REVIEW: AMERICAN ULTRA

CAST

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman V Superman)
Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Connie Britton (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010)
Walton Goggins (Red Dirt)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Bill Pullman (Independence Day)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
Monique Ganderton (Smallville)

Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a stoner who lives in the sleepy town of Liman, West Virginia, where he works as a convenience store clerk, and is planning to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart) on a trip to Hawaii however due to a fear of travel he is unable to board the plane. It is revealed he has had similar issues trying to leave town in the past and does not understand why Phoebe is so nice about it. Meanwhile, in Langley, Virginia, CIA Agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) learns that Mike, the sole survivor of her unsuccessful Ultra program is to be eliminated by her rival, Adrian Yates (Topher Grace), whose Tough Guy project succeeded where hers failed. Feeling that she has a duty to protect Mike, Lasseter travels to Liman and “activates” Mike through a series of code words. Because of his erased memory, Mike fails to understand their significance, and she leaves in resigned frustration.
Mike finds two of Yates’ men planting a bomb in his car and is attacked, but his training allows him to quickly overpower and kill them. Horrified, he calls Phoebe and follows through, who reunites with him just as they’re arrested for the apparent murders. Yates sends two Tough Guy operatives, Laugher (Walton Goggins) and Crane (Monique Ganderton), to kill Mike and Phoebe at the police station, but they evade Laugher and kill Crane before escaping to the apartment of Mike’s drug dealing friend Rose (John Leguizamo), who begrudgingly hides them. On the way there Mike becomes increasingly unnerved by an array of “new” facts he knows regarding military strategy. He also realises he has very little memory regarding his past prior to living in the town other than his name and Phoebe and wonders aloud why he never thinks of these things.
Yates places the city under quarantine, and puts Lasseter and Mike’s pictures on the local news. Lasseter contacts her former assistant, Petey Douglas (Tony Hale), to send her a weapon that she can use to defend herself and Mike. Yates finds out and threatens Petey with charges of treason, causing Lasseter to be denied further help. Yates then attacks Rose’s house with three agents using a lethal gas. The agents kill Rose and his two guards, while Phoebe rescues Mike from the gas, which she is familiar with. When pressed for answers on her knowledge of the gas, Phoebe reluctantly reveals she was a CIA agent assigned to be Mike’s handler, leaving him heartbroken.
Laugher ambushes the duo and captures Phoebe. Mike is rescued by Lasseter and insists on returning back to his house. He then learns that he volunteered for the Ultra Program due to his criminal record and subsequently had his memories erased. He also learns that Phoebe’s original mission was to get him settled in Liman and then leave, but chose to stay because she legitimately fell in love with him. She also reveals to Mike that many phobia’s including a fear of leaving town were implanted to keep him safe. Angry Mike decides to go home deciding he no longer cares if he dies. Lasseter follows telling him she and Phoebe genuinely care for him. Yates’ men locate him, but Mike and Lasseter fight them off, prompting Yates to order a drone strike on the area. Petey refuses to follow his orders and secretly reports the situation to Yates’ superior, Raymond Krueger (Bill Pullman). Mike contacts Yates and arranges to exchange himself for Phoebe. He sets off a series of fireworks and dispatches all of Yates’ men before fighting and defeating Laugher, who is spared when Mike learns he is a mentally unbalanced man forcibly conscripted to Yates’ Tough Guy program. Yates attempts to flee with Phoebe, but she escapes, while Yates is caught by Lasseter and nearly killed before Krueger intervenes and stops her.
Phoebe finds Mike and they both leave the store where Mike then proposes to her at gunpoint before State Troopers/Sheriffs. While in a forest in the rain Krueger talks to Yates and Lasseter, both kneeling and placed in bonds. Yates argues that what he was doing would have been okay with Krueger if the results had been successful. Krueger admits that he would have approved of what Yates had done if the results were successful. Yates, believing his life is being spared, stands and is executed by Krueger. Lasseter convinces Krueger to spare her life and Mike’s by pointing out that, by taking out all of Yates’ agents, he demonstrated he was both a valuable asset and that the Ultra program was already successful. Six months later, Mike and Phoebe are in Philippines, Manila, agents on assignment, quite happy and confident now that they know who they are.American ultra has excellently choreographed action, many of the action moments are skewed away from the predictable methods of combat and filled with absurd or off-the-wall methods that startle and amuse in equal measure. For a quirky, funny – and surprisingly violent – thrill-ride, look no further.

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REVIEW: 30 MINUTES OR LESS

 

CAST

Jessie Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
Danny McBride (Land of The Lost)
Aziz Ansari (Funny People)
Nick Swardson (The House Bunny)
Dilshad Vadsaria (Within The Ivory Tower)
Michaell Pena (Babel)
Bianca Kajlich (Halloween: Resurrection)

Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a marijuana-smoking, slacker pizza delivery driver in Grand Rapids who has trouble completing the “30 Minutes Or Less” policy that his employer issues, leading to a reprimand from his boss Chris (Brett Gelman). Nick’s school teacher friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) discovers that Nick has slept with Chet’s twin sister, Kate, (Dilshad Vadsaria) on the night of their high school graduation and that he still harbors feelings for her. After a heated argument, Nick storms out, ending their friendship.

Dwayne King (Danny McBride) and Travis Cord (Nick Swardson), are miserable living under the shadow of Dwayne’s domineering father the Major (Fred Ward), a multimillion-dollar lottery winner. Dwayne confides in lap-dancer Juicy (Bianca Kajlich) about his contempt for his father and Dwayne’s presumed inheritance. Juicy tells him she knows a hit-man who will kill Dwayne’s dad for $100,000. At Travis’s suggestion, he and Dwayne devise a plot to kidnap a complete stranger and strap a remote-controlled bomb to his chest, to compel him to rob a bank for them for the hit money Dwayne needs. After seeing an advertisement for the pizzeria that Nick works at, they order a pizza and wait for a driver to come to their hideout. When Nick arrives, Dwayne and Travis (who are wearing a gorilla and monkey mask) assault him and Travis chloroforms Nick.

When Nick wakes up, he finds a vest rigged with explosives strapped and buckled onto his torso, with both a timer and a cellular phone-activated trigger. Disguised, Dwayne and Travis tell him his situation: if he does not rob a bank within 10 hours, the bomb will detonate. For effect, Dwayne demonstrate another bomb blowing up a stuffed Teddy bear. Dwayne states that if Nick dares going to the police, they will remotely detonate the bomb, as they will be monitoring him. In his panic, Nick goes to a school where Chet is working and desperately pleads with him to help. After plans to deactivate or remove the bomb are dashed, Chet says he has no choice but to rob the bank. Still uneasy, Nick asks Chet to assist him. Chet reluctantly agrees.

En route to the bank, Nick stops by his workplace to tell off his boss and quit, then goes to see Kate and say some potential final words to her. Nick and Chet hold up the bank and obtain money while the bank manager pulled the alarm, forcing Nick and Chet to flee quickly as Dwayne and Travis, outside, watch the commotion. A police officer arrives, but when Nick shows him the bomb vest, he runs away. Nick calls Dwayne and tells him he has the money. Dwayne says he and Travis will meet him at an abandoned rail-yard to make the exchange. Dwayne and Travis go to a restaurant instead as Dwayne calls up Juicy to get her hit-man ally and to head to the rail-yard. When Dwayne asks Travis to be the one to detonate the bomb if the time comes, Travis starts to become unsettled.

Nick waits for Dwayne and Travis at the railyard while Chet hides nearby to avoid disclosing his involvement in the scheme. Juicy and the hit-man Chango (Michael Peña) arrive to pick up the money. Nick hands Chango the money and expects Chango to give him the code which will deactivate the bomb. When Nick keeps asking him for the code, Chango gets aggravated and holds Nick at gunpoint. Chet appears and strikes Chango with a metal bar while Nick incapacitates Juicy. The two grab the money and escape.

Dwayne gets a call from Nick who berates Dwayne for not giving Chango the code to the bomb, and dares him to detonate the bomb with the money at his side. Nick tells Chet that this is a tactic for when the third call is made to them, the details to leave the money and the codes will be made. Overly frustrated by the turn of events and when Nick doesn’t answer the phone again, Dwayne activates the speed dial number on his phone for the bomb to explode, but Travis altered the numbers while Dwayne wasn’t looking because he was getting nervous about Dwayne’s gradually violent attitude. When Dwayne thinks that Nick is calling him, it is instead Chango who informs him about what had happened during the exchange. Chango states that the deal is off and that he’ll be coming after Dwayne next. Rethinking their plan, the two head to Kate’s apartment in their masks and kidnap her while she was in the restroom. Chango breaks into the Major’s house to find information regarding Dwayne’s location and finds a hand-drawn map to the scrapyard. While there, the Major attacks him with a pen gun as Chango asks why he is protecting Dwayne if he is the one that called the hit. The Major is then shot in the stomach by Chango after a struggle. Upon applying some peroxide, Chango uses the information he found in Dwayne’s room to head to the scrapyard. Dwayne calls Nick to let him know that he has Kate and if he doesn’t meet at the scrapyard to give him the money, he will kill her.

Nick arrives at the scrapyard and exchanges the money for Kate. Dwayne gives Nick the code (which is Dwayne’s favorite sexual position: 69 69 69) to deactivate and unbuckle the bomb with just minutes to spare. Dwayne has them at gunpoint but Nick has Chet fake having a sniper on them by pointing with his laser pointer. Dwayne and Travis believe him and drop their weapons and leave with the money. However, Nick is brutally knocked out by Chango who now has Dwayne at gunpoint, demanding for the money. Dwayne gives him the money but Chango decides to still kill him. Travis, who has a flamethrower, torches Chango. While being burned on the ground, Chango shoots Dwayne in the shoulder and shoots the gas tank on Travis’s back and it explodes.

Nick takes the money and leaves with Kate and Chet. Dwayne saves Travis by beating the fire of the exploded gas tank with his shirt. Dwayne gets in his van to chase after Nick and steal the money and when he has Nick at gunpoint just as his van explodes, seemingly killing him. Nick reveals he reactivated the bomb and put it in Dwayne’s van. Afterwards the trio talk about what they’ll do with their money but it squirts blue dye on Chet’s face.

In a post-credits scene, Dwayne (who survived the bomb explosion), Travis, the Major (who is recuperating in a wheelchair), and Juicy are seen in an advertisement for their new family business called “Major Tan: Tanning Salon.”

This is one of the top comedy films of 2011 from the director of Zombie land, a hilarious fun filled fast paced story with funny twists and turns and all pulled off by a brilliant cast, there is nothing bad to say really except it does have a short 80min running time, but if your into great laugh out loud comedy this is a must.

REVIEW: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

CAST
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Henry Carvill (Immortals)
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Diane Lane (Hollywoodland)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Jeremy Irons (Lolita)
Holly Hunter (Crash)
Gal Gadot (Fast And Furious 6)
Scoot McNairy (Monsters)
Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine)
Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead)
Michael Shannon (Boardwalk empire)
Michael Cassidy (Smallville)
Ray Fisher (The Astronaut Wives Club)
Ezra Miller (Trainwreck)
Harry Lennix (Dollhouse)
Joe Morton (Speed)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Carla Cugino (Watchmen)
Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy)
Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis)
Jena Malone (Saved)
Eighteen months after the destructive attack by General Zod in Metropolis from Man of Steel, Superman has become a controversial figure. Daily Planet journalist Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, has moved in with Lois Lane. Bruce Wayne, who has operated in Gotham City as the vigilante “Batman” for nearly two decades, sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity. After learning of Batman’s activities, Superman also views him as a threat, and seeks to stop him via the Daily Planet articles authored by him as Kent.
Wayne learns that Russian weapon-trafficker Anatoli Knyazev has been contacting LexCorp’s mogul Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to convince Senator June Finch to allow him to import Kryptonite retrieved from the Indian Ocean following the results of Zod’s terraforming attempt, claiming to use it as a “deterrent” against Kryptonians, but she denies the request. He also makes side dealings with Finch’s subordinate and demands access to Zod’s body and the Kryptonian scout ship.
Wayne attends Luthor’s party at LexCorp, where he meets mysterious antiques dealer Diana Prince, and retrieves data from the company’s mainframe. The data drive, however, is stolen by Prince, who later returns it to Wayne after she is unable to decrypt the data. While decrypting the drive at the Batcave, Wayne has a dream of a post-apocalyptic world, where he leads a group of rebels against Superman. He is snapped out of the dream by an unidentified time traveler, who warns him of Lane’s crucial role in the distant future, and urges him to find “the others”. Wayne later realizes that Luthor is not only experimenting with Kryptonite, but also investigating metahumans. One of them is Prince herself, who is an immortal warrior. Wayne admits to Alfred Pennyworth that he plans to steal the Kryptonite to weaponize it, should it become necessary to fight Superman. Batman pursues a convoy carrying the Kryptonite to LexCorp, but Superman interferes and orders him to cease his activities.
Luthor orchestrates a bombing at a congressional hearing where Finch is questioning Superman on the validity of his actions, which have resulted in deaths of civilians. The bomb kills dozens of people, including Finch. Frustrated with failing to save people, Superman goes into self-imposed exile. Batman breaks into LexCorp and steals the Kryptonite, planning to use it to battle Superman by building a powered exoskeleton, and creating a Kryptonite grenade launcher and a Kryptonite-tipped spear. Meanwhile, Luthor enters the Kryptonian ship and learns of its functions, as well as recorded alien worlds.
Luthor kidnaps Martha Kent, Clark’s adoptive mother. He reveals that he has manipulated Superman and Batman by fueling their animosity of each other. Luthor forces Superman to fight and kill Batman in exchange for Martha’s life. Superman tries to reason with Batman, but Batman instigates a fight and ultimately gains the upper hand thanks to the kryptonite grenades. Before Batman can kill Superman with the spear, Superman urges Batman to “save Martha”, whose name is also shared with Wayne’s late mother. Lane arrives and explains the situation, convincing Batman that Superman is not a threat. Upon learning of Luthor’s plan, Batman leaves to rescue Martha, while Superman confronts Luthor on the scout ship.
Surprised at his own defeat, Luthor executes his backup plan, unleashing a genetically-engineered monster with DNA from Zod’s body and his own. However, Diana Prince arrives unexpectedly. Revealing her metahuman nature, she joins forces with them to fight the creature. However, they are soon outmatched by its power, as it is can absorb and redirect energy. Realizing that it is vulnerable to Kryptonite, Superman retrieves the Kryptonite spear and attacks the monster. With Batman and Prince’s help distracting it, Superman impales the creature. As it dies, the creature stabs and kills Superman with one of its bone protrusions.
Luthor is arrested, and while speaking to Batman he gloats that Superman’s death has made the world vulnerable to powerful alien threats. A memorial is held for Superman in Metropolis. Clark is also declared dead and Wayne, Lane, Martha, and Prince attend a private funeral for him in Smallville. Martha gives an envelope to Lane which contains an engagement ring from Clark. After the funeral, Wayne reveals to Prince that he plans to form a team of metahumans, starting with the ones from Luthor’s files, to help protect the world in Superman’s absence. After they leave, a faint heartbeat echoes from Clark’s coffin and the dirt around it begins to levitate.

Once a movie that i was extremely nervous about stepping into, just happened to turn out to be my favorite superhero movie, and probably will for years to come, very interesting aspect of the movie was using the flaws of the first installment of the comic book universe and building upon those mishaps to create a much better and more compelling story. In this Ultimate Edition, there are both Theatrical Version (151 mins, in both 2D and 3D) and the Ultimate Version (extended Cut, 182 mins, only in 2D). I would strongly recommend the Extended Cut, because the extra information is helpful to tie in different events.

