REVIEW: ENDER’S GAME

CAST

Asa Butterfield (Hugo)
Harrison Ford (Star wars)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
Nonso Anozie (Cinderella)
Brandon Soo Hoo (Tropic thunder)

In the future, humanity is preparing to launch an attack on the homeworld of an alien race called the Formics who had attacked Earth and killed millions; however, their invasion was stopped by Mazer Rackham, who crashed his fighter plane into a Formic queen ship, stopping the invasion at the apparent cost of his life. Over the course of fifty years, gifted children are trained by the International Fleet to become commanders of a new fleet for this counter-attack.Cadet Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) draws the attention of Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis) by his aptitude in simulated space combat. They order the removal of his monitor, signifying the end of the cadet program. Ender is attacked by Stilson, a student he defeated in the combat sim, but Ender fights back and severely injures him. Ender confesses his grief to his older sister Valentine, but is harassed further by their older brother Peter. Graff arrives to reveal he was being tested and is still part of the program. Graff brings Ender to Battle School, placing Ender with other cadets his age, but treats him as extraordinary, ostracizing him from the others.Among other studies, the cadets are placed in squads and perform training games in a zero gravity “Battle Room”. Ender quickly adapts to the games, devising new strategies older students have not yet seen. Graff reassigns Ender to Salamander Army, led by Commander Bonzo Madrid. Bonzo, believing that Ender is inept due to his size, prevents him from training with the rest of the squad. Another cadet, Petra Arkanian, takes Ender and trains him privately. While Bonzo is aware of this, he does not take any action against Petra. In one match, Bonzo orders Ender to stay behind while the rest of the Salamander Army fights another team; however, seeing Petra in trouble, Ender comes to her aid and helps the Salamander Army win. After the match, Bonzo is humiliated by the other students and threatens Ender if he embarrasses him again.Meanwhile, Ender plays a computerized “mind game” set in a fantasy world aimed to present difficult choices to the player. In one situation, Ender creates an outside the box solution to overcome a seemingly unsolvable problem. Later, he encounters a Formic in the game, and then a simulated image of Valentine entering the ruins of a castle. Inside, he finds another image of Valentine but as he nears, it turns into an image of Peter before the game ends.Graff promotes Ender to his own squad, made from other students that have gained Ender’s trust. They are put in increasingly difficult battles. In one match against two other teams including Bonzo’s squad, Ender devises a novel strategy of sacrificing part of his team to achieve a goal, impressing Graff. Bonzo accosts Ender in the bathroom after the match, but Ender fights back and Bonzo falls during the struggle, seriously injured. Distraught over this, Ender prepares to quit Battle School, but Graff has Valentine speak to him and convince him to continue.Graff takes Ender to humanity’s forward base on a former Formic planet near their homeworld. There, Ender meets Mazer Rackham, who explains how he spotted the shared-mind nature of the Formics to stop the attack fifty years prior. Ender finds that his former squad members are also here to help him train in computerized simulations of large fleet combat; Rackham puts special emphasis on the fleet’s Molecular Detachment (MD) Device that is capable of disintegrating matter.[note 1] Ender’s training is rigorous and Anderson expresses concern they are pushing Ender too fast, but Graff notes they have run out of time to replace Ender.Ender’s final test is monitored by several of the fleet commanders. As the simulation starts, Ender finds his fleet over the Formic homeworld and vastly outnumbered. He orders most of his fleet to sacrifice themselves to protect the MD long enough to fire on the homeworld. The simulation ends, and Ender believes the test is over, but the commanders restart the video screens, showing that the destruction of the Formic homeworld was real and Ender had been controlling the real fleet this time. Despite Graff’s assurance he will be known as a hero, Ender is furious as he feels responsible for the annihilation and everyone will remember him as a killer.As Ender struggles with his emotions, he recognizes one of the Formic structures nearby similar to the ruined castle from the game, and believing they were trying to communicate with him, races out towards it. He follows the path set by the game, and encounters a dying Formic queen. The Queen acknowledges Ender’s role in the genocide of their race, but that he simply wanted peace in the long term and forgives him. The Queen later gives Ender a queen egg that it had been protecting. After the war, Ender is promoted to Admiral, given a small ship, and left to his own devices. In a letter to Valentine, he tells her that he is going into deep space, determined to form a new Formic colony with the queen egg.Ultimately the climax of this movie and its main message is what sets it apart from many other Sci-Fi films. The emotion is very much there, and anyone willing to give this film a try will not be disappointed.

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REVIEW: BRUNO

CAST
Sascha Baron Cohen (Borat)
Gustaf Hammarsten (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Clifford Banagale (Palawan Fate)
Josh Meyers (That 70s Show)
AS THEMSELVES
Bono
Chris Martin
Elton John
Slash
Snoop Dogg
Sting
Kunal Nayyer
Heather Hahn
Paula Abdul
Harrison Ford
Gay Austrian fashion reporter Brüno Gehard is fired from his own television show, Funkyzeit mit Brüno (Funkytime with Brüno) after disrupting a Milan Fashion week catwalk (whose audience included Paul McCartney), and his lover Diesel leaves him for another man. Accompanied by his assistant’s assistant, Lutz, he travels to the United States to become “the biggest gay Austrian celebrity since Hitler”.
Brüno unsuccessfully attempts an acting career as an extra on NBC’s Medium. He then interviews Paula Abdul, using “Mexican chair-people” in place of furniture (Abdul goes along with everything, explaining how she aspires to help people, until a naked man, adorned with sushi, is wheeled into the room). He then produces a celebrity interview pilot, showing him dancing erotically, criticizing Jamie-Lynn Spears’ fetus with reality TV star Brittny Gastineau, unsuccessfully attempting to “interview” actor Harrison Ford, and closing with a close-up of his penis being swung around by pelvic gyrations. A focus group reviewing the pilot hate it, calling it “worse than cancer”. Brüno then decides to make a sex tape, thus he then interviews Ron Paul, claiming to have mistaken him for drag queen RuPaul. While waiting in a hotel room with Paul, Brüno flirts with him before undressing, causing Paul to leave angrily and call him “queerer than the blazes”.
Brüno consults a spiritualist to contact the deceased Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli for advice, miming various sex acts on the invisible “Pilatus”. He consults charity PR consultants Nicole and Suzanne DeFosset to select a world problem to maximize his fame, choosing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He flies to Jerusalem to interview former Mossad agent Yossi Alpher and Palestinian politician Ghassan Khatib and confuses hummus and Hamas. In an interview with Israeli and Palestinian professors he sings his own “Dove of Peace” while cajoling the two to caress each other’s hands. He also meets with Ayman Abu Aita, a “terrorist group leader, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades” in a location described as a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, where he hopes to be kidnapped.[6][7] Brüno insults Abu Aita’s hair then says that “King Osama” looks like a dirty wizard or a homeless Santa Claus. Abu Aita’s translator orders Brüno to leave. He stops off in Nairobi to pick up a few things, including a child, saying he is “black gold”.
Brüno interviews parents of child models, asking if their toddlers would be ready to lose weight, undergo liposuction, operate “antiquated heavy machinery” or “amateur science”, or dress in Nazi uniforms. On a talk show hosted by Richard Bey, he shows the African American audience a baby he named O.J., whom he acquired in Africa by “swapping him” for a U2 Product Red iPod. He shows photographs of the boy covered with bees, on a crucifix and in a Jacuzzi next to adults in a 69 position. The audience is appalled and social services take the baby from Brüno, driving him to depression. He goes to a diner to gorge on high-carb junk food. Lutz carries him back to a hotel room. After a night of sex, they awake to find themselves trapped in a bondage mechanism, unable to find the key. They call a hotel engineer for help and are asked to leave. After accosting a group of anti-gay protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church while still in bondage gear and boarding a bus, Brüno and Lutz remove their equipment at Madison County Office of Alternative Sentencing and Release in Huntsville, Alabama.[8] After being arrested, Lutz says he loves Brüno, but Brüno tells him he does not love him, having been influenced by “carb goggles”. Lutz leaves Brüno.
After realizing the biggest names in Hollywood are straight (citing Tom Cruise, Kevin Spacey,and John Travolta), Brüno consults two Christian gay converters to help him become heterosexual. He attempts activities, such as learning karate, joining the National Guard, going hunting in Alabama, and attending a swingers party at which he is whipped by a dominatrix.
Eight months later, a now-heterosexual Brüno, under the alias “Straight Dave”, hosts a cage-fight match in Arkansas, “Straight Dave’s Man Slammin’ Maxout”. Lutz appears at the event and calls Brüno a “faggot”. The two fight, only to rekindle their love, making out and stripping in front of the shocked spectators who throw objects into the cage. The clip gets international press and the now-famous Brüno attempts to marry Lutz and gets O.J. back in exchange for a MacBook Pro. Brüno records a charity song, “Dove of Peace”, featuring Bono, Elton John (seated at a piano on a Mexican “chair-person”), Chris Martin, Snoop Dogg, Sting, and Slash, at Abbey Road Studios.
Its rude its crude but its really, really funny, its not for the faint hearted but its a must see if you like this kind of humour

