REVIEW: LONE SURVIVOR

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Taylor Kitsch (Battleship)
Emile Hirsch (Alpha Dog)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Ali Suliman (Body of Lies)
Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games)
Jerry Ferrara (Sully)

Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, and Taylor Kitsch in Lone Survivor (2013)In Afghanistan, Taliban leader Ahmad Shah is responsible for killing over twenty United States Marines, as well as villagers and refugees who were aiding American forces. In response to these killings, a United States Navy SEALs unit is ordered to execute a counter-insurgent mission to capture Shah. As part of the mission, a four-man SEAL reconnaissance and surveillance team is tasked with locating Shah. These four SEALs include team leader Michael P. “Murph” Murphy; snipers Marcus Luttrell and Matthew Axelson; and communications specialist Danny Dietz.The team is inserted into the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan, where they make a trek through the mountains. Here, they begin to encounter communications problems, which will play a critical role in the following events. Upon arriving at their designated location, the SEALs are accidentally discovered by an elderly shepherd and two teenage goat herders. Knowing that if they release them, the herders will likely alert Taliban to their presence, the team is split about whether to kill the herders or not. After a brief debate, Luttrell convinces the others that they will incite backlash if they kill the three herders. The team decides to release them and abort the mission, but before they can escape, they are discovered by Taliban forces. Although they manage to kill several Taliban gunmen, they find themselves heavily outnumbered and at a significant tactical disadvantage. Each of the men suffers serious injuries during the firefight and, in an attempt to flee from the insurgents, they jump off the edge of a precipitous ridge and into a large ravine.Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch in Lone Survivor (2013)Despite their injuries, the SEALs made a defensive retreat through the steep woods. Dietz begins to lose consciousness and shouts questions to Luttrell, unwittingly revealing the team’s position to the Taliban. Murphy and Axelson jump off another ridge to flee from the Taliban fighters. Luttrell tries to carry Dietz down the mountain, but Dietz is shot in the shoulder; the impact forces Luttrell to lose his grip and fall forward off the cliff. A dying Dietz remains at the top of the cliff and is killed by the Taliban insurgents. Murphy decides to try climbing back up the cliff to get a phone signal in order to call in support forces via satellite phone. Axelson and Luttrell shoot at the Taliban fighters to provide Murphy with cover. When he finally reaches higher ground, Murphy is able to alert the SEAL base of his team’s location and request emergency assistance right before he is shot dead by Taliban fighters.Mark Wahlberg and Emile Hirsch in Lone Survivor (2013)In response to Murphy’s distress call, a quick reaction force team assembles, boards two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, and heads toward the location without gunship escort seeking to extract the remaining members of the reconnaissance and surveillance team. During an attempt to insert the arriving forces, the Taliban insurgents shoot down one of the helicopters, killing eight Navy SEALs and eight Special Operations aviators who were on board. The second helicopter is forced to turn back. After witnessing the attack, Luttrell and a badly injured Axelson are left behind. Axelson attempts to find cover, but is killed when he leaves his hiding spot to attack several approaching insurgents. When Luttrell is discovered by the Taliban, one of the insurgents fires a rocket-propelled grenade, and its impact causes him to land at the bottom of a rock crevice where he is able to hide from the Taliban fighters.Mark Wahlberg and Emile Hirsch in Lone Survivor (2013)Luttrell stumbles upon a small body of water and submerges himself, only to find upon surfacing that a local Pashtun villager, Mohammad Gulab, has discovered his location. Gulab takes Luttrell into his care, returning to his village, where he attempts to hide Luttrell in his home. Gulab then sends a mountain man to the nearest American air base to alert military forces to Luttrell’s location. The Taliban fighters arrive at the village to capture and kill Luttrell, but Gulab and the villagers intervene, threatening to kill the fighters if they harm Luttrell. The fighters leave, but later return to punish the villagers for protecting Luttrell. Gulab and his fellow militia are able to fend off several fighters during the ensuing attack. American forces, arriving via helicopters, shatter the advancing Taliban and, in the process, kill the bulk of the insurgents with concentrated weaponry fire. The American forces evacuate Luttrell back to base. Photos of the real-life Marcus Luttrell, Mohammad Gulab and the fallen service members who died during the mission are shown during a four-minute montage, and an epilogue reveals that the Pashtun villagers agreed to help Luttrell as part of a traditional code of honor known as the Pashtunwali.Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, and Taylor Kitsch in Lone Survivor (2013)The film was executive produced by Whalberg, who also stars as the “Lone Survivor”, and you can see in his performance and from the credits that roll at the end of the film, that he was very invested in this story. While it is a sort of “classic” Hollywood soldier story, the film has many surprises. It is incredibly effective at showing us, using dramatic events, the stress and trauma a modern soldier fighting the “war on terror” endures over a short period of time in their lives, one that leads to suicides and many other problems for our returning veterans; not to mention the villages and lives changed forever in Afghanistan and the other locations where this kind of warfare continues to this day. I think this film does a much better job at showing this dangerous stress than most other films; but this also makes the film hard to watch. This is a very mature film, very violent. The violence is showed inside of an honest context, but viewers should be prepared for a highly emotional and violent film experience.

