REVIEW: ZERO DARK THIRTY

CAST

Jessica Chastain (The Huntsman)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Jennifer Ehle Fifty Shades Darker)
Kyle Chandler(Super 8)
Mark Strong (John Carter)
James Gandolfini (KIllThem Softly)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Mark Duplass (Greenberg)
Fredric Lehne (Lost)
John Barrowman (Arrow)
Jessie Collins (Revolution)
Édgar Ramírez (Joy)
Fares Fares (KIll Your Darlings)
Scott Adkins (X-Men Origins)
Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Callan Mulvey (300: Rise of an Empire)
Taylor Kinney (The Forest)
Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
Christopher Stanley (Argo)
Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones)
Mark Valley (Human Target)

In 2003, Maya, a young U.S. Central Intelligence Agency analyst, has spent her entire brief career, since being recruited for the agency, focused solely on gathering intelligence related to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, following the terrorist organization’s September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001. She is reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to work with a fellow officer, Dan. During the first months of her assignment, Maya often accompanies Dan to a black site for his continuing interrogation of Ammar al-Baluchi, a detainee with suspected links to several of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks. Dan subjects the detainee to approved torture interrogation techniques, i.e., stress positions, hooding, subjection to deafening noise, sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and humiliation.After failing to get al-Baluchi to give up information on an attack in Saudi Arabia, he and Maya eventually trick Ammar into divulging that an old acquaintance, who is using the alias Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, is working as a personal courier for bin Laden. Other detainees corroborate this, with some claiming Abu Ahmed delivers messages between bin Laden and a man known as Abu Faraj al-Libbi. In 2005, Abu Faraj is apprehended by the CIA and local police in Pakistan. Maya is allowed to interrogate him, but he continues to deny knowing a courier with such a name. Maya interprets this as an attempt by Faraj to conceal the importance of Abu Ahmed.Maya spends the next five years sifting through masses of data and information, using a variety of technology, hunches, and sharing insights. She concentrates on finding Abu Ahmed, theorizing that he is the best way to find bin Laden. In 2008, she is caught up in the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing. Dan, departing on reassignment, warns Maya about a possible change in politics, suggesting that the new administration may prosecute those officers who had been involved in interrogations. Maya’s fellow officer and friend Jessica is killed in the 2009 Camp Chapman attack. That same day, a grieving Maya receives an interrogation video of a Jordanian detainee, who claims the man previously identified from a photograph as Abu Ahmed is a man he personally buried in 2001. Several CIA officers – Maya’s seniors – conclude the target who could be Abu Ahmed is long dead, and that they have searched a false trail for nine years.Sometime later, a fellow analyst researching Moroccan intelligence archives comes to Maya and suggests that Abu Ahmed is Ibrahim Sayeed, a suspect who had come to CIA attention shortly after 9/11. Realizing her lead may still be alive, Maya contacts Dan, now a senior officer at the CIA headquarters. She theorizes that the CIA’s supposed photograph of Abu Ahmed was actually of his brother, Habib, as he was said to bear a striking resemblance to Ibrahim and was known to have been killed in Afghanistan, and points out that Abu Ahmed’s death in 2001 contradicts Ammar’s account.Dan uses CIA funds to purchase a Lamborghini for a Kuwaiti prince in exchange for the telephone number of Sayeed’s mother. The CIA traces calls to the mother and quickly identifies one suspicious caller who persistently uses tradecraft to avoid detection. Maya concludes that the caller is Abu Ahmed, and with the support of her supervisors, numerous CIA operatives are deployed to search for and identify the caller. They locate him in his vehicle and eventually track him to a large urban compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the Pakistan Military Academy. As Maya leaves her residence one morning, she is attacked by multiple gunmen, but the bullet-proof glass in her car saves her. Knowing that she has been blacklisted by al-Qaeda and there will be more attempts on her life if she stays, her superiors remove her from the field and send Maya home to Washington, D.C.The CIA puts the compound under heavy surveillance for several months, using a variety of methods. Although they are confident from circumstantial evidence that bin Laden is there, they cannot prove this photographically. Meanwhile, the President’s National Security Advisor tasks the CIA with producing a plan to capture or kill bin Laden if it can be confirmed that he is in the compound. An agency team devises a plan to use two top-secret stealth helicopters (developed at Area 51) flown by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment to secretly enter Pakistan and insert members of DEVGRU and the CIA’s SAD/SOG to raid the compound. Before briefing President Barack Obama, the CIA Director holds a meeting of his top officials, who assess only a 60–80% chance that bin Laden, rather than another high-value target, is living in the compound. Maya, also in attendance, states the chances are 100%.The raid is approved and is executed on May 2, 2011. Although execution is complicated when one of the helicopters crashes, the SEALs gain entry and kill a number of people within the compound, among them a man on the compound’s top floor who is revealed to be bin Laden. They bring bin Laden’s body back to a U.S. base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where Maya visually confirms the identity of the corpse. Maya is last seen boarding a military transport to return to the U.S. and sitting in its vast interior as its only passenger. The pilot asks her where she wants to go, but she does not reply. As the plane’s hangar door closes, Maya begins to cry softly.Considering the subject matter of Zero Dark Thirty, a film that follows the CIA’s decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden, it’d be little surprise were Hollywood to knock the edges off a little to make it easier for a broader audience. But director Kathryn Bigelow makes no such concession. Off the back of her Oscar-winning feature The Hurt Locker, her movie is a pulls-no-punches, under-your-skin drama. As such, it’s not always the easiest film to watch, but it is an utterly compelling one.

