REVIEW: LAKEVIEW TERRACE

CAST

Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Kerry Washington (Mr & Mrs Smith)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Jay Hernandez (Hostel)
Justin Chambers (Grey’s Anatomy)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Eva LaRue (CSI: Miami)
Michael Landes (Lois & Clark)

An interracial newlywed couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) are moving into their first home. Chris’s first exchanges with their neighbour, long time LAPD detective Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), have somewhat hostile undertones, with Abel making comments about Chris’ smoking and listening to hip hop music. The following night, Chris and Lisa have sex in their swimming pool. Unknown to them, Abel’s children, Marcus and Celia, watch them. Abel arrives home and witnesses the spectacle. Angry, he re-positions his home security floodlights to shine into Chris and Lisa’s window, keeping them awake. One evening, Chris and Lisa hear noises downstairs and find the tires on Chris’ car slashed. Suspecting Abel, they call the police, who are unable to do anything because of Abel’s status within the LAPD. Chris retaliates by shining his own floodlights into Abel’s bedroom.Lisa later reveals she is pregnant, creating conflict with Chris, who does not yet want children. Meanwhile, Abel is suspended without pay for abusing a suspect, inciting more fury within him. Chris plants trees along the fence between their properties, which leads to a near-violent exchange, as Abel objects to having trees hanging over his property. When Chris goes to a local bar, Abel enters and tells Chris that his own wife died in a traffic accident.

Abel sends his informant, Clarence Darlington (Keith Loneker), to trash the Mattson’s home to make them uncomfortable in the neighbourhood. Lisa arrives home early, surprising Clarence. They struggle and Lisa is knocked out, but not before she triggers the alarm. Chris races home, followed by a frustrated Abel. When Abel comes upon his hired criminal, he fatally shoots him. Lisa is rushed to the hospital, but is okay. Wildfires are raging in the surrounding hills and the residents are instructed to leave their homes. Abel, who remains behind, enters the Mattsons’ home, hoping to retrieve Clarence’s dropped cell phone. Lisa and Chris unexpectedly return from the hospital before Abel finds the phone, and he leaves. While the Mattsons pack to evacuate, Chris finds the cell phone. He calls the last number dialled and hears Abel answer. Chris realizes Abel is responsible for the break-in, and Abel realizes Chris has discovered the phone.

Abel goes over with his gun drawn, and he and Chris struggle. Before Lisa can escape, Abel shoots her car, causing her to crash into a parked vehicle. After pistol whipping Abel and seemingly knocking him out, Chris rescues Lisa. Hiding his gun behind his back, Abel insists he is unarmed, County sheriff officers arrive on the scenes and Abel tries to insists that he’s unarmed and that Chris should listen to his wife, Chris finally throws Abel off by asking him about his wife’s death and how she had became unfaithful to him, Infuriated, Abel finally pulls out his hidden gun, shooting Chris in the shoulder, prompting Abel to be killed by the deputies in self-defence. Chris survives, and he and Lisa later talk about their pride in their home, neighbourhood, and soon-to-be family.

Director Neil LaBute handles the film well, painting a picture of middle class suburban tranquillity, and then slowly destroying the peaceful scene he has created with a deft touch. This is a small, personal film tackling a very big issue, and it tackles it extremely well.

