REVIEW: THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR

CAST

Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)
Jet Li (The One)
Maria Bello (The Cooler)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Luke Ford (Animal Kingdom)
Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Isabella Leong (Spider Lilies)
Anthony Wong (The Mad Monk)
Russell Wong (Romeo Must Die)

In ancient China, a brutal and tyrannical warlord unites the country’s kingdoms into an empire and becomes the Dragon Emperor. He orders the construction of the Great Wall of China to bury and curse his dead enemies, eventually learning power over the classical elements fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The Emperor soon grows fearful that his death will end all he has accomplished and summons Zi Yuan, a sorceress who is said to know the secret of immortality. She seemingly casts a spell on the Emperor in Sanskrit, before he executes General Ming, his trusted friend and Zi Yuan’s secret lover. He impales Zi Yuan, but having foreseen such events, she immolates and detains the Emperor, transforming his army into the Terracotta Army, and flees.In 1946, Alex O’Connell, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell’s son, and his archaeology professor Roger Wilson locates the Emperor’s tomb. Though attacked by a mysterious woman, they succeed in bringing the coffin to Shanghai. Meanwhile, the British government entrusts the O’Connells to take the Eye of Shangri-La back to China. However, they learn that Wilson works for a rogue military faction led by General Yang, who had provided the financial backing of Alex’s expedition. Yang believes that the Emperor is the one who can lead China out of the chaos following WWII and plans to resurrect the Emperor using the Eye, which contains the Elixir of Life. They open it, but it accidentally lands on the statue of the carriage driver, which is revealed to actually be the Emperor’s mummified body. He accepts Yang’s service but kills Wilson and escapes.Along with Evelyn’s brother Jonathan Carnahan, the O’Connells and the mysterious woman, Lin, travel to a stupa in the Himalayas that will reveal the path to Shangri-La when the Eye is placed on top of it. With the help of Yetis summoned by Lin, the group hold off Yang’s soldiers but the Emperor discovers Shangri-La’s location. Alex attempts to trigger an avalanche. The Emperor throws a dagger at him, but Rick shoves Alex and is stabbed instead. Lin takes the group to Shangri-La, where Zi Yuan still lives and heals Rick’s wound. The group discovers that Lin is Zi Yuan’s daughter, both rendered immortal due to the power of Shangri-La’s waters. As Rick heals, Alex and Lin have grown attached to each other, but Lin refuses due to her immortality; unable to bear falling in love with Alex only to watch him grow old and die, just as Zi Yuan mourned for General Ming.The Emperor and General Yang eventually arrive and attack them in Shangri-La, and the Emperor bathes in the mystical waters, which restores his human form and youth, and gives him the ability to shapeshift. Transforming into a dragon, the Emperor kidnaps Lin and flies back to the tomb, raising his Terracota Army, planning to cross the Great Wall, where they will be invincible. The O’Connells and Zi Yuan pursue the Emperor to the Great Wall where she sacrifices her and Lin’s immortality to create an undead army from beneath The Great Wall, led by a revived General Ming. As Alex rescues Lin, Zi Yuan fights the Emperor and is mortally wounded, but secures the dagger. Zi Yuan gives the dagger to the group before dying. Meanwhile, the Emperor goes into the Great Wall to use his elemental powers to negate the undead spell. Rick and Alex fight off the Emperor while Evelyn and Lin fight and kill Yang. The Emperor gains the upper hand over Rick, but Rick and Alex manage to stab the Emperor in his heart with the dagger, killing him and defeating the Terracotta Army. Ming’s army briefly celebrates before finally moving on to a peaceful afterlife.The O’Connells return to Shanghai while Jonathan decides to move to Peru with the Eye of Shangri-La, as he wants to go somewhere with no mummies. However, in postscript, it is revealed that upon his arrival, mummies were discovered in Peru.The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has a lot of physical comedy and computer-generated creatures as the previous two movies did. Fans of the Mummy films will be entertained as long as their expectations are checked at the door. I, for one, still enjoyed the mindless entertainment.