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REVIEW: PAIN & GAIN

 

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Contraband)
Dwayne Johsnon (Fast & Furious 8)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Tony Shalhoub (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ed Harris (The Truman Show)
Rob Corddry (W.)
Rebel Wilson (Grimsby)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Bar Paly (Non-Stop)
Michael Rispoli (Kick-Ass)
Tony Plana (Tony Plana)
Emily Rutherfurd (Van Wilder)
Peter Stormare (Arrow)
Brian Stepanek (Young Sheldon)

Mark Wahlberg, Tony Shalhoub, and Dwayne Johnson in Pain & Gain (2013)In 1995, schemer Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a recently released convict who had served time for Medicare fraud. Sun Gym owner John Mese (Rob Corddry) hires him to increase membership and make the gym more fitness-based. Lugo increases the gym’s membership by 75% within six weeks and befriends trainer Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), a bodybuilder rendered impotent due to his steroid use. Lugo soon lusts after the earnings and lifestyle achieved by Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), a sleazy new member he begins to train, who Lugo believes is a crook. Inspired by motivational speaker Jonny Wu (Ken Jeong), Lugo decides to be a “do-er” and hatches a plan to extort Kershaw for his assets by kidnapping and torturing him.Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)Lugo recruits accomplices Doorbal and Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson), a recently released, cocaine-addicted convict who has turned to Christianity. Though Doyle is reluctant to join the team, he soon acquiesces after a violent altercation with his priest. This “Sun Gym gang” unsuccessfully attempts to kidnap Kershaw at home, and a second time in public, but later incapacitates him with a taser outside his deli and takes him to a small warehouse he owns (which is stocked with sex toys). The kidnappers wear masks and Lugo disguises his voice, but Kershaw identifies Lugo from his distinctive cologne. The scheme goes as planned otherwise: Kershaw makes calls, under duress, to provide false explanations for his disappearance, gets his family to move out of state, and signs the documents that transfer his assets to Lugo. Lugo even bribes John Mese to notarize documents in Kershaw’s absence, by presenting documents signed by Kershaw and using Kershaw’s money to sponsor the Sun Gym.Dwayne Johnson and Bar Paly in Pain & Gain (2013)The Sun Gym gang is able to collect Kershaw’s money and assets, but they realize releasing him is a bad idea. Therefore, Lugo concocts a plan to kill Kershaw by forcing him to drink liquor and crash his BMW, making it appear like a drunk driving accident. When Kershaw survives the crash, the gang burns the car with Kershaw in it. Kershaw escapes the blazing vehicle, so the gang runs over his body, twice, and leave him for dead. Unbeknownst to them, Kershaw survives and is hospitalized. The Sun Gym gang members spoil themselves with Kershaw’s riches. Lugo takes over Kershaw’s car and his home in a ritzy Miami suburb; Doorbal marries the nurse who has been treating his impotence, Robin (Rebel Wilson), and uses his cut to purchase penile erection treatments; and Doyle abandons his restraints of religion and sobriety, and blows away his money on cocaine and his new stripper girlfriend. Kershaw reports what happened to the police, but they are turned off by his unpleasant manner and do not believe his bizarre story even when he gives them Daniel Lugo’s name, particularly because of Kershaw’s blood alcohol level, and the fact that Kershaw was born in a South American country well known for its involvement in the drug trade. He then contacts Ed Du Bois, III (Ed Harris), a retired private investigator – who declines to take the case but warns Kershaw to quickly leave the hospital before the gang returns to kill him. Kershaw takes his advice and hides in a cheap motel. Upon reflection, Du Bois takes Kershaw’s case and tails the Sun Gym gang. He visits the Sun Gym and meets with Lugo, who becomes suspicious after Du Bois mentions Kershaw’s name.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)When Kershaw furiously calls Mese about his stolen money, Lugo, Doyle, and Doorbal *69 the call, thereby identifying where it originated, and go to the motel to kill Kershaw; however, they arrive too late, as he has checked himself out and is hiding at an abandoned baseball stadium. When Lugo and Doorbal discover that Du Bois is paying for Kershaw’s room using his own credit card, they plan to kidnap Du Bois at his home. They arrive at the house, but the plot is thwarted when the police stop by to drop off Du Bois. In order to evade arrest, Lugo and Doorbal run and jump off Du Bois’ dock into the water. Du Bois gets a message from Kershaw and goes to the stadium to take him home. Meanwhile, Doyle (who has wasted all of his share of the spoils) attempts to rob an armored car. However, dye packs planted in the money bag explode, and he narrowly escapes the police, getting his toe shot off in the process. He and Doorbal (who depleted his share on payments for treatments, his and Robin’s wedding, and a new home) explain to Lugo they need more money, and the gang plans another kidnapping.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)They target the wealthy Frank Griga (Michael Rispoli), who owns a phone sex operation. After a promising discussion at Griga’s mansion, the gang invites Griga and his wife Krisztina Furton (Keili Lefkovitz) to Doorbal’s home to propose an investment scheme. Griga insists on meeting with someone more senior and questions Lugo’s amateurish business savvy. This angers Lugo, who attacks Griga and accidentally kills him. Krisztina discovers this and tries to shoot Lugo, but Doorbal injects her with a potent horse tranquilizer. Lugo and Doyle try to use the combination obtained from a heavily sedated Krisztina to open a safe at her and Griga’s home, but the combination does not work. When Krisztina rouses and tries to escape, Doorbal gives her a second injection, accidentally causing her to fatally overdose. Lugo and Doorbal purchase equipment to dismember and dispose of the bodies and dump the parts in oil drums (which they sink in a secluded swamp outside Miami), while Doyle incinerates their hands on a barbecue grill to eliminate their fingerprints. Doyle, perturbed by the violence he committed, leaves the gang and returns to the priest’s church. The police learn of Griga and Krisztina’s disappearances, and with evidence from Du Bois, they set a plan to arrest the Sun Gym gang.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)The film returns to June 17: the police arrest Doyle at the church, Doorbal at home, and Mese at the Sun Gym. Lugo, also at the gym, spots the approaching police force and flees. Although struck by a police cruiser, he escapes and heads out by sea in Kershaw’s speedboat. Kershaw and Du Bois deduce Lugo is going after the former’s hidden bank account in Nassau, Bahamas and accompany the police to capture him. Lugo’s pursuers catch up with him, and he attempts to escape. Du Bois shoots Lugo, Kershaw chases him in a car and incapacitates him, and the authorities arrest him. Lugo is brought back to the United States and stands trial with Doyle, Doorbal, and Mese. At the trial, Doyle rolls over on Doorbal and Lugo with a full confession, and meanwhile Robin has divorced Doorbal the night before and testifies against him. Ultimately, the four are convicted.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)

