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)
Ned Dennehy (Good Omens)

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: BLACK PANTHER

CAST

Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt)
Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic Four)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)
Danai Gurira (The Visitor)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Letitia Wright (The Commuter)
Winston Duke (The Messengers)
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantrn)
Forest Whitaker (Rogue One)
Andy Serkis (Kong Kong)
Sydelle Noel (Arrow)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya)
John Kani (Endgame)
Florence Kasumba (Wonder Woman)
Denzel Whitaker (The Purge TV)
Shaunette Renée Wilson (Billions)

Florence Kasumba, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, and Lupita Nyong'o in Black Panther (2018)Five African tribes war over a meteorite containing vibranium. One warrior ingests a “heart-shaped herb” affected by the metal and gains superhuman abilities, becoming the first “Black Panther”. He unites all but the Jabari Tribe to form the nation of Wakanda. Over centuries, the Wakandans use the vibranium to develop advanced technology and isolate themselves from the world by posing as a Third World country.Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)In 1992, King T’Chaka visits his brother N’Jobu, who is working undercover in Oakland, California. T’Chaka accuses N’Jobu of assisting black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue with stealing vibranium from Wakanda. N’Jobu’s partner reveals he is Zuri, another undercover Wakandan, and confirms T’Chaka’s suspicions.Angela Bassett, Connie Chiume, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, and Danai Gurira in Black Panther (2018)In the present day, following T’Chaka’s death, his son T’Challa returns to Wakanda to assume the throne. He and Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje regiment, extract T’Challa’s ex-lover Nakia from an undercover assignment so she can attend his coronation ceremony with his mother Ramonda and younger sister Shuri. At the ceremony, the Jabari Tribe’s leader M’Baku challenges T’Challa for the crown in ritual combat. T’Challa defeats M’Baku and persuades him to yield rather than die.Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Connie Chiume, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, and Daniel Kaluuya in Black Panther (2018)When Klaue and Erik Stevens steal a Wakandan artifact from a London museum T’Challa’s friend and Okoye’s lover W’Kabi urges him to bring Klaue back alive. T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia travel to Busan, South Korea, where Klaue plans to sell the artifact to CIA agent Everett K. Ross. A firefight erupts and Klaue attempts to flee but is caught by T’Challa, who reluctantly releases him to Ross’ custody. Klaue tells Ross that Wakanda’s international image is a front for a technologically advanced civilization. Erik attacks and extracts Klaue as Ross is gravely injured protecting Nakia. Rather than pursue Klaue, T’Challa takes Ross to Wakanda where their technology can save him.Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)While Shuri heals Ross, T’Challa confronts Zuri about N’Jobu. Zuri explains that N’Jobu planned to share Wakanda’s technology with people of African descent around the world to help them conquer their oppressors. As T’Chaka arrested N’Jobu, the latter attacked Zuri and forced T’Chaka to kill him. T’Chaka ordered Zuri to lie that N’Jobu had disappeared and left behind N’Jobu’s American son in order to maintain the lie. This boy grew up to be Stevens, a U.S. black ops soldier who adopted the name “Killmonger”. Meanwhile, Killmonger kills Klaue and takes his body to Wakanda. He is brought before the tribal elders, revealing his identity and claim to the throne. Killmonger challenges T’Challa to ritual combat, where he kills Zuri, defeats T’Challa, and hurls him over a waterfall to his presumed death. Killmonger ingests the heart-shaped herb and orders the rest incinerated, but Nakia extracts one first. Killmonger, supported by W’Kabi and his army, prepares to distribute shipments of Wakandan weapons to operatives around the world.Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda, and Ross flee to the Jabari Tribe for aid. They find a comatose T’Challa, rescued by the Jabari in repayment for sparing M’Baku’s life. Healed by Nakia’s herb, T’Challa returns to fight Killmonger, who dons his own Black Panther suit and commands W’Kabi and his army to attack. Shuri, Nakia, and the Dora Milaje join T’Challa, while Ross remotely pilots a jet and shoots down the planes carrying the vibranium weapons. M’Baku and the Jabari arrive to reinforce T’Challa. Confronted by Okoye, W’Kabi and his army stand down. Fighting in Wakanda’s vibranium mine, T’Challa disrupts Killmonger’s suit and stabs him. Killmonger refuses to be healed, choosing to die a free man rather than be incarcerated.Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)T’Challa establishes an outreach center at the building where N’Jobu died, to be run by Nakia and Shuri. In a mid-credits scene, T’Challa appears before the United Nations to reveal Wakanda’s true nature to the world. In a post-credits scene, Shuri helps Bucky Barnes with his recuperation.Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)Like many others, i have waited for months for Black Panther to come out. Although i was incredibly excited, a little part of was worried that the movie wouldn’t live up to the expectations placed upon it. But boy, did it blow my mind. It ended up surpassing my expectation by miles (and i was expecting a lot). It was truly an exquisite film. Chad Boswick acting as the Black Panther was perfection…not one thing was forced, everything he did, he did with grace and ease. Danai Gurira as Okoye was beyond words; she was fierce, elegant and a total badass. Lupita Nypngo, Letita Wright, Micheal B Jordan, Martin Freeman etc..were incredibly as well. The heartfelt acting shined through every actor and actress. The visuals were glorious, the portrayal of African culture in all its beautiful halo was something of a sight to behold.  This is a film that is educational, honest, visually stunning, humbling and historical. It does not bullshit or gloss up. Do yourself a favor and go watch it.

