REVIEW: HIS DARK MATERIALS – SEASON 1

James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson, and Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019)

Starring

Dafne Keen (Logan
Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger)
Anne-Marie Duff (Enigma)
Clarke Peters (John Wick)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Ariyon Bakare as (The Dark Knight)
Will Keen (Victor Frankenstein)
Lucian Msamati (Game of Thrones)
Gary Lewis (Outlander)
Lewin Lloyd (Judy)
Daniel Frogson (The Devil Outside)
James McAvoy (IT: Chapter 2)
Georgina Campbell (Krypton)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns)
Ruta Gedmintas (A Street Cat Named Bob)
Lia Williams (The King is Alive)
Amir Wilson (The Secret Garden)
Nina Sosanya (Love, Actually)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Simon Manyonda (In Fabric)
Geoff Bell (Rogue One)
Mat Fraser (American Horror Story)
Kit Connor (Rocketman)
Helen McCrory (The Queen)
Joe Tandberg (The Innocents)
Omid Djalili (The Mummy)
David Suchet (Poirot)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Cristela Alonzo (Cars 3)
Morfydd Clark (Crawl)
Raffiella Chapman (The Theory of Everything)
Andrew Scott (Spectre)
Robert Emms (Atlantis)

The BBC and HBO co-production of His Dark Materials got off to a strong start this fall, with an opening hour that set an epic tone and impressive visual standard for what was to follow. But the thematically-bare 2007 adaptation had those things going for it as well; the real question this new adaptation faced was whether the showrunners would finally bring the story to life with the same sense of danger, maturity, and grandiosity provided by Philip Pullman’s prose. In that respect, with some storytelling stumbles and concessions made so the story could thrive on a TV budget, the first season of His Dark Materials is largely a success.The show does a remarkable job in keeping a number of different stories moving forward simultaneously – Lyra’s central quest of rescuing her best friend Roger from the clutches of the Magisterium, Mrs. Coulter’s hunt to recover Lyra, Lord Asriel’s experiments, Lord Boreal’s world-walking machinations – the show smartly chooses how and when to highlight these various stories and by the end, weaves all those threads together into an intriguing web that we’re only just beginning to understand by the end of the first season.His Dark Materials hits the ground running by building out a rich, textured fantasy world in a relatively short amount of time. Lyra’s alternate reality of daemons, dust, aeronauts, witches, panserbjorn, and aleithiometers never comes at you too quick to understand what you’re being faced with, and some of the mysteries still surrounding the more out-there elements (like a compass that tells the truth) end up making the series all the more engrossing. His Dark Materials is content to show its hand at its own pace and that kind of confidence keeps the show worth coming back to.Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019)What makes Lyra’s fantasy world work especially well is the inspired choice to pull forward story elements from the series’ second novel, The Subtle Knife. His Dark Materials makes no secret of the fact that other worlds exist in the same space at the same time, and that means that our “real world” (tragically devoid of daemons as it is) is also connected to Lyra’s. That brings us to Will Parry. The series’ second protagonist, not introduced until the Subtle Knife, is a huge presence throughout Season 1, a move that will pay dividends later on in terms of storytelling economy. Will’s struggle to maintain a home life with a mentally ill mother ends up grounding the story through its many discussions of souls and prophecies, but in a way that adds perspective to those bigger conflicts.His Dark Materials (2019)Of course, Lord Boreal’s ability to walk between Lyra and Will’s worlds and his obsession with Will’s missing father John suggest that Will may have a part to play in the show’s overarching prophecy himself. With a few of the key players all seemingly through the looking glass by the end of