The end credits reveal the fates of the main characters:

Daniel Lugo was sentenced to death, plus 30 days for “being an asshole” to a guard.
Adrian Doorbal was sentenced to death.
Paul Doyle, for his full confession, was sentenced to 15 years, served seven years, was released, tried to apologize, and converted back to Christianity.
John Mese was sentenced to 15 years and died in prison.
Victor Kershaw’s name was changed in the film to protect the survivor.
Sorina Luminita’s name was changed in the film to protect the survivor. She’s currently not a movie star.

The movie ends with Lugo’s saying: “That’s the American dream”.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)Wahlberg and Johnson, what’s not to like! A lot of controversy about this film, but I don’t think they make light of the deaths of those people. It’s quite dark and gory in places, and you kind of feel sorry for Johnson’s character but his character doesn’t actually exist in real life, rather he is a conglomerate of several people. I think you have to remember that its just a movie and that the real people who committed the crimes were sick and very stupid and were given the death penalty. I think it’s an interesting take on a real life story.

REVIEW: BROKEN CITY

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Pain & Gain)
Russell Crowe (The Mummy)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment)
Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)
Barry Pepper (The Green Mile)
Alona Tal (Veronica Mars)
Natalie Martinez (Under The Dome)
Michael Beach (Third watch)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Griffin Dunne (My Girl)
James Ransone (Sinister)
Justin Chambers (The Zodiac)
Gregory Jbara (Remember Me)
Indigo (weeds)
J.D. Evermore (12 Years a Slave)

Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg in Broken City (2013)NYPD detective Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is arrested for the murder of Mikey Tavarez, who was believed to have raped and murdered sixteen-year-old Yesenia Barea but “walked” on a technicality. Chief Carl Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright), goes to Mayor of New York City Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) with a witness and evidence. Hostetler buries the evidence, and a judge clears Taggart as having shot Tavarez in self-defense. The mayor calls Taggart to his office for a private meeting and calls him “a hero,” but still forces him to leave the police. Seven years later, Taggart is living with his girlfriend Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez), an aspiring actress. Taggart’s private detective business is on the verge of bankruptcy when Mayor Hostetler hires him to investigate his wife, Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who he thinks is having an affair. Helped by his assistant, Katy Bradshaw (Alona Tal), Taggart learns that Cathleen is seeing Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler), the campaign manager of Hostetler’s rival in the upcoming elections, Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper).Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg in Broken City (2013)At a fundraiser for Hostetler’s campaign, Cathleen reveals to Taggart that she knows he has been following her, and advises him not to trust her husband. Taggart delivers to Mayor Hostetler photos taken of Cathleen meeting with Andrews. At a film debut party, Barrow reveals that her real name is Natalia Barea, and that Yesenia was her sister. At the screening, Taggart is shocked at Natalie’s sex scene, and strongly disapproves. He had thought it would express poetic love, but finds it akin to porn. Combined with guilt over working for Hostetler, Taggart descends into regular drinking bouts. He argues with Natalie over the scene and about the people she is seeing during her work. She breaks off the relationship. Taggart gets drunk, brawling with strangers while walking the city streets. He receives a phone call from Katy telling him Chief Fairbanks wants him at a murder scene. When he arrives, he learns that Andrews, Valliant’s campaign manager, has been found murdered.Mark Wahlberg in Broken City (2013)Taggart tells Fairbanks that he was hired by Mayor Hostetler to investigate his wife. They learn that the candidate Valliant was in Andrews’ apartment, and the two men were lovers. Valliant reveals that Andrews was scheduled to meet Todd Lancaster (James Ransone), son of Hostetler’s wealthy benefactor, contractor Sam Lancaster (Griffin Dunne). A furious Cathleen tells Taggart that Andrews was a close friend of hers, not a lover, and that he had promised her information about Hostetler’s plans for the Bolton Village Housing Project. The deal was expected to enrich both Sam Lancaster and the mayor. Hostetler wanted to find out Cathleen’s source, so he manipulated Taggart into tracking her.Catherine Zeta-Jones in Broken City (2013)Taggart decides to investigate Mayor Hostetler for corruption. He goes to Lancaster’s construction business, and finds workers destroying loads of documents. Stealing some of the documents, he discovers that Bolton Village has been sold in order to build high-rise office buildings, rather than a new housing development. Hundreds of impoverished people will be left homeless while Hostetler and Lancaster make a profit. After leaving Lancaster’s, Taggart is pursued in a car chase by Hostetler’s men, who run him off the road and take back the documents. Taggart visits Sam’s son Todd Lancaster, who says he had intended to give Andrews a copy of the demolition contract as evidence against Hostetler on the night Andrews was murdered. He gives it to Taggart instead. Taggart confronts Mayor Hostetler, who is unfazed because he has kept a video showing that Taggart murdered Tavarez in cold blood. Since there is no statute of limitations on murder, Taggart can still be prosecuted and face prison time. Taggart records their conversation, as the Mayor admits to his own corrupt dealings.Mark Wahlberg in Broken City (2013)Willing to make the recording public, although he would endanger his freedom, Taggart turns the recording over to Commissioner Fairbanks. While Hostetler is at home celebrating a successful debate, Fairbanks arrives to arrest him. Fairbanks tells the mayor he was having an affair with Cathleen. In the film’s final scene, Taggart meets Fairbanks at a bar and they toast Valliant, who has won the election. Katy comes in to say goodbye before the two men leave the bar.Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Broken City (2013)Broken City kept my attention but left me hungry for more. I suppose that is all you can ask for at the movies. I would take this ride again.

REVIEW: PLANET OF THE APES (2001)