 

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REVIEW: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

CAST

Oscar Isaac (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Jessica Chastain (Mama)
Alessandro Nivola (The Eye)
David Oyelowo (The Butler)
Albert Brooks (The SImpsons Movie)
Catalina Sandino Moreno (Magic Magic)
Ashley Williams (How I Met Your Mother)
Elyes Gabel (Game of Thrones)
Jerry Adler (Prime)
Christopher Abbott (Girls)

In 1981 New York, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is the owner of an up-and-coming company which has suffered the hijacking of several trucks, each carrying heating-oil worth thousands of dollars. One driver, Julian (Elyes Gabel), is severely beaten when his oil truck is hijacked by two unknown assailants. Abel’s wife, Anna Morales (Jessica Chastain), beseeches Abel to fight violence with violence, but Abel refuses. Morales and his company are under investigation by Assistant District Attorney Lawrence (David Oyelowo), who seems determined to expose price fixing, tax evasion, and various other illegalities committed by Morales and his competitors in the heating oil business.As a way to secure financial independence for himself and trump his competitors, Abel, with the help of his attorney, Andrew Walsh (Albert Brooks), brokers a deal with a group of Jewish Chassidim, led by Josef Mendellsohn (Jerry Adler), to purchase a fuel oil terminal on the East River. This will allow Morales’ company to directly import fuel oil from barges and to store far more oil in the summertime when fuel oil prices are lower. He places a large down payment of 40% on the property with the agreement that he will close in 30 days—if he fails to do so, the Chassidim will sell the terminal to one of Morales’ competitors and keep the down payment.After moving into a new home, Morales prevents what appears to be an attempted burglary, but the next day one of his daughters finds a loaded handgun dropped in the bushes by the perpetrator. Suspecting this intimidation is coming from his competitors, he begins to confront them one by one; each one denies any intimidation and theft to drive him out of business. The head of the Teamsters encourages Morales to arm his drivers with handguns and fake permits that he can secure for him. Morales refuses, believing that such a move could bring down even more heat on his operation from the authorities and potentially ruin his legitimate business connections with a bank financing his business.Returning to work after weeks of rehabilitation, Julian is again accosted by criminals, this time on the Queensboro Bridge in broad daylight. Carrying a firearm without Abel’s knowledge or permission, he engages in a shootout with the hijackers, which results in the police arriving and chasing Julian and the other assailants, who all escape. This incident once again shifts Morales and his company into the spotlight of not only ADA Lawrence, but also the bank, which informs him that due to the impending criminal indictments and this unfortunate public incident, it can no longer finance his purchase of the terminal.Desperate, and needing $1.5 million to close on the property, he approaches his competition, Saul Leftkowitz and his granddaughter, who agree to give him a $500,000 loan for 20% interest and equity in the company for the term of the agreement. He manages to scrounge up another $200,000 by taking out a mortgage loan against an apartment building that he and his younger brother own together. With time winding down quickly, he intercepts a radio call for help from one of his drivers, who states his truck is being hijacked. Being nearby, he pursues the stolen truck. Eventually catching up to and attacking one of the hijackers, Morales demands to know who the mastermind is. The hijacker denies he was hired by anyone but reveals that he sold his last stolen shipment in Far Rockaway. Morales confronts one of his competitors, who has facilities in Far Rockaway, threatening to alert the federal authorities as the stolen fuel is marked. The competitor agrees to pay Morales more than $200,000 for stolen fuel oil.As Morales is getting closer to his $1.5 million goal, he visits mafia-affiliated Peter Forente (Alessandro Nivola) to ask for another $600,000. Forente agrees to give Morales the loan, but on very unfavorable terms. Dismayed by having to leverage his company to such a high degree in order to secure the loan, Morales begins to inform his wife, only to learn she has been “skimming” from the company for years and has been hiding the money, which is sufficient to cover the amount of money that Forente had agreed to lend, in a secret account.Having the money he now needs, Morales and Walsh pay off his creditors and secure the terminal. As Abel, Anna, and Walsh are looking over the property, they are approached by an angry Julian carrying a gun, who blames Morales for his problems, believing that he should also be entitled to some of Morales’ good fortune. Despondent by his being a wanted man, Julian commits suicide in front of Abel, Anna, and Walsh. As the police show up with ADA Lawrence to investigate the suicide, Morales expresses that the broader investigations into his firm are hurting his business, and that they should find a conclusion at some point. Lawrence agrees in general terms and suggests that this new fuel oil terminal will propel Morales’ business and give him “political influence.” Lawrence then suggests that Morales might be able to help him with his higher aspirations. Morales claims that he has always done “the most right thing”.A Most Violent Year is a slow burning crime thriller that is seeping with great performances and a brilliant script. I highly recommend it.