REVIEW: COYOTE UGLY

CAST

Piper Perabo (Slap Her Shes French)
Adam Garcia (The Code)
John Goodman (Argo)
Maria Bello (Secret Window)
Izabella Miko (The Cape)
Tyra Banks (Tropic Thunder)
Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot)
Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men)
LeAnn Rimes (Anger Management
Kaitlin Olson (The Heat)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Johnny Knoxville (The Last Stand)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Melody Perkins (Power Rangers In Space)

Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) leaves her hometown of South Amboy, New Jersey, her father Bill (John Goodman), and best friend Gloria (Melanie Lynskey) to pursue her dreams of becoming a songwriter in nearby New York City. The pizza shop where she works has a wall covered with the autographs of employees that left, hoping to make it big, and Violet adds hers to the wall.
Violet tries unsuccessfully, a lot of times, to get her demo tape noticed by the recording studios. One night, she tries to get herself noticed by a music industry scout. The bartender jokingly points out Kevin O’Donnell (Adam Garcia), making her believe that he is the bar owner. When the joke is discovered, Violet feels that Kevin was making a fool out of her. With only a few dollars left in her pocket after her apartment is robbed, she goes to an all-night diner and notices three girls, Cammie (Izabella Miko), Rachel (Bridget Moynahan), and Zoe (Tyra Banks), flaunting the hundreds of dollars in tips they earned. After inquiring, she finds out that they work at a trendy bar named Coyote Ugly.
She finds her way to the bar and convinces the bar owner Lil (Maria Bello) to give her an audition. Violet’s first audition does not go well; but after breaking up a fight between two customers, Lil agrees to give her a second audition. At her second audition, Violet douses the fire warden in water costing Lil $250. In order to keep her job, she has to make up $250 in one night. Kevin turns up at the bar, but ends up being auctioned off to one of the women in the bar. In order to pay off her debt to Kevin, Violet agrees to go on four dates with him. The two begin a relationship.
Kevin commits himself to helping Violet overcome her stage fright so that she can sell her music. Violet’s stage fright was shown to be inherited from her mother who also came to New York to be a singer. Also shown is Violet’s ability to sing to songs that she did not write. We learn this when she sings on the bar in the bar in order to save the necks of Cammie and Rachel who were trying to break up a fight between the customers.
One night a patron takes a picture of Violet in the middle of a raunchy move and with water pouring on her. When the picture appears in the paper, Violet’s father happens to see it and gets angry at her. She continues to pursue her dream, though, despite being sidetracked with work at the bar. She gets fired when Kevin gets into a fight at the bar. She returns to New Jersey for her best friend’s wedding and makes her way back to New York when her dad was in a car accident. Later she performs at an open mic night at the Bowery Ballroom with the Coyotes from the Coyote Ugly saloon, her father, her best friend, and Kevin all there for moral support. The performance goes over very well and she finally lands a deal with a record label. The film concludes back at Coyote Ugly with LeAnn Rimes, having recorded Violet’s song, singing on the bar as Violet joins in.
This film is absolutely brilliant.  It is definitely a must see film.

 

REVIEW: WORLD TRADE CENTER

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Maria Bello (A History of Violence)
Connor Paolo (Mystic River)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Jay Hernandez (Suicide Squad)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil)
Nicholas Turturro  (NYPD Blue)
Danny Nucci (The Rock)
Tawny Cypress (Heroes)
Brad William Henke (Lost)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
William Mapother (Powers)
Stephen Dorff (Blade)
Frank Whaley (Luke Cage)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Donna Murphy (Spider-Man 2)

On September 11, 2001, Port Authority Police officers John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno are patrolling the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan when they see a plane fly dangerously low overhead. As all of the police officers return to the station, they see on TV that the North Tower of the World Trade Center has been hit by the plane. Sergeant McLoughlin assigns many of the officers to assist in a precautionary evacuation attempt of the North Tower and they board a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus. On the bus, they hear reports that the South Tower is also hit by another plane. When they arrive at the World Trade Center, they realize the extent of the disaster, and see one of the victims jump out of the towers to certain death. The men proceed to get safety equipment from Building 5 and enter the concourse between the towers.

