REVIEW: THE MUMMY (2017)

CAST

Tom Cruise (Oblivion)
Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle)
Sofia Boutella (Star Trek Beyond)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Courtney B. Vance (Flashforward)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
Marwan Kenzari (Ben-Hur)
Javier Botet (Mama)
Selva Rasalingam (Skyfall)

In 1127 A.D., a group of English crusader knights capture a large ruby from ancient Egypt and bury it within the tomb of one of their number. In present-day London, a Crossrail construction crew discover the knights’ tomb and a mysterious man is authorized to investigate the uncovered findings inside the site. In a flashback, the hieroglyphics on a circular mural in the tomb, which date back to the New Kingdom era, tell the story of the ruthless Princess Ahmanet.She was first in line to succeed her father Pharaoh Menehptre only to be stripped of her birthright when his second wife gave birth to a son. Determined to claim the throne for herself, Ahmanet sold her soul to the Egyptian god Set, who gave her a special dagger to transfer his spirit into a corporeal form. After murdering her family, Ahmanet attempted to sacrifice her lover to give Set physical form, but her father’s priests slew him and mummified Ahmanet, sentencing her to be buried alive for eternity inside a sarcophagus surrounded by mercury so that her monstrous form will not escape the tomb. In present-day Iraq, soldier-of-fortune Nick Morton and his partner Chris Vail accidentally discover the tomb of Ahmanet after staging an airstrike on an insurgent stronghold. Jenny Halsey, an archaeologist who had a one-night stand with Nick, arrives and investigates the tomb, correctly concluding that it is a prison. After extracting Ahmanet’s sarcophagus from a pool of mercury, Nick’s superior, Colonel Greenway, places the sarcophagus on a transport plane, headed to England.During the flight, Vail becomes possessed by Ahmanet’s power after being bitten by a camel spider while inside the tomb. After attempting to open the sarcophagus, he stabs Greenway and attacks the group before Nick is forced to shoot him dead. A huge murder of crows then assault the plane, causing it to crash and kill everyone on board except for Jenny, who is parachuted off the plane by Nick. Nick awakens a day later in a morgue in Oxford, and learns from Vail’s ghost that he has been cursed by Ahmanet, who seeks to use him as a replacement vessel for Set. Ahmanet’s mummy escapes from the sarcophagus and begins feeding on rescue workers to regenerate her decomposed body. Turning the workers into zombie minions, she lures Nick and Jenny into a trap, forcing the two to fight off the minions as they unsuccessfully try to escape. Ahmanet also recovers the blade of the Dagger of Set from a reliquary in a nearby church.At the last second, unknown soldiers appear and subdue Ahmanet. Their leader, Dr. Henry Jekyll, explains that Jenny is an agent of Prodigium, a secret society dedicated to hunting supernatural threats whose base is under the Natural History Museum of London and contains such objects as a webbed hand and a human skull with fangs. He confirms that Nick was cursed when he unlocked Ahmanet’s tomb and reveals his intention to complete her ritual and allow Set to possess Nick in order to destroy Set and end his evil forever. Meanwhile, Ahmanet summons another spider to possess a Prodigium technician and frees herself from captivity, wreaking havoc, death, and destruction in the process. Jekyll succumbs to his own dark impulses and transforms into Edward Hyde, his murderous and psychotic alternate personality; when Nick rebuffs Hyde’s offer of an alliance between them, Hyde attacks and nearly kills Nick before Nick manages to stop him with the serum Jekyll uses to suppress his evil side. Nick and Jenny then escape from Prodigium while Ahmanet steals back the dagger, summons an army of deceased English crusaders to serve her, and creates a massive sandstorm that ravages London. The undead knights slaughter the Prodigium soldiers in the tomb, allowing Ahmanet to recover the ruby and set it in the dagger’s pommel, granting her all she needs to free Set.Guided by Vail, Nick and Jenny flee into the London Underground tunnels under London, but are attacked by Ahmanet’s minions. Ahmanet captures Jenny and drowns her, hoping to break her hold over Nick. Nick puts up a fight, but gives up and lets himself embrace Ahmanet, using it as a ruse to steal the dagger and stab himself. His body is possessed by Set, who proceeds to join Ahmanet to uphold his end of the bargain until he sees Jenny’s dead body, at which point Nick regains control and uses Set’s powers to overpower and suck the life out of Ahmanet, turning her back into a shriveled mummy. Nick harnesses Set’s powers to resurrect Jenny, saying goodbye before becoming overwhelmed by Set’s power and disappearing. Soon, Jenny regroups with Dr. Jekyll and they discuss if Nick, now fused with Set, will succumb to Set’s influence. Ahmanet’s corpse is lowered into a locked pool of mercury within the Prodigium base for safekeeping. Later on in the desert, Nick resurrects Vail, and the two set out on an adventure.I was very happy with the Mummy. I didn’t expect a lot, so I was pleasantly surprised with what I got. Not everyone is going to like it, though, The original Mummy movies were classics and some might say a reboot was unnecessary. A movie like this is one that’s best to make your own mind up on.

