REVIEW: THE MULE

Starring

Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)
Bradley Cooper (The Hangover)
Laurence Fishburne (Ant-man and The Wasp)
Michael Peña (American Hustle)
Dianne Wiest (Sisters)
Ignacio Serricchio (Lost in Space)
Andy García (Ghostbusters)
Taissa Farmiga (The Nun)
Alison Eastwood (They Are Among Us)
Richard Herd (Get Out)
Manny Montana (Conviction)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Noel Gugliemi (The Fast and The Furious)

Clint Eastwood in The Mule (2018)Earl Stone, in his 80s, is an award-winning horticulturist and Korean War veteran in Peoria, Illinois. He is facing financial ruin and is estranged from his ex-wife Mary and daughter Iris for always putting work before family. He is still on friendly terms with his granddaughter Ginny and attends her wedding rehearsal. Desperate for money, he takes up an offer from the friend of one of Ginny’s bridesmaids and becomes a “mule” transporting cocaine through Illinois for a Mexican drug cartel. Facing little suspicion due to his age, race, spotless criminal history, and strict adherence to driving laws, Earl is soon trusted with huge amounts of drugs and is paid large amounts of cash. With the money he buys a new truck, settles his financial problems, and pays for renovations of the local VFW Post, as well as his granddaughter’s wedding and education. He becomes friendly with the cartel members, who call him “Tata” (grandfather).Bradley Cooper in The Mule (2018)Meanwhile, with details from an informant, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) task force is narrowing in on the cartel’s deliveries to Chicago. Tensions within the cartel erupt when Gustavo, a power-hungry cartel lieutenant, assassinates cartel boss Laton, and subsequently demands Earl be kept under tighter control.In the middle of a $12 million cocaine shipment, Earl learns that Mary is gravely ill. After Ginny talks some sense into him, he postpones the drug delivery to make peace with Mary and stays by her side until she dies peacefully days later. After the funeral and after finally reconciling with his family, Earl resumes the delivery as both the DEA and the cartel close in on him.Clint Eastwood and Ignacio Serricchio in The Mule (2018)The cartel’s enforcers catch him and, upon discovering he was away to attend his wife’s death and funeral (which they respect), call the cartel leader to request leniency. The cartel underboss allows him to continue, with the caveat that if anything went wrong it would be on the enforcer’s head. Next we see Earl driving with a head injury and blood on his face. As he makes his way towards the drop point, almost resignedly as a helicopter is circling overhead, he slows to a halt to allow the DEA agents to arrest him. In court, disregarding his age as an excuse and guilt-ridden over his crimes and for failing his family, Earl pleads guilty to all charges and is sent to federal prison with his family showing him their support. In prison, he returns to horticulture.Clint Eastwood in The Mule (2018)Dont expect action packed. This is raw and real crime drama. There are some beautiful moments and always a strong moral. Definitely a must see!

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: HANNIBAL – Œuf

Hannibal-hannibal-tv-series-34316075-800-600
MAIN CAST
Hugh Dancy (King Arthur)
Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange)
Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls)
Hettienne Park (Young Adult)
Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix)
Scott Thompson (The Simpsons)
Aaron Abrams (Resident Evil 2)

Œuf

GUEST CAST
Kacey Rohl (Red Riding Hood)
Molly Shannon (Scary Movie 4)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Vladimir Jon Cubrt (Hollywoodland)
Œuf has an asterisk in the Hannibal canon. Scheduled to air April 25, the episode was pulled in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Sandy Hook massacre (the episode was filmed before the tragedy in Newtown), according to a statement by creator Bryan Fuller. Later, “Œuf” was split into web videos in an attempt to bridge any continuity gaps that the missing episode may have created. Soon after, “Œuf” was put on iTunes, Amazon and the like for interested parties.
 Curiously, “Œuf” was not included in the first run of episodes given out to critics before the began its run, and even I wondered if Fuller didn’t have cold feet about airing “Œuf” before the Boston bombings occurred. Seeing a charred child in a fireplace or an angelic little one with a bullet through her head are difficult sights to take even without the added baggage of real-life tragedy . As time passes, wounds are healed and the emotional rawness of the aftermath is forgotten. Sure, holding the episode made sense at the time (I thought it was a good idea), but we’re all good now. So rather than be an episode swept under the rug in the name of good taste, “Œuf” is now a lesser episode in the first season of an excellent series.
Hannibal’s strengths from the beginning has been its subtlety. A lot of procedurals  are not so good at the subtlety of their theme. They don’t need to be. Hell, there’s an episodic conversation in Law and Order: SVU episodes that’s akin to the Danny Tanner/lesson of the week discussion on Full House. But Hannibal has been so good at letting the inner meaning of the episode or arc slowburn. “Œuf” is not one of those episode. This one telegraphs “FAMILY!” throughout. Not only is the Molly Shannon-driven case-of-week about familial bonds (albeit fucked up ones) via created family, but so is the Hannibal-Will driven plot, as well. This is where we see Hannibal beginning to talk to Will about the surrogate fatherhood they share over Abigail. Then there is the dinner scene with Alana, Hannibal and Abigail where they sit down for a recreation of the last meal Abigail had with her real mother and father.
The procedural element of the show, featuring Molly Shannon as mother who kidnaps boys and has them turn on their families a year after their disappearance, was a fantastic premise. What I did really like about the family aspect of “Œuf” was a minor branch of the theme that ended up being its strongest: the interactions of the BAU team. I’ve loved the interplay between Hetienne Park, Scott Thompson, and Aaron Abrams since the beginning. They’re a family too, one bonded together by the horror that they’ve collectively experienced as dispassionate outsiders.
This was great episode and thankfully in the UK we got it aired and then we all get to see it on the Blu-ray/DVD. The only Christmas part of the episode is the scene where we see the remains of a family burnt near a Christmas Tree and decorations. Hannibal is a show that was brilliant and will be missed.

REVIEW: JOHN WICK – CHAPTER 3: PARABELLUM

Starring

Keanu Reeves (47 Ronin)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight)
Laurence Fishburne (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Asia Kate Dillon (Billions)
Halle Berry (Darktide)
Lance Reddick (The Guest)
Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family)
Said Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman)
Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones)
Riccardo Scamarcio (First Light)
Jason Mantzoukas (The Good Place)
Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham)
Susan Blommaert (The Double)
Roger Yuan (Skyfall)

 

Keanu Reeves and Anjelica Huston in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)Ten minutes after the conclusion of the previous film, former hitman John Wick is now a marked man and on the run in Manhattan. After the unsanctioned killing of crime lord and new member of the High Table Santino D’Antonio in the New York City Continental, John is declared “excommunicado” by his handlers at the High Table and placed under a $14 million bounty that rises each hour. On the run from assassins, John reaches the New York Public Library and recovers a crucifix necklace and a “marker” medallion from a secret cache in a book. He fights his way through numerous assassins until he reaches the Director, a woman from his past who used to raise him. She calls him by his real name – Jardani Jovanovich. She accepts the crucifix as a “ticket” for safe passage to Casablanca, Morocco, and has Wick branded to signify that he has used up his ticket.Halle Berry in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)Meanwhile, an Adjudicator with the High Table meets with Winston, the manager of the New York City Continental, and the Bowery King, the leader of a network of vagrant assassins. The Adjudicator admonishes both for helping John kill Santino, a new member of the high table, and both are given seven days to give up their offices or face serious consequences. The Adjudicator hires Zero, a Japanese assassin, afterwards to enforce the will of the High Table. They find the Director while she is watching her ballet students perform. The Director’s penance for helping Wick by putting the ticket above the rules of the High Table is by blood, therefore Zero uses his sword to make a cut through the center of both her hands.Keanu Reeves, Yayan Ruhian, and Cecep Arif Rahman in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)In Casablanca, John meets Sofia, a former friend and the manager of the Casablanca Continental. He presents his marker and asks Sofia to honor it by directing him to the Elder, the only person known to be above the High Table, so that he can ask to have his bounty waived. John has Sofia’s marker because he helped get her daughter out in the past. Sofia takes him to an assassin and her old boss named Berrada, who tells John that he may find the Elder by wandering through the desert until he cannot walk any longer. In exchange for this information, Berrada asks for one of Sofia’s dogs; when Sofia refuses, he shoots the dog (who was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time, so is ultimately unharmed). In retaliation, Sofia shoots Berrada, and the duo fight their way out of the kasbah and flee into the desert. Having fulfilled her marker, Sofia leaves John in the desert. Meanwhile, the Adjudicator uses Zero to accost the Bowery King because he did not agree to leave his position after 7 days. As penance the Bowery King is maimed.Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)John collapses from exhaustion in the desert but is found and brought to the Elder. John says he is desperate to live on to “earn” the memory of the love he once had with his wife. The Elder agrees to forgive John but only if he assassinates Winston and continues to work for the High Table until his death. To show his commitment, John severs his ring finger and gives his wedding ring to the Elder. John arrives back in New York City and is pursued by Zero’s men. Zero nearly kills John before his pursuit is halted as they arrive at the New York City Continental, under threat of being declared excommunicado. John meets with Winston, who encourages John not to die as a killer but as a man who loved, and was loved by, his wife.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)The Adjudicator arrives, but Winston refuses to give up his office, and John refuses to kill Winston. As a consequence, the Adjudicator “deconsecrates” the New York City Continental, revoking its protected neutral ground status. The Adjudicator notifies Zero and sends two busloads of body-armored High Table enforcers as support. With the help of the hotel’s concierge, Charon, John defends the Continental from the enforcers. John is ambushed by Zero and his students. John kills all but the remaining two students, and then fatally wounds Zero.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)The Adjudicator negotiates a parley with Winston, who explains the rebellion as a “show of strength” and offers penance to the High Table. John arrives, and when the Adjudicator identifies him as a threat to the negotiation, Winston shoots John repeatedly, causing John to fall off of the Continental’s roof. The New York City Continental returns to operation and is “reconsecrated”, but the Adjudicator informs Winston that John’s body has disappeared and that he remains a threat for both of them. Meanwhile, a wounded John Wick is delivered to the heavily-scarred Bowery King, who tells John he is angry with the High Table and will be fighting against them. He asks John if he also feels pissed off, and John responds with, “Yeah”.Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)All in all, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum isn’t much different from the previous two movies. It isn’t the world’s most intricate or intelligent thriller. However, with brilliant energy, dazzling visuals, stunning action and an invaluable sense of fun, absolutely none of that matters, and it instead proves a solidly entertaining, manic and dizzyingly joyful thriller throughout.

REVIEW: JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2

Starring

Keanu Reeves (47 Ronin)
Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt)
Ian McShane (Hellboy)
Ruby Rose (Batwoman)
Common (Terminator: Salvation)
Claudia Gerini (THe Poison Rose)
Lance Reddick (Jonah Hex)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Tobias Segal (The Drop)
John Leguizamo (Spawn)
Bridget Moynahan (Battle: Los Angeles)
Thomas Sadoski (Wild)
Peter Stormare (Armageddon)
Peter Serafinowicz (The Tick)

Keanu Reeves and Common in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)Four days after the events of the first film, former assassin John Wick retrieves his stolen 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 from a chop shop owned by Abram Tarasov, brother of Viggo and uncle of Iosef. John dispatches Tarasov’s men in a violent rampage that heavily damages the Mustang, but spares Tarasov under the auspices of peace and returns home, cementing his weapons into the ground once again.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)After car shop owner Aurelio takes John’s Mustang for repairs, John is visited by Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio. It is revealed that to complete his “impossible task”, which allowed him to retire and marry Helen, John asked Santino for help. As a form of contract, Santino swore John to a “marker”, an unbreakable promise symbolized by a “blood oath” medallion. Santino presents the medallion to demand services from John, who declines, claiming that he is retired. In retaliation, Santino destroys John’s home with a ARWEN 37 nonlethal launcher modified to shoot incendiary ammunition.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)John travels to The Continental Hotel in New York City. Winston, the owner of the hotel, reminds John that if he rejects the marker, he will be violating one of the two unbreakable rules of the underworld: no blood on Continental grounds, and every marker must be honored. John reluctantly accepts his commitment and meets with Santino, who tasks him with assassinating his sister Gianna so he can claim her seat on the “High Table”, a council of high-level crime lords. Santino sends Ares, his mute personal bodyguard, to surveil John.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)In Rome, Italy, John infiltrates Gianna’s coronation party and confronts her in her dressing room. Faced with certain death, Gianna chooses to take her own life by slitting her wrists. As Gianna dies, John holds her hand and shoots her in the head. Cassian, Gianna’s bodyguard, recognizes John and, after realizing that John was sent to kill Gianna, attacks him. John escapes to the catacombs, where he is ambushed by Santino’s henchmen, who intend to “tie up loose ends” by killing him. After killing most of the henchmen, John is pursued by Cassian. Their battle is halted when they crash into the reception area of the Rome Continental, which—like the New York Continental—prohibits any “business” on its grounds. As the two share a tense drink, Cassian vows revenge for Gianna’s death.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)After John returns to New York City, Santino opens a $7 million contract for John’s death under the guise of avenging his sister, leading numerous assassins to unsuccessfully attack John. Eventually, Cassian confronts John once again in the subway. John wins the fight and badly wounds Cassian, but leaves him alive out of professional respect. Injured and desperate, John seeks help from an underground crime lord titled the Bowery King, whose subordinates treat John’s injuries and guide him to Santino’s location. John kills Santino’s bodyguards and defeats Ares in a knife fight, but Santino is able to escape to the Continental. Santino smugly makes it clear that he intends to remain indefinitely in its sanctuary. Despite Winston’s warnings, John shoots and kills Santino in the Continental lounge.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)The next day, Winston sends for John and explains that, per the High Table, the contract on John has been doubled and offered globally. As a consequence of killing Santino on Continental grounds, Winston declares John “excommunicado” from the Continental, losing all access and privileges to the Continental’s underworld resources. However, Winston delays announcing John’s excommunication and global bounty by one hour to give him a head start, and provides him with a marker for future use. Before leaving, John advises Winston to make it known that whoever tries to come after him will be killed. As John and his dog run through the park, dozens of cellphones around him ring, signaling that the global contract is about to be posted and offered.Keanu Reeves and Ian McShane in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)John Wick 2 is an exciting joy ride for action fans and hopes to see more from this. I recommend seeing it, which you would not be disappointed.

REVIEW: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Starring

Paul Rudd (Our Idiot Brother)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Michael Peña (American Hunstle)
Walton Goggins (Tomb Raider)
Bobby Cannavale (I, Tonya)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Tip “T.I.” Harris (Monster Hunter)
David Dastmalchian (Blade Runner 2049)
Hannah John-Kamen (Ready Player One)
Abby Ryder Fortson (Forever My Girl)
Randall Park (Sex Tape)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns)
Laurence Fishburne (Justice League)
Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Stan Lee (Avengers: Infinity War)
Michael Cerveris (Gotham)
Hayley Lovitt (The Gifted)