REVIEW: CURSED

CAST

Christina Ricci (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Village)
Portia De Rossi (Mocking Bird Lane)
Mya (Chicago)
Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie)
Kristina Anapau (Black Swan)
Daniel Edward Mora (Harsh Times)
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Joshua Jackson (Cruel Intentions)
Derek Mears (Friday the 13th)
Judy Greer (The Last Shot)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
The film begins in Hollywood, Los Angeles, when two friends, Jenny Tate and Becky Morton, are at a pier and decide to get their fortune told by Zela, asking about a boy. Zela foretells that they will suffer a horrible fate, but they don’t believe her and walk away laughing. A little while later, Becky realizes Jenny has disappeared and can’t find her on the pier.
On that same night, teenager Jimmy Myers is picked up on (thematically appropriate) Mulholland Drive by his sister Ellie, who has just returned from visiting her boyfriend, Jake Taylor. Jimmy had a run-in with some bullies and his crush, Brooke. Driving home, Jimmy and Ellie collide with an animal and another car. They attempt to rescue the other driver, Becky Morton, but she is suddenly dragged and ripped in half by an unseen creature. Jimmy and Ellie are both slashed by the creature’s claws, but make it out alive. When interviewed by police, despite Jimmy’s belief that it was a wolf or dog-type animal, the official report credits it to a bear or cougar.
Once they get home, Jimmy does research about wolves in California and starts to believe that the creature was a werewolf, which, the next morning, he nonchalantly tells Ellie, much to her disbelief. Jimmy and Ellie start to exhibit strange tendencies. While working at the television station, Ellie is attracted to the smell of blood on a co-anchor, but Ellie denies it, apparently proving her point by touching a silver picture frame and not getting burned. Jimmy becomes much stronger and more aggressive, as shown when a bully named Bo coerces him to join the wrestling team. He easily defeats three wrestlers, including Bo, and calls Bo out for constantly making gay jokes towards him, saying that Bo himself is repressing his own homosexuality.
 
Meanwhile, at a party, Jenny runs into Jake amd Joanie, Scott Baio’s publicist, who pays attention to Jake. Jenny leaves the party after an awkward encounter, and Jake and Joanie leave as the full moon rises. Jenny is torn apart in a parking garage by a werewolf. Zela’s prediction for Jenny and Becky thus comes true. Ellie starts to believe the werewolf hypothesis when she sees Zela at the news station and she warns about the coming full moon. Jimmy proves it when he holds a silver cake server and gets burned (he then discovers that the picture frame Ellie touched was actually stainless steel). Their dog, Zipper, bites Jimmy, tasting his blood, becomes a lycanthropoid monster, and goes on a rampage. Realizing what’s happening, Jimmy goes to warn Ellie with the help of Bo, who shows up at their house to confess that he is gay and has feelings for Jimmy, which Jimmy attributes to the curse. Bo and Jimmy race to where Ellie is.
In the meantime, she figures out that Jake is a werewolf. He confirms it, but claims it wasn’t he who attacked her and Jimmy. Another werewolf attacks, seemingly proving his story. Bo and Jimmy try to help, but Bo is knocked out. The new werewolf is revealed to be Joanie, who had a one-night stand with Jake and became a werewolf (a pentagram on her right hand establishes this truth, in the lore of the world of Cursed). She wants revenge by killing all of the other girls he dates. He refuses to let Joanie hurt Ellie, so she knocks him out. Joanie soon turns into a werewolf and starts attacking. Ellie and Jimmy fight her, and she runs and hides when the police arrive. The two draw her out by insulting her, which she (in werewolf form) responds to by giving them the finger. The police open fire, apparently killing her. What they don’t know is that the only way to kill a werewolf is to separate the brain from the heart. As she rises again, a cop shoots her in the head, finally killing her. Bo is okay, but Jake has disappeared.
Jimmy and Ellie return to a wrecked home. As Jimmy goes to try to restore the power, Jake arrives. He reveals that he did in fact bite Ellie and Jimmy, and he wants Ellie to live forever by his side after he kills Jimmy. She refuses, and the two fight it out, but her werewolf side only emerges and disappears at small intervals, while he has complete control over his werewolf side and dominates the fight. Jimmy joins in, climbing across the ceiling and biting Jake, distracting him long enough for Ellie to stab him with the silver cake server, which badly injures him. Ellie decapitates Jake with a shovel and breaks the curse on her,Jimmy and their dog. They watch as Jake’s body bursts into flames, eventually leaving only the silver cake server. Brooke brings home their dog, Zipper, having learned where they live from Bo, who also shows up. Bo and Jimmy are now friends; Jimmy kisses Brooke and walks her home along with Bo. Ellie is stuck with the clean-up of the messy house.
 This is a fantastic film for any Wes Craven fans out there or just horror fans.

REVIEW: THE VILLAGE

CAST
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Joaquin Phoenix (Quills)
Adrien Brody (Hollywoodland)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Sigourney Weaver (Avatar)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Cherry Jones (Signs)
Celia Weston (Dead Men Walking)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Michael Pitt (The Dreamers)
Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
In the 19th century, residents of the small, isolated Pennsylvania village of Covington live in fear of nameless creatures in the surrounding woods and have constructed a large barrier of oil lanterns and watch towers that are constantly manned to keep watch. After the funeral of a seven-year-old boy, Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) asks the village elders for permission to pass through the woods to get medical supplies from neighboring towns; however, his request is denied. Later, his mother Alice (Sigourney Weaver) admonishes him for wanting to visit the neighboring towns, which the villagers describe as wicked. The Elders also appear to have secrets of their own and keep physical mementos hidden in black boxes, the contents of which are reminders of the evil and tragedy they left behind when they left the towns. After Lucius makes a short venture into the woods, the creatures leave warnings in the form of splashes of red paint on all the villagers’ doors.
Meanwhile, Ivy Elizabeth Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard)—the blind daughter of the chief Elder, Edward Walker (William Hurt)—informs Lucius that she has strong feelings for him, and he returns her affections. They arrange to be married, but Noah Percy (Adrien Brody), a young man with an apparent developmental and learning disability, stabs Lucius with a knife because he is in love with Ivy himself. Noah is locked in a room until a decision is made about his fate.
Edward goes against the wishes of the other Elders, agreeing to let Ivy pass through the forest and seek medicine for Lucius. Before she leaves, Edward explains that the creatures inhabiting the woods are actually members of their own community wearing costumes and have continued the legend of monsters in an effort to frighten and detract others from attempting to leave Covington. He also explains that the costumes are based upon tales of real creatures who once lived in the woods. Ivy and two young men (unaware of the Elders’ farce) are sent into the forest, but both protectors abandon Ivy almost immediately, believing the creatures will kill them but spare her out of pity. While traveling through the forest, one of the creatures suddenly attacks Ivy. She tricks it into falling into a deep hole to its death. However, the creature is actually Noah wearing one of the costumes found in the room where he had been locked away after stabbing Lucius.
Ivy eventually finds her way to the far edge of the woods, where she encounters a high, ivy-covered wall. After she climbs over the wall, a park ranger named Kevin (Charlie Hofheimer) spots Ivy and is shocked to hear that she has come out of the woods. The woods are actually the Walker Wildlife Preserve, named for Ivy’s family, and it is actually the modern era instead of the 19th century as the villagers believe. Ivy asks for help and gives Kevin a list of medicines that she must acquire, also giving him a golden pocket watch as payment. During this time, it is revealed that the village was actually founded in the late 1970s. Ivy’s father—then a professor of American history at the University of Pennsylvania—approached other people he met at a grief counseling clinic following the murder of his father and asked them to join him in creating a place where they would sustain themselves and be protected from any aspect of the outside world. When they agreed, Covington was built in the middle of a wildlife preserve purchased with Edward’s family fortune. The head park ranger, Jay (M. Night Shyamalan), tells Kevin that the Walker estate pays the government to keep the entire wildlife preserve a no-fly zone and also funds the ranger corps, who ensure no outside force disrupts the wildlife preserve.
Kevin secretly retrieves medicine from his ranger station, and Ivy returns to the village with the supplies, unaware of the truth of the situation. During her absence, the Elders secretly open their black boxes, each containing mementos from their lives in the outside world, including items related to their past traumas. The Elders gather around Lucius’ bed when one of the townsfolk informs them that Ivy has returned, and that she killed one of the monsters. Edward points out to Noah’s grieving mother that his death will allow them to continue deceiving the rest of the villagers that there are creatures in the woods, and all the Elders take a vote to continue living in the village.
Although not as good as the Sixth Sense and not as charming as Signs, an average film from M Night Shyamalan is still a more intelligent and entertaining experience than an average film from a lot of other people. This has a top cast, good atmosphere and a sweet romance. There is, of course, a good twist in the tale which raises some interesting issues. Not Shyamalan’s best film but a very enjoyable couple of hours.

