REVIEW: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

CAST

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

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

REVIEW: MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF TIR NA NOG

Untitled

 

Starring

Lochlann Ó Mearáin (King Arthur)
Lisa Dwan (Top Boy)
Justin Pierre (Hellboy II)
Vincent Walsh (300: Rise of The Empire)
Charlotte Bradley (Darklands)
Ben Palmer (The Big Wow Wow)
Barry Cassin (Byzantium)
Stephen Brennan (Shergar)
Gerry O’Brien (Veronica Guerin)
Peadar Lamb (This Is My Father)
Ned Dennehy (Good Omens)
Kelly Campbell (Vikings)

CharaktereIn the ’90s two of the biggest shows on television were Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Saban wanted something similar for kids but couldn’t quite get the idea out of the talking stages. With a deal for Young Hercules in development at Fox, enter Robert Hughes who pitched a series centered on Celtic mythology. With the green light, work began on Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog in Ireland and the company’s first successful completely original Ameri-Toku series.lugadThe show pits the good people of Kells against Queen Maeve who wishes to rule over the land. Rohan, the druid Cathbad’s apprentice, comes upon an ancient scroll telling of the great warrior Draganta who may have the power to save the kingdom. Aided by reformed thief Angus, the king’s daughter Princess Deidre, and foreign prince Ivar, the four are given mystical weapons by the fairy king of Tir Na Nog. Using these weapons the four are able to summon powerful mystic armor based around the elements of fire, air, earth, and water. Deidre wishes to break out of being just a simple princess and while her father wishes to protect her, she is determined to fight like any other warrior. Angus is tempted by his old life as a thief but learns that his new friends are worth far more than anything he could ever steal. Ivar is seeking a chalice stolen from his people, which pit him against one of Maeve’s generals.MV5BZWQ1MDhkNDYtZmQ0OS00MjgxLTkxZjUtMzI3ZTAxMDkxODA5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODUyNDIwNTQ@._V1_Throughout the series the group has to protect not only Kells but the fairy people of Tir Na Nog. Mider, a dark fairy who has given Maeve a great deal of power, wishes to rule over Tir Na Nog and will do it any cost, even if it means betraying Maeve. At the end of the series he allies himself with Nemain, the former ruler of Maeve’s domain, Temra. With the help of King Conchobar, the fair Aideen, a dragon named Pyre, and the fifth mystic knight of the forest, Garrett, the group fights against Queen Maeve and her vicious monsters. Along the way the secret of Draganta is revealed and it may forever change Rohans life.MV5BOGUyOTFjZjktMGU4ZS00Yzc0LWJhYmItNDM5ZTM4ZGEwYTY3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODUyNDIwNTQ@._V1_Mystic Knights, being the first Saban Ameri-Toku that eschewed the use of footage from earlier Japanese series, had a tall order to fill. Would they be able to create a compelling show without the aid of footage to fall back on? The answer is a resounding yes! The show benefited from strong writing, inspired by Lord of the Rings and the Celtic myths. Mystic Knights featured several long running arcs and multi dimensional characters that most of the other Ameri-Tokus seemed to lack.hqdefault (1)The show took every advantage of its filming location and we got the richest and most beautiful Ameri-Toku of all. It’s a shame most of the copies in circulation are of such low quality so that richness can’t be fully appreciated. Castles, forests, villages, throne rooms, this show spared no expense. We even got huge battles taking place on horseback, including a siege on the castle. Although to be fair, this footage was heavily reused throughout the series. The music of the show was also top notch, none more so than the theme of the show. Much like the rest of the show, it transported you into this mystical realm of dragons, fairies, and great heroes. I’d be lying however if I said I didn’t enjoy the German version of the opening, which, strangely, is in English. Go figure! Special mention must be given to Lisa Dwan, who played Princess Deidre, who brought a wealth of life to the show’s main female character. Deidre wouldn’t take anyone’s crap and was a surprisingly strong female character for an Ameri-Toku.maevescepterAll of these shows were centered around toys, and the inclusion of what became toys was at odds with the sweeping story the show was attempting to convey. Robert Hughes recalls one meeting where Ban Dai asked him to put motorcycles in the show. They didn’t end up putting bikes in the show, but were forced to compromise with the dreaded, “Battle Wagon.” Even the Mystic Armor seemed tacked on to the major story. This was a character driven show that was forced into having transforming heroes. The weapons they were given, a sword, cross bow, mace, trident, and axes were rarely used for close combat and instead would shoot lasers. Yes, you read that right, lasers. They even had “Battle Gauntlets” which shot them. The toyetic nature of the show clashed far too hard with the serious storyline.hqdefaultAlso, the storylines, while good, did seem to drag on at a times or were even dropped for extended periods. When Garret is introduced he’s given a whole arc of episodes only to disappear for a stretch of over ten episodes, suddenly reappear, and then go off on a quest, which he’d only return from for the final episodes. He’s also given an interest in Deidre and comes off a bit creepy before he mellows out after he realizes she isn’t interested in him. The series seemed to put a ton of focus on Rohan. He was the main character but it seemed a large chunk of time went to him while everyone else seemed to get shafted in terms of character development. The Mystic Knights all do get a chance to shine, but the ancillary characters suffer, considering that the show featured no less than twelve characters credited up front in the series credits. It was a tall order to give everyone equal time to shine.unnamedAgain, the toy line. At the time (in large part thanks to Power Rangers) the toy market was flooded with action figures based on TV shows. Mystic Knights just couldn’t stand out with its generic roleplay items and average main figures. Again, the show tried not to focus on selling toys and instead on telling good stories. Those stories did help the show get picked up for a second season but in the middle of pre production the plug was pulled. The toys weren’t selling, so the show wasn’t worth keeping on air. It’s a shame, too The writers had been planting seeds in the first season to expand on. Angus would have left the show (due to problems with star Vincent Walsh) and a new set of villains would have been introduced. Is It Worth Watching? Yes! While the pacing can be a bit sluggish at times the show fits quite nicely with the slate of fantasy series that currently dominate the airwaves. Sure, it’s no Game of Thrones, but Mystic Knights could be a great introduction to the genre for kids and has quite a bit for adults to enjoy as well.

REVIEW: BLITZ

CAST

Jason Statham (Hummingbird)
Paddy Considine (The World’s End)
Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones)
David Morrissey (The Reaping)
Zawe Ashton (Nocturnal Animals)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Mark Rylance (Dunkirk)
Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones)
Christina Cole (Hex)
Ian Hughes (Power Rangers Ninja Steel)
Ned Dennehy (Good Omens)

Jason Statham in Blitz (2011)A serial killer is targeting police officers in South East London. After two police constables are shot dead and Chief Inspector Bruce Roberts (Rylance) is bludgeoned to death, the hunt for his identity begins. Sergeant Porter Nash (Considine) is transferred to the South East London branch of the police to head the investigation, even though Nash is an outsider and widely ridiculed by his fellow officers for being openly gay. To his surprise he finds an unlikely ally in the hot-headed, gruff Detective Sergeant Tom Brant (Statham), who has a history of violent incidents.Jason Statham in Blitz (2011)While the investigation is ongoing, PC Elizabeth Falls (Ashton) is visited by a friend, a young gang member nicknamed Metal, who is afraid his gang might have actually killed someone. Promising him to look into the situation, Falls contacts Detective Inspector Craig Stokes (Evans), who agrees to help if Falls goes on a date with him. One of Brant’s informants, Radnor (Dennehy), points Brant and Nash towards a man named Barry Weiss (Gillen) who recently bragged about setting a police dog on fire, “for practice”. Although Brant and Nash visit Weiss’ flat, they cannot immediately find any evidence against him. Brant does recognize Weiss as the man he beat up in a fight in a billiard hall a year earlier. Unknown to either of them, Radnor decides to conduct an investigation of his own and eventually discovers the seemingly abandoned car where Weiss keeps the trophies of his kills, confirming that Weiss is the killer.Jason Statham in Blitz (2011)Meanwhile, Weiss contacts a newspaper reporter, Harold Dunlop (Morrissey), to make sure his murders get enough coverage in the press. Weiss promises to keep Dunlop updated about his murders and declares he wishes to be known as Blitz. Soon after, Dunlop is also contacted by Radnor who is interested in selling his information for a high price. Although Radnor leads Dunlop to Weiss’ car, he is killed by Weiss before he can disclose Weiss’ name. Dunlop then alerts the police to the car, but they find it empty. Brant and a fellow police constable come to realize that all of Blitz’s victims so far have been police officers who have arrested Weiss in the past and that PC Falls is most likely the next victim. Falls, after coming home from her date with Stokes, is attacked by Weiss but saved by Metal, who is killed in the ensuing struggle. Before Weiss can attack Falls again, the police arrive.Jason Statham and Paddy Considine in Blitz (2011)Brant and Nash decide to release a picture of Weiss to the media to flush him out, which eventually, after a lengthy chase, leads to Weiss’ capture. There is no concrete evidence against Weiss however, so after 48 hours and an interrogation which does not yield results, the police are forced to let Weiss go. Exasperated, Brant and Nash devise a plot to trick Weiss, knowing that Weiss will want to take revenge on Brant for the billiard hall fight. Weiss infiltrates the funeral of Chief Inspector Roberts, dressed in Roberts’ uniform which he had stolen after murdering him. During the service, Brant leaves, followed by Weiss. Brant leads Weiss to the top of a parking garage, only to reveal that Brant and Nash had switched places along the route. Surprised by a hidden Brant, Weiss is overpowered and relieved of his gun. Explaining that they will never find enough evidence to convict Weiss legally, Brant concludes that they are now in a convenient situation: since Weiss is dressed as a police officer, and Brant has Blitz’s gun, they can shoot him with his own gun, and it will look as if Weiss was just another of Blitz’s victims.Jason Statham in Blitz (2011)Nobody is going to be winning any awards for this one, but it was an entertaining watch. .

 

REVIEW: STORAGE 24

CAST

Noel Clarke (4.3.2.1.)
Colin O’Donoghue (The Rite)
Antonia Campbell-Hughes (Albert Nobbs)
Laura Haddock (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Jamie Thomas King (Tower Block)
Alex Price (A Horse With No Name)
Geoff Bell (Glitch)
Ruth Gemmell (Fever Pitch)
Amy Pemberton (Legends of Tomorrow)
Ned Dennehy (Good Omens)

Noel Clarke and Laura Haddock in Storage 24 (2012)A military aircraft crashes in central London, releasing its highly classified contents. Following the crash, a malfunction at the Storage 24 facility causes the security shutters to lock, trapping several people inside: Charlie, his best friend Mark, Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Shelley, her best friend Nikki, Nikki’s boyfriend Chris, the building receptionist, Jake and a maintenance engineer, Bob. Charlie arrives at the facility with Mark shortly after the incident. However, since the facility’s power is intermittently failing and everyone else is forced back together when they realise they cannot leave the building.Noel Clarke and Colin O'Donoghue in Storage 24 (2012)Meanwhile, Bob (the electrician) and Jake (the receptionist) are attempting to unlock the shutters by checking the electrical distribution boards in the basement. Bob is attacked and mysteriously killed. Jake flees and hides in an open storage room. Chris chances on him and witnesses him being killed by an alien creature.Noel Clarke in Storage 24 (2012)Looking around, Charlie, Mark, Shelley and Nikki come across Chris huddled in the room, in shock, with blood dripping onto his face from above. From this, they locate Jake’s shredded remains above the ceiling panels. As Nikki runs from the room, a middle-aged man grabs her, threatening her with an electric toothbrush. They stun him and tie him up, believing he is the murderer. When he regains consiousness, they learn he is merely an eccentric resident of a nearby storage unit, hiding from his wife. When Chris recovers they learn that a deadly creature of some kind is on the loose, and they are not safe.Noel Clarke and Laura Haddock in Storage 24 (2012)Together, they hide themselves in one of the storage rooms as the creature lurks outside. However, Chris runs; the creature catches him and rips out his heart. The group then decides to stay in the unit rented by the man, David, because it is lockable from the inside. David helps them to piece together what must have happened, by showing them the news channels on a collection of televisions he has acquired. Their only hope is to escape from the facility, and to do that they will need the engineer’s equipment in the basement. Before they venture there, they decide to use the ventilation ducts in order to search other units for weapons. Mark and Charlie search several units, but find only a knife, a crowbar, and some fireworks. As they return, the creature breaks through the duct inches from Charlie and Mark abandons him. Mark returns to the group and distributes the weapons, telling them that Charlie is dead.Noel Clarke, Ned Dennehy, Colin O'Donoghue, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, and Laura Haddock in Storage 24 (2012)Charlie has somehow escaped the creature, and stumbles into the group; there is a slightly awkward reunion. Heading for the basement, they are confronted by the creature, and David sacrifices himself to give the others time to escape. They split into pairs to search the basement. Charlie and Nikki find the electronic keypad controlling the shutters near Bob’s mutilated body. When they return, Mark is alone. He tells them Shelley has been taken by the creature and they must leave immediately. Charlie insists on a rescue attempt and doubles back with Nikki. In a corridor nearby, Shelley is held captive by the creature. As it prepares to kill her, she stabs it with the knife and runs, but is cornered in a lift. Charlie and Nikki send a walking toy dog rigged with lit fireworks down the hallway. The fireworks explode, allowing Shelley to escape to Charlie.Noel Clarke and Laura Haddock in Storage 24 (2012)Believing the creature dead, they run to Reception only to find Mark has barred its door with the crowbar. They plead with him; he stares distractedly, leaving them trapped. Charlie kicks the door open, and tries to open the shutters with the keypad. Just then the creature breaks through the wall behind Mark, and kills him. With Nikki’s aid, Charlie kills the creature by thrusting the crowbar through its abdomen. Charlie finally releases the security shutters, and the trio emerge into the street. Shelley apologises and Charlie accepts the break-up. They go their separate ways. London is ablaze, under heavy attack from alien spaceships. The film ends abruptly.It’s OK. It’s not brilliant – far from it – and it’s not especially horrifying. Gory, yes, horrifying – no. But it keeps the interest up and is professionally staged, with a decent monster. Clarke, as always, gives a decent performance, and everyone else does OK.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH

CAST

Helen McCrory (The Queen)
Phoebe Fox (Black Mirror)
Jeremy Irvine (war Horse)
Adrian Rawlins (Harry Potter)
Ned Dennehy (Good Omens)

40 years after the events of the first film, bombs drop down on London during the Blitz of World War II. Eve Parkins joins her schoolchildren and the school’s headmistress, Jean Hogg, to evacuate them to the countryside town of Crythin Gifford. On the journey there, Eve meets dashing pilot, Harry Burnstow, who is stationed at an airfield near Crythin Gifford. Upon arrival, Eve is confronted by a raving madman, Jacob, and flees.

Though Eve and Jean do not approve of the place, there is no other alternative. That night, Eve has a nightmare of how she was forced to give up her baby when she was younger; when she awakens, she hears the noise of a rocking chair coming from the house cellar. There, she finds a message, scolding her for letting her child go, and sees a woman dressed in black. The next morning, one of the children, Edward, who has been mute since the death of his parents in a bombing, is bullied by two other children and sees the Woman in Black in the nursery. Eve feels that something is wrong when Edward starts constantly carrying around a rotten doll. That night, one of the boys that was bullying him is drawn out of the house by the Woman in Black; Eve finds his body on the beach.

Eve later sees the Woman in the graveyard, where she finds the grave of Nathaniel Drablow. She chases the ghost to the beach and is overcome by visions of Nathaniel’s death. At the house, she and Harry establish the story of the ghost through an old record made by Alice Drablow before her death at the hands of the Woman in Black: it is her sister, Jennet Humpfrye, the mother of the child she adopted, Nathaniel. Jennet is haunting them because of Nathaniel’s premature death, and is punishing Eve in particular for giving up her baby. Eve journeys into the abandoned town to confront Jacob, who is blind and therefore unable to be killed by the ghost, as he cannot see her. However, he has been driven insane by the deaths of all the other children and tries to kill Eve before she escapes.

Back at the house, Jean finds one of the girls trying to strangle herself under the Woman’s spell. During an air raid, the girl suffocates herself using a gas mask. After this death, Harry takes them to his airfield, which is revealed to be fake. Eve realizes the Woman has followed them. Edward flees, where he apparently dies by walking into a fire basket. Eve finds out that Edward is still alive and at Eel Marsh House. Realizing the Woman in Black wants her alone, she drives to the island, where she finds Edward walking out into the marsh to drown himself where Nathaniel died. She crawls after him, but they are dragged down into the mud by the ghost. At the last minute, Harry arrives and saves them, though he is dragged down to his death instead.

Months later, Eve has adopted Edward, and they are living in London. Although they believe they are free from the ghost, once they leave their house, she appears again and smashes a picture of Harry.It does what it says on the tin, and there’s nothing wrong with that – and it’s a damned sight better than many horror sequels that are simply remakes of the first movie. Yes, it could have been better, but it zips along quite briskly and yet still manages to pack a punch when it needs to. Not bad at all.

REVIEW: MANDY

Starring

Nicolas Cage (National Treasure)
Andrea Riseborough (Birdman)
Linus Roache (Non-Stop)
Bill Duke (Predator)
Richard Brake (Game of Thrones)
Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders)
Olwen Fouéré (This Must Be the Place)
Line Pillet (Alleen Eline)
Ned Dennehy (Good Omens)

Nicolas Cage in Mandy (2018)Somewhere near the Shadow Mountains in the year 1983, Red Miller lives with his girlfriend, artist Mandy Bloom, in a cabin near the lake. Red works as a logger, while Mandy has a day job as a cashier at a nearby gas station in the woods. She creates elaborate fantasy art, and Red admires her work greatly. They lead a quiet and reclusive life, and their conversations and behavior hint at a difficult past and psychological hardship. Red appears to be a recovering alcoholic and possible veteran, and Mandy recounts traumatic childhood experiences.Mandy (2018)On her way to work, Mandy walks past a van carrying the Children of the New Dawn, a deviant Manson-esque hippie cult led by Jeremiah Sand. Sand is struck by Mandy’s beauty and orders one of his disciples, Brother Swan, to kidnap Mandy with the help of the Black Skulls, a demonic biker gang with a taste for human flesh and a liquid, highly potent form of LSD.Nicolas Cage in Mandy (2018)At night, Swan drives out to the lake and summons the Black Skulls by blowing a mystical horn. After Swan offers them a low-ranking member of the cult as a sacrifice, they break into the couple’s home and subdue Mandy and Red. The two female members of the cult, Mother Marlene and Sister Lucy, drug Mandy with LSD and venom from a giant black wasp before presenting her to Sand. Sand – a failed musician – attempts to seduce Mandy with his psychedelic folk music, telling her that God had told him to take anything he wanted. Mandy ridicules him, leaving him confused and infuriated. Seeking revenge, Sand stabs Red, who is tied and gagged with barbed wire, then burns Mandy alive in front of him. After nothing but ash remains of Mandy, Sand and his followers leave. Red frees himself, mourns over Mandy’s ashes, goes back inside and falls asleep, exhausted and in shock. After waking up from a nightmare, he consumes a bottle of vodka, tends to his wounds, and shrieks in agony, grief, and rage.Nicolas Cage in Mandy (2018)In the morning, Red fetches “the reaper,” his crossbow, from his friend Caruthers. Caruthers provides him with freshly crafted arrows and information on the Black Skulls. According to Caruthers, the Black Skulls were drug couriers who turned murderously sadomasochistic after they had consumed a bad batch of LSD. Before Red leaves, Caruthers warns him that his odds of survival are poor. Red forges a battle axe and hunts down the bikers. Tracking the gang, he attempts to run down a trailing biker, but is captured in the process. At their hideout, Red manages to break free and kill the bikers. In searching their hideout he consumes some of their cocaine and tainted LSD, causing him to instantly and severely hallucinate.Nicolas Cage in Mandy (2018)Seeking out a radio tower he envisioned earlier, Red encounters The Chemist, a mysterious drug manufacturer, who tells him where to find the Children of the New Dawn. At their makeshift wooden church in a quarry, Red kills Brothers Swan and Hanker with his axe and kills Brother Klopek in a chainsaw duel, sparing only the life of Sister Lucy. Traversing the tunnels beneath the church, Red finds Mother Marlene and decapitates her. He then finds Sand, taunting him by rolling out Marlene’s severed head. Sand begs for mercy, but Red kills him by crushing his skull. He sets the church on fire and watches Sand’s body burn before driving away, envisioning Mandy in the passenger seat of his car, while the landscape behind him now appears fantastical and otherworldly.Brutal, shocking, and beautifully shot, Mandy unashamedly thrives on its unique premise from beginning to end. The film appears to have been heavily influenced by the work of David Lynch, with its surreal imagery and inventive cinematography, further emphasizing the overall dream-like experience. Nicolas Cage is his usual over-the-top self and he demonstrates this several times during the film’s second half. This is certainly not for everyone, but fans of surreal artsy films, graphic violence, and Nicolas Cage will find plenty to enjoy.

REVIEW: GOOD OMENS

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)

Starring

David Tennant (Mary Queen of Scots)
Michael Sheen (Passengers)
Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland)
Jon Hamm (Baby Driver)
Josie Lawrence (Humans)
Lourdes Faberes (Knightfall)
Adria Arjona (Life of The Party)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jack Whitehall (Bad Education)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Mireille Enos (Hanna TV)
Yusuf Gatewood (The Originals)
Brian Cox (Rise of TPOA)
Reece Shearsmith (Stag)
Nina Sosanya (Marcella)
Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders)
Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Grinch)
Steve Pemberton (Psychoville)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
Nick Offerman (The Lego Movie 2)
Daniel Mays (The Bank Job)
Sian Brooke (Sherlock)
Simon Merrells (Legends of Tomorrow)
Susan Brown (Game of Thrones)
Paul Kaye (Anna and the Apocalypse)
David Morrissey (The Walking Dead)

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Once upon a time, Good Omens was considered unadaptable. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s sprawling, 400-page fantasy novel was notorious within the film and TV industries. Screenwriters turned their noses up at the project, and various attempts over the years to bring page to screen ended in disappointment. However, an adaptation of the unadaptable proved to be Pratchett’s last request to his co-author before he died in 2015, and Gaiman set about writing the screenplay for what would become an epic six-part BBC/Amazon co-production.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)So first things first: was the unadaptable, well, adaptable, after all? The short answer is, yes. Gaiman — also showrunner on the series — has pulled off a colourful, quirky, funny, poignant (although not entirely flawless) feat. One might even suspect there’s been a spot of divine (or devilish) intervention… The true triumph is the casting. Michael Sheen shines (quite literally, in some scenes) as the angel Aziraphale, a celestial field agent who teams up with his opposite number, the stylish demon Crowley — played with a Bill Nighy-esque swagger by David Tennant — in order to prevent Armageddon.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)It’s this pairing that proves to be the beating heart of the series. Crowley and Aziraphale have been on Earth since the very beginning, and in their own ways they’ve both “gone native”. Aziraphale owns a Soho bookshop, and likes gravlax salmon with dill sauce. Crowley drives a pristine 1926 Bentley and listens to Queen. They’ve formed a professional agreement not to meddle in each other’s affairs, and in their spare time they’ve enjoyed a series of rather nice clandestine lunches. Every time either actor appears onscreen, you can almost hear the costume department’s (and fandom’s) squeals of joy. David Tennant in snakeskin boots! Michael Sheen with artfully tousled bleached hair! A tartan bow tie! Tennant also sports appropriately flame-red hair (not in the books, but worth it for Doctor Who fans’ realisation that the Tenth Doctor finally got his wish) that frequently changes style. In one particularly memorable moment during episode one, Crowley disguises himself as a bobbed-haired nanny, a Satanic crossover between Nanny McPhee and Mrs Doubtfire.good-omensHe and Aziraphale have a teasing, love/hate relationship that fans of the book have shipped for almost two decades. Gaiman has since promised that “the TV series gets deeper into Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship,” and some viewers will be hoping that that will translate into a burgeoning romance. Certainly in episode one, Aziraphale seems rather overexcited at the prospect of he and Crowley becoming joint “godfathers” to the infant Antichrist, whose arrival on Earth threatens to catalyse the apocalypse. Gabriel has bright purple irises in the series, a nod to Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary lilac eyes according to the show’s companion book, The Nice and Accurate Good Omens TV Companion. However, as anyone who’s worn thick coloured lenses for Halloween and lived to tell the tale will know, the effect is rather distracting and painful to look at, as are Crowley’s reptilian yellow eyes (thankfully hidden away under trendy shades for much of the show). Gabriel barely appears in the book, and he’s a welcome and much-needed addition to the series: someone to put the proverbial heat on Aziraphale.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Various sets are also new for the TV show: Heaven is now a vast corporate headquarters, while Hell resembles an overcrowded basement office. A rather gloomier version of The IT Crowd, if you will. Some of the show’s special effects can feel a bit hammy (think Russell T Davies-era Doctor Who with a couple of rubber frogs thrown in), but the scene depicting the entrances to both Heaven and Hell features a pretty cool bit of cinematography, including a mirror effect and an upside-down Tennant. However, despite the addition of characters like Gabriel, much of the show remains doggedly faithful to the books. Reams of dialogue are almost word-for-word during episode one, to the extent that there are certain moments and scenes where one feels that the show’s pace has been sacrificed in favour of preserving the ‘voice’ of the book. Of course, it’s understandable given the circumstances — Gaiman has spoken about the pressure to protect Pratchett’s narrative creations in his absence. For example, he made sure that one of Pratchett’s characters, the 17th century witch Agnes Nutter, remained in the show despite calls to replace her (and an expensive, explosive period shoot) with a series of woodcuts.good-omens-key-art-600x314In Agnes’s case, it makes sense to preserve her: her spookily accurate prophecies drive much of the plot and predict the present-day apocalypse. But there are chunks of God’s narration (voiced by Oscar-winner Frances McDormand) that feel a bit laboured. Some sections, like the bit about demons’ talents for “lurking” around graveyards, must have read well on the page in that distinctive Terry/Neil voice, but in reality they fall rather flat — much like a certain angel’s misguided attempts to pull a rabbit out of a top hat at a children’s birthday party. At the end of the day, however (and according to Agnes Nutter, there aren’t many more days left), the series is a love letter to the book, combining Gaiman and Pratchett’s brilliant characterisation and quippy jokes with vivid, gorgeous sets and memorable costumes.