REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 17-18

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alec Baldwin (The Shadow)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Dennis Rodman (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lily Tomlin (The West Wing)
Marcia Wallace (Full House)
Maria Grazia Cucinotta  (The Rite)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Antonio Fargas (Starsky and Hutch)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Dave Thomas (Bones)
Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town)
Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate SG.1)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Larry Hagman (Dallas)
Melanie Griffith (Working Girl)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)
Mandy Moore (Saved)
Michael Imperioli (The Lovely Bones)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Fran Drescher (The Nanny)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Richard Lewis (Drunks)
Dr. Phil (Scary Movie 4)
Kiefer Sutherland (24)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja III)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Eric Idle (Life of Brian)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Meg Ryan (Amityvlle 3)
Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm In The Middle)
Betty White (The Golden Girls)
Stephen Hawking (The Big Bang Theory)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)

When we were 17 it was a very good year — a year for Homer’s new dad, MacGyver gets mad, Sideshow Bob’s not so bad… Another comical compilation of “The Simpsons” – the longest-running scripted show in television history – has arrived. Season 17 contains all 22 outrageous episodes, a vast repertoire of Springfieldian special features, plus a mind-blowing list of celebrity guest voices, including Alec Baldwin, Larry Hagman, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Rob Reiner, Susan Sarandon and Lily Tomlin, just to name a few, with additional guest voices also providing commentary including Richard Dean Anderson, Ricky Gervais, Michael York and Kelsey Grammer. Phew!

SEASON 17 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

17.1) BONFIRE OF THE MANATEES

After Homer gets into trouble over his football gambling debts, he allows the Springfield Mafia to shoot a porno film (euphemistically called a “snuggle film”) in the house without Marge’s permission. When she and the kids return home from a trip to “Santa’s Village” and find production still going on, a furious Marge leaves for the beach–and encounters a marine biologist named Caleb Thorn who has dedicated his life to saving manatees.17.2) THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SLEPT TOO LITTLE

After the family successfully protests against a stamp museum being built next to their house, a cemetery is built near the Simpson house instead, making the normally unflappable Lisa realize that someone as smart as her can be afraid of something

17.5) MARGE’S SON POISONING

Marge buys a tandem bicycle and after she fails to ride it on her own, Bart offers to ride with her. He soon finds himself increasingly spending time with his mother, until school bullies accuse him of being a “mama’s boy”. Meanwhile, Moe pushes Homer into the world of professional arm wrestling after seeing Homer doing 50,000 reps on his right arm.17.6) SEE HOMER RUN

In order to win back Lisa’s love after shunning her Father’s Day gift (and fearing that the action will cause Lisa to despise all men), Homer takes a job as a costumed mascot known as “The Safety Salamander”, who wins public acclaim for saving drivers from a car accident. Meanwhile, Springfield holds a recall election to get Mayor Quimby out of office.17.7) THE LAST OF THE RED HAT MAMAS

Marge joins a woman’s group after Homer humiliates her at the Mayor’s Easter egg hunt, but Marge discovers that her new friends are thieves planning a heist. Meanwhile, Lisa searches for a tutor to help her speak Italian–and finds one in Milhouse.screen-shot-2012-10-14-at-12-39-35-pm17.8) THE ITALIAN BOB

After Mr. Burns is teased about his car, he sends Homer and the family off to Italy to pick up his new fancy sports car. While on their Italian adventure, the Simpsons end up stranded in a small Italian village where a rehabilitated Sideshow Bob reigns as mayor with a wife and son.17.10) HOMER’S PATERNITY COOT

Marge’s protest against a toll booth causes an accident at the Springfield Tire Yard (which has been perpetually on fire since the 1980s), melting a frozen section of a mountain and revealing the corpse of a mailman who has a letter from Homer’s mom, who had an affair with a handsome lifeguard who may be Homer’s biological father.17.11) WE’RE ON THE ROAD TO D’OHWHERE

After Bart steals a key from Principal Skinner’s office and gets himself into hot water (literally, by fooling around with the school’s steam system), Principal Skinner sentences Bart to a “behavior modification camp”–and Homer must give up his Vegas vacation with his bar buddies in order to take Bart there since he has been put on the airport’s “No Fly” List. Meanwhile, Marge and Lisa have a yard sale–and discover that their biggest-selling product are the many expired medications they have accumulated over the years.17.12) MY FAIR LADDY

Lisa attempts to transform Groundskeeper Willie into a proper gentleman after Groundskeeper Willie’s shack collapses and, like many other secondary and one-time characters over the years, is forced to live with The Simpsons. Meanwhile, Homer becomes a human billboard to save the company that makes his pants.17.15) HOMER SIMPSON, THIS IS YOUR WIFE

Homer’s obsession with Lenny’s new plasma TV prompts Marge to enter the family in a sweepstakes, and they win a trip to the Fox Studio Lot. Against Marge’s wishes, Homer signs them up for a Trading Spouses/Wife Swap-style reality show and is forced to take in a controlling wife, while Marge moves in with a beaten-down husband, Charlie, and his perfect son.17.17) KISS KISS, BANG BANGALORE

Patty and Selma abduct Richard Dean Anderson (the actor best known for playing MacGyver) during the Springfield Stargate SG-1 convention after Anderson rudely tells the terrible twins that he only did MacGyver to make money. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns outsources his nuclear plant to India and chooses Homer to be the new boss.17.19) GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE SUMS

Principal Skinner is replaced by a women’s education expert after making a sexist statement about women’s math skills during a musical (which was written by a former female Springfield Elementary school student who was a math whiz), who segregates the school by gender. At first, Lisa loves the arrangement, but when she discovers that the girls’ classes are more about self-esteem boosting than actual learning, Lisa disguises herself as a boy and attends the boys’ classes.17.20) REGARDING MARGIE

Marge goes nuts trying to clean the kitchen in time for a best house contest, but when she inhales the fumes of one too many cleaning solvents, she passes out and bangs her head on a stool. When Marge comes to at the hospital, she is stricken with amnesia, which does not last when she immediately remembers everyone in the family through their quirks–except for Homer. With Marge’s memory of Homer erased, Patty and Selma help their sister find a new man.17.21) THE MONKEY SUIT

Reverend Lovejoy is appointed to spread the word of creationism in Springfield after Flanders complains about a new museum display about evolution, leading creationism to be taught in schools — and Lisa to fight back with secret classes about Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution.17.22) HOMER AND MARGE TURN A COUPLE PLAY

A first baseman for the Springfield Isotopes calls upon Homer and Marge to help him with his marriage to a stripper/pop singer named Tabitha Vixx, who upstages him with a racy musical number during one of his games.71Mvq0DbknL._SL1500_The argument will rage long  about when exactly America’s finest television animated export actually peaked. After 18 seasons, the show is still going strong.

SEASON 18 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

18.1) THE MOOK, THE CHEF, THE WIFE AND HER HOMER

Lisa becomes friends with Fat Tony’s son Michael, who would rather cook than run a crime ring, but when the Simpsons are invited over for dinner and Fat Tony is shot, Homer ends up being the town’s newest kingpin.18.2) JAZZY AND THE PUSSYCATS

Bart gets a drum kit to work out his aggressions after being a nuisance at the funeral of Homer’s Vegas wife and becomes top pick for a local jazz band — a position that the saxophone-playing Lisa has been going after for years.18.3) PLEASE HOMER, DON’T HAMMER ‘EM

Marge takes an interest in carpentry after reading some books on the subject meant for Homer, but when everyone in town declines Marge’s services (because they believe that women cannot be carpenters), Marge uses Homer as a front. Meanwhile, Bart discovers that Principal Skinner is allergic to peanuts and uses his allergy to do his bidding.8_cWv8TwU5iSDN-wTr-T9YU_re018.6) G.I. D’OH

Homer finds himself in an army training camp after trying to get his children out of an agreement to join by age 18.18.6) MOE’N’A LISA

Lisa discovers that Moe’s written rantings are perfect fodder for poetry, but when Moe is invited to a writer’s convention that throws out anyone who uses someone else to create their works, Moe ends up taking the credit.18.7) ICE CREAM OF MARGIE: WITH THE LIGHT BLUE HAIR

After Homer gets fired once again from the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, he takes over Springfield’s ice cream truck business after his favorite driver dies. Meanwhile, Marge, depressed over seeing women more successful than her and looking for a way to be remembered, creates sculptures from the discarded Popsicle sticks in Homer’s ice cream truck.18.10) THE WIFE AQUATIC

When Patty and Selma save “Outdoor Movie Night” from going bust by playing an old home movie of their time at Barnacle Bay, Homer decides to surprise Marge by taking her and the kids there — only to find her childhood vacation spot an abandoned wreck.18.12) LITTLE BIG GIRL

When Cletus ineptly tosses his pipe, Springfield is in danger when the town is about to be hit by a ferocious fire. Bart unwittingly saves the day and is rewarded with a driver’s license. However, when he drives to North Haverbrook, he is then engaged with a girl named Darcy who ropes Bart into marriage after declaring that she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, Lisa lies about her family heritage in an essay and gets chosen to give a keynote speech at a convention.18.13) SPRINGFIELD UP!

Declan Desmond returns as he shows a documentary about Springfield’s current adult population as children, discussing their future aspirations and meets up with Homer to see if he followed his dreams.Rome-old_and_Juli-eh18.15) ROMEO-OLD AND JULI-EH

When Grampa gets kicked out of the retirement castle thanks to Homer declaring bankruptcy (and discovering that bankruptcy laws have changed), Grampa falls in love with Marge’s sister Selma, prompting sworn enemies Homer and Patty to team up to break them up. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa con a delivery man into giving them cardboard boxes for a fort, but the delivery men fight back.18.16) HOMERAZZI

After the family photo album is destroyed in a fire involving a Krusty doll and a bottle of cologne, Marge restages all of the family’s photographs, and when a celebrity dating scandal is captured in the background of one of their photos, the Simpsons strike tabloid gold. Tasting success and seeing money to be made, Homer takes to the streets as one of the paparazzi, capturing Springfield’s celebrities at their worst.18.17) MARGE GAMER

Marge discovers the wonders of the Internet and becomes hooked on an online roleplaying game, where Bart is the game master. Meanwhile, Lisa resorts to cheating to score points with Homer (who is now a referee) during soccer matches.Simpsons_18_20_P418.19) CROOK AND LADDER

When reading a parenting magazine, Marge follows the advice too literally and throws away Maggie’s pacifier. However, when the pacifier is thrown in the trash, Maggie goes on a path of destruction in the Simpsons’ home. Meanwhile, Homer, Moe, Apu, and Principal Skinner become volunteer firefighters and begin stealing items from the homes whose fires they extinguish.18.21) 24 MINUTES

When finding out Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney plan on sabotaging Springfield Elementary School’s annual bake sale by releasing the “ultimate stinkbomb” (a rotten yogurt cup from Springfield’s Nuclear Power Plant), Bart and Lisa enlist the help of Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brian. Meanwhile, Marge attempts to make the perfect cake for the school bake sale.screen-shot-2012-11-27-at-1-31-02-pm18.22) YOU KENT ALWAYS SAY WHAT YOU WANT

Thanks to Ned Flanders’ meddling, Kent Brockman gets in trouble for blurting a horrible curse word during a soft-news interview about Homer winning Phineas Q. Butterfat’s 1,000,000th ice cream cone, and gets fired for allegedly being a cocaine addict. While living with the Simpsons, Brockman teams up with Lisa to create a YouTube video revealing why a politically conservative media empire like Fox would create raunchy television shows.DGERTGERERTWhatever people feel about the Simpsons later years, there’s still some great episodes here.

REVIEW: GOOD OMENS

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)

Starring

David Tennant (Mary Queen of Scots)
Michael Sheen (Passengers)
Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland)
Jon Hamm (Baby Driver)
Josie Lawrence (Humans)
Lourdes Faberes (Knightfall)
Adria Arjona (Life of The Party)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jack Whitehall (Bad Education)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Mireille Enos (Hanna TV)
Yusuf Gatewood (The Originals)
Brian Cox (Rise of TPOA)
Reece Shearsmith (Stag)
Nina Sosanya (Marcella)
Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders)
Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Grinch)
Steve Pemberton (Psychoville)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
Nick Offerman (The Lego Movie 2)
Daniel Mays (The Bank Job)
Sian Brooke (Sherlock)
Simon Merrells (Legends of Tomorrow)
Susan Brown (Game of Thrones)
Paul Kaye (Anna and the Apocalypse)
David Morrissey (The Walking Dead)

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Once upon a time, Good Omens was considered unadaptable. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s sprawling, 400-page fantasy novel was notorious within the film and TV industries. Screenwriters turned their noses up at the project, and various attempts over the years to bring page to screen ended in disappointment. However, an adaptation of the unadaptable proved to be Pratchett’s last request to his co-author before he died in 2015, and Gaiman set about writing the screenplay for what would become an epic six-part BBC/Amazon co-production.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)So first things first: was the unadaptable, well, adaptable, after all? The short answer is, yes. Gaiman — also showrunner on the series — has pulled off a colourful, quirky, funny, poignant (although not entirely flawless) feat. One might even suspect there’s been a spot of divine (or devilish) intervention… The true triumph is the casting. Michael Sheen shines (quite literally, in some scenes) as the angel Aziraphale, a celestial field agent who teams up with his opposite number, the stylish demon Crowley — played with a Bill Nighy-esque swagger by David Tennant — in order to prevent Armageddon.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)It’s this pairing that proves to be the beating heart of the series. Crowley and Aziraphale have been on Earth since the very beginning, and in their own ways they’ve both “gone native”. Aziraphale owns a Soho bookshop, and likes gravlax salmon with dill sauce. Crowley drives a pristine 1926 Bentley and listens to Queen. They’ve formed a professional agreement not to meddle in each other’s affairs, and in their spare time they’ve enjoyed a series of rather nice clandestine lunches. Every time either actor appears onscreen, you can almost hear the costume department’s (and fandom’s) squeals of joy. David Tennant in snakeskin boots! Michael Sheen with artfully tousled bleached hair! A tartan bow tie! Tennant also sports appropriately flame-red hair (not in the books, but worth it for Doctor Who fans’ realisation that the Tenth Doctor finally got his wish) that frequently changes style. In one particularly memorable moment during episode one, Crowley disguises himself as a bobbed-haired nanny, a Satanic crossover between Nanny McPhee and Mrs Doubtfire.good-omensHe and Aziraphale have a teasing, love/hate relationship that fans of the book have shipped for almost two decades. Gaiman has since promised that “the TV series gets deeper into Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship,” and some viewers will be hoping that that will translate into a burgeoning romance. Certainly in episode one, Aziraphale seems rather overexcited at the prospect of he and Crowley becoming joint “godfathers” to the infant Antichrist, whose arrival on Earth threatens to catalyse the apocalypse. Gabriel has bright purple irises in the series, a nod to Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary lilac eyes according to the show’s companion book, The Nice and Accurate Good Omens TV Companion. However, as anyone who’s worn thick coloured lenses for Halloween and lived to tell the tale will know, the effect is rather distracting and painful to look at, as are Crowley’s reptilian yellow eyes (thankfully hidden away under trendy shades for much of the show). Gabriel barely appears in the book, and he’s a welcome and much-needed addition to the series: someone to put the proverbial heat on Aziraphale.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Various sets are also new for the TV show: Heaven is now a vast corporate headquarters, while Hell resembles an overcrowded basement office. A rather gloomier version of The IT Crowd, if you will. Some of the show’s special effects can feel a bit hammy (think Russell T Davies-era Doctor Who with a couple of rubber frogs thrown in), but the scene depicting the entrances to both Heaven and Hell features a pretty cool bit of cinematography, including a mirror effect and an upside-down Tennant. However, despite the addition of characters like Gabriel, much of the show remains doggedly faithful to the books. Reams of dialogue are almost word-for-word during episode one, to the extent that there are certain moments and scenes where one feels that the show’s pace has been sacrificed in favour of preserving the ‘voice’ of the book. Of course, it’s understandable given the circumstances — Gaiman has spoken about the pressure to protect Pratchett’s narrative creations in his absence. For example, he made sure that one of Pratchett’s characters, the 17th century witch Agnes Nutter, remained in the show despite calls to replace her (and an expensive, explosive period shoot) with a series of woodcuts.good-omens-key-art-600x314In Agnes’s case, it makes sense to preserve her: her spookily accurate prophecies drive much of the plot and predict the present-day apocalypse. But there are chunks of God’s narration (voiced by Oscar-winner Frances McDormand) that feel a bit laboured. Some sections, like the bit about demons’ talents for “lurking” around graveyards, must have read well on the page in that distinctive Terry/Neil voice, but in reality they fall rather flat — much like a certain angel’s misguided attempts to pull a rabbit out of a top hat at a children’s birthday party. At the end of the day, however (and according to Agnes Nutter, there aren’t many more days left), the series is a love letter to the book, combining Gaiman and Pratchett’s brilliant characterisation and quippy jokes with vivid, gorgeous sets and memorable costumes.

 

 

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
John Turturro (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Patrick Dempsey (Made of Honor)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Julie White (Lincoln)
John Malkovich (Red)
Frances McDormand (Hail, Caesar!)
Keiko Agena (13 Reasons Why)
Lester Speight (Faster)
Josh Kelly (Jarhead 2)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Buzz Aldrin (The Big Bang Theory)
Elya Baskin (Heroes)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Jess Harnell (Little Nicky)
James Remar (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation)
Francesco Quinn (Hell Ride)
George Coe (The West Wing)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Greg Berg (The Muppets)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)

In 1961, the “Ark”, a Cybertronian spacecraft carrying an invention capable of ending the war between the benevolent Autobots and the malevolent Decepticons, crash lands on the dark side of Earth’s Moon. The crash is detected on Earth by NASA, and the President authorizes a mission to put a man on the Moon as a cover for investigating the spacecraft. In 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 lands on the Moon.In the present, the Autobots assist the United States military in preventing major conflicts around the globe. During a mission to Chernobyl to investigate suspected alien technology, Optimus Prime finds a fuel cell from the “Ark”, discovering that it had survived its journey from Cybertron. The Autobots are then attacked by Shockwave, a Decepticon scientist, who manages to escape. After learning of the top-secret mission to the Moon, the Autobots travel there to explore the “Ark”. They discover a comatose Sentinel Prime – Optimus’ predecessor as leader of the Autobots – and the Pillars he created as a means of establishing a Space Bridge between two points to teleport matter. After returning to Earth, Optimus uses the energy of his Matrix of Leadership to revive Sentinel Prime.Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is frustrated that he is unable to work with the Autobots or find a job. He also becomes envious of the close relationship between his new girlfriend, Carly Spencer, and her boss Dylan Gould. After finding work, Sam is provided information by his eccentric co-worker Jerry Wang about the “Ark”, before Jerry is assassinated by the Decepticon Laserbeak. Sam contacts the now-independently wealthy Sector 7 Agent Seymour Simmons, and together they realize that the Decepticons and their leader, Megatron, are murdering people connected to the American and Russian space missions to the “Ark”. They locate two surviving Russian cosmonauts, who reveal satellite photos of hundreds of Pillars being stockpiled on the Moon. Sam realizes that the Decepticons raided the “Ark” long before the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and intentionally left Sentinel and the five Pillars behind to lure the Autobots into a trap with Sentinel being the key to activating the Pillars and the Decepticons lacking the means to revive him. The Autobots rush to return Sentinel to their base for protection, but Sentinel betrays them and murders the Autobot Ironhide, revealing he had made a deal with Megatron to ensure Cybertron’s survival.Sentinel uses the Pillars to transport hundreds of concealed Decepticons from the Moon to Earth. Carly is later captured by Gould, who is revealed to be in service of the Decepticons. The Autobots are exiled from Earth at the demand of the Decepticons to avoid war, but as their ship leaves Earth it is destroyed by Megatron’s second-in-command, Starscream, seemingly killing the Autobots. The Decepticons, led by Megatron and Sentinel, invade Chicago as their agents place Pillars around the world. Gould reveals to Carly that the Decepticons plan to transport their homeworld of Cybertron to the Solar System, then to enslave humanity and use Earth’s resources to rebuild their world. Sam teams up with former USAF Chief Robert Epps and ex-NEST soldiers to go into Chicago to save Carly, but they are nearly killed by Decepticon forces before the Autobots intervene, revealing they concealed themselves during the launch of their ship to convince the Decepticons they were destroyed.Working together, the Autobots and human soldiers manage to rescue Carly and kill Laserbeak, Starscream, Soundwave and Shockwave, with Optimus using Shockwave’s arm-cannon to blast the Control Pillar, disabling the Space Bridge. Sam confronts Gould as he reactivates the Control Pillar, and knocks Gould into the Pillar, electrocuting him. Bumblebee and Ratchet arrive and destroy the Control Pillar, permanently disabling the Bridge and causing the partially transported Cybertron to implode. Optimus and Sentinel fight while Carly convinces Megatron that he will be replaced by Sentinel as leader of the Decepticons. Sentinel severs Optimus’ right arm, and is about to execute him when Megatron intervenes, incapacitating Sentinel. Megatron slyly proposes a truce, having the desire to become the one in charge again, but Optimus instead attacks Megatron, decapitating and killing him. Sentinel pleads for his life, but Optimus executes him too for betraying his own principles. With the Decepticons defeated, Carly and Sam are reunited and the Autobots accept that, with Cybertron gone for good, Earth is now their home.Ultimately, Bay’s primary success here is casting. In addition to Dempsey (pleasingly cynical), Dark of the Moon boasts an elaborate roster of recognizable, exceptional professionals, like John Malkovich (ridiculous), Frances McDormand (deadly serious), Ken Jeong (psychotic), and Alan Tudyk (over-the-top), who give the film color. McDormand in particular adds a level of gravitas to the first half of the movie that really greases the wheels, and even though she’s relegated to the far back in the last third, she shares her time with returning player John Turturro, with whom she has amusing chemistry. Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, and Julie White also return. Everything else is action, action, action. This time, Bay is better with his action geography and choreography, illustrating fights from a distance and turning down the dust clouds a little bit.

REVIEW: AEON FLUX

 

CAST

Charlize Theron (Prometheus)
Marton Csokas (Sin City 2)
Jonny Lee Miller (Hackers)
Frances McDormand (Almost Fanous)
Sophie Okonedo (After Earh)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Amelia Warner (Quills)
In 2011, a deadly pathogenic virus has killed 99% of the Earth’s population, forcing the survivors to regroup and scatter across the Earth. 404 years later, in late 2415, all of the survivors inhabit Bregna, a walled futuristic city-state, which is ruled by a congress of scientists. Although Bregna is largely an idyllic place in the destroyed Earth, people routinely disappear and the population suffers from bad dreams. A skilled warrior, named Æon Flux, is a member of the Monicans, an underground rebel organization who communicate through telepathy-enabling technology and are led by the Handler. After a mission to destroy a surveillance station, Æon comes home to find her sister Una has been mistaken for a Monican and killed. When Æon is sent on a mission to kill the government’s leader, Trevor Goodchild, she discovers that both she and the Monicans are being manipulated by council members in a secret coup.
Æon questions the origins of everyone in Bregna, and in particular, her personal connection to Trevor. Everyone in Bregna is revealed to be a clone, grown from recycled DNA. With the dead constantly being reborn as new individuals and bearing partial memories of their previous lives, their troubling dreams have increased. Cloning was required because the antidote to the virus made humans infertile. Trevor’s ongoing experiments were attempts to reverse the infertility. His ancestors had also worked on this problem. Æon learns that she is a clone of the original Trevor’s wife Katherine, and is the first “Katherine” clone in over 400 years.
 One of Trevor’s experiments, Una, was successful: she had become pregnant. However, in order to stay in power, Trevor’s brother, Oren Goodchild, had her killed along with the other members of the experimental group. He ordered all of Trevor’s research to be destroyed. In a confrontation with Trevor and Æon, Oren reveals that nature has corrected the infertility problem and that some women are becoming pregnant. Oren has had them all killed to maintain the Goodchild reign. Æon then goes against both her former allies, who want to kill Trevor, and Oren. She convinces the other Monicans to ignore the Handler and to help her kill Oren and his men. Æon goes to destroy the Relical, the dirigible that stores the DNA for cloning. There she meets the old man who monitors everything. She discovers that he preserved Katherine’s DNA for years, although Oren had ordered it to be destroyed so “Katherine” could not influence Trevor in any way. The dirigible crashes into the city wall, breaking it down to reveal the surrounding land for the first time in centuries. It is lush and fertile, not a wasteland as they were taught.
The plot is surprisingly stronger than what I expected. It isn’t anything original; everything has all been done before, it ticks all the boxes for what you would expect from a sci-fi movie, but this doesn’t make it bad at all. Along the way there are some genuinely surprising twists in the storyline that keep you interested, and the settings are all fantastic so you really do feel linked to the world they are living in.

REVIEW: ALMOST FAMOUS

CAST

Patrick Fugit (Saved)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Fairuza Balk (Return To Oz)
Bijou Phillips (Hostel: Part II)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby)
Jimmy Fallon (Taxi)
Rainn Wilson (House of 1,000 Corpses)
Eric Stonestreet (Bad Teahcer)
Pauley Perrette (NCIS)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)

In 1973, William Miller is a 15-year-old boy aspiring to be a rock journalist. His mother, Elaine, wants him to become a lawyer. Shunned by his classmates, he writes for underground papers in San Diego, sharing the love of rock music instilled in him through a gift of albums left behind on the day his sister Anita left home.
Patrick Fugit in Almost Famous (2000)
William listens to an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs. William has sent Bangs copies of his work, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a review of a Black Sabbath concert. At first reluctant to assist a journalist, the band Stillwater brings William backstage after he praises their work. The guitarist, Russell Hammond, takes a liking to William, partly because of William’s friendship with a groupie he has romantic feelings for, Penny.
William goes with Penny to the Riot House – the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard – to meet Stillwater. Penny, feigning retirement from her rock glory days, acts as William’s chauffeur, but only to get close to Russell, for whom she has genuine feelings and a past relationship. William is called by Ben Fong-Torres, editor of Rolling Stone, who wants him to do a story, believing William is several years older than he really is. When William convinces Ben to let him do a story on Stillwater, he is instructed to go on the road with them.
On the first leg of the trip, William makes his first in an increasingly frustrating number of attempts to interview Russell. Penny watches the interaction and sympathizes with William. William experiences tensions with the band due to his role as a journalist. new manager, Dennis, comes on board to help steer the band, and it is revealed that Penny must leave the tour before New York, where Leslie, Russell’s ex-wife/girlfriend, will join them. During a poker game he allows Dick to put up the groupies as a stake. The band loses the groupies to the band Humble Pie for $50 and a case of Heineken. When William tells Penny, she acts nonchalant but is devastated. Penny and Doris, the band’s tour bus, are left behind; Dennis has piled the band into a plane for more gigs.
Penny goes to New York on her own, and as the band gathers in a restaurant with Russell’s girlfriend, Penny shows up. As they celebrate making the cover of Rolling Stone, Penny makes Leslie uncomfortable and Dick asks her to leave. William chases Penny back to her hotel and finds her overdosed on Quaaludes. Believing they will die during a plane ride, the group confesses their secrets. When Penny is insulted by Jeff, the band’s lead singer, William defends her and discloses his love. The plane lands safely, leaving everyone to ponder the changed atmosphere. William continues to San Francisco to finish the story, parting ways with the band in the airport. Upset about Penny, he rewrites the article, telling the truth. The Rolling Stone editors cannot wait to publish it, but have to ask the band to verify it. Fearful of how the article will affect their image, the band makes William look like a liar. William is crushed and the story is dead. Sitting dejected in the airport, he sees his sister, who has become a stewardess and lives on her own terms. She tells him they should go on a trip together and, exhausted, William chooses to go home to San Diego.
Backstage at the Miami Orange Bowl on the Stillwater tour, Sapphire talks to Russell about Penny’s near-suicide and how despite the warnings she received about letting people fall in love with her, one of them saved her life. Russell is curious about the person in question, but Sapphire chastises him, saying that everyone knows what the band did to William and how awful they think it is. Russell calls Penny and asks for her address, telling her he wants to meet. Unbeknownst to Russell, she gives him William’s address in an attempt to resolve their conflict. Russell goes to the house, thinking it is Penny’s, but finds Elaine instead. Learning who he is, she lets him in to see William as Russell realizes where he is. They reconcile and Russell reveals that he called Rolling Stone and told them William’s story is true. Russell gives William a proper interview, Penny purchases a ticket to Morocco, and William’s story is published, with Stillwater on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The movie is a wonderful coming of age story with a fantastic soundtrack