REVIEW: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 2: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN

CAST

Ben Stiller (Zoolander)
Ricky Gervais (Muppets Most Wanted)
Jake Cherry (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Robin Williams (Hook)
Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap)
Alain Chabat (A Thousand Words)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder)
Mizuo Peck (A Case of You)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Rami Malek (Battleship)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Brad Garrett (Finding Dory)
Jay Baruchel (This Is The End)
Keith Powell (30 Rock)
Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri Make A Porno)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Eugene Levy (American Pie)
Mindy Kaling (Ocean’s Eight)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Jonah Hill (Get Him To The Greek)

Larry Daley, former night guard at the American Museum of Natural History, now runs his own direct response television company that sells inventions based on his experiences. He returns to the museum, discovering most of the exhibits will be moved to the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian Institution and replaced with holographic information providers. The Tablet of Akmenrah is to remain in the museum, leaving most of the exhibits without the ability to come to life at night. After the exhibits are moved, Larry receives a phone call from the cowboy Jedediah, who informs him that Dexter the monkey stole the Tablet and took it to the Smithsonian, bringing every exhibit in it to life. Larry travels to Washington, DC, navigating his way to the archives with help from his son Nick while posing as a night guard.Larry finds his friends trapped in their shipping container under attack from Akmenrah’s evil older brother Kahmunrah, accidentally activating the tablet and bringing the exhibits in the Smithsonian to life again. Kahmunrah reveals his plans to use the tablet’s powers to conquer the world. Larry escapes, aided by a gigantic octopus and General George A. Custer, who is captured, and then the adventurous Amelia Earhart, who becomes his travelling companion around the museum. The two evade Kahmunrah’s men, trapping them in the portrait of V-J Day in Times Square. Kahmunrah enlists fellow evil historical leaders, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Al Capone to help capture Larry and retrieve the tablet. Jedediah tries to help but is placed in an hourglass. Kahmunrah is unable to open the Gate of the Underworld with the tablet, sending Larry and Amelia off to translate it or Jedediah dies.While searching for someone in the museum who can help, Larry and Amelia end up falling in love. They travel to the National Air and Space Museum, briefly encountering the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. Inside the museum, Larry grounds all of the aircraft and rockets from taking off, before a group of Albert Einstein bobbleheads inform him that the combination is the value of pi. Napoleon, Ivan, and Capone’s troops arrive, prompting Larry and Amelia to escape using the Wright Flyer. They crash the plane into the Smithsonian, where Kahmunrah uses the acquired combination to summon an army of bird-headed warriors. Lincoln crashes in through the window, frightening the warriors back into the Underworld.Amelia gathers an army of allies including Larry’s friends and Custer, leading to a climactic battle. Larry obtains the tablet, banishing Kahmunrah back to the Underworld. Amelia flies Larry and the New York exhibits back home, giving Larry a final kiss before taking off in her plane, knowing she will become dust before reaching the Smithsonian. Larry sells his company, donating the money to the museum to renovate it, and the exhibits remain, capable of moving about at night under the pretense of being animatronics. Larry is rehired as night guard and aids a woman who resembles Amelia.As sequels go, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” proves the exception to the rule. Director Shaun Levy’s ambitious as well as imaginative follow-up to “Night at the Museum” tops the original. One of the reason that it surpasses the first film is the casting. Amy Adams is terrific as Amelia Earhart, and she makes an impact on the movie with her presence. Of course, part of this is due to the historical person that she plays. She exerts a charisma that none of the women had in the first film.

 

 

 

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REVIEW: THE PUNISHER – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Jon Bernthal (World Trade Center)
Ben Barnes (Westworld)
Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Suburban Girl)
Amber Rose Revah (Indian Summers)
Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil)
Daniel Webber (11.22.63)
Paul Schulze (Zodiac)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Michael Nathanson (The Wolf of Wall Street)
C. Thomas Howell (The Amazing Spider-Man)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STAR

Shohreh Aghdashloo (Star Trek Beyond)
Geoffrey Cantor (The Tick)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Limitless TV)
Rob Morgan (Starnger Things)
Kelli Barrett (Mr. Popper’s Penguins)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)#
Ripley Sobo (Batman V Superman)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Jason R. Moore (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
Nicolette Pierini (Annie)

