REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX

CAST (VOICES)

Justin Chambers (Grey’s Anatomy)
C. Thomas Howell (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Kevin McKidd (Kingdon of Heaven)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Sam Daly (Red Tails)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
Cary Elwes (The Princess Diaries)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Grey Griffin (Ultimate Avengers)
Jennifer Hale (Batman Beyond)
Danny Huston (The Number 23)
Danny Jacobs (Futurama)
Vanessa Marshall (The Zeta Project)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
James Patrick Stuart (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

MV5BMTQ3NDQxOTc4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjYxNTEwMDE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_The early sequence in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is nothing but bright, vivid, four-color superheroics. The Rogues are pretty much harmless goofballs with Silver Age gimmicks. Professor Zoom’s genocidal agenda casts a darker pall onto what could otherwise play like an episode of Challenge of the Super-Friends, but the dialogue is still gleefully comic book-y. ” The rest of the Justice League swoops in just in the nick of time, It’s a big, triumphant display of Saturday morning superheroics, but one snide little comment Professor Zoom made before being dragged over to a holding cell at S.T.A.R. Labs keeps rattling around in Barry Allen’s head. The Flash runs towards the screen at impossible speed. Barry Allen is startled awake in the forensics lab, halfway-glancing at a PC with some ominous headline splattered across the screen. He catches wind of some villainy that only the Flash can handle, makes a mad dash towards the front door, strikes his usual heroic pose, and…stumbles down a few steps and falls flat on his face on the pavement. Before Barry can even try to make sense of whatever it is that just happened, he looks up and sees his his mother smiling down on him. She’s there for her birthday dinner with her baby boy, and she doesn’t even mind that it apparently slipped Barry’s mind. It’s not that Barry forgot, exactly; it’s that his mother had been brutally murdered decades earlier.
MV5BMjcwOTI3NjM3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzYxNTEwMDE@._V1_Everything has changed. A war between Atlantis and Themyscira has claimed more than a hundred million lives. The only ‘Man of Steel’ most anyone has heard of is Cyborg, someone most cape-‘n-cowl types sneer at as the President’s lapdog. Batman looks to be a hell of a lot older, gunning down costumed freaks atop the Wayne Casino with a semi-automatic pistol in each hand. The power of Captain Marvel…errr, Captain Thunder is wielded by six children. Someone or something has tampered with the past, and everything Barry Allen knows is wrong. His memories of the world he once knew are beginning to fade, and the post-apocalyptic wasteland that’s taken its place may not be around long enough for the former Flash to find a way back home.
I’m astonished by how effective Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is. this readily ranks among one of the best animated DC animated movies. I love the contrast between the classic superheroics that open the movie and the bleak, dystopian world that soon takes its place.The acting weaves together established talent in DC animation with several new voices, with the ensemble cast featuring Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Nathan Fillion, Justin Chambers, Vanessa Marshall, Kevin McKidd, James Patrick Stuart, Cary Elwes, Ron Perlman, and Michael B. Jordan, among many others. The performances are generally outstanding. The anime-influenced character designs look incredible, especially when animated with such polish and fluidity. It’s a daunting challenge to effectively realize the Flash’s impossible speed on a direct-to-video budget, but the animators at Studio 4C do a brilliant job with this as well, especially throughout the awe-inspiring final moments of the film. The Atlantean/Themysciran war is addressed in a far superior way here than in the core “Flashpoint” comics.The Flashpoint Paradox is genuinely horrifying. Heroes we once looked up to now murder one another without hesitation, and the body count is staggering. Aquaman skewers a freedom fighter with his trident. A severed head is held up as a trophy. Wonder Woman strangles a spy, and the movie doesn’t turn away from the sight of his neck snapping and blood spurting from his mouth. This may be the single most brutal superhero movie I’ve ever experienced, animated or live-action. There’s an emotional core to the story that transcends the hero-trapped-on-an-alternate-Earth premise, delivering levels of joy, hope, determination, and heartbreak that are remarkably powerful. That Flashpoint takes place outside of established continuity allows it to better explore these characters — or what we’ve come to think of these characters — in an entirely different context. Because there are no concerns about marketing to kids, how anything that happens here will impact the next installment in the franchise, or whatever else, these twisted reinterpretations of iconic heroes can kill and be killed.the-losers-1280There are stakes that go far beyond what’s generally felt in direct-to-video superhero animation. The Flashpoint Paradox is unnervingly intense, and yet it’s hardly masturbatory brutality or grim and gritty just for the sake of being grim and gritty.file_204535_4_Black_Moon_Rising_Tommy_Lee_Jones

REVIEW: KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

CAST
Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Eva Green (Sin CIty 2)
Liam Neeson (Krull)
Nathalie Cox (Jumper)
David Thewlis (Harry Potter)
Branson Webb (The Dark Knight)
Kevin McKidd (Brave)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
Marton Csokas (Aeon Flux)
Alexander Sidding (Reign of Fire)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Jeremy Irons (Lolita)
Edward Norton (The Bourne Legacy)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Thing)
Iain Glen (Tomb Raider)
Robert Pugh (Game of Thrones)
MV5BMjE3NjU1MjU1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTE2ODUyMw@@__V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1552,1000_AL_In 1184 France, Balian (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith, is haunted by his wife’s recent suicide. A group of Crusaders arrives in his village; one of them introduces himself as Balian’s father, Baron Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson). Godfrey asks Balian to return with him to the Holy Land, but Balian declines and the Crusaders leave. The town priest, Balian’s half-brother (Michael Sheen), reveals that he ordered Balian’s wife beheaded before burial. In a fit of rage, Balian kills his brother and flees the village.MV5BMTMxNjIyNzUyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTA2ODUyMw@@__V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1518,1000_AL_Balian joins his father, hoping to gain forgiveness and redemption for himself and his wife in Jerusalem. After he reaches Godfrey, soldiers sent by the bishop arrive to arrest and assassinate Balian. Godfrey refuses to surrender Balian, and in the ensuing attack, Godfrey is struck by an arrow that breaks off in his body, wounding him.
In Messina, Godfrey knights Balian and orders him to serve the King of Jerusalem and protect the helpless, then succumbs to his injuries. During Balian’s journey to Jerusalem his ship runs aground in a storm, leaving Balian the only survivor. Balian is confronted by a Muslim cavalier, who attacks him over his horse. Balian reluctantly slays the cavalier but spares the man’s apparent servant (Alexander Siddig), asking him to guide him to Jerusalem. Upon arriving, Balian releases him, and the man tells Balian that his deed will gain him fame and respect among the Saracens. Balian becomes acquainted with Jerusalem’s political arena: the leper King Baldwin IV (Edward Norton); Tiberias (Jeremy Irons), the Marshal of Jerusalem; the King’s sister, Princess Sibylla (Eva Green); and her husband Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas), who supports the anti-Muslim activities of brutal factions like the Knights Templar. After Baldwin’s death, Guy intends to break the fragile truce with the sultan Saladin and make war on the Muslims.
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Guy and his ally, the cruel Raynald of Châtillon (Brendan Gleeson), attack a Saracen caravan, and Saladin advances on Raynald’s castle Kerak in retaliation. At the request of the king, Balian defends the villagers by charging Saladin’s cavalry, despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered. Balian’s knights are captured, and he encounters the servant he freed, who he learns is actually Saladin’s chancellor Imad ad-Din. Imad ad-Din releases Balian in repayment of the earlier debt. Saladin arrives with his army to besiege Kerak, and Baldwin meets it with his. They negotiate a Muslim retreat, and Baldwin swears to punish Raynald, though the exertion of these events weakens him. In his camp, Saladin assures his impatient generals that he will claim Jerusalem, but only when he is confident of victory. Baldwin asks Balian to marry Sibylla and take control of the army, knowing they have affection for each other, but Balian refuses the offer because it will require Guy’s execution. After Baldwin dies, Sibylla succeeds her brother, and Guy becomes king. Guy releases Raynald, asking him to give him a war, which Raynald does by murdering Saladin’s sister. Sending the heads of Saladin’s emissaries back to him, Guy declares war on the Saracens. Guy sends three Templar assassins, disguised as Teutonic knights, to kill Balian, the most strident voice against war, though Balian survives the attempt.
Guy and the Templars march Jerusalem’s army to war, despite Balian’s advice to remain near water. Saladin’s army annihilates the Crusaders in the ensuing desert battle, executes Raynald, and marches on Jerusalem. Tiberias and his men leave for Cyprus, believing Jerusalem lost, but Balian remains to protect the people in the city. Balian knights the men of the city and hopes to hold out long enough for the Saracens to offer terms. After a siege that lasts three days, a frustrated Saladin parleys with Balian. When Balian reaffirms that he’ll let the city burn before surrendering, Saladin agrees to allow the Christians to leave safely in exchange for Jerusalem—though he ponders if it would be better if there were nothing left to fight over.
Balian is confronted by the disgraced Guy one final time, but defeats and spares him. In the marching column of citizens, Balian finds Sibylla, who has renounced her claim as Queen. After returning to France, English knights en route to retake Jerusalem ride through the town to enlist Balian, now the famed defender of Jerusalem. Balian tells the crusader that he is merely a blacksmith again, and they depart. Balian is joined by Sibylla, and they pass by the grave of Balian’s wife as they ride toward a new life together. An epilogue notes that “nearly a thousand years later, peace in the Holy Land still remains elusive.”
All things said and done i found this movie to be very entertaining. It’s visually stunning, reasonably well acted with a decent script and some nice characters. What it lacks in coherence and story it makes up for with a strong and quick pace and some truly impressive action scenes.