 

REVIEW: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

 

CAST

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Justin Timberlake (Friends With Benefits)
Rooney Mara (Her)
Rashia Jones (I Love You, Man)
Josh Pence (The Dark Knight Rises)
Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries)
Lacey Beeman (Power Rangers Time Force)
Jason Flemyng (Snatch)
Jessie Heiman (Chuck)
Riley Voelkel (The Originals)

David Fincher’s The Social Network is a business procedural played with the intensity of a thriller and the ingenuity of a screwball comedy. It’s something of a departure for the filmmaker, whose pictures lean toward visual pyrotechnics and darker, more disturbing themes. Handling a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin that consists primarily of people in rooms talking, and in which the violence is purely psychological, he curbs his occasional excesses and cooks up his most satisfying film to date. Though mining (with some significant departures from the official record) the origin story of Facebook, a presumably of-the-moment phenomenon, Fincher and Sorkin have made a movie that is about more than its ostensible subject. Yes, The Social Network examines, at least implicitly, the cultural moment that precipitates the explosion of a site that aims specifically to make the social experience a virtual construct. But where the film strikes oil is in understanding the kind of guy who would want to create that experience.

His name is Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), and the opening scene that introduces him is a whiz-bang Sorkin special–a flurry of rat-tat-tat dialogue and cranked-up interplay in which characters talk non-stop while revealing themselves only accidentally. Zuckerberg, a smug Harvard sophomore obsessed with the university social hierarchy that he cannot penetrate, is out with his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara); he clearly sees himself as smarter than her (she attends lowly Boston University), but she’s so adroit at conversational maneuvers that before he realizes it, she’s broken up with him. Depressed and half-drunk, he goes back to his dorm, blogs some hurtful things about her, and concocts a website called “facemash” that pulls pictures from campus sites and lets students rank the women against each other. Fincher gives this embryonic sequence the finesse and energy of an action scene–particularly as he intercuts the rich and powerful “club” kids living the life Mark longs for, the velvety seductiveness of the haves in sharp contrast to the laptop tappings of the have-nots.

The program crashes Harvard’s server and gets him called on the university carpet, but it also catches the attention of would-be power broker Divya Narenda (Max Minghella) and irritatingly entitled rich twins Tyler and Cameron Winlevoss (both played by Armie Hammer). The trio approaches Mark with an idea for a new networking site–“The Harvard Connection,” a school-wide apparatus for profiles, pictures, and so on. Mark jumps in, but decides almost immediately that he can do this thing better than they can; he builds on the concept, hits up his best friend–and occasional conscience–Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for a grand or so in start-up funds, and launches his version, “the facebook.”

The complex saga of the rise of Facebook (and of Zuckerberg) is told in interlocking depositions (“I’m currently in the middle of two lawsuits,” Mark explains, somewhat impatiently), which sounds like the dullest imaginable framework for a narrative. But the picture gets a kick from Sorkin’s distinctive conversational rhythms and considerable skills as a wordsmith. The Social Network is a whirlwind of talk–invigorating, intelligent, fast-paced dialogue, from the throwaway lines to the occasional loquacious show-stopper. Every Sorkin script has one (Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” bit in A Few Good Men is the obvious example, though Baldwin’s “I am God” speech in Malice is nearly as quotable); here, it comes when the Winlevosses’ lawyer asks Mark, “Do I have your full attention?,” unleashing a perfect storm of Sorkinian attitude, snark, and barely-contained impatience. “You have part of my attention–you have the minimum amount,” Mark snaps. “The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”

Performances are universally strong–Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman) is immensely likable and marginally heartbreaking, Hammer’s double-playing is simple but effective, and Timberlake, as the well-connected but semi-flaky Parker, handily sells his multi-layered portrait of the guy who knows all the angles but can’t quite hide his own rough edges. But Eisenberg’s is the breakthrough performance; as good as he’s been as shy, stuttering, would-be intellectuals in Adventureland and Zomiebland, this is a darker and more complicated piece of work. His performance here is somehow both showy and deftly underplayed–you get the sense, from that very first scene, that he’s already tired of always being the smartest guy in the room.

When The Social Network was announced, it seemed such an oddball project that snickers and jeers were the prevailing response (. But from the unveiling of its mesmerizing trailer, it was clear that this wasn’t just “the Facebook movie,” any more than Citizen Kane was a film about newspapers.

