REVIEW: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

CAST

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
Diego luna (Milk)
Alan Tudyk (Powerless)
Donnie Yen (Highlander: Endgame)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Forest Whitaker (Arrival)
Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue)
Wen Jiang (Devils on The Doorstep)
Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises)
Guy Henry (V For Vendetta)
Riz Ahmed (Four Lions)
Genevieve O’Reilly (The Legend of Tarzan)
Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Ingvild Deila (This Is Not Happening)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)

Research scientist Galen Erso and his family are in hiding on the planet Lah’mu. Imperial weapons developer Orson Krennic arrives to press him into completing the Death Star, a space station-based superweapon capable of destroying planets. Galen’s wife Lyra is killed in the confrontation while their daughter Jyn escapes and is taken to safety by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera.
Fifteen years later, cargo pilot Bodhi Rook defects from the Empire, smuggling a holographic message from Galen to Gerrera on the desert moon Jedha. Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor frees Jyn from an Imperial labor camp at Wobani before bringing her to the Rebel leader Mon Mothma, who convinces her to find and rescue Galen so the Alliance can learn more about the Death Star. Cassian is covertly ordered by General Draven, an Alliance military officer, to kill Galen rather than extract him.
Jyn, Cassian, and reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO travel to Jedha, where the Empire is removing kyber crystals from the holy city to power the Death Star while Gerrera and his partisans are engaged in an armed insurgency against them. With the aid of blind spiritual warrior Chirrut Îmwe and his mercenary friend Baze Malbus, Jyn makes contact with Gerrera, who has been holding Rook captive. Gerrera shows her the message, in which Galen reveals he has secretly built a vulnerability into the Death Star and directs them to retrieve the schematics from a high-security Imperial data bank on the planet Scarif.
On the Death Star, Krennic orders a low-powered shot from the superlaser to destroy Jedha’s capital. Jyn and her group take Rook and flee the planet, but Gerrera remains to die with the city. Grand Moff Tarkin congratulates Krennic before using Rook’s defection and security leak as a pretext to take control of the project.
Rook leads the group to Galen’s Imperial research facility on the planet Eadu, where Cassian chooses not to kill Galen. When Krennic orders Galen’s team killed for causing the security leak, Galen confesses that he is responsible. The research team is executed anyway. Jyn makes her presence known moments before Rebel bombers attack the facility. Galen is wounded and dies in his daughter’s arms, before she escapes with her group on board a stolen Imperial cargo shuttle. Krennic is summoned by Darth Vader, to answer for the attack on Eadu. Krennic seeks his support for an audience with the Emperor, Vader ignores it and orders him instead to ensure no further leaks about the Death Star occur.
Jyn proposes a plan to steal the Death Star schematics using the Rebel fleet but fails to get approval from the Alliance Council, who feel victory against the Empire is now impossible. Frustrated at their inaction, Jyn’s group is supported by a small squad of Rebel volunteers intent on raiding the databank themselves. Arriving at Scarif via the stolen Imperial ship, which Rook dubs “Rogue One”, a disguised Jyn and Cassian enter the base with K-2SO while the other Rebels attack the resident Imperial garrison as a distraction. The Rebel fleet learns about the raid from intercepted Imperial communications and deploy in support. K-2SO sacrifices himself so Jyn and Cassian can retrieve the data. Îmwe is killed after activating the master switch to allow communication with the Rebel fleet. Rook is killed by a grenade after informing the Rebel fleet that it must deactivate the shield surrounding the planet to allow the transmission of the schematics. Malbus dies in battle shortly after. Jyn and Cassian seize the schematics, but they are ambushed by Krennic, who shoots Cassian.
Krennic corners Jyn, declaring the Empire’s victory, but Cassian, who has survived, shoots and wounds Krennic. Jyn transmits the schematics to the Rebel command ship. The Death Star enters orbit above Scarif, where Tarkin uses another low-power shot from the superlaser to destroy the Empire’s base. Krennic is killed instantly, while Jyn and Cassian embrace on a beach before dying in the blastwave. The Rebel fleet prepares to jump to hyperspace but are intercepted by Vader’s flagship. Vader invades the command ship and kills many rebels in his pursuit of the schematics, but a small starship escapes with them on board. Aboard the fleeing ship, Princess Leia declares that the schematics will provide hope for the Rebellion.I would find it hard to believe anyone would not be impressed by this movie, if you are a serious Star Wars fan. Perhaps if you don’t take Star Wars seriously but prefer films that are all action and special effects you might find the slow build hard to take. But for me, and a large number of other Star Wars fans this is the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back. It may be a dark time for the Rebellion, but its a great time to be a fan of Star Wars.