the season finale, how the events in each of these worlds relate to each other is one of the more exciting mysteries left to unravel as the show moves forward.His Dark Materials is certainly aimed at a more general audience than HBO’s other recently-concluded fantasy epic, but it never flinches in its bleaker moments. This is a show where children are not safe from soul-destroying kidnappers, where a person can be killed by crushing their adorable animal avatar in the palm of your hand, where a religious government can claim any violation of human decency in the service of an almighty Authority. Like the books, this show may feature kids as lead characters, but that doesn’t make the world(s) they’re moving through any less dangerous.Dafne Keen does an excellent job of rolling with the emotional ups and downs of Lyra’s journey, channeling both her good humor and her fury in equally compelling measure. Amir Wilson’s Will Parry is far more understated, a kid just trying to do the right thing and keep his family together, but given that Lyra and Will’s paths are destined to cross, these opposing personalities could provide material for some great interplay between Keen and Wilson going forward.Dafne Keen and Joe Tandberg in His Dark Materials (2019)The adult cast are fantastic foils for their younger counterparts. Ruth Wilson has the heaviest lifting to do and her intensity has kept Mrs. Coulter feeling like the most fearsome woman in any world. The hypocrisy of how Coulter treats children other than her own has made Lyra’s disgust with her all the more palpable. James McAvoy is clearly having a blast playing Lord Asriel’s righteous wrath and entitlement, and we accept his radical motivations in part because of how committed McAvoy is to making them feel real. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Lee Scoresby provides great comic relief – a smartass Texan Han Solo who genuinely respects Lyra’s spunk and cares about her safety.His Dark Materials’ first season impresses throughout with its gorgeous production design, visual effects, and music. From the scholarly warmth of Jordan College to the technicolor dreamscape of the frozen North, every locale Lyra travels to feels alive and beautifully realized. Lorne Balfe’s orchestrations give the already grand world of His Dark Materials an even more sumptuous feel, with every faction of characters getting a distinct musical voice. The all-important daemons always feel like real and present characters, as do Iorek Byrnison and the other armored bears.The daemons do, however, see His Dark Materials straining against its budget in the most obvious way. For as crucial as these second-halves are to the characters of Lyra’s world, there are times when their conspicuous absence distracts, no doubt due to the price it costs to render a VFX animal for each human in a shot. On top of that, the rules of daemons are left murky enough to be convenient to the plot when necessary (like when Lyra needs Pan to become a bird to see over a ridge), but not clear enough to help us understand why Pan couldn’t just transform into an elephant and stomp Mrs. Coulter’s creepy gold monkey to death when they fight.James McAvoy and Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019)And while many of His Dark Materials’ successes come from how accurately it adapts the novels, that devotion to the text does lead to some pacing issues. The season’s penultimate episode, “The Fight to the Death,” somewhat derails the stakes after the exciting battle at Bolvangar, and the sea-faring Gyptians that aid Lyra through much of the season don’t really come into their own until episode 5, “The Lost Boy.”Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019)His Dark Materials’ first season is a confident, exciting fantasy adventure, full of weighty threats to its lead characters and stakes that reverberate through its multiple worlds. Even though there are times when the scope of the story slightly exceeds the bounds of what its budget is capable of, the BBC and HBO have done an impressive job giving Lyra’s (and Will’s) adventures the adaptation they deserve.