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE CONJURING 2

CAST
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen)
Madison Wolfe (The Campaign)
Frances O’ Connor (Bedazzled)
Franka Potente (The Bourne Identity)
Simon McBurney (The Last King of Scotland)
Maria Doyle Kennedy (Sing Street)
Robin Atkins Downes (Suicide Squad)
Bonnie Aarons (The Princess Diaries)
In 1976, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren document the Amityville murders at the Amityville house, to determine if a demonic presence was truly responsible for Ronald DeFeo Jr. mass murdering his family on November 13, 1974 and the subsequent haunting incident involving the Lutz family. During a seance, Lorraine is drawn into a vision where she relives the murders and discovers a demonic nun figure, before seeing Ed being fatally impaled. After a struggle, Lorraine is able to break out of the vision.
One year later, in 1977, the Hodgson family begins to discover strange occurrences within their home in London. Janet, the second oldest of four children, is seen sleepwalking and conversing in her dreams with an entity who insists that the house is his. Eventually, all siblings of the house and their mother Peggy witness paranormal events occurring right before their eyes, forcing them to seek refuge with their neighbors. When the media attempts to interview the Hodgsons, Janet is possessed by the spirit of Bill Wilkins, an older man who previously lived and died in the house, and who wants to claim his territory. As Janet begins to show more signs of demonic possession, the story eventually reaches the Warrens, who are requested to assist the local church in the investigation. Lorraine, in fear of her vision of Ed’s death becoming reality, warns him not to get too involved in the case, and reluctantly agrees to travel to London. She has yet another vision of the demonic nun in the collection room wherein the demon says its name, which Lorraine scribbles in her Bible.
While staying at the Hodgson residence, Ed and Lorraine consult with other paranormal investigators, including Maurice Grosse and Anita Gregory, on the legitimacy of the case. They also attempt to communicate with Wilkins’ spirit, hoping to talk him out of harassing the family. One night, after the Hodgsons witness Janet being possessed, Gregory presents video evidence of Janet purposely wrecking the kitchen as if for a prank. Ed and Lorraine are then convinced to leave the family on their own, but soon they discover that the spirit of Wilkins is only a pawn, being manipulated to haunt Janet, while the true mastermind is the demonic spirit that has been haunting Lorraine in her visions.
Ed and Lorraine return to the Hodgson residence, only to find Janet being possessed once more and the rest of the Hodgsons locked outside the house. A lightning strike hits a tree near the house, leaving a jagged stump resembling the object that impaled Ed in Lorraine’s vision. Ed ventures inside the house alone, and finds Janet standing near the window, ready to leap onto the stump and commit suicide. He manages to grab Janet in time, but finds himself holding onto a curtain that is being torn from its rings by his and Janet’s weight. Lorraine remembers that she wrote the demon’s name – Valak – in her Bible. She enters the house and confronts Valak, addressing it by name and successfully condemning it back to Hell. Janet is freed of her possession, and Lorraine pulls her and Ed to safety.
A text epilogue reveals that Peggy lived the rest of her life in that house and died in 2003, sitting in the same spot in which Wilkins had died 40 years earlier. Upon returning home, Ed adds an item to his and Lorraine’s collection – “The Crooked Man” zoetrope toy owned by Peggy’s youngest child – placing it near April’s music box and the Annabelle doll. The couple then dance to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley.
The Conjuring 2 is as strong as the first. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first, or indeed likes haunting films.