REVIEW: MAMA

CAST

Jessica Chastain (The Martian)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
Megan Charpentier (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Javier Botet (Crimson Peak)
David Fox (Snow Cake)

Distraught after losing his fortune in the 2008 financial crisis, stockbroker Jeffrey Desange kills his business partners and estranged wife before taking his children, three-year-old Victoria and one-year-old Lilly, away from home. Driving dangerously fast on a snowy road, Jeffrey loses control and the car slides down the mountain, ramming into the woods. Surviving, he takes the children into an abandoned cabin. Planning to kill his daughters and commit suicide, he holds a gun to Victoria’s head, but a shadowy figure kills him. The girls, huddled by the fireside, are tossed a cherry by the mysterious figure.Five years later, a rescue party, sponsored by Jeffrey’s identical twin brother Lucas, finds Victoria and Lilly alive, but in a feral state after years of isolation. The girls are put in a welfare clinic under the psychiatric care of Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss. They make reference to “Mama”, a maternal protector figure. The girls are initially hostile to Lucas but Victoria recognizes him after he gives her a pair of glasses and she can see him properly. Dreyfuss agrees to support Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel’s custody claim against the girls’ maternal great-aunt, Jean Podolski. Victoria acclimates quickly to domestic life while Lilly retains much of her feralness (language regression, growling, lying on the floor), not being used to being around people.While in bed with Lucas, Annabel is startled by the appearance of a monstrous figure. Lucas is attacked by “Mama” and is put into a coma. Annabel, who is uncomfortable being around the girls, finds herself left alone to care for them. Although Annabel makes progress with Victoria, she finds Lilly hostile. Alarmed by nightmares of a woman and Victoria’s warning about Mama’s jealousy, Annabel asks Dreyfuss to investigate. He initially thought “Mama” to be an imaginary alter-ego of Victoria; however, his research corroborates Victoria’s story that Mama is an aggrieved mother and brings to light the story of Edith Brennan, a mental asylum patient in the 1800s.Dreyfuss recovers a box from a government warehouse containing a baby’s remains. Annabel has a nightmare revealing Mama’s past: when Edith Brennan (“Mama”) was sent to St. Gertrude’s Asylum for an unknown reason, her child was taken from her and given to nuns. She escaped the asylum, stabbed a nun and took her baby back. Fleeing her pursuers, Brennan jumped off a cliff, but before hitting the water below, Brennan and the child made impact with a large branch and she drowned; Edith’s child’s corpse snagged on the branch and did not fall with Brennan into the water. Annabel realizes that Mama still hasn’t realized her child died from hitting the tree; Mama unsuccessfully searched the woods for more than a century and had taken on Victoria and Lilly as substitutes.Lucas regains consciousness after a vision of his dead brother, Jeffrey, tells him to save his daughters. Victoria’s growing closeness to Annabel makes her less willing to play with Mama, unlike Lilly. Dreyfuss visits the cabin and is killed by Mama. Annabel and the girls are attacked by a jealous Mama, who kills Jean and uses her body to scare the children away in Jean’s car. Annabel and Lucas find the children on the same cliff where Brennan leaped with her child to their deaths over a century earlier. Mama is preparing to re-enact her fall with Victoria and Lilly.When Annabel offers Mama the remains of her child, Mama transforms into her human form and sobs at the baby’s death. However, when Lilly (remembering only Mama as her original parent, since she was abandoned in the woods for most of her life) calls out for her, Mama reverts to her monstrous form and takes the girls again, nearly killing Annabel and Lucas, but refraining mainly because Victoria cares about them and does not want them hurt. Annabel clings to Victoria, who asks to stay with Annabel instead of leaving with Mama, which Mama accepts. After a tearful farewell, Mama and Lilly fall off the cliff, turning into a shower of moths when they hit the branch. Mama and Lilly are shown as spirits happy to be united while embracing and smiling. Annabel and Lucas embrace Victoria, and Victoria notices a bright blue moth landing on her hand, indicating that Lilly is still with her in some form.The film has a genuine ‘Chill-Factor’ which grows in intensity throughout the film
as visual images become seriously more frequent. A great Horror.

REVIEW: THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR

 

CAST

Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Jessica Chastain (The Martian)
Emily Blunt (Looper)
Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz)
Rob Brydon (Cinderella)
Sheridan Smith (Cilla)
Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady)
Sam Claflin (The Quiet Ones)
Sophie Cookson (Kingsman)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)

Long before her death, the evil sorceress, Queen Ravenna, (Charlize Theron) learns that her younger sister Freya (Emily Blunt) is not only engaged in an illicit affair with a noblemen Andrew (Colin Morgan), but is also carrying his child. Sometime after Freya gives birth to a baby girl, Freya discovers that Andrew has murdered their child and, and in a grief-fueled rage, Freya kills him with her long-dormant ice powers.

Freya abandons the kingdom and build herself a new kingdom in the north. She orders children to be abducted so as to train them to be fearsome huntsmen to conquer for her, and to harden their hearts so to spare them the pain of losing someone they love. Despite the training, two of her best huntsmen Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), grow up only to fall in love with each other, secretly marry and plan to escape together. However Freya discovers their secrets. She confronts them and creates a massive ice wall to separate them before forcing Eric to watch Sara be killed by her fellow huntsmen. Eric then was cast out and left to die, only to somehow survive.

Seven years later, and after Ravenna’s death, Queen Snow White falls ill after hearing Ravenna’s Magic Mirror calling her. Because of its dark magic, she ordered it to be taken to the Sanctuary, the magical place that sheltered Snow White during the events leading to Ravenna’s death, so that the mirror’s magic can be forever contained there. Snow White’s husband, William, informs Eric that the soldiers tasked with carrying the Mirror went missing while en route to the Sanctuary. Eric is aware that Freya has been secretly observing their conversation through a mask that projects her consciousness in the form of a magically animated Snowy owl, and he destroys it. Knowing the magic of the mirror can make Freya even stronger, Eric agrees to investigate, but reluctantly allows Snow White’s dwarf ally Nion (Nick Frost) and his half-brother Gryff (Rob Brydon) to come along.

While en route to the last known location of the soldiers, the trio are attacked by a number of Freya’s huntsmen, but are rescued by Sara. Sara reveals that she had been imprisoned by Freya the entire time, only to escape recently. Sara believes she saw Eric running away rather than fighting to get to her, and feels betrayed. Eric tries to convince her that it was a vision conjured by Freya, since he himself saw Sara being murdered. He told Sara he never stopped loving her, however Sara is not convinced. Eventually Sara agrees to work with Eric and the dwarves only to thwart Freya.