 

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD


CAST

Chris Pratt (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation)
Irrfan Khan (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil TV)
Ty simpkins (Iron Man 3)
Nick robinson (Melissa & Joey)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Omar SY (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
BD Wong (Gotham)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Laura Lapkus (Blended)
Brian Tee (The Wolverine)
Katie McGrath (Dracula)

Twenty-two years after Jurassic Park was overrun by cloned dinosaurs on the Central American island of Isla Nublar, a new park, Jurassic World, has become a successful resort. The Masrani Global Corporation – owner of the genetics company InGen that creates the dinosaurs – has been operating the park on the same island for the past ten years. Brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell visit Jurassic World to see their aunt Claire Dearing, the park’s operations manager. Claire, a busy workaholic, assigns her assistant to be their guide, but the boys evade her and explore the resort on their own.

Owen Grady, a Navy veteran, has been researching the intelligence of the park’s Velociraptors. InGen security chief Vic Hoskins believes the raptors should be trained for military use despite Owen’s objections. Park owner Simon Masrani has Owen evaluate the paddock of the park’s new hybrid dinosaur, Indominus‍ rex, before the attraction opens. Owen warns Claire about the danger of raising Indominus in isolation, pointing out its lack of socialization with other animals. When the staff learns that the Indominus appears to have escaped its paddock, Owen and two others enter the enclosure. Able to camouflage itself and mask its heat signature, the Indominus suddenly appears and devours Owen’s companions before escaping into the island’s interior. Owen orders the Indominus to be killed, but Masrani instead sends a specialized unit to capture it. When most of the unit is killed, Claire orders the evacuation of the island’s northern sector.

While exploring in a gyrosphere ride, Zach and Gray enter a restricted area. The nearby Indominus attacks and destroys their sphere, but both manage to escape to the ruins of the original Jurassic Park visitor center. They repair an old Jeep Wrangler and drive back to the park resort. While Claire and Owen are searching for the boys, they encounter the Indominus and barely escape themselves. Masrani and two troopers hunt the Indominus by helicopter, but when the Indominus smashes into the park’s aviary to escape gunfire, it releases a flock of pterosaurs that collide with the helicopter, causing it to crash. Gray and Zach eventually find Owen and Claire at the resort as armed personnel subdue the pterosaurs with tranquilizers.

Assuming command, Hoskins orders that the raptors be used to track the Indominus; Owen is forced to accept Hoskins’ plan and lead the raptors. Upon reaching the Indominus, the dinosaurs begin communicating with one another. Owen realizes that the Indominus includes raptor DNA, and it becomes the raptor pack’s new alpha, taking command away from Owen. Hoskins arranges for chief geneticist Dr. Henry Wu to flee the island by helicopter with dinosaur embryos, in order to protect his research. Owen, Claire, and the boys find Hoskins at the lab packing up more embryos. Hoskins reveals his plan to create miniature versions of the Indominus for use as weapons, but a raptor breaks in and kills him.

Owen reestablishes his bond with the raptors before the Indominus reappears. The raptors attack, but are all seemingly killed. Claire releases the park’s Tyrannosaurus rex and lures it into a battle with the Indominus. The T. rex is overpowered, but before the Indominus can kill it, a surviving raptor joins the attack. The raptor and T. rex force the overwhelmed Indominus toward the lagoon, where it is dragged underwater by a Mosasaurus. Isla Nublar is once again abandoned, and the survivors are evacuated to the mainland. Zach and Gray are reunited with their parents.Jurassic World is an incredibly entertaining long-awaited sequel. I had a lot of fun watching it. It rejuvenated the franchise in a way the previous sequels couldn’t.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: NEW GIRL – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES – PART 2

Image result for NEW GIRL LOGO

MAIN CAST

Zooey Deschanel (Your Highness)
Jake Johnson (Jurassic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Black Rapunzel)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

CHRISTAMS EVE EVE

GUEST CAST

Megan Fox (Transformers)

However often “Christmas Eve Eve” reminds us of the old gift-giving truism, it’s not just the thought that counts. It’s also the effort and attention to detail that accompany the thought. This year, New Girl presents us with a sweet, silly Christmas episode, full of affection and the implicit knowledge of its characters that is key to the show’s appeal, but it’s wrapped up in a package as clumsy as a gift from Nick Miller, with his “caveman wrapping skills.”