CAST
Mark Wahlberg (The Perfect Storm)
Helena Bonham Carter (Dark Shadows)
Tim Roth (Lie To Me)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Scorpion King)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Estella Warren (I Accuse)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Elektra)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Kris Kristofferson (Blade)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes Original)
Evan Parke (Alias)
Glenn Shadix (Hercules: TLJ)
Linda Harrison (60s Batman)
Melody Perkins (Power Rangers In Space)
Martin Klebba (Project X)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
In 2029, aboard the United States Air Force space station Oberon, Leo Davidson works closely with primates who are trained for space missions. His favorite simian co-worker is a chimpanzee named Pericles. With a deadly electromagnetic storm approaching the station, a small space pod piloted by Pericles is used to probe the storm. Pericles’s pod heads into the storm and disappears. Against his commanding officer’s orders, Leo takes a second pod and goes in pursuit of Pericles. Entering the storm, Leo loses contact with the Oberon and crashes on a planet called Ashlar in the year 5021. He discovers that the world is ruled by humanoid apes who can speak human language and treat human beings as slaves.
Leo comes across a female chimpanzee named Ari, who protests the awful treatment humans receive. Ari decides to buy Leo and a female slave named Daena to have them work as servants in the house of her father, Senator Sandar. Leo escapes his cage and frees other humans. Ari sees them, but Leo convinces her to join a human rebellion against the apes. General Thade and Colonel Attar march ape warriors in pursuit of the humans. Leo discovers Calima (the temple of “Semos”), a forbidden, but holy, site for the apes.
Calima turns out to be the remains of the Oberon, Leo’s space station, which has crashed on the planet’s surface and looks ancient (the name Calima coming from the sign “CAution LIve aniMAls”, the relevant letters being the only ones not covered in dust). According to the computer logs, the station has been there for thousands of years. Leo deduces that when he entered the vortex he was pushed forward in time, while the Oberon, searching after him, was not, crashing on the planet long before he did.
The Oberon‍ ’s log reveals that the apes on board, led by Semos, organized a mutiny and took control of the vessel after it crashed. The human and ape survivors of the struggle left the ship and their descendants are the people Leo has encountered since landing. In the present, a battle ensues between the humans and the apes. A familiar vehicle descends from the sky and is identified immediately by Leo as the pod piloted by Pericles, the chimpanzee astronaut. Pericles was pushed forward in time as Leo was, and had just now found his way to the planet. When Pericles lands, the apes interpret his landing as the return arrival of Semos, the first ape, who is their god. They bow, and hostilities between humans and apes disappear.
Pericles then runs into the Oberon and Leo runs after him, followed by General Thade. Inside, Thade and Leo fight, with Pericles trying to help Leo, only to be thrown hard against a wall. Thade gets hold of Leo’s gun, but does not understand how to use it at first. Seeing that Thade is in the pilot’s deck, Leo closes the automatic door of the entrance, trapping Thade as he shoots the gun, the bullets ricocheting off the door harmlessly. Thade thrashes around to escape, but after all attempts to do so fail, he finally gives up. Leo then decides that it is time for him to leave the Planet of the Apes, so he gives Pericles to Ari, with her promising to look after him, also saying farewell to Daena. Leo climbs aboard Pericles’s undamaged pod and uses it to travel back in time through the same electromagnetic storm. Leo ends up crashing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Earth. He looks up at the Memorial, and sees it is now a monument in honor of General Thade. A swarm of police officers, firefighters, and news reporters descend on Leo, but on closer inspection, they are all apes.
This is a remake which managed to outdo all the production values of the previous ‘Apes’ films, but ended up with a film which feels like it was made for a straight-to-TV. We all make mistakes, and this one was was Tim Burton’s. There was no reason to remake what was (and is) a classic film.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

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CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
Gemma Chan (Humans)
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
John Turturro (Barton Fink)
Laura Haddock (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Isabela Moner (Soldado)
Jerrod Carmichael (Bad Neighbors 2)
Santiago Cabrera (Heroes)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Liam Garrigan (24: Live Another Day)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
Gil Birmingham (Twilight)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Erik Aadahl (Godzilla)
Jim Carter (Dinotopia)
Omar Sy (Jurassic World)
John Goodman (Red State)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk empire)
Steven Barr (Fall From Grace)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Jess Harnell (Animaniacs)

In 484 AD, King Arthur and his knights struggle in a battle against the Saxons. Meanwhile, Merlin begs for help from the Knights of Iacon, a group of twelve Transformers who have hidden on Earth. They give Merlin an alien staff and combine themselves into a huge robotic dragon named Dragonstorm to help Arthur triumph over the Saxons, but not before warning Merlin that a great evil will one day come for the staff.In the present, five years after the Hong Kong battle, the Transformers are declared outlaws by all governments on Earth, to which the Transformer Reaction Force (TRF) is formed from the fallen Cemetery Wind to eradicate the alien robots, despite more Transformers continuously arriving on Earth. All the while, enormous metallic horns begin to rise from different parts of the world. In a part of war-torn Chicago, a group of children find a ship with a knight inside before being caught by a TRF drone. Izabella, a survivor of the Battle of Chicago, saves the children along with her Transformers companions Sqweeks and Canopy. The drone mistakes Canopy for a Decepticon and kills him before Bumblebee and Cade Yeager (who are also being hunted by the TRF) arrive and help the children, Izabella, and Sqweeks escape from the drones. Cade finds the knight in the ship, who attaches a talisman to his arm. The Decepticon Barricade observes this act and reports the discovery to Megatron. After a brief standoff with the TRF, Cade returns to his junkyard in South Dakota (with Izabella and Sqweeks hitching a ride with him) where the remaining Autobots are hiding from the TRF, including Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, Crosshairs, Wheelie, Grimlock, Slug, Daytrader, Trench, and three Mini-Dinobots.TRF member and former Autobot ally William Lennox brokers a deal between the TRF and Megatron so he can find Cade and recover the talisman. In exchange, Megatron demands the release of a squad of Decepticons, including Nitro Zeus, Dreadbot, Mohawk, and Onslaught (Megatron tries to get Berserker, but they won’t let him because he is far too dangerous). Meanwhile, in deep space, Optimus Prime crash-lands on Cybertron, discovering that it is heading directly for Earth. He encounters Quintessa, the self-proclaimed creator of the Transformers, who brainwashes Optimus and renames him “Nemesis Prime”. Quintessa charges him with recovering the staff from the Knights who stole it from her.Earth, she reveals, is actually Cybertron’s ancient enemy Unicron and she intends to drain its life force using the staff, so that Cybertron can be restored. Back on Earth, Megatron and the TRF locate Cade, his coworker Jimmy, Izabella, Sqweeks, and the Autobots, thanks to a tracker planted on Bumblebee during the standoff. They flee to an abandoned town where they discover Bumblebee’s tracking device. In the ensuing battle, Dreadbot, Onslaught, Mohawk, and several TRF soldiers are killed by Grimlock, Slug, Crosshairs, Drift, and Bumblebee. As a result, Megatron, Nitro Zeus, and Barricade are forced to retreat. While fighting off a unit of TRF drones, Cade is approached by Cogman, a Transformer envoy who takes him and Bumblebee to England to meet his master, Sir Edmund Burton.

There, Burton arranges a meeting between Cade and Viviane Wembly, an Oxford professor, who had just been kidnapped by the Autobot Hot Rod under Burton’s orders. Burton introduces himself as the last living member of the “Witwiccan” order, an ancient brotherhood dedicated to guarding the secret history of Transformers on Earth. He reveals that Cade’s talisman indicates that he is the Last Knight of Iacon. He also reveals that Viviane is Merlin’s last descendant and that she must find and use his staff to prevent the impending destruction of Earth by Cybertron. MI6 and the TRF arrive at Burton’s mansion, forcing the group to flee.After escaping from MI6, the TRF, and Barricade, Cade, Viviane, Bumblebee, and Cogman follow the clues left by Viviane’s father and take the museum submarine HMS Alliance (after Burton shuts down the attraction and evicts the tourists) into the sea to find the Cybertronian Knights’ sunken ship while the TRF pursue them with submarines of their own. Burton meets with the Prime Minister to engage the military at Stonehenge, which he deduces is the access point to Unicron. In the ship, Cade and Viviane discover the tomb of Merlin and the staff. Viviane activates the staff, which causes the ship to rise towards the surface. The TRF confronts the group and attempts to take the staff from them before Nemesis Prime intervenes and forces them to hand over the staff. Bumblebee chases after Optimus and the two Autobots fight each other at the top of the ship. Before Optimus can kill Bumblebee, the mute Autobot finally speaks, freeing Optimus from Quintessa’s control. Suddenly, Megatron, revealed to be conspiring with Quintessa, arrives to steal the staff and flees while the Knights attack Optimus for his presumed betrayal. Cade stops the Knights with the talisman, which transforms into King Arthur’s sword Excalibur. The Knights yield to Cade as the Last Knight of Iacon, and Yeager urges Optimus to fight for Earth once more.As Cybertron anchors itself to Earth, Megatron, Nitro Zeus, and Barricade deliver the staff to Quintessa, who begins draining the life force of Earth from Unicron. Burton and the British military intervene, and Megatron shoots Burton, who dies with Cogman at his side. The Autobots arrive to join the fight with the TRF, Cade, Viviane, Izabella, and Sqweeks, landing on Cybertron and battling against Megatron and Quintessa’s minions, the Infernocons. Vanquishing their foes with help from the Knights as Dragonstorm, the Autobots reach the chamber where the staff and Quintessa are. Optimus defeats Megatron by kicking him through the Ignition Chamber’s wall, sending him flying to Earth, while Bumblebee kills Nitro Zeus. Together, Optimus and Bumblebee seemingly kill Quintessa. Viviane removes the staff, stopping Cybertron’s destruction of Earth but leaving both worlds connected. Optimus declares that humans and Transformers must now work together to rebuild their worlds and sends a message calling any surviving Autobots to come home.In a mid-credits scene, scientists inspect one of Unicron’s horns in a desert. Quintessa, who has survived and is disguised as a human, arrives and offers them a way to destroy Unicron.The transformers movies are known for being hated. Me I personally think these movies are just fun. That’s why we watch them, not for an outstanding Oscar worthy film. I know I am in the minority that I love Age of extinction. So I was pretty excited to see this film. I was not disappointed.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

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CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games)
Kelsey Grammer (X-Men: The Last Stand)
Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel)
Jack Reynor (Macbeth)
Titus Welliver (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Sophia Myles (Outlander)
Li Bingbing (Resident Evil: Retribution)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)
James Bachman (Paddington)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
John Goodman (Red State)
Ken Watanabe (Godzilla)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Erika Fong (Power Rangers Samurai)
Richard Riehle (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Cleo King (The Hangover)

Sixty five million years ago, an alien race known as the “Creators” used devices called Seeds to terraform planet Earth, effectively wiping out the dinosaurs and covering it with an alloy called Transformium. In the present day, geologist Darcy Tirrel excavates the Transformium for K.S.I. Industries, which uses it to build man-made artificial Transformer drones.Five years after The Battle of Chicago, the humans have begun to view the Transformers as a threat, leading the U.S government to terminate all human-Autobot joint programs. Although the public believes that the Autobots have been granted sanctuary, they are being hunted by a rogue, vengeful and xenophobic CIA black ops division known as Cemetery Wind, led by opportunistic government official Harold Attinger, who believes that all Transformers should be exterminated regardless of their faction. They are aided by Lockdown, a Cybertronian bounty hunter working for the Creators, promising to give Attinger a Seed if his division manages to capture Optimus Prime. Cemetery Wind locates Ratchet in Mexico City and Lockdown kills him when he refuses to give up the whereabouts of Optimus Prime.Optimus, damaged in Mexico City and disguised as a rundown semi-truck, is discovered in an abandoned theater by Cade Yeager, a financially struggling Texan inventor, and brings him back to the farm. While his teenage daughter Tessa and business partner Lucas Flannery encourage him to turn Optimus over to the authorities after realizing what he really is, Cade instead fixes Optimus, hoping to understand his technology and unexpectedly revives him. Still skeptical of Optimus and worried about Cade’s safety, Lucas calls Cemetery Wind, who attacks and destroys the farm, but Optimus and Tessa’s boyfriend, Irish rally car driver Shane Dyson, come to the family’s aid.While on the run from Cemetery Wind and Lockdown, Lucas is killed by one of Lockdown’s grenades. After escaping from their attackers, they take refuge in an abandoned gas station. Later, Optimus scans a passing truck and turns into a Western Star 5700 Phantom Custom truck with the original red and blue paint with flames. Afterwards, Optimus summons the surviving Autobots – Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, and Crosshairs – who have come to distrust humans due to Cemetery Wind constantly hunting them down. Using a CIA drone which he stole during the home invasion, Cade discovers K.S.I.’s involvement in the attacks on the Autobots. Bumblebee later assumes an alternate form after scanning a passing car, while Optimus vows to personally kill Attinger for his actions against his brethren.Infiltrating K.S.I.’s headquarters in Chicago, Cade discovers the remains of Autobots and Decepticons are being melted down to make the drones. Joshua Joyce, the ambitious company CEO, is in league with Attinger to revolutionize global defenses and improve human society using the Seed. He has captured Brains and is using him and Megatron’s head to create prototype Transformer soldiers Galvatron and Stinger. In a fit of rage, the Autobots storm the building where they rescue Brains and destroy the laboratory, but they soon leave after Joshua announces that they are no longer needed. Attinger forces Joshua to deploy Galvatron and Stinger to attack the Autobots. During the battle, Galvatron’s behavior becomes slightly erratic when he starts destroying vehicles. As Galvatron battles Optimus, it frees itself from control and speaks to Optimus. Lockdown then arrives and abducts Optimus while Galvatron and Stinger retreat; Tessa is inadvertently captured alongside Optimus in the midst of the chaos, leaving Cade and Shane devastated.While Lockdown’s large prison spacecraft hovers over Chicago to hand over the Seed, Cade, Shane, and the Autobots use this opportunity to sneak on board and rescue Optimus and Tessa. They hijack a smaller ship, containing a number of other Autobots called the Dinobots, just before Lockdown leaves Earth. The Autobots reveal to Cade that “Galvatron” is in fact Megatron, who had transferred his consciousness into the Galvatron drone after K.S.I. officials had accidentally revived him. They realize that Galvatron is plotting to use the Seed and the K.S.I. drones to conquer the world, by detonating the Seed in Hong Kong. K.S.I.plans to use the Seed in the remote Mongolian desert to create vast amounts of usable Transformium. Cade informs Joshua of Megatron’s presence, causing him to have a change of heart and agreeing to hand over the Seed with help from Darcy and his Chinese business associate Su Yueming. Meanwhile, Lockdown discovers that Optimus has escaped and stole a part of his ship, forcing him to return to Earth to retrieve them. Back at the facility, Joshua gets into a disagreement with Attinger when the former becomes aware of the latter’s nefarious activities, whilst Attinger gradually deduces Joshua’s plot to betray him. Galvatron unexpectedly reactivates himself and promptly takes control of the K.S.I. drones, and a battle follows in Hong Kong’s streets between Cade’s group, the Autobots, Cemetery Wind, Galvatron, and his drones. During the fight, Optimus gains the alliance of the Dinobots, who become essential to the Autobots’ victory while Bumblebee kills Stinger.Lockdown returns to capture Optimus and the Dinobots, using a large magnet in his ship that picks up and drops metal objects, causing destruction to the city. After disabling the magnet, Optimus fights Lockdown at an abandoned factory. In the ensuing duel, Optimus kills Attinger (who still deems all Cybertronians aside from Lockdown as a threat) to save Cade, and avenging the deaths of his fellow Autobots. However, this allows Lockdown to pin Optimus down by impaling his chest with his own sword, damaging his spark. Cade, Bumblebee, Tessa, and Shane fight Lockdown, with Cade ending up fighting him one-on-one while Tessa and Shane use a tow truck to free Optimus, who kills Lockdown before using one of his grenades to finish off the remaining drones. Galvatron, the only surviving Decepticon, retreats with Lockdown’s ship, vowing to return. Optimus tells the Autobots to protect the Yeagers (with Joshua offering to help the Yeagers build a new home) and lets the Dinobots go, before flying away into space with the Seed, sending a message to the Creators that he is coming for them.Tucci is always funny in tense situations, and comedian T.J. Miller gets some laughs as Cade’s borderline annoying best friend. Wahlberg is different he gives a committed performance here, and makes the dialogue believable. I like that Bay and company made Cade a single dad, and Peltz’s Tessa is surprisingly not annoying. The first hour, set at the Yeager homestead in Texas, is my favorite. I enjoyed watching Cade and Tessa meet Optimus and flee from Cemetery Wind. Scenes on Lockdown’s imposing prison ship are also good.  This was intended to be the first film in a new trilogy,with transformers 5 already in the pipeline. The last scene opens the transformers cinematic universe, leaving it open for the fifth to explore further the transformer mythology.