REVIEW: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

CAST
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Henry Carvill (Immortals)
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Diane Lane (Hollywoodland)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Jeremy Irons (Lolita)
Holly Hunter (Crash)
Gal Gadot (Fast And Furious 6)
Scoot McNairy (Monsters)
Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine)
Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead)
Michael Shannon (Boardwalk empire)
Michael Cassidy (Smallville)
Ray Fisher (The Astronaut Wives Club)
Ezra Miller (Trainwreck)
Harry Lennix (Dollhouse)
Joe Morton (Speed)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Carla Cugino (Watchmen)
Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy)
Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis)
Jena Malone (Saved)
Eighteen months after the destructive attack by General Zod in Metropolis from Man of Steel, Superman has become a controversial figure. Daily Planet journalist Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, has moved in with Lois Lane. Bruce Wayne, who has operated in Gotham City as the vigilante “Batman” for nearly two decades, sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity. After learning of Batman’s activities, Superman also views him as a threat, and seeks to stop him via the Daily Planet articles authored by him as Kent.
Wayne learns that Russian weapon-trafficker Anatoli Knyazev has been contacting LexCorp’s mogul Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to convince Senator June Finch to allow him to import Kryptonite retrieved from the Indian Ocean following the results of Zod’s terraforming attempt, claiming to use it as a “deterrent” against Kryptonians, but she denies the request. He also makes side dealings with Finch’s subordinate and demands access to Zod’s body and the Kryptonian scout ship.
Wayne attends Luthor’s party at LexCorp, where he meets mysterious antiques dealer Diana Prince, and retrieves data from the company’s mainframe. The data drive, however, is stolen by Prince, who later returns it to Wayne after she is unable to decrypt the data. While decrypting the drive at the Batcave, Wayne has a dream of a post-apocalyptic world, where he leads a group of rebels against Superman. He is snapped out of the dream by an unidentified time traveler, who warns him of Lane’s crucial role in the distant future, and urges him to find “the others”. Wayne later realizes that Luthor is not only experimenting with Kryptonite, but also investigating metahumans. One of them is Prince herself, who is an immortal warrior. Wayne admits to Alfred Pennyworth that he plans to steal the Kryptonite to weaponize it, should it become necessary to fight Superman. Batman pursues a convoy carrying the Kryptonite to LexCorp, but Superman interferes and orders him to cease his activities.
Luthor orchestrates a bombing at a congressional hearing where Finch is questioning Superman on the validity of his actions, which have resulted in deaths of civilians. The bomb kills dozens of people, including Finch. Frustrated with failing to save people, Superman goes into self-imposed exile. Batman breaks into LexCorp and steals the Kryptonite, planning to use it to battle Superman by building a powered exoskeleton, and creating a Kryptonite grenade launcher and a Kryptonite-tipped spear. Meanwhile, Luthor enters the Kryptonian ship and learns of its functions, as well as recorded alien worlds.
Luthor kidnaps Martha Kent, Clark’s adoptive mother. He reveals that he has manipulated Superman and Batman by fueling their animosity of each other. Luthor forces Superman to fight and kill Batman in exchange for Martha’s life. Superman tries to reason with Batman, but Batman instigates a fight and ultimately gains the upper hand thanks to the kryptonite grenades. Before Batman can kill Superman with the spear, Superman urges Batman to “save Martha”, whose name is also shared with Wayne’s late mother. Lane arrives and explains the situation, convincing Batman that Superman is not a threat. Upon learning of Luthor’s plan, Batman leaves to rescue Martha, while Superman confronts Luthor on the scout ship.
Surprised at his own defeat, Luthor executes his backup plan, unleashing a genetically-engineered monster with DNA from Zod’s body and his own. However, Diana Prince arrives unexpectedly. Revealing her metahuman nature, she joins forces with them to fight the creature. However, they are soon outmatched by its power, as it is can absorb and redirect energy. Realizing that it is vulnerable to Kryptonite, Superman retrieves the Kryptonite spear and attacks the monster. With Batman and Prince’s help distracting it, Superman impales the creature. As it dies, the creature stabs and kills Superman with one of its bone protrusions.
Luthor is arrested, and while speaking to Batman he gloats that Superman’s death has made the world vulnerable to powerful alien threats. A memorial is held for Superman in Metropolis. Clark is also declared dead and Wayne, Lane, Martha, and Prince attend a private funeral for him in Smallville. Martha gives an envelope to Lane which contains an engagement ring from Clark. After the funeral, Wayne reveals to Prince that he plans to form a team of metahumans, starting with the ones from Luthor’s files, to help protect the world in Superman’s absence. After they leave, a faint heartbeat echoes from Clark’s coffin and the dirt around it begins to levitate.

Once a movie that i was extremely nervous about stepping into, just happened to turn out to be my favorite superhero movie, and probably will for years to come, very interesting aspect of the movie was using the flaws of the first installment of the comic book universe and building upon those mishaps to create a much better and more compelling story. In this Ultimate Edition, there are both Theatrical Version (151 mins, in both 2D and 3D) and the Ultimate Version (extended Cut, 182 mins, only in 2D). I would strongly recommend the Extended Cut, because the extra information is helpful to tie in different events.

REVIEW: THE SWITCH

CAST

Jennifer Aniston (Rumor Has It..)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen)
Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers)
Jeff Goldblum (The Fly)
Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal)
Scott Elrod (Argo)
Thomas Robinson (Tomorrowland)

30-something Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston) is single, hasn’t found love yet, and decides she wants to have a baby. Despite the objections of her neurotic long-time best friend Wally Mars (Jason Bateman), she chooses to do so alone because she can’t wait any longer. She also wants a face-to-face sperm donor, disdaining using a sperm bank. Wally suggests he be the donor, but Kassie sees him as a bit too neurotic, pessimistