REVIEW: INCEPTION

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Tom Hardy (The Dark KNight Rises)
Ken Watanabe (Godzilla)
Dileep Rao (Avatar)
Cillian Murphy (Red Lights)
Tom Berenger (Platoon)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Michael Caine (BAtman Begins)
Lukas Haas (Brick)
Talulah Riley (The Boat That Rocked)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)

Dominic “Dom” Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are “extractors”, who perform corporate espionage using an experimental military technology to infiltrate the subconscious of their targets and extract valuable information through a shared dream world. Their latest target, Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe), reveals that he arranged their mission himself to test Cobb for a seemingly-impossible job: planting an idea in a person’s subconscious, or “inception”.To break up the energy conglomerate of ailing competitor Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite), Saito wants Cobb to convince Fischer’s son and heir, Robert (Cillian Murphy), to dissolve his father’s company. In return, Saito promises to use his influence to clear Cobb of a murder charge, allowing Cobb to return home to his children. Cobb accepts the offer and assembles his team: Eames (Tom Hardy), a conman and identity forger; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a chemist who concocts a powerful sedative for a stable “dream within a dream” strategy; and Ariadne (Ellen Page), an architecture student tasked with designing the labyrinth of the dream landscapes, recruited with the help of Cobb’s father-in-law, Professor Stephen Miles (Michael Caine). While dream-sharing with Cobb, Ariadne learns his subconscious houses an invasive projection of his late wife Mal (Marion Cotillard).When the elder Fischer dies in Sydney, Robert Fischer accompanies the body on a ten-hour flight back to Los Angeles, which the team (including Saito, who wants to verify their success) uses as an opportunity to sedate and take Fischer into a shared dream. At each dream level, the person generating the dream stays behind to set up a “kick” that will be used to awaken the other sleeping team members from the deeper dream level; to be successful, these kicks must occur simultaneously at each dream level, a fact complicated due to the nature of time which proceeds much faster in each successive level.The first level is Yusuf’s dream of a rainy Los Angeles. The team abducts Fischer, but they are attacked by armed projections from Fischer’s subconscious, which has been trained to defend against extraction. The team takes Fischer and a wounded Saito to a warehouse, where Cobb reveals that while dying in the dream would normally wake Saito up, the powerful sedatives needed to stabilize the multi-level dream will instead send a dying dreamer into “limbo”, a world of infinite subconscious from which escape is difficult and a dreamer risks forgetting they are in a dream. Despite these setbacks, the team continues with the mission. Eames impersonates Fischer’s godfather, Peter Browning (Tom Berenger), to suggest Fischer reconsider his father’s will. Yusuf drives the van as the other dreamers are sedated into the second level. In the second level, a hotel dreamed by Arthur, Cobb convinces Fischer that he has been kidnapped by Browning and Cobb is his subconscious protector. Cobb persuades him to go down another level to explore Browning’s subconscious (in reality, it is a ruse to enter Fischer’s).The third level is a fortified hospital on a snowy mountain dreamed by Eames. The team has to infiltrate it and hold off the guards as Cobb takes Fischer into the equivalent of his subconscious. Yusuf, under pursuit by Fischer’s projections in the first level, deliberately drives off a bridge and initiates his kick too soon. This removes the gravity of Arthur’s level, forcing him to improvise a new kick that will synchronize with the van hitting the water, and causes an avalanche in Eames’ level. Mal’s projection emerges and kills Fischer, Cobb kills Mal, and Saito succumbs to his wounds; all three fall into Limbo. While Eames sets up a kick by rigging the hospital with explosives, Cobb and Ariadne enter Limbo to rescue Fischer and Saito.Cobb reveals to Ariadne that he and Mal went to Limbo while experimenting with the dream-sharing technology. Sedated for a few hours of real time, they spent fifty years in dream time constructing a world from their shared memories. When Mal refused to return to reality, Cobb used a rudimentary form of inception by reactivating her totem (an object dreamers use to distinguish dreams from reality) and reminding her subconscious that their world was not real. However, when she woke up, Mal was still convinced that she was dreaming. In an attempt to “wake up” for real, Mal committed suicide and framed Cobb for her death to force him to do the same. Facing a murder charge, Cobb fled the U.S., leaving his children in the care of Professor Miles. Through his confession, Cobb makes peace with his guilt over Mal’s death. Ariadne kills Mal’s projection and wakes Fischer up with a kick. Revived at the mountain hospital, Fischer enters a safe room to discover and accept the planted idea: a projection of his dying father telling him to be his own man. While Cobb remains in Limbo to search for Saito, the other team members ride the synchronized kicks back to reality. Cobb eventually finds an aged Saito in Limbo and reminds him of their agreement. The dreamers all awaken on the plane and Saito makes a phone call.Upon arrival at Los Angeles Airport, Cobb passes the U.S. immigration checkpoint and Professor Miles accompanies him to his home. Cobb tests reality using his totem, a spinning top that spins indefinitely in a dream world, but ignores its result and instead joins his children in the garden.Christopher Nolan’s intelligent and complex SF movie is an intriguing thriller. similar to the director’s other perplexing movie, Memento, it is a film which rewards with each repeat viewing. Definitely a film to watch, probably more than once.

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REVIEW: JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND

CAST

Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence)
Michael Caine (The Dark Knight Rises)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Vanessa Hudgens (Powerless)
Kristin Davis (Couples Retreat)
Luis Guzman (Wiating…)
Branscombe Richmond (The Scorpion King)

It has been four years since the events of the first movie. Seventeen-year-old Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is caught by the police after a brief chase on his dirtbike which ended with him driving into a swimming pool while trying to evade them. Minutes later, his stepfather Hank (Dwayne Johnson) arrives where a police officer (Stephen Caudill) who is friends with Hank tells him that Sean has illegally broken into a remote satellite research center, and that he has talked Mr. and Mrs. McGillicutty (the owners of the swimming pool) out of pressing charges. Hank takes Sean home where his mother Elizabeth (Kristin Davis) is not pleased with his actions and/or the fact that he and Hank don’t get along well.Hank discovers that Sean trespassed the satellite research center in order to boost the signal of a code Sean received from someone he suspects is Alexander Anderson, Sean’s grandfather who had been missing for two years. Wanting to bond with his stepson the next day, Hank helps Sean decipher the code of Jules Verne characters which lead to three books: Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, and Verne’s own Mysterious Island. Using the books’ individual island maps, Hank suspects they are books of the same island and uses a back light in order to make them all one completed land mass with the coordinates to its location. Hank manages to convince Liz to let both of them go in search of the island, in slight hopes of proving Sean wrong, that there is no so-called mysterious island there.They arrive in Palau where they need transportation to travel to this dangerous part of the ocean. A Palauan helicopter tourism guide Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) who Sean develops an immediate crush on, agree to fly them out to the island for $3,000, but the helicopter gets caught in a category 5 hurricane and they crash into the Pacific, waking up on the island. Crossing into the island, they discover one of the laws of the Mysterious Island is that, all animals big are small and all animals small are big (inspiring Lilliput from Gulliver’s Travels). The crew discover tiny elephants and giant butterflies, which are the first creatures they come across on the island. The group decides to explore further into the island.After leaving that part of the island they come across an egg clutch belonging to a Giant Frilled Lizard, they are then saved by Sean’s grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine) who takes them to a large hut he’d built from the wreckage of the ship that brought him to the island called the Blue-Eyed Lucy. He has a working radio, but due to the positioning of the communications satellite it would be two weeks before they could call for help.The next morning, Alexander leads the group to the lost city of Atlantis which is usually submerged in the ocean and he also calculates that the island sinks once every 70 years. However, the sea water appearing from the ground is the evidence that Alexanders’ calculations are wrong, and that the island will sink in a couple of days. Their only means of salvation seems to be the legendary Nautilus (Captain Nemo’s submarine), hidden somewhere on the island. Kailani enters Nemo’s crypt and finds his journal, which has the whereabouts of the ship in a cave at Poseidon’s Cliffs. They decide to go to that cave through the heart of the island. They mount giant bees in order to fly over a high ridge and make up time, but encounter large birds that try to devour the bees. After saving Kailani’s life, Sean crashes and dislocates his ankle. Hank and Alexander later patch up Sean’s ankle the best way they can. Afterward, they have a good moment when Hank sings his rendition of “What a Wonderful World” to ease Sean’s pain.The next morning, the water has risen greatly and Hank deduces that the island will sink in a matter of hours, not days. Gabato is missing having gone toward the island’s golden volcano (which was the inspiration for Treasure Island) in search for the funds to give his daughter a better life. While Alexander and Kailani go after him, Sean and Hank head for Poseidon’s Cliffs to look for the Nautilus. Alexander also finally calls Hank by his preferred name, as up to that point he only called him “Henry” and the family makes up. To deal with the rising water after finding the Nautilus’ cave underwater, Sean and Hank make makeshift oxygen tanks and dive down fifty feet in order to obtain the Nautilus and are nearly killed by a giant electric eel. They are unable to power the ship however because the vessel’s batteries being 140 years old have run down. They find a way to power the submarine from the electric eel’s electricity.Meanwhile, Kailani and Alexander find Gabato and convince him to escape with them instead of trying for the golden volcano. They head towards the shore as the island begins to suddenly and violently rip itself apart. The golden volcano starts to erupt violently, pouring lava flows all over the area. Highly flammable lava bombs are thrown from the golden volcano into the air and suddenly land on the sinking island’s debris. Sean and Hank use a harpoon to get an electrical jump start from the electric eel swarming around them and they are able to power the machine, just in time to pick up the others who had fallen into the water. Gabato pilots the submarine out of harm’s way while Hank and Sean fire torpedoes into the path of falling island debris. As they clear the dangers, Kailani finally kisses Sean for his bravery.Six months later, Kailani and Gabato are well off. Gabato is now running the most popular tourist attraction on Palau providing tours aboard the Nautilus and Kailani is attending college. Kailani goes to visit Sean on his birthday. While they are celebrating, Alexander shows up with a book for Sean’s birthday present. Sean opens it to find Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, Alexander’s suggets for a new adventure with the family, to which Liz protests. Hank replies “What could possibly go wrong? It’s only the moon!” During the credits, the mini-elephants from the earlier scene are swimming underwater over Atlantis.Great family adventure film , if you enjoyed the first one you most likely enjoy this too.

REVIEW: GNOMEO & JULIET

Untitled

CAST (VOICES)

James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class)
Emily Blunt (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Michael Caine (The Dark Knight)
Jason Statham (Spy)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly betty)
Matt Lucas (Alice Through The Lookign Glass)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ozzy Osbourne (Ghostbusters)
Hulk Hogan (The Ultimate Weapon)
Julie Walters (Harry Potter)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)

Mrs. Montague and Mr. Capulet (Julie Walters and Richard Wilson) are two elderly neighbours who despise each other. When they leave their respective gardens, their garden gnomes come alive. The Montague garden is filled with blue-hat gnomes, and the Capulet garden has red-hat gnomes. Like their human gardeners, the gnomes also despise each other.

The gnomes hold a back alley lawnmower race, with Gnomeo (James McAvoy) driving for the blues and Tybalt (Jason Statham) for the reds. Tybalt cheats to win the race, destroying Gnomeo’s lawnmower. Gnomeo and his best friend, Benny (Matt Lucas), are disappointed to see Mrs. Montague ordering a new “kitty” lawnmower.

That night, Gnomeo and Benny infiltrate the red garden in black disguise. Benny sprays Tybalt’s well and accidentally triggers a security light. During the escape Gnomeo ends up in a nearby garden where he bumps into a disguised Juliet (Emily Blunt), the daughter of the red gnomes leader Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine). Juliet is attempting to retrieve a unique orchid, and the two romantically fight over it. They each discover the other’s color before fleeing the garden. When they both go back to their own gardens, Juliet tells her frog-sprinkler friend Nanette (Ashley Jensen) about her newfound love. Nanette states that the relationship is romantically tragic.

Gnomeo and Juliet have secret meetings in the nearby garden, where they meet a pink plastic flamingo named Featherstone (Jim Cummings) who encourages their love. Lord Redbrick pairs Juliet with a Red Gnome named Paris (Stephen Merchant), but Juliet isn’t interested in him and distracts him with Nanette who has feelings for him.  Gnomeo’s mother and the blue gnomes leader Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith), is distraught after the reds infiltrate the garden and destroy the plant nurtured by Gnomeo’s deceased father. The blues want Gnomeo to take revenge on the reds, and he realizes that he cannot refuse unless he tells his secret. Just as he is about to spray the prized tulips of the reds, Juliet sees him and he backs out of the attack.

When he and Juliet meet up again, they argue until Featherstone stops them, telling them he lost his wife when the two people living in the house, where the garden is, broke up and never saw each other again. Benny sees them and runs into the alleyway, where Tybalt is waiting with his lawnmower, attempting to run Benny down and chops off his hat. Gnomeo intervenes, and he and Tybalt fight on the red lawnmower until the lawnmower runs into the wall. Gnomeo jumps off at the last minute, but Tybalt crashes into the wall, destroying himself. The reds attempt to attack Gnomeo, thinking that Tybalt died because of him, but Juliet, to the surprise of her clan, defends Gnomeo, saying that she loves him. Gnomeo ends up on a road, and everyone believes he was run over by a truck. Lord Redbrick and the red gnomes glue Juliet’s feet to her fountain because he does not want to lose her as she lost her mother.

Gnomeo is still alive, eventually reaching a park where he climbs onto a statue of William Shakespeare (Patrick Stewart) and tells him his story. Shakespeare tells Gnomeo that his story is very similar to Romeo and Juliet and that it is likely Gnomeo’s will have a sad ending as well.

Benny gets onto Mrs Montague’s computer and changes her lawnmower order to a powerful Terrafirminator unit, intending to get revenge on the reds. However, the Terrafirminator goes out of control, destroys most of the two gardens, and gets itself stuck while the gnomes wage a full-scale war. Gnomeo returns to Juliet with the help of Featherstone. However, when he arrives, the Terrafirminator frees itself, sending it flying. Gnomeo tries to un-glue Juliet, but is unable to. She tells him to go, but he refuses. The two share a passionate kiss just as the lawnmower crashes into the fountain, self-destructing in the process. When everyone believes that both are dead, Lord Redbrick and Lady Bluebury decide to end the feud. Miraculously, Gnomeo and Juliet emerge from the ruins and the two clans celebrate.

The film ends happily with the red and blue gnomes finally coming together to celebrate their newfound peace. Tybalt is revealed to still be alive having been glued back together, Featherstone is reunited with his wife after Benny finds and orders her online, Gnomeo and Juliet are married on a purple lawnmower, which symbolizes the new union of both gnome clans.The cast is an oddball compilation of respectable actors, with the exception of the obscure addition of Ozzy. But what is really keeping this movie going is the cuteness of it. That is the selling point, and what makes it most appealing. If you go into this movie expecting something more, you will be left disappointed. So I suggested you loosen up, look for a laugh, and you’ll enjoy it more. It’s not a bad film.

 

 

REVIEW: QUILLS

CAST

Kate Winslet (Divergent)
Geoffrey Rush (The King;s Speach)
Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Michael Caine (The Dark Knight)
Billie Whitelaw (Hot Fuzz)
Stephen Moyer (True Blood)

Quills begins in Paris during the Reign of Terror, with the incarcerated Marquis de Sade penning a story about the libidinous Mademoiselle Renard, a ravishing young aristocrat who meets the preeminent sadist in her executioner.  Several years later, the Marquis is confined to the asylum for the insane at Charenton, overseen by the enlightened Abbé du Coulmier. The Marquis has been publishing his work through laundress Madeleine “Maddy” LeClerc, who smuggles manuscripts through an anonymous horseman to a publisher. The Marquis’ latest work, Justine, is published on the black market to great success. Emperor Napoléon I Bonaparte orders all copies of the book to be torched and the author shot, but his advisor, Delbené, tempers this contentious idea with one of his own: send alienist Dr. Royer-Collard to assess Charenton and silence the Marquis. Meanwhile, the Abbé teaches Madeleine to read and write and resists his growing attraction to her. Madeleine reads the Marquis de Sade’s stories to her fellow workers. Whilst Madeleine is fascinated by the Marquis de Sade she remains reluctant to give into his advances. The Abbé and Marquis converse on the Marquis’ inappropriate advances on young women.