REVIEW: MOJAVE

CAST

Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy)
Louise Bourgoin (A Happy Event)
Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)
Walton Goggins (Django Unchained)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)

Mojave is the brain child from the writer of ‘The Departed’. Add in a slew of great actors and the result is me, with high hopes for this movie. But within the first few minutes those hopes were drastically lowered. This is mainly due to the all around aimlessness of the story. Garrett Hedlund wanders into the desert and meets the hick version of Oscar Isaac. Than Hudlund inexplicably bludgeons Isaac and frames him for the murder of a police officer. So, Isaac follows Hedlund back to LA in hopes of exacting of his revenge. All of this roughly taking place with in the first ten or twenty minutes of the film. Now we have our story. What I liked most about ‘Mojave’ is the scenes that Isaac and Hedlund share. While there may only be two or three of them, I found them to be the best parts of the movie. Both sociopaths, it was interesting and sometimes rather funny to watch these two go back and forth.The only other aspect worth mentioning is the music. In this otherwise uninspired film, the music really helped capture the mood of each scene. Whether or not the scene actually has the desired affect on you is beside the point. Even though, more times than not, the music is really the only thing that helps move scenes forward. Other than these few things there really isn’t much that ‘Mojave’ offers. The performances are passable but almost every actor in the film feels miscast. All of them seem to over or under act in a strange attempt to give these flat characters meaning. And boy most of these characters are two dimensional. They worst offenders come in the form of Mark Wahlberg and Walton Goggins. These two come into the film as nothing more than vessels for director William Monahan to force in his own opinions. There is nothing more to them than that. They come into the film, spit their “political commentary”, and leave as quickly as they came.2As you watch this, it’s impossible not to think, “Wow, what the heck was that about?”. Not to mention the incredibly in your face social commentary. I understand that many of us are hopelessly addicted to our phones but do you have to pretend like EVERYONE is? And, do you seriously have to show this in every single scene?? The worst part is, they don’t just talk about it. There is one scene in particular where a character exits a bar and passes a line of people. ALL of which are on their phone, and to make things even less subtle the film feels the need to add phone clicks and buzzes. This is not a film that children are going to see so do you have to make it this obvious?

maxresdefaultI’m pretty sure that I do actually have a brain and I can pick up on subtly. So why ram it down my throat with next to no subtly? Aside from the two or three scenes that Isaac and Hedlund share this is all the film does for its hour and a half run time. Use uncomfortably pretentious celebrity cameos to drive home the films own misguided views of the world. While it does do some things right I can’t say that this is worth recommending. This overall standardness is enough to send ‘Mojave’ spiraling into obscurity.