REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Chelsea Spack (Dead To Me)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)
John Doman (The Company Men)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2000)

CAST

Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Lucy Liu (Kill BIll)
Bill Murray (Groundhog Day)
Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2)
Kelly Lynch (Road House)
Tim Curry (IT)
Crispin Glover (Alice In Wonderland)
Matt LeBlanc (Friends)
LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea)
Tom Green (Road Trip)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
John Forsythe (Scrooged)
Kevin Grevioux (Underworld)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)

Drew Barrymore in Charlie's Angels (2000)Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz) Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore) and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu) are the “Angels”, three talented, tough, attractive women who work as private investigators together for an unseen millionaire named Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe) Charlie uses a speaker in his offices to communicate with the Angels, and his assistant Bosley (Bill Murray) works with them directly when needed.Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels (2000)Charlie assigns the Angels to find Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell), a software genius who created a revolutionary voice-recognition system and heads his own company, Knox Enterprises. Knox is believed to have been kidnapped by Roger Corwin (Tim Curry), who runs a communications-satellite company called Redstar. The Angels infiltrate a party held by Corwin and spot a suspicious-looking man that they had previously seen from surveillance videos of Knox’s kidnapping. Dubbing him the “Thin Man” (Crispin Glover), the Angels chase him down and fight him; he gets away but the Angels find Knox, safely held nearby.Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels (2000)After the Angels reunite Knox with his business partner Vivian Wood (Kelly Lynch) Charlie explains that they must determine whether the Thin Man has stolen Knox’s voice-recognition software. The Angels infiltrate Redstar headquarters, fool the security system, and plant a device in the central computer that will enable them to explore it remotely. They retire for the night after giving Bosley the laptop computer that communicates with the Redstar computer. Dylan takes up Knox’s offer to spend the night with him, and they end up having sex. Afterwards, Knox betrays her; simultaneously, attacks are made on Natalie and Alex, Bosley is captured by Vivian, and Corwin is murdered by the Thin Man. Knox tells Dylan his kidnapping was all faked to get the Angels to help him access the Redstar satellite network. He plans to use it along with his voice recognition software to find and kill Charlie, who Knox asserts killed his father in the Vietnam War.The Angels are back on the chain gangDylan escapes and reunites with Natalie and Alex, all who survived their attacks. They approach Charlie’s offices just as the building explodes. They find a radio transmitter that Bosley is able to communicate through via a radio transmitter implanted in a tooth. Bosley provides enough information of his place of captive to allow Natalie to deduce its location, an abandoned lighthouse. With help from Dylan’s current boyfriend Chad (Tom Green) the Angels stealthily approach the lighthouse. They are too late from stopping Knox from determining Charlie’s location, but they rescue Bosley and defeat Vivian, the Thin Man, and some henchmen before Knox blows up the lighthouse. Knox flies an attack helicopter towards Charlie’s house, while Bosley helps the Angels board it. Alex reprograms the missile to have it shoot backwards, which blows up the helicopter and kills Knox while all of the Angels land safely together on the beach.The Angels get ready to rumble...Seeing the opportunity to finally meet Charlie in person, they enter the beach house that Knox had targeted the missile at, but Charlie has already left. He remotely congratulates the Angels on a job well done through another speaker, and treats them and Bosley to a vacation. Charlie tells them that Knox’s father was undercover; however, he was discovered and he was killed by someone else but not Charlie. When he speaks to the Angels unseen again by telephone on the beach, they ask if they could ever meet him in person. Dylan then suspects that she might be seeing him nearby talking into a cell phone, but she doesn’t tell the group.Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Bob Stephenson in Charlie's Angels (2000)There’s no intellectual challenges made in this movie’s plot, and that’s how it should be; the characters are only slightly more fleshed-out than any of the ones from the TV show, and that’s also not a bad thing – if you put too much seriousness into this kind of film, you wind up killing the roaring-good times to be had. What really makes the film work is the charisma ( & physical charms )of the 3 leading ladies, combined with well-choreographed action sequences and the tongue-in-cheek script. If you enjoy Diaz, Barrymore & Liu ( not to mention Bill Murray )when they’re on the screen, you’ll love this flick.

 

REVIEW: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES – SEASON 2

Starring

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Thomas Dekker (The Secret Circle)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Richard T. Jones (Santa Clarita Diet)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave)
Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games)
Shirley Manson (Top Wing)

Thomas Dekker in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

James Urbaniak (Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay)
Carlos Sanz (Runner Runner)
Max Perlich (Beautiful Girls)
Dean Winters (John Wick)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Busy Philipps (White Chicks)
Sonya Walger (Lost)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Mackenzie Brooke Smith (A Winter Rose)
Jillian Armenante (Bad TEacher)
Jon Huertas (Castle)
Jonathan Jackson (Nashville)
Will Rothhaar (Battle Los Angeles)
Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket)
Shane Edelman (Flightplan)
Stephany Jacobsen (Star-Crossed)
Derek Riddell (Gunpowder)
Emilio Rivera (Venom)
Richard Schiff (Man of Steel)
Adam Busch (Buffy: TVS)
Eddie Shin (Westworld)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Rebecca Creskoff (Bates Motel)
Samantha Krutzfeldt (A Mann’s World)
Carlos Jacott (Big Love)
Ned Bellamy (Twilight)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Laura Regan (Dead Silence)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Jamison Jones (Hollywood Homicide)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Alanna Masterson (The Walking Dead)
Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)
Cyd Strittmatter (Gone Girl)
Michelle Arthur (Goldeneye)
Manny Montana (Conviction)
Julie Ann Emery (Better Call Saul)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Chad L. Coleman (The Orville)
Yuri Lowenthal (Young Justice)
Sabrina Perez (American Exit)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)

Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)I enjoyed the first season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, despite its shortened season which fell victim to the writer’s strike, I was looking forward to what they had in store for Season Two. The first season had excellent performances and action sequences, appealing storylines, and show runner Josh Friedman was performing his job well. I expected things to fall in line for Season Two, however I had a small bit of apprehension: the addition of Shirley Manson, normally the lead singer of the band Garbage, to the cast.Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)I thought this was a dicey proposition. Manson had not done any real acting work before, and Friedman might have been overreaching. Granted, his casting masterstroke in Season One was Brian Austin Green, formerly of Beverly Hills 90210, now appearing as Derek Reese, brother of Kyle. As a brief overview for those unfamiliar with the mythology, Kyle is father to John Connor (Thomas Dekker, A Nightmare on Elm Street), leader of the resistance against Skynet and the cyborg army of terminators. John’s mother Sarah is played by Lena Headley (300). And of course, it wouldn’t be a show about terminators without one as a cast regular; enter Summer Glau (Firefly) as Cameron. More on all of them in a minute.Shirley Manson in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Back to the risky decision. Manson plays Catherine Weaver, CEO of a high-powered technology corporation called ZeiraCorp. Manson is a T-1000, similar to Robert Patrick in T2, and she assumes the life of the real Weaver, who died in a helicopter crash with her husband. Their daughter is still alive, which presents a unique challenge, as a terminator hasn’t been placed in a truly maternal role before. Oddly enough, Manson’s role as an emotionless being trying to figure out how to be a mother is one of the season’s better performances (in “The Tower Is Tall But The Fall Is Short”), and she proves to be a capable actress. This introspection from non-feeling machine against a motherly disposition is fascinating in how Manson can show her emotions and yet not reveal her hand, as it were.Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Fortunately, we see similar stories behind other characters. In the episode “Allison From Palmdale,” not only do we discover Cameron’s origins but also why her physical traits were used as a model for a terminator. The performance is not as deep as Manson’s, but Glau does admirably. The self-evaluation continues with John as he gets involved in a relationship with Riley (Leven Rambin), which is almost like the last part of teenaged life he’ll enjoy before his imminent future with the resistance, of which Sarah dutifully reminds him. Sarah continues to struggle with her mortality because of a possible illness, and Derek has a particular conflict with Jesse (Stephanie Jacobsen, Life on Mars), who also came back from the future with motives that appear to differ from Derek’s. The quality of guest stars improved as well: Dean Winters (Oz) and Garret Delahunt (No Country For Old Men) reprise their roles as Charley and Cromartie, respectively. As Agent Ellison, Richard T. Jones is a guy who questions his spirituality and later rationalizes it to believe that what he does is right, though we know otherwise. Some of the other faces in Season Two include former West Wing regulars Richard Schiff and Joshua Malina, and Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket) plays a psychiatrist whose work affects several cast regulars, and has long-lasting impacts for future episodes.Brian Austin Green, Lena Headey, and Dean Winters in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)But it’s not like any Terminator project is known for its ensemble work. This has the requisite amount of action sequences and visual effects, and that action helps emphasize the points the story is trying to tell. For a good CG illustration, Manson kills the staff of a warehouse before blowing it up, but normally most of the stunts are done practically and look convincing as a result.Brian Austin Green, Lena Headey, and Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Sadly though, I have to think that there weren’t enough people willing to take a leap of faith and give the show a chance because it wasn’t a big-budget action film. It told stories with each of its characters and did so well. I’m guessing that wasn’t appreciated. Additionally, the release of the fourth Terminator film in the summer of 2009 probably gave the show an over saturation point with the public which hampered any acceptance of it. So now the show’s gone from our televisions, and while we have a new crop of reality shows and sitcoms with retread stars to pore over, I’d encourage people to give The Sarah Connor Chronicles a second view. It’s funny, smart, suspenseful, intriguing and artistic. And yes, it’s a science fiction show. Further proof that the genre has some quality creative minds contributing to it.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: WIND CHILL

Starring

Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place)
Ashton Holmes (The Divide)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Ned Bellamy (Twilight)
Ian A. Wallace (Tin Man)
Donny Lucas (Wayward Pine)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)

Emily Blunt in Wind Chill (2007)A female student (“the girl”) at a Pennsylvania university uses the campus ride share board to find a ride home to Wilmington, Delaware for Christmas. She joins a male student (“the guy”), who is driving home to Wilmington. His older car is in poor condition, with the trunk full of his possessions as he has been kicked out of his apartment. It soon becomes apparent that she is arrogant and anti-social. He seems to know quite a lot about her, stating that they have a class together, although she has never noticed him.Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in Wind Chill (2007)They stop at an isolated gas station, where she hears him asking the clerk for directions, although he claimed to have driven the route many times. Setting off, he soon turns off the main highway down Route 606, a lonely snow-covered road through a wooded ravine which he claims is a short cut. She tells him to return to the main highway, but he refuses. Crosses, apparently on graves, can be seen on either side of the road.Emily Blunt in Wind Chill (2007)As night falls, headlights come towards them in the middle of the road. The oncoming driver does not slow down, causing the guy to swerve, half burying their car in a snow drift. The guy observes that the oncoming car, which did not stop, has left no tire tracks in the snow. While the guy walks back to the gas station, the girl sees a dark figure stagger past the car. She calls out, but it ignores her. The guy returns, saying the gas station is closed, but she does not think he has been gone long enough. Huddling in the car, the guy reveals that he had been watching her for some time. He lives ten minutes from campus, but saw her texting about the ride share in class, leading him to post the notice offering a ride to Wilmington.Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in Wind Chill (2007)They notice a number of black-clad figures walking past the car and call after them, but they do not stop. Their faces are white and dead-looking. The guy follows them up the slope into a ruined building where they disappear. He finds frozen corpses half buried in the snow inside and also a newspaper. Meanwhile, the girl sees the lone figure again and when she touches it, burning her hand, it turns round to reveal a bloated corpse.They think help has arrived when a Pennsylvania Highway Patrol officer knocks on their window. He does not seem to understand their predicament, choosing instead to believe they were “parking”. He takes the girl to the back of his patrol car, which is clearly not a modern vehicle. When he violently pushes her into the car, the guy hits the officer with a tire iron. They awaken, thinking it was all a dream, to find that the guy has the tire iron frozen to his frostbitten hands. The girl realizes that he was badly injured in the crash, and he admits that he did not reach the gas station because he started spitting up blood. The newspaper from the ruined building is dated 23 December 1953, telling of an accident in which a young couple and a police officer were killed when their cars crashed into a ravine on this road. Retired priests from a nearby home gave them the last rites. They realize that the officer is a ghost and the black-clad figures are the dead priests.Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in Wind Chill (2007)The officer keeps reappearing, always heralded by Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” on the car’s radio. The girl drifts in and out of consciousness, becoming in her dreams the many other people the cop has killed. She uses the guy’s telephone, from his trunk of belongings, to call for help from the junction box on a nearby telephone pole. She reaches 911, but is not sure they could hear her. Returning to the car, she finds that the guy has died. A snow-plow driver knocks on the window. He puts her into his truck and the guy’s body on the back. While driving he tells the girl that, in the early 1950s, a corrupt cop murdered people on this stretch of road and their bodies were never found. In 1953 he ran a young couple off the road, but lost control and also died in the ravine. Frequently, around this time of year, more people die on this road. In 1963, the priests were found frozen to death in their beds.Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in Wind Chill (2007)The plowman sees headlights and believes more help has arrivied. Instead, the ghostly cop runs them off the road. The truck is not stuck; but, despite the girl’s pleas, the driver gets out to help the driver of the other car. The girl follows him and the pair see the two burning cars from 1953 down the ravine. They see the priests walk down to the trapped officer, but instead of helping him they pull the microphone from his police radio, leaving him to burn to death. His burned body crawls out and touches the plowman, who instantly freezes to death. She tries to start the truck, but the officer reappears. The ghost of the guy appears and hits him with a tire iron, saving her. As dawn breaks, she awakes back in the car, with the guy’s body next to her. There is no sign of the truck. The guy’s ghost appears and leads her up the hill, through the ruined priests’ home and to the gas station, where he disappears.In an age of shock horror which has become rife in Hollywood over the past decade it nice to see a good old fashioned horror film in the fashion of say John Carpenters “The Fog” or even Peter Jackson’s “The Frighteners” which it had elements that were very similar too. A fine intelligent psychological horror film.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE POSSESSION

Starring

Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Kyra Sedgwick (Man On A Ledge)
Madison Davenport (Sharp Objects)
Natasha Calis (Daydream Nation)
Grant Show (Born To Race)
Matisyahu (A Buddy Story)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)

A newly separated couple Clyde Brenek (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) live in different homes. After Clyde picks up their two children, Emily “Em” (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport), for the weekend, they stop at a yard sale where Em becomes intrigued by an old wooden box that has Hebrew letters engraved on it. Clyde buys the box for Em, and they later find that there seems no way to open it. That night, Em hears whispering coming from the box. She is able to open it, and finds a tooth, a dead moth, a wooden figurine, and a ring, which she begins to wear. Em becomes solitary, and her behavior becomes increasingly sinister; she stabs her father in the hand with a fork during breakfast. That night, the house, especially Em’s bedroom, becomes infested with moths.Kyra Sedgwick and Madison Davenport in The Possession (2012)At school, Em violently attacks a classmate when he takes her box, resulting in a meeting with Clyde, Stephanie, the principal and the teacher. Em’s teacher recommends that she spend time away from the box, so it is left in the classroom. That night, curious about the mysterious noises from the box, the teacher tries to open it, but a malevolent force, the dybbuk, murders her by violently throwing her out a window. Em tells Clyde about an invisible hag who lives in her box who says that Em is “special”. Alarmed by her behavior, Clyde attempts to dispose of the box. During their next weekend at Clyde’s, Emily gets progressively more upset with the disappearance of the box. She begins yelling at Clyde in the hall with Hannah watching in the back. The dybbuk seems to slap Em across the face. She begins yelling, asking why she’s hitting her, from Hannah’s perspective it looks like her father actually does. Em flees the house, recovers the box and the dybbuk begins conversing with her in a strange language.Natasha Calis in The Possession (2012)Clyde takes the box to a university professor who tells him that it is a dybbuk box that dates back to the 1920s; it was used to contain a dybbuk, a dislocated spirit as powerful as a devil. Clyde enters Em’s room and reads Psalm 91; a dark but invisible force throws the Tanakh across the room. Clyde then travels to a Hasidic community in Brooklyn and learns from a Jewish priest named Tzadok (Matisyahu) that the possession has three main stages; in the third stage, the dybbuk latches onto its human host, becoming one entity with it. The only way to defeat the dybbuk is to lock it back inside the box via a forced ritual. Upon further examination on the box, Tzadok learns that the dybbuk’s name is “Abyzou”, or the “Taker of Children”.Em has a seizure and is taken to the hospital for an MRI. During the procedure, Stephanie and Hannah are horrified when they see the dybbuk’s face in the MRI scans next to Em’s heart. Clyde and Tzadok join the family at the hospital and attempt to conduct an exorcism. Where Em is taken to a room that has a tub full of water and a stretcher to keep Em stable during the exorcism. During the exorcism, the possessed Em attacks Tzadok. Clyde grabs Em from him, and Em runs out of the room. Clyde follows her out and finally finds her in the morgue where the lights are off. As he nears her, she starts to attack him. Clyde survives the attack, but the dybbuk is passed from Em to him. Tzadok performs a successful exorcism; Abyzou emerges from Clyde and crawls back into the box. The family is reunited, with Clyde and Stephanie’s love rekindled. Tzadok drives away with the box in Clyde’s vehicle. The car is hit by a truck, killing him. The box lands safely from the wreckage, and Abyzou’s whispering is heard from it, the same Polish rhyme heard at the beginning of the film.Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Matisyahu, and Natasha Calis in The Possession (2012)It is a well written, acted, and executed movie that while it may seem slow moving is well worth the watch.

REVIEW: SAW

CAST

Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)
Leigh Whannell (Raze)
Danny Glover (Shooter)
Ken Leung (Rush Hour)
Dina Meyer (Birds of Prey)
Michael Emerson (Lost)
Benito Martinez (The Shield)
Shawnee Smith (Anger Management)
Makenzie Vega (Sin City)
Monica Potter (Patch Adams)
Ned Ballamy (Django Unchained)
Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)

Adam, a photographer, awakens in a bathtub in a large dilapidated bathroom, and finds himself chained at the ankle to a pipe. Lawrence Gordon, an oncologist, is similarly shackled across the room, and between them is a corpse holding a revolver and a microcassette recorder. Each man has a tape in his pocket, and Adam is able to retrieve the recorder. Adam’s tape urges him to escape the bathroom, while Lawrence’s tape tells him to kill Adam by six o’clock, or his wife and daughter will be killed and he will be left to die. Adam finds a bag containing two hacksaws inside a toilet tank; they attempt to cut through the chains, but Adam’s saw breaks and he throws it at the mirror in frustration, revealing a hidden camera behind the mirror. Lawrence realizes that the hacksaws are meant for their feet and identifies their captor as the Jigsaw Killer, whom Lawrence knows of because he was a suspect five months before.Flashbacks show that while Lawrence was discussing the terminal brain cancer of a patient, identified as John by an orderly named Zep Hindle, with his medical students, he was approached by Detectives David Tapp and Steven Sing, who found his penlight at the scene of a Jigsaw “game”, of which at least three have been investigated. Lawrence’s alibi clears him, but he reluctantly agrees to view the testimony of the only known survivor, a heroin addict named Amanda Young, who believes Jigsaw has helped her from a “reverse bear trap”.Meanwhile, Alison and Diana Gordon are being held captive in their home by Zep, who is watching Adam and Lawrence through a camera behind a two-way mirror in the bathroom. The house is simultaneously being watched by Tapp, who has since been discharged from the force. Flashbacks show that Tapp became obsessed with the Jigsaw case after hearing Amanda’s testimony, and eventually found Jigsaw’s warehouse using the videotape from her game. He and Sing entered the warehouse, where they apprehended Jigsaw and saved a man from a drill trap, but Jigsaw escaped after non-fatally slashing Tapp’s throat, and Sing was killed by a quadruple shotgun walkway while pursuing him. Convinced that Lawrence is Jigsaw, Tapp began stalking him after his discharge.In the bathroom, Lawrence finds a box containing a lighter, two cigarettes, and a one-way cellphone. He then recalls his abduction: he was trying to use his phone after being trapped in a parking garage, and was suddenly attacked by a pig-masked figure. They try to use a cigarette dipped in the corpse’s blood, which is in fact cyanide, to stage Adam’s death, but the plan fails when Adam is zapped through his ankle chain. Adam then recalls his own abduction: he was in his photo development room when the power went out and, after finding a puppet, was attacked by a similar pig-masked figure. At gunpoint, Alison calls Lawrence and tells him not to trust Adam, who admits that he was being paid to take photos of Lawrence, many of which were in the hacksaw bag. Adam also reveals his knowledge of Lawrence’s affair with one of his medical students; Lawrence had been with her before he was abducted. Lawrence realizes from Adam’s description that Tapp was paying him. Adam finds a photo that he didn’t take, of a man staring out a window of Lawrence’s house, whom Lawrence identifies as Zep. Unfortunately, the clock then strikes six as he realizes this.As Alison, who managed to free herself, calls Lawrence at gunpoint again, she fights Zep for the gun. The struggle gets Tapp’s attention, and he saves Alison and Diana and chases Zep to the sewers, where he is eventually shot in the chest during a struggle. Lawrence, aware only of gunshots and screaming, is zapped as well and loses reach of the phone; in desperation, he saws off his foot and shoots Adam with the corpse’s revolver. Zep enters the bathroom to kill Lawrence, stating that “It’s the rules”, but Adam, who suffered only a flesh wound, overpowers Zep and bludgeons him to death with the toilet cover. As Lawrence crawls out of the room to find help, Adam searches Zep’s body for a key and finds another microcassette recorder, which reveals that Zep was another victim, following the rules of his own game to obtain an antidote for a slow-acting poison in his body.The famous Hello Zepp plays in the background as the truth about Zep is revealed. As the tape ends, the “corpse” rises and is revealed to be Lawrence’s patient, John, the real Jigsaw Killer. He says the key to the chain is in the bathtub, which was drained when Adam awoke. John zaps Adam when he tries to shoot him with Zep’s gun, turns off the lights, yells “game over”, and seals the door, leaving Adam to die in the bathroom.I strongly recommend this film who appreciate good stories, and aren’t easily scared by the garbage you see in theatres. For people who get squeamish, steer clear of this film. It is very nice graphic, and very sadistic at times. A brilliant debut, and a terrifying one.

 

REVIEW: DRAGON BLADE

CAST

Jackie Chan (Rush Hour)
John Cusack (Identity)
Adrien Brody (Hollywoodland)
Lin Peng (1911)
Choi Si-won (Helios)
Sharni Vinson (Home and Away)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)

In northwest China, 48 BC, a security company under Han China’s current government called The Silk Road Protection Squad is committed towards stopping battles and promoting the idea of peace. Huo An (Chan), the captain, successfully averts a battle between the Indians and Huns. The group returns to their unnamed home city, where Huo An’s gentle Uyghur wife Xiuqing (Mika Wang) serves as a schoolteacher for orphans. However, the government uncovers evidence that someone in the group is corrupt, causing the entire group to be sentenced to construction work at Wild Geese Gate, a ruined fortress. Once they arrive, the group pays respects at the shrine of a fallen Chinese general. They originally were child-slaves of Hun descent, but the general had later rescued them.
Not long after, Wild Geese Gate is threatened by a legion from the Roman Empire in need of water and supplies, among which is a blind boy named Publius (Jozef Waite). After a stale-mated duel between Huo An and Lucius (Cusack), the Roman general, the latter agrees not to assault the city in return for being let inside. The legion uses its superior engineering skills to speed up the construction work, an act which boosts the morale and happiness of the inhabitants, who are divided among several different races, such as Chinese, Uighur, and Turkic. Huo An returns the favor by sending men to assist Lucius’s envoys in reaching the Parthian Empire. A celebration is later held and Huo An is made an honorary centurion.
Lucius reveals that he and Publius are fleeing from Publius’s brother Tiberius (Brody), a corrupt soldier who murdered their consul father and blinded Publius so Tiberius could become consul. As Tiberius approaches with 100,000 soldiers, Huo An insists on helping Lucius, pointing out that Tiberius is a threat to the Silk Road in its entirety. Shortly after Huo An leaves to find reinforcements, the corrupt group member from earlier sends Chinese soldiers to murder Huo An’s wife and attack Wild Geese Gate. The legion is imprisoned in the non-Chinese trading city of Kroran, where Tiberius has chosen to camp. Tiberius proceeds to murder Publius.
Huo An and the few loyal Chinese soldiers travel to Kroran, pretending to surrender, but once they are inside, they destroy the Roman legion’s cages. However, they are unable to free Lucius, who is about to be burned to death in a special solitary cell. Huo An fires an arrow and kills Lucius before the fire gets him. As Huo An’s and Lucius’s soldiers are surrounded, the armies of several other races arrive and fight against Tiberius, including the Indians, Huns, Uighurs, and Turkics, all of whom are determined to preserve the Silk Road’s safety. However, even their combined forces are unable to gain the upper hand. Finally, the envoys from earlier return with a massive host of Parthians, who had signed a special treaty with Publius’s father and who intend to avenge his memory. Tiberius’s soldiers lose their will to fight. Huo An challenges Tiberius to a duel and kills him.
Upon hearing about the bravery of Lucius’s legion, the Chinese emperor grants them the right to establish their own city, which they choose to name Regum. They accept Huo An as their commander, and Huo An, in turn, honors the deceased Chinese general by relocating the shrine to that city. As the centuries go on, the city fades from collective memory. However, in the modern day, a team of Asian American archaeologists stumble upon the site and uncover the dual Chinese and Latin inscriptions.Overall this is a great watch for all Jackie Chan fanatics and for everyone who loves action films and historical epics with great action sequences. The good thing is, I was not bored and the pacing keeps me into it. Overall I’m pretty satisfied with it, and a must watch guilty pleasure.

REVIEW: BEING JOHN MALKOVICH

CAST

John Malkovich (Red)
John Cusack (2012)
Cameron Diaz (The Green Hornet)
Catherine Keener (The 40 Year Old Virgin)
Orson Bean (Miracle on 34th Street)
Mary Kay Place (The Big Chill)
Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Carlos Jacott (Angel)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Sean Penn (Gangster Squad)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Brad Pitt (FIght Club)
Mariah O’Brien (Halloween 6)
Pamela Hayden (The Simpsons)
Neil Ross (Transformers: The Movie)

Craig Schwartz (Cusack) is an unemployed puppeteer in a forlorn marriage with his pet-obsessed wife Lotte (Diaz). Gaining a file clerk job through Dr. Lester (Bean) at LesterCorp, in the strange Floor 7½ low-ceiling offices of the Mertin-Flemmer Building in New York City, he develops an attraction to his coworker Maxine Lund (Keener), who does not return his affections. Craig enters a small door hidden behind a filing cabinet and finds himself in the mind of actor John Malkovich. Craig is able to observe and sense whatever Malkovich does for fifteen minutes before he is ejected and dropped into a ditch near the New Jersey Turnpike. He reveals the portal to Maxine and they let others use it for $200 a turn.Craig tells Lotte, who becomes obsessed with the experience, allowing her to live out her transgender desires. Lotte becomes attracted to Maxine and they begin a sexual relationship via Lotte being inside Malkovich’s head while Maxine has sex with Malkovich. Craig, forsaken by both women, binds and gags Lotte and locks her in a cage, then enters Malkovich’s mind and has sex with Maxine. Craig discovers that he is able to control Malkovich’s actions while in his head, causing the actor to become paranoid. After consulting with his friend Charlie Sheen, Malkovich trails Maxine to the Mertin-Flemmer building, where he tries the portal and is placed in a world where everyone looks like him and can only say “Malkovich”. He is ejected and meets Craig by the turnpike. Malkovich demands that the portal be closed, but Craig refuses.Lotte escapes with the help of the animals in the cage and phones Maxine, revealing that Craig was having sex with her. Maxine is annoyed but accepts it as she enjoyed the experience. Seeking help, Lotte finds Lester, who reveals himself to be Captain Mertin, the creator of LesterCorp. He is aware of the portal and has a room dedicated to Malkovich. Lester explains that the person connected to it becomes “ripe” for occupation on the eve of their 44th birthday. However, after the old host turns 44, the portal moves to its next host, an unborn child. The former allows one to increase their life before moving on to another host while the latter means being trapped within the unborn child. Lester, who has been using the portal to prolong his life, reveals his plan to use Malkovich for himself and several of his friends. Offered the chance to join Lester’s group, Lotte warns him that Craig has control.Craig finds he is able to remain in Malkovich indefinitely. He spends the next eight months in Malkovich’s body, and through his control turns Malkovich into a world-famous puppeteer. Malkovich marries Maxine and learns that she is pregnant as their relationship grows distant. As Malkovich’s 44th birthday approaches, Lester and his friends cut a deal with Maxine and fake her kidnapping. They call up Craig threatening to kill her if Craig does not leave Malkovich. Craig ends the call, causing Lester to think that he called their bluff. Lotte loses hope and attempts to kill Maxine, but they end up at the turnpike after falling through the portal and Malkovich’s shame-ridden subconscious. Maxine reveals that she conceived when Lotte was inside Malkovich’s body and kept the child because it is theirs. The revelation cements their love for each other. Craig calls back Lester thinking Maxine is still in danger. Realizing his opportunity, Lester continues his bluff, convincing Craig to leave Malkovich’s body. Lester and his friends enter the portal, taking control of Malkovich. Craig, discovering that Lotte and Maxine are together again, decides to enter the portal to become Malkovich and regain Maxine. Years later, an aging Malkovich, under the collective mind of Lester and his friends, reveals to Sheen a plan to prolong their lives through Maxine’s daughter Emily, within whom Craig is now permanently trapped after entering the portal, powerless as he watches Maxine and Lotte living happily through Emily’s eyes.

One of the most unique, imaginative movies ever made.

REVIEW: MYSTERY MEN

CAST

Ben Stiller (Zoolander)
Hank Azaria (Godzilla)
William H. Macy (Jurassic Park 3)
Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer)
Kel Mitchell (Kenan & Kel)
Wes Studi (Avatar)
Greg Kinnear (A Few Good Men)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speach)
Lena Olin (Alias)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Artie Lange (Rescue Me)
Claire Forlani (Mallrats)
Tom Waits (The Book of Eli)
Gerry Becker (Angel)
Monet Mazur (rageing Angels)
Marie Matiko (Xena)
Dane Cook (Good Luck Chuck)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Ricky Jay (Flashforward)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: Tscc)
Michael Chieffo (Roswell)
Sung Kang (Fast & Furious)
Stacey Travis (Ghost World)
Jack Plotnick (Z Nation)
Dana Gould (The Simpsons)

In the metropolis of Champion City, the would-be superhero team of Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), the Shoveler (William H. Macy), and the Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) attempt to make a name for themselves, but their suspect skills make them ineffective, and they find themselves upstaged by the city’s most successful superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear). However, Amazing is finding that his effectiveness at fighting crime has practically made his job obsolete, and without any worthy adversaries remaining (some of them are either dead, in exile, or still in jail), his corporate sponsors are beginning to pull their funding. To create a need for himself, Amazing uses his alter ego, billionaire lawyer Lance Hunt, to argue for the release of insane supervillain Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush). The plan backfires; once reunited with Tony P (Eddie Izzard) and his Disco Boys, Casanova Frankenstein blows up the insane asylum, captures Amazing, and prepares to unleash a doomsday device: the “Psycho-frakulator”, which lethally bends reality. Mr. Furious, while spying on Casanova Frankenstein’s mansion, discovers Amazing’s capture and informs the others.

After an unsuccessful rescue attempt, the three realize they need more allies, and through word-of-mouth and try-outs, they recruit Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), the Spleen (Paul Reubens), and the Bowler (Janeane Garofalo). The newly formed team “assaults” Casanova, which only succeeds in annoying him and damaging his car. While drunk from celebrating their victory, the team is nearly killed in retaliation by Tony P and the Disco Boys, but they are saved at the last minute by the Sphinx (Wes Studi). The Sphinx trains them, but his methods annoy Mr. Furious – he has them complete rote team-building exercises and speaks exclusively in Chiasmus. They also seek out mad scientist Doc Heller (Tom Waits), who specializes in non-lethal weaponry, to equip them for their battle.
Mystery Men (1999)
The group breaks into Casanova’s mansion during a gathering of several of the city’s gangs; but, while attempting to free Captain Amazing, they inadvertently set off the Psycho-frakulator, killing him instead. Without Amazing, the team despairs of saving the city, but the Shoveler delivers a pep-talk that succeeds in uniting and inspiring them.
Mystery Men (1999)
With new-found purpose, they assault the mansion and, by making effective use of their negligible superpowers and Heller’s weapons, manage to subdue most of Casanova Frankenstein’s henchmen. Unfortunately, as the heroes approach Casanova Frankenstein, he reveals that he is holding Mr. Furious’ girlfriend Monica (Claire Forlani) hostage, and proceeds to activate the Psycho-frakulator, which begins to wreak havoc upon the city. While the team tries to stop the device, Mr. Furious takes on Casanova Frankenstein. After initially taking a beating, Mr. Furious unleashes his inner rage and manages to fight effectively for the first time. He defeats Casanova Frankenstein, who is thrown into the core of the Psycho-frakulator and killed by its reality-bending powers. The rest of the team helps The Bowler use her bowling ball to destroy the device and escape the mansion as it implodes.
Mystery Men (1999)
The team is interviewed by reporters, begging to know their team name. As they argue among themselves, one reporter states “Well, whatever you may call them, Champion City will forever owe a debt of gratitude to these ‘Mystery Men’,” but the others are too busy arguing to hear it.

Mystery Men (1999)

The casting is perfect. Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious, William H. Macy as the Shoveler, Paul Reubens as the Spleen, Janeane Garofalo as the Bowler, Hank Azaria as the Blue Raja, Kel Mitchell as Invisible Boy and Wes Studi as the Sphinx. They all played it straight, which was what sold it given that they’re really ridiculous characters and made you feel for these guys and cheer them on as they bumbled their way through their adventure.  It’s just simply fun.

REVIEW: TWILIGHT

 

CAST
Kristin Stewart (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Robert Pattinson (Sword Xanten)
Taylor Lautner (Tracers)
Anna Kenderick (The Voices)
Nikki Reed (Sleepy Hollow)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl)
Billy Burke (Red Riding Hood)
Sarah Clarke (Thirteen)
Rachelle Lefevre (White House Down)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Kellan Lutz (The Legend of Hercules)
Ashley Greene (Burying The Ex)
Jackson Rathbone (S.Darko)
Matt Bushell (Shelter)
Elizabeth Reaser (The Ex List)
Christian Serratos (Flight 7500)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
Cam Gigandet (Priest)
Edi Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Seventeen-year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan moves to Forks, a small town on the Washington coast, to live with her father, Charlie. Her mother, Renée, is remarried to a minor league baseball player, and they travel often to attend games. Bella makes several friends at her new high school, but she is intrigued by the mysterious and aloof Cullen siblings. Bella sits next to Edward Cullen in biology class on her first day of school, but he seems to be repulsed by her. After a week of absence from school, Edward comes back and talks to Bella normally. A few days later, Bella is nearly struck by a van in the school parking lot. Edward saves her by instantaneously covering a distance of over 30 feet and putting himself between Bella and the van, stopping it with only his hand and making a conspicuous dent. He subsequently refuses to explain his actions to Bella and warns her against befriending him.
After much research, Bella concludes that Edward is a vampire. He eventually confirms this but says he and the other Cullens only consume animal blood. The pair fall in love, and Edward introduces Bella to his vampire family. Carlisle Cullen, the family patriarch, is a doctor working in Forks. His wife is Esme, and Alice, Jasper, Emmett, and Rosalie are their informally adopted children. Edward and Bella’s relationship is soon put in jeopardy, when three nomadic vampires — James, Victoria, and Laurent — arrive in Forks. James, a tracker vampire with incredible hunting instincts, is instantly intrigued by Edward’s protectiveness over a human, which incites him to hunt Bella for sport. Edward and the other Cullens risk their lives to protect Bella, but James tracks her to Phoenix, where she is hiding with Jasper and Alice. James lures Bella into a trap by falsely claiming that he is holding her mother hostage. James breaks Bella’s leg before biting her wrist, infecting her with vampire venom. After a ferocious fight, Edward subdues James just as the other Cullens arrive. Alice, Emmett, and Jasper destroy James, decapitating and burning him, as Edward sucks the venom from Bella’s wrist, preventing her from turning into a vampire. Upon returning to Forks, Edward accompanies Bella to the high school prom, where he refuses to grant her request that he transform her into a vampire. As the couple dance, they are unaware that James’ mate, Victoria, is secretly watching, plotting revenge for her lover’s death.
Overall, I enjoyed “Twilight” for what it was – a romance that probed the timeless dilemma of wanting what you can’t have (and despite Meyer’s Mormon beliefs, this whole series is basically a metaphor for sex). It makes for an interesting, compelling story.