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Two years after Scott Lang was placed on house arrest due to his involvement with the Avengers in violation of the Sokovia Accords,[N 1] Hank Pym and his daughter Hope van Dyne briefly manage to open a tunnel to the quantum realm. They believe Pym’s wife Janet van Dyne might be trapped there after shrinking to sub-atomic levels in 1987. When he had previously visited the quantum realm, Lang had unknowingly become quantumly entangled with Janet, and now he receives an apparent message from her.Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)With only days left of house arrest, Lang contacts Pym about Janet despite the strained relationship they have due to Lang’s actions with the Avengers. Hope and Pym kidnap Lang, leaving a decoy so as not to arouse suspicion from FBI agent Jimmy Woo. Believing the message from Janet to be confirmation that she is alive, the trio work to build a stable tunnel so they can take a vehicle to the quantum realm and retrieve her. They arrange to buy a part needed for the tunnel from black market dealer Sonny Burch, who has realized the potential profit that can be earned from Pym’s research and double-crosses them. Donning the Wasp outfit, Hope fights off Burch and his men until she is attacked by a quantumly unstable masked woman. Lang tries to help fight off this “ghost”, but the woman escapes with Pym’s lab, which has been shrunk down to the size of a suitcase.Paul Rudd in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Pym reluctantly visits his estranged former partner Bill Foster with Hope and Lang. Foster helps them locate the lab, where the ghost captures the trio and reveals herself to be Ava Starr. Her father Elihas, another of Pym’s former partners, died along with his wife during the experiment that caused Ava’s unstable state. Foster reveals that he has been helping Ava, whom they plan to cure using Janet’s quantum energy. Believing that this will kill Janet, Pym refuses to help them and escapes with Hope, Lang, and the lab.Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Opening a stable version of the tunnel, Pym, Hope, and Lang are able to contact Janet, who gives them a precise location to find her but warns that they only have two hours before the unstable nature of the realm separates them for a century. Burch learns the trio’s location from Lang’s business partners Luis, Dave, and Kurt, and informs a contact at the FBI. Luis warns Lang, who rushes home before Woo can see him violating his house arrest. Pym and Hope are arrested by the FBI, allowing Ava to take the lab.Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Lang is soon able to help Pym and Hope escape custody, and they find the lab. Lang and Hope distract Ava while Pym enters the quantum realm to retrieve Janet, but Burch and his men also attack Lang and Hope which allows Ava to begin taking Janet’s energy. Luis, Dave, and Kurt help incapacitate Burch and his men so that Lang and Hope can stop Ava. Pym and Janet arrive safely from the quantum realm, and Janet voluntarily gifts some of her energy to Ava to temporarily stabilize her.Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Lang returns home once again, in time for a now suspicious Woo to release him at the end of his house arrest. Ava and Foster go into hiding. In a mid-credits scene, Pym, Lang, Hope, and Janet plan to harvest quantum energy to continue helping Ava. While Lang is in the quantum realm doing this, the other three disintegrate.After the events of Infinity War, knowing that I would be watching a movie that took place before the events made me skeptical about whether or not I would enjoy this movie. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a film that as a standalone would be amazing. The synergy between the actors and actresses was perfect.   It’s just a charming movie. Funny. Heartwarming. Action Packed. The perfect film to make you forget that half of everyone in the Universe disappeared.

REVIEW: KHUMBA: A ZEBRA’S TALE

Starring

Jake T. Austin (Justice League vs Teen Titans)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Richard E. Grant (Logan)
Catherine Tate (Starter for 10)
Liam Neeson (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Loretta Devine (Night School)
Laurence Fishburne (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer)
Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls)
Charlie Adler (G.I. Joe: The Movie)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Jeff Bennett (Planes)
Roger L. Jackson (Scream)
Alexander Polinsky (Lost In Oz)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)

 

Khumba (2013)In South Africa within the Great Karoo, a half-striped zebra named Khumba (Jake T. Austin) is born into an insular isolated herd of all-striped zebras where his mother is Lungisa (Anika Noni Rose) and his father is Seko (Laurence Fishburne). Rumors that the strange foal is cursed spread and before long he is blamed for the drought that sets into the Great Karoo. As he matures, Khumba is picked on and remains ostracized by most of the herd with the exception of Tombi (AnnaSophia Robb), a young female zebra friend close in age – whom Khumba has a crush on – and uncomfortable in the herd due to her tomboyish manners.Khumba (2013)When a mystical African mantis (Adrian Rhodes) appears to Khumba, he draws a map to what could be interpreted as either water or stripes between it. Khumba jeopardizes the herd and gets into trouble when he attempts to admit several gemsbok (Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and Anele Matoti) into the watering-hole enclosure when their wise elderly healer (Sindiwe Magona) needs water. He also nearly admits the ferocious half-blind African leopard Phango (Liam Neeson) who warns Mkhulu (Ben Vereen) that he and his zebra herd can’t stay in their enclosure forever. Seko berates and scolds Khumba for putting the herd at risk and for the next week, he’ll drink half of his rations. Lungisa tells the story of how a white horse got its stripes by swimming in a magic river and other horses wanted to have stripes like him, making the zebra we know today. Shortly after, Lungisa succumbs to her disease and dies. Then, Khumba leaves the confines of his home knowing that he cannot survive in the herd where it is viewed as only “half-a-zebra” even to his father.Khumba (2013)Khumba ventures beyond the fence and encounters an opportunistic African wild dog named Skalk (Steve Buscemi) who nearly leads the unsuspecting zebra to his doom when Skalk’s pack try to eat him. He is saved by a maternal wildebeest named Mama V (Loretta Devine) and a flamboyant British ostrich named Bradley (Richard E. Grant). Mama V is a self-confessed free spirit who does not want to be the average stay-at-home mom, like other wildebeest. She mothers Bradley who possesses a histrionic diva-esque attitude. The duo join Khumba on his quest in the hope that their own search for a safe waterhole is over.  On their journey, Khumba aids a migrating herd of springbok in opening a hole in a great fence to continue journeying forward. Curiously, the springbok are all so similar that they cannot even differentiate among one another.Khumba (2013)Khumba thinks his journey is over when he wanders into a new age, bohemian community living safely within the confines of Ying’s National Park. There he meets a colorful group of individuals like a family of meerkats, a pangolin, some bushbucks, a bat-eared fox, and an Australian endangered riverine rabbit (Jeff Bennett) who has survived extinction by mastering a myriad of skills ranging from impersonations to beat-boxing. After narrowly escaping capture by an opportunistic group of park rangers who tranquilizes Bradley and traps Khumba in a cage, he wanders to a nearby mountain to speak to the mighty Black Eagle under the advice of the riverine rabbit. Khumba encounters a group of fanatical rock hyraxes who worship the Black Eagle and stymie his advance. From the albino Black Eagle (Roger L. Jackson), he learns the way to the watering hole and that it lies in Phango’s cave. The Black Eagle also reveals the origins of Phango. Born half-blind and rejected by his family as a cub, Phango is obsessed with being whole and murdered his whole family. Unbeknownst to Khumba, Phango is trailing him because of an ancient myth that says consuming the half-striped zebra will make Phango the most powerful hunter that ever lived.Khumba (2013)As Khumba journeys onwards, Seko becomes withdrawn and is remorseful that he has let his herd down. He would have never been so hard on Khumba if it never happened. With Tombi’s help, he realizes that if he does not lead his herd in search of another waterhole, they will all die and sets out to follow the trail of Phango. He is prompted by evidence that Khumba may be alive. Tensions between Khumba, Mama V, and Bradley escalate as they move on. While slaking their thirst at a well on a farm, they are driven away by Nora (Catherine Tate), a loony, solitary Merino sheep, and Khumba reveals that the watering-hole is in Phango’s cave. It was revealed that Nora talked about Phango and Khumba reveals that the waterhole is at his cave. The trio has an argument and a fall-out and Khumba continues on alone. Lost and delirious in a saltpan, Khumba is rescued by the same gemsbok healer that he tried to help and wanders the remaining distance to the mountain, and Phango’s lair. Meanwhile, Phango intercepts Mama V and Bradley and discovers that Khumba is fortuitously heading straight to him and returns to his cave. During this time, it was revealed that Mama V lost her child to Phango. Concerned for Khumba’s safety, Mama V and Bradley decide to intercede and warn him. Meanwhile, determined to find the waterhole and get his stripes, Khumba ventures into the leopard’s lair.Khumba (2013)At the same time, Seko and the zebras journey to Phango’s lair where they are joined by the springbok herd, the animals from Ying’s National Park, the rock-rabbits, Skalk (who left his pack due to “creative differences”), and Nora (who was let out of the farm by Skalk). While Khumba wanders the depths of the dark cave, his herd arrives at the base of the mountain, along with many of the other animals he has encountered along his journey. Within the cave, Khumba finds the watering hole and upon reflection of his mother’s words and all of the interactions he has had, he realizes that diversity is essential for survival and that would can be one’s difference can, in fact, be one’s strength. As Phango closes in, he ends up chasing after Khumba. Khumba races to escape the leopard’s clutches as the cave starts to collapse. Part of the cliff gives way which forms a water hole outside Phango’s cave. The assembled animals watch the fight between Khumba and Phango, which results in both of them falling due to the collapsing cave. During the battle, Khumba was fatally scarred but Phango falls off the cliff where he is killed by two large rocks falling on him, while Khumba falls into the water and his body washes up on the shores.Khumba (2013)As it starts to rain, everyone begins to mourn Khumba until he suddenly awakens from his apparent death. As Khumba gets up, Tombi notices the scratch marks that Phango left on Khumba’s right side during the fight. With Phango dead and the zebra herd now having a new home, Khumba celebrates with his herd, Mama V, Bradley, Skalk, Nora, the gemsbok herd, the springbok herd, the animals from Ying’s National Park, and the rock-rabbits as they engage in different activities around the waterfall.Khumba (2013)Your kids will enjoy it. And if you appreciate animation, you’ll enjoy a fresh approach to a familiar type of animated features.

REVIEW: TMNT (2007)

 

CAST (VOICES)

Chris Evans (Caprain America)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Cruel Intentions)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Kevin Smith (Superman Doomsday)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ziyi Zhang (Hero)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Mitchell Whitfield (The Legend of Korra)
James Patrick Taylor (Batman: TBATB)
Mikey Kelley (The Superhero Squad Show)
Nolan North (Pretty Little Liars)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)

Image result for tmnt 2007Three thousand years ago, an Aztec warlord named Yaotl and his four generals discover a portal opening into a parallel universe which is said to have great power. Yaotl becomes immortal from the power, but his four generals were turned to stone. The portal releases 13 immortal monsters (such as the Bigfoot, the Centaur, Lethargo the Mapinguari, Aracknor the Jbafofi, Succubor the Popobawa, the Jersey Devil and the Sea Monster) that destroy his army as well as his enemies. In the present, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have grown apart. After defeating the Shredder, Master Splinter has sent Leonardo to Central America for training. Donatello works as an IT specialist, Michelangelo works as a birthday party entertainer called Cowabunga Carl and Raphael works at night as a vigilante nicknamed Nightwatcher. April O’Neil operates a company that locates and acquires relics for collectors with the help of her boyfriend, Casey Jones.
MV5BMTY5Mzk2ODU0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTYzOTAyNw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1438,1000_AL_
During a business trip to Central America, April runs into Leonardo and tells him that the turtles have drifted apart. She returns to New York with a statue for her client, Max Winters, the richest man in the city. Upon arrival she calls Casey and tells him that she spoke to Leo and tells him that Leo’s not coming back. However a little later Leo does return, and April and Casey deliver the statue to Winters. Winters hires Karai and the Foot Clan to search the city for the thirteen beasts before the portal opens again. Raphael encounters Casey, who reveals his knowledge of Raphael’s double identity and joins him in hunting criminals.
MV5BODM1NjIyNzg5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzc0ODA4Nw@@._V1_SX1499_CR0,0,1499,999_AL_Winters, who is actually the still-immortal Yaotl, reanimates his generals with his company’s advanced technology, but they remain made of stone. Leo returns to the sewer, meeting Splinter. Splinter forbids the Turtles from fighting until they can act as a team again. While training, the Turtles encounter Bigfoot, one of the thirteen beasts battling the Foot Clan. The Turtles engage Bigfoot, going against Leo and Splinter’s orders. When Raphael visits Casey, they encounter Vampire Succubor and witness its capture by the Foot Clan and the Stone Generals, who spot them and knock Raphael unconscious. Casey takes him back to the apartment while April calls the Turtles for help and reveals the identities of Yaotl and his Generals. After being revived, Raphael suggests they pursue Yaotl, but Leo forbids him to go until Splinter gives out the order and so Raphael goes out to investigate alone as Nightwatcher.
Image result for tmnt 2007
Leo, Donny and Mikey return to their sewer home to plan their next move, where Donny discovers the reopening of the portal will be directly over Winters’ skyscraper headquarters. Splinter informs Leo that his team is incomplete, and that he knows what he must do. After eleven monsters have been captured, General Aguila questions Yaotl’s actions. The Generals conspire betray Yaotl, wanting to remain immortal. Raphael encounters Jersey Devil, one of the remaining monsters but drives it off. Leo has been following him, wanting to put an end to the Nightwatcher’s vigilante acts, but when Raph is revealed, they battle. Raph breaks Leo’s twin swords and seems as though he is about to kill him but runs off instead. Immediately after Raph flees, the Generals ambush Leo, who is shot with a poison dart and too weak to fight them. Raph hears him scream in the distance as he’s taken hostage and doubles back in pursuit, but he fails to get there in time. He takes Leo’s broken swords back to Splinter and explains what happened.
Image result for tmnt 2007
The Generals intend to substitute Leo for the thirteenth missing beast and Raphael decides to make amends for his past mistakes by rescuing Leo. As the portal opens, Yaotl discovers his Generals’ treachery, while Splinter and the Turtles, accompanied by Casey and April, fight their way through the Foot Clan cordon and breach the tower. Yaotl reveals the truth to the heroes: he wants to be free of his curse of immortality. The Generals reveal that they wish to preserve their immortality, but also to use the portal to bring in more monsters to conquer the world.
Image result for tmnt 2007
Having refused to betray Yaotl in exchange for serving the Generals, April, Casey and the Foot Clan work together, searching for the final monster while the Turtles fight the Generals. Splinter and Yaotl fight off numerous monsters emerging from the portal. April, Casey and Karai arrive at the tower with the last monster, the Sea Monster. The Sea Monster crashes into the Generals, dragging them into the portal before it closes. Karai warns them to enjoy their victory while it lasts, claiming they will soon contend with a familiar foe, which the Turtles suspect to be the Shredder. She and the rest of the Foot Clan depart. Yaotl, now mortal, honors the Turtles and Splinter, thanking them with his dying breath for fulfilling his lifelong wish. Splinter places Yaotl’s helmet among his trophy collection, as well as Raphael’s Nightwatcher helmet and Michelangelo’s turtle costume, and the film ends with Raphael narrating that the Turtles will always be brothers.
Image result for tmnt 2007
Taking cues from “Dark Crystal” and “Hellboy” for the finale, “TMNT” morphs into a non-stop action film that will surely delight children who need this sort of mayhem added to their Disneyfied diet every now and again. The conclusion hints at the return of an old enemy for the Turtles to battle, but a sequel was dropped in favor of the 2014 film.

REVIEW: BIKER BOYZ

CAST

Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel)
Derek Luke (Self/Less)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Lisa Bonet (Road to Paloma)
Brendan Fehr (Bones)
Larenz Tate (Crash)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Rick Gonzalez (Arrow)
Meagan Good (D.E.B.S.)
Kid Rock (Joe Dirt)
Salli Richardson (I Am Legend)
Vanessa Bell Calloway (Lakeview Terrace)
Kadeem Hardison (Showtime)
Eriq La Salle (A Gifted Man)
Titus Welliver (Argo)

In the world of underground motorcycle drag racing, the undefeated racer known as Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) is the undisputed “King of Cali.” But Smoke’s dominance of the set is about to be threatened by a young motorcycle racing prodigy called Kid (Derek Luke), who is determined to win Smoke’s crown and earn the coveted title. Kid says that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn – and that his father, Slick Will, taught him plenty.The film starts with Kid, a novice rider and motorcycle club “prospect,” assisting his father, Slick Will, as they prepare Smoke’s bike for the evening’s drag races. A biker issues a challenge to Smoke, who accepts, and the race begins. In the midst of the race, the other biker suffers a hydraulics malfunction and spins out of control, sending his bike flying from under him into a row of parked bikes, one of which heads right into Slick Will, throwing him through a store window and killing him instantly. At the funeral, dozens of bikers from the “Black Knights” (to whom Slick Will was the mechanic) show up with Smoke, who drops a rose and a signed Black Knights flag into his grave.Six months later, Kid is now a familiar racer with his custom-powered bike, and he shows up at the events. His first “race” was when he interfered with Stuntman’s race with Donny. As he interrupts the race, he pulls off several stunts, notably standing on top of the motorcycle while it is still moving. He wins the race and the crowd seem to like his stunts, much to the dissatisfaction of Smoke. Kid demands to race with Smoke but Smoke says he is too inexperienced and should get experience first.Kid then goes to a diner where he meets Stuntman, and it is revealed that the two were hustling in the previous race. Fellow biker Primo tells them to create a bike club; after a bit of persuasion they agree, and Kid goes to the biker jury consisting of 8 leaders of the most powerful biker gangs, where Smoke is the chairman. He apologizes for his disrespect towards Smoke and they all agree to verify the club, calling themselves the “Biker Boyz.” Kid is set to race Motherland to prove himself to Smoke. However he has showed up late to “make an entrance” after Smoke has already beaten his long-time rival Dogg, who is continually after Smoke’s helmet. Kid is arrested when racing Motherland, and the rest of the bikers manage to escape. Anita confronts Kid, saying that if he ever races again, she will kick him out of the house.One night at a Black Knights dance, Kid is challenged to race Dogg and accepts in a fit of rage. Having overheard, Anita finds Smoke before the race, and demands that he stop the race. Angry, Smoke confronts her and demands a reason, and she tells him that Kid is actually his son, not Slick Will’s. Smoke successfully stops the race by punching out Kid and stealing his keys, but this only leads to a fight between the two, from which Kid comes off considerably worse than Smoke. Smoke then tells him that he is his son, to which Kid angrily goes home and confronts Anita, who confesses that it’s the truth. In a rage, he leaves home and moves in with his girlfriend Tina.Kid decides to turn renegade and after gaining quite a few more followers for his club, announces that “we’re gonna win more lids than any crew on the set and we’re gonna out hustle every crew off the set” and indicates that from that point on, “Biker Boyz set their own rules.” The Biker Boyz get their own hangout and begin hustling several races, but when Stuntman successfully hustles the nephew of a dangerous biker, he and Primo are ambushed at a party. Kid comes to the rescue but is quickly overpowered as the leader of the other club pulls a gun on him; Smoke and some of the other Black Knights intervene and convince the other bikers to stand down. Smoke takes Kid inside and sits down to give him a stern talking-to, but Kid shrugs it off angrily. Aggravated, Smoke finally agrees to race Kid, under the condition that whoever loses will never race again. But first Kid has to race Dogg – this time, at the track.On the race track, everybody shows up, including the Black Knights. At the race, Dogg and Kid race down, and Kid is going to win, but Dogg plays dirty and causes him to crash; although Kid survives, his bike is wrecked. Later that day, Smoke talks to Kid, and informs him that the authorities are going to close the track, due to many crashes, but he managed to rent a local farm outside of town to race on it. Kid agrees to arrive the next day. Later that night, Kid, Primo, and Stuntman are trying unsuccessfully to fix Kid’s bike until Dogg’s crew arrives to confront them, but Dogg’s mechanic admits that the damage is too severe to be fixed in time for the race. Dogg informs Kid; “There are only 2 bikes as strong and fast as Smoke’s: yours, and mine.” As a peace offering, Dogg offers to lend Kid his bike, but only if Kid promises him that he will beat Smoke tomorrow.On the day of the race, both the crew of the Black Knights and the Biker Boyz arrive. Smoke wants it to be a fair race, with no N20 system, and Kid wants Tina to start the race. Smoke and Kid are racing on a farm with open fields. With the finish line in sight, it is obvious that Smoke will win – however, filled with emotions, he decides to slow down and let his son win the race, becoming the new “King of Cali.” Kid tells Smoke to hang onto his crown for a while, and that he’ll come and get it someday. Kid rides off, repeating his sentiment that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn, and that his father taught him plenty.It’s not a good movie, but it makes an effort to be one, which counts for something. For all it’s lack of realism, it gets points for not having the absurd stunts that Torque did, like flipping a huge street bike mid air, and riding on top and through the passenger sections of moving trains. Biker Boyz isn’t good by any means, but it’s not quite that bad.

REVIEW: RED HEAT

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Red Sonja)
Jim Belushi (K-9)
Ed O’Ross (Dick Tracy)
Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond)
Gina Gershon (Killer Joe)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Richard Bright (The Godfather)
Brent Jennings (Moneyball)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Terminator 2)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Brion James (Enemy Mine)
Peter Jason (48 Hours)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)

Christine Carlson (Linda Blair), an American college student, travels to West Germany to visit her fiancé Mike (William Ostrander), who is serving in the US Army there. She tries to convince him to marry her promptly, but he chooses to delay marriage in order to re-enlist. Distraught by Mike’s decision, Christine takes a late-night walk where she witnesses a kidnapping by the East German Stasi and gets kidnapped herself as well. She is transported to the East Zone, where she is brutally interrogated by the Stasi, forced to admit to false charges of espionage, and thrown into a women’s prison with the common criminals, including the gang leader Sofia (Sylvia Kristel), who is the prisoners’ “top bitch” and has de facto control of the entire prison population. Sofia takes pleasure in brutally tormenting and harassing Christine, until the latter loses her patience and fights Sofia in a no-holds-barred brawl. Meanwhile, Mike is determined to free his beloved, and tries to get the US Army and the West German BND to help him. At first they refuse, but ultimately they reluctantly go along with his plans and help him free Christine.Not the funniest comedy or the best action movie, not even the best movie featuring either of the leads, but undemanding fun from the late 80s.

REVIEW: PASSENGERS

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel)
Andy Garcia (The Unsaid)
Nazanin Boniadi (How I Met Your Mother)
Fred Melamed (A Serious Man)
Aurora Perrineau (Jem and the Holograms)

The starship Avalon is transporting 5,000 colonists and 258 crew members, in hibernation pods, to the planet Homestead II, a journey taking 120 years. Thirty years into its journey, the ship passes through a meteor storm, which causes a malfunction. The malfunction awakens one passenger, mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), 90 years early.After a year of isolation, with no company except Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender, Jim grows despondent and contemplates suicide. One day, he notices Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) in her pod. Her video profile reveals she is a writer with a humorous personality. After struggling with the morality of manually reviving Aurora for companionship, he awakens her, claiming her pod also must have malfunctioned. Jim makes Arthur promise not to tell Aurora why she really woke up. Aurora is devastated that she will grow old and die before the ship reaches Homestead II. Her research for a way to re-enter hibernation is fruitless. Eventually, she accepts her situation and begins writing a book about her experiences. Jim and Aurora grow closer.After another year, Arthur inadvertently reveals the truth to Aurora after misinterpreting Jim’s affirmation that he and Aurora have “no secrets” between them. Aurora, angry and distraught, alternately berates, shuns, and physically attacks Jim. Jim attempts to apologize, but is fiercely rejected. The two refrain from contact for some time. Soon after, another pod failure awakens Gus (Laurence Fishburne), Chief Deck Officer. The three discover multiple failures throughout the ship’s systems. If not repaired, the ship will continue to suffer critical system failures. Gus attempts repairs with Jim and Aurora’s help, while Aurora still blames Jim for stealing her life. Gus’s body, physically damaged by his malfunctioning pod, begins to fail; the Autodoc, an automated medical diagnostics and treatment pod, shows he has only hours to live. Before dying, Gus gives Jim and Aurora his ID badge to access secure areas and repair the ship.Jim and Aurora discover a series of holes through the ship’s hull from the meteor collision two years earlier. The computer module administering the fusion reactor that powers the ship has been damaged, causing the ship’s malfunctions. Jim and Aurora replace the damaged module. The computer attempts to vent the reactor but fails. Jim realizes that the reactor must be vented by opening the vent hatch from the ship’s exterior. Aurora assists while admitting she is terrified of losing Jim and being left alone. Aurora, from inside the ship, and Jim, outside, successfully vent the reactor. However, Jim’s tether snaps, and his damaged spacesuit loses oxygen. Aurora retrieves and resuscitates Jim in the Autodoc. Jim later learns that the Autodoc can function as a makeshift hibernation pod for Aurora. With only one Autodoc, she realizes she would never see Jim again. She forgives Jim and sympathizes with his potentially lonely situation, and decides to remain awake with him to provide him company.Eighty-eight years later, the ship’s crew awaken shortly before arrival on Homestead II. They discover a small house amid lush vegetation on the ship’s grand concourse area. Aurora’s book reveals that she chose to stay awake with Jim and finish writing her story.If you like science fiction, this has it. If you like romance, this has it. If you like excellent special effects, this has it. If you like a good story, yes, this movie has that too.  This isn’t a Star-Trek style high-octane Sci-Fi action movie. It’s a solid blend of drama, romance, action, intrigue, stunning visuals, occasional suspense, human psychology, and for me was a winning combination.