 

REVIEW: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

CAST

Georgie Henley (Perfect Sisters)
Skandar Keynes (Ferrari)
William Moseley (The Royals)
Anna Popplewell (Reign)
Tilda Swinton (Constantine)
James McAvoy (Atonement)
Jim Broadbent (Hot Fuzz)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Ray Winstone (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Dawn French (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban)
Kiran Shah (The Hobbit)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Cleopatra 2525)
Patrick Kake (30 Days of Night)
Katrina Browne (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Sophie Winkleman (Two and A Half Men)
Rupert Everett (Shrek 2)
Michael Madsen (Species)
Stephen Ure (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Cameron Rhodes (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)

In the London suburb of Finchley, the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, are endangered by a Second World War attack of German bombers. They are then evacuated to the country home of Professor Digory Kirke, who is not accustomed to having children in his house, as Mrs Macready, the strict housekeeper, explains. While the Pevensies are playing hide-and-seek, Lucy discovers a wardrobe and enters a wintry fantasy world called Narnia. Seeing a lamppost, Lucy encounters the faun Mr. Tumnus, who explains the land she has entered and invites her to his home. He puts Lucy to sleep by playing a lullaby on his flute. When Lucy wakes up, she finds Tumnus grieving, and he explains that Jadis, the White Witch, has cursed Narnia and it has been winter for 100 years. If a human is encountered they are to be brought to her. Tumnus cannot bring himself to kidnap Lucy, so he sends her home. When she returns to Professor Kirke’s house, hardly any time has passed in the normal world; her siblings do not believe her story, and when they look in the wardrobe it has a normal back.Anna Popplewell in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)One night, Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe. He enters Narnia as well, and after searching for Lucy he meets the White Witch, who claims to be Queen of Narnia. She offers him Turkish Delight as well as the prospect of becoming king and having power over his siblings if he brings them to her castle. After she departs, Edmund and Lucy meet again and return; Lucy tells Peter and Susan what happened, but unfortunately, Edmund lies. Professor Kirke talks with Peter and Susan and suggests she is telling the truth, though they are unconvinced. While running away from Mrs Macready after accidentally breaking a window, the four siblings retreat to the wardrobe and enter Narnia. They discover Mr. Tumnus has been taken by the Witch, and meet Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who tell them about Aslan. According to the beavers, Aslan intends to take control of Narnia from the Witch. The four must help Aslan; it has been prophesied that if two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve sit in the four thrones, the White Witch’s reign will end.
Liam Neeson and Skandar Keynes in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Edmund sneaks off to visit the Witch. When he arrives at her castle, she is angry that he did not deliver his siblings. The Witch sends wolves to hunt down the children and the beavers, who barely escape. Edmund is chained in the Witch’s dungeon, where he meets Tumnus. The Witch demands that Edmund reveal where his siblings are. After Tumnus claims that Edmund does not know anything, The Witch tells Mr. Tumnus that Edmund betrayed him, then turns Tumnus to stone.
James McAvoy in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
While Peter, Lucy, Susan and the beavers travel, they hide from what they believe to be the White Witch. It is really Father Christmas, a sign that the Witch’s reign is ending. Father Christmas gives Lucy a healing cordial, a drop of which will bring back to life anyone injured, and a dagger to defend herself. Susan receives a bow and arrows and a magical horn that will summon help when blown, and Peter a sword and shield.
Liam Neeson, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and Georgie Henley in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
After evading wolves led by Maugrim, the group reaches Aslan’s camp. Aslan is revealed as a huge and noble lion who promises to help Edmund. Later, two wolves ambush Lucy and Susan. When Peter intervenes, Maugrim attacks him, and Peter kills him. Some of Aslan’s troops follow the other wolf to the witch’s camp and rescue Edmund. Peter is knighted by Aslan. The White Witch journeys to Aslan’s camp and claims Edmund, but Aslan secretly offers to sacrifice himself instead. That night, as Lucy and Susan covertly watch, Aslan is killed by the White Witch. In the morning he is resurrected because “there is a magic deeper still the Witch does not know”. Aslan takes Susan and Lucy to the Witch’s castle, where he frees the prisoners that the White Witch turned to stone.
William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and Georgie Henley in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)Edmund persuades Peter to lead Aslan’s army to fight the White Witch’s forces. To stop the Witch from attacking and killing Peter, Edmund attacks the White Witch and destroys her wand, but is gravely wounded by her. As the Witch fights Peter, Aslan arrives with reinforcements and kills her. After Edmund is revived by Lucy’s cordial, the Pevensies become Kings and Queens.
James McAvoy and Georgie Henley in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)Fifteen years later, the Pevensie children have grown into young men and women. While chasing a white stag through the forest, they encounter the lamppost that Lucy saw on her first trip to Narnia. They make their way through trees, arriving in the wardrobe at the same time and day they left, becoming children again. Lucy later attempts to return to Narnia via the wardrobe, but Professor Kirke tells her he has tried for many years, and they will probably return to Narnia when they least expect to.Tilda Swinton and Skandar Keynes in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)A Fantastic adaptation, the story never ages and is a delight for all the family

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER (1986)

CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Sean Connery (The Hunt for Red October)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow)
Roxanne Hart (Easy)
Beatie Edney (Lost Empires)
Alan North (Police Squad)
Jon Polito (The Rocketeer)
Sheila Gish (Mansfield Park)
Hugh Quarshie (Star Wars – Episode I)
Celia Imrie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Christopher Malcolm (Labyrinth)
Billy Hartman (Emmerdale)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)