REVIEW: COWBOYS & ALIENS

 

CAST

Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Daniel Craig (Tomb Raider)
Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Paul Dano (Looper)
Abigail Spencer (Oz The Great and Powerful)
Buck Taylor (The Mist)
Keith Carradine (The Duelists)

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In 1873 New Mexico Territory, an unnamed loner awakens injured in the desert with no memory and with a strange metal object on his wrist. He wanders into the town of Absolution, where preacher Meacham treats his wound. Sheriff Taggart recognizes the stranger as wanted outlaw Jake Lonergan and attempts to arrest him. Jake beats up the posse sent to take him in and nearly escapes, but a woman named Ella Swenson knocks him out. Taggart prepares to transport both Jake and volatile drunk Percy Dolarhyde to Santa Fe for trial.
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Percy’s father, Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, a ruthless cattle baron, demands Percy be released. He also demands Jake be released to him, since Jake had stolen gold from him. During the standoff, alien spacecraft begin attacking the town. Percy, the sheriff and other townsfolk are abducted by long, whip-like feelers hanging from the bottom of the ships. Jake’s shackle unfolds and becomes a weapon; he shoots down a ship, ending the attack.
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Dolarhyde, Ella, and other townsfolk form a posse to track an injured alien that escaped from the downed ship. Meanwhile, Jake travels to an abandoned cabin and, in a flashback, recalls returning to it with stolen gold and then being abducted, along with a woman named Alice, by the aliens. His memories returning, Jake joins up with the posse. During the evening, the group comes upon a capsized paddle wheel steamboat that the aliens apparently dumped miles from any water. They camp in it, and during the night the alien they were tracking kills Meacham, who sacrifices himself to save Emmett, Taggart’s grandson.
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By morning, most of the posse has deserted, and those remaining are attacked by Jake’s former gang. Jake, who had stolen the gang’s loot after their last heist, attempts to retake control but it is foiled. The aliens begin attacking them again and Ella is captured. Jake jumps aboard the ship and attacks the alien pilot, causing the ship to crash fatally wounding Ella. The remaining posse is captured by Chiricahua Apache Native Americans, who blame them for the alien attacks. After Ella’s corpse is dumped on a fire by a Chiricahua warrior, she is resurrected and emerges from the fire. Ella reveals herself to be from another alien race, who had travelled to Earth to help resist the invaders after they destroyed her home world. The aliens, who are mining gold and abducting people to conduct experiments to find humans’ weaknesses, are far stronger and more durable than humans, and have superior weaponry, but are not invulnerable. They can be stabbed and shot to death, but only Jake’s gauntlet weapon or a well-aimed shot with a rifle can kill them with a single blast. Ella says the aliens that previously attacked them are just scouts.
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She also claims Jake holds the secret to the aliens’ whereabouts and argues they must defeat the aliens before the invaders exterminate all life on earth. After taking medicine offered by the Apaches’ medicine man, Jake recalls that Alice was euthanized after she was used in an alien experiment, but he had escaped, inadvertently stealing the gauntlet-like alien weapon encasing his wrist. He then also remembers the location of the aliens’ base of operations. Armed with this knowledge, the group, now led by Dolarhyde, prepares to attack the aliens’ grounded mother ship. Meanwhile, Jake returns to his old gang and persuades them to join the fight. After the humans maneuver the aliens into a ground battle, Jake and Ella board the ship and free the captives, but Jake is captured. Dolarhyde rescues him and both men escape the ship after killing the alien responsible for Alice’s death. As the remaining aliens are taking off in their damaged craft, Ella sacrifices herself by entering the ship’s core and destroying it by using Jake’s wrist gauntlet as a bomb, obliterating the alien ship.
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With the aliens gone the abducted townsfolk begin to remember their pasts. Still a wanted man, Jake decides to leave, though the sheriff and Dolarhyde say they will claim he was killed in the invasion. The citizens intend to reconstruct their town.

