REVIEW: RED

CAST

Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
Morgan Freeman (Lucy)
John Malkovich (Burn After Reading)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Helen Mirren (Woman In Gold)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)
Rebecca Pidgeon (Allegiant)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Richard Dreyfuss (Piranha 3D)
Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck)
Ernest Borgnine (From Here To Eternity)
James Remar (Gotham)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)

Frank Moses, retired black-ops CIA agent, lives alone in Cleveland, Ohio. Lonely, Frank often chats on the phone with Sarah Ross, a worker at the General Services Administration’s Pension Office in Kansas City, Missouri. He creates opportunities to talk to her by tearing up his pension checks and calling her to say they had never arrived.One night, a “wetwork” (assassination) squad raids Frank’s house and attempts to kill him, but he easily wipes them out. Knowing they have tapped his phone, he believes Sarah will be targeted. In Kansas City, as Sarah refuses to go with him, he forcibly ties her up and gags her with duct tape. Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper is assigned by his boss, Cynthia Wilkes, to hunt down and kill Frank.To find out who is targeting him, Frank tracks down his old associates for help. He goes to New Orleans, Louisiana and visits his C.I.A. mentor, Joe Matheson, who now lives in a nursing home. Joe tells Frank that the same hit squad murdered a reporter for The New York Times. Locked in a motel by Frank, Sarah escapes. Another agent, posing as a police officer, tries to kidnap her, but Frank returns in time. Cooper attacks them, but Frank tricks the police into arresting Cooper and escapes with Sarah. The two head to New York City and find clues left behind by the deceased reporter, which leads them to a hit list. They then find Marvin Boggs, another former black ops agent and a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Marvin tells them the people on the list, including Frank and Marvin, are connected to a secret 1981 mission in Guatemala. Another person on the list, Gabriel Singer, is still alive. The trio tracks down Singer, who tells them that the mission involved extracting a person from a village. Singer is then assassinated by a helicopter-borne machine-gunner, and the team escapes as Cooper closes in.Frank goes to ex-Russian secret agent Ivan Simanov, who helps him infiltrate CIA headquarters. In the CIA archive, the records keeper, who has much respect for Frank, simply hands him the Guatemala file. Frank confronts Cooper in his office and the two have a vicious fight. Though victorious, Frank is shot during his escape. Having escaped an attempt on his life, Joe arrives and helps extract the team. They hide out in the home of former wetwork agent Victoria (Helen Mirren), who treats Frank’s wound and joins the team. The file gives them clue to the next lead, Alexander Dunning, an illegal arms dealer. Frank, Marvin and Joe enter Dunning’s mansion, with Joe posing as a buyer, while Victoria and Sarah keep watch outside. They interrogate Dunning, who reveals the target for extraction was the now–Vice President Robert Stanton (Julian McMahon). Stanton ordered the hit on the people involved in the mission to hide the fact that he massacred village civilians.Cooper and the FBI surround Dunning’s mansion. Cooper tries to negotiate Frank’s surrender, and Frank tells him about the Vice President’s treachery. The terminally ill Joe pretends to be Frank, walks outside, and is killed by sniper from the Vice President’s personal hit squad. The confusion, as well as Victoria’s cover fire, buys the team enough time to leave the mansion, but Sarah is captured. They escape with the help of Ivan, who is Victoria’s old flame. Frank calls Cooper from his family’s phone and warns him against harming Sarah.The team, along with Ivan, kidnaps Stanton. Frank calls Cooper, offering to trade Stanton for Sarah. At the meeting point, Dunning arrives. After a short dialogue, Dunning injures Stanton, revealing himself and Cynthia Wilkes to be masterminds behind the assassinations. Disgusted with Wilkes’ corruption, Cooper pretends to arrest Frank, but shoots Wilkes. Marvin and Victoria kill Dunning’s bodyguards, and Frank kills Dunning by crushing his windpipe. Cooper lets Frank’s team go. As they leave the scene, Frank and Sarah are eager to start a new life together. Ivan reminds Frank of his favor. A few months later, Frank and Marvin are in Moldova with a stolen nuclear device. They flee from Moldovan Army troops with Marvin wearing a dress and in a wooden wheelbarrow being pushed by Frank.Red was entertaining. It’s funny without trying to get overly silly. Action scenes where good. Bruce Willis, Mary Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, and Morgan Freeman. But it’s John Malkovich who steals the show, with his funny one liners. And also a great co starring role by veteran actor Ernest Borgnine. A great comic book/action movie.

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REVIEW: FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER

CAST

Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Chris Evans (Captain America)
Michael Chikilis (Gotham)
Julian McMahon (Bait)
Kerry Washington (Save The Last Dance)
Andre Braugher (Salt)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Kevin McNulty (Tin Man)
Brian Posehn (New Girl)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
Kenneth Welsh (The Aviator)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
As Reed Richards and Sue Storm prepare for their wedding, a silver object enters Earth’s atmosphere, creating 1 mile wide craters across the Earth. General Hager asks Reed to track and identify its movements. He initially refuses, to appease Sue, who feels he is again neglecting her for his work. However, he secretly builds a radar tracker to locate the object, as the Army requests.
During the wedding, Reed’s systems detect the phenomenon approaching New York City, which suffers a blackout since it emits electromagnetic pulses that cause power outages. Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, pursues the object, discovering it to be a silver humanoid on a flying surfboard. The “Silver Surfer” drags him into the upper atmosphere, suffocating him, and drops him. During his fall, Johnny finds his flame powers fluctuating and barely survives, successfully flying only at the last moment. Later, Sue and Johnny switch powers when they touch, prompting Reed to deduce that exposure to the Surfer has affected Johnny’s molecular structure, allowing him to switch powers with his teammates through physical contact. Tracing the cosmic energy of the Surfer, Reed discovers that a series of planets the alien has visited have all been destroyed.
With the Surfer creating craters around the globe, Reed determines that the next will appear in London. The team arrives too late to stop the crater, which drains the River Thames, but they prevent the London Eye from collapsing after it is damaged by the quake (though Johnny nearly thwarts their effect in the process when he switches powers with Reed). Afterward, Reed and Sue contemplate abandoning their lives as superheroes in order to have a normal life and raise a family, but are unaware that Johnny is listening. Meanwhile, the Surfer’s movements around the globe bring him past Latveria, where the cosmic energy affects Victor Von Doom, freeing him from two years encased in metal. A scarred Doom traces the Surfer to the Russell Glacier and offers to join forces. When the Surfer rebuffs him, Doom attacks. The Surfer retaliates, blasting Doom through the ice, but the cosmic energy of the Surfer’s blast heals Doom’s body.
Doom leverages his experience into a deal with the American military, who force the Fantastic Four to work with Doom. Deducing that the Surfer’s board is the source of his power, Reed develops a tachyon pulse generator that will separate him from it, while Doom works on a machine whose function he keeps a secret. In the Black Forest, the Surfer confronts Sue and reveals he is merely a servant to the destroyer of worlds, and regrets the destruction he causes. The military opens fire on the Surfer, which distracts him and allows the Fantastic Four to fire the pulse, separating the Surfer from his board. The military imprisons the Surfer in Siberia, where they torture him for information. Sue uses her powers to sneak into his cell, where he reveals more information. He tells her his master, known by the people of his world as Galactus, is a massive cloud-like cosmic entity that feeds on life-bearing planets to survive, and that his board is a homing beacon summoning Galactus to the planet. The Silver Surfer has to serve Galactus, who will otherwise destroy not only his loved ones but also his planet.
Using the device he has created earlier, Doom betrays Hager and steals the board from the compound, killing the majority of the Army present there. The Fantastic Four rescue the Surfer and pursue Doom in the Fantasticar, confronting him in Shanghai. During the battle, Sue is mortally wounded. With the Surfer powerless, Johnny absorbs the combined powers of the entire team (inspired by comics character the Super-Skrull) in order to battle the now cosmic energy-empowered Doom. Johnny succeeds in breaking Doom’s controlling device over the Surfer’s board, and Ben Grimm uses a nearby crane to knock Doom into the harbor, possibly drowning him. However, Galactus arrives and Sue dies in Reed’s arms. The Surfer regains control of his board, restoring his power. He revives Sue and chooses to defend Earth, flying, with an extra boost from Johnny, into Galactus. The conflict results in a massive blast of energy that engulfs Galactus, and apparently kills the Surfer as well. Johnny has recovered his stable molecular state after touching the Surfer’s board. Reed and Sue get married in Japan, in an abbreviated ceremony. Receiving news that Venice is sinking into the Adriatic, the team heads to Italy. In a post-credits scene, the Silver Surfer’s seemingly lifeless body floats through space. His eyes then open and his board races toward him, showing that he is still alive.
A great sequel to the first film – good, fun, family friendly superhero action with lots of effects and action and a decent enough story to keep you entertained

REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR (2005)

CAST
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Chris Evans (Captain America)
Michael Chikilis (Gotham)
Julian McMahon (Bait)
Hamish Linklater (The Crazy Ones)
Kerry Washington (Save The Last Dance)
Kevin McNulty (Tin Man)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Gina Holden (Flash Gordon 2007)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Physicist Dr. Reed Richards is convinced evolution was triggered millions of years ago on Earth by clouds of cosmic energy in space, and has calculated that one of these clouds is soon going to pass near Earth. Together with his friend, astronaut Ben Grimm, Reed convinces Dr. Victor Von Doom, his former classmate at MIT and now CEO of Von Doom Industries, to allow him access to his privately owned space station to test the effects of a biological sample of exposure to the cloud. Doom agrees in exchange for control over the experiment and a majority of the profits from whatever benefits it brings. Reed brings aboard his ex-girlfriend and Von Doom’s chief genetics researcher Susan Storm and her ex-astronaut brother Johnny.
The quintet travels to outer space to observe the cosmic energy clouds, but Reed miscalculates and the clouds materialize ahead of schedule. Reed and the Storms leave the shielded station to rescue Ben, who had gone on a spacewalk to place the samples. Ben receives full exposure in outer space, while the others receive a more limited dose within the station. Back home they soon develop superpowers: Reed can stretch his body like rubber, Susan Storm can become invisible and generate impact resistant force shields, Johnny Storm can engulf himself in fire and fly unaided, and Ben becomes a rocklike creature with superhuman strength and durability. Meanwhile, Von Doom faces a backlash from his stockholders because of the publicity from the space mission, and has a scar on his face that came from an exploding control console on the station.
Ben’s fiancee Debbie cannot handle his new appearance and leaves him. Ben goes to brood on the Brooklyn Bridge and accidentally causes a traffic pileup while preventing a man from committing suicide. Ben, Reed and the Storms use their various abilities to contain the damage and prevent harm. The media dubs them the Fantastic Four. They move into Reed’s lab in the Baxter Building to study their abilities and seek a way to return Grimm to normal. Von Doom, himself mutating, offers his support but blames Reed for the failure of the spaceflight, which has lost him his company.
Reed tells the group he will construct a machine to recreate the storm and reverse its effects on them, but warns it could possibly accelerate them instead. Meanwhile, Von Doom’s arm has become organic metal, giving him superhuman strength allowing him to produce bolts of electricity, and he begins plotting revenge. He drives a wedge between Ben and Reed, who has rekindled his relationship with Susan Storm. Using the machine, Von Doom restores Ben to human form, while accelerating Von Doom’s condition, causing much of his body to turn to metal. Von Doom knocks the human Grimm unconscious and captures Reed.
Now calling himself Doctor Doom, he puts on a metallic mask to hide his disfigurement, tortures Reed and fires a heatseeking missile at the Baxter Building in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Johnny Storm. Sue confronts Doom but is outmatched. Ben arrives to assist her, transformed into the Thing again by reusing the machine (speaking his signature line, “It’s clobberin’ time!”). The battle then gets spilled into the streets and The Storms combine their powers to wrap Doom in an inferno of intense heat, and Ben and Reed douse him with cold water, inducing thermal shock and freezing Doom in place. In an epilogue, Grimm informs Reed that he has accepted his condition with the help of Alicia Masters, a blind artist for whom he has developed feelings, and the team embraces its role as superheroes. Reed proposes marriage to Sue, who accepts. Meanwhile, Doom’s statue-like remains are being transported back to his homeland of Latveria when the dock master’s electronic manifest briefly undergoes electromagnetic interference, suggesting that Doom is still alive.
This is a fun movie and I liked it. It had a solid origin story, some good action, and pretty good SFX. Each character was clearly defined

REVIEW: BAIT

 

CAST

Richard Brancatisano (Power Rangers Mystic Force)
Xavier Samuel (Fury)
Sharni Vinson (Blue Crush 2)
Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck)
Phoebe Tonkin (The Orignals)
Alice Parkinson (X-Men Origins)
Cariba Heine (H20)

Directed by Australian filmmaker Kimble Rendall and written by Russell Mulcahy and John Kim, Bait (or if you prefer, Bait 3D) begins with an opening scene in which a lifeguard named Josh (Xavier Samuel) is goofing around with his fiancé, Tina (Sharni Vinson), the sister of his friend and fellow lifeguard, Rory (Richard Brancatisano). When Rory heads out into the surf to check on a buoy, he doesn’t see the massive great white shark that has cruised on into the area and while Josh heads out on the Jet-Ski as quickly as he can in hopes of saving his friend, it’s too little too late and Rory winds up as shark food.

 

Cut to a few years down the road and Josh is working in a supermarket andwouldn’t you know it, Tina wanders in out of nowhere with her new man, Steven (Qi Yuwu). While this is going on, security guard Ryan (Alex Russell) gets fired by the store’s owner manager (Adrian Pang) when his girlfriend Jaime (Phoebe Tonkin) gets busted for shoplifting. The cops are called and wouldn’t you know it, the officer assigned to the case is none other than Jamie’s own father (Martin Sacks). Meanwhile, in the car park under the store, a young couple are making out unaware that just around the corner a pair of robbers, Doyle (Julian McMahon) and Kirby (Dan Wyllie), are planning a heist. It all comes to a head as a massive tidal wave suddenly hits the town and rips through the store, bringing along with it two great white sharks – one which patrols the car park, the other the store itself. In order to make it out alive, the survivors are going to have to figure out how to restore power to the flooded store and kill the sharks before they can kill them.

Bait starts off reasonably well and appears like it’s going to do a pretty good job of developing its key characters but once that tidal wave hits, it’s all about the shark attacks. This is all well and good, those are the reasons we watch movies like this after all, but aside from a little bit of tension that arises between Josh, Tina and Steven there’s not a lot here to latch on to. The relationship between Jamie and her cop father looks like it might go places here and there but never really does and the rest of the characters are pretty one dimensional. For the most part, Bait is little more than a standard bodycount movie, much like a slasher film with a couple of sharks in place of a masked killer and it follows many of the same established conventions as those movies. As such, we’re not dealing with anything particularly original here, but the movie is entertaining enough in its own completely superficial way.

The effects work is occasionally heavy on computer generated pieces but mixes up some traditional effects fairly effectively. The movie gets good and bloody during the shark attack scenes, using the obvious ‘shot for 3D’ trick of letting severed body parts float around in the water a couple of times. There are some good jump scares here and the sharks are considerably more menacing than you might expect them to be for something created entirely on a hard drive. The film sets itself apart from the countless other killer shark movies that have been churned out seemingly every month or so as of late by making good use of its location. The survivors spend most of the time perched atop the ramshackle shelving of the grocery store and are able to use the different props you might find in such a place throughout the movie. The best example of this is when Steven volunteers to head underwater to the other side of the room to switch on the electrical power and he and the others build himself an impromptu shark cage out of the materials that they have on hand. The movie gets a couple of bonus points for the creativity behind that scene, but with that and a few other minor exceptions, this is pretty much done by the book. It’s fun, it’s gory, and it’s entertaining and for some that’ll be enough. There’s absolutely no shame in that at all – but those looking for substance have probably figured out at this point in the review that they should look elsewhere.