The Punisher begins with Frank Castle believing he has completed his mission for revenge against the mobsters who killed his family and hanging up his skull-adorned costume. Six months later everybody thinks Frank Castle is dead and, having grown a hipster beard, he’s taken a new name and landed a job on a construction crew where even though more modern equipment is available, he’s able to take a sledgehammer to concrete walls. Frank is about to discover that he did a lot of punishing for nothing, or at least that his punishing was only partial, because it turns out that the death of his family relates to his black ops military service in Afghanistan and he’s going to have to start punishing again. This time, he has an ally in a former NSA analyst Micro, whose family thinks that he’s dead, too. Frank, who works better alone, finds himself in an unlikely partnership and almost a friendship. Castle has to reconnect with former brothers-in-arms Curtis (Jason R. Moore), now working to support soldiers suffering from PTSD, and Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), now the slick head of a private security concern. Meanwhile, the bad stuff that happened in Kandahar has attracted the attention of Homeland Security agent Dinah Madani, a child of Iranian refugees. Also involved, and providing links to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, is Daredevil regular Karen Page, whose status as compassionate, frequently endangered Marvel TV sidekick/innocent bystander remains intact.The Punisher was a gritty, great start for the character. It helped build the character’s past while presenting a self-contained and intriguing story. There are some definite current modern themes explored and it feels very different from anything on the Marvel Netflix side of things in the past. It was nice to see a character in this series once again take pain and have many potentially fatal situations.  I enjoyed watching the season, fans of the character will find this captured the anti-hero very well though some may feel it’s rather slow to get going. Once it does all move quickly and things are all well developed it doesn’t hold back on the action or tension. The Punisher is a solid character so it’s nice to see a full season actually deliver on what potential there is for this badass within the universe.

REVIEW: FURY


CAST

Brad Pitt (World War Z)
Logan Lerman (The Three Musketeers)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Michael Peña (Ant-Man)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Scott Eastwood (Texas Chainsaw)
Xavier Samuel (Twilight: Eclipse)
Brad William Henke (Split)

Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a battle-hardened U.S. Army staff sergeant in the 2nd Armored Division, commands an M4 Sherman “Easy Eight” tank named Fury and its five-man, all-veteran crew: gunner Boyd “Bible” Swan; loader Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis; and driver Trini “Gordo” Garcia (all of whom have been together since the North African Campaign), as the Allies make their final push into Nazi Germany. When the tank’s original assistant driver/bow gunner, “Red”, is killed in action, Private Norman Ellison (a fresh recruit trained only as a clerk typist) is assigned to be an immediate replacement.As Fury and its tank platoon move deeper into Germany, Norman’s inexperience becomes dangerous: first when he fails to shoot several Hitler Youth child soldiers — who ambush the commanding officer’s tank with a Panzerfaust, killing the entire crew, and then later during a skirmish with German anti-tank guns in which he hesitates under fire. Wardaddy is angered at his incompetence, and after the battle, he orders Norman to execute a captive German soldier. When Norman refuses, Wardaddy wrestles a pistol into his hand and forces him to pull the trigger, killing the prisoner and traumatizing Norman. Wardaddy then leads the tanks to capture a small German town, where Norman kills several German soldiers. While searching an apartment, Wardaddy and Norman encounter a German woman, Irma, and her younger cousin, Emma. Norman and Emma go into the bedroom together and have sex. The four then have breakfast, but the rest of Fury’s crew barges in, harassing the women and angering Wardaddy and Norman. As the men prepare to leave, a German artillery bombardment strikes the town. Norman finds Emma among the dead, which traumatizes him once more.Wardaddy and his platoon are then ordered to hold a vital crossroads to prevent the enemy from attacking the Allies’ vulnerable rear lines. They head to their objective, only to be ambushed by a German Tiger I. Wardaddy leads the Shermans in a counterattack; their shells fail to penetrate the Tiger’s thick frontal armor, and its heavier gun knocks out three tanks from the platoon. Fury eventually destroys the Tiger by outmaneuvering it and firing into its thinner rear armor, but with the radio damaged, Fury is forced to continue the mission alone. Just as it reaches the crossroads, the tank is immobilized by a landmine. Norman is ordered to scout a nearby hill where he spots a battalion of Waffen-SS panzergrenadiers heading their way. The crew initially wants to flee, but Wardaddy refuses to leave and they decide to stay.The crew disguise Fury so that it will appear knocked out, and then wait for the approaching Germans inside. They share a bottle of whiskey, and Norman is finally accepted by the crew and given his nickname: “Machine”. When the Germans arrive, the crew ambush them using both the tank’s and their own personal weapons. As ammunition runs out and the battle turns desperate, Grady is killed by a Panzerfaust round penetrating the turret; Gordo is wounded and then sacrifices himself by covering one of his dropped grenades; then a sniper kills Bible and severely wounds Wardaddy. Wardaddy then orders Norman to escape through an emergency hatch in the floor as the Germans drop grenades into the tank. Norman slips out just as they explode, killing Wardaddy. Norman tries to hide as the Germans move on, but is quickly discovered by a young SS soldier. The soldier hesitates and then leaves, deciding not to report him.The next morning, Norman awakens and crawls back into the tank, where he covers Wardaddy’s corpse with his coat and takes his revolver as he hears movement outside. Norman awaits his fate, only to discover he is being rescued by US soldiers, who tell him that he is a hero. As Norman is transported away to safety, he looks back at the carnage behind him: the countless dead German troops lying around the battered Fury.Amazing war film. Very realistic and gritty with superb battle scenes. Very hard to watch in places as it portrays how dehumanising war is. Extremely well made and filmed.

