REVIEW: THE 33

 

CAST

Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Juliette Binoche (The English Patient)
James Brolin (the Amityville Horror)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Mario Casas (SMS)
Gabriel Byrne (End of Days)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil TV)
Adriana Barraza (Cake)
Kate del Castillo (No Good Deed)
Juan Pablo Raba (Agents of SHIELD)
Naomi Scott (Power Rangers)

Dozens of people from Copiapó, Chile, work in the San José mine. The owner ignores the warnings of the failing stability of the mine, which collapses a short time later. The only path inside the mine is completely blocked, and the thirty-three miners manage to get to the rescue chamber. They discover that the radio is useless, the medical kit is empty, the ventilation shafts lack the required ladders, and there is very little stored food. Mario Sepúlveda becomes the leader of the miners, dividing the foods rations and stopping the outbursts of violence and despair. The mine company does not attempt any rescue, and the relatives of the miners gather around the gates.The government of Chile decides on active intervention, and orders the use of drills to reach the chamber. The first exploratory boreholes move off-target, but a later one reaches the required destination. The miners attach a note to the drill bit to announce their survival. They receive new food and clothing, and television communication with the surface. A second, bigger, drill system is prepared to retrieve the miners one by one.The 33 is exceptional. Based on the book “Deep Down Dark” by Héctor Tobar, the film version takes few liberties with the facts and fashions a very compelling narrative. The screenplay succinctly, but effectively sets the stage and develops its characters – both above and below ground. We feel the desperation of both the miners and their families. As the miners’ story unfolds, concurrently with that of their families and those attempting to rescue them, Patricia Riggens directs with great pacing (which is helped by nearly perfect editing). She also gets great performances from her cast and blends the talents and experience of well-known and little-known actors wonderfully. Although the movie did drag a little as it neared its dramatic conclusion, this is a film which tells its story with drama, sensitivity and even some humor.

 

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31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: END OF DAYS

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maggie)
Robin Tunney (Hollywoodland)
Gabriel Byrne (Stigmata)
Kevin Pollak (Mom)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Derrick O’Connor (Alias)
Miriam Margolyes (Magnolia)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Victor Varnado (The Intern)
Rod Steiger (The Amityville Horror)

In 1979 a priest at the Vatican sees a comet arching over the moon (described as the “Eye of God”), heralding the birth of one chosen to be the mother of Satan’s child. The priest is sent on a mission by the Pope to find and protect the girl from Satan, although a few Vatican Knights (led by a corrupt cardinal) insist that she must die. In New York a newborn girl, Christine York, is identified by Satanists (including her physician, Dr. Abel, and her nurse and future guardian, Mabel) as the woman chosen to bear Satan’s child on New Year’s Eve, 1999. The Satanists perform occult rites on the newborn.In late 1999, Satan possesses an investment banker in a restaurant; he then destroys the restaurant, killing many inside. Suicidal and alcoholic former police detective Jericho Cane, depressed since his wife and daughter were killed in contract killings, works for a private security company and blames God for his plight. Jericho and co-worker Bobby Chicago are assigned to protect the possessed banker. A priest, Thomas Aquinas, unsuccessfully tries to kill the banker. Jericho captures Aquinas, who warns Jericho: “The thousand years has ended, the dark angel is loosed from his prison” and says that a girl is central. Jericho shoots Aquinas, who is arrested by the New York Police Department. Marge Francis, an NYPD detective and Jericho’s former colleague, tells him that Aquinas has no tongue.Jericho and Bobby investigate on their own, learning that Aquinas was trained at the Vatican and was sent to New York before disappearing. Jericho questions Father Kovak, a priest who knew Aquinas. Kovak asks Jericho if he believes in God; when he says no, the priest tells him that Aquinas was driven mad by forces an atheist could not understand. They go to Aquinas’ apartment, where they find his tongue in a jar and messages and symbols written in blood on the walls. Marge arrives, forcing them to leave. Satan infiltrates Aquinas’ hospital, and crucifies him on the ceiling. Although he survives, he is shot by a Satanic police officer. Jericho and Chicago see Latin words and “Christ in New York” scratched into Aquinas’ skin, and begins searching for Christine York.Jericho and Chicago find Christine in her apartment, saving her from the Vatican Knights, and she brings them to Mabel’s house. After Satan destroys Chicago’s van, killing him, Jericho attempts to leave with Christine. Mabel attacks Jericho, refusing to let him have Christine. Satan enters the house and kills Mabel for failing him; Jericho and Christine escape. Marge and another officer, both Satanists, tell Jericho to surrender Christine. Jericho kills them, but Satan resurrects Marge. Father Kovak tells Jericho and Christine that Satan must impregnate her moments before midnight on New Year’s Eve to usher in the “end of days”. Christine accepts Kovak’s protection.Satan infiltrates Jericho’s apartment, showing him a vision of his family’s murder, offering to bring them back in return for Christine. Enraged, Jericho throws Satan through his apartment window after a fight, and Chicago appears. At the church, the Vatican Knights try to kill Christine before Satan kills them. Chicago tells Jericho that he is in league with Satan after he brought him back. Kovak rescues Jericho, and Satan kidnaps Christine. After locating Satan’s underground temple, Jericho rescues Christine and again kills Marge. Chicago stops Jericho, who persuades him to fight off Satan’s influence; Satan burns him alive. Jericho escapes with Christine into a subway tunnel. They battle to survive against Satan together; Jericho fires a grenade at their pursuer, who leaves the banker to die for a new host.Jericho and Christine escape to another church, where Jericho renews his faith in God and prays for strength. Satan confronts Jericho as a massive, winged creature and possesses him. Jericho attempts to rape Christine, who tries to escape before Jericho deliberately impales himself on a sword protruding from a statue. At the stroke of midnight God frees Jericho’s dying body, sends Satan back to hell and the world celebrates the new millennium. Jericho and Christine see the former’s family waiting for him in the afterlife. He dies in peace, and Christine waits with his body for the authorities.All in all, an enjoyable romp for fans of the Arnie before his attention was diverted by a political career. It compares well to his classic eighties work by trying to do something different and while it may not gel properly in places, for a good 80% of the running time it does a very entertaining job.