When her roommates try to talk her out of celebrating Christmas this year, Jessica Day, that immovable object of merrymaking, puts her foot down. “Christmas is not cancelled!” she insists. “Christmas gifts are how you show the people you love that you care in a very special, magical, and highly mandatory way.” Her proposed compromise of a Secret Santa gift exchange is intended to lower the stakes (and the stress) of the holiday. Instead, it raises them. Each Secret Santa gift has to be extra-special because it’s the only gift each of them will get this Christmas.

Christmas Eve Eve cleverly plays out different kinds of gift-giving anxieties and the emotional realities that underlie them. Some are simple mishaps, like Jess buying Nick a gift so perfect, he ends up buying it for himself just before the gift exchange, or Schmidt refusing Winston’s package delivery just because it’s addressed to retired Rear Admiral J. Garagareaux.

Some tensions run deeper. Schmidt is certain Winston’s gift will leave ”my Cece” disappointed; Winston gently but firmly insists that his friendship with Schmidt’s wife (“I like to think of her as our Cece”) has its own in-jokes and touchstones. Winston, who knows how to make a thought count, fashions a makeshift bean bag chair from the blandly inoffensive blanket Schmidt snatches at random from a store shelf, and the way Cece’s face lights up proves Winston right. The gift is a private joke referencing a classic Cece-and-Winston mess-around. She loves it and what it says about their friendship.

Jess’s reminder that each present is a tangible expression of love pays off as each unwrapping uncovers another moment of shared history. Schmidt sees that his friends treasure his wife as dearly as he does, and a little more weirdly. Nick’s gift proves that sometimes, the thought that counts is the image an item conjures up for the recipient. As pleased as Schmidt is with his luxurious new socks, it’s the idea of Nick “mispronouncing ‘cashmere’ in a store” that fills him with joy. In this episode, the thought behind each gift is revealing, and not always in the way the giver intends. Jess’ decision to bring Nick and Reagan together for the holiday is commendable, even self-sacrificing, but it isn’t her first impulse. She only cobbles together the plan to fly Reagan in after Nick buys himself the “cool” sunglasses she’d picked out for him. Then there’s the heartbreaking reveal that Jess’ name was left out of the Secret Santa drawing. After her frantic orchestrations and her exhortations to see each present as an expression of love, she’s left with a second-hand gift, one with no shared joke or spark of joy. It’s a nice touch that Jess’ exclusion is her own doing, not a sign of a friend’s thoughtlessness.
Their touching solution recreates and amplifies Jess’ reminiscences of her childhood Christmases. But like the set-up that artificially excludes every relationship outside the loft, this over-the-top ending doesn’t quite ring true. Nick waking Jess with a cup of cocoa, Furguson appearing with felt antlers just as Jess’ dog Frank used to, Jess turning to see “snow” falling outside her window: These moments feel magical and dreamlike, but they fit into the scale of the New Girl universe. Christmas Eve Eve doesn’t sidestep the dreamlike improbability, but escalates it with a city street filled with lights and fake snow, a pre-dawn robed choir, a Motown great appearing to sing and celebrate with these friends. All the elements of this Christmas surprise can be explained individually: Winston arranging the cruisers, Robby’s recently revealed music-industry connections. Even the confetti is set up with a shot of Nick at a shredder. It’s festive and fun and it all falls within the strictest limits of possibility.

A fun festive episode for the holidays and one to watch over Christmas.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: NEW GIRL- THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES – PART 1

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MAIN CAST
Zooey Deschanel (Your Highness)
Jake Johnson (Jurassic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (BLack Rapunzel)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)
Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings)

THE 23rd

GUEST CAST
Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers)
Stephen Ammell (Arrow)
Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
Michaela Watkins (Wanderlust)
Winston rolls around the apartment on the rollerskates Jess got him. Schmidt hates Christmas because everybody goes home. They’re all planning on going to his office party tonight. He dresses up like Santa and gets dirty on all his coworkers when they tell him what they want and he uses that information to undermine and manipulate them the rest of the year, in the true spirit of Christmas. Schmidt gets up and we see he’s in skates, too. He tries to tackle Winston at a slow roll. Nick, also in skates, tries to intervene, but they end up in a pile. Jess comes in, needing their help on getting a present for Paul. After only a month, she’s not sure what’s appropriate. She shows Nick the card she made for “Nerdy weird sex that works for both of us”.
On the way from the mall, Jess drives them through a neighborhood decked out with Christmas decorations. She wants to come back at night on the way from the office party to the airport, but Nick is resolved not to miss his flight for the fifth year in a row. CeCe is at work on a set in a bra and panties. Schmidt drops by with a gift. It’s a shoot for a before and after for a Bolivian diet pill. They’re interrupted by Kyle, who frenches CeCe hello. Schmidt explains he designed the perfume for her. It gets awkward. Paul and Jess exchange gifts. He got her tickets to Vienna and passes to a show. She got him an anatomically correct fuzzy heart of a 50 year old non-smoker. It beats. She wants to get him something better, but he tells her it’s fuzzy and quirky and sweet, just like her. He says he loves it several times, then hugs her and says he loves her. She pauses, then goes with “Thank you.” The gang arrives for Schmidt’s office party. They find him wearing only red boxers and dressed as “sexy Santa.”
Jess tells Nick what Paul says and he advises her to tell Paul if she doesn’t feel the same way. She tells him she’ll do it. Instead, Jess hides in the bathroom. Nick sees Paul standing alone outside and goes to talk to him. He asks if Jess talked to him and Paul says yes, so Nick reassures him that just because Jess doesn’t love him now doesn’t mean she won’t one day. Paul says she told him they might have to leave for the airport early. Nick tries to pretend he’s drunk, or joking or anything to rescue the situation, but it’s too late. Jess and CeCe hide in the bathroom. Kyle wants to go to another party. Jess thinks he’s the “living worst” and asks if he even got her anything. He didn’t. CeCe tries her Schmidt perfume, but inhales and hacks ferociously. Winston complains to someone about the rigors of having a job and office life. We see it’s a kid. Schmidt’s boss Gina comes over, it’s her son. She’s impressed he’s talking to Winston since he doesn’t usually talk to people.Schmidt sees Kyle mock CeCe for wearing the mustache Jess gave her. CeCe hears Schmidts mean coworker harassing him and tries to tell him to stand up for himself. He notices the bad smell and she tells him it’s his perfume, but he’s just glad she wore it.
Outside on the awkward balcony, Paul begs Nick to tell him what Jess says. Nick tells him that Jess said the sex was incredible but she doesn’t want to rush into anything. Jess sees them hugging and goes outside. Paul tries to cover for what they were talking about but only comes up with they both like jazz music. Nick confesses he told Paul she doesn’t love him. Jess starts yelling at him and Nick tries to leave, only to find he’s locked out on the balcony with them. Jess tries to talk to Paul gently, saying she feels overwhelmed. She says she got really badly hurt and is trying to not get hurt again. Nick’s cell phone rings and he answers, explaining that he can’t talk because he’s in a weird situation. Jess asks if they can keep going, just slow things down. Paul says he’s not sure he can. Nick pipes up, but Jess shushes him. Schmidt finds Kim in the supply room with a bunch of women and tells Kim he’s done being Santa. “Santa’s dead, I killed him!” Schmidt says. Gina’s son hears and runs screaming. Schmidt tells him she needs to start taking him seriously, so no more Sexy Easter Bunny, Cinco de Sexy or Sexy Martin Luther King Day. Kim says she can’t believe it took him five years to say so. Winston fields a call from Nick’s mom and assures her he’ll make his flight. Gina comes over, panicked that she can’t find her son. Winston helps look, sure somehow it’s Schmidt’s fault.
Back outside in awkwardtown, Paul tells Jess he can’t slow down and if she needs to then he can’t do this anymore. Jess says OK. Nick, the peanut gallery, tells Paul to consider the fact it’s Christmas. Winston interrupts looking for the kid, freeing Nick from his awkward prison by opening the patio door. Winston wanders out front and finds Alvin in an igloo. He assures him Santa isn’t dead. Alvin asks if Schmidt was just being a “d-bag”, because that’s what his mom said. Winston assures him he’ll get extra presents this year. Alvin thanks Winston, but calls him “LeBron.” Gina finds them and gives Winston her card. She says if he ever wants to hang out with Alvin again she’ll pay him a lot of money, like whatever he’s thinking, plus a lot more. The guys, Jess and CeCe drive to the airport. Nick, the driver, sees that Jess is bumming out and makes a detour. They pull into Candycane Lane, but it’s late and the lights are all off. Jess laments her bad timing. Nick goes to knock on the people’s door, shouting that there’s a girl who really wants to see the lights. Everyone joins in, shouting at all the houses to turn on the lights. One by one they all come on, in an explosion of wonderful tacky lights. Back in the car, Nick gets a call from his mom and tells her he’s going to miss his flight. He hands the call off to Winston as the lights go off.
 A really fun first Christmas for the New Girl team, The light up scene at the end was beautiful.