In 1985, Connor MacLeod, also known as the Highlander, is in New York City. In an arena parking garage, Connor is confronted by fellow immortal Iman Fasil, and decapitates him, upon which an energy surge destroys several cars around him. He hides his sword just as police swarm the exit to the garage, and arrest Connor.The story then goes back in time to the 16th century Scottish Highlands, in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. Connor and his clan, the Clan MacLeod, prepare for battle. Back in 1985, the police release Connor, as they have failed to get any information from him. One of the detectives involved, Brenda Wyatt, is an expert in metallurgy and recognises Fasil’s sword as an extremely rare Toledo Salamanca broadsword. Later, Connor returns to the garage to retrieve his own sword but sees Brenda is looking at the crime scene. She finds metal shards embedded in a concrete column and saves them for analysis.The scene returns to the Highlands, where the Kurgan assists the clan Fraser against the Clan MacLeod in exchange for the sole right to slaying Connor. In the resulting confrontation the Kurgan stabs Connor but is then driven off by the MacLeod clansmen. The wounded Connor is taken back to the village, and everyone assumes he will die. When he makes a remarkable overnight recovery, the village is convinced that it is the work of the devil. The villagers attempt to have Connor executed, but he is instead exiled by the clan leader out of mercy.In 1985, Connor lives under the alias Russell Nash and is a wealthy antiquities dealer. Meanwhile, the Kurgan takes up residence at a seedy motel. Connor tails Brenda to a bar, but she leaves quickly. She then tails Connor, but the Kurgan attacks them both. The fight is interrupted by a police helicopter, and everybody flees. Brenda analyzes the metal fragments and discovers them to be from a Japanese katana, dated about 600 B.C. but made with advanced technology for the era. She makes a date with Connor in an attempt to entrap him. Connor recognises the ruse, tells her to stop digging, and leaves.In the past, Connor lives an idyllic life with his wife Heather. One day, the mysterious Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez appears and begins training Connor in sword fighting. He explains that they both belong to a group of immortals, who constantly fight one another but can only be killed by complete decapitation. When one immortal decapitates another, the winner receives a transfer of power called “the quickening”. Eventually, all the immortals must do battle until there is only one left alive; the last survivor will receive “the Prize”. Ramirez tells Connor that the Kurgan, by that time the strongest of the immortals, must not win the Prize, or mankind will enter a dark age. One night, while Connor is away, the Kurgan attacks, decapitating Ramirez and raping Heather.In Central Park, Connor meets a long-time friend, fellow immortal Sunda Kastagir. They talk about the impending gathering of immortals which precedes the final battle, and they joke about old times. Brenda has by now discovered that Connor has been alive for centuries, living under false identities, faking his death every few decades, signing his assets over to children who had died at birth, and assuming their identities. She confronts Connor, who demonstrates his immortality. After this revelation, Brenda and Connor become lovers, although Connor is reluctant, following a flashback in which Connor’s wife, Heather, dies of old age in his arms. Ramirez has earlier explained that immortals cannot have children and should not get romantically involved. Ramirez reveals his Japanese katana was made specifically for him by the father of his third wife.Lupinranger-vs-Patranger-vs-Kyuranger-Patrangers-LuckyThe Kurgan finds Kastagir, killing him and wounding a man who witnessed his beheading. When the Kurgan finds out about Connor’s relationship with Brenda, he kidnaps her to draw Connor out. After a climactic battle at the Silvercup Studios in Queens, Connor defeats and beheads the Kurgan. He receives the Prize, which manifests itself as a massive quickening. Now mortal and capable of having children, Connor returns to Scotland with Brenda. Connor now has awareness of people’s thoughts around the world, and promises to use his gift to encourage cooperation and peace in mankind.

What a fine 1980s film and a chance to see the sadly missed Sean Connery at his immaculate best. Furthermore Christopher Lambert is brilliant in the lead. This is the film that started the beloved franchise.

 

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN (2017)

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CAST

Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious)
Chris Pine (Star Trek)
Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything)
Connie Nielsen (Basic)
Elena Anaya (Point Blank)
Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting)
Saïd Taghmaoui (Conan The Barbarian)
Samantha Jo (Mortal Kombat: Legacy)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Ann Ogbomo (World War Z)
Lisa Loven Kongsli (Occupied)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Rachel Pickup (Basil)
Florence Kasumba (Black Panther)
Mayling Ng (The Scorpion King 5)

In present-day Paris, Diana Prince, curator for the Louvre’s Department of Antiquities,[8] receives a World War I-era photographic plate couriered by the Wayne Enterprises and recalls her past.Diana was born and raised on the hidden island of Themyscira, home to the Amazon race of warrior women created by the gods of Mount Olympus to protect humankind. In the distant past, Ares, the god of war, slew all his fellow gods, but his father, Zeus, struck him down. Before perishing from his injuries, Zeus left the Amazons a weapon capable of killing his renegade son: the “Godkiller”, which Diana believes to be a ceremonial sword. Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, believes that Ares will never return and forbids Diana from training as a warrior, but Diana and her aunt, General Antiope, defy the queen and begin training in secret. When the two are discovered by Hippolyta, Antiope convinces her sister to allow Diana’s training to continue.As a young woman, Diana rescues Captain Steve Trevor, a pilot with the American Expeditionary Forces,[9] after his plane crashes off the coast of Themyscira. The island is soon invaded by the landing party of a German cruiser pursuing Steve. The Amazons engage and kill all the German sailors, but Antiope dies intercepting a bullet meant for Diana. Interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals that World War I is raging in the outside world, and that he is an Allied spy. He stole a notebook with valuable information from chief chemist Isabel Maru, who is attempting to engineer a deadlier form of mustard gas under the orders of General Erich Ludendorff. Believing Ares is responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the ceremonial sword and leaves Themyscira with Steve to find and destroy Ares.When the two arrive in London, they deliver Maru’s notebook to the Supreme War Council, including Sir Patrick Morgan, who is trying to negotiate an armistice with Germany. Diana translates Maru’s notes and reveals that the Germans plan to release the deadly gas at the warfront. Although forbidden by his commanders to act, Steve, with secret funding from Sir Patrick, recruits spy Sameer, marksman Charlie, and smuggler Chief to help prevent the gas from being released. When the team reaches the Western Front in Belgium, they are halted by the enemy line, but Diana pushes alone through No man’s land and rallies the Allied forces behind her to liberate the village of Veld. The team briefly celebrates and takes the group photograph from the beginning of the film. Later that night, Diana and Steve bond and share a kiss.The team learns that a gala will be held at the nearby German High Command. Steve infiltrates the party, intending to locate the mustard gas and destroy it. Diana, however, believes Ludendorff is Ares and that killing him will end the war. Steve stops her to avoid jeopardizing the mission. Ludendorff unleashes the gas on Veld, killing its inhabitants. Diana blames Steve for the deaths and pursues Ludendorff to a base where the gas is being loaded into a Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI bound for London. Diana fights and kills Ludendorff, but is confused when his death does not stop the war.Sir Patrick appears and reveals that he is Ares. He tells Diana that although he has subtly given humans ideas and inspirations, it is ultimately their decision to cause violence as they are inherently corrupt. After destroying the ceremonial sword, Ares reveals that Diana is the true “Godkiller”, as she is the daughter of Zeus. Ares attempts to convince Diana that she should help him destroy humankind to restore paradise on Earth. While the two battle and the rest of Steve’s team destroy Dr. Maru’s laboratory, Steve pilots the bomber carrying the gas to a safe altitude and detonates it, sacrificing himself in the process. Ares tries to harness Diana’s rage and grief by telling her to kill Dr. Maru, but Diana’s memories of Steve inspire her to decide that humans have good within them, and she spares Maru before destroying Ares. Back in London, the nation celebrates the end of the war.In the present day, Diana sends an e-mail to Bruce Wayne thanking him for the photographic plate of her and Steve and reaffirms her mission to protect the world as Wonder Woman.The film is well rounded, the plot never leaves you bored, the humor is fresh and relatable, and the actors are so good! The costumes are realistic and the fight choreography is some of the best I’ve seen in a while!  It’s an awesome entry for the DC film universe.

REVIEW: WE STILL KILL THE OLD WAY

 

 

CAST

Ian Ogilvy (Death Becomes Her)
Alison Doody (A View To A Kill)
Christopher Ellison (The Bill)
Danny-Boy Hatchard (Eastenders)
Lysette Anthony (Krull)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Steven Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange)
Dani Dyer (Vendetta)

Brothers Ritchie and Charlie Archer (Ian Ogilvy and Steven Berkoff) are the last of the original hard men. The former east end gangsters ran organised crime in the east end in a similar vein to the Krays and have now retired. The world has changed and gone are the days of going into your local for a pint with the lads, only to be replaced with bistros where Charlie regales old friends with stories of the old days while Ritchie is settling into the quiet life in Spain. Charlie is still something of a hothead from his villain days and Ritchie, the more reasonable of the brothers, is trying to adapt to the quiet life of peace and sun whilst practicing safecracking as a hobby by the pool. The quiet life is shattered when just before Charlie is due to visit Ritchie in Spain, commits an act of decency by rescuing a young girl Lauren (Dani Dyer) from being gang raped. Charlie is brutally murdered by the biggest street gang in the area – the vicious E2 gang, who hold the neighbourhood in a chokehold of fear.webANXwestillkilloldwayThe E2 gang, led by Aaron (Danny-Boy Hatchard), have the run of the area and make sure people don’t talk. With youth, numbers and confidence on their side, they represent the threat of the future with uncontrollable urban violence.  Ritchie is contacted by an old friend, Lizzie Davis (Lysette Anthony) after she finds Charlie’s body and the police (led by DI Susan Taylor) don’t’ have enough to go after the E2 gang. Ritchie returns to East London to find so much has changed and the days of the old firms have been replaced by street gangs and teens; weaponising social media to chronicle their violent and destructive activities and to blackmail victims.Ritchie reunites his old firm consisting of Roy (Chris Ellison – The Bill) Arthur (James Cosmo – Game of Thrones) and aptly Butch – named for obvious reasons (Tony Denham of St George’s Day and The Football Factory) to execute a plan of vengeance against the teenage killers. Working against youth, numbers, confidence and social media, the old firm need to ‘box clever’ in order to get justice. London and gang culture have changed so Ritchie and the firm adapt, teaching the new kids that the classic methods of violence are still the best.57591982580355677512Showered final confrontation between Old School Cool and Street is something to watch but viewing these gentleman gangsters execute street justice is, rather than being seen as torturous, makes for strong social commentary about today’s escalating gang culture and civic duty (as unconventional as it may be) in protecting our neighbourhoods from being taken over by a swarms of gangs. We still Kill the Old Way is not your typical British gangster film for all the right reasons, it offers a powerhouse talent circle of British actors, a strong story with well constructed twists, solid, believable action with the right blend of comedic touches which create an enjoyable story for a British public to engage in but also to believe in.

REVIEW: BRAVEHEART

CAST

Mel Gibson (Mad Max)
Angus Macfadyen (Warriors of Virtue)
Patrick McGoohan (The Prisoner)
Sophie Marceau (The World Is Not Enough)
Catherine McCormack (The Land Girls)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
David O’Hara (The Devil’s Own)
Peter Hanly (My Boy Jack)
Ian Bannen (From Beyond The Grave)
Seán McGinley (Shrooms)
Brian Cox (X-Men 2)
Sean Lawlor (Boon)
Stephen Billington (Resident Evil)
John Kavanagh (Alexander)
Alun Armstrong (Krull)
Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy)
Peter Mullan (War Horse)

In 1280, King Edward “Longshanks” invades and conquers Scotland following the death of Alexander III of Scotland, who left no heir to the throne. Young William Wallace witnesses Longshanks’ treachery, survives the deaths of his father and brother, and is taken abroad on a pilgrimage throughout Europe by his paternal Uncle Argyle, where he is educated. Years later, Longshanks grants his noblemen land and privileges in Scotland, including Prima Nocte. Meanwhile, a grown Wallace returns to Scotland and falls in love with his childhood friend Murron MacClannough, and the two marry in secret. Wallace rescues Murron from being raped by English soldiers, but as she fights off their second attempt, Murron is captured and publicly executed. In retribution, Wallace leads his clan to slaughter the English garrison in his hometown and send the occupying garrison at Lanark back to England.Longshanks orders his son Prince Edward to stop Wallace by any means necessary. Wallace rebels against the English, and as his legend spreads, hundreds of Scots from the surrounding clans join him. Wallace leads his army to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge and then destroys the city of York, killing Longshanks’ nephew and sending his severed head to the king. Wallace seeks the assistance of Robert the Bruce, the son of nobleman Robert the Elder and a contender for the Scottish crown. Robert is dominated by his father, who wishes to secure the throne for his son by submitting to the English. Worried by the threat of the rebellion, Longshanks sends his son’s wife Isabella of France to try to negotiate with Wallace. After meeting him in person, Isabella becomes enamored of Wallace.Warned of the coming invasion by Isabella, Wallace implores the Scottish nobility to take immediate action to counter the threat and take back the country. Leading the English army himself, Longshanks confronts the Scots at Falkirk where noblemen Lochlan and Mornay, having been bribed by Longshanks, betray Wallace, causing the Scots to lose the battle. As Wallace charges toward the departing Longshanks on horseback, he is intercepted by one of the king’s lancers, who turns out to be Robert the Bruce. Remorseful, he gets Wallace to safety before the English can capture him. Wallace kills Lochlan and Mornay for their betrayal, and wages a guerrilla war against the English for the next seven years, assisted by Isabella, with whom he eventually has an affair. Robert sets up a meeting with Wallace in Edinburgh, but Robert’s father has conspired with other nobles to capture and hand over Wallace to the English. Learning of his treachery, Robert disowns his father. Isabella exacts revenge on the now terminally ill Longshanks by telling him she is pregnant with Wallace’s child.In London, Wallace is brought before an English magistrate, tried for high treason, and condemned to public torture and beheading. Even whilst being hanged, drawn and quartered, Wallace refuses to submit to the king. As cries for mercy come from the watching crowd deeply moved by the Scotsman’s valor, the magistrate offers him one final chance, asking him only to utter the word, “Mercy,” and be granted a quick death. Wallace instead shouts, “Freedom!”, and the judge orders his death. Moments before being decapitated, Wallace sees a vision of Murron in the crowd, smiling at him.In 1314, Robert, now Scotland’s king, leads a Scottish army before a ceremonial line of English troops on the fields of Bannockburn, where he is to formally accept English rule. As he begins to ride toward the English, he stops and invokes Wallace’s memory, imploring his men to fight with him as they did with Wallace. Robert then leads his army into battle against the stunned English, winning the Scots their freedom.The historical content may have been distorted, but even though, this movie is meant for entertainment. It is not a history lesson caught on video.The acting is absolutely superb, this movie is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat for the entire three hours

REVIEW: TROY

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Diane Kruger (The Host)
Peter O’Toole (Venus)
Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbours)
Saffron Burrows (Peter Pan)
Brendan Gleeson (A.I.)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Julian Glover (The Young Victoria)
James Cosmo (Highlander)
Julie Christie (Doctor Zhivago)
Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy)
Vincent Regan (Lockout)
Tyler Mane (Halloween)
Nigel Terry (Excalibur)
Owain Yeoman (American Sniper)
Nathan Jones (The Condemned)

MV5BMTY1NDYxMDA3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDc4MTQyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1380,1000_AL_The opening scene shows the troops of King Agamemnon of Mycenae ready to fight against the troops of Triopas of Thessaly, a battle only avoided when the great warrior Achilles defeats Thessaly’s champion in single combat. Meanwhile, Prince Hector of Troy and his younger brother Paris negotiate a peace treaty with Menelaus, King of Sparta. Paris, however, is having a secret love affair with Menelaus’ wife, Queen Helen, and smuggles her aboard their homebound vessel, much to Hector’s fury. Upon learning of this, Menelaus meets with Agamemnon, his elder brother, and asks his help in taking Troy. Agamemnon, who has wanted to conquer Troy for a long time, agrees, since it will give him control of the Aegean Sea. On King Nestor’s advice, Agamemnon has Odysseus, King of Ithaca, persuade Achilles to join them. Achilles, who strongly dislikes Agamemnon, initially refuses, but eventually decides to go after his mother, Thetis, tells him that though he will die, he will be forever remembered.
77a181e09e0b6a3181273500d7d541f2In Troy, King Priam is dismayed when Hector and Paris bring Helen, but welcomes her as a guest and decides against sending her home, since Paris will likely follow her and be killed, choosing instead to meet the Greeks in open battle. The Greeks arrive shortly after and take the Trojan beach, mostly thanks to Achilles and his Myrmidons, among them his cousin Patroclus, who sack the temple of Apollo but allow Hector and the surviving Trojans to return to the city. Achilles claims Briseis, a priestess and the cousin of Paris and Hector, as a war trophy, but is angered when Agamemnon spitefully takes her from him and decides that he will not aid Agamemnon when they lay siege to Troy.
a9u47-E2Z224ZRCTR-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1576189703798._SX1080_The Trojan and Greek armies meet outside the walls of Troy. During a parley, Paris offers to duel Menelaus personally for Helen’s hand in exchange for the city being spared. Agamemnon, intending to take the city regardless of the outcome, accepts. Menelaus wounds Paris and almost kills him, but is himself killed by Hector. In the ensuing battle, most of Agamemnon’s forces fall to Troy’s archers and Hector kills Ajax. On Odysseus’ insistence, Agamemnon gives the order to fall back. In order to keep their spirits up, he gives Briseis to the Greek soldiers for their amusement. When she is threatened with rape, she is saved by Achilles. The two fall in love, and Achilles decides that the war is a lost cause, resolving to leave Troy in the morning.
MV5BMjAyNTM5MzIxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjc4MTQyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1528,1000_AL_Despite Hector’s advice otherwise, Priam instructs him to retake the Trojan beach in the night and force the Greeks home. The attack brings the Greeks together and the Myrmidons enter the battle. Hector personally duels a man he believes to be Achilles and cuts his throat, only to discover it was actually Patroclus. Devastated, the armies agree to stop fighting for the day. Achilles is informed of his cousin’s death and vows revenge. Knowing of the coming retribution, Hector leads his wife, Andromache, to a secret tunnel beneath Troy and instructs her to take their child and any survivors she can out of the city should he die and the city fall.
MV5BMTg5ODgzMTIxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzI4MTQyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1524,1000_AL_The next day, Achilles arrives outside Troy and demands Hector come out. The two fight evenly for a while until Achilles wears Hector down and kills him, dragging his corpse back to the Trojan beach, straining his relationship with Briseis. Priam, in disguise, sneaks into the camp and meets with Achilles, imploring him to let him take Hector’s body back to Troy for a proper funeral. Ashamed of his actions, Achilles agrees and allows Briseis to return to Troy with Priam, promising a truce of twelve days so that Hector’s funeral rites may be held in peace. He also tells his men to return home without him, for he has a battle he must fight on his own.
MV5BMTQ4NjQwODc1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTI4MTQyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,663_AL_Agamemnon becomes infuriated at Achilles’ actions and goes into a crazed rant that he will take Troy no matter what. Concerned that Agamemnon may lead them to destruction, Odysseus concocts a plan to get inside the city by having the Greeks build a gigantic wooden horse from their boat parts and abandon the Trojan beach, hiding their ships in a nearby cove to make it seem as if they have left. Priam orders the horse brought inside the city as a gift from the Gods, over Paris’ objections. A Trojan scout finds the hidden ships in the cove but is killed by the Greek archers before he can alert the city. That night, Greeks hiding inside the horse emerge and open the city gates for the Greek army, commencing the Sack of Troy.MV5BNDA0MDI4NDExMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzY4MTQyMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_While Andromache and Helen are getting the Trojans to safety through the tunnel, Paris gives the Sword of Troy to Aeneas, instructing him to protect the Trojans and find them a new home. Glaucus is killed by Odysseus. Agamemnon kills Priam, and then Agamemnon finds Briseis and taunts her, and she kills him. Achilles fights his way through the city and finds Briseis, but is shot through the heel by Paris, which makes him vulnerable. Paris puts several more arrows into Achilles’ chest until he finally collapses. With his dying breaths, Achilles implores Briseis to leave the city with Paris. They escape Troy before the Greeks find Achilles’ body. In the aftermath, with Troy finally taken, funerals are held for the slain and Odysseus personally cremates Achilles as the surviving Trojans head to Mount Ida.MV5BMzQ1MDU4MTA4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzg5MTQyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1662,1000_AL_Troy is definitely an entertaining movie, and the production is remarkable, but a few major historical inaccuracies, strange casting choices and a particularly cliché Hollywood ending lower my appreciation for the film.