 

REVIEW: TAKEN 3

Starring

Liam Neeson (Non-Stop)
Forest Whitaker (Black panther)
Maggie Grace (Lost)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible II)
Sam Spruell (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Leland Orser (Twisted)
Jon Gries (Operation Chromite)
David Warshofsky (Human Nature)
Jonny Weston (Beyond Skyline)
Don Harvey (Tank Girl)
Dylan Bruno (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Al Sapienza (Person of Interest)
Andrew Borba (Interstellar)
Andrew Howard (Bates Motel)
Robert Pralgo (The Vampire Diaries)
Catherine Dyer (The Blind Side)
Wallace Langham (CSI)

UntitledFormer covert operative Bryan Mills visits his daughter, Kim, to deliver a birthday gift. After an awkward visit, he invites his former wife, Lenore, to dinner. Although she declines, she shows up at his apartment and tells him about her marital problems. He agrees to let her try to work things out with her current husband Stuart. Stuart comes to see Bryan and asks him never to see his wife again—despite the fact he is aware they have a daughter together. Without Bryan’s knowledge he uses his phone to arrange a meeting with Lenore making out it is Bryan that wants to meet her then promptly deletes the message after it is sent. It is in this location she gets kidnapped.UntitledThe following day, Bryan receives a text from Lenore asking to meet him for breakfast. After Bryan purchases breakfast, he returns to his apartment to discover Lenore’s lifeless body. L.A.P.D. units immediately appear and try to arrest him, but he resists and escapes. Meanwhile, L.A.P.D. Inspector Frank Dotzler familiarizes himself with Bryan’s background and issues an APB for him.UntitledBryan retreats to a safe house equipped with weapons and surveillance electronics. He retraces Lenore’s travels to a remote gas station convenience store and finds surveillance footage of her being abducted by unidentified men with unique hand tattoos, but L.A.P.D. detectives arrive and arrest him. While in transit, Bryan frees himself, hijacks the police cruiser, escapes, and downloads phone records from an L.A.P.D. database onto a thumb drive. He contacts Kim at Lenore’s funeral via a camera hidden in his friend Sam’s suit, instructing her to maintain her “very predictable schedule.” She purchases her daily yogurt drink with a “Drink Me Now” note which, unknown by her, is drugged by Bryan. During a lecture, she feels nauseated and runs to the restroom where Bryan is waiting. He surprises her and gives her the antidote to the drug. Bryan removes a surveillance bug that, unknown to her, was planted by Dotzler. He tells her that he is looking for the real murderer and that she should keep safe. Kim tells Bryan of her pregnancy and that Stuart is acting scared and has hired bodyguards, which he has never done before.UntitledBryan tails Stuart’s car but is ambushed by a pursuing SUV that pushes his car over the edge of a cliff. He survives the crash, hijacks a car, follows the attackers to a roadside liquor store and kills them. Bryan then abducts and interrogates Stuart, who confesses that Lenore’s murder was caused by his failure to repay a debt to his former business partner and ex-Spetsnaz operative Oleg Malankov and that he exposed Bryan’s identity to Malankov out of jealousy.UntitledWith assistance from his old colleagues and a nervous Stuart, Bryan gains entry to Malankov’s heavily secured penthouse. After killing the guards, a furious gun battle, and a brutal fight, a mortally wounded Malankov reveals that all that happened was a setup: Stuart planned Lenore’s murder and framed Bryan as part of a business deal to collect on a $12M insurance policy. Malankov adds that when he failed to kill Bryan, Stuart used Bryan to kill Malankov and keep the insurance money. Meanwhile, Stuart injures Sam, and abducts Kim, intending to flee with the money. Under police pursuit, Bryan arrives at the airport in Malankov’s Porsche as Stuart’s plane is taxiing for takeoff. After destroying the landing gear, preventing the plane from taking off, Bryan overpowers Stuart and prepares to kill him but pauses at Kim’s pleas. He tells Stuart to expect final punishment if he escapes justice or completes a reduced prison sentence. Dotzler and the LAPD arrive to arrest Stuart. Bryan is cleared of all charges. In the aftermath of Stuart’s arrest, Kim, who is pregnant, informs Bryan that she wants to name her baby after her mother if it is a girl.__595352c2362a2-mediumTaken 3 remains an entertaining and action filled ride, though with some flaws and not as consisted as the original. Taken 3 still is quite a fun watch. As a second rewatch opinions remain the same  Although the film is quite silly at times it still remains highly entertaining and a fun ride.

REVIEW: THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

Starring

Forest Whitaker (Black Panther)
James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)
Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Simon McBurney (The Conjuring 2)
David Oyelowo (A Most Violent Year)

Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland (2006)In 1970, Nicholas Garrigan graduates from medical school at the University of Edinburgh. With dull prospects at home, he decides to seek adventure abroad by working at a Ugandan missionary clinic run by Dr. David Merrit and his wife, Sarah. Garrigan becomes attracted to Sarah, who enjoys the attention, but refuses to engage in an extramarital affair. Meanwhile, General Idi Amin overthrows incumbent president Milton Obote in a coup d’état. Garrigan sincerely believes Amin will help the country, while Sarah warns him of presidents who have taken over before.Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland (2006)Garrigan is called to a minor car accident where he treats Amin’s hand. During the incident, Garrigan takes a gun and shoots a mortally wounded cow because no one else has the presence of mind to put it out of its misery. Amin is impressed by his quick action and initiative. Amin, fond of Scotland as a symbol of resilience and admiring of the Scottish people for their resistance to the English, is delighted to discover Garrigan’s nationality and exchanges his military shirt for Garrigan’s Scotland shirt. Later, Amin invites Garrigan to become his personal physician and take charge of modernising the country’s health care system.Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, and Kerry Washington in The Last King of Scotland (2006)Garrigan soon becomes Amin’s trusted confidant and is relied on for much more than medical care, such as matters of state. Although Garrigan is aware of violence around Kampala, he accepts Amin’s explanation that cracking down on the opposition will bring lasting peace to the country. Garrigan discovers that the polygamous leader has ostracised the youngest of his three wives, Kay, because she has given birth to an epileptic son, Mackenzie. When treating Mackenzie, Garrigan and Kay form a relationship and have sex, but Kay tells him he must find a way to leave Uganda. Eventually, Garrigan begins to lose faith in Amin as he witnesses the increasing paranoia, murders, and xenophobia. Amin replaces Garrigan’s British passport with a Ugandan one to prevent him from escaping, which leads Garrigan to frantically seek help from Stone, the local British Foreign Office representative. Garrigan is told the British will help him leave Uganda if he uses his position to assassinate Amin, but Garrigan refuses.Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy in The Last King of Scotland (2006)Kay informs Garrigan that she has become pregnant with his child. Aware that Amin will murder her for infidelity if he discovers this, she begs Garrigan for a secret abortion. Delayed by Amin’s command that he attend a press conference with Western journalists, Garrigan fails to meet Kay at the appointed time. She concludes she has been abandoned and seeks out a primitive abortion in a nearby village, where she is apprehended by Amin’s forces. Garrigan finds her dismembered corpse on an autopsy table and falls retching to his knees, finally confronting the inhumanity of Amin’s regime and decides killing him will end it all.download (1)A hijacked aircraft is flown to Entebbe Airport by pro-Palestinian hijackers seeking asylum. Amin, sensing a major publicity opportunity, rushes to the scene, taking Garrigan along. At the airport, one of Amin’s bodyguards discovers Garrigan’s plot to poison Amin under the ruse of giving him pills for a headache. Garrigan is beaten by Amin’s henchmen before Amin arrives and discloses he is aware of the relationship with Kay. As punishment, Garrigan’s chest is pierced with meat hooks before he is hanged by his skin.2e8cc2f9-278a-433f-9e7a-769ec2fe3ce2_iej9gvh7ue2krsjnsa3kodxyhpfaul7jikj3yy9zrjhjcg8uyhtpkawjbhjj1wtcdm8ap5bgcrovfvcst8rbrw==_imgAmin arranges a plane for the release of non-Israeli passengers, and the torturers leave Garrigan unconscious on the floor while they relax in another room. Garrigan’s medical colleague, Dr. Junju, takes advantage of the opportunity to rescue him. He urges Garrigan to tell the world the truth about Amin’s regime, asserting that the world will believe Garrigan because he is white. Junju gives Garrigan his own jacket, enabling him to mingle unnoticed with the crowd of freed hostages and board the plane. When the torturers discover Garrigan’s absence, Junju is killed for aiding in the escape. While Amin is being informed of Garrigan’s escape too late to prevent it, Garrigan boards the plane and tearfully remembers the people of Uganda.macdonald_kevin_2006_last_king_of_scotland_02Gripping, brutal and powerful, ‘The Last King of Scotland’ is a brilliant dramatic depiction of the life of megalomaniac Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, perfectly portrayed by Forest Whitaker in his Oscar-winning performance as one of the greatest casting against type roles seen in film. His Amin is capricious and unpredictable, a personality that can seem volcanic one moment and vulnerable a few minutes later. A blunt and brutal tale, and one that is highly engaging from start to finish. A taut political thriller about power and corruption. Macdonald’s riveting and incandescent direction caps this fictionalised drama, a truly stunning flick that remains as a highlight of film in 2006.

REVIEW: ARRIVAL

CAST

Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Forest Whitaker (The Butler)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Blue Jasmine)
Tzi Ma (Robocop 2)
Mark O’Brien (Anon)

While she is lecturing at a university, twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear across the Earth. U.S. Army Colonel Weber asks Louise to join physicist Ian Donnelly to decipher the aliens’ language and find out why they have arrived. The team is brought to a military camp in Montana near one of the spacecraft, and makes contact with two seven-limbed aliens on board. They call the extraterrestrials “heptapods”, and Ian nicknames them Abbott and Costello. Louise discovers that they have a written language of complicated circular symbols, and she begins to learn the symbols that correspond to a basic vocabulary. As she becomes more proficient, she starts to see and dream vivid images of herself with her daughter and of their relationship with the father.
When Louise asks what the aliens want, they answer: “offer weapon”. A similar translation of “use weapon” is made by one of the other sites. Fear of a potential threat from the aliens leads other nations to close down communication on the project, and some prepare for an attack. However, Louise argues that the symbol interpreted as “weapon” might have an alternative translation, such as “tool” or “technology”.Rogue U.S. soldiers plant explosives in the spacecraft. Unaware, Louise and Ian re-enter. The aliens give them a much larger and more complex message. Abbott ejects Ian and Louise from the craft as the explosion occurs, which leaves them unconscious. When Louise and Ian re-awaken, the military is preparing to evacuate, and the spacecraft moves higher above the ground. Ian works out that the symbols relate to the concept of time, and that the message is one-twelfth of the whole “gift”. They conclude that the aliens must want nations to cooperate.Meanwhile, China notifies the world that its military is planning to attack the spacecraft off its coast. Louise rushes back to the spacecraft in Montana, which sends down a shuttle to take her inside. She meets Costello, who communicates that Abbott is dying or dead. Louise asks about her visions of a daughter, and Costello explains that she is seeing the future (revealing that her “visions” were not flashbacks but flashforwards). Costello also communicates that they have come to help humanity by sharing their language, which is the “weapon” or “tool” because it changes the perception of time. The aliens know that 3000 years into the future they will need humanity’s help in return.

Louise returns as the camp is being evacuated. She has a vision of herself at a future United Nations reception, being thanked by General Shang for convincing him to suspend China’s military attack. He explains that she had called his private mobile telephone. He shows her its number, which he says he knows he must do without understanding why. In the present, Louise steals a satellite phone and calls Shang, but realizes she does not know what to say. Her vision continues with Shang explaining that she had convinced him by repeating his wife’s last words in Mandarin, which he tells Louise.[nb 1] This convinces Shang in present time; the Chinese attack is called off, and the other nations resume contact. The twelve spacecraft then disappear from Earth.
When packing to leave the camp, Ian admits his love for Louise. They discuss life choices, and whether they would change them if they could know the future. Louise foresees that Ian will father her daughter Hannah, whose name is an intentional palindrome, but will leave her after discovering that she knew their daughter would die before adulthood. Nevertheless, when Ian asks Louise if she wants to have a baby, she agrees.Arrival is one of the best films of 2016 and a really great example of science fiction filmmaking from Denis Villeneuve, who is perfectly suited to bring us the sequel to Blade Runner next year. I would happily put this film in the same league as something like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, one of the all time greats of sci-fi.

REVIEW: PAWN

CAST

Nikki Reed (Sleepy Hollow)
Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe)
Marton Csokas (The Equalizer)
Jessica Szohr (Love Bite)
Forest Whitaker (The Butler)
Michael Chiklis (Gotham)
Sean Faris (The King of Fighters)
Ray Liotta (Killing Them Softly)
Jonathan Benett (Mean Girls)
Common (Wanted)
Max Beesley (Torque)
Jordan Belfi (Surrogates)

An old gangster, with a hard drive containing records of who he paid off, is targeted by a competition between dirty cops, internal affairs, etc. The dirty cops hire a thug to get into the safe (in the back of a diner) at midnight. But he brings his friends and goes too early for the time-release lock. Another crooked cop shows up (for uncertain reasons). The shooting ensues and during hostage negotiations the thug tries to put the blame onto an ex-con who just got out of jail, so that no one notices the real target is the hard drive.Pawn is a low budget crime action thriller, The opening sequence sets the movie up nicely for what later unfolds to be a highly entertaining watch full of deception, conspiracy and twists aplenty. It’s tense and keeps you hooked right through until the closing credits.

REVIEW: THE LAST STAND

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Forest Whitaker (The Butler)
Johnny Knoxville (The Ringer)
Jaimie Alexander (Thor)
Luis Guzman (Waiting)
Eduardo Noriega (Vantage Point)
Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street)
Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights)
Génesis Rodríguez (Tusk)
Harry Dean Stanton (Alien)
Chris Browning (Agent Carter)
Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld)

Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a man who has resigned himself to a life of fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction, Arizona. He left his LAPD post following a bungled operation and leaving him wracked with failure and defeat after his partner was crippled and his team decimated. The crimes experienced in Sommerton range from the Mayor parking his red Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the fire lane and vintage arms collector Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) firing off guns at slabs of meat with the deputies.One night, international drug lord and racing car driver Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) makes a daring escape from FBI custody in Las Vegas and speeds off in a modified Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, taking Agent Ellen Richards (Génesis Rodríguez) as his hostage as he races southbound toward Mexico at speeds over 200 mph. Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) has a blockade set up in Bullhead City, Arizona, but Cortez’s men mow down the police officers on site and clear the road for him to continue his getaway. Cortez also uses his extraordinary driving skills to immobilize two SWAT vehicles headed toward Summerton Junction. Before flying to Arizona, Agent Bannister has his team do a financial background check on all agents involved to find out how Cortez managed to escape so easily.Sometime past 4:30 in the morning, Owens dispatches deputies Jerry Bailey (Zach Gilford) and Sarah Torrance (Jaimie Alexander) to visit the residence of the local farmer Parsons (Harry Dean Stanton), who has suddenly missed his usual milk delivery at the diner. After discovering that Parsons has been murdered, the deputies follow a trail of tire tracks that lead them to Cortez’s henchman Thomas Burrell (Peter Stormare) and his mercenary cutthroats, who are planting a mobile assault bridge across the canyon that marks the U.S./Mexico border. Bailey is fatally shot in the middle of a shootout between the deputies and the thugs before Owens rushes in to bring his officers back to his precinct. Shortly after being notified by Agent Bannister of Cortez’s presence, Owens gathers Torrance and senior Deputy Mike “Figgy” Figuerola (Luis Guzmán). He also deputizes jailed local Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro), a former US Marine of the Iraq War with PTSD who developed a streak of never finishing what he started; because Bailey was his friend, Martinez insists that he will not falter. Finally, Owens recruits Dinkum to protect their town. Dinkum agrees only if he becomes a deputy and if he keeps the gun Owens had confiscated earlier.At 7:10 a.m., Owens and his deputies, equipped with weapons from Dinkum’s private museum, have the town’s main road barricaded with cars when Burrell and his men arrive, prompting a lengthy firefight. Armed with a Tommy Gun, Figuerola holds off the thugs before being injured by a sniper. Owens and Dinkum mow down a majority of the thugs with a Vickers machine gun mounted on the back of a school bus with Martinez providing cover fire, while Torrance snipes several gunmen on the rooftops. After Owens kills Burrell, Cortez’s Corvette eventually arrives in town, veering past the barricade as Owens and the deputies shoot it. Cortez ejects Agent Richards from the car before speeding through a corn field. Suddenly, he encounters the Mayor’s Camaro commandeered by Owens before both cars collide with a swather. A dazed Cortez continues his escape on foot, but Owens meets him at the bridge. Owens ignores Cortez’s bribe offers before both men fight each other. Despite sustaining slashes and stab wounds from Cortez’s push dagger, Owens defeats the drug lord and handcuffs him before dragging him back into town using the battered and now roofless Camaro. Agent Bannister arrives to take Cortez back into custody and arrests Agent Richards for taking the drug lord’s bribe and aiding in his escape. Deputies Figuerola and Dinkum are taken to the hospital to be treated for their wounds. Martinez turns in the deputy’s badge, Bailey’s badge, that Owens had given him earlier. Owens tells him to keep it, as he’s earned it. As the Mayor sees what is left of his Camaro, Owens warns him about parking in the fire lane before he, Torrance and Martinez walk into the diner.A really good feel good action movie film where the bad guys get whacked in the most satisfying manner, if you are an Arnie fan you will love this film.

REVIEW: VANTAGE POINT

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CAST

Dennis Quaid (Movie 43)
William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk)
Matthew Fox (Lost)
Forest whitaker (The Butler)
Said Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman)
Sigourney Weaver (Paul)
Édgar Ramírez (Joy)
Ayelet Zurer (Daredevil)
Eduardo Noriega (The Last Stand)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Bruce McGill (MacGyver)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Holt McCallany (Heroes)
Leonardo Nam (Westworld)
Sean O’Bryan (Mission Impossible III)

U.S. President Henry Ashton (Hurt) attends a political summit in Salamanca, Spain, to promote an international treaty. Displayed with eight differing viewpoints, an assassination attempt on the president occurs, relayed in a time span of 23 minutes. Each time the events unfold from the beginning, a new vantage point is shown revealing additional details, which ultimately completes the story of what actually took place during the incident.From the first vantage point, GNN producer Rex Brooks (Weaver), directs various media personnel from a mobile television studio as the president arrives at the gathering. Mayor De Soto (Rodriguez) delivers a short speech and then introduces the president, who is shot twice as he greets the crowd from the podium. An explosion outside the plaza soon follows. Moments later, the podium itself is destroyed by a secondary explosion, killing and injuring numerous people. As the smoke clears, GNN reporter Angie Jones (Saldana) is seen lying dead in the rubble.The second vantage point follows Secret Service agents Thomas Barnes (Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Fox). Barnes notices a curtain fluttering in the window of a nearby building that was allegedly vacated. He also observes American tourist Howard Lewis (Whitaker) filming the audience. After the president is shot, Barnes tackles a man rushing to the podium named Enrique (Noriega). Taylor pursues a lead to a potential assassin. Following the second explosion, Barnes barges into the GNN production studio and asks to view their footage. He calls Taylor, who reports the direction of the suspected assassin’s escape route. Barnes then views an image on one of the camera’s live feeds that startles him and prompts him to run out.In the third vantage point, Enrique, a Spanish police officer assigned to protecting the mayor of Salamanca, sees his girlfriend Veronica (Zurer), being embraced by a stranger and overhears them speaking about meeting under an overpass. When he confronts her, Veronica assures Enrique of her love for him as he hands her a bag. When the president is shot, Enrique rushes onto the stage to protect the mayor, but is tackled by Barnes. While being detained, he witnesses Veronica toss the bag he gave her under the podium, causing the second explosion. Enrique escapes as the agents who previously had him in custody mount a chase while firing shots in his direction, failing to subdue him. Enrique confronts an unseen individual at the overpass and asks if he is surprised to see him still alive.The fourth vantage point revolves around Howard Lewis who is chatting with a man called Sam (Taghmaoui), while a little girl named Anna (Zapien), bumps into him and drops her ice cream. Later, Lewis notices Barnes looking at the curtain fluttering in the window of a nearby building, and captures the footage with his camcorder. Following the second explosion at the podium, Lewis chases Enrique and the pursuing Secret Service agents. At the overpass, Lewis views the pair of agents from afar shooting in the direction of Enrique as he greets an individual in a police uniform under the overpass. Seriously wounded, Enrique falls to the ground. Lewis sees Anna who had earlier become separated from her mother, trying to cross a busy intersection. An ambulance races down the road about to hit Anna, as Lewis runs out to save her.The fifth vantage point begins as President Ashton, having been informed of a credible assassination threat, has returned to his hotel room with his aides while his body double proceeds to the gathering in the plaza. The President talks with his personnel about the reason for the terrorists’ plot, the retaliation by the U.S. to the plot, the return of Barnes to active duty, and giving the order for the retaliation to proceed. The first explosion occurs just outside the hotel. Seconds later, a masked assailant bursts into the president’s room, shoots his advisers and then proceeds to abduct Ashton. By the sixth vantage point, terrorist Suarez, previously seen as Sam, shoots Ashton’s body double using a remote-controlled automatic rifle placed in an adjacent window next to the one with the fluttering curtain that had drawn Barnes’ attention earlier. The rifle is retrieved by Taylor, who Barnes sees leaving the scene wearing a Spanish policeman’s uniform on one of the GNN live feeds, even though he tells Barnes that he’s in pursuit of the assassin over the phone. Barnes realizes Taylor is actually part of the terror plot. The man Enrique saw embracing Veronica is revealed to be sharpshooter Javier (Ramirez), whose brother is being held hostage to ensure Javier’s cooperation with the terrorists. The first explosion, at the hotel, is revealed to be a device detonated by a suicide bomber disguised as a bellhop who had previously handed Javier a hotel room key. Javier kills the guards and aides within the hotel, and kidnaps the president. Ashton is later placed in an ambulance with Suarez and Veronica disguised as medics. Javier joins Taylor in a police car to a planned rendezvous at the overpass.Barnes commandeers a car and chases Taylor and Javier. Barnes gets into a collision with a truck, allowing the duo to escape. At the overpass, Enrique, who did not die in the blast at the podium as intended, confronts Javier and Taylor. Enraged, Javier shoots Enrique, mistakenly believing he had knowledge of his kidnapped brother’s whereabouts. Javier is then shot and killed by Taylor when he demands to be brought to his brother, who had been killed earlier by Suarez. Enrique dies of his wounds as Barnes reaches the scene on foot firing several rounds at Taylor, who attempts to flee. After crashing his car, a critically injured Taylor is dragged out by Barnes. He orders Taylor to reveal where the president has been taken, but Taylor dies. Meanwhile, Ashton regains consciousness in the ambulance and attacks Veronica, distracting her and Suarez just as Anna runs into their path. Suarez swerves causing the ambulance to flip over just as Lewis pulls Anna out of its way. Barnes runs to the ambulance where he sees Veronica lying dead. He shoots Suarez dead and rescues the president.This film really gets going right away and there is no time for a break.

REVIEW: PRET-A-PORTER (AKA Ready To Wear)

CAST

Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Tim Robbins (Green Lantern)
Kim Basinger (Batman)
Stephen Rea (V For Vendetta)
Forest Whitaker (The Butler)
Richard E.Grant (Game of Thrones)
Lauren Bacall (How To Marry A Millonaire)
Lyle Lovett (The Bridge)
Lili Taylor (The COnjuring)
Teri Garr (Tootsie)
Danny Aiello (Ruby)
Sally Kellerman (Someone To Love)
Tracey Ullman (Into The Woods)
Linda Hunt (Kindergarten Cop)
Jean-Pierre Cassel(The Three Musketeers)
Alexandera Vandernoot (Highlander: The Series)
Sam Robards (American Beauty)
Marcello Mastroianni (USed People)
Sophia Loren (Atilla)
Anouk Aimée (Justine)
Cher (Moonstruck)

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This is an entertaining spoof built around a Paris fashion week, and was actually filmed during that event. It’s a typical Robert Altman film, with multiple story lines, fast cutting from one setup to another, and overlapping soundtracks, which all make it hard to follow at the cinema, and very suitable for rental so it can be replayed. It would take too long even to begin to summaries the subplots and characters, but in addition to a galactically stellar cast; there’s a host of guest celebrities, including lots of couturiers; and of course dozens of models on and off the catwalk, in and out of designer clothes, and in the climactic scene without clothes at all.zk85u
It is always healthyto laugh at powerful people who take themselves too seriously; and by poking fun at the fashion industry and its surrounding media circus, Altman is performing a social service, as well as being a true artist. But I don’t find his satire as cruelly biting as some people do. He treats some characters sympathetically or neutrally – eg the designer played by Anouk Aimée and Marcello Mastroianni’s mystery figure. And even the extreme characters – eg Richard E Grant’s screamingly gay designer or Kim Basinger’s gushing TV reporter – are only a little more exaggerated than some real-life equivalents.
pret-a-porter-film-images-239f4627-49e4-44fa-94fc-ff9ed16f963Apparently lots of critics stalked off in a huff, too. That’s too bad, since the film has lots of good qualities.

REVIEW: PANIC ROOM

CAST

Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Forest Whitaker (The Butler)
Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)
Patrick Bauchau (The Pretender)
Dwight Yoakam (Sling Blade)
Ian Buchanan (Port Charles)
Nicole Kidman (Stoker)
Mel Rodriguez (The Watch)

Recently divorced Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her 11-year-old daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) have just purchased a four-story brownstone on the Upper West Side of New York City. The house’s previous owner, a reclusive millionaire, installed an isolated room used to protect the house’s occupants from intruders. The “panic room” is protected by concrete and steel on all sides, a thick steel door, and an extensive security system with multiple surveillance cameras, a public announcement system, and a separate phone line. On the night the two move into the home, it is broken into by Junior ( Jared Leto), the previous owner’s grandson; Burnham (Forest Whitaker), an employee of the residence’s security company; and Raoul (Dwight Yoakam), a ski mask-wearing gunman recruited by Junior. The three are after $3 million in bearer bonds, which are locked inside a floor safe in the panic room.

After discovering that the Altmans have moved in earlier than expected, Junior convinces a reluctant Burnham, who assumed the house was unoccupied, to continue with their heist. As they begin the robbery, Meg wakes up and happens to see the intruders on the video monitors in the panic room. Before the three can reach them, Meg and Sarah run into the panic room and close the door behind them. They are unable to use the phone in the room which has a separate phone line that was never hooked up by Meg. Intending to force the two out of the room, Burnham introduces propane gas into the room’s air vents. Raoul, in conflict with Burnham and Junior, dangerously increases the amount of gas. Unable to seal the vents, Meg ignites the gas while she and Sarah cover themselves with fireproof blankets, causing an explosion which vents into the room outside and causes a fire, injuring Junior.The Altmans make several attempts to call for help, including signaling a neighbor with a flashlight through the opening of a ventilation pipe, but the neighbor ignores it. Meg then taps into the main telephone line and gets through to her ex-husband Stephen (Bauchau), before the burglars cut them off.When all attempts to get into the room fail, Junior lets slip that there is much more money in the safe than he let on, and gives up on the robbery. About to leave the house, he is shot by Raoul, who forces Burnham, at gunpoint, to finish the robbery. Stephen arrives at the home and is taken hostage by Burnham and Raoul—who severely beats him. To make matters worse, Sarah, who has diabetes, suffers a seizure. Her emergency glucagon syringe is in a refrigerator outside the panic room. After using an unconscious Stephen to trick Meg into momentarily leaving the panic room, Burnham enters it, finding Sarah motionless on the floor. After retrieving the syringe for Sarah, Meg struggles briefly with Raoul, who is thrown into the panic room, his gun knocked out of his hand. As Meg throws the syringe into the panic room, Burnham frantically locks himself, Raoul, and Sarah inside, crushing Raoul’s hand in the sliding steel door. Meg, who now has the gun, begs the two intruders over the PA system to give Sarah the injection. After some time Burnham, who has shown no interest in hurting either Meg or Sarah throughout the film, gives Sarah the injection. While doing so, he tells Sarah he did not want this, and the only reason he agreed to participate was to give his own child a better life. After Burnham gives Sarah the injection, Sarah thanks him and he tells Meg that Sarah is now alright.Having earlier received a call from Stephen, two policemen arrive, which prompts Raoul to threaten Sarah’s life. Sensing the potential danger to her daughter, Meg lies to the officers and they leave. Meanwhile, Burnham opens the safe and removes the $22 million in bearer bonds inside. As the robbers attempt to leave, using Sarah as a hostage, Meg hits Raoul with a sledgehammer and Burnham flees. After a badly injured Stephen shoots at Raoul and misses, Raoul disables him and prepares to kill Meg with the sledgehammer, but Burnham, upon hearing Sarah’s screams of pain, returns to the house and shoots Raoul dead, stating, “You’ll be okay now”, to Meg and her daughter before leaving. The police, alerted by Meg’s suspicious behavior earlier, arrive in force and capture Burnham, who lets the bearer bonds go; they fly away with the wind. Later, Meg and Sarah, having recovered from their harrowing experience, begin searching the newspaper for a new home.

David Fincher directs this cleverly conceived thriller about a mother and daughter trapped inside a panic room by three criminals. The film is well-paced and the camera work is slick. The film does well in exploring the confines of the house. Jodie Foster is effective and maintains a high intensity throughout. Kristen Stewart is decent as her daughter. Forest Whitaker plays a slightly sympathetic criminal and does well. A Brilliant film from start to end.