REVIEW: PREMIUM RUSH

CAST

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Wolé Parks (The Vampire Diaries)
Aasif Mandvi (Movie 43)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
Ashley Austin Morris (Sully)

The film has a nonlinear narrative. It contains numerous flash-forward and flashback cuts, indicated with an overlaid digital clock showing the time advancing rapidly forward/backward to the next scene. In chronological order: Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a disenchanted Columbia Law School graduate who has put off taking the bar exam because he could not bear to enter the humdrum life of the legal profession. He finds meaning and purpose in being employed as a thrill-seeking New York City bicycle messenger despite arguments with his girlfriend and fellow bike messenger, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), who insists that he should make something of himself.Vanessa’s roommate, Nima (Jamie Chung), has asked Vanessa to move out for a personal reason she doesn’t disclose. Vanessa is in the process of packing her few belongings. Nima delivers $50,000 that she has saved for two years to Mr. Leung (Henry O), a Chinese hawaladar, in exchange for a ticket that she must deliver to Sister Chen, buying a place for Nima’s son and mother in one of Sister Chen’s ships on which gangs smuggle people from China to the United States.Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush (2012)Mr. Lin, a local loan shark, has learned of the ticket and that whoever returns it to Mr. Leung can collect Nima’s money. He approaches Robert “Bobby” Monday (Michael Shannon), a gambling-addicted NYPD detective who owes him money, offering to clear Monday’s debt if Monday gets him the ticket. Monday begins searching for Nima, who decides to hire Wilee to deliver the envelope with the ticket to Sister Chen by 7 pm after Nima is told by Leung that anyone who knew she was visiting him is a loose end which could cause her to be in possible danger if she tries to deliver the ticket herself. Wilee and Nima conduct their transaction at the college where Nima is a student. After Wilee leaves, Nima is confronted by Monday, who sees the courier receipt Wilee gave her. He is able to steal the receipt from Nima. After Monday leaves, Vanessa finds Nima, and learns the contents of the envelope.Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dania Ramirez in Premium Rush (2012)Monday catches up with Wilee before he leaves the college campus, stating that he is a college official, that Nima had no authority to handle the contents of the envelope on the college’s behalf, and that he would like the envelope back, with the receipt Wilee gave to Nima in his hands. Wilee refuses. He is able to escape, with Monday in pursuit. Wilee heads to the police station to report Monday, only to find out he’s a police detective. Wilee hides in the bathroom, where he opens the envelope and finds the ticket. After he escapes the station, Wilee angrily tells his dispatcher, Raj (Aasif Mandvi), that he is returning the package so that someone else can drop it off. Returning to Nima’s college, Wilee leaves the envelope, which is picked up by his rival, Manny (Wolé Parks). Before Manny picks it up, however, Monday calls the dispatch to redirect the delivery to a different address.Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush (2012)As he is about to leave the college after returning the envelope, Wilee runs into Nima. He confronts her about the ticket, and she reveals the truth. Guilt-ridden, Wilee tries to catch up to Manny, who refuses to give Wilee his drop. They race each other and in the process, are chased by a bike cop who had earlier tried to arrest Wilee. As they approach Monday’s location, the bike cop tackles Manny off his bike and arrests him. Vanessa, who learns of Monday’s trickery and races over to warn Manny, appears, grabs Manny’s bag and gives it to Wilee. As they are about to escape, Wilee is hit by an oncoming taxi. He falls to the ground fracturing some ribs in the process. He is put in an ambulance with Monday, while his damaged bike is taken to an impound lot, with the envelope hidden in the handlebars. Monday tortures Wilee by pressing on his injured ribs, and Wilee offers to give Monday the envelope in exchange for his bike.Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon in Premium Rush (2012)Wilee tells Monday that the envelope is in Manny’s bag, and Monday leaves to search it, while Wilee meets with Vanessa in the impound lot. She gives him the envelope, which she had retrieved, and he escapes on a stolen bike. Monday, realizing Wilee has tricked him, pursues Wilee to Sister Chen’s place. Meanwhile, Nima calls Mr. Leung for help. He deploys his enforcer, the Sudoku Man, to help her.Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush (2012)As Wilee reaches Chinatown, he is confronted by Monday, who is threatening to kill him. However, Vanessa arrives with a flash mob of messengers, dispatched by Raj, who delay Monday by hitting him numerous times, giving Wilee time to deliver the ticket to Sister Chen just before the stroke of 7 pm. She calls the captain of her ship and tells him to allow Nima’s family aboard. Outside, Monday is confronted by the Sudoku Man, who shoots Monday in the back of his head with a silenced pistol. Dying and feeling faint, Monday tries to get in his car saying that he just wants to think for a second, but dies before he can do so. Nima’s mother calls her and confirms that she and Nima’s son have gotten on the ship. Nima meets with Wilee and Vanessa while they are finally reunited again.Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush (2012)t’s not a 10 star film but it is a fun ride with action that makes up for a few flaws in plot and the flow of storyline. The best issue in this film is almost constant action and wild biking through the New York streets. One of the elements that were new to the screen and highly workable were the sudden stop of action to follow the split-second decision making of a messenger/biker. Choices that have to be made in the moment. The bad guy in the film is nasty and very believable. So, if you’re looking for a thrill ride and a fun film then go see it. Enjoy the earthy feel of the cameras that capture the life of a messenger on two wheels competing with trucks, cabs, and cops.