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REVIEW: DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

 

CAST

Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity)
Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes)
Benedict Wong (The Martian)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Men In Black 3)
Benjamin Bratt (Traffic)
Scott Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Tilda Swinton (Burn After Reading)
Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Stan Lee (Chuck)
Amy Landecker (Dan In Real Life)

In Kathmandu, Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius and his zealots enter the secret compound Kamar-Taj and behead its librarian. From the ancient and mystical texts, they steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for an unknown time and taught all at Kamar-Taj, including Kaecilius, in the ways of the mystic arts. The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius escapes with the pages and some of his followers.In New York City, Stephen Strange, an acclaimed but arrogant neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Fellow surgeon and former lover Christine Palmer tries to help him move on, but Strange, firmly believing he can regain use of his hands, instead uses all his resources pursuing experimental surgeries in vain. After learning of Jonathan Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously was able to walk again, Strange seeks him out, and is directed to Kamar-Taj. There, Strange is taken in by another sorcerer under the Ancient One, Mordo. The Ancient One shows Strange her power, revealing the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension. Amazed, Strange begs her to teach him, and she eventually agrees despite his arrogance, which reminds her of Kaecilius.Strange begins his tutelage under the Ancient One and Mordo, and learns from the ancient books in the library, now presided over by the master Wong. Strange learns that Earth is protected from other dimensions by a spell formed from three buildings called Sanctums, found in New York City, London, and Hong Kong. The task of the sorcerers is to protect the Sanctums, though Pangborn chose to forgo this responsibility in favor of channelling mystical energy into walking again. Strange advances quickly over several months, even secretly reading from the text Kaecilius stole from and learning to bend time with the mystical Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong warn Strange against breaking the laws of nature, comparing his arrogant yearning for power to that of Kaecilius, who believes, after the deaths of his loved ones, that everyone should have eternal life.Kaecilius and his followers use the stolen pages to begin summoning the powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, where time does not exist and all can live forever. This destroys the London Sanctum, and sends Strange from Kamar-Taj to the New York Sanctum. The zealots then attack there, where Strange holds them off with the mystical Cloak of Levitation until Mordo and the Ancient One arrive. Strange and Mordo become disillusioned with the Ancient One after Kaecilius reveals that her long life has come from her own use of Dormammu’s power. Kaecilius mortally wounds the Ancient One, and escapes to Hong Kong. The Ancient One tells Strange that he, too, will have to break the rules, to balance Mordo’s steadfast nature. She then dies, despite the best efforts of Strange and a bewildered Palmer. Strange and Mordo arrive in Hong Kong to find Wong dead and the Sanctum destroyed, with the Dark Dimension already engulfing Earth. Strange uses the Eye to turn back time and save Wong, before creating an infinite time loop inside the Dark Dimension that traps himself and Dormammu in the same moment forever. After killing Strange many times to no avail, Dormammu reluctantly agrees to leave Earth if Strange undoes the time loop, taking Kaecilius and the zealots with him.Disgusted by Strange and the Ancient One’s disregard for the consequences of defying nature, Mordo departs. Strange returns the Eye, which Wong calls an Infinity Stone, to Kamar-Taj, and then takes up residence in the New York Sanctum to continue his studies. In a mid-credits scene, Strange decides to help Thor, who has brought his brother Loki to Earth to search for their father Odin. In a post-credits scene, Mordo confronts Pangborn and takes the energy he uses to walk, stating that Earth has “too many sorcerers”.The Marvel Cinematic Universe shines again with manipulative sorcery and cognitive storytelling as this may be the strangest addition but still delivers some kick-ass entertainment.

 

REVIEW: THE THREE MUSKETEERS (2011)

CAST

Matthew Macfadyen (Robin Hood)
Logan Lerman (The Number 23)
Ray Stevenson (Thor)
Milla Jonovich (Resident Evil)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Gabriellla Wilde (Carrie 2013)
James Corden (Into The Woods)
Freddie Fox (St Trinians 2)
Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises)
Til Schweiger (This Means War)
Carsten Norgaard (The Man In The High Castle)
Dexter Fletcher (Kick-Ass)

In Venice at the beginning of the 17th century, the Three Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans), with the help of Athos’ longtime lover, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), steal airship blueprints made by Leonardo da Vinci. However, they are betrayed by Milady, who gives the blueprints to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). Upon returning to France, the Musketeers are forced to disband by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) for their failure, and they end up on the streets of Paris.

A year later, a young man named d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) leaves his village in Gascony for Paris in hopes of becoming a Musketeer as his father was, only to learn that they no longer exist. At a rural bar, d’Artagnan accuses Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the leader of Richelieu’s guard, of offending his horse, and challenges him to a duel. Rochefort shoots him while he is distracted but he is saved by Milady de Winter. Arriving in Paris, d’Artagnan by coincidence separately encounters Athos, Porthos and Aramis accidentally offending all three, then scheduling duels with each at 12:00, 1:00 and 2:00 pm respectively.