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After a somewhat slow start, Cowboys And Aliens turns into a fun scifi western. It’s a surprisingly dark and gritty film, playing like a straight western at first. Imagine you’re watching an old John Wayne movie. You’re enjoying it, and suddenly alien spaceships come out of nowhere blasting everything in sight and kidnapping the locals. Very good fx and good action scenes make this a fun movie.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS

 

CAST
Daisy Ridley (Scrawl)
John Boyega (Attack The Block)
Oscar Isaac (Ex_Machina)
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row)
Adam Driver (Bluebird)
Andy Serkis (Lord of The Rings)
Domhnall Gleeson (The Revenant)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)
Simon Pegg (The World’s End)
Kiran Shah (The Hobbit)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The originals)
Warwick Davis (The Ewok Adventures)
Mark Stanley (Kajaki)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Billie Lourd (Scream Queens)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (The Maze Runner)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Ewan McGregor (Mordecai)
Approximately 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker, has disappeared. The First Order has risen from the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate the New Republic. The Resistance, backed by the Republic and led by Luke’s twin sister, General Leia Organa, opposes them while searching for Luke to enlist his aid.
Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location. Stormtroopers commanded by Kylo Ren destroy the village and capture Poe. Poe’s droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and encounters the scavenger Rey near a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe using the Force, and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187, unable to bring himself to kill for the First Order, frees Poe, and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”. They crash on Jakku, and Finn survives but is unable to determine if Poe did as well. He encounters Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. Finn, Rey, and BB-8 flee the planet in the Millennium Falcon, which they steal from a junkyard.
The Falcon breaks down and is captured by a larger ship piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, looking to reclaim their former vessel. Two rival gangs, seeking to settle debts with Han, board and attack, but Han and company manage to escape in the Falcon. The gangs inform the First Order of the events. At the First Order’s Starkiller Base – a planet converted into a superweapon that harnesses energy from stars – Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to use the weapon for the first time. Snoke questions Ren’s ability to deal with emotions relating to his father, Han Solo; Ren replies that Han means nothing to him.
The Falcon crew views BB-8’s map and determines it is incomplete. Han explains that Luke attempted to rebuild the Jedi Order but exiled himself when an apprentice turned to the dark side. The crew travels to the planet Takodana and meet with cantina owner Maz Kanata, who offers assistance in getting BB-8 to the Resistance. Rey is drawn to a vault on the lower level and finds the lightsaber that once belonged to Luke and his father Anakin Skywalker. She experiences disturbing visions and flees into the woods. Maz gives Finn the lightsaber for safekeeping.
Starkiller Base fires and destroys the Republic capital and fleet. The First Order attacks Takodana in search of BB-8. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn are saved by Resistance X-wing fighters led by Poe, revealing that he survived the earlier crash. Leia arrives at Takodana with C-3PO and reunites with Han and Chewbacca. Meanwhile, Ren captures Rey and takes her to Starkiller Base, but when he interrogates her about the map, she is able to resist his mind-reading attempts. Discovering she can use the Force, she escapes using a Jedi mind trick on a nearby guard.
At the Resistance base on D’Qar, BB-8 finds R2-D2, who has been inactive since Luke’s disappearance. As Starkiller Base prepares to fire on D’Qar, the Resistance devises a plan to destroy the superweapon by attacking a critical facility. Leia urges Han to return their son alive. Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca, and Finn infiltrate the facility and plant explosives. Han confronts Ren, calling him by his birth name, Ben, and implores him to abandon the dark side. Ren kills Han, enraging Chewbacca, who fires and wounds Ren. He sets off the explosives, allowing the Resistance to attack and destroy Starkiller Base.
Ren pursues Finn and Rey to the surface. A lightsaber battle between Ren and Finn ensues, leaving Finn badly wounded. Rey takes the lightsaber and uses the Force to defeat Ren, before they are separated by a fissure as the planet begins to disintegrate. Snoke orders Hux to evacuate and bring Ren to him to complete his training. Rey and Chewbacca escape with Finn in the Falcon. On D’Qar, the Resistance celebrates while Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn Han’s death. R2-D2 awakens and reveals the rest of the map, which Rey follows with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to a distant planet. She finds Luke and presents him with the lightsaber.
Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series’ former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.

REVIEW: K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Sam Spruell (The Hurt Locker)
Peter Stebbings (bates Motel)
Roman Podhora (Final Destination 5)
Ravil Isyanov (Alias)
Peter Starsgaard (Jarhead)
Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones)
In 1961, the Soviet Union launches its first ballistic missile nuclear submarine, the K-19. The ship is led by Captain Alexei Vostrikov, aided by executive officer Mikhail Polenin. Polenin, the original captain, and the crew have served together for some time but Vostrikov’s appointment is alleged to have been aided by his wife’s political connections. During his first inspection, Vostrikov discovers the submarine’s reactor officer to be drunk and asleep on duty. Vostrikov sacks the officer and orders Polenin to request a replacement. The new reactor officer, Vadim Radtchenko, arrives direct from nuclear school having just been fresh from the naval academy, annoying Polenin who thinks Vostrikov was too punitive on the former reactor officer who was competent despite his momentary lapse of judgment. Also, during the preparation period for the sub’s launch, the ship’s medical officer is killed when struck by an oncoming truck, and is subsequently replaced by the command’s foremost medical officer, an army officer who has graciously offered himself in the submarine’s time of need, but also privately admits to Vostrikov that as an army officer he has never been out to sea and suffers from motion sickness. During the K-19’s official launch, the bottle of champagne fails to break when it strikes the bow; the sailors nervously glance at each other due to this customary sign of bad luck.
The crew’s performance improves and Vostrikov decides to carry out the K-19’s first mission, which is to surface in the Arctic and fire an unarmed (“test”) ballistic missile. After that, the K-19 will patrol a zone in the Atlantic within range of New York and Washington D.C. just in case the U.S. launches an attack to the Soviet Union. As a test of the sub’s endurance, Vostrikov orders the K-19 to submerge past its maximum operational depth of 250 meters to its “crush depth” (300 meters), then surface rapidly at full-speed to break through the Arctic pack-ice which he estimates to be no more than one metre thick. Polenin regards this maneuver as dangerous and, during the surfacing procedure, storms off the bridge. After scraping along the underside of the ice, the K-19 finally breaks through and surfaces with no apparent damage. The crew is both relieved and exhilarated by Vostrikov’s bold maneuver and the test missile is launched successfully.
As the K-19 sails southwards to begin the second part of its mission, a pipe carrying coolant to the reactor cooling system springs a leak and then bursts completely. Polenin and Vostrikov are informed that once the nuclear reactor reaches 1000 °C, the nuclear reactor will explode and most likely plunge the world into a nuclear war. The frightening possibility prompts the crew to solve the problem. The control rods are inserted to stop the reactor, but without coolant the reactor temperature continues to rise rapidly. Polenin and Radtchenko are shocked to discover that back-up coolant systems have not been installed. Vostrikov orders the K-19 to surface so that he may contact fleet command to inform them of the accident and await orders. But upon surfacing they discover the long-range transmitter on the conning tower is damaged and they are unable to contact fleet headquarters – Vostrikov assumes, ruefully, his surfacing maneuver in the Arctic caused the antenna damage.