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REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 3

 

MAIN CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (New Girl)
Morena Baccarin (Homeland)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Cold Comes The Night)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Cory Michael Smith (Wonderstruck)
Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
Chris Chalk (12 Years A Slave)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maggie Geha (Ted 2)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Leslie Hendrix (Arthur)
James Carpinello (Gangster Squad)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
John Doman (Blue Valentine)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Magic Mike XXL)
B.D. Wong (Jurassic World)
Chelsea Spack (Blue Bloods)
Raymond J. Barry (Training Day)
Richard Kind (Stargate)
Naian Gonzalez Norvind (The Devil You Know)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Cameron Monaghan (Amityville: The Awakening)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Nathan Darrow (Preacher)
Camila Perez (Star)
Tonya Pinkins (The Book of Henry)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Clare Foley (Sinister)

Maggie Geha in Gotham (2014)Gotham is the crime drama series based on DC Comics’ Batman universe. Having premiered on Fox in the autumn of 2014, the show initially focused on young versions of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). Over time, though, the series introduced younger iterations of well-known villains in the Batman franchise, as well as lesser-known characters to provide a wider representation of the Dark Knight’s universe. Additionally, with Season Two, the episodes were grouped into “Rise of the Villains” (Episodes 1-11) and “Wraith of the Villains” (Episode 12-22), and that concept was continued in Season Three, with Episodes 1-14 grouped into “Mad Love” and Episodes 15-22, under the subtitle of “Heroes Rise.”Benedict Samuel in Gotham (2014)Concepts deriving from the overarching themes were weaved throughout the various storylines. Betrayal is often associated with love, and this theme was well represented throughout the season. Between lovers, siblings, work colleagues, and enemies, betrayal was a symptom of the deterioration of Gotham. Gordon tried to take the high road with his ex-fiancé Lee (Morena Baccarin) who moved on to a relationship with Dr. Mario Falcone (James Carpinello) and fell into an uneasy sexual relationship with Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) that included a number of lies and betrayals due to their goals arising from their respective jobs – bounty hunter and reporter. But, the downfall between Gordon and Vale came when he is forced by Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) to choose between Vale or Lee in “Follow the White Rabbit” (Episode 6). Although he chooses Vale, all parties easily infer that Gordon is still in love with Lee. Later in the season, Bruce commits a deadly betrayal against Alfred (Sean Pertwee) in “Destiny Calling” (Episode 21) after being kidnapped by the Court of Owls to spend time with The Shaman (Raymond J. Barry) and meeting Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig). Surprisingly, one ray of light occurred between Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Desperate to know why she didn’t kill him, Penguin was surprised and humbled that Fish saw in him her greatest creation (“Burn the Witch” Episode 2).Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)

As often that a character was turning on another individual, sometimes the betrayal came from within. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) seemed to be one of the most conflicted characters through the season, trying to answer the question, “Who am I?” His identity, publicly as Penguin’s Chief of Staff, and privately as Penguin’s mastermind, resulted in a vacuum of questions after Nygma shot Penguin, believing he had killed his best friend who overshadowed and defined him. As a result, Nygma tested a number of the city’s intelligent people for assistance in determining his own identity separate from Penguin. The Tetch virus enhanced and brought out certain traits of characters and finding themselves at odds with themselves. Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis) received a drop of blood from Alice Tetch (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) which heightened his commitment to the concept of justice, becoming judge, jury, and executioner as well as embodying the law (“New Day Rising” Episode 4). Marios jealousy was amplified, and Lee became a bad girl looking for the bad boy in Gordon, who was forced to self-infect the virus on himself in “Pretty Hate Machine” (Episode 20). As one of the heroes, Gordon was the only one who could control his magnified emotional state.

Amongst chaos, the heroes rise; however, the idea of heroes is a double-edged sword, so the viewer’s traditional definition of hero will be challenged in Season Three. Executive Producer John Stephens said, “Everyone goes through a major character metamorphosis throughout the course of the yea,r” in an interview with Comicbook.com. What is the most dramatic event that a character could go through? Well, it seemed that death (or near-death) and rebirth was a common event for most of the characters. For instance, Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) was touched by one of Dr. Strange’s (B. E. Wong) monsters and not only did she age about 10 or so years, but it was the belief of Selina (Camren Bicondova) that Ivy had died. Fish Mooney, Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow), who became Mr. Freeze, and Bridgit Pike (Camila Perez), who became Firefly, actually died and were reborn. It should be noted that while some characters died, they did not embody their familiar mantle: Ivy isn’t known as Poison Ivy, Selena hasn’t become Catwoman, and Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) may have the iconic creepy wide smile, but nary a whisper of “Joker” has been heard – yet.David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova in Gotham (2014)The parallels amongst pairs of characters did deliver intriguing comparisons. For example, viewers witness the very public destruction of Penguin, each layer of his personae being taken away from him. The betrayal is deliberate, a conscious effort on the part of Nygma, Barbara Keen (Erin Richards), Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell). Eventually, even Penguin’s life is taken from him; however, there is also a private betrayal occurring in Lee. She has internalized her loss and although she argues for justice and grabs for the preverbal straws, she finally realizes that she is the root cause of her own betrayal. She hits rock bottom and as a result, injects herself with the Tetch virus, embracing her ruin.Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)Due to the large ensemble cast of regular cast members, plus the recurring and special guests through the 22 episodes, one of the inherent issues is affording enough screen time to each character so that their origin story is fully explored, resulting in a well-developed character. While Gordon and Wayne/514A (David Mazouz, in a dual role) are central characters and will typically appear in each episode, some of the other regular characters, such as Selina Kyle, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), or Butch, seem to disappear from the storyline. For example, in the closing minutes of “How the Riddler Got His Name” (Episode 15), Edward Nygma/The Riddler reveals to Lucius that he is struggling with defining his identity separate and outside of the shadow of Penguin. After announcing to Lucius that he is the Riddler, Nygma knocks Lucius out in his car. Viewers next see Lucius in “Light the Wick” (Episode 18). Fish Mooney is another character that is missing for most of the season after appearing in the season’s opening episode, “Better to Reign in Hell…” Their disappearances do cause some gaps, such as where was Lucius for two episodes, 16 and 17 – one would assume that someone from the GCPD would notice Lucius sleeping off Nygma’s attack in the front seat of his car, parked across the street from the precinct.Drew Powell, Jessica Lucas, and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)The third season of Gotham provides intriguing complexities to the overarching denigration of the city into chaos and the telling of individual character origin stories. While the origin stories are fascinating, the fact that there is foreknowledge that most of the characters cannot die because they will one day face Bruce Wayne as Batman does cause a wrinkle with the audience’s engagement with the storylines. To compensate, spending more time on character development would alleviate some of the indifference inherent to the nature of prequel narratives. That said, Gotham is a binge-worthy show. The city is visually stunning, and the Steampunk feel captivating. Audiences unfamiliar with the origin stories will likely enjoy the show just as much or more so than those that come to the show with familiarity from reading the comics.

 

REVIEW: THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS

CAST

RZA (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Rick Yune (The Fast and The Furious)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels)
Dave Bautista (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Jamie Chung (Gotham)
Cung Le (Into The Badlands)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Eli Roth (Clown)
Celina Jade (Arrow)

Jamie Chung in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)In nineteenth century China, Jungle Village is home to several warring clans. The village blacksmith creates deadly weapons for the clans, intending to use his payments to purchase the freedom of his lover Lady Silk, and leave the village. The region’s governor tasks the Lion Clan’s leader, Gold Lion, with protecting a large shipment of gold that must pass through the village. Gold is betrayed by his lieutenants Silver Lion and Bronze Lion, who plan to steal the gold. They use the chaos ensuing from a fight with the Hyena Clan to allow their co-conspirator Poison Dagger—the governor’s aide—to assassinate Gold, after which Silver becomes the Lions’ leader. Gold’s son Zen-Yi learns of his father’s murder and sets off to the village to seek revenge.RZA in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)The Qing Emperor’s undercover emissary Jack Knife arrives in the village to monitor the gold and takes up residence in the Pink Blossom, a brothel run by Madam Blossom, Lady Silk’s madame. Silver sends members of the Rodent clan to kill Zen-Yi before he can reach the village, but Zen-Yi kills them. The mercenary Brass Body arrives in the village and meets with Silver; he is sent to kill Zen-Yi. The blacksmith meets with Silk in the brothel and delivers the final payment needed to free her. After arriving in the village, Zen-Yi and his men are confronted by Brass and find that they cannot physically harm him because his skin turns to metal on impact. Brass beats Zen-Yi and destroys his blade-laden armor. Zen-Yi’s last surviving man sacrifices himself to pull a canopy support beam loose, burying Brass under heavy stone. The blacksmith is watching the fight; he rescues Zen-Yi and helps him recover as penance for crafting the weapon that killed Zen-Yi’s father.Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)Meanwhile, the gold shipment arrives in the village, accompanied by two skilled warriors, the Geminis. The Lions soon confront the Geminis and their men, and in the ensuing fight, Poison Dagger assassinates the Geminis and the Lions capture the gold. Jack later arrives to investigate the incident and learns that the Geminis were poisoned with mercury-tipped weapons, leading him to the blacksmith. The Lions’ theft prompts the governor to send his Jackal troops to recover the shipment or destroy the village. Zen-Yi asks the blacksmith to craft him a new suit of weaponized armor. The Lions suspect that the blacksmith is helping Zen-Yi and have him tortured for information. The blacksmith refuses to talk, and Brass cuts off his forearms. Jack, who had been following the blacksmith, saves him from bleeding to death. While the blacksmith recovers, he tells Jack of his past as an emancipated American slave who accidentally killed a white man who refused to let him go. He fled America by boat and went to China, where monks trained him to use his body’s energy to perform superhuman feats. Jack with the aid of the blacksmith crafts his greatest weapon: a pair of iron forearms that he can animate using this energy.Dave Bautista in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)Zen-Yi recovers and joins Jack and the blacksmith. Meanwhile, Blossom offers to let Silver hide the gold in a secret tomb beneath the brothel in return for payment. The gold is stored in a coffin which is raised up to the rafters. That night, Blossom has her girls serve the Lions, and Silk serves Brass. At Blossom’s signal, the girls use weapons hidden in their mouths to poison many of the Lions, and they join with Blossom as the Black Widows. When Silk tries to poison Brass, his skin protects him, and he beats and almost kills her. Zen-Yi, Jack, and the blacksmith arrive and join with the Black Widows to fight the remaining Lions while Blossom and Bronze fight and kill each other. While fighting Jack, Poison Dagger is crushed between large moving gears. Silver and Zen-Yi fight in the tomb; Zen-Yi cuts the coffin free, and it crushes Silver. The blacksmith finds Silk, who dies in his arms. He confronts Brass, and his iron fists prove capable of inflicting damage on Brass’ seemingly invincible body. While Brass is in metal form, a powerful punch from the blacksmith shatters him to pieces. Jack runs outside in time to stop the soldiers from decimating the building with Gatling guns.Ultimately, Jack leaves the village to accompany the gold, and Zen-Yi tells the blacksmith that he has gained a brother. With the clans destroyed and the village safe, the blacksmith vows to keep it that way and destroys the sign pointing to his weapon shop. During the credits, Zen-Yi’s pregnant fiancee is kidnapped by a bird clan, prompting Zen-Yi to seek the blacksmith’s aid.Lucy Liu in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)All in all, if your looking for a movie with a really good storyline, plot, and script, then you probably shouldn’t watch this movie. If you just want something to put on that’s really cool to look at, with good music, attractive Asian women, and really good fight scenes then you probably won’t be disappointed. It’s a fun movie and deserves a little better rep. I’d watch a sequel

REVIEW: THE GIFTED – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Sean Teale (Reign)
Natalie Alyn Lind (Gotham)
Percy Hynes White (Rupture)
Coby Bell (Burn Notice)
Jamie Chung (Office Christmas Party)
Blair Redford (Satisfaction)
Emma Dumont (Aquarius)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Hayley Lovitt (Ant-Man)
Toks Olagundoye  (The Neighbors)
Joe Nemmers (American Crime)
Jeff Daniel Phillips (Westworld)
Elena Satine (Revenge)
Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave)
Sharon Gless  (Cagney & Lacey)
Jeffrey Nordling  (Nashville)
Zach Roerig (The Vampire Diaries)
Michelle Veintimilla  (Gotham)
Frances Turner (The Exes)
Danny Ramirez (Assassination Nation)
Skyler Samuels (Scream Queens)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Ray Campbell (Breaking Bad)
David Norona  (The Mentalist)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

What ingredients are necessary for a successful show about powered individuals? Cool abilities? Flashy visuals? Likable characters? Interestingly, Fox’s The Gifted manages to have them all despite following some formulaic paths to tell its story. Any worries viewers might have about the young, good-looking, CW-like cast should be tossed aside. Everyone from the headstrong but calculating mutants to the strangely sympathetic government enforcers to the argumentative but caring siblings in the Strucker family have levels of complexity not often seen in comic book shows.It helps that there are powers on display right away that we haven’t seen on previous superhero-as-outcast shows. Of particular interest is Jamie Chung’s character, Claire a.k.a. Blink, whose ability involves creating writhing purple portals that allow her to travel instanteously from one point to another. Having her character join the Mutant Underground as someone still new to her abilities is something we’ve seen in shows like The Tomorrow People or Alphas, but that trope is usually reserved for the main character. Here, her burgeoning powers and escape from the law are merely used to set up one of the big motivations for the mutants to come out of hiding.The Gifted’s main story, arguably, revolves around the Struckers, who live in a world where anti-mutant laws are in effect and the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants have gone off the grid. Public fear of the dangers of super-powered individuals has led to strict government control and prejudice in the form of derogatory terms like “mutey.” Reed Strucker, played powerfully by Stephen Moyer of True Blood, helps prosecute those mutants who use their power to break the law, and the initial concern that he and his wife (Amy Acker of Person Of Interest) share centers around their son Andrew, who’s being bullied at school almost to the breaking point.Viewers can probably guess what happens next, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch unfold. The irony of Reed working against mutants and then finding out about his son’s powers being awakened by the strong emotions associated with abuse by his peers is richly nuanced and informs everything the family does afterwards. There are some surprises for the family along the way as well to sweeten the pot, but as Reed seeks help from the Mutant Underground, his discoveries concerning the Magneto-like Lorna a.k.a. Polaris (Emma Dumont of Aquarius) provide a pleasantly paradoxical reluctance and incentive for Lorna’s boyfriend, the light-manipulating Marcos a.k.a. Eclipse (Sean Teale of Reign), to help the Struckers.What they’re escaping from is the Sentinel Services, a group of elite enforcers who apparently go after those with particularly destructive or potentially game-changing abilities. Two things stand out about the introduction of these mutant hunters. First, the lead agent, Jace Turner (Coby Bell of Burn Notice), is oddly sympathetic while being coldly rigid in rounding up mutants; and second, the Sentinel Services have mysterious ways of tracking the seemingly untrackable and bring a lot of high-tech toys to take down those with powers. The combination makes for a very interesting, dynamic enemy opposite quite flawed protagonists — just how we like it.Characters in the background felt strong and full of promise as well. Although Acker’s Caitlin Strucker didn’t have quite enough to do in the pilot, her screen presence has always been unmatched and as the season goes on she becomes a more prominent character and crucial to the mutant underground, her daughter Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind of The Goldbergs), who could have easily disappeared into the background as just another pretty face, is wonderful both when she was fighting with her brother and when she was supporting him with secrets of her own. And a mutant to keep an eye on, just from the sheer awesomeness of his powers, is John (Blair Redford of Satisfaction), who has a number of abilities hinted at by his alias “Thunderbird” that will not be spoiled here.The Gifted has what it takes to be another “X-Men adjacent” hit for Fox Television alongside FX’s Legion. The latter is much more esoteric but does have several things in common with this new mutant offering, including the manner in which Andy Strucker’s (Percy Hynes White of Murdoch Mysteries) powers manifest. The series builds towards a great finale that changes the entire dynamic of the show and leads into what should be an awesome Season 2 later in the year.

REVIEW: THE HANGOVER – PART III

CAST

Bradley Cooper (Ameircan Sniper_
Ed Helms (Cedar Rapids)
Zach Galifianakis (Up In The Air)
Justin Bartha (Gigli)
Jeffrey Tambor (Dr. Dolittle)
Ken Jeong (Couples Retreat)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Melissa McCarthy (Ghostbusters)
Heather Graham (Say It Isn’t So)
Mike Epps (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Sasha Barrese (Let Me In)
Gillian Vigman (Deck The Halls)
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch)
Sondra Currie (Alien Nation: Dark Horizon)

Two years after the events in Bangkok, Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from a maximum security prison, using a riot as cover. Meanwhile, in the United States, Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) causes a 20-car freeway pileup after he purchases a giraffe and accidentally decapitates it on a low overpass. Alan’s father Sid (Jeffrey Tambor), angry with Alan for his immature antics and never owning up to his mistakes, dies of a heart attack in the middle of a lecture. After the funeral, Alan’s brother-in-law Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) informs friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and Stu Price (Ed Helms) that Alan has been off his ADHD medication and is out of control. The group attends an intervention in which Alan agrees to visit a rehabilitation facility in Arizona where he can seek treatment, as long as “the Wolfpack” takes him there. On the way to Arizona, Phil’s minivan is rammed off the road by a rental truck and the group is taken hostage. They are later confronted by mob boss Marshall (John Goodman) and “Black Doug” (Mike Epps), his head enforcer.He tells them that a few weeks after their shenanigans Chow hijacked half of a $42 million gold heist and, seeing how Alan has been the only one to communicate with Chow during his imprisonment, deduced that the Wolfpack could locate him and retrieve the gold. Marshall kidnaps Doug and gives the others three days to find Chow, or else Doug will be killed. Alan sets up a meeting with Chow in Tijuana, Mexico, where Stu and Phil will hide and attempt to drug him. However, Alan seemingly, accidentally (but really on purpose) reveals their location and Chow forces them to confess that they are working for Marshall. Chow explains his plan to retrieve the stolen gold from the basement of a Mexican villa he previously owned. Stu, Alan and Phil break into the house and successfully retrieve the gold, but Chow double-crosses them by locking them in the basement, rearming the security system and escaping in Phil’s minivan. They are arrested but mysteriously released from the police station. They are picked up by a limousine and taken back to the villa, where they meet up with Marshall.They learn that Chow had lied to them; the villa was never his. In fact, it was Marshall’s own villa and the gold they stole was the other half Chow didn’t get from Marshall. Marshall forgives them for their mistake but kills “Black Doug” for his incompetence and reminds them of their now two-day deadline. The group tracks Phil’s phone, which was left in the minivan, outside a pawn shop in Las Vegas. The pawnshop owner, Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), tells them that Chow traded a gold brick for $18,000, far less than its usual sell rate of $400,000. Using Stu’s former lover Jade (Heather Graham) as their contact, they learn that Chow is barricaded in the penthouse suite of Caesars Palace. Phil and Alan sneak into his suite from the roof, but Chow escapes, jumping from the balcony and parachuting down to the strip. Stu catches up to Chow and locks him in the trunk of the limo that Marshall lent to them. They take the gold and meet with Marshall, who releases Doug back to the group. Although Marshall initially promised not to harm Chow, he shoots through the trunk of the car, presumably killing him. However, Alan had given Chow the means to escape from the trunk through a backseat compartment just moments earlier.Chow emerges from the limo and kills Marshall, allowing the Wolfpack to live because Alan saved his life. He offers Alan a bar of gold as a gift, but Alan turns him down and trolls Chow by pretending to end their friendship because of Chow’s unhealthy influence on the group (but pulls a fast one on Chow when he takes his hand back from a handshake) and Chow tells Alan he is “…cold as ice”. As Chow sadly watches them leave, they go to retrieve Phil’s minivan from the pawnshop and Alan makes a date with Cassie. Six months later, the two marry. Vowing to stop with his antics, Alan regretfully resigns from the Wolfpack but would still like for the gang to hang out on occasion. As the four walk to the ceremony, a montage of clips from the previous films play.In a mid-credits scene after the wedding, Alan, Cassie, Stu, and Phil appear to have staged another wild party that they cannot remember. Stu emerges from the bathroom wearing panties with breast implants and Alan remembers that the wedding cake was a gift from Chow; who emerges from the next room naked, laughing, holding a bottle of whiskey and wielding a katana. Crystal the capuchine monkey then jumps on Stu before the scene cuts to black.The jokes are a little hit & miss in some places, but they’re is some consistency with the laughs & situations they get into, from small subtle nuggets to in your face hilarity as Alan’s & Chow’s eccentric humor takes the front seat with Phil (Bradley Cooper) & Stu (Ed Helms) chipping in to good effect. The celebrity appearances by John Goodman & Melissa McCarthy add well to the film, Goodman’s larger than life menacing baddie heightens the threat element & McCarthy’s larger than life comedy injection rapport with Zach Galifianakis (Alan) is brilliant, although i may not eat a lolly again.

REVIEW: THE HANGOVER – PART II

 

CAST

Bradley Cooper (Ameircan Sniper_
Ed Helms (Cedar Rapids)
Zach Galifianakis (Up In The Air)
Justin Bartha (Gigli)
Jeffrey Tambor (Dr. Dolittle)
Ken Jeong (Couples Retreat)
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch)
Mason Lee (Super Express)
Bryan Callen (Ride Along)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sasha Barrese (Let Me In)
Sondra Currie (Alien Nation: Dark Horizon)
Gillian Vigman (Deck The Halls)
Yasmin Lee (Red Ice)
Mike Tyson (Mike Tyson Mysteries)

Two years after the events of the first movie in Las Vegas, Stu Price, Phil Wenneck, Alan Garner and Doug Billings travel to Thailand to celebrate Stu’s upcoming wedding to Lauren. Much to Alan’s dismay, they are joined by Lauren’s younger brother, Teddy. At the rehearsal dinner, Lauren’s father’s reveals his disapproval of Stu during a toast. Later that night, Stu hesitantly joins Phil, Doug, Alan and Teddy for a beer. Sitting at a campfire and roasting marshmallows, the group toast to Stu and Lauren’s future happiness.The next morning, Phil, Stu and Alan, along with gangster Leslie Chow – whom Alan befriended after Las Vegas – and a chain-smoking capuchin monkey, awaken in a dirty hotel room in Bangkok. Stu has a face tattoo (a replica of Mike Tyson’s) and Alan’s head is completely shaved. They cannot find Teddy, and discover only his severed finger. Chow begins to relay the events of the prior night, but he seemingly dies after snorting a line of cocaine. Panicked, the trio dispose of Chow’s body in an ice box.Through a tip from Doug who is still at the resort (he left the campfire earlier than the others), they go to a police station to pick up Teddy but are given a wheelchair-bound elderly Buddhist monk, who knows more about what happened; however, he refuses to reveal anything, having taken a vow of silence. After finding a business card, they travel to the smoldering ruins of the business. They enter a nearby tattoo parlor where Stu got his tattoo, and they learn that they started a fight that escalated into a riot. The trio returns the monk to his Buddhist temple, where they are encouraged by the head monk to meditate. Alan is able to recall that they had been at the White Lion strip club, where they learn that Stu was sodomized by a kathoey prostitute named Kimmy. Upon exiting, the trio are attacked by two Russian mobsters who steal the monkey, and one shoots Phil in his arm.After Phil is treated at a clinic, Alan confesses that he had drugged some of the marshmallows from the previous night with muscle relaxers and ADHD medication in order to sedate Teddy but accidentally mixed up the bags. Phil and Stu become furious that Alan drugged them again. Stu blames Alan for ruining his life and attacks him. Phil breaks it up and tells them that they have to stick together. They notice something on Alan’s stomach: an address and a time for a meeting. They meet a gangster named Kingsley, who demands Chow’s bank account password by the next morning in exchange for Teddy. They return to the hotel to try to find Chow’s password, only to discover that he is still alive. They steal the monkey (who had the code given to him and put inside his jacket for safe-keeping by Chow) back from the Russian mobsters through a violent car chase, during which the monkey is shot and injured. After taking the code and leaving the monkey at a veterinary clinic, the group completes the deal with Kingsley. Suddenly, Interpol agents appear and arrest Chow. Kingsley turns out to be an undercover agent, who tells the trio that the police had used the information that Teddy had disappeared to arrest Chow and Kingsley actually does not know where Teddy is.Desperate and out of clues, Phil calls Doug’s wife Tracy to tell her they can’t find Teddy. Stu decides to call off the wedding and live in Bangkok and say that Teddy died. While Alan is playing a game of PAC-MAN the power goes out again. Stu suddenly realizes where Teddy is. The trio rushes back to the hotel to find Teddy who is in the elevator unharmed (albeit still missing a finger). Teddy had woken up in the middle of the night to get more ice for his severed finger (after the first bucket of ice had melted) but became trapped after the power went out. The four use Chow’s speedboat, the Perfect Life, the keys for which were in Teddy’s pocket, to travel back to the wedding reception.Arriving on land just as Lauren’s father is about to cancel the wedding, Stu makes a defiant speech where he rejects being boring and instead states that he is in fact quite wild. Impressed, Lauren’s father gives the couple his blessing. After they exchange their vows, Alan presents Stu with a special gift at the post-reception dance: a musical guest performance by Mike Tyson. Teddy later discovers that he had taken many pictures during the night on his cell phone. The group, along with Tyson, agree to look at the pictures together once (some of which reveal Teddy lost his finger playing the knife game) before erasing the evidence of their exploits once again.Since The Hangover Part II is basically a repeat of the first film, it ups the R-rated humor to get a leg up. The jokes are dirtier, and the nudity is less shocking than tedious. The Hangover Part II  is funny. At least some of it is, thanks to Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis, who have a damn good thing going.

REVIEW: GROWN UPS

CAST

Adam Sandler (Jack & Jill)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Kevin James (Paul Blart)
Chris Rock (Rush Hour)
David Spade (8 Simple Rules)
Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Maria Bello (Secret Window)
Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids)
Colin Quinn (Trainwreck)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Tim Meadows (Son of Zorn)
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch)
Norm MacDonald (Dr. Dolittle)

In 1978, five childhood friends win their junior high school basketball championship. During their celebration at a rented lake house, the friends’ coach, Robert “The Buzzer” Fernando (Blake Clark), encourages them to live their lives in a similar way to how they played the game.30 Years later in 2008, Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) is an ambitious Hollywood talent agent who is married to fashion designer Roxanne Chase (Salma Hayek), and has three children—one daughter Becky (Alexys Nicole Sanchez) and two sons, Greg and Keith (Jake Goldberg and Cameron Boyce); his sons have become very spoiled much to his annoyance.Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) claims he is now a co-owner of a lawn furniture company, is married to Sally (Maria Bello) and has two children, Donna and Bean (Ada-Nicole Sanger and Morgan Gingerich). Much to Eric’s chagrin, Sally continues to breastfeed Bean.Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) is a stay-at-home father who is married to Deanne (Maya Rudolph), the primary breadwinner of the family, and has two children, Andre and Charlotte (Nadji Jeter and China Anne McClain). Deanne is pregnant with another child and her mother (Ebony Jo-Ann) also lives with the family. Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) has been divorced three times and has daughters Jasmine, Amber, and Bridget (Madison Riley, Jamie Chung, and Ashley Loren) from those marriages. His current wife, Gloria (Joyce Van Patten), is 30 years older than him.Marcus Higgins (David Spade) is a slacker and lothario. All five friends regularly harass each other in comedic fashion throughout the film: Lenny for being rich; Eric for being overweight; Kurt for being skinny and not being more useful; Rob for his way of saying “Maize!” and for having a much older wife; and Marcus for being sexually juvenile.When the five friends soon find out that Buzzer has died, they all reunite for the first time in three decades and later return to their hometown with their families to pay tribute to Buzzer at his private funeral. Lenny rents the lake house for the 4th of July weekend for his friends to stay at. However, Lenny cannot stay for the whole weekend because Roxanne has a fashion show in Milan. While at the lake house, Lenny is annoyed in which their kids would rather play video games than spend time outdoors, so that he and the other friends are forcing their kids to play outside during their stay instead. At a local restaurant, Lenny talks to his old nemesis, Dickie Bailey (Colin Quinn), who is still upset at Lenny because he allegedly had his foot on the outside line, in which his shot should not have been counted. Dickie challenges him and his friends to a rematch, but Lenny declines after noting that Dickie is decidedly out of shape. The next day, the five friends spread Buzzer’s ashes into the woods. Rob becomes depressed during this event, lamenting his failed marriages, and later says his three daughters from the past marriages are coming. After having to deal with Jasmine, Rob goes and hangs out with his friends, who were fishing. After making some jokes on Rob, the others elect to cheer him up with a game of arrow roulette. Rob remains in the circle the longest, making him the winner, but the arrow hits directly through Rob’s foot. When Gloria tries to use a maize-covered poultice, Rob snaps at Gloria. Lenny gets the kids interested in talking on cup-phones and Roxanne accidentally tells Becky that she is the “Tooth Fairy”. Happy that they are enjoying the same kind of fun he had as a child, Lenny installs an extensive cup-phone network in the house.Roxanne ultimately figures out that it is more important to stay at the lake house than going to Milan. The five friends decide to go to a water park, where Bean learns to drink milk out of a carton and Marcus flirts constantly with Jasmine and Amber, having bought them skimpy bikinis. Rob kicks a ride attendant down a water slide when the latter insults Bridget for being less attractive than her sisters. Eric ignores Donna’s warning about a chemical in the kiddie pool that turns urine blue, and chaos results when he and his friends urinate in the pool. The spouses try to attract a muscleman, but he is laughed off due to his high-pitched Canadian accent. Later, Lenny and the group go to the zip line and meet Dickie again, this time with his own group of friends and former teammates, including Wiley (Steve Buscemi), who is hospitalized when he slams on a shopping kiosk instead of landing in the swimming pool after sliding down the zip line by his feet. Lenny teaches his son how to shoot a perfect shot during basketball. Afterwards, the friends end the night by sharing their dance with their spouses. The next day, Roxanne picks up Lenny’s phone and confronts him on lying about canceling their flight trip before she agreed on staying for the family instead of going to Milan. Eventually, everyone starts to tell the truth about their feelings and lives. On their final day at the lake house, Lenny and his buddies are challenged once again to a basketball rematch by Dickie. At the game-deciding shot, Lenny purposely misses in order to allow Dickie and his team to win. Before the end of the film, Marcus plays another game of arrow roulette, this time with an entire crowd of people, and everyone takes off with Wiley accidentally getting his foot impaled by the arrow.Pretty funny, a bit puerile in places, but generally an easy way to spend a rainy afternoon.