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The group consists of McLoughlin, Jimeno, Dominick Pezzulo and Antonio Rodrigues. Officer Christopher Amoroso appears to inform them of other events, such as the attack on the Pentagon, the second plane’s hit on the South Tower and an attack on Israel though the group does not accept any of these as true. As the men prepare to enter the North Tower, the buildings begin to rumble. McLoughlin realizes that the South Tower is collapsing onto them and that their only chance of survival is to run into the service elevator shaft. Amoroso trips and does not have time to get up. Rodrigues is unable to get to the shaft in time. McLoughlin, Jimeno and Pezzulo manage to escape the huge amounts of dust and rubble flying down from the South Tower. However, as the rubble continues to crush the elevator shaft, the three are trapped. As the cascade of debris subsides, Pezzulo realizes he can free himself and manages to move nearer to Jimeno who, along with McLoughlin, is pinned under rubble and cannot move. Pezzulo tries but fails to shift the debris covering Jimeno’s legs and is instructed by McLoughlin not to leave.
As Pezzulo becomes optimistic that they will live, the rumbling begins again as the North Tower starts to collapse. Although Jimeno and McLoughlin are not further harmed, Pezzulo is fatally injured when a concrete slab falls into the hole, crushing his torso. After he fires a gun through a gap in the rubble to try to alert rescuers to their position, he dies. Jimeno and McLoughlin spend hours under the rubble, in pain but exchanging stories about their lives and families. McLoughlin is particularly anxious to keep Jimeno from falling asleep and Jimeno also realizes that by straining to grab a metal bar above his body, he can make a noise that rescuers might hear. Two United States Marines, Dave Karnes and Jason Thomas, who are searching for survivors, do hear it and find the men, calling for help to dig them out. Jimeno is rescued first, and then hours later McLoughlin is lifted out of the debris, barely alive and in critical condition. They are then both reunited with their distraught families at the hospital. Two years after the attacks, McLoughlin and Jimeno attend a barbecue with their families: McLoughlin’s wife Donna, Jimeno’s wife Allison, daughter Bianca, and their newest addition Olivia.The epilogue states that John and Will were two of the 20 people pulled out alive and are now retired from active duty. Dave Karnes re-enlisted in the Marines.
Nice to see a different spin on the 9/11 tragedies, whilst maintaining the true grit of the overall tragedy.

REVIEW: SECRET WINDOW

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Maria Bello (The 5th Wave)
Timothy Hutton (Kinsey)
Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3)

Successful author Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) suffers a psychotic break when his wife has an affair with a man named Ted (Timothy Hutton). He puts off finalizing the divorce by retreating to his secluded cabin in the rural town of Tashmore Lake in upstate New York. Depressed and suffering from writer’s block, Mort is confronted one day by the mysterious John Shooter (John Turturro), a Mississippi dairy farmer who accuses him of plagiarism. Shooter leaves Mort with his manuscript “Sowing Season” which he alleges was copied. Mort dismisses Shooter as a lunatic and throws the manuscript away, but his cleaning lady digs it out of the trash and presents it back to him. With his curiosity piqued, Mort reads the story and is surprised to discover its resemblance to his own story “Secret Window”.

During his walk the following day, Shooter accosts Mort when he explains his story was published years before Shooter’s existed. He is given a three-day ultimatum by Shooter to provide the proof. Mort sees a note attached to his door that says, “You have 3 days. I’m not joking. No police.” That night, Mort finds Chico, his Australian Cattle Dog, stabbed to death with a screwdriver in his neck. Mort immediately suspects Shooter and reports the incident to the arthritic Sheriff Dave Newsome (Len Cariou), who reacts with little enthusiasm.
Mort later drives to his house where his estranged wife Amy is living, to obtain a copy of the book and stews outside as he watches her leave with her new lover Ted. In New York City, Mort contacts Ken Karsch (Charles S. Dutton), a private investigator who assisted Mort in a previous incident, identical to the current situation. Ken travels to Tashmore Lake to watch over the cabin and to interview Tom Greenleaf (John Dunn Hill), the only witness to Mort and Shooter’s conversation. Later, Shooter and Mort have an argument that ends up in Mort getting bruises on his wrists and being choked.
When Mort returns to his cabin, Amy calls saying their house was burned down. Mort had flashbacks of when he and Amy were happily married. Then a police officer tells him what caused the fire. He begins to suspect Ted of hiring Shooter to harass him because of their shared animosity towards one another. Ted mentions he’s from a place called “Shooter’s Bay.”
The next morning, Mort is perplexed to find his Jeep Cherokee idling in his driveway with Pall Mall cigarette butts smoldering in the ashtray (the same brand Shooter smokes). He shows up late to his meeting at the local diner with Tom Greenleaf and Ken and neither of them can be found and he learns from a waitress that Ken never showed up at all. Mort sees Ted who is filling up his car with gas at a station and asks Ted where his “buddy” is. Ted gives Mort his divorce papers that Mort doesn’t want to sign. The two have a confrontation that causes Ted to break his hand. Back at the cabin, Mort receives a call from Shooter requesting a private meeting in the woods and when he arrives he finds Ken and Tom dead in Tom’s truck. Mort faints and when he awakes, 3 hours later, Shooter says they should meet at his house. Mort tries to cover up the crime by running the truck into a water-filled stone quarry, losing his watch in the process. Mort’s literary agent sends a copy of the magazine with his published story via UPS and Mort picks it up at the post office. When he goes back to his car, he sees the package is already half open and then finds the specific pages containing the story have been cut out.
Mort wears Shooter’s hat and talks to himself. He tries to make connections to the pages cut out, Shooter’s Bay, along with the bruises Shooter gave earlier missing. He tells his himself, his “inner voice” to leave him alone. The voice said, “You are alone.” Mort comes to the conclusion that Shooter is a figment of his imagination; brought to life through Mort’s dissociative identity disorder and created to carry out the acts of killing Chico, Tom, Ken and burning down his home since Mort didn’t have the courage to do it himself. Angry and frustrated, Amy arrives at his cabin to get his signature to finalize the divorce settlement. She finds the cabin disheveled, with the word “shooter” carved throughout. Mort suddenly appears and Amy is struck by fear when she realizes the word is Mort’s desire to “shoot her.” Mort, now wearing Shooter’s hat and speaking with a southern accent, chases Amy outside to her car and stabs her in the ankle to prevent her from leaving. Ted arrives shortly afterwards, hearing Amy scream, and she watches helplessly as Mort ambushes and beheads him with a shovel while Amy screams vainly. Mort recites the ending of “Sowing Season” as he kills Amy off-screen.
Mort recovers from his writer’s block and experiences a mood improvement, but is now the town pariah. Dave stops by the cabin to advise Mort he is the prime suspect of Amy and Ted’s disappearance and will be arrested once the bodies are found, but Mort nonchalantly dismisses the threat. Dave leaves and Mort again recites the “perfect” ending to his story. There was a secret window that was obstructed by a large cabinet that overlooks a secret garden. It’s suspected that Mort put the bodies in the garden that is now filled with cornfields and that the corns are breaking down the bodies buried there so that police will never find them.
This is a great movie. I had never read the story or heard of the film and just bought the film after finding out it was a Stephen King story. It is excellently acted and a great story it has everything Stephen King fans would love and Johnny Depp was perfect for the role.