SANTA

David Walton (Fired Up!)
Olivia Munn (Iron Man 2)
The episode begins with Jess, Nick, Schmidt and Winston having some good old Christmas themed loft chats. The gang realise that evening is their last chance to have a ‘holiday hang’ before they go their separate ways before Christmas. They talk about the many parties taking place and agree to try hit them all. At the first party they attend Schmidt and Cece feel awkward and uncomfortable around each other and are not shy of admitting it. Jess freaks out when she sees Sam, who sees her at the last minute. Nicks new girlfriend Angie suggests they have sex, Nick pretends to be okay with doing it at a public place and to be as sexually adventerous as her.
Sam follows Jess to the nex party and tells her he wants her back. She says no. Nick admits to Angie that he is not like her and misuses the word stripper. She leaves the party in anger. Cece gives Schmidt a gift and is hurt when he passes it on to another woman, without even looking at it. At the third party Jess thinks about rejecting Sam. Nick tells her he believes in second chances. Angie turns up Nick apologizes and they are back together. Cece tells Schmidt what the gif was and that she gave it to him as a thank you for him loving her. Jess keeps changing lanes when driving home as she is choosing whether or not to go see Sam. The car is pulled over by a big hearted Santa looking cop, who lets the Jess go free and who the gang dub ‘black Santa’. Jess goes to the hospital to see Sam. They kiss. Schmidt tells Cece he never really gave away the gift. Nick and Angie are missing, everyone assumes they are off having sex.
Another great Xmas episode the two main relationships were the focus of the story and made it a heartwarming ending at the hospital.

CLAVADO EN UN BAR

GUEST CAST
Curtis Armstrong (Southland Tales)
Brian Posehn (The Devil’s Rejects)
In an interesting move, New Girl’s – season 3 midseason return kicked off with a bottle episode at Clyde’s Bar — hence the episode’s title “Clavado En Un Bar,” which is not only a single by Mexican rock band Maná, but literally translates into “Stuck In A Bar.” However, this installment was mainly driven by flashbacks — told in near-realtime, at that — as Jess came to the guys for advice on a big career decision that needed to be made in exactly 20 minutes — well, 19 minutes, according to Coach and his faithful stopwatch. (“I don’t watch movies. I time them.”)
Of course, the majority of this episode was a round robin of origin stories, with each guy recalling their own critical life decisions and how they ended up where they are today. For Winston, this meant recounting his days as a Latvian basketball player. While these flashbacks weren’t all that amusing, the payoff came at the end of his story, when Winston made the realization that he, in fact, had never actually made a decision in his life. I particularly laughed at Coach’s matter-of-fact observation, “You decided nothing. That story contained zero decisions.” Schmidt’s story was perhaps the most bizarre, as we learned about his whirlwind transformation from hospital candy-striper to Christmas tree salesman to marketer. This account took a few too many oddball turns to really be considered funny — more just weird for weird’s sake. This string of flashbacks was made all the more strange by a totally random cue of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” and not it in a clever, anachronistic way. Coach’s flashback, meanwhile, was a bit more entertaining, if only because we learned that his birth name is Ernie.
New Girl’s 3rd run midseason return (which in actuality was probably supposed to be the midseason finale, judging by the Christmas tree subplot and bar decorations) was a strong entry in so far as shaking up the characters’ career paths.

LAXMAS

GUEST CAST
Julian Morris (Cry Wolf)
Billy Eichner (What Happens in Vegas)

LAXmas tries to let all of the show’s characters head off in different directions but finds a way to keep them together for just a little bit longer when all of their flights get delayed. Jess, who has agreed to spend Christmas in London with Ryan and his family, takes the delay as an omen of what’s to come; maybe she’ll be a giant disappointment to Ryan’s parents, even with all of the presents that she’s bought for them (which are stolen by “Reverse Santa” . And Jess isn’t alone in her hesitation to travel for the holidays. Schmidt is reluctantly heading back home to Long Island, a place he’s happy to have escaped from, while Coach can’t get over the guilt of leaving his family behind to go on a Christmas vacation all by himself. Nick and Winston, on the other hand, have an entire plan for their return to Chicago, which involves lots of beer and women. Ultimately, New Girl uses this time at the airport to re-solidify connections between the group before they leave for the holidays. Not only do we have Jess doing everything she can to convince Billy Eichner’s airline worker to book the soonest flights available for her friends (before ultimately bonding with him and scoring Nick and Winston some sweet first class seats), but we also have Schmidt and Cece’s moments in the high-class, gold members’ club before they ditch a jerky Barry Bostwick (with Schmidt embracing his Long Island identity: “New York. Long Island. Billy Joel. Nassau County. Billy Joel. Again. Goodnight Saigon”) and share sodas in the food court.It’s there, in the food court, that we get the first of two standout moments from the episode, when Cece tells Schmidt that “I really like being your friend,” a sentiment that he repeats back to her even though there’s clearly romantic tension between them. Between that exchange and Schmidt’s immediate refusal to even contemplate Bostwick’s character’s proposal , New Girl appears to be on the path of reuniting this dysfunctional couple. The other standout sequence from tonight’s New Girl may have been slightly more predictable, but it still landed for me, as Nick’s reassuring of Jess, telling her to go to England, proves yet again that this series will always come down to these two characters. Sure, the rest of the roommates and Cece join Nick outside the airport in order to fully convince Jess to fly to London and be with Ryan, but it’s Nick Miller who throws away first class and risks getting kicked off the plane entirely in order to stay on the phone with Jessica Day for just a couple minutes more. It’s a heartwarming moment that could be called cheesy if not for the steadily built connection between Nick and Jess.

LAXmas is a Christmas episode that directly references and even insults holiday favorites like Love Actually.  However, the episode’s at its best when it embraces these conventions and puts New Girl’s signature stamp on them, serving as a reminder to fans that this is a show that’s meant to make you laugh but also make you feel. New Girl’s specialty is blending wacky humor with real, genuine emotion, and it pretty much perfects that recipe in “LAXmas”

REVIEW: REDBELT

CAST

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)
Tim Allen (Last Man Standing)
Alice Braga (I Am Legend)
Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (The Walking Dead)
Randy Couture (The Scorpian King 2)
Caroline Correa (Go Big)
Ricky Jay (Mystery Men)
Joe Mantegna (The Rat Pack)
Max Martini (The Town)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing)
Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)

While closing his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio one evening, martial arts teacher Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is approached by attorney Laura Black (Emily Mortimer), who is seeking the owner of the vehicle she accidentally sideswiped. Off-duty police officer Joe Collins (Max Martini), who was receiving a private lesson from Mike, sees that Laura is distressed and tries to take her coat. Startled, Laura grabs Joe’s gun and it goes off, shattering the studio’s front window. To avoid having Laura charged with attempted murder, Mike and Joe agree to conceal the event.Mike’s insurance, however, will not cover his act of God claim that the window was broken by a strong wind. Mike’s wife Sondra (Alice Braga), whose fashion business profits are the only thing keeping the struggling studio afloat, requests that Mike ask for a loan from her brother Ricardo (John Machado), a mixed martial arts champion. At Ricardo’s nightclub, Mike meets with Sondra’s other brother, Bruno (Rodrigo Santoro), and learns that Joe quit as the club’s bouncer because Bruno never paid him. Mike confronts Bruno about the situation but is rebuffed. Mike then declines Bruno’s offer to fight on the undercard of an upcoming match between Ricardo and Japanese legend Morisaki (Enson Inoue), which could potentially pay out $50,000. Mike believes competitions with money as the incentive are not honorable and weaken the fighter.Meanwhile, aging Hollywood action star Chet Frank (Tim Allen) enters the nightclub without security and is accosted by a man with a broken bottle. Mike intervenes and subdues three men in the process. The following day, Mike receives an expensive watch and an invitation to dinner from Chet. Mike gives the watch to Joe to pawn in lieu of his unpaid salary at the nightclub. At the dinner party, Chet’s wife Zena (Rebecca Pidgeon) arranges an informal business deal to buy a large amount of dresses from Sondra’s company. Chet, impressed by Mike, invites him to the set of his current film. As Mike and Sondra leave the dinner, Mike explains his unique training method to Chet’s business associate Jerry Weiss (Joe Mantegna). Before a sparring match, each fighter must draw one of three marbles, two white and one black; whoever draws a black marble has to fight with a handicap.Mike uses his military experience to answer a few technical questions for Chet on the film set and is offered the role of co-producer. That evening, Mike faxes the details of his training methods to Jerry so they can be used in the film. Joe arrives at the studio and informs Mike that he was suspended from duty for pawning the watch, which turned out to be stolen. During their dinner that evening, Mike relays the information to Jerry who excuses himself to handle the matter, but never returns. At home, Mike learns that the phone numbers that Zena gave Sondra have been disconnected. Sondra is panicky, having borrowed $30,000 from a loan shark to order the fabric for the dresses. As he meets with the loan shark to discuss an extension, Mike notices Bruno and Marty Brown (Ricky Jay) on television using Mike’s marble-drawing method as a promotional gimmick for the undercard fights of Ricardo’s match.Mike hires Laura to sue, but Marty’s lawyer threatens that if they do not drop the lawsuit, he will give the police an empty shell casing with Laura’s fingerprints, as proof that she attempted to kill an off-duty cop. He also threatens Mike as a witness who covered up the crime by bribing the cop with a stolen watch. When told of the situation, Joe feels responsible and kills himself. Mike feels obligated to help Joe’s financially struggling wife and, in desperate need of money himself, decides to compete as an undercard fighter in the upcoming competition. At the arena, Mike discovers the fights are being fixed via a magician (Cyril Takayama) using sleight of hand to surreptitiously switch the white and black marbles. Disgusted by this revelation, Mike confronts the conspirators: Marty, Jerry and Bruno who confirm that unknown to the competitors, the fights are handicapped by the fight promoters so as to ensure winning bets. They also reveal that Ricardo is intentionally losing the fight to Morisaki so they can make money on the rematch. Jerry tells Mike that Sondra is the one who told them about Laura shooting the window and Bruno justifies her betrayal by explaining that his sister is too smart to stay with someone who cannot provide for her.As Mike is exiting the arena, he meets Laura. Their conversation is not audible, but it ends with Laura slapping Mike. Mike then re-enters the arena. He incapacitates several security guards trying to stop him and is ultimately engaged by Ricardo. The audience and camera crews take notice as Mike and Ricardo face off in the arena’s corridors. Inspired by the Professor (Dan Inosanto), an elderly martial arts master attending the match, Mike manages to slip a difficult choke hold and defeats Ricardo, making it onto the ring to speak to the Professor personally. He is approached by Morisaki, who offers Mike his ivory-studded belt, previously referred to as a Japanese national treasure, as a sign of respect. He is then approached by the Professor himself, who proceeds to award the coveted red belt to an incredulous Mike, and embraces him, acknowledging his dedication to the art.Red Belt doesn’t fail at being an action flick; it just succeeds more so at being an entertaining drama with an MMA theme. This is an easy movie to recommend.

 

 

REVIEW: WIN IT ALL

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CAST

Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Aislinn Derbez (Yerbamala)
Joe Lo Truglio (Role Models)
Keegan-Michael Key (Just go With It)

Eddie Garrett is a gambling addict who works odd jobs to support his habit. One morning Eddie comes home to find Michael, a local tough, sitting in his kitchen. Eddie listens as Michael offers him a deal: Michael has been sentenced to six-to-nine months in prison and wants to leave a mysterious duffel bag in Eddie’s care. Eddie is to put the bag somewhere and forget about it, when Michael gets out and returns for it he will give Eddie ten thousand dollars in cash. Eddie agrees to the deal and puts the bag in his closet. A few days later, Eddie gives in to temptation and opens the bag. Inside he finds several odd tools and materials and a large sum of cash. Eddie calls Gene, his sponsor in an addiction program, and asks him to have lunch. At lunch Eddie details his plan to loan himself five hundred dollars from the bag to gamble with. Gene strongly discourages Eddie from taking the money, Eddie finally agrees with him and tells him he won’t do it.Eddie, no longer able to resist, takes the five hundred and gambles it. He manages to win money, and after paying back the bag he invites his friends to celebrate at the local bar. While at the bar Eddie meets Eva, a nurse at a local hospital. They hit it off and Eddie makes plans to see her again. Feeling good, Eddie again gambles and loses all his profit. Eddie begins a downward spiral of gambling that ends with him owing the bag over twenty-one thousand dollars. Desperate, he calls Gene for help and confesses his gambling. At first Gene mocks him, but seeing that Eddie is seriously in trouble he decides to help.Eddie begins attending his addiction counseling regularly and approaches his brother Ron for a job. Ron agrees to give him a job for six months, and if Eddie works hard and meets his obligations then Ron will loan him the difference to pay the bag back. Eddie shows up to work on time the next day and begins sorting his life out. He regularly pays the bag back and grows closer to Eva, even bringing her to meet his family. After six weeks of hard work Eddie gets an unexpected phone call from Michael in prison. Michael tells him that he’s being released early and will be over to retrieve his bag in a week. Panicked, Eddie approaches Ron and begs him for the money to repay the bag but Ron refuses as he believes Eddie still wants to gamble. Eddie gets drunk and loses even more money from the bag before being banned from the casino. Bottoming out, Eddie goes to Gene’s house in the middle of the night for help. Gene convinces Eddie to come to the meeting the next day.maxresdefaultAfter the meeting the next day Gene and Eddie stop at a diner. Eddie begs Gene to help and Gene finally relents. Seeing no other way out, Gene agrees to get Eddie into a high stakes poker game with the condition that if Eddie goes broke he will leave town. Eddie and a friend drive to the game with the bag and Eddie buys in for fifteen thousand dollars. After losing thirty thousand Eddie takes a break and panics, deciding the game is too wild to beat and that he has to run. He calms down and decides to put the rest of the money in the game at once. After playing for a while he wins a huge pot and is back up with a profit. He wants to continue playing but his friend insists he cash out. Eddie begins to argue but then clutches his chest and collapses. He is cashed out and driven to the hospital where he wakes the next day late for dinner with Eva’s family. He talks Ron into driving him to Eva’s house, and the movie ends with Eddie happily eating dinner with Eva and her family. In a mid-credits scene Michael is shown counting the money from the bag and being confused as to why he has four hundred dollars more than he started with.09-jake-johnson_w710_h473_2xIt’s a  funny, entertaining and hilarious ride.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – KEATON

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CAST

Zooey Deschanel (Yes man)
Jake Johnson (Jurassic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Glitch)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Image result for NEW GIRL KEATONFollowing up on Schmidt’s utter misery from these last couple of episodes, this week’s “Keaton” gave New Girl a much-needed kick in the pants for Halloween. Instead of splitting the group up into separate storylines, this episode was more or less all about Jess, Nick and Winston trying to get Schmidt out of his slump, and for the first time in a long time, each cast member pulled their own weight.
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But the highlight, of course, was the titular addition of Schmidt’s alleged pen pal, Michael Keaton. As in Batman. The idea that Schmidt’s pseudo father figure was a made-up version of his favorite actor was indeed quite funny, and made for some amusing sequences behind the scenes with Nick, Jess and Winston, who spent most of the episode hiding out in the abandoned  apartment across the hall. There were several moments that really stuck out here, including Nick’s line, “He saw the hit movie Multiplicity 25 times,” and Winston wanting to be the Robin to Nick’s Batman (“Robin’s the joke.”) — also the fact that Winston had never seen The Truman Show.
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Another standout from this episode were the college flashbacks of Nick and Schmidt. Not only were these scenes humorous in their own right, but I’m always astounded by how many early 2000s references they can cram into them. From Nick’s dialup image downloads of bikini girls and Schmidt’s bag of turkey, to their mini-slot machine coin bank and Fight Club poster, these flashbacks did not disappoint in, yet again, perfectly capturing Nick and Schmidt’s archetypal college experience.
Image result for NEW GIRL KEATONHaving Schmidt find out about the gang’s ruse before the party was a fun way to raise the stakes, especially with all of them dressed in pitch-perfect Halloween costumes. This episode ended on a high note, with Nick apologizing to Schmidt for pretending to be Michael Keaton’s online alias, MichaelKeatonPotatoes@aol.com. Also, I died laughing when Schmidt brought up the time he and Nick saw Michael Keaton, who winked at them, with Nick admitting, “Honestly, I can’t explain that one. It was just the weirdest day of my whole life.”