 

REVIEW: LITTLE WOMEN

CAST

Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Gabriel Byrne (Stigmata)
Trini Alvarado (The Frighteners)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet)
Christian Bale (Batman Begins)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
John Neville (Odyssey 5)
Mary Wickes (Sister Act)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Seires)
Donal Logue (Gotham)

The film focuses on the March sisters: beautiful Meg (Trini Alvarado), tempestuous Jo (Winona Ryder), tender Beth (Claire Danes), and romantic Amy (Kirsten Dunst), who are growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during and after the American Civil War. With their father away fighting in the war, the girls struggle with major and minor problems under the guidance of their strong-willed mother, affectionately called Marmee (Susan Sarandon). As a means of escaping some of their problems, the sisters revel in performing in romantic plays written by Jo in their attic theater.Living next door to the family is wealthy Mr. Laurence (John Neville), whose grandson Theodore, nicknamed “Laurie” (Christian Bale), moves in with him and becomes a close friend of the March family, particularly Jo. Mr. Laurence becomes a mentor for Beth, whose exquisite piano-playing reminds him of his deceased daughter, and Meg falls in love with Laurie’s tutor John Brooke (Eric Stoltz). Mr. March is wounded in the war and Marmee is called away to nurse him. While Marmee is away, Beth contracts scarlet fever from a neighbor’s infant. Awaiting Marmee’s return, Meg and Jo send Amy away to live in safety with their Aunt March. Prior to Beth’s illness, Jo had been Aunt March’s companion for several years, and while she was unhappy with her position she tolerated it in the hope her aunt one day would take her to Europe. When Beth’s condition worsens, Marmee is summoned home and nurses her to recovery just in time for Christmas. Mr. Laurence gives his daughter’s piano to Beth, Meg accepts John Brooke’s proposal and Mr. March surprises his family by returning home from the war.Four years pass; Meg and John marry, and Beth’s health is deteriorating steadily. Laurie graduates from college, proposes to Jo and asks her to go to London with him, but realizing she thinks of him more as a big brother than a romantic prospect, she refuses his offer. Jo later deals with the added disappointment that Aunt March has decided to take Amy, who is now sixteen (and now played by Samantha Mathis), with her to Europe instead of her. Crushed, Jo departs for New York City to pursue her dream of writing and experiencing life. There she meets Friedrich Bhaer (Gabriel Byrne), a German professor who challenges and stimulates her intellectually, introduces her to opera and philosophy, and encourages her to write better stories than the lurid Victorian melodramas she has penned so far.In Europe, Amy is reunited with Laurie. She is disappointed to find he has become dissolute and irresponsible and scolds him for pursuing her merely to become part of the March family. In return, he bitterly rebukes her for courting one of his wealthy college friends in order to marry into money. He leaves Amy a letter asking her to wait for him while he works in London for his grandfather and makes himself worthy of her. Jo is summoned home to see Beth, who finally dies of the lingering effects of scarlet fever that have plagued her for the past four years. Grieving for her sister, Jo retreats to the comfort of the attic and begins to write her life story. Upon its completion, she sends it to Professor Bhaer. Meanwhile, Meg gives birth to twins Demi and Daisy. A letter from Amy informs the family Aunt March is too ill to travel, so Amy must remain in Europe with her. In London, Laurie receives a letter from Jo in which she informs him of Beth’s death and mentions Amy is in Vevey, unable to come home. Laurie immediately travels to be at Amy’s side. They finally return to the March home as husband and wife, much to Jo’s surprise and eventual delight.Aunt March dies and she leaves Jo her house, which she decides to convert into a school. Professor Bhaer arrives with the printed galley proofs of her manuscript but when he mistakenly believes Jo has married Laurie he departs to catch a train to the West, where he is to become a teacher. Jo runs after him and explains the misunderstanding. When she begs him not to leave, he proposes marriage and she happily accepts.It’s a small scale masterpiece that will leave you in tears. The film is honest and true in it’s portrayal of human emotion. It went from being an adaptation of the book to it’s own story and portrayal of people and their lives. It’s beautiful aesthetically and dramatically, and a real gem of a film.

 

REVIEW: GHOST SHIP

CAST

Gabriel Byrne (End of Days)
Julianna Margulies (City Island)
Ron Eldard (Scent of A Woman)
Desmond Harrington (Wrong Turn)
Isaiah Washington (Bionic Woman)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Emily Browning (Sucker Punch)
Alex Dimitriades (The Principal)
Francesca Rettondini (The Nymph)

To start things off, recent “Sucker Punch” fans can find an early performance by actress Emily Browning who plays the little ghost girl in the film. The movie has actor Gabriel Byrne playing the salvage captain Murphy. Him and his team head out to sea to bring back salvaged equipment and metal parts for resell. When the group is approached by an anxious researcher (Desmond Harrington), he offers them a chance to salvage a long forgotten abandoned ship lost to the Bering Sea. The potential to earn a hefty return from the deal is too big to pass up and the crew heads immediately back out to sea. The crew consists of (Julianna Margulies) Epps, (Ron Eldard) Dodge, (Isaiah Washington) Greer, (Karl Urban) Munder and (Alex Dimitriades) Santos.

Upon locating the lost ship “Antonia Graza” (which at first appears off the radar), the team climbs aboard to claim salvage loot. Though it’s pretty evident early on that the ship is not “quite” what it seems with the weird appearances of ghosts, objects, and the occasional manifestation of the ship’s decor before it was inflicted in tragedy.

To get us engaged right from the get-go, we are taken back in the films intro to the time when the ship was in full swing (1962). In one of my favorite horror film moments, a cable breaks free slicing entirely thru the occupants who are in mid-celebration (aka the Captains Ball). This is fantastically done as each of the ship’s guests begin to fall into pieces (after an uneasy pause). If you don’t end up liking the film, you have to at least acknowledge this great intro opener.

Getting back to the story in progress, the crew happens upon a large shipment of gold bricks. This find signals instant riches for the team as they prepare to gather their claim and call it a day. However, the ship seems to have its own agenda for stranding them causing their own ship “the Arctic Warrior” to burst into flames.

Celebration turns to terror and tragedy as each slowly becomes victims to the ships dark forces. We learn a bit more about what happened with a few surprises waiting down the road about what is “really” going on. While the movie flows rather nicely with plenty of great shots, we seem to be missing much of what we came for…….the scares. I believe perhaps that the production focused more on trying to kill off some of the crew members moreso, that they forgot to really focus more on the needed tension. The actors and cast all gel pretty well which didn’t surprise me with “Ghost Ship’s” worthy cast behind it. What I did like is that as mentioned before it has a “few” reveals in its storyline to throw at us. I think with the base of the film itself, most didn’t really see these coming. The final ending is a nice extra roundup which despite not being scary is a great rule of thumb in filmmaking…..end the movie on a strong finale.