REVIEW: ADVENTURELAND

 

CAST

Jessie Eisneberg (Batman V Superman)
Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Martin Starr (Knocked Up)

It would have been easy to typecast Greg Mottola post-Superbad as a director of teen sex comedies, and based on the trailers, you’d be forgiven to jumping to that conclusion regarding his new film, Adventureland. Sure, the kids are in their early 20s this time around, but even in the first twenty minutes or so, Adventureland looks like Michael Cera’s Superbad character has just grown up a little, graduated with a bachelor’s degree, but still hasn’t managed to go all the way with a girl. And it’s not like it would have been a bad thing had that been the case, because I love Superbad, but the surprise of Adventureland is how much more adventure it has in mind.

Adventureland is actually a semi-autobiographical film, written by Mottola about his own gig at a rundown amusement park in the summer of 1987. The director’s stand-in, what could have been the Michael Cera role, is taken over by Jesse Eisenberg from The Squid and the Whale–and right there, the Superbad comparisons dissolve. James is not Evan four years later, he’s an older Walt Berkman exiled to the suburbs. It’s like Noah Baumbach lost his summer internship and has to crash on Judd Apatow’s couch to get back on track.

James is all set to spend his post-undergrad/pre-graduate student summer lollygagging around Europe when the effects of Reaganomics hit too close to home. His father (an appropriately shattered Jack Gilpin) has been demoted and now James is going to have to figure out how to pay to live in New York and attend Columbia on his own. Having had no prior job experience and carrying a B.A. in comparative literature, the wannabe journalist ends up stuck working the scam games at the local amusement park, Adventureland. There, the sheltered boy meets the legion of disaffected like himself who also have nowhere else to go. Sure, amongst their ranks are the perpetual losers, like James’ childhood nemesis Frigo (Matt Bush), but there is also Joel (Martin Starr), the pipe-smoking Russian-lit enthusiast, and the intense, rebellious Emily (Kristen Stewart). A cut above in rank is the too-cool rockstar, Connell (Ryan Reynolds), biding his time as Adventureland’s maintenance man until he can move his musical career to Los Angeles. And, of course, there are the bosses, the slightly creepy and oddly square Bobby and Paulette (two of SNL’s best cast members, Bill Hader and the adorable Kristen Wiig). They aren’t really parental figures, more like that tragically uncool aunt and uncle who always want to be involved in your business.


It is among these people that James will get his first taste of the real world. A devotee of Dickens’ travelogues because the writer visited prisons and insane asylums, the pretentious college boy is going to realize that life is one big prison and insane asylum itself–but only if you let it be. A romance with Emily has unforeseen complications, since Connell is cheating on his wife with the youngster, but so too does James find distraction in the theme park’s resident hottie, Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva). The summer world of Adventureland is like one giant pause, a period of figuring things out, of realizing that most parents don’t have a clue (actually, James’ college pal tells him that in the second scene) and it’s not because they are parents, but because no one has a clue. Least of all James


Most filmmakers tend to treat the 1980s as an alien world built out of kitsch and spandex, but Greg Mottola thankfully keeps that almost entirely at bay. Maybe it speaks to the reality of what he really went through, maybe it’s a reluctance to fall back on faux nostalgia, but outside of a running gag about Falco and one appearance by Ronald Reagan on a television set, there aren’t a lot of signals that this is even a period piece. Loser twentysomethings, just like loser teens, are timeless. Honestly, I was in high school in 1987, and I used to hang out with a lot of these kids.

What adds a whole new twist to Adventureland is that the smarty-pants stuff is put right up against more lowbrow funny business so they can duke it out like some kind of West Side Story for comedy styles. So, a Brian Eno reference is immediately followed by a guy peeing on a window. Vomit, nut punches, and disco dancing can actually be complementary to ivy league wordplay and nebbishy navel gazing. Hell, there is even room for a Foreigner cover band! It’s a fabulous balance–chuckle at the dry humor of Jesse Eisenberg saying things no one else understands, guffaw at Bill Hader losing his temper and going ballistic. Adventureland may not be the gutbuster some of other films were, it’s got way more of the human element. That’s because growing up and growing in love is the greatest adventure of all.