Athos brings Porthos and Aramis to the duel as his seconds. d’Artagnan realises they are the Musketeers he is seeking. He is prepared to continue with the duel but Richelieu’s guards break it up. The three are inspired by d’Artagnan and fight together and defeat the soldiers, but later are summoned before the young King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) and his wife, Queen Anne (Juno Temple). Richelieu asks the king to execute the four, but the queen is impressed by their bravery and the king congratulates them and invites them to an event, which to Athos’ anger, turns out to be Buckingham’s arrival (who comes in an airship built following da Vinci’s blueprints).

Later, Richelieu orders Milady, who is actually working for him, to plant false love letters among Queen Anne’s possessions, steal Queen Anne’s diamond necklace, and take it to the Tower of London to frame Queen Anne as having an affair with the Duke of Buckingham. The affair would force King Louis to execute Queen Anne and declare war on England. At this point, the people would demand a more experienced leader: Richelieu himself. But Milady demands that Richelieu declare in writing that she is working on behalf of France, to protect herself in case of palace intrigue.

The false letters (saying that the necklace has been given to Buckingham) are found by a maid and are given to King Louis, who is advised by Richelieu to set up a ball at which Queen Anne would be forced to wear the necklace. If she doesn’t, then her affair is real, and there will be war against England. Queen Anne’s lady-in-waiting Constance Bonacieux (Gabriella Wilde) discovers Richelieu’s plan and asks the Musketeers to stop him. The Musketeers plan to sail to England and retrieve the jewels before the ball. However, at the dock, Rochefort sets up a blockade to prevent anybody from boarding the ships. Constance takes d’Artagnan’s hat, cape and horse to divert the guards standing in front of the boat to allow the Musketeers to board undetected.

In London, Milady warns Buckingham that the Musketeers have arrived to take revenge on him. Milady instructs Buckingham of all their tendencies in battle, but Athos predicts this and the Musketeers resolve to do just the opposite. Buckingham captures d’Artagnan, but he was a decoy to let the Musketeers steal the airship. The Musketeers rescue d’Artagnan, demolishing the top floor of the Tower in the process. Athos was sure that Milady would have fled, taking the necklace with her as insurance, so he planted the Musketeers’ manservant Planchet (James Corden) as her carriage driver to take her to an isolated spot where the airship could pick up the carriage. As retribution for betraying them, Athos prepares to execute Milady. However, Milady leaps off the airship before Athos can shoot, apparently dying on her own terms.

The Musketeers fly back to Paris with the necklace, but they are attacked by Rochefort in another airship, as Milady had given Richelieu copies of da Vinci’s blueprints. Rochefort then reveals that he has Constance, and threatens to kill her if they don’t hand over the necklace. d’Artagnan agrees to exchange the necklace for Constance, with whom he is infatuated, but Rochefort knocks him out and captures him as soon as the necklace is in his possession. Rochefort then proceeds to attack the Musketeers’ ship, at first gaining the upper hand due to the superior size and weaponry of his airship. However, the Musketeers lure Rochefort into a storm cloud, burst the balloon of the airship and make the ship crash onto the Notre Dame Cathedral. On the roof, d’Artagnan duels and stabs Rochefort, who falls to his death. Meanwhile, Constance returns the necklace to Queen Anne.

The Musketeers arrive at the ball in Buckingham’s damaged airship. However, for the sake of King Louis and his people, they claim that Richelieu had it built for the king, but an attempt was made by Rochefort to sabotage it, also showing King Louis the authorization Richelieu had given Milady, pretending that it was given to them. The King then congratulates the Musketeers, and thanks d’Artagnan, who he sees as his best friend, for everything. Richelieu, impressed by how the Musketeers handled the situation, offers them places in his employ, but they refuse. Richelieu threatens them by saying they will one day regret their choices, but they laugh him off. As Louis and Anne dance, d’Artagnan and Constance kiss. The Musketeers then leave, promising that they will protect France as Musketeers when they are needed.

At sea, Milady (who survived her fall) is rescued by Buckingham, who reveals that he knows that she was working for Richelieu and says that he is going to fight against France. The camera backs away and shows Buckingham advancing towards France’s shore with a massive fleet of battleships and airships.

This is a good fun romp, the latest version of the classic tale is not to be taken seriously in any way whatsoever. Done very tongue in cheek with good action scenes and decent performances, this is a good fun film the whole family can enjoy though it has to be taken with a huge pinch of salt as 17th century airshps do battle. Yes, you read that right, airships. The cast are all good, all the classic characters are there, D’artagnan, Porthos, Aramis, Athos, Milady, Rocehfort & the Cardinal. The film is daft, yes and takes liberties with the plot of the novel but as i said it’s all done very tongue in cheek with everybody involved hamming it up like there’s no tomorrow. And the end screams sequel.