REVIEW: HANNIBAL RISING

CAST

Gaspard Ulliel  (Saint Laurent)
Li Gong (Curse of The Golden Flower)
Dominic West (300)
Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Helena-Lia Tachovská (Divnovlasky)
Kevin McKidd (Dog Soldiers)
Richard Brake (Halloween II)
Stephen Walters (Outlander)
Robbie Kay (Heroes Reborn)

In 1941, an eight-year-old Hannibal Lecter lives in Lecter Castle in Lithuania. Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union turns the Baltic region into part of the bloodiest front line of World War II. Lecter, his younger sister Mischa, and their parents travel to the family’s hunting lodge in the woods to elude the advancing German troops. After three years, the Nazis are finally driven out of the countries soon to be occupied by the Soviet Union. During their retreat, however, they destroy a Soviet tank that had stopped at the Lecter family’s lodge looking for water. The explosion kills everyone but Lecter and Mischa. They survive in the cottage until six former Lithuanian militiamen, led by a Nazi collaborator named Vladis Grutas, storm and loot it. Finding no other food in the bitterly cold Baltic winter, the men look menacingly at Lecter and Mischa. By 1949, Lecter Castle has been turned into a Soviet orphanage and is ironically housing the interned orphan Hannibal Lecter. After dealing violently with a bully, Lecter escapes from the castle orphanage to Paris to live with his widowed aunt, the Lady Murasaki. While in France, Lecter flourishes as a student. He commits his first murder as a teenager, killing a local butcher who insults his aunt. He is suspected of the murder by Inspector Popil, a French detective who also lost his family in the war. Thanks in part to his aunt’s intervention, Lecter escapes responsibility for the crime.Eventually, Lecter becomes the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France. He receives a working scholarship at a hospital in Paris, where he is given a job preparing cadavers. One day, Lecter witnesses a condemned war criminal receiving a sodium thiopental injection, allowing him to recall details about his war crimes. Consequently, in an attempt to recall the names of those responsible for his sister’s death, Lecter injects himself with the solution. His subsequent flashback reveals to the viewers the men who had killed Mischa, had also cannibalized her as well. Lecter returns to Lithuania in search of his sister’s remains. He excavates the ruins of the lodge where his family died, and upon finding Mischa’s remains, he gives her a proper burial. He also unearths the dog-tags of the deserters who killed his sister. One of them, Dortlich, attempts to kill him but is incapitated by Lecter. After he buries Mischa’s remains, Lecter forces Dortlich to reveal the whereabouts of the rest of his gang, then decapitates Dortlich with a horse-drawn pulley. Dortlich’s blood splashes on Lecter’s face, and he licks it off.Lecter then visits Kolnas’ restaurant in Fontainbleau. He finds his young daughter and notices Mischa’s bracelet on her. He gives her Kolnas’ dogtag. Dortlich’s murder puts the rest of the group on alert and, because of the similarity to the first murder, places Lecter under renewed suspicion from Popil. Grutas, now a sex trafficker, dispatches a second member of the group, Zigmas Milko, to kill him. Lecter kills Milko instead, drowning him in formaldehyde inside his laboratory. Popil then tries to dissuade him from hunting the gang. During a confrontation with Lady Murasaki, Lecter almost has sex with her, but relents after Lady Murasaki begs him not to get revenge, claiming that he made a promise to Mischa. He attacks Grutas in his home but Grutas is rescued by his bodyguards.

Grutas kidnaps Lady Murasaki and calls Lecter, using her as bait. Lecter recognizes the sounds of Kolnas’ birds from his restaurant in the background. Lecter goes there and plays on Kolnas’ emotions by threatening his children. Kolnas gives up the location of Grutas’ boat, but Lecter kills him when Kolnas goes for Lecter’s gun. Lecter goes to the houseboat. In a final confrontation, Grutas claims that Lecter too had consumed his sister in broth fed to him by the soldiers, and he was killing them to keep this fact secret. Enraged, Lecter eviscerates him by carving his sister’s initial into his body. Lady Murasaki, finally disturbed by his behavior, flees from him even after he tells her that he loves her. The houseboat is incinerated, but Lecter, assumed to be dead, emerges from the woods. Lecter hunts down the last member of the group, Grentz, in Canada.MV5BZmRkNTZjN2EtZGVmYi00YTE3LTliMzgtODE5MjU5NzI3NzZiL2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTEwNDYyNzk@._V1_Well, no Anthony Hopkins so I didn’t expect greatness, but was pleasantly surprised. Gaspard Ulliel did a very good job. I was caught up in the story about how Hannibal got started.  The movie was done very professionally. A good prequel to a great franchise.