An engineering team reluctantly have to enter the reactor to make repairs, and produce a makeshift coolant system to get the reactor temperature down. Polenin discovers the submarine has been provided with chemical suits rather than suits to protect against radiation. He nonetheless tells the first team that the suits will protect them. The first group emerges from the reactor compartment vomiting and heavily blistered. The second team panics, but make their way in. The repairs succeed in cooling the reactor, but many are severely ill with radiation poisoning.
Vostrikov is informed that a helicopter is approaching; he and some of the crew climb out onto the deck, thinking a Russian ship has come to save them, only to discover that it is a US Navy helicopter from a nearby US destroyer. The destroyer is asking if the K-19 requires assistance. Vostrikov orders a reply in the negative; the men on the deck notice a crewman in the helicopter photographing them, and they drop their trousers and bare their buttocks at him. The helicopter flies away. Vostrikov refuses to allow the Americans anywhere near K-19. The US destroyer follows them at a discreet distance. Back in the Soviet Union, the Soviet government begins to have suspicions about the K-19 abandoning the mission following K-19’s failure to contact fleet headquarters about the condition of the mission.The submarine makes its way towards a group of diesel submarines in the south, but the pipework ruptures and the temperature begins to rise once again, forcing Vostrikov to dive the submarine and quell a mutiny. The second repair is a success, but the engineer has sustained more radiation than the previous teams and is certain to die. Captain Vostrikov drags him from the reactor. After that, the K-19 finally reaches to the location of the diesel submarines. However, the Soviet leadership order him to confine the crew on the submarine until a freighter can arrive to pick them up. Knowing that it would be too dangerous to keep the crew on K-19, Vostrikov orders the crew to be evacuated to the diesel submarines despite knowing he will most likely lose his command and be sent to a gulag. After the incident, Captain Vostrikov is tried for endangering the mission and disobeying a direct order, but Polenin comes to his defense, which resulted in his charges being dropped.
An epilogue shows an aged Captain Vostrikov in 1989, putting on his dress uniform in a small flat and catching a train to meet up with Polenin. It is exactly 28 years after the accident; the Berlin Wall is shown to be coming down. Vostrikov grumbles about the inconvenience but Polenin informs him this is the anniversary of the day they were rescued. The commanders enter a cemetery where a number of the surviving K-19 crewmen are gathered by a grave site. We learn that this is the first time the K-19 survivors have met since the incident. Vostrikov is visibly moved as he greets the men and informs them that he nominated the men now dead of radiation poisoning (28 in total) for the distinction of Hero of the Soviet Union, but was told they were not worthy of the title as they died not during war time, but as the result of an accident. The film ends with the moment when, years before, the whole crew took a group photograph in front of the submarine.
This is a well crafted, true story and Exposition of the cold war submariners’ duties. The unusual thing is that the Russians are depicted as the good guys. The editing, as signified by the pace of the film is superbly done. The claustrophobic aspects of the ship could have been boring but it was not the case. The two captains are shown as mutually distrusting at first but under duress begin to see the others point of view under the weight of an unreliable and dangerous vessel.

 

 

REVIEW: WHAT LIES BENEATH

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Dark Shadows)
Katharine Towne (Evolution)
Miranda Otto (Lord of The Rings)
James Remar (Django Unchaiuned)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderfalls)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
Wendy Crewson (Air Force One)
Joe Morton (Terminator 2)
J.C. Brandy (Halloween)
Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) is living in Vermont with her husband, renowned scientist Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford). One year previously, Claire had been involved in a serious car accident that leaves gaps in her memory. Combined with her daughter Caitlin’s (Katharine Towne) departure for college, this leaves Claire profoundly affected. The Spencers — who have moved into the former home of Norman’s father — live next door to the Feurs, who have just moved in and frequently engage in loud arguments. Overhearing Mary Feur (Miranda Otto) sobbing one day, Claire becomes concerned. When she sees Mary’s husband Warren (James Remar) seemingly dragging something that resembles a body bag in the middle of the night and putting it in the trunk of the car, she suspects that Mary has been murdered. Claire decides to investigate. After nobody answers the door, she walks around the side of the house and discovers a woman’s sandal with a dark stain on it. Claire begins spying on Warren with the help of her best friend Jody (Diana Scarwid). However, Claire soon witnesses strange occurrences when she is alone in the house and becomes convinced that Mary is dead and haunting her. Desperate for closure, and facing little sympathy from Norman, Claire invites Jody to join her for a séance in her bathroom, where she thinks she’ll be able to communicate with Mary’s ghost. Although the séance provides no results, after Jody leaves, Claire finds a message in the bathroom’s mirror that reads “You know”.
An anxious Claire goes to Norman’s office to inform him of the event, but he instead believes she’s trying to call for his attention because he’s been busy at work. As they argue while traveling through Norman’s campus, Claire encounters Warren and hysterically accuses him of having killed his wife. But Warren responds with confusion before Mary—very much alive—joins him. When Mary speaks with Claire later, she explains that she had left Warren and that he had been packing her belongings when Claire saw him.
The Spencers assume that the ordeal is over, but later a picture breaks in Norman’s study. Picking it up, Claire notices a newspaper clipping about a missing girl named Madison Elizabeth Frank (Amber Valletta). She learns that Madison attended the university where Norman was a lecturer. While visiting Madison’s mother she steals a braid of Madison’s hair. Reading from a book on the supernatural given to her by Jody, Claire uses the hair to perform a ritual that allows Madison to possess her. Norman comes home and Claire seduces him, but Claire morphs into Madison during the tryst, causing Norman to push her away. Claire’s memory returns, and she remembers that she had caught Norman and Madison together the night of her car accident. Outraged by Norman’s infidelity, Claire spends the night with Jody, who confirms to Claire her suspicion of Norman’s affair after having seen him and Madison together in a small cafe in the town of Adamant; unseen by Norman, Jody keeps this information to herself, until she confesses to Claire.
Norman eventually relents: he had a brief relationship with Madison, but realized that he loved Claire too much to leave her and ended the affair, causing the unstable Madison to threaten to kill Claire. He states Madison came to the house, and he found her dead of an overdose. Panicked and unsure of what else to do, he placed Madison’s body into her car, which he then pushed into the lake. Claire urges Norman to contact the authorities, and he agrees to do so. He speaks with the police on the phone, arranges for a police officer to come to the house and then leaves to take a shower. Suspicious of her husband, Claire redials the phone and discovers that he had not really called the police. Norman, who has been hiding and left the shower tap running, suddenly grabs her from behind and sedates her. He drags her to the bathtub, which is still running, and places her in the rising water with the idea that since she cannot move, will drown once the water rises high enough.
Norman then confesses to Claire that his previous story had been a lie; Madison was planning on going to the college’s dean about their affair, so he killed Madison and pushed her car and body into the lake. Norman then tells Claire he hopes her death will bring him closer to Caitlin, who looks so much like her. Norman leans over Claire’s paralyzed body to give her one final kiss. While doing so, he notices that she is wearing a pendant around her neck. When he picks up Claire’s head to adjust it, her face suddenly morphs into the corpse-like face of Madison. He is startled and jumps back, slipping on the wet floor and hitting his head on the sink; he is left bloodied and unconscious on the floor.
Claire, recovering from the sedative, looks over the edge of the bathtub to see that Norman has crawled away, while she was struggling to drain the water. Recovering from the sedative, she crawls out of the bathtub, eventually regaining enough strength to walk down the stairs. The phone has been disconnected, so she tries to drive somewhere that will have cell phone reception. Norman, only stunned at the bottom of the stairs, chases her and jumps into the back of the truck. A ghostlike figure appears in the road, which Claire swerves to avoid, and she drives off the bridge into the same lake into which Norman pushed Madison’s car. Underwater, Norman tries to drown her and grabs Claire’s leg as she escapes out the window, but Madison’s decaying body, disturbed by debris falling from the car, floats up, grabs Norman and forces him to release Claire’s leg, so she can swim to the surface. Norman drowns while staring into the dead face of the woman he killed. Madison’s body floats to the surface of the lake as the necklace sinks to the bottom.
The following winter, Claire places a single red rose on Madison’s grave. The camera pans out, and an image of Madison’s face appears in the snow.
While not as darkly disturbing as similar ghost stories, What Lies Beneath is as much a study of what underpins a relationship, and how quickly this can be betrayed and unbalanced, as a goosebump-inducing vision of what could be lurking at the bottom of the lake. The performances are faultless, the lakeside setting is used to perfection and the occasional use of gentle humour makes the story and characters even more likeable.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI

CAST
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row)
Billy Dee Williams (Batman)
Alec Guinness (Doctor Zhivago)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
David Prowse (Comic Book: The Movie)
Frank Oz (Inside Out)
Jeremy Bulloch (Swing Kids)
Sebastian Shaw (The Spy In Black)
Ian McDiarmid (Sleepy Hollow)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Warwick Davis (Willow)
Luke Skywalker initiates a plan to rescue Han Solo from the crime lord Jabba the Hutt with the help of Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Leia infiltrates Jabba’s palace on Tatooine, disguised as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca as her prisoner. Lando is already there, disguised as a guard. Leia releases Han from the carbonite, but she is captured and enslaved. Luke arrives soon afterward but, after a tense standoff with Jabba and a battle with his rancor, is captured. Jabba sentences him and Han to death, planning to feed them to the Sarlacc, a pit monster. They are taken to the Great Pit of Carkoon, the Sarlacc’s nesting ground. Luke, with R2-D2’s help, frees himself and battles Jabba’s guards with his new constructed lightsaber. During the chaos, Boba Fett attempts to attack Luke, but Han, temporarily blinded from the carbonite, inadvertently knocks him into the Sarlacc pit to his doom. Meanwhile, Leia strangles Jabba, and Luke destroys Jabba’s sail barge as the group escapes. While the others rendezvous with the Rebel Alliance, Luke returns to Dagobah, where he finds that Yoda is on his deathbed. Before he dies, Yoda confirms that Darth Vader, once known as Anakin Skywalker, is Luke’s father, and that “there is another”. The ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi confirms that this “other” is Luke’s twin sister: Leia. Obi-Wan tells Luke that he must fight Vader again to defeat the Empire. Obi-Wan also warns Luke to keep his emotions in check, as his anger could lead him to the Dark Side.
The Rebels learns that the Empire has been constructing a second Death Star under the direct supervision of the Emperor himself. As the station is protected by an energy shield, Han leads a strike team to destroy the shield generator on the forest moon of Endor; doing so would allow a squadron of starfighters to destroy the Death Star. The strike team, accompanied by Luke and Leia, travels to Endor in a stolen Imperial shuttle. On Endor, Luke and his companions encounter a tribe of Ewoks and, after an initial conflict, gain their trust. Later, Luke tells Leia that she is his sister, Vader is their father, and he must go and confront him. Luke surrenders to Imperial troops and is taken to Vader. Luke tries to convince Vader to turn from the dark side of the Force, but fails.
Vader takes Luke to the new Death Star to meet the Emperor, who is intent on turning him to the dark side. The Emperor reveals that the Death Star is fully operational and the Rebel fleet will fall into a trap. On Endor, Han’s strike team is captured by Imperial forces, but a surprise counterattack by the Ewoks allows the Rebels to battle the Imperials. Meanwhile, Lando, piloting the Millennium Falcon, leads the Rebel fleet to the Death Star, only to find that the station’s shield is still active and the Imperial fleet is waiting for them. The Emperor tempts Luke to give in to his anger and join him. Luke engages Vader in a lightsaber duel. Vader senses that Luke has a sister and suggests turning her to the dark side. Enraged, Luke overpowers Vader and severs his father’s prosthetic right hand. Upon seeing the remnants of Vader’s prosthetic, he sees a parallel between himself and Vader, and fears he will become like Vader. The Emperor tells Luke to kill Vader and take his place, but Luke refuses, declaring himself a Jedi as his father had been. On Endor, the strike team defeats the Imperial forces and destroys the shield generator, allowing the Rebel fleet to launch their assault on the Death Star. Simultaneously, the Emperor tortures Luke with Force lightning. Unwilling to let his son die, Vader kills the Emperor, but is mortally wounded in the process. He asks Luke to remove his mask, and after a brief talk, he dies peacefully, having redeemed himself.
As the battle between the Imperial and Alliance fleets continues, Lando leads a group of Rebel ships into the Death Star’s core and destroys the main reactor. As Luke escapes on a shuttle with his father’s body, the Falcon flies out of the Death Star as the station explodes. On Endor, Leia reveals to Han that Luke is her brother, and they kiss. Luke returns to Endor and cremates his father’s body on a funeral pyre. As the Rebels celebrate their victory over the Empire, Luke smiles as he sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and the redeemed Anakin watching over them.
This is the best of the series & not just because of the victory over the Empire. It springs a surprise in Luke having a sister, & completes Luke confronting what is left of his father. It destroys an empire & an emperor. It introduces Ewoks & then has them join in an alliance to create the victory. It even makes C3PO a God, & you can’t top that.