Dr. Royer-Collard arrives, informing the Abbé that the Marquis’ “therapeutic writings” have been distributed for public consumption. He presents the Abbé with the ultimatum of silencing the Marquis or Charenton will be shut down by order of the Emperor. The Abbé rejects Royer-Collard’s offers of several aggressive archaic “treatments” and asks to speak with the Marquis himself, who promptly swears obedience (winking at Madeleine through a peephole). Royer-Collard takes his leave for the time being and travels to the Panthemont Convent in Paris to retrieve his promised bride, the underage orphan Simone. They are given a run-down chateau by the Emperor, with a handsome young architect, Prouix, on hand for its renovation.

The hasty marriage incites much gossip at the asylum, prompting the Marquis to write a farce to be performed at a public exhibition, which Dr Royer-Collard and his young wife attend. The audacious play, a shockingly straightforward parallel of the good doctor’s own misogynist domination of his virginal bride, is titled “The Crimes of Love”. The performance is interrupted when the inmate Bouchon molests Madeleine off-stage, prompting her to hit him in the face with an iron. The Abbé is seen publicly comforting Madeleine. Royer-Collard shuts down the public theater and demands that the Abbé do more to control the Marquis, or he will inform the ministry that the inmates are running the asylum. Infuriated, the Abbé confiscates the Marquis’ quills and ink. The Marquis’s wife visits him and he takes out his frustration at not being able to write on her; she retaliates by asking a surprised Dr Royer-Collard that the Marquis be entombed forever. They discuss that the ill-gotten gains from the Marquis’s books could be used to effect his salvation, in other words, provide forms of restraint. The lack of writing implements results in more subversive behaviour from the Marquis, including a story written in wine on bedsheets and in blood on clothing. This results in further deprivation, eventually leaving the Marquis naked in an empty cell. Charlotte, one of the maids, reveals that Madeleine has been helping the Marquis. Madeleine is whipped on the order of Dr. Royer-Collard until the Abbé stops him by offering himself instead and declaring that she will be sent away. That night she visits his chamber to beg him to reconsider sending her away and confesses her love for him in the process, prompting him to kiss her passionately. They abruptly break away at the realization of what they are doing. Madeleine runs off and Charlotte catches the Abbé calling after her.

Meanwhile, Royer-Collard violently raped Simone on their wedding night, and continues to keep her as a virtual prisoner. She purchases a copy of Justine, seduces Prioux, and the young lovers run off to England together. She leaves behind a letter explaining her actions and her copy of Justine. Upon finding this, Royer-Collard seizes on the Marquis as the source of his troubles and embarks upon a quest for revenge, by having him tortured.

About to be sent away from Charenton for her role in assisting the Marquis, Madeleine begs a last story from him, which is to be relayed to her through the asylum patients. Bouchon, the inmate at the end of the relay, is excited by the story, breaks out of his cell, and attacks Madeleine. Royer-Collard hears Madeleine’s screams but chooses to ignore them and she is killed by Bouchon. The asylum is set afire by the pyromaniac Dauphin and the inmates break out of their cells.

Madeleine’s body is found by her blind mother and the Abbé in the laundry vat. The Abbé is devastated by Madeleine’s death and Bouchon is captured and imprisoned inside an iron dummy. The Abbé blames the Marquis for Madeleine’s death and prods him into a fury. The Marquis claims he had been with Madeleine in every way imaginable, only to be told she had died a virgin. The Abbé has the Marquis’ tongue cut out as punishment for his involvement, but is riddled with remorse and physically punishes himself. The Abbé then has a dream in which Madeleine comes alive and they have sex, but ultimately it ends with him holding her corpse. The Marquis’ health declines severely, but he remains perverse as ever, decorating his dungeon with a story, using faeces as ink. As the Marquis lies dying, the Abbé reads him the last rites and offers him a crucifix to kiss. The Marquis defiantly swallows the crucifix and chokes to death on it.

A year later, the new Abbé arrives at Charenton and is given the grand tour by Royer-Collard. During the tour they meet the maid Charlotte and through the exchange between herself and Royer-Collard it is apparent that there is a connection. The asylum has been converted into a print shop, with the inmates as its staff. The books being printed are the works of the Marquis de Sade. At the end of the tour, the new Abbé meets his predecessor, who resides in the Marquis’ old cell. Yearning to write, he begs paper and a quill from the new Abbé, and tries to strangle Royer-Collard when he ventures to close the peephole. The Abbé is herded off by Royer-Collard before he can hear anymore from his predecessor. However, the peephole opens, and Madeleine’s mother thrusts paper, quill, and ink through. The Abbé begins to scribble furiously, with the Marquis providing the narration.

Even if the the historical facts are a bit off in places. It’s touching, raw and a brutally honest depiction of madness, sexual desire, emotion and what it means it be human (flaws and all). The acting is first rate and kept me hooked throughout. It might not be for everyone but i’d recommend it all the same.

 

REVIEW: MISS CONGENIALITY

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Heat)
Michael Caine (Batman Begins)
Benjamin Bratt (Catwoman)
Candice Bergen (Bride Wars)
William Shatner (Star Trek)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Heather Burns (Two Weeks Notice)

The film opens with a flashback to Gracie Hart’s childhood. Gracie (Mary Ashleigh Green) is in a school playground where one boy is bullying another. She steps in and beats up the bully to help the victim, a boy she likes. But instead of being grateful, he feels humiliated at being rescued “by a girl,” and gets angry at her. She promptly punches him in the nose and then sulks alone in the playground.

Fast-forward to the present day, and Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is an FBI Special Agent. In the middle of an operation against Russian mobsters, the target starts to choke on some food, and Gracie disobeys her superior’s command in order to prevent the target from choking. As a result, a member of her squad gets shot, and she is reprimanded by being reassigned to a desk job.

Soon afterwards, the bureau learns that there has been a bomb threat against the 75th annual Miss United States beauty pageant in San Antonio, Texas, which the bureau determines came from the notorious domestic terrorist known as “The Citizen”. Gracie’s partner, Special Agent Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt), is chosen to lead the mission to prevent the attack. Despite Eric’s position as a lead agent in charge, it is apparent that Gracie is the more capable agent, as Eric is unsure of how to proceed and takes credit for Gracie’s suggestions. One of Gracie’s suggestions is to put an agent undercover at the pageant. Gracie’s male colleagues then proceed to have a bit of fun running the digital images of female and male agents through a website meant for children to play dress up with their dolls. Despite the immature and chauvinistic actions of the agents, Eric recognizes that Gracie is the female FBI agent best qualified for the undercover job.

Beauty pageant coach Victor Melling (Michael Caine), whose reputation was ruined after his last contestant criticized his methods, teaches the tomboyish Gracie how to dress, walk, and act like a contestant. She is not used to such behavior, however, and sees the pageant and its participants as “antifeminist “. Eventually though Victor and Gracie come to respect each other’s strengths. Representing New Jersey as “Gracie Lou Freebush”, Gracie impresses the audience by playing the glass harp and demonstrating self-defense techniques during the talent competition. She also unexpectedly becomes friends with the other contestants, in particular Miss Rhode Island, Cheryl Frasier (Heather Burns)

Several suspects emerge, including the corrupt competition director and former pageant winner Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen); her unpleasant assistant Frank Tobin (Steve Monroe); the veteran pageant MC Stan Fields (William Shatner) who, like Kathy, is being replaced with a younger person; and last but not least Cheryl, who appears to have a history as a radical animal rights activist. While Gracie takes Cheryl and some of the other girls out partying, in an attempt to seek out more information about Cheryl’s past through “girl talk”, The Citizen is arrested elsewhere on an unrelated charge. After hearing what some of the other contestants said about Kathy Morningside’s past (she won the pageant only after the original winner “mysteriously” contracted food poisoning), Gracie begins to suspect her, and is worried about the safety of the girls. Her boss thinks that her suspicions are groundless and that the pageant is out of danger now that the Citizen has been arrested. He calls off the mission. Gracie opts to turn in her badge and gun and continue the investigation alone. Eric initially fails to support Gracie and is about to return to the bureau when he figures out that Gracie’s suspicions must be correct, and returns to help her.

In the final round of the pageant, Gracie earns 1st Runner up while Cheryl becomes Miss United States. Gracie realizes that Kathy Morningside and Frank Tobin — unknown to anyone (except Victor) is Kathy’s son — impersonated “The Citizen” and made the threat. Because she was going to be fired after the pageant was over, Kathy and her son were planning to murder the newly crowned pageant winner on stage by putting an explosive device in her tiara. However, Gracie and Eric save the day and arrest Kathy and her son. Gracie’s fellow contestants choose her as “Miss Congeniality,” and, as the story ends, a romance blooms between Gracie and Eric.

The film doesn’t push the boundaries of comedy, but it’s thankfully a consistently funny piece of work, aided by a super cast on form who make a great comedy.

REVIEW: BEWITCHED (2005)

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Batman Forever)
Will Ferrell (Elf)
Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment)
Michael Caine (Batman Begins)
Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgram vs. The World)
Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies)
Heather Burns (Miss Congeniality)
Stephen Colbert (Strangers With Candy)
David Alan Grier (Jumanji)
Steve Carell (Anchorman)
Katie Finneran (Wonderfalls)
Amy Sedaris (Puss In Boots)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)

Jack Wyatt is a narcissistic actor who is approached to play the role of Darrin in a remake of the 1960s sitcom Bewitched, but insists that an unknown play Samantha. Isabel Bigelow is an actual witch who decides she wants to be normal and moves to Los Angeles to start a new life and becomes friends with her neighbor Maria. She goes to a bookstore to learn how to get a job after seeing an advertisement of Ed McMahon on TV. Jack happens to be at the same bookstore after attending some failed Samantha auditions. Jack spots Isabel and persuades her to audition. At the same time, while she’s trying to settle into her new life, Isabel’s intrusive father Nigel keeps appearing to convince her to return home, despite several rejections from Isabel.

After Isabel impresses the show’s producers and writers, Jack finally convinces Isabel to join the show. Also joining the show is legendary actress Iris Smythson as Endora. After a successful taping of the pilot, Isabel happens to overhear a conversation Jack is having with his agent Ritchie. They are talking about how they tricked Isabel to appear without having any lines. Furious, Isabel storms off with Maria and new friend Nina close behind. She decides she only has three choices: quit, get mad, or live with it. Instead, Isabel’s Aunt Clara visits and aids Isabel in casting a spell on Jack in order to make him fall in love with her. At the same time, Nigel is introduced to Iris and becomes infatuated with her.

The hex works and Jack becomes love struck by Isabel, insisting on several script changes to give her some dialogue and jokes, ignoring statements from test groups preferring Isabel over him. Jack’s affection for Isabel grows and he asks her out on a date, making Isabel forget about the hex. But when he brings her home, she remembers and reverses it back to when she and Aunt Clara cast it. The next day, rather than the events the hex presented, Jack is outraged by the scores he received and takes his anger out on Isabel, who lashes back at him. Ritchie fires her, and she storms off. Rather than be angry at her, Jack is fascinated with Isabel and chases after her, taking all her comments into thought. So, after another great taping (with Isabel getting dialogue), a romance blossoms between the two. But the next day, Jack’s ex-wife Sheila arrives, determined to woo Jack back. Isabel sees this and casts a spell on her making her sign the divorce papers and have her decide to move to Iceland. Jack, thrilled, announces he will be throwing a party at his house celebrating the divorce.

Nigel attends the party with Iris and when Nigel begins flirting with much younger guests, Iris reveals that she is also a witch and casts a spell on each girl. When Jack makes a toast stating truth will be revealed with everyone, Isabel decides to tell Jack she’s a witch. At first thinking she’s simply an amateur magician, Jack officially believes her when she levitates him with her broom. Jack becomes frightened and shoos her away with a stick. Offended, Isabel flies off.

Jack takes this hard, being brought to the studios by the police and becoming disenchanted with the project. Isabel decides to return home as she no longer wishes to stay. Jack, imagining himself on the Conan O’Brien Show, is visited by Uncle Arthur. Arthur convinces Jack not to let Isabel leave, because Jack still loves her and wouldn’t be able to return for 100 years (which is later proven to be a lie Arthur made up to inspire Jack). Arthur drives him to the studio where he finds Isabel at the set. Jack apologizes to her and tells her he wants to marry her. They do and move into their new neighborhood (which resembles the neighborhood in the series).The beginning is slow, I have to admit, and at times the storyline does drag a little but if you stick with it I think you’ll be pleased and amused towards the end. But if you are expecting a movie remake of the Bewitched television series, this, sadly, isn’t.

REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

CAST

Christian Bale (The Machinist)
Gary Oldman (Robocop)
Tom Hardy (Inception)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper)
Anne Hathaway (Interstellar)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Morgan Freeman (High Crimes)
Michael Caine (Quills)
Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket)
Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones)
Nestor Carbonell (Ringer)
Juno Temple (Horns)
William Devane (Lois & Clark)
Joey King (Oz The Great and Powerful)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Cillian Murphy (Red Eye)
Desmond Harrington (Wrong Turn)

The story takes place eight years after the events of the second film in the Christopher Nolan Batman film series. The Dent Act, dedicated to the late district attorney Harvey Dent, grants the Gotham City Police Department powers which nearly eradicate organized crime. Police Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) feels increasingly guilty for covering up Dent’s crimes. He writes a resignation speech confessing the truth but decides not to use it.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, broken by the death of Rachel Dawes. Batman, whom Bruce deems no longer necessary, has disappeared. Cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) obtains Bruce’s fingerprints from his home and kidnaps congressman Byron Gilley (Brett Cullen). She hands the fingerprints to Phillip Stryver (Burn Gorman), an assistant to Bruce’s business rival John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn). In return, she asks him to have her criminal record erased. Stryver double-crosses Selina, but she uses the Gilley’s phone to alert the police to their location. Gordon and the police arrive to find the congressman, and then pursue Stryver’s men into the sewers while Selina flees. Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked mercenary, captures Gordon and finds his resignation speech. Gordon escapes and is found by John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a patrol officer. Gordon promotes Blake to detective, with Blake reporting directly to him. Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange, using Bruce’s fingerprints in a transaction that bankrupts Bruce. Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) reveals that Rachel had intended to marry Dent before she died. Alfred then resigns in an attempt to convince Bruce to move on from being Batman.

Wayne Enterprises is unprofitable after Bruce discontinued his fusion reactor project when he learned that the core could be weaponized. Fearing that Daggett, Bane’s employer, would gain access to the reactor, Bruce asks Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) to take over his company. Catwoman agrees to take Batman to Bane but instead leads him into Bane’s trap. Bane reveals that he intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) mission to destroy Gotham with the League of Shadows remnant. He engages Batman and delivers a crippling blow to his back, before taking him to a foreign, well-like prison where escape is virtually impossible. There, the inmates tell Bruce the story of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping—the only prisoner to have ever done so. Bruce assumes the child to be Bane.


Bane lures Gotham police underground and traps them there. He kills Mayor Anthony Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) and forces Dr. Leonid Pavel (Alon Abutbul), a Russian nuclear physicist he kidnapped from Uzbekistan six months prior, to convert the reactor core into a nuclear bomb. Bane uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the world. Using Gordon’s stolen speech, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent’s crimes and releases the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary, initiating anarchy. The wealthy and powerful have their property expropriated, are dragged from their homes, and are given show trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), where all are sentenced to death.

After spending months recovering and re-training, Bruce escapes from the prison. He enlists Selina, Blake, Tate, Gordon, and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to help stop the bomb’s detonation. He hands the Batpod to Selina, tasking her with helping people evacuate and saving herself. She asks him to come along, leaving Gotham to its fate, but he refuses. While the police and Bane’s forces clash, Batman overpowers Bane. He interrogates Bane for the bomb’s trigger, but Tate intervenes and stabs him. She reveals herself to be Talia al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter. Bane is her protector, who aided her escape from the prison. She uses the detonator, but Gordon has successfully approached the bomb and blocks her signal, preventing remote detonation. Talia leaves to find the bomb while Bane prepares to kill Batman, but Catwoman returns on the Badpod and kills Bane. Batman and Catwoman pursues Talia, hoping to bring the bomb back to the reactor where it can be stabilized. Talia’s truck crashes, but she remotely destroys the reactor before dying. With no way to stop the detonation, Batman uses the Bat to haul the bomb over the bay, where it detonates.

In the aftermath, Batman is presumed dead and is honored as a hero. With Bruce Wayne also presumed dead, Wayne Manor becomes an orphanage, and Bruce’s remaining estate is left to Alfred. Fox discovers that Bruce had fixed the Bat’s autopilot, Gordon finds the Bat-Signal refurbished and Alfred sees Bruce and Selina together while visiting Florence. John Blake resigns from the police force and inherits the Batcave.A great end to the Dark Knight trilogy, this along with the first two will always remain three of my favorite films.