Sometime later, the quartet is ensnared in a trap laid out by female dwarves Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach). They convince the female dwarves to help find the Mirror, and the female dwarves lead them to the goblins, whom the female dwarves suspected of taking the mirror. The party fight off the goblins to get to the Mirror, and Eric sacrifices himself to buy time for the party to escape with the mirror. Sara mourns his apparent death, only to see Eric somehow survived. Eric reveals that he had never taken off a medallion Sara gave him as a token of her love.

With the Mirror, the party is about to reach the Sanctuary, only to be ambushed by Freya and her huntsmen. Freya reveals Sara is loyal to Freya all along, and Sara has been using them to find the Mirror. In the ensuing chaos, Nion and Doreena are turned into ice statues, and Sara fires an arrow into Eric’s chest by Freya’s order. Freya departs with the Magic Mirror, but she is unaware that Sara intentionally shot the arrow at the medallion she gave Eric, thus saving him and revealing Sara’s true feelings.

Back in her palace up north, Freya approaches the mirror and asks who is the fairest of them all. The mirror replies by forming a golden liquid, eventually transforming into Ravenna. Ravenna reveals that her spirit is trapped and becomes one with the mirror after Snow White vanquished her, but she is now freed by Freya. Ravenna proceeds to usurp Freya’s rule by preparing Freya’s huntsmen to exact revenge on Snow White’s kingdom, without consulting Freya.

Meanwhile, Eric has infiltrated the ice palace with help of Gryff and Bromwyn. He attempts to assassinate Freya, only to be stopped by Ravenna. When Freya realizes that Sara hadn’t actually killed Eric, she reluctantly sentences them both to death because of Ravenna’s manipulation. However, Eric is able to convince a few huntsmen to rebel, claiming the love of brethren. Ravenna begins to kill the huntsmen. Freya, realizing that she loves her huntsmen, protects them with an ice wall and separating them from the sisters. As Eric, Sara and the rebelling huntsmen climb over the wall to fight Ravenna and Freya, the two sisters argue over the icy kingdom. Freya discovers that Ravenna ultimately caused the death of Freya’s child, so Freya finally turns against her sister. Freya is no match for Ravenna and is stabbed, but with her remaining strength Freya freezes the magic mirror. Eric shatters the mirror, thus destroying Ravenna. As Freya dies from her wounds, she smiles at the sight of a vision of her old loving self, and gladly witnessing Eric and Sara together.

With Freya’s death, all those who had been imprisoned by Freya’s magic are now free, including Nion and Doreena. Meanwhile, a mysterious golden bird flies overhead, hinting that Ravenna’s spirit may still live.

It’s a film involving magic, dwarves, Goblins, an ice kingdom and sisterly rivalry! I found the story to be reasonably engaging, and the action sequences to be exciting. The visual effects are  quite amazing (especially when the Freya character unleashes her icy powers). While it’s certainly not a sophisticated story, it is good fun – and ought to be judged in those terms (as a visual spectacle and action fantasy film).

 

REVIEW: TEXAS KILLING FIELDS

CAST

Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Annbeth Gish (Mystic PIzza)
Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks)
Stephen Graham (Blow Dry)

This is a truly brilliant film, it is based loosely on the case of women who were picked up in the I-45 and dumped in an oil field in League City Texas. It opens out at a crime scene where a girl’s body has been found the two homicide detectives turn up to secure the crime scene. Brian Heigh played by Jeffery Dean Morgan he prays over her, his partner is less close to god and decidedly the bad cop of the pairing. He is Mike Souther (Sam Worthington), who is divorced from Detective Pam Stall (Jessica Chastain) who works in the adjoining jurisdiction and seems to rely quite heavily on their support. She has a corpse too, and then they find that strange phone calls are being made from the bayou area; a place known as the Killing Fields.

As the suspects mount so does the body count. The personal riffs in all of the players lives often get in the way and there are so many ambiguous characters that you are kept guessing for a time. We also have child drug addicts, pimps and some trailer trash low life that all add to the mix. There are moments that are truly scary and not a single performance is bad. Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a magnificent job of the Catholic racked with guilt trying to do good in a very bad world and finally cracking in an absolutely convincing way.
Texas Killing Fields
This was supposed to be directed by Danny Boyle, but he dropped out saying it was too dark to ever be made. Well his loss is our gain as Michael Mann who produced this got his daughter to do the project Ami Canaan Mann, and I think she has shown that genius can be in your genes.

Not a typical Hollywood film but it is all the better for it.