REVIEW: CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010)

 

CAST

Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First CLass)
Gemma Arterton (The Voices)
Alexa Davalos (Angel)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Izabella Miko (The Cape)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Polly Walker (Caprica)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Rory McCann (Hot Fuzz)
Alexander Siddig (Kingdom of Heaven)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)

In ancient times after defeating their predecessors, the Titans, the gods divided the Universe among themselves. Zeus took the skies, Poseidon took the seas, and Hades was left with the Underworld upon being tricked by Zeus. The gods created the mortals, whose faith and prayers fueled the gods’ immortality. As time passed, however, mortals began to question and soon resist their creators, angering the Olympians. A fisherman named Spyros finds a coffin adrift in the sea, discovering a baby, Perseus and his mother Danaë. Spyros decided to raise Perseus.

As Perseus and his family fish from a boat, they watch soldiers from the city of Argos destroy a statue of Zeus. Infuriated at this desecration, the Gods unleash the Furies who attack the soldiers and destroy the fishing vessel. Only Perseus survives and is found by a group of the soldiers. Perseus is brought before King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia, who are celebrating their campaign against the gods. Queen Cassiopeia brashly compares her daughter Andromeda to the gods and boasts that she is more beautiful than Aphrodite. The revelry is cut short by the arrival of Hades, who has been given leave by Zeus to punish the mortals for their defiance. Hades threatens to unleash his monster the Kraken against Argos, unless Andromeda is offered as a sacrifice. Before leaving, he reveals that Perseus is a demigod and the son of Zeus.

Perseus meets Io, who confirms his origin. Io also reveals that she has watched over Perseus his entire life. She has always protected him for he is the only one who can defeat the gods. Perseus leads the King’s Guard to the Stygian Witches, looking for a way to kill the Kraken. After being betrayed by the power-hungry Hades, Zeus gives Perseus a sword forged on Mount Olympus and a winged horse named Pegasus. Perseus refuses both, but the captain of the King’s guard named Draco keeps the sword for when Perseus needs it. Soon after, they are attacked by Calibos, an agent of Hades. Draco severs the beast’s hand and Calibos flees. The band give chase but are attacked by giant scorpions called Scorpioxs that spring from spilled drops of Calibos’s blood. They are saved by a band of Djinn, non-human desert sorcerers led by Sheik Suleiman where the remaining Scorpioxs are tamed by the Djinn. The Djinn also wish for the gods’ defeat and lend their aid to Perseus and his band.

The group arrives at the lair of the Stygian Witches and learn that to kill the Kraken, they must obtain and use the head of Medusa, a gorgon who resides in a temple in the Underworld. Any living creature that looks on Medusa’s eyes turns into stone. Perseus, Io, Suleiman, Draco, and his remaining men, Solon, Eusebios, and Ixas, cross into the Underworld. The men enter Medusa’s temple lair while Io, being a woman and forbidden from entering, remains outside. Medusa kills all three of Draco’s men. Suleiman and Draco both wound the gorgon, sacrificing themselves in the process. Perseus finally beheads her by using his reflective shield to see her with his back turned. As he leaves the temple with Medusa’s head, Calibos appears behind Io and fatally stabs her. Perseus and Calibos fight where upon finally accepting that he is a son of Zeus, Perseus picks up the Olympian sword and stabs Calibos through the chest, who with his last breath urges Perseus not to become a God.

Before dying, Io urges a reluctant Perseus to leave her and save Andromeda and Argos. Then she dissolves into a golden ethereal vapor. Pegasus appears and Perseus mounts the flying horse and hastens back to Argos as the Kraken is released. The people of Argos seize and bind Andromeda to offer her to the Kraken. Meanwhile, as people die in the Kraken’s wake, the balance of power on Olympus shifts. Hades reveals he does not require the faith or worship of mortals (as Zeus does), as he has learned to survive on their fear. Hades then effortlessly subdues the weakened Zeus. Riding the black Pegasus, Perseus arrives at Argos and exposes Medusa’s head to the Kraken, which makes eye contact just before it is able to reach Andromeda. The Kraken, petrified, slowly turns to stone and shatters. Prokopion, the insane leader of the Cult of Hades, tries to kill Perseus, but Kepheus stops him and is stabbed, before both are killed when the kraken’s petrified hand falls on them. Hades appears, intending to finally kill Perseus. Perseus, calling upon Zeus, throws his sword at Hades. A lightning bolt engulfs the sword and the blast sends Hades back to the Underworld.

Perseus rescues Andromeda, who is now the rightful Queen of Argos. Andromeda asks Perseus to stay by her side as King, but he declines. Perseus also refuses another offer of godhood from Zeus, who then proclaims that if Perseus is to live as a human he should not be alone and revives Io.

