REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

CAST

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Emma Stone (Easy A)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Dane DeHaan (Life After beth)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Campbell Scott (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Marton Csokas (The Equalizer)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
Skyler Gisondo (Vacation)
Stan Lee (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Denis Leary (Rescue Me)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)

In 2000, Oscorp scientist Richard Parker records a video message to explain his disappearance. Later, he and his wife, Mary, are aboard a private jet hijacked by a man sent to assassinate Richard. The plane crashes, killing both Richard and Mary, after he uploads the video.Fourteen years later, Richard’s son Peter continues to fight crime as Spider-Man. He pursues and apprehends Aleksei Sytsevich. Later, Peter meets with Gwen at their high school graduation ceremony and, insisting he keep his vow to her father, ends their relationship. Peter’s childhood friend, Harry Osborn, returns to Manhattan to see his terminally-ill father, Norman, CEO of OsCorp. Norman explains his illness is genetic, and Harry is at the age where it first develops. Norman gives Harry a small device he claims contains his life’s work. The next day, Norman dies and Harry is appointed the new OsCorp CEO.While working in an OsCorp laboratory, electrical engineer Max Dillon shocks himself by accident and falls into a tank of genetically-engineered electric eels. They attack him, and he mutates into a living electric generator. Meanwhile, Peter attempts to maintain a friendship with Gwen, but she reveals that she may move to England for schooling. Before they can discuss it, Dillon wanders into Times Square, accidentally causing a blackout, and is stopped by Peter after a battle. Dillon is taken to Ravencroft Institute, where he is studied by German scientist Dr. Kafka. Meanwhile, the first symptoms of Harry’s illness are showing, and he uses the device Norman gave him to deduce that Spider-Man’s blood could help save him. He asks Peter, who has been selling photos of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle, to aid him in finding Spider-Man. Peter refuses, unsure of what effects the transfusion would have. Although he later comes to Harry as Spider-Man, he still refuses, and Harry develops an intense hatred towards Spider-Man. The OsCorp board-members, in particular the vice-president, Donald Menken, frame Harry for covering up Dillon’s accident, remove him as CEO, overthrow him and take control of Oscorp. Harry’s assistant, Felicia Hardy, informs him of equipment that could help him, so he makes a deal with Dillon, who now calls himself “Electro,” to get him back inside the OsCorp building. There he finds a suit of armour and other equipment made by Norman, as well as venom from the now-destroyed genetically-altered spiders. The venom accelerates Harry’s illness and transforms him into a goblin-like creature, but the suit’s built-in emergency protocol restores his health and cures his disease.Peter uses information left by his father to locate the video message in an abandoned subway station’s hidden lab. Richard explains he had to leave because he refused to cooperate with Norman’s biogenetic weaponization plans. Peter then hears a voicemail from Gwen, telling him she was offered the British scholarship and is heading to the airport earlier than expected. He manages to catch her and professes his love for her, and, vowing to go wherever she goes, they agree to go to England together. Electro causes another blackout, and Peter heads off to fight him as Spider-Man. Gwen follows, and together they restore power and overload Electro’s body, killing him.The transformed Harry, who now calls himself “Green Goblin”, arrives equipped with Norman’s armor and weaponry. Upon seeing Gwen, he deduces Spider-Man’s secret identity and, swearing revenge for being refused the blood transfusion, kidnaps her and takes her to the top of a clock tower. Peter manages to defeat the Green Goblin, but his webbing breaks during the battle and Gwen falls to her death. Peter, depressed and distraught, mourns over Gwen’s death and ends his career as Spider-Man. Five months later, Harry is coping with the aftereffects of his transformation while incarcerated at Ravencroft. His associate, Gustav Fiers, visits Harry and the pair discuss forming their own team. Harry orders Fiers to start with Sytsevich. Later an unknown team of men break Sytsevich out of prison. Equipped with electromechanical suit armor, Sytsevich calls himself the Rhino and rampages through the streets. Peter, inspired by Gwen’s graduation speech, resumes his role as Spider-Man and confronts him.The Amazing Spider-Man 2 nearly earns an honest emotional response over this pairing. The writing could be better, but Garfield and Stone do an excellent job selling their roles and this movie. I am a big fan of Stone, and she elevates Garfield’s already solid performance. Webb does not quite find the balance between this drama and spectacle, and the film understandably includes a number of rollicking action sequences. The visual effects are strong, but the bullet-time slow motion feels a bit stale. There is a lot of flash to these bits, but not much substance. This is an entertaining film that could be better.

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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: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

CAST

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
Diego luna (Milk)
Alan Tudyk (Powerless)
Donnie Yen (Highlander: Endgame)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Forest Whitaker (Arrival)
Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue)
Wen Jiang (Devils on The Doorstep)
Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises)
Guy Henry (V For Vendetta)
Riz Ahmed (Four Lions)
Genevieve O’Reilly (The Legend of Tarzan)
Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Ingvild Deila (This Is Not Happening)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)

Research scientist Galen Erso and his family are in hiding on the planet Lah’mu. Imperial weapons developer Orson Krennic arrives to press him into completing the Death Star, a space station-based superweapon capable of destroying planets. Galen’s wife Lyra is killed in the confrontation while their daughter Jyn escapes and is taken to safety by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera.
Fifteen years later, cargo pilot Bodhi Rook defects from the Empire, smuggling a holographic message from Galen to Gerrera on the desert moon Jedha. Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor frees Jyn from an Imperial labor camp at Wobani before bringing her to the Rebel leader Mon Mothma, who convinces her to find and rescue Galen so the Alliance can learn more about the Death Star. Cassian is covertly ordered by General Draven, an Alliance military officer, to kill Galen rather than extract him.
Jyn, Cassian, and reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO travel to Jedha, where the Empire is removing kyber crystals from the holy city to power the Death Star while Gerrera and his partisans are engaged in an armed insurgency against them. With the aid of blind spiritual warrior Chirrut Îmwe and his mercenary friend Baze Malbus, Jyn makes contact with Gerrera, who has been holding Rook captive. Gerrera shows her the message, in which Galen reveals he has secretly built a vulnerability into the Death Star and directs them to retrieve the schematics from a high-security Imperial data bank on the planet Scarif.
On the Death Star, Krennic orders a low-powered shot from the superlaser to destroy Jedha’s capital. Jyn and her group take Rook and flee the planet, but Gerrera remains to die with the city. Grand Moff Tarkin congratulates Krennic before using Rook’s defection and security leak as a pretext to take control of the project.
Rook leads the group to Galen’s Imperial research facility on the planet Eadu, where Cassian chooses not to kill Galen. When Krennic orders Galen’s team killed for causing the security leak, Galen confesses that he is responsible. The research team is executed anyway. Jyn makes her presence known moments before Rebel bombers attack the facility. Galen is wounded and dies in his daughter’s arms, before she escapes with her group on board a stolen Imperial cargo shuttle. Krennic is summoned by Darth Vader, to answer for the attack on Eadu. Krennic seeks his support for an audience with the Emperor, Vader ignores it and orders him instead to ensure no further leaks about the Death Star occur.
Jyn proposes a plan to steal the Death Star schematics using the Rebel fleet but fails to get approval from the Alliance Council, who feel victory against the Empire is now impossible. Frustrated at their inaction, Jyn’s group is supported by a small squad of Rebel volunteers intent on raiding the databank themselves. Arriving at Scarif via the stolen Imperial ship, which Rook dubs “Rogue One”, a disguised Jyn and Cassian enter the base with K-2SO while the other Rebels attack the resident Imperial garrison as a distraction. The Rebel fleet learns about the raid from intercepted Imperial communications and deploy in support. K-2SO sacrifices himself so Jyn and Cassian can retrieve the data. Îmwe is killed after activating the master switch to allow communication with the Rebel fleet. Rook is killed by a grenade after informing the Rebel fleet that it must deactivate the shield surrounding the planet to allow the transmission of the schematics. Malbus dies in battle shortly after. Jyn and Cassian seize the schematics, but they are ambushed by Krennic, who shoots Cassian.
Krennic corners Jyn, declaring the Empire’s victory, but Cassian, who has survived, shoots and wounds Krennic. Jyn transmits the schematics to the Rebel command ship. The Death Star enters orbit above Scarif, where Tarkin uses another low-power shot from the superlaser to destroy the Empire’s base. Krennic is killed instantly, while Jyn and Cassian embrace on a beach before dying in the blastwave. The Rebel fleet prepares to jump to hyperspace but are intercepted by Vader’s flagship. Vader invades the command ship and kills many rebels in his pursuit of the schematics, but a small starship escapes with them on board. Aboard the fleeing ship, Princess Leia declares that the schematics will provide hope for the Rebellion.I would find it hard to believe anyone would not be impressed by this movie, if you are a serious Star Wars fan. Perhaps if you don’t take Star Wars seriously but prefer films that are all action and special effects you might find the slow build hard to take. But for me, and a large number of other Star Wars fans this is the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back. It may be a dark time for the Rebellion, but its a great time to be a fan of Star Wars.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 2

CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)
Carlos Valdes (Arrow)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. MArtin (Injustice)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
Robbie Amell (Scooby Doo 3 & 4)
Dominic Purcell (Ice Soldiers)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Teddy Sears (ugly Betty)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash 90s)
Isabella Hofmann (The Promise)
Patrick Sabongui (Stargate: Atlantis)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Victor Garber (Alias)
Kett Turton (Saved)
Shantel VanSanten (The FInal Destination)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries)
Peyton List (Flashforward)
Amanda Pays (The Flash 90s)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Ciara Renee (Legends of Tomorrow)
Violett Beane (The Leftovers)
Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Willa Holland (Legion)
John Barrowman (Reign)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Neal McDonough (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
Falk Hentschel (Knight and Day)
Anna Hopkins (Defiance)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Michael Rowe (Arrow)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Audrey Marie Anderson (Lie To Me)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Jason Mewes (Dogma)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)

Image result for the flash FLASH OF TWO WORLDSThe Flash’s first season has become the benchmark by which all other DC Comics-based shows on The CW are judged. It offered a truly winning blend of humor, heart, and romance, and superhero action, culminating in a terrific season finale that showed just how much emotional depth there is to the story of the fastest man alive. The cast and crew faced a real uphill battle in living up to the standard with Season 2. And more often than not, they succeeded. This season met and occasionally even exceeded the heights of its predecessor.Season 2 got off to a solid start as the writers explored the fallout of Season 1’s big cliffhanger. But rather than pick up right where “Fast Enough” left off – with a giant temporal vortex threatening to swallow up Central City – “The Man Who Saved Central City” jumped ahead several months to the somber aftermath. The question wasn’t whether Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) could save his city once again, it was what kind of life Barry would return to when he got back. As we saw, it was a pretty lonely existence. The premiere opened on a surprisingly somber note, but one that offered an effective look at Barry’s fragile emotional state and the current status quo of Team Flash, including Cisco, (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin). That darkness was a way to bring the gang back together while reminding viewers that many challenges awaited Barry even after defeating Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh).Image result for the flash versus zoomEven as those early episodes touched base with some familiar faces from Season 1 (including Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold and Peyton List’s Golden Glider), they also spent a great deal of time setting the stage for the next major villain in Barry’s life, Zoom. Rather than continue to rely on the familiar Season 1 formula, where Barry and his friends battled various metahuman villains spawned by the particle accelerator accident – this year they confronted foes like Atom-Smasher (Adam Copeland) and Sand Demon (Kett Turton) who crossed over from Earth-2 to Earth-1. The addition of parallel worlds this season wasn’t just the latest example of Greg Berlanti and friends delving into all corners of DC’s mythology, it was a fun shake-up that resulted in a wealth of both comedy and drama. Seeing characters like Cisco, Caitlin and Linda Park (Malese Jow) face off with their alternate universe doppelgangers never got old.No character benefited more from the doppelganger concept than Harrison Wells. Wells might have died at the end of Season 1, but thankfully the writers found a way to bring the character back in a very different role. Earth-2’s Dr. Wells made the trip to Earth-1 and began assisting Team Flash in their ongoing fight against Zoom. Cavanagh excelled in his rejiggered role. He consistently played this new Wells as a much different character than the cold, calculating villain of Season 1. This Wells was all nervous, agitated energy, driven by nothing but a desire to stop Zoom and rescue his daughter, Jesse (Violett Beane). His character arc was among the strongest of the season, as Wells formed close bonds with his new friends and worked to counteract some of the destruction his counterpart wreaked on Barry’s life. Most of the cast benefited from the ongoing Earth-1/Earth-2 status quo this year. Grant Gustin was frequently a highlight of the show as he explored Barry’s lingering guilt and heartache after briefly reuniting with his mother and tried to disprove the parting message from earth-1 Wells – the idea that he’d never allow himself to be truly happy. Wells’ words proved distressingly accurate and on-point over the course of the season. Barry went through a lot of emotional highs and lows this season, including a second tear-jerking, phone call reunion with his mother in “Welcome to Earth-2” and multiple traumatic clashes with Zoom. To their credit, the writers didn’t try to force a happy ending out of Barry’s arc, either. By the end of the finale, Barry was at an even lower point than he was a year before, which fuelled his decision to make another ill-advised trip back in time. He’ll no doubt be dealing with the consequences of that act for some time to come.Image result for the flash welcome to earth-2Both Cisco and Caitlin frequently stood out this year, as well. Cisco always served as a reliable source of comic relief, particularly as his bond with Wells deepened and the two bickered with one another. But on a deeper level, this season allowed Cisco to come into his own as a hero. He grew more familiar with his powers, even finally adopting the name and trademark glasses of Vibe. He caught a glimpse of what he could become when he met his doppelganger, Reverb, and began testing the limits of his courage and his abilities. Similarly, Caitlin was shown a glimpse of the villain she could become when she met Killer Frost. But even after her failed romance with Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) and subsequent ordeal at the hands of Zoom, Caitlin never lost her heroic streak. If the writers ever decide to morph her into Killer Frost for real, that’s going to be one devastating emotional gut punch.The Flash also deserves credit for the way the writers are able to weave romantic drama into the narrative without it coming across as forced. The ongoing romance between Barry and Patty Spivot (Shantel Van Santen) was always entertaining, thanks in large part to the stellar chemistry between Gustin and Van Santen. And if Iris was never the most compelling character in any given episode, she definitely improved this year thanks to her more proactive behaviour and her deepening bond with Barry.Image result for the flash invincibleThen there was the debut of Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) to the Team Flash lineup. Looking back, I’m not entirely convinced Wally needed to be introduced this year. With everything else going on this season it didn’t always feel as though the character received the attention he deserved. But Lonsdale proved to be a solid addition to the cast nonetheless. And despite all the foreshadowing, at least the writers weren’t overzealous in terms of rushing Wally into becoming a speedster. There’s plenty of time for that in a later season.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThere was a lot to love about Season 2. At its best, this season was easily a rival to its predecessor. “Welcome to Earth-2” stands as probably the best single episode the show has delivered to date, with episodes like “Flash Back,” “Rupture” and “The Runaway Dinosaur” also ranking among the best.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe Villain of the year was Zoom. This villain was tricky in that he was simultaneously one of the best  aspects of the season.  Zoom left a pretty strong impression during his first clash with Barry in “Enter Zoom.” Between the demonic costume and the gravely rasp of voice actor Tony Todd, Zoom was by far the scariest and most physically imposing villain Team Flash had yet encountered. That certainly counted for something.  Zoom’s characterization was even more intriguing in the second half of the season unfolded. We learned much more about the villain’s past and motivations, including the big twist that Zoom was actually Hunter Zolomon/Jay Garrick and that Team Flash’s newest ally was no ally at all. With all the emphasis on doppelgangers this season, it was fitting that Zoom himself was really Barry’s dark mirror. Both men had childhood’s defined by similar tragedies and grew up to become speedsters. But whereas Barry had a close circle of friends and family to help guide him along his way, Hunter had no one. He was utterly alone on his world and all others, and that gave the villain the humanity and pathos he needed. And it was nice to see the writers acknowledge just how crucial characters like Joe, Cisco and Caitlin are to the show. Without them, Barry would be as empty as Zoom.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe season finale, “The Race of His Life,” was a great way to wrap up Season  Zoom’s defeat was satisfying and his metamorphosis at the end was intriguing, it will be intresting if we will ever see him come back in season 3. Also in the finale  there was the reveal of the real Jay Garrick, an act which allowed Shipp to don a Flash costume for the first time in decades, then there was the final cliffhanger, with Barry traveling back in time and almost certainly sparking the beginning of a Flashpoint-inspired status quo for the series. That alone is cause to be excited for Season 3.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe Flash season 2 was firing on all cylinders and continued through too the end top form an awesome season and leaves you hanging waiting for season 3.