REVIEW: THE MARTIAN

MAIN CAST
Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity)
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar)
Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)
Jeff Daniels (Allegiant)
Michael Peña (Fury)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Kate Mara (Fantastic Four)
Sebastian Stan (Captain America)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity)
The crew of the Ares III manned mission to Mars is exploring the Acidalia Planitia on Martian solar day (sol) 18 of their 31-sol expedition. An unexpectedly strong dust storm threatens to topple their Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), forcing them to hastily leave the planet. During the evacuation, astronaut Mark Watney is struck by debris and lost in the storm; the last telemetry from his suit indicates no signs of life. With the remaining crew in peril, mission commander Melissa Lewis gives the order to launch to return to their orbiting vessel Hermes without him.
Watney awakens after the storm to a low oxygen warning and makes his way to the “Hab”, the crew’s base of operations. He removes a piece of antenna from his torso and suit’s biomonitor, which caused the erroneous life-sign readings, and begins a video diary. He realizes that his only chance of rescue is the arrival of the Ares IV crew at the Schiaparelli crater, 3,200 kilometers away, in four years. Calculating that he has enough food to last only 300 sols (roughly 309 days), Watney, a botanist, improvises a farm with Martian soil fertilized with human waste, water produced by extracting hydrogen from leftover rocket fuel then oxidized by burning, and potatoes saved for a Thanksgiving meal. He begins to modify the only functional rover to make long journeys across Mars.
Reviewing satellite photos of Mars, mission director Vincent Kapoor and satellite planner Mindy Park realize Watney has survived. Despite the objections of Hermes flight director Mitch Henderson, NASA administrator Teddy Sanders decides not to inform the Ares III crew, believing it would distract them from their mission. Watney takes the rover to retrieve the Pathfinder probe, which fell silent in 1997. Using the lander’s camera, he establishes rudimentary communication with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) team. NASA instructs Watney to modify the rover to link with Pathfinder so they can communicate via text. Watney becomes angry when he learns that the crew has not been told of his survival, and Sanders authorizes Henderson to inform them.
Henderson and JPL director Bruce Ng formulate a plan to send a space probe to Mars and resupply Watney with enough food to survive until Ares IV’s arrival. When the Hab’s airlock malfunctions and explosively decompresses, destroying Watney’s crop, Sanders orders the team to speed up the supply mission by skipping the safety inspections. The supply probe explodes shortly after liftoff. The China National Space Administration offers NASA the Taiyang Shen, a classified booster that can carry a payload to Mars. Meanwhile, JPL astrodynamicist Rich Purnell devises a trajectory to send Hermes back to Mars more quickly, using the Chinese booster to instead resupply it for an additional eighteen months. Sanders rejects the plan, refusing to risk the crew, but Henderson surreptitiously sends the details to Hermes. Lewis and her crew vote unanimously to execute the plan, and NASA—powerless to stop them—proceeds with the resupply as Hermes flies by Earth, using its gravity to slingshot them back to Mars.
After 461 sols, Watney begins the 90-sol journey to Schiaparelli, where the MAV for the Ares IV mission has been prepositioned. To rendezvous with Hermes, Watney makes drastic modifications to reduce the MAV’s mass, removing equipment including the windows, nose cone, and exterior panels. With Watney on board the gutted MAV, the Hermes crew launches it remotely, but it does not reach the planned speed and altitude. Lewis has Hermes use its maneuvering thrusters to change course and explosive decompression of its own internal atmosphere to adjust its speed. When even that is not enough, Lewis uses a Manned Maneuvering Unit to approach Watney’s vessel, but still cannot reach him. Watney pierces the glove of his pressure suit and uses the escaping air as a miniature thruster to reach Lewis. The crew is reunited, as crowds around the world cheer the news. After returning to Earth, Watney begins a new life as a
Playing an astronaut abandoned on the desolate surface of Mars after being presumed dead, Damon must do all he can to endure the martian environment, supported by some stunning cinematography and fantastic visual effects, ‘The Martian’ is able to blend humour and emotion within it’s dramatic plot of survival. Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, just a few big names that support Damon wonderfully. If you are a fan of ‘Interstellar’ or any other science fiction survival tale or even some of Scott’s previous sci-fi adventures, then this is one to definitely add to your watch list.

REVIEW: CRIMSON PEAK

CAST

Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland)
Tom Hiddleston (Thor)
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar)
Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)
Jim Beaver (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises)
Leslie Hope (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Jonathan Hyde (Jumanji)
Bruce Gray (Evan Almighty)
Emily Coutts (Barn Wedding)

In 1887, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), the young daughter of wealthy American businessman Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), is visited by her mother’s ghost who warns her, “beware of Crimson Peak.”
Fourteen years later, Edith is now a budding author who prefers penning ghost stories to writing the romance novels that her editor wants. She meets Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), an English baronet who has come to the United States seeking investors, including Edith’s father, for his clay-mining invention. Disdaining privileged aristocracy and unimpressed with Sharpe’s prototype and previous failures to raise capital, Cushing rejects Thomas’s proposal. Edith notices that Thomas and his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), wear expensive but outdated and somewhat-frayed fashions. Shortly after, Edith once again is visited by her mother’s spirit bearing the same warning. Sir Thomas is determined to persuade Mr. Cushing to change his mind. However, when he and Edith become romantically attached, Cushing and Edith’s childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), disapprove. Mr. Cushing hires a private detective who uncovers unsavory facts about the Sharpes. Mr. Cushing confronts the siblings and bribes them into returning to England. As Cushing insisted he do, Sir Thomas abruptly and cruelly ends his and Edith’s relationship, but the next morning, he sends her a note explaining his actions. Not long after, Mr. Cushing is brutally murdered, though his death is ruled accidental. Edith and Sir Thomas eventually marry and return to England. They arrive at Allerdale Hall, the Sharpes’ dilapidated mansion, which sits atop a red clay mine. As Edith settles in, she finds that Lucille acts somewhat cold toward her while Sir Thomas remains physically distant. Edith is left confused and uncertain by their behavior.
Gruesome ghosts begin appearing to Edith throughout the mansion. To help calm Edith, Sir Thomas takes her into town. After being snowed in for the night, they finally consummate their marriage. Lucille angrily lashes out when they return the next morning, frightening Edith. By the time Sir Thomas mentions that the estate is also referred to as “Crimson Peak,” due to the warm red clay seeping up through the snow, Edith is growing increasingly weaker and coughing up blood.
Edith explores the mansion and begins piecing clues together, discovering that Sir Thomas previously married three wealthy women who were fatally poisoned for their inheritances. She realizes she, too, is being poisoned. She also discovers the siblings have had a long-term incestuous relationship, resulting in a sickly infant that died. Lucille murdered their mother after she had discovered her children’s incest. Sir Thomas inherited the family manor that, like many aristocratic estates of the era, is no longer profitable; the Sharpes are virtually penniless. The brother and sister began the “marriage and murder” scheme to support themselves and to fund Thomas’s inventions.

Back in the United States, the detective that Mr. Cushing had hired tells Alan what he uncovered about the Sharpes, including Thomas’s multiple marriages and Lucille’s time in a mental institution. Realizing Edith is in danger, Alan arrives at Allerdale Hall to rescue her. Lucille stabs him in the left armpit, then demands that Sir Thomas finish him off. Sir Thomas, who has fallen in love with Edith and does not want her harmed, inflicts a second, non-fatal stab wound to Alan before hiding him in the cellar. Lucille forces Edith to sign a transfer deed granting the Sharpes ownership of the Cushing estate and also confesses to her that she was the one who murdered Edith’s father. After Edith signs the deed, she stabs Lucille in the chest with a pen and tries to flee. Sir Thomas burns the deed and promises to protect Edith so that she and Alan can escape. Lucille, jealous over Sir Thomas falling in love with Edith, murders him in a rage. She then pursues Edith. Aided by Sir Thomas’ ghost, Edith kills Lucille with a shovel. Sir Thomas bids Edith a silent farewell as his spirit departs. Edith and Alan are rescued, and Lucille’s ghost now haunts Allerdale. The end credits imply that Edith has written a novel titled Crimson Peak based on her experiences.This is an intensely visual film that held my attention for all two hours. The performances are very good, but the hero is the production design. ‘Crimson Peak’ is unashamedly set-driven and there are times when the actors start to disappear in amongst their vast surroundings. This is a terrific horror film that gets very close to sheer. It is also an intelligent film that is awash with symbols, metaphors and allegories.