirk. While the Enterprise hides itself within the gas clouds of Titan, Kirk and Spock beam aboard the Narada. Kirk fights with Nero and Ayel, killing the latter and rescuing Pike while Spock uses the elder Spock’s ship to destroy the drill. Spock leads the Narada away from Earth and sets his ship to collide with Nero’s ship. Enterprise beams Kirk, Pike and Spock aboard. The older Spock’s ship and the Narada collide, igniting the “red matter”. Kirk offers Nero help to escape, but Nero refuses, prompting Kirk to give the order to fire, dooming the Narada to be consumed in a black hole.

Kirk is promoted to Captain and given command of the Enterprise while Pike is promoted to Rear Admiral. Spock encounters his older self, who persuades his younger self to continue serving in Starfleet, encouraging him to do what feels right instead of what is logical. Spock remains in Starfleet, becoming first officer under Kirk’s command. The Enterprise goes to warp as the elder Spock speaks the “where no one has gone before” monologue.The story does what it needs to, the casting is great (especially Spock and McCoy), the effects are fantastic and Abrams manages to do character moments on the move so there’s hardly time to take a breath – oh and Simon Pegg is great as Scotty! Maybe the best thing is, die hards and newbies alike will all find something to like.

REVIEW: HULK (2003)

CAST

Eric Bana (Star Trek)
Jennifer Connelly (Labyrinth)
Sam Elliott (Ghost Rider)
Josh Lucas (American Psycho)
Nick Nolte (Warrior)
Lou Ferrigno (Pumping Iron)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
John Prosky (Heroes)

Scientist David Banner introduces the idea of creating super soldiers by introducing modified DNA sequences extracted from various animals to strengthen the human cellular response, making them effectively impervious to any weaponized agent, but General Thaddeus Ross denies him permission to use human subjects. Banner subsequently conducts the experiments on himself. After the birth of his son Bruce, he finds that his son may have inherited the effects and seeks a cure, but is stopped in the process. Bruce remembers nothing of the incident after a traumatic event, and has been raised by the Krenzlers.Years later, Bruce is a geneticist working with his ex-girlfriend Betty Ross, within the Berkeley Biotechnology Institute on nanomed research. The pair hope to achieve instantenous cell repair by using low level Gamma radiation exposure to activate the nanomeds once they are introduced into a living organism. During routine maintenance of their appropriated Gammaspectrometer, a circuit shorts and triggers the experiment’s program sequence. Unable to prevent the machine from firing, Bruce throws himself in front of his colleague to shield him and is exposed to incredibly toxic levels of Gamma. Betty visits Bruce in the hospital and remarks that he should be dead, but Bruce feels great. A new janitor at the lab claims that he is Bruce’s biological father, of whom Bruce has no recollection. When under extreme stress, Bruce transforms into the Hulk who destroys the laboratory, though he has no memory of the incident. General Ross suspects Bruce of collaborating with his father but then deduces Bruce has repressed memories. He orders Bruce to be put under house arrest.Through a phone call with his father, Bruce learns that the radiation unleashed something that was already in his DNA, and that David Banner plans to have Betty killed by his dogs, which now have similar powers to the Hulk (thanks to David mutating them with gamma radiation), and he is attacked by Major Glenn Talbot, leading to a transformation into the Hulk. The Hulk seriously injures Talbot before leaping to save Betty from the dogs. The Hulk kills David’s dogs and changes back into Bruce before being captured by the military the next morning.Kept at a secret desert base, Bruce is kept under observation while Talbot intends to weaponize the Hulk’s powers. David Banner tries to recreate Bruce’s failed experiment, but instead of turning into another Hulk he finds himself able to absorb any materials and energy he touches, and hands himself over to the military after telling Betty that he murdered his wife in front of the child Bruce. Bruce has a nightmare about the event which leads to a more powerful transformation of the Hulk. Talbot is killed in an explosion of his own making. The Hulk escapes the base and rampages his way across the desert to San Francisco, battling army forces sent after him. When Betty calms him into his human form, General Ross realizes that the Hulk cannot be controlled and that Bruce should be executed. At their mutual execution, David Banner tries to taunt his son into transforming into Hulk, but fails. He then decides to “go first” and bites an electrical cable absorbing all the electricity in San Francisco. The electricity hits Bruce, triggering his own transformation. A brutal fight ensues between David and the Hulk, with David absorbing Hulk’s energy during the fight. David finds that the Hulk’s energy is too much for him to handle and he is killed by an army missile at the height of his weakness. One year later, though Bruce is presumed dead, General Ross mentions apparent Hulk sightings and Betty admits her love for Bruce. In a South American jungle, Bruce has become a doctor and is approached by rebel militants who want to take medical supplies from the poor. Bruce’s eyes turn green and a scream of the Hulk is heard.It’s Ang Lee’s masterful filmmaking, strong use of visual metaphor, and faithfulness to the original comics that really sets his Hulk film apart for me. Perhaps the one scene that really spells out what Ang Lee is doing and also brought me back to the old comics was that first close-up we see of Hulk free and jumping through the desert to the haunting Danny Elfman music. Classic.