The moviet keeps moving without feeling too chopped up and thankfully there’s a minimum of shakeycam or MTV overediting to accompany the overdose of testosterone. Big on spectacle and short on charm, it’s a very different animal to Harryhausen’s film (there’s even an injoke about that version’s irritating mechanical owl), but as long as you’re expecting that it’s one of the better action adventures of recent years.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: HANNIBAL – Œuf

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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: KING ARTHUR

CAST
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Keira Knightley (Domino)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Mads Mikkelsen (Clash of The Titans)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones)
Stellan Skarsgard (Thor)
Ken Stott (The Hobbit)
 Arthur (Clive Owen) is portrayed as a Roman cavalry officer, also known as Artorius Castus, the son of a Roman father and a Celtic mother, who commands a unit of Sarmatian auxiliary cavalry in Britain at the close of the Roman occupation in 467 A.D. Arthur is loyal to Rome and a devout Catholic, but follows the teachings of Pelagianism, which many consider heretical. He and his men guard Hadrian’s Wall against the Woads, a group of native Britons who are rebels against Roman rule, led by the mysterious Merlin (Stephen Dillane).
As the film begins, Arthur and his remaining knights Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), Bors (Ray Winstone), Tristan (Mads Mikkelsen), Gawain (Joel Edgerton), Galahad (Hugh Dancy) and Dagonet (Ray Stevenson) expect to be discharged from their service to the Empire after faithfully fulfilling a fifteen-year commitment.
However, on the night when they are to receive their freedom, Bishop Germanus (Ivano Marescotti) sends them on a final and possibly suicidal mission to rescue an important Roman family. Marius Honorius (Ken Stott) faces impending capture by the invading Saxons, led by their king Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgård) and his son Cynric (Til Schweiger). According to Germanus, Marius’ son Alecto is the Pope’s favourite godson and may be “destined to be Pope one day”.
At the remote estate, Arthur discovers that Marius has immured pagans, to include a Woad named Guinevere (Keira Knightley) and a small boy named Lucan. Arthur frees them and decides to take everyone, along with Marius’ family, back to Hadrian’s Wall.
One night, Guinevere takes Arthur to meet with Merlin, the leader of the Woads and her father. At first, Arthur thinks Guinevere has betrayed him, but Merlin has come in peace. It is revealed in a flashback that Arthur’s mother had died in a Woad attack when he was a boy. Arthur’s famous sword, Excalibur, had belonged to his father and marked his burial mound. Arthur had pulled it from the mound in an effort to rescue his mother from a burning building. Merlin suggests an alliance between the Woads and the Sarmatian knights against the invading Saxons.
Marius then betrays the group and takes Lucan hostage and attempts to kill Dagonet but is shot by Guinevere with an arrow. While moving on to the south, Alecto informs Arthur that Germanus executed Pelagius after being insulted by his teachings of equality. Tristan returns from scouting the area and tells Arthur that a Saxon army is close behind them. The knights stay behind to hold up the Saxons and allow the refugees to escape. They soon encounter the Saxons at an ice-covered lake bordered on each side by steep cliffs. Greatly outnumbered, Arthur, Guinevere and the knights attempt to repel them with arrows. The battle is won when Dagonet runs to the middle of the ice and breaks it with an axe at the cost of his life. Many Saxons are also killed, and the rest must return the way they came.
Arthur and his men form an alliance with the Woads to fight the Saxons. In the climactic “Battle of Badon Hill” set just south of Hadrian’s Wall, the Woads catapult flaming missiles at the Saxon army. When the hosts meet, Guinevere engages in combat with Cynric. Cerdic fights and kills Tristan before facing off with Arthur. Meanwhile, Cynric disarms Guinevere and is engaged by Lancelot. Cynric shoots Lancelot with a Saxon crossbow. Lancelot then throws his sword into Cynric and kills him. Lancelot dies with Guinevere at his side. Arthur kills Cerdic and the Saxons are defeated.
While he realises that his ideal Rome exists only in his dreams, Arthur despairs over the deaths of his men. The film ends with the marriage of Arthur and Guinevere, after which Merlin proclaims him to be their king. United by their defeat of the Saxons and the retreat of the Romans, Arthur promises to lead the Britons against future invaders. Three horses that had belonged to Tristan, Dagonet and Lancelot run free across the landscape as the closing narrative describes how fallen knights live on in tales passed from generation to generation.
A great movie with an interesting twist on the legend of King Arthur.

