REVIEW: THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES

CAST

Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd)
Robert Sheehan (Season of The Witch)
Jemima West (United Passions)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula)
Aidan Turner (The Hobbit)

New York City teenager Clary Fray begins seeing a strange symbol, worrying her mother Jocelyn Fray and her mother’s friend Luke Garroway. Later, at a nightclub with her friend, Simon Lewis, Clary is the only person who sees Jace Wayland killing a man, who he claims is a demon. Meanwhile, Jocelyn is abducted by two men, Emil Pangborn and Samuel Blackwell, but she is able to call Clary and warn her about someone named Valentine. Jocelyn drinks a potion putting her in a comatose state. Returning home, Clary finds her mother missing and is then attacked by a demon. Clary kills it, and then Jace appears. Jace explains that he and her mother Jocelyn are both Shadowhunters (also called Nephilim), half human half angel warriors that slay demons and rule over the downworlders. Clary has inherited her powers, including the ability to use runes.Madame Dorothea, the Fray’s neighbor and a witch, deduces that Pangborn and Blackwell seek the Mortal Cup, one of the three Mortal Instruments given to the first Shadowhunter by the Angel Raziel. It allows normal humans to become half-Angel Shadowhunters. Simon, now able to see Jace, arrives and they go to Luke’s bookstore. Pangborn and Blackhell are interrogating Luke there, who claims he cares nothing for Jocelyn and only wants the Mortal Cup. The trio escapes to the Shadowhunters’ hideout, the Institute, where Clary and Simon meet two other Shadowhunters Alec and Isabelle Lightwood, and their leader, Hodge Starkweather. He reveals that Valentine Morgenstern, an ex-Shadowhunter who betrayed the Nephilim, now seeks the Mortal Cup to control both Shadowhunters and demons.Hodge instructs Jace to take Clary to the City of Bones so the Silent Brothers can probe Clary’s mind for the Mortal Cup’s location. The Brothers uncover a connection to Magnus Bane, the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Bane says Jocelyn had him block the Shadowhunter world from Clary’s mind. Vampires then kidnap Simon from Magnus’ party for downworlders. Clary, Jace, Alec, and Isabelle trail them to their hideout and rescue him but are outnumbered. Werewolves (that share a truce with the Shadowhunters) intervene and save them. These are led by Luke. At the Institute, Clary shares a romantic evening with Jace, ending in a kiss. When Simon confronts Clary about it, she downplays the incident, angering Jace. Simon confesses to Clary that he is in love with her, leaving her feeling guilty because she does not reciprocate his feelings.Clary realizes the Mortal Cup is hidden inside one of Madame Dorothea’s tarot cards that were painted by her mother. The group goes to Dorothea’s apartment but she has been replaced by a demon sent to steal the Cup. Simon and Jace kill it, but Alec is critically wounded. Clary retrieves the Mortal Cup and they return to the institute. Clary gives the Mortal Cup to Hodge who betrays them by summoning Valentine Morgenstern and giving him the cup. Valentine reveals he is Clary’s father and wants her to join him. She escapes through a portal that transports her to Luke’s bookstore. Luke, revealed to be a werewolf, confirms that Valentine is her father, and says Clary had an older brother named Jonathan who was killed. Luke and his werewolf pack return to the Institute with Clary to fight Valentine, who has summoned an army of demons through a portal he created. Simon and Isabelle close the portal with help from a repentant Hodge, who sacrifices himself. Meanwhile, Magnus Bane arrives and heals Alec.Clary and Jace fight Valentine, who claims both are his children. They refuse to join him and, following a battle, Clary pushes him through the portal after giving him a fake Mortal Cup. The portal is destroyed, and Jocelyn is rescued, but she remains in a coma at the hospital. Clary tells Simon that someday someone will love him. Clary heads back home and uses her new-found powers to repair the apartment. Jace appears on his motorcycle, confessing he needs her and wants her to return to the Institute. Realizing that she belongs in the Shadowhunter world, she goes with him and they ride into the distance.The film has had some very harsh critics and after seeing the movie, I don’t understand it. Luckily I ignored the bad critics and I liked it.

REVIEW: FAR AND AWAY

CAST
Tom Cruise (Collateral)
Nicole Kidman (Batman Forever)
Thomas Gibson (Son of Batman)
Robert Prosky (Gremlins 2)
Barbara Babcock (Home Alone 4)
Colm Meaney (Layer Cake)
Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes 2
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
In 1893 Ireland, Joseph Donnelly’s family home is burned down by his landlord Daniel Christie’s men led by Stephen Chase because of unpaid rent. Vowing revenge, Joseph unsuccessfully attempts to kill Daniel. Joseph meets the landlord’s daughter Shannon, who has rebelled against family tradition and made plans to claim free land in America. She offers to take Joseph with her as her “servant” so she, a single woman, can travel without scandal. Joseph agrees, convinced he can also stake a land claim.
On a ship bound for America, Shannon meets McGuire, who warns her that the free land is very far away in Oklahoma. She explains that her collection of valuable silver spoons will cover all expenses and he offers to help her find a shop to sell them to. On arriving in Boston, McGuire is shot and Shannon’s spoons fall out of his clothing and get snatched up by passersby. Joseph rescues her but not the spoons. A worker for Ward Boss Mike Kelly, a leader of the Irish immigrant community, introduces them to him. Kelly finds them lodging and jobs, but only one room, which they must share. To avoid scandal, Joseph says she’s his sister.
Joseph and Shannon become attracted to each other, but both keep up a front of indifference. One night Joseph rushes out to Boss Kelly’s club, where a bare-knuckle boxing match is underway. Joseph challenges the winner, knocks him out and soon becomes a regular at the club. Back in Ireland, the Christies’s house is burned down by angry tenants in the Irish Land War, so the Christies decide to emigrate to America, hoping also to find their daughter.
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Joseph is told Shannon is at Kelly’s club. Rushing to the club, he discovers Shannon on stage as a burlesque dancer. He tries to cover her with his jacket, demanding that she stop dancing. The Irish men surrounding the couple beg him to fight and offer him a small fortune ($200). Shannon, who previously scorned boxing, urges him to fight, since the money would get them to Oklahoma. Joseph agrees and is winning until he notices one of his backers (a member of the city council) groping Shannon on his lap. Joseph pushes through the crowd to free her, but is pushed back into the ring, where his foot accidentally “toes” the line, falsely signaling he is ready to begin fighting. But he isn’t ready and the Italian lands a sucker punch, after which he’s beaten.
In retaliation for the hundreds of dollars Joseph’s boxing loss has cost Boss Kelly and his friends, Joseph is thrown out into the street outside the club and he meets a policeman who shows him a picture of Shannon asking if he’s seen her. He then comes back to the room to find Kelly and his thugs searching their room for the money he and Shannon saved. With their valuables having been stolen by Kelly’s thugs, they’re both then thrown out into the streets. Joseph and Shannon are left homeless. Cold and famished, the pair enter a seemingly abandoned luxurious house. Joseph encourages Shannon to pretend the house is hers and he is her servant, but she begs him to pretend they are married and the house is theirs. During that tender moment, the owners of the house return and chase them away, shooting Shannon in the back. Joseph brings Shannon to the Christies, newly arrived from Ireland. He decides Shannon will be better cared for by them and leaves despite his obvious feelings for her.
Joseph finds work laying track on a railroad, seemingly abandoning his dream of owning land. Told a wagon train he sees out the door of his boxcar is heading for the Oklahoma land rush, Joseph abandons the railroad and joins the wagon train, arriving in Oklahoma Territory just in time for the Land Run of 1893.
Joseph finds Shannon, Stephen, as well as the Christies already in Oklahoma. Stephen, having seen Joseph talking to Shannon, threatens him that he will kill him if he goes near Shannon again. Joseph buys a horse for the land rush but the horse dies in a few hours and he is forced to ride an unruly horse he manages to tame. On this horse, he quickly outpaces everybody and catches up with Shannon and Stephen, having discovered that Stephen cheated by illegally inspecting the territory before the race and is headed for extremely desirable land he found.
Joseph is ready to plant his claim flag. Shannon rushes to his side and rejects Stephen when he questions her actions. Joseph professes his love for Shannon. They drive their flag into the ground and claim the land together.

This is not a bad movie from Tom Cruise’ earlier films back in the 90s. It’s not an Oscar winning performance nor is it fantastic but it is enjoyable to watch.

REVIEW: LADY IN THE WATER

 CAST

Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic world)
Bob Balaban (Ghost World)
Jeffrey Wright (The Hunger Games 2, 3 & 4)
Sarita Choudhury (Gloria)
Freddy Rodriguez (Planet Terror)
Bill Irwin (Interstellar)
Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes 2)
Noah Gray-Cabey (Heroes)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
John Boyd (Bones)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (The Dark Knight)

hqdefaultThe woman of the title isn’t a lady so much as a sea nymph, otherwise known as a “narf” in the fairytale parlance dreamed up by Shyamalan. And the waterlogged universe she inhabits is a swimming pool at a dingy Philadelphia apartment complex called The Cove. But the poor narf, named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), is in dire straits. She needs the help of humans to return to her magical universe, and so Story gleans hope one night when she is discovered in the pool by The Cove’s sad-sack handyman, Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti).

Cleveland, who keeps to himself in a tiny cottage adjacent to the apartment building, suffers the scars of a tragic past that he keeps under wraps. Story’s plight suddenly gives purpose to this lonesome man; in no time at all, he is helping protect the narf from a vicious creature known as a “scrunt,” which lurks in the woods surrounding The Cove. Moreover, Cleveland sets out to deduce which of the apartments’ tenants have preordained roles in Story’s rescue.MV5BOTcwMjQ2MTA1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzA4NzkyMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Randomness does not exist is the hermetically sealed world of M. Night Shyamalan. As Cleveland learns that Story is part of a fairytale brought to life, Lady in the Water takes on the risible everything-has-a-purpose theme that turned the filmmaker’s Signs into dross. Still, the neatly constructed order induces fewer eye rolls this time around, since Shyamalan can simply hide behind the kitchen-sink dynamic of fairytales. All the silliness Shyamalan tosses in about guardians, healers, a guild and the like reminds me of the Rob Lowe character in Thank You for Smoking, who notes that movies can remedy any inconsistency with “one line of dialogue: ‘Thank God we invented the … whatever device.'”MV5BMzMzNzM4ODY5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDU3NzkyMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_A lot of whatever devices turn up in Lady in the Water, a film that shamelessly displays the seams of its bedtime-story origins. Cleveland learns about Story’s magical world, and what must be done to return the narf to her kingdom, from an elderly Asian woman (June Kyoto Lu) with an unnerving command of the mighty obscure fable. Neither the woman nor her Americanized granddaughter (Cindy Cheung) gives it a second thought that Mr. Heep, who quickly accepts Story’s story, keeps popping up with hypothetical questions about the world of narfs and scrunts. Another resident reads magical messages on cereal boxes.

The cast tries to jumpstart things, albeit with mixed results. Howard, who was perhaps the best thing about The Village, is well-cast as the pale, ethereal sea nymph, but she is given precious little to do. Giamatti is also a gifted actor, but he isn’t asked to do much more than stutter and project melancholy. Some very good character actors — including Jeffrey Wright, Freddy Rodriguez, Mary Beth Hurt and Bill Irwin — are wasted in one-dimensional roles as The Cove’s apartment dwellers.

And then there is the director himself. Shyamalan has appeared in his films before, but Lady in the Water marks his first significant acting part. Here he portrays a struggling writer whose manuscript, “The Cookbook,” might just be pretty darned important. As a filmmaker, Shyamalan is a bona fide original. As an actor, he is merely insipid. Then again, maybe Shyamalan’s casting of himself as the unappreciated, world-changing artist just fills some deeply rooted narcissistic need of his.

REVIEW: WATCHMEN: TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER / UNDER THE HOOD

 

 

 

TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER

CAST (VOICES)

Gerard Butler (300)
Cam Clarke (He-Man 2003)
Jared Harris (Lincoln)

Rider-Time-Ryuki-Another-RyukiWatchmen was a great movie, and a great comic-book adaptation . It’s true that the metafictitious Tales Of The Black Freighter comic story was a marvellous little additional plot device which nicely mirrored The Watchmen’s main story and was allegorical of many of the main characters’ – specifically Ozymandias’ – bloody paths to becoming what they most hated, all paved with good intentions. It fitted nicely within the pages of the comic books and all was well-and-good. Tales Of The black Freighter was never likely to make it into the movie-proper though and – as much as those purist geeks may disagree – it is far from an essential part of the story, however much I may personally have liked to see it on celluloid. I was delighted, therefore, when I heard that, so dedicated were Zack Snyder and Co. to providing the closest possible rendering to the source text/art, that they would be releasing a near-coinciding straight-to-DVD animation of Black Freighter.MV5BODc2MmM2N2EtZGY1Yi00ZjdiLWI1MmMtODU5MTU2MTc2MTVjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyODkwOQ@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,748_AL_Tales Of The Black Freighter is, like Watchmen, a painstakingly accurate re-telling of the meta-comic on which it is based, but I’m sure that this time the complaint will be that, when no longer juxtaposed in context to the principal narrative, the once well-timed symbolism somewhat loses it’s impact. They may well be right, of course, and maybe releasing this separately sold DVD – which also includes a well-conceived 1985 period-themed Under The Hood author’s spotlight feature – could be construed as a little cynical when the Black Freighter itself is a mere 20 minutes long, but then if it weren’t made available until bundled with the Watchmen’s DVD release then it couldn’t be viewed as a companion piece until long after the film had left the cinemas.MV5BYTNjM2I0YzMtMjU1NS00MjM4LTlmZjEtNzQzOGJlZTlhNDUwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyODkwOQ@@._V1_As an addendum to The Watchmen movie, Tales Of The Black Freighter entirely succeeds.

CAST

Ted Friend (Elf)
Stephen McHattie (300)
William S. Taylor (Scary Movie 3)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Texas Killing Fields)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Apollonia Vanova (Man of Steel)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Frank Cassini (Timecop)

UNDER THE HOOD

 

DC put together this short documentary as a companion piece extra to the “source” of the film, which itself is a take-off on the in-between chapters of the Watchmen book. Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl in Watchmen, writes an autobiography chronicling the history of the costumed heroes that are a big deal in the 40s, then becoming less of a “fad” in the 1950s and then being outlawed, all with the prose of who was originally a NYC police officer. It’s a series of interviews done in faux 1970 style TV (even includes a few “vintage” commercials, one of the three actually quite funny), with an interviewer who gets the actors playing the characters to improvise (or maybe it’s all written, I can see that very well being the case as well) on the subjects posed and raised. It’s fun to watch and a little clever. It’s a nice companion to the film.