REVIEW: THE ACCOUNTANT


CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Jean Smart (Legion)
Andy Umberger (Unstoppable)
Alison Wright (The Americans)
Jason Davis (Step Brothers)
Susan Williams (The Founder)

Christian ‘Chris’ Wolff (Ben Affleck), a mental calculator, works as a forensic accountant, tracking insider financial deceptions for numerous criminal enterprises. His clients are brokered to him via phone by a woman’s voice, which originates from a restricted number. As an auditor of criminal enterprises, he accepts payment in various non-cash forms such as rare comics, gold bricks, and paintings by famous artists. Pursuing him is Raymond ‘Ray’ King (J.K. Simmons), the director of FinCEN in the Treasury Department, who recognizes Christian by the alias “The Accountant”. King blackmails young data analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into helping him identify and arrest the Accountant prior to his retirement, threatening to expose her undeclared criminal past (for the felony of lying on a federal employment application) if she refuses. King’s only leads are Christian’s numerous cover names.
As a child, Christian had been diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism and was offered an opportunity to live at Harbor Neuroscience Institute in New Hampshire. Although Christian had bonded with Justine (Alison Wright), the mute daughter of the institute’s director, his father declined, believing that Christian should overcome the hardships inherent in his condition. The pressure of raising a special-needs child later drove Christian’s mother to leave him and his neurotypical younger brother, Braxton. Their father, an army psychological warfare officer, arranged for them to receive extensive military training around the world, which Christian now uses to protect himself in his dangerous life.
The voice gives Christian his next assignment, auditing robotics corporation Living Robotics, whose in-house accountant, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), has found suspicious financial discrepancies. The company’s CEO, Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow), and his sister and associate Rita Blackburn (Jean Smart) willingly cooperate with Christian’s investigation, while CFO Ed Chilton (Andy Umberger) dismisses Dana’s findings as a mistake. However, after Dana provides him the company’s records, Christian quickly discovers that $61 million has been embezzled from the company. The following night, Chilton, who is diabetic, is confronted in his home by a hitman (Jon Bernthal), who forces him to self-administer a fatal insulin overdose. Later, Lamar surmises to Christian that Chilton embezzled the money and was driven to suicide out of guilt. Upset by Chilton’s death, Lamar closes the investigation, leaving Christian distraught from unfinished work.
Meanwhile, Medina realizes Christian’s cover identities, including his current name, are all famous mathematicians (Carl Gauss, Lou Carroll, and Christian Wolff). Using facial recognition to track the Accountant leads her to a shootout in which several members of the Gambino crime family had been killed. Analyzing a sound recording, Medina isolates Christian’s voice, determining that he is muttering the nursery rhyme Solomon Grundy to himself, a behavior consistent with autism spectrum disorder. The trail leads her to the modest accounting office that Christian uses as a cover: ZZZ Accounting, in Plainfield, Illinois, dividing his profits through four cash-only businesses in his block. She learns that Christian has written off hefty tax returns with donations to the Harbor Neuroscience Institute.
Christian and Dana are targeted for assassination, but Christian kills his own pursuers and rescues Dana, taking her to the trailer where he keeps the only things he values, including an original Jackson Pollock painting among his non-cash payments. While in hiding, they realize that the embezzled money was reinvested in affiliated companies in order to raise Living Robotics’ stock price. Concluding that Rita is behind everything, Christian goes to her house, only to find her dead, murdered by the hitman, who escapes just as Christian is arriving. Thus, Lamar is exposed as the real mastermind.
King and Medina arrive at Christian’s house and find evidence (cameras hidden in bird houses and an M134 minigun in the garage) that he is the Accountant. King reveals that Christian had been arrested after he started a melee at his remarried mother’s funeral that led to his father’s death, taking a deputy’s bullet meant for Christian. In jail, Christian had been mentored by Francis Silverberg (Jeffrey Tambor), a former accountant and fixer for the Gambino crime family, who subsequently became an informant for the United States government. Silverberg was later released and tortured to death by the Gambino family, which drove an enraged Christian to escape from jail and exact revenge on the people responsible.
King confides to Medina that he was present at the shootout and that Christian spared his life after questioning him about being a “good dad”. Afterwards, King had been contacted by the voice and provided with evidence Christian had compiled on criminals who violated his moral code, helping King rise to his position of director. King tells Medina that her investigation of the Accountant has been a test, and she has been selected to replace King, after his retirement, as the voice’s contact in the Treasury Department.
Christian attacks Lamar’s mansion and kills the mercenary guards led by the hitman. After shootout, the hitman recognizes the nursery rhyme that Christian mutters to himself as he tends to his wounds. He confronts Christian and reveals himself to be Braxton, who had become estranged after their mother’s funeral. Still resentful towards their mother for leaving, Braxton blames Christian for getting their father killed. The two reconcile after a hand-to-hand fight, and Lamar shows himself to chastise Christian. After Christian proceeds to kill Lamar without objection from Braxton, the two amiably agree to meet up another time. Later, the voice relays Christian’s evidence on Lamar’s criminal activities to Medina, who has accepted King’s offer, and she dismantles Living Robotics. Christian then bids farewell to Dana by sending her the Pollock (covered up by the painting Dogs Playing Poker, a reference to their initial conversation), and leaves to find Braxton.
In a scene at the Harbor Neuroscience Institute, the voice is revealed to be a computer-generated voice from a powerful computer, given to the Institute as a donation by Christian. The computer is used by a (still mute) adult Justine to communicate, and also fulfill her duties as Christian’s partner.The script is so well crafted this film should be used in writing classes. I guarantee you will not know what’s coming, and after they hit you, they’re going to hit you again, even better. Truly exceptional writing. The acting is also exceptional. Anna Kendrick, J.K.Simmons, and Jon Bernthal really stand out, and for Bernthal it is a change of pace and he carries it off very well. Ben Affleck, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow and Jean Smart do their usual good job.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: DAREDEVIL – A COLD DAY IN HELL’S KICTHEN

 

MAIN CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Elden Henson (The Buttefly Effect)
Jon Bernthal (World Trade Center)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)

GUEST CAST

Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Rob Morgan (Pariah)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Royce Johnson (Jessica Jones)

Nobu Yoshioka plans to lure Daredevil into a trap by abducting twenty people Daredevil has either brought to justice or saved from harm. Tyler hands him a list which was taken from Detective Sergeant Brett Mahoney. The Hand then abducts all twenty people, including Turk Barrett, Karen Page, and the veteran Jerry. While being transported, Page discovers that Barrett is under house arrest, and wearing a device which transmits his location. He has tampered with him so that it won’t work. However, after Tyler shoots and kills Jerry, Barrett turns the device back on. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock restraints Stick in a chair, telling him that he and Elektra Natchios will take on the Hand alone. Murdock admits that he doesn’t have a plan yet. On the roof, he and Natchios decide that the best plan is to take Yoshioka down, leaving him alive so that his followers can see that he’s just a man.At a restaurant, Jeri Hogarth offers Foggy Nelson a job, suggesting that should he play his cards right, he could be made partner. He is stunned by the starting salary, and intrigued when Hogarth says there is a future in defending vigilantes. At Melvin Potter’s Workshop, Potter fits Natchios for body armor and presents Daredevil with a billy club of his own design. Murdock is touched and admits that he doesn’t know what to say to thank him enough, but Potter brushes this off, saying that there are those in Hell’s Kitchen who know who is really looking out for them. At the same time, Frank Castle returns to his home, which he has not been in since his family’s deaths. He sadly walks through the house before sitting at the dining room table and looking at a newspaper article about his supposed death, with the X-ray of his skull on front page. Inspired, he takes his body armor to the garage, where he listens to a police radio while he spray paints the image of his skull on the armor.Back at Murdock’s apartment, Natchios and Murdock prepare to look for Yoshioka when Murdock’s phone rings. It’s Nelson, calling from the police department. He reports that Mahoney has been roughed up by people looking for information on Daredevil. Murdock appears at the fire escape at the 15th precinct in his Daredevil armor, prompting Mahoney to comment that the masked vigilante is the only person he can trust. He admits that he gave the files on Daredevil’s actions to the people who had roughed him up because they threatened to kill his mother. When Mahoney tells him the file included all the people he had ever helped, Murdock rushes to Page’s apartment, only to find it disheveled, and her gone.On his rooftop, Murdock desperately tries to listen to clues as to where the Hand has taken their prisoners, but he is frustrated. Panicking, he tells Natchios that he can’t block out the extraneous noise. Natchios talks him through blocking out every sound that isn’t relevant so that he can find the prisoners, especially Page. Murdock is finally able to hear the sounds of the bus that is transporting them.The Hand has transported the prisoners to an unknown location, but the police, alerted that Barrett had broken house arrest, arrive. Tyler tells her subordinates to take care of the police while she alerts Yoshioka to the news. Hand archers kill the police officers, but not before one is able to radio for help. Murdock and Natchios arrive at the Hand’s location, and Murdock descends from the rooftop to save the hostages, although Natchios stays behind, convinced that it is a trap. She suggests that the people inside, although innocent, are a much smaller group than the people who would suffer if the Hand got their hands on the Black Sky. Inside, the Hand discover Barrett’s location device and begin to take a knife to his ankle to remove it, when Daredevil crashes into the room and stops them. He is able to free all the hostages, taking a moment to ask Page if she is all right before hurrying her out of the room. More Hand ninjas arrive and he fights them, assisted by Natchios, who cooly tells him that she got bored waiting for him. They realize that the only way out of the building is up on the roof, so they head upstairs. Near the rooftop, he reports that there is an army of Hand ninjas waiting for them, and they both accept that they might not make it out alive.Natchios is ready to meet her fate, but Murdock stops her before they go up to the rooftop, removing his mask and telling her that if they make it out alive, he wants to go with her, leaving New York City behind. She tries to convince him that he belongs in New York but he responds by saying there was only thing that made him feel more alive than New York, and it was her. Meanwhile, Page and the other hostages emerge from the building to find Mahoney and a squadron of police waiting for them. Page tells Mahoney that the abduction was just a trap to lure out Daredevil. Mahoney orders lights to be shone on the building. Nelson arrives, and is shocked when Page tells him about the trap set for Daredevil. On the rooftop, Natchios and Murdock battle with Hand ninjas led by Yoshioka. They are able to defeat many of the ninjas but Yoshioka proves to be a formidable opponent, hitting Murdock so hard that he knocks his mask off. Just as Yoshioka is about to kill Murdock, Natchios attacks him, and Yoshioka inadvertently stabs her. She dies in Murdock’s arms, after telling him that this was not the end.Yoshioka, upset about losing the Black Sky, orders the ninjas to kill Murdock. Murdock, enraged, fights then, and is surprised when gunfire takes some of the ninjas down. He turns to see Frank Castle on a nearby rooftop, using his sniper skills to dispatch some of Daredevil’s opponents. Page looks up at the sound of the gunfire and sees Castle, wearing his Punisher body armor. Murdock does battle with Yoshioka and is victorious, using his billy club to fling him off the roof. Yoshioka, however, survives the fall, only to be killed by Stick, who decapitates him and declares that this time he will stay dead. A month later, at a cemetery, Stick and Murdock stand before Natchios’s gravesite. Murdock wants to say a few words but doesn’t have any. Stick asks Murdock if it was worth it to love her, and Murdock says that despite Stick’s warning to cut himself off from humanity, it was worth it.At Josie’s Bar, Page and Nelson have drinks together. She remarks on how sad it feels with Murdock not with them, but then congratulates Nelson on his new job. He promises her they will always be friends before settling Nelson and Murdock’s tab with Josie. At the New York Bulletin office, Mitchell Ellison is surprised to find Page there, since it’s Christmas Eve. She still has writer’s block. He convinces her to write a story only she can, from her point of view. He gives her a bottle of Scotch and then leaves. Page writes a story about heroes, suggesting that her readers look in the mirror, because all New Yorkers are heroes. Meanwhile, Castle returns to his house one last time, retrieving a CD with the word “Micro” written on it before setting the house on fire. Murdock asks Page to meet him at the Nelson and Murdock offices. She is reluctant, but is waiting for him when he arrives there. He tells her he has something to show her and pulls out his Daredevil helmet. As she watches in shock, he finally reveals to her that he is Daredevil. Meanwhile, Nachios’s grave is dug up, and her body is placed in the stone sarcophagus that Yoshioka had been preparing. As Hand ninjas respectfully lower the lid over it, a heartbeat is faintly heard.If you were as enthusiastic about the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil, I hope you’re as pleased as I am with the new episodes. There’s an intensity and toughness in the storytelling that gets at the heart of the character and provides further proof why Daredevil is the one of the best heroes in comics. Ending season 2 at Christmas was a surprise but all in all the final was excellent leaves us wanting more.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE VS TEEN TITAN

CAST (VOICES)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
Shemar Moore (Birds of Prey)
Jerry O’Connell (Jerry Maguire)
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil)
Jason O’Mara (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Stuart Allan (Batman vs Robin)
Jake T. Austin (Rio)
Taissa Farmiga (The Final Girls)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Brandon Soo Hoo (Tropic Thunder)
Kari Wahlgren (Bolt)
Laura Bailey (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
T.C. Carson (Final Destination 2)
Rick D. Wasserman (Planet Hulk)
The Justice League battle the Legion of Doom (consisting of Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, Cheetah, Weather Wizard, and Toymaster). After the Legion is defeated and captured, Weather Wizard runs away, but is possessed by a shadow-like creature that teleports through darkness, revealed to be the demon Trigon, whose supernatural nature allows him to physically harm Superman. Robin disobeys his father’s orders to get civilians to safety, thinking he can help the Justice League fight Trigon. Robin sets the Batwing to crash into Trigon and explode, forcing Trigon’s shade to leave Weather Wizard. Upset that there’s no answer to this occurrence, and in order for his son to learn teamwork, Batman sends Robin to join the Teen Titans. Meanwhile, Trigon’s shade possesses Superman, plaguing him with visions of demonic shadows.
Robin meets the Titans’ leader Starfire and members Raven, Beast Boy, and Blue Beetle, but his lack of respect for the others causes friction. Blue Beetle and Robin fight until Blue Beetle’s suit instinctively uses an energy blast to severely burn Robin. Raven heals him, but during the process her empathic powers link their minds, tapping into each other’s memories. Later, Robin thanks Raven for saving him, but confronts her about an entity he saw in her mind. With Raven unwilling to answer, Damian tries to search up Raven’s background, but no information is kept about her in the Titans’ files. When he confronts Starfire about this, she replies the team isn’t just for fighting crime, but also a surrogate family, as they are all lost souls in a world with no place for them.
Superman finds and brutally beats down Atomic Skull, alerting Wonder Woman and Batman. The latter uses kryptonite to drive Superman back, revealing his possession before Superman flies off. Cyborg tries to locate Superman and a “female with supernatural powers”, whom Trigon is searching for. He and Batman analyse footage of both a transformed Superman and the shadow demon that possessed Weather Wizard, concluding that if the host is damaged or overwhelmed, they will be freed from it. In the meantime, in order to loosen Damian up, Starfire takes the group to a carnival, where Raven encounters demon emissaries and Trigon, in a spirit form, who wants to find her so they can be together. With the help of the other Titans, Raven resists and fights the emissaries until they cannot maintain their presence on the Earthly plane and dissipate.
Afterward, the Titans demand answers from Raven. She reveals that her mother was a member of a cult who married her off to Trigon, who took a human form. Her mother fled after discovering his true nature and was saved by the Azarathians, a people from another dimension, where Raven grew up. After unwittingly summoning her father and thus causing the obliteration of Azarath and her mother, Raven was taken by him so he could conquer Earth, but she trapped him inside a crystal. The Titans offer their support to Raven in defeating Trigon, but the Justice League arrives in order to take Raven away. However, before they can act, Flash, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman are taken over by Trigon’s shadow and turned into demon emissaries. Batman prevents his own possession by injecting himself with a nerve toxin designed for Bane, putting himself in a comatose state and thus causing the shade to abandon him.
The Titans battle the League without success, causing Raven to surrender herself. Just before the League and Raven use a portal to leave, Blue Beetle brings back Cyborg from Trigon’s control. Robin locates Raven in the Middle East, revealing he put a tracer on the Titans after meeting them. Cyborg and the Titans portal to the Middle East, to discover that Superman had unearthed a mystical shrine that Raven uses her powers on so that Trigon can pass though the shrine as a gate. Robin stabs Superman with kryptonite to free him from Trigon, and back to his own self, Superman defeats Flash and Wonder Woman, which frees them both. The Titans save Raven, but not before Trigon returns to his physical form.
Following Raven’s plan, the Titans and Cyborg portal to Hell to retrieve the crystal to lock away her father, while the Justice League attempt to prevent Trigon from reaching innocent civilians. Beast Boy’s biology reacts oddly to the dimension, initially forcing him to take the form of demonic beasts. The Titans battle hordes of guardian demons while Raven gets the crystal, but an undead Ra’s al Ghul shatters it; he was made Trigon’s vassal following his death, since the Lazarus pits were created by him. Ra’s tries to persuade Robin to join him and Trigon so that he may return to life, but Robin, deciding that he is no longer an ‘al Ghul’ but a Titan, refuses, engages his grandfather in combat, and ultimately defeats and kills him. Overcoming her inner doubts and Trigon’s telepathic attempts to dissuade her, Raven uses her powers and her link to Trigon to re-imprison him in a shard of the broken crystal.
Raven informs the Titans that the shard must stay in Hell and be watched always, in case Trigon tries once again to break free. She puts herself forward as Trigon’s keeper, but the Titans assure that her home is with them. Back at Titans Tower, the group – now joined by Robin and Cyborg – are lauded by the Justice League for saving Earth, and Raven wears her father’s crystal prison on her forehead, even as he is angrily demanding his release. In a post-credits scene, Terra is seen approaching Titans Tower, riding a boulder across the sea.
I’m not really a fan of Damian in a leading role, but in a team the character plays out much better. Sort of like how Batman integrates nicely with the Justice League – both characters can add a bit of spice to the mix once they’re able to clearly contrast with other characters. In my opinion this is the first movie in this line that manages to do this, so that is good to see.  There are some parallels between a few appearances in here and in Young Justice – some designs are related without a doubt, some characters share close or relatively close resemblances, but they are different personalities (and have different voice-actors). Wasn’t sure how to take this at first, but they’re likable.  Overall another great animated outing.

REVIEW: DATE NIGHT

CAST
Steve Carrell (Evan Almighty)
Tina Fey (Mean Girls)
Mark Wahlberg (Rock Star)
Taraji P. Henson (The Karate Kid)
Jimmi Simpson (White House Down)
Common (Terminator Salvation)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
J.B. Smoove (The Sitter)
Kristen Wiig (The Martian)
Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers)
James Franco (This Is The End)
Mila Kunis (Ted)
Olivia Munn (Iron Man 2)
Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil)
Ari Graynor (For A Good Time Call..)
Will.i.am (X-Men Origins)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are a married couple from New Jersey with two children and whose domestic life has become boring and routine. Phil is a tax lawyer while Claire is a realtor. They are motivated to reignite their romance after learning that their best friends, Brad and Haley (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig), are planning to divorce to escape the married-life routine and to have more excitement in their lives.
To avoid the routine that had become their weekly “date night”, Phil decides that he will take Claire to a trendy Manhattan restaurant, but they cannot get a table. Phil takes a reservation from a no-show couple, the Tripplehorns, despite Claire’s misgivings. While eating they are approached by two men, Collins (Common) and Armstrong (Jimmi Simpson), who question them about a flash drive they believe Phil and Claire stole from mobster boss Joe Miletto (Ray Liotta). Phil and Claire explain that they are not the Tripplehorns, but the men threaten them at gunpoint. Not seeing any other way out, Phil tells them it is in a boathouse in Central Park.
At the boathouse, Claire pretends to search; while Collins and Armstrong’s backs are turned, Phil hits them with a paddle and escapes with Claire on a boat. At a police station, Phil and Claire talk with Detective Arroyo (Taraji P. Henson), but discover Collins and Armstrong are also detectives, presumably on Miletto’s payroll. Realizing they cannot trust the police, they decide to find the real Tripplehorns. They return to the restaurant and find the cellphone number of the Tripplehorns.
Claire remembers a former client, Holbrooke Grant (Mark Wahlberg), is a security expert and James Bond-like action hero. He is consistently seen never wearing a shirt. At his apartment, Grant traces the cellphone signal to an apartment owned by Tom Felton. Collins and Armstrong arrive, but Phil and Claire escape in Grant’s Audi R8.
They arrive at Felton’s apartment and break in. They question Felton, nicknamed “Taste” (James Franco), and his wife “Whippit” (Mila Kunis) about the flash drive and Joe Miletto. It turns out that they went to the restaurant, but left when they spotted Collins. Realizing they are in danger, the couple give the flash drive to Phil and flee. When Phil and Claire get back in the Audi, Armstrong and Collins shoot at them. Phil and Claire crash the Audi head-on into a Ford Crown Victoria taxicab, resulting in their Audi and the Ford being attached at the bumpers. Phil and the cab driver (J. B. Smoove) decide to drive off to get away. Phil climbs into the Ford to navigate while Claire navigates the Audi. Phil checks the flash drive on the driver’s Amazon Kindle and finds pictures of district attorney Frank Crenshaw (William Fichtner) with prostitutes (early in the film, a press conference shows Crenshaw highlighting his integrity platform). After evading Collins and Armstrong, they are eventually hit and are separated by an SUV. The cab falls into the river; Phil and the driver escape, but without the flash drive.
In a subway, Phil determines that Felton obtained the flash drive to blackmail Crenshaw. They return to Grant’s apartment, and Grant is reluctant to help after becoming exhausted by their incompetence, but Phil begs and he agrees. Phil and Claire go to an illegal strip club that Crenshaw frequents, with Claire under the guise of a new prostitute and Phil as her pimp. After doing a pole dance for Crenshaw, they confront him and tell him they are the Tripplehorns. Collins and Armstrong come in and hold them at gunpoint and take them up to the roof with Crenshaw. Miletto arrives with henchmen and it is revealed that Crenshaw has been paid by Miletto to keep him out of jail. When Phil mentions the photos, a feud escalates between the mobsters and Crenshaw, Collins and Armstrong. Phil asks Claire to count to three (her typical method of calming their children). When she does, a helicopter appears and Arroyo and the SWAT team come onto the roof to arrest Miletto, Crenshaw, and everyone else. It is revealed that Phil was wearing a wire courtesy of Grant, who informed Arroyo of the situation.
After being declared heroes, Phil and Claire enjoy breakfast at a diner, where Phil admits he would marry Claire and have their kids all over again if given the chance. When they return home, they make out on the front lawn.
This is a real laugh out loud movie and even though it looks like a chick flick it suits both sexes! Very amusing escapades of a normal, bored couple who decide to do something different for date night and the story begins….a great watch!