REVIEW: HANNIBAL – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Hugh Dancy (King Arthur)
Mads Mikkelsen (Clash of The Titans)
Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls)
Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix)
Hettienne Park (Puppy Love)
Gillian Anderson (The X-Files)
Scott Thompson (The Simpsons)
Aaron Abrams (Take The Waltz)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Raúl Esparza (Pushing Daisies)
Kacey Rohl (Caprica)
Lara Jean Chorostecki (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Richard Armitage (The Hobbit)
Eddie Izzard (Powers)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
Cynthia Nixon (Igby Goes Down)
Fortunato Cerlino (Gomorrah)
Tao Okamoto (Batman V Superman)
Glenn Fleshler (All Good Things)
Nina Arianda (Tower Heist)
Rutina Wesley (True Blood)
Vladimir Jon Cubrt (Hollywoodland)
Richard Chevolleau (Earth: Final Conflict)
Chelan Simmons (Wonderfalls)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie 2013)
Molly Shannon (Scary Movie 4)
Ellen Greene (Heroes)
Dan Fogler (Fanboys)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Ellen Muth (Dead Like Me)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Shawn Doyle (Big Love)
Barry Flatman (Odyssey 5)
Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction)
Jeremy Davies (Constantine)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Julian Richings (Cube)
Joe Anderson (The Crazies)
Mia Maestro (Alias)


There was a lot of wariness of Hannibal initially. While the original source material were Thomas Harris’ books, the movies loomed so huge in the public’s mind. And going the prequel route? Not only has that not turned out so well in Hollywood in general, it’s already given us a disappointing prequel in this very franchise with Hannibal Rising.

But lo and behold, not only was Hannibal good, it was great. There was always a major reason for optimism, amongst all the naysayers, and that was Bryan Fuller. An amazingly imaginative and distinct voice in TV, Fuller’s previous shows like Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies had proven he was someone whose work was always worth a look. And it became clear that he had a true passion for the story he was telling with Hannibal.

It’s now a very daunting task for any actor to play Hannibal Lecter, thanks to how beloved and memorable Anthony Hopkins was in the role. But Mads Mikkelsen proved to be an excellent Lecter, giving the character an ever-cool, ever observational demeanor that conveyed both his intelligence and his danger while not behaving in such an arch manner that he would come off as too obvious a villain to those he interacted with.

As the true protagonist of the series, Hugh Dancy is also perfect as Will Graham, who goes far beyond the usual “eccentric but skilled” archetype of crime series heroes to portray someone with some genuinely traumatic issues – which only escalated through the season. Dancy managed the difficult task of portraying Will’s amazing skill set and his innate “goodness” while also showing that this guy has severe problems that would make him genuinely seem like he could be someone to keep an eye out for. If Hannibal was going to convince the world at large and possibly even Will himself that he was a killer, we had to see how that could sell, and Dancy’s performance did that perfectly.

When Hannibal was first announced, it sounded like the show would be about Hannibal and Will consulting together on killer-of-the-week cases, with Hannibal managing to keep the truth about who he was from Will for several seasons. All of which is to say, it sounded like it could be tedious. But Fuller quickly proved he wasn’t playing into our assumptions at all. Yes, Will’s job had him working several different cases this season, but it was hardly a bunch of one-off, unimportant stories. In fact, several of these cases would have repercussions in later episodes, or even the killers themselves (such as Gideon and Georgia) returning. The events in Hannibal were never self-contained. Will killing Hobbs in the premiere was a huge event that would haunt and shape Will through the entire season. The totem pole on the beach may have had no connection to the main story, but it would continue to resonate with Will as he began to hallucinate. The entire season felt like a well-constructed story where the majority of the cases Will worked contributed to the tapestry being completed.

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While Will and Hannibal’s relationship is the one at the core of this series, Jack Crawford – an integral character in Harris’ books – was hardly shortchanged. Laurence Fishburne, looking far more engaged than during his short time on CSI, was great as Crawford who had his own interplay with Hannibal occurring all season, while dealing with some huge issues at home. The story of Jack’s ill-fated attempt to use FBI trainee Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) to help find the Chesapeake Ripper also was used to truly shape who Jack was and what was motivating him, rather than a bit of backstory thrown in and then barely touched upon.

Overall though, the supporting characters were strong. Caroline Dhavernas had a tricky role she pulled off well as a protégé to Hannibal and a colleague of Will’s whose close ties to both men made it all the more difficult to suspect either was up to no good. Tabloid reporter Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) was equal parts vexing and amusing as she weaved in and out of the story – eventually seeing some truly depraved events occur while in the company of Dr. Gideon (Eddie Izzard). Despite only appearing a couple of times, Gina Torres brought a lot of power to Bella Crawford’s plight and rift with her husband. And it was a delight to see Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal’s own psychiatrist, as we tried to figure out exactly what she and Hannibal knew about one another.

Best of all was Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), the daughter of serial killer Garett Jacob Hobbs. On a lesser procedural crime series Abigail would have been a one and done character; the damsel in distress Will saved. But here, the psychological damage her father had put her through long before his death, not to mention the horrific day he died (and killed her mother) cast a big shadow on the entire season. Abigail’s own secrets and her growing bond with both Hannibal and Will made for a compelling through line, as so many possibilities lay before her with two surrogate fathers who could help shape her into someone who stops murders or causes them.

Regardless though, Hannibal has plenty to fuel its stories going forward. As I noted above, Fuller didn’t play into audience expectations at all – who would have guessed that Will would have figured out the truth about Hannibal by the end of the first season? But by having it occur in the manner it did, with Will disgraced, imprisoned and looking guilty of multiple murders, while Hannibal walks free, the entire dynamic has been upended in a very exciting way.

We went into this year with a huge change-up, as Will Graham was locked up, accused of the crimes he now realized Hannibal Lecter had committed. Bryan Fuller took this subversion of the usual Thomas Harris dynamic and used it to its fullest extent, as the early episodes involved Will as the genius, (perceived) killer who was still a valuable resource to the FBI.

At the same time, Fuller realized this was a storyline that shouldn’t go too far, and wisely constructed Season 2 in two distinct segments, wrapping up the “Will as prisoner” section in the first six episodes. These episodes found Will at odds with Jack and Alana while forging a closer, ill-fated bond with Beverly. There was also some excellent material for Dr. Chilton, whose own narcissism and instinct for self-preservation mixed with his intelligence and growing awareness of just what a threat Hannibal was.

It all culminated in the absolutely fantastic “Yakimono”, which was basically the first of two amazing finales Hannibal would deliver within one season. The excitement of Miriam (Anna Chlumsky) turning up alive turned out to simply be the next step in Hannibal’s twisted traps, as Miriam was a ticking time bomb of sorts – set to go off at just the right time, aimed at a perfectly-placed target in Chilton.

Yes, Hannibal’s rise to supervillain status was cemented in Season 2, and it was glorious and terrifying to behold. Hannibal had always operated on a level that was a bit bigger than life and that got pushed even further this year, as we learned just how intricate, complex and masterful Lecter’s plans were and saw how amazing his abilities were, as he manipulated people in ways both subtle and extreme. In the wrong hands, it could have all fallen apart, but the wonderful writing and directing, combined with Mads Mikkelsen’s confidant performance – always exuding intelligence – made it work.

Meanwhile, we got to see Will Graham in a much better place, at least as far as his own comprehension of what was occurring and willingness to make huge moves of his own. After seeing Will mentally spiraling throughout Season 1, it was very gratifying to see him now so much more in control and, even as Will was put through one terrible situation after another. Hugh Dancy again brought the right mixture of vulnerability and inner strength to Will, and he and Mikkelsen played beautifully off one another.

Opening the season with the flash forward to Jack and Hannibal’s brutal, nasty fight, with a potentially fatal turn of events for Jack, was an audacious and spectacular move. It put a ticking time clock on the entire season and let us knows, even in the quietest moments, that something very bad was going to occur soon.Image result for hannibal mizumonoIn the meantime, we met siblings Margot and Mason Verger, who had their own mini-arc over several episodes. At first, I wasn’t sure if Michael Pitt’s rather big, mannered performance fit in on a show that mixes grisly and shocking imagery with quiet, subtle acting. But I was soon won over, as we got to know Mason more and saw just what a monster he was – and how his “Look at me!”, repellant behavior purposely stood in contrast to Hannibal’s mask of kindness and gentleness towards those around him. Hannibal’s instant dislike of Mason was one of several times Fuller was able to inject humor into the macabre situations this season.

One of the only problematic aspects of the season as it progressed was Alana and her seemingly unwavering belief in Hannibal’s innocence and Will’s guilt. In the early episodes, it was actually very interesting to see her sympathetic portrayal as someone who was horrified to think her friend was a killer, but wanted to help him, sure he’d been pushed into his actions by Jack not heeding the consequences in Season 1. But the more the likes of Beverly and Jack began to believe Will and start suspecting Hannibal, the more frustrating it became that Alana just didn’t see it. Thankfully, Alana began to come around on her own, not due to a shocking moment in the season finale, and was firmly on Will’s side again by the time all hell broke loose at Casa Lecter in the finale…

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…And what a finale it was. As exciting as the Jack/Hannibal flash-forward was, there was some concern that it might deflate the actual finale a bit. After all, we’d clearly seen the biggest thing that would happen in the final moments of the season, right? What else could be bigger than that? The answer was dark as hell but also incredibly exciting, as it turned out Jack would only be the first character to have a possibly fatal encounter with Hannibal inside his home. Within just a few minutes, Jack, Alana and Will all lay bleeding and dying, while Hannibal Lecter walked free. Oh, and Abigail was revealed to be alive… and then had her throat sliced by Hannibal! And Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) was revealed as being Hannibal’s companion (and accomplice) at the very end!

Season 3 of Hannibal began on the heels of an incredibly audacious, jaw-dropping Season 2 finale, that left nearly every major character except Hannibal himself possibly dead, as the bad doctor fled the country accompanied by Bedelia. You couldn’t have a bigger “What’s going to happen next?!” scenario, which no doubt led to frustrations when the season began and answers were not exactly being quickly delivered. More so, while Hannibal has always been an unusual, often esoteric, dream-like series, all of those aspects were dialed up to the Nth degree in the first three episodes of the season.

It was still highly evocative, compelling stuff, delving into the frame of mind of characters like Hannibal, Bedelia and Will Graham and their new lives in Italy, more order includes – while slowly revealing who’d survived that night in the house. I have to say, the answer to that question being “Everyone except Abigail” did diminish what had happened to a certain extent, but still, these episodes were showing there was plenty of consequence and fallout from that oh-so bloody night in Hannibal’s house, beyond the injuries sustained.

The pace picked up considerably around episode four and then went into overdrive, as Jack had an amazing rematch with Hannibal and Mason Verger’s plan to get revenge kicked into gear. A high bar was set by Michael Pitt as Mason in Season 2, but Joe Anderson adeptly stepped into his shoes (and mutilated face) in Season 3, bringing his own take on Mason’s witty, macabre insanity.Image result for hannibal primaveraThe standout “Digestivo”, which wrapped up the Mason Verger story once and for all in a thrilling, intense hour of television. A lot happened here, to the point that this felt like a season finale – which was not coincidental, given the show was about to leap ahead three years and into an entirely different story.

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Given this ended up being the final season of Hannibal I am incredibly grateful Bryan Fuller decided to move up his plan to make Red Dragon the Season 4 storyline and put it into the second half of Season 3 instead. Not only did it mean we did get the show’s version of the original Hannibal novel depicted, but it also essentially meant we got two seasons in one this year. And wow, was this version of Red Dragon awesome. Yes, it streamlined some aspects – we didn’t get any of the Dolarhyde flashbacks (one tiny glimpse aside) and Will’s role was altered, to some extent. But this was creepy, intense storytelling through and through, with Richard Armitage bringing just the right mix of scary and semi-sympathetic as Francis Dolarhyde, a murderous, delusional monster who was at war with the potentially loving man somewhere deep inside him – a war amplified as Dolarhyde fell for the blind Reba (a strong Rutina Wesley), even as “the Dragon” was coming to life within him, compelling him to kill.

This storyline also allowed Fuller to bring characters like Jimmy, Brian, Freddie and Chilton back into the story, all of whom got nice moments – well “nice” may not be the right word for Chilton, but he sure got some riveting moments, as he came face to face (and mouth to mouth) with the Dragon in a horrific manner.

Of course, the center of this show has always truly been the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham and has given them a far more intricate, layered and complicated dynamic than they typically had in the Red Dragon novel (or other films), where Will met Hannibal a couple times, figured out he was the killer and was nearly killed while catching him. That meant this version of Red Dragon couldn’t help but feel different than others – even early on, when the story beats were pretty much sticking to the source material, what was driving Will forward felt notably altered thanks to all he’d gone through in this series beforehand. So yes, Will’s actual deductive skills are not used as much here as in the novel when it comes to tracking down Dolarhyde, and his relationship with Molly is essentially a hollow one he can’t really go back to – not because of anything wrong with her, but because of what he’s gone through. Yet the story still resonated so much because we were seeing how Will was affected by once more interacting with Hannibal and the simultaneous urge to join forces with him and determination to put an end to Lecter, once and for all.

In the midst of this, the rather obvious fact that Hannibal’s obsession with Will was a form of falling in love with Will was finally articulated – as was the idea that a part of Will returned those feelings, even while he knew Hannibal was a monster himself. This back and forth had long been fascinating and it felt appropriate to finally be upfront about it here. What was also great was that this Hannibal was a fully dimensionalized, multi-faceted character in a way no other version had been before – we saw so many sides of him, including the caring side that manifested with Will or even Abigail… even as he murdered Abigail and tried to kill Will!

We understood Hannibal better than ever, yet Fuller commendably never tried to redeem him. He was never going to change who he was. And that’s a big reason the ending was so satisfying, as Will pulled them off that cliff together. It was, on one hand, a culmination of the strange love story between the two – as the “murder husbands” were united, having killed Dolarhyde together. But Will also knew this was it. If he let Hannibal go, or live at all, he would kill again – he’d promised as much while threatening Alana. And Will might eventually cross even more lines in terms of the crimes he was willing to commit himself. So it had to end… which it did, in an emotionally stirring, “yes, this feels exactly right” manner that was, as always, perfectly played by Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen.