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)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)

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.

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REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Megan Fox (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
John Turturro (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Ramón Rodríguez (Iron Fist)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Julie White (Lincoln)
Isabel Lucas (The Loft)
John Benjamin Hickey (The Ex)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Matthew Marsden (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek Discovery)
Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place)
Katie Lowes (Scandal)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
André Sogliuzzo (Family Guy)
Jess Harnell (Little Nicky)
Grey DeLisle (Ultimate Avengers)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Josh Kelly (Jarhead 2)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Robin Atkins Downes (Babylon 5)
Andrew Howard (Bates Motel)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)

In 17,000 B.C., the Seven Primes travel the galaxy to create Energon with star-absorbing machines named Sun Harvesters. The Primes followed a rule: never destroy planets with life; however, one of them, Megatronus Prime, later known as The Fallen, defies this and establishes a Sun Harvester on Earth. He is confronted by the other Primes, who imprison him before he can harvest the planet’s Sun with the Matrix of Leadership. The Primes then sacrifice themselves to hide the Matrix in an unknown location.In the present day, two years after Megatron’s defeat, the Autobots have formed the Non-Biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty (NEST), a classified international military task force dedicated to eliminate the surviving Decepticons. In Shanghai, the Autobots intercept two Decepticons, Demolisher and Sideways. They send in new recruits: Sideswipe, Skids, Mudflap, Arcee, Chromia, and Elita One to hunt them down. Sideswipe successfully kills Sideways, while Optimus Prime kills Demolisher, but not before he warns them of the Fallen’s return. At NEST’s headquarters in Diego Garcia, National Security Adviser Theodore Galloway scolds the task force sarcastically for their tactics, reminding them that Megatron’s corpse is still at the bottom of the Laurentian Abyss and the last known AllSpark shard is locked up in the base. Soundwave hacks into a military satellite, overhears the information, and sends Ravage to retrieve the shard.Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is preparing to attend college, leaving his girlfriend Mikaela Banes and guardian Bumblebee behind. He finds a smaller AllSpark shard and picks it up, causing him to start seeing Cybertronian symbols and accidentally brings multiple kitchen appliances to life. After Bumblebee destroys the rampaging appliances (along with part of the Witwicky’s house), Sam gives the shard to Mikaela, who later captures the Decepticon Wheelie when he attempts to steal it. The Constructicons resurrect Megatron by ripping apart the smallest Constructicon Scrapmetal to provide parts for him, as well as using the stolen shard.Megatron then travels to one of Saturn’s moons, where he reunites with his master, the Fallen, who orders him to capture Sam alive and kill Optimus, the only Transformer who can defeat the Fallen. Sam, Mikaela and his college roommate, Leo are attacked by Alice, a Decepticon Pretender posing as a college student. After killing her, they are captured by the Decepticon Grindor and taken to an abandoned factory. Megatron reveals that the symbols in Sam’s mind will lead the Decepticons to a new Energon source before the Autobots arrive to rescue the trio. Optimus rescues Sam and engages Megatron, who is accompanied by Starscream, and Grindor. Initially overpowered, Optimus manages to injure Starscream by cutting off his arm before killing Grindor. Megatron then ambushes Optimus and blasts his spark, destroying it and leaving him fatally wounded; Optimus dies shortly after telling Sam to run without him. The other Autobots arrive and repel the Decepticons, forcing Megatron and Starscream to retreat. The Decepticons launch devastating simultaneous attacks around the world, destroying ships in the Second Fleet and damaging Paris. The Fallen hijacks Earth’s telecommunications systems, demanding that Sam be handed to him.Sam, Mikaela, and Leo enlist the help of former Sector 7 agent, Seymour Simmons, who reveals that the Transformers visited Earth eons ago and the most ancient, known as Seekers, live in secret. With help from Wheelie, they track down a Decepticon Seeker named Jetfire at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. They use their shard to revive Jetfire, who teleports the group to Egypt and explains the story of the Fallen. Jetfire and Wheelie turn against the Decepticons, and order them to locate the Matrix, which could revive Optimus. Sam’s group finds the Matrix in Petra, but it disintegrates into dust in Sam’s hands. Undeterred, Sam stuffs the Matrix’s remains into his sock. Meanwhile, NEST forces and the Autobots land near the Giza pyramid complex but are attacked by a large force of Decepticons. During the battle, many Constructicons combine to form Devastator, who destroys one of the pyramids, revealing the Sun Harvester inside, before he is killed by a battleship’s railgun called in by Simmons. Under Megatron’s orders, the Decepticons Rampage and Ravage spring a trap with Sam’s parents (who were captured during the Paris attack) as bait in order to force Sam to give them the Matrix, but Bumblebee interferes and kills both Decepticons. Lennox and Epps call in an airstrike, which kills a large portion of the Decepticon ground forces. However, Megatron manages to shoot Sam, seemingly killing him, before retreating upon getting attacked. Nearing his death, the Primes contact Sam through a vision, telling him the Matrix is earned, not found, and that he earned the right to bear it. They restore Sam’s life and the Matrix, which he uses to revive Optimus.The Fallen teleports to their location and steals the Matrix from Optimus, then returns to the pyramid with Megatron and activates the Sun Harvester. Jetfire, who was wounded by Scroponok but did manage to kill him, sacrifices himself in order for Optimus to gain his parts, which give him immense strength and the ability to fly. Optimus knocks the Fallen and Megatron off the pyramid, destroying the Sun Harvester in the process. In the battle, Optimus disables Megatron and kills the Fallen; vowing vengeance, Megatron retreats with Starscream. The victorious Autobots and their allies then return to the United States, having saved the world.This builds things up to a much greater scale than the first film, and it brings in a lot more of the robots, both good and bad ones. The plot does involve you to have to work at it, a little more than you might expect from a piece of escapist entertainment. And yet, whilst it’s not as focused as the first film, it does come up with a big action battle climax.  As humans and alien robots alike battle evil forces and strive to do the right thing and are quite prepared to put their lives on the line, it’s not hard to find yourself rooting for them all the way.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS (2007)

 

 

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Megan Fox (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
Anthony Anderson (Kangaroo Jack)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)
John Turturro (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Jon Voight (Pearl Harbor)
Michael O’Neill (Bates Motel)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Julie White (Lincoln)
Amaury Nolasco (The Rum Diary)
Zack Ward (Bloodrayne 2)
W. Morgan Sheppard (Star Trek)
Bernie Mac (Bad Santa)
Travis Van Winkle (Friday The 13th)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Darius McCrary (Anger Management)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)
Jess Harnell (Little Nicky)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Charlie Adler (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Samantha Smith (Supernatural)
Tom Lenk (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Colton Haynes (Arrow)

Several thousand years ago, the planet Cybertron was consumed by a civil war between the two Transformer factions, the Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons led by Megatron. Optimus jettisoned the AllSpark, a mystical artifact that brings life to the planet, into space, but Megatron pursued it. Megatron crashed in the Arctic Circle and froze, and was discovered in 1895 by explorer Archibald Witwicky. Witwicky inadvertently activated Megatron’s navigational system, which etched the AllSpark’s coordinates into his glasses. The glasses end up in the possession of his great-great-grandson Sam Witwicky. In the present, Sam buys his first car, a rusting Chevrolet Camaro, but discovers it has a life of its own.In modern Qatar, Blackout attacks and destroys a United States military base in a failed attempt to hack the military network to find information on Megatron and the AllSpark. A team of Army Rangers led by Captain William Lennox escape across the desert, pursued by Blackout’s drone Scorponok. They fight Scorponok off, aided by aerial reinforcements, and travel home with Scorponok’s stinger, discovering sabot rounds damaged its armor. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense John Keller leads the investigation into the attack. Sound analyst Maggie Madsen catches another Decepticon, Frenzy, hacking into the U.S. military network while onboard Air Force One. While the hack is thwarted, Frenzy downloads files on Archibald’s glasses, tracking down Sam with Barricade, disguised as a police car.Sam and his high school crush Mikaela Banes are rescued from Barricade and Frenzy by the Camaro who turns out to be Autobot scout Bumblebee, but he is mute and has to communicate through his car radio. Previously sending a beacon to his fellow Autobots, Bumblebee takes Sam and Mikaela to meet the new arrivals – Optimus, Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet. Optimus explains the details of their situation, revealing that if Megatron gained the AllSpark he would transform Earth’s machinery into a new army and exterminate mankind. Sam, Mikaela, and the Autobots travel to Sam’s house to retrieve the glasses, but the teenagers are captured by agents of Sector Seven, a top secret government branch, led by Seymour Simmons. The Autobots stop the agents, but they call for backup, who take Sam, Mikaela, and Bumblebee into custody, while Optimus obtains the glasses, and uses them to locate the Allspark.The respective groups connected to the Transformers are gathered together at Hoover Dam by Sector Seven’s director Tom Banachek, who reveals Megatron, still frozen, and the AllSpark. Frenzy, who smuggled away in Mikaela’s bag, summons the other Decepticons to attack and sabotages Megatron’s cryonic system. Bumblebee is released to protect the AllSpark, shrinking it down to a handheld size so it can be transported to safety. Megatron escapes the dam after thawing out. Frenzy attacks Secretary Keller, Madsen and Agent Simmons in the Dam’s radio room, trying to prevent them from summoning the Air Force, but is decapitated by his own ricocheting shuriken.A lengthy battle occurs in Mission City, with most of the Decepticons being killed, but Megatron murders Jazz. He prevents Sam’s attempted escape with the AllSpark, and begins to fight Optimus. After a long brawl Megatron seems to get the upper hand. Optimus then tells Sam to push the cube into his chest in order to ensure their mutual destruction, but Sam rams it into Megatron’s chest instead, extinguishing his spark. Starscream and Barricade are the only Decepticons to survive the battle and escape.Optimus salvages a shard of the AllSpark from Megatron’s body. The United States government shuts down Sector Seven, disposing of the dead Decepticons in the Laurentian Abyss. Sam and Mikaela then start a relationship while the Autobots secretly hide out on Earth, Optimus sends a transmission into space inviting any surviving Autobots to join them. A brief mid-credits scene shows Starscream escaping into space to rally other Decepticons and summon them to Earth.Granted, these aren’t your granddaddy’s Transformers. Souped up to resemble high-tech living robots while fighting and the latest in automobile trends in car form, Bay and the producers have mucked around considerably with the look of the Autobots and Decepticons, putting the infamous flames on Optimus Prime and turning Megatron into an alien jet. Supporters of the all-holy “G1” have every right to scoff, but “Transformers” has a wonderful way of making these ludicrous alterations fit into the bigger, slicker picture, pressing down hard on the extra-terrestrial angle of our visitors. It’s only a matter of moments before you buy these reinvented incarnations of popular characters and another few seconds before you start to root for their victory and defeat. Running at 140 minutes, Transformers never runs out of juice.

REVIEW: CLOUD ATLAS

 

CAST

Tom Hanks (Catch Me If You Can)
Halle berry (X-Men)
Jim Broadbent (Paddington)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Hugh Grant (American Dreamz)
Jim Sturgess (21)
Doona Bae (Sense8)
Ben Whishaw (Spectre)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
Xun Zhou (The Message)
David Gyasi (Containment)

Tribesman Zachry Bailey recounts stories to his grandchildren on an extra-terrestrial Earth colony.Cloud AtlasPacific Islands, 1849

Adam Ewing, an American lawyer, has come to the Chatham Islands to conclude a business arrangement with Reverend Horrox and his father-in-law. In Horrox’s plantation, he witnesses the whipping of a Moriori slave, Autua, who later stows away on the ship. Autua confronts Ewing and convinces him to advocate for Autua to join the crew as a free man. Dr Henry Goose slowly poisons Ewing, claiming it is the cure for a parasitic worm, to steal Ewing’s valuables. As Goose administers the fatal dose, Autua saves Ewing. Returning to the United States, Ewing and his wife Tilda denounce her father’s complicity in slavery and leave to join the abolition movement.

Cloud AtlasCambridge/Edinburgh, 1936

Robert Frobisher, a young English composer, finds work as an amanuensis to aging composer Vyvyan Ayrs, allowing Frobisher the time and inspiration to compose his own masterpiece, “The Cloud Atlas Sextet”. Frobisher begins reading Ewing’s journal, which he has found with the latter portion missing, among the books at Ayrs’s mansion. Ayrs demands credit for “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” and threatens to expose Frobisher’s homosexuality if he refuses. Frobisher shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel, where he uses the name Ewing. He finishes “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” and commits suicide with a gun just before his lover Rufus Sixsmith arrives.

CLOUD ATLASSan Francisco, 1973

Journalist Luisa Rey meets an older Rufus Sixsmith, now a nuclear physicist. Sixsmith tips off Rey to a conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by Lloyd Hooks, but is killed by Hooks’s hitman, Bill Smoke, before he can give her a report that proves it. Rey finds Frobisher’s letters to Sixsmith and tracks down a vinyl recording of Frobisher’s “Cloud Atlas Sextet”. Isaac Sachs, another scientist at the power plant, passes her a copy of Sixsmith’s report. Smoke kills Sachs by blowing up his plane and runs Rey’s car off a bridge. She escapes but the report is destroyed. With help from the plant’s head of security, Joe Napier, Rey evades another attempt on her life, which results in Smoke’s death. With another copy of the report obtained from Sixsmith’s niece, she exposes the plot to use a nuclear accident for the benefit of oil company executives, who are indicted as a result.cloud-atlas-9

London, 2012

Sixty-five-year-old publisher Timothy Cavendish reaps a windfall when Dermot Hoggins, the gangster author of Knuckle Sandwich, murders a critic who gave the novel a harsh review, generating huge sales. When Hoggins’s brothers threaten Cavendish’s life for Hoggins’s share of the profits, Cavendish asks for help from his wealthy brother, Denholme, who tells him to hide at Aurora House. On the way there, Cavendish reads a manuscript of a novel based on Luisa Rey’s story, and recalls his relationship with a woman named Ursula. He visits the house where she lived with her parents and discovers that she still lives there. Believing Aurora House is a hotel, Timothy signs papers “voluntarily” committing himself; in fact, Aurora House is a nursing home (in Ayrs’s old mansion). Denholme reveals to Timothy that he sent him there as revenge for Timothy’s affair with Denholme’s wife Georgette. The head nurse, Noakes, is abusive, and contact with the outside world is denied. Cavendish escapes with three other residents. He resumes his relationship with Ursula and writes a screenplay of his experience.

2144-waitresses-soap

Neo Seoul, 2144

Sonmi-451 is a “fabricant”, a human cloned for slave labor, living as a server at a fast food restaurant in a dystopian South Korea. She is exposed to ideas of rebellion by another fabricant and friend, Yoona-939. After witnessing Yoona being killed for rebelling, Sonmi is rescued from captivity by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a rebel. He exposes Sonmi to the larger world, including the banned writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and a film version of Timothy Cavendish’s “ghastly ordeal”. They are found and Sonmi is captured. Hae-Joo rescues her, introduces her to the leader of the rebel movement, and shows her that clones are not freed at the end of their contract but killed and recycled into food for other clones. Sonmi makes a public broadcast of her story and manifesto. The authorities intervene to halt the broadcast; Hae-Joo is killed in the firefight and Sonmi is recaptured. After recounting her story to an archivist, she is executed.cloud_atlas_-_behind_the_scenes_featurette

Big Isle (Hawaii), 106 winters after the Fall (2321)

Zachry Bailey lives in a primitive post-apocalyptic society called the Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii.[13] The Valley tribesmen worship Sonmi-451; their sacred text is taken from the broadcast of her manifesto. Zachry is plagued by visions of a demonic figure called Old Georgie, who urges him to give in to his fears. Zachry, his brother-in-law Adam, and his nephew are attacked by the cannibalistic Kona tribe. Zachry runs into hiding and his companions are murdered. His village is visited by Meronym, a member of the Prescients, an advanced society using the last remnants of high technology. Meronym’s mission is to find a remote communication station on Mauna Sol and send a message to Earth’s off-world colonies. Catkin, Zachry’s niece, falls sick, and in exchange for saving her, Zachry agrees to guide Meronym to the station, where Meronym reveals the true story of Sonmi-451. Returning, Zachry finds his tribe slaughtered by the Kona. He kills the sleeping Kona chief and rescues Catkin, and Meronym saves them both from the returning Kona and is in turn saved by Zachry. Zachry and Catkin join Meronym and the Prescients as their ship leaves Big Island.cloud-atlas-tom-hanks-halle-berryI understand that this movie won’t be to everybody’s liking but if you want to watch a unique, beautiful piece of epic storytelling then I highly recommend Cloud Atlas.

REVIEW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

 

CAST

Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
John Rhys-Davies (Beyond The Mask)
Billy Boyd (Seed of Chucky)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Bernard Hill (True Crime)
Orlando Bloom (Kingdom of Heaven)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars Episode II & III)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstein)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Andy Serkis (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Marton Csokas (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Bruce Spence (Mad Max 2)
Bruce Hopkins (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Ian Hughes (Hercules: TLJ)
Bruce Phillips (Power Rangers RPM)
Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Stephen Ure (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Jed Brophy (The Hobbit)
Craig Parker (Reign)

Gandalf leads Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and King Théoden to Isengard where they reunite with Merry and Pippin. With Saruman defeated, Gandalf retrieves Saruman’s palantír. Overcome by curiosity, Pippin steals a glance into the seeing-stone, and suffers a mental attack from Sauron himself. Gandalf deduces that Sauron will attack Gondor’s capital Minas Tirith, so he rides there to warn them, taking Pippin with him because Sauron thinks Pippin is the ring bearer.Meanwhile, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are led by Gollum to Minas Morgul where they witness the Witch-king of Angmar leading an Orc army to drive Denethor’s younger son Faramir and his men from Osgiliath. At Gollum’s urging, the three begin climbing a precarious stair carved in the cliff face that will take them into Mordor via a ‘secret way’. But having overheard Gollum’s plot to regain the Ring, Sam keeps a suspicious eye on him. In Gondor, Pippin follows Gandalf’s instructions and secretly lights the beacon to signal Théoden to assemble the Rohirrim and come to Gondor’s aid.While helping Théoden gather his forces, Aragorn is approached by Elrond who says Arwen is dying. After seeing a vision of her son she refused to leave Middle Earth. Elrond then gives Aragorn the sword Andúril, Isildur’s sword Narsil reforged, so he can reclaim his birthright while gaining reinforcements from the Dead Men of Dunharrow. Joined by Legolas and Gimli, Aragorn travels to the Paths of the Dead, recruiting the Army of the Dead with the promise to release them from their curse once they fulfil their oath to Isildur.Faramir is gravely wounded after a futile effort to retake Osgiliath, and believing his son to be dead, Denethor falls into madness. Gandalf is left to command the city defences against the Orc army led by Gothmog. But as Gothmog’s forces eventually force their way into the city, Denethor tries to kill himself and Faramir on a pyre. Pippin alerts Gandalf and they save Faramir, but Denethor leaps to his death from the top of Minas Tirith just before Théoden and the Rohirrim arrive. Initially the Rohirrim have the advantage at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, but are eventually overwhelmed by the Oliphaunt-riding Haradrim while the Witch-king mortally wounds Théoden. Though Théoden’s niece Éowyn, having posed as a male soldier, battles and slays the Witch-King with Merry’s help, Théoden dies of his wounds. Aragorn arrives with the Army of the Dead, they overcome the Orcs and win the battle. The Dead are released from their curse, and the wounded are tended to. Aragorn and the other captains of Men decide to lead all who can march upon the Black Gate as a distraction, so Frodo and Sam can get to Mount Doom.Meanwhile, Gollum manipulates Frodo into leaving Sam behind before they arrive at the tunnel leading to Mordor, and then tricks him into lair of the giant spider Shelob, who paralyses and binds Frodo. Sam arrives and drives Shelob away, but believing his friend to be dead takes Frodo’s sword Sting and The One Ring for safekeeping. When he sees Frodo’s body being taken by Orcs to Cirith Ungol he realises that Frodo is still alive, and gives chase. Sam rescues Frodo from the Orcs, and returns the Ring to him.Aragorn’s army draw out Sauron’s forces and empty Mordor, allowing the exhausted Hobbits to stagger to the volcano, but they’re attacked by Gollum when they reach Mount Doom. Frodo finally succumbs to the Ring’s power and claims it as his own, and refuses to destroy it. Gollum attacks Frodo and bites his finger off to reclaim the Ring, but Frodo fights back and knocks Gollum, who is holding the Ring, into the volcano. While Frodo holds onto the ledge for dear life, Sam manages to save him and both escape the volcano at the last second. The Ring and Sauron are both destroyed, causing a chain-reaction that consumes the mountain, topples Barad-dûr, and kills most of the fleeing Orcs as the ground crumbles beneath them. Gandalf flies in with eagles to rescue the Hobbits, who awaken later in Minas Tirith and are reunited with the surviving Fellowship members.Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor and takes Arwen as his queen. They, and all others present at his coronation, bow before Frodo and the Hobbits. The Hobbits then return to the Shire where Sam marries Rosie Cotton. Frodo, while happy for his friends, is unable to cope with the traumas of his journey, and departs Middle Earth for the Grey Havens with his uncle Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Elves. He leaves Sam the Red Book of Westmarch which details their adventures. Though saddened by Frodo’s departure, Sam is gladdened by the warm welcome he receives upon returning home.

This is one of the best series of all time, Fellowship Of The Ring still nicks it as my fave of the three movies if I was pushed to choose. You can’t really detract from what Peter Jackson has achieved with this film, Tolkien himself gave the film rights away for practically nothing, deeming the book impossible to translate to film. Peter Jackson proved him wrong and we now have a great trilogy of films that will stand the test of time.

REVIEW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS

CAST

Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
John Rhys-Davies (Beyond The Mask)
Billy Boyd (Seed of Chucky)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Bernard Hill (True Crime)
Orlando Bloom (Kingdom of Heaven)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars Episode II & III)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstein)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Andy Serkis (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Craig Parker (Reign)
John Leigh (Power Rangers Samurai)
Bruce Hopkins (Xena: Warrior Princess)
John Bach (Spartacus)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Stephen Ure (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Paul Norell (Young Hercules)

Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring by throwing it into Mount Doom. They are attacked in the night by Gollum, former owner of the Ring, but they capture him. Sympathising with Gollum for their shared burden, Frodo asks Gollum to lead them safely to Mordor, despite Sam’s objections. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursue the Uruk-hai who kidnapped their friends Merry and Pippin. The Uruk-hai are slaughtered by the Rohirrim army of Rohan, but the two Hobbits escape into Fangorn Forest where they meet the Ent Treebeard. Aragorn’s group later meet the Rohirrim who have been banished by their king Théoden, who is manipulated by Saruman’s servant Grima Wormtongue. Tracking the Hobbits in Fangorn, Aragorn’s group encounter a resurrected Gandalf who perished in Moria, but was revived to help save Middle-earth.Gollum leads Frodo and Sam through the Dead Marshes whilst evading the Nazgûl. They reach the Black Gate to Mordor but Gollum stops them, saying it’s too risky and that there is another entrance, finding himself becoming loyal to Frodo for his kindness. The trio later are captured by the Rangers of Ithilien, led by Faramir, brother of the late Boromir. When Faramir discovers Frodo has the Ring, he intends on taking him to Gondor, capturing Gollum when Frodo exposes him. Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli travel to Rohan’s capital Edoras where Gandalf releases Théoden from Saruman’s power and Wormtongue is banished. Learning Saruman plans on wiping out Rohan with an army of Uruk-hai, Théoden decides to move his citizens to the protection of Helm’s Deep, but Gandalf departs to find the Rohirrim led by Théoden’s nephew Éomer. Aragorn strikes up a friendship with Théoden’s niece Éowyn who quickly falls in love with him. During a Warg attack, Aragorn falls off a cliff into a river, but is found by his horse and taken to Helm’s Deep.In Fangorn, Merry and Pippin attend an Ent council but learn Treebeard and the others will not participate in the war. They convince them otherwise when they show the destruction Saruman has unleashed on the forests around Isengard. The Ents storm Isengard and imprison Saruman in his tower. The Uruk-hai army arrive at Helm’s Deep, finding a makeshift army of peasants and Elves from Rivendell waiting for them. A great battle follows with Théoden losing hope until Aragorn convinces him to ride out and meet them. Gandalf and the Rohirrim arrive, turning the tide of the battle and destroying the Uruk-hai.Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are taken to the fallen Gondor city Osgiliath but they are attacked by the Nazgûl and Mordor army. Sam informs Faramir of how the Ring nearly drove Boromir mad, stunning Faramir. Frodo is nearly captured by the Nazgûl but Sam tackles him down a flight of stairs, saving him. After the attack ends, Faramir frees the trio and sends them on their way. Gollum, hurt by Frodo’s seeming betrayal, decides to reclaim the Ring by leading Frodo and Sam to a creature he refers to as “her”, leading them away towards Mordor.The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Version might rasie a few eyebrows when one sees how long the extented version is, however the extra 40 minutes added to the theatrical cut actually make the ‘The Two Towers’ a better film to enjoy as a lord of the rings and/or film fan. The extra footage, adds depth and suspense to the story, which makes it more gripping, particularly during some of the extended scenes during the battle of Helm’s Deep. There is more character evolution, which gives one a more indepth view of the more mystical sides of the main characters (their backgrounds and their power), particularly Aragon and Gandalf.Furthermore, the extended material gives a larger role to Merry and Pippin, to which many hardcore lord of the rings fans is a great boost to the story. They are a greater aspect of the story and unlike in the theatrical cut, don’t just sit in a tree all the film.What I enjoyed most however, was the realism of the film that the extented edition gave to Tolkein’s writings, though true some aspects were not entirly accurate to the The Two Towers book, the extended editon gave one the feeling more that they were in Middle-Earth, than the theatrical cut.The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Version is an ideal viewing for any lord of the rings fan, but furthermore, it is a great epic to watch of any person, even those who saw the theatrical cut, before reading the book.

REVIEW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS

CAST

Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
John Rhys-Davies (Beyond The Mask)
Billy Boyd (Seed of Chucky)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Orlando Bloom (Kingdom of Heaven)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars Episode II & III)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Andy Serkis (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Marton Csokas (Alice In Wonderland)
David Weatherley (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Mark Ferguson (Hercules In The Underworld)

In the Second Age of Middle-earth, the Dark Lord Sauron forges the One Ring in Mount Doom to conquer all, abandoning a great part of his power to it in order to dominate, through it, at a distance, the other Rings of Power, which had been granted to lords of Elves, Dwarves and Men. An army of men and elves battle Sauron’s forces in Mordor, where Prince Isildur of Gondor cuts the One Ring off of Sauron’s finger, thereby temporarily destroying his physical shape, and decides to take care of the Ring himself, but the evil influence of the Ring corrupts Isildur, preventing him from destroying it in Mount Doom. Isildur is later killed by Orcs, and the Ring is lost for 2,500 years, found and owned by Gollum for five centuries. The Ring is then found by a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins.Sixty years on, Bilbo celebrates his 111th birthday in the Shire, reuniting with his old friend Gandalf the Grey. Bilbo reveals he intends on leaving the Shire for one last adventure and leaves his inheritance to his nephew Frodo, including the Ring. Gandalf investigates the Ring, discovering its true identity and warns Frodo. Learning Gollum was tortured by Orcs and told them that Bilbo took the Ring, Gandalf instructs Frodo to leave the Shire, accompanied by his gardener Samwise Gamgee. Gandalf rides to Isengard, meeting fellow wizard Saruman the White, but learns he is in league with Sauron, who has unleashed the Ringwraiths to find Frodo. After a brief battle, Saruman imprisons Gandalf. Frodo and Sam are joined by fellow Hobbits, Merry and Pippin, and they evade the Ringwraiths, arriving in Bree where they are meant to meet Gandalf, but are instead aided by a ranger named Strider, a friend of Gandalf’s who escorts them to Rivendell.The Hobbits are ambushed by the Ringwraiths, one stabbing Frodo with a morgul blade. Arwen, an elf and Strider’s lover, comes to Frodo’s aid and successfully takes him to Rivendell where he is healed, meeting Gandalf who escaped Saruman on the back of a giant eagle. Arwen’s father, Lord Elrond, holds a council, deciding that the Ring must be destroyed in Mount Doom. While the members argue, Frodo volunteers to take the Ring, accompanied by Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, elf Legolas, dwarf Gimli, Boromir of Gondor, and Strider, who is revealed to be Aragorn, Isildur’s heir and rightful King of Gondor. Bilbo gives Frodo his sword, Sting. The Fellowship of the Ring sets off but Saruman’s magic forces them to travel through the Mines of Moria.The Fellowship find the dwarves within Moria have been slain, and they are attacked by Orcs and a cave troll. They defeat them, but are confronted by an ancient demon called the Balrog. Gandalf casts the Balrog into a vast chasm, but its fiery whip drags Gandalf down into the darkness with it. The rest of the Fellowship, now led by Aragorn, reach Lothlórien, home to elves Galadriel and Celeborn. Galadriel privately informs Frodo that only he can complete the quest and one of his friends will try to take the Ring. Meanwhile, Saruman creates an army of Uruk-hai to track and kill the Fellowship save Frodo.The Fellowship leave Lothlórien by river to Parth Galen. Frodo wanders off, confronted by Boromir who tries to take the Ring in desperation. Afraid of the Ring corrupting his friends, Frodo decides to travel to Mordor alone. The other members fight off the Uruk-hai, but Merry and Pippin are taken captive, and Boromir is mortally wounded by the Uruk chieftain. After killing the chieftain, Aragorn helps Boromir die peacefully. Sam follows Frodo, accompanying him to keep his promise to Gandalf to protect Frodo, while Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go to rescue Merry and Pippin.The extended versions are easily recommended over the theatrical versions. Across the three films you’re getting at least two hours of additional scenes which cover more of the story and fill in the gaps. Some of them are not plot critical, hence their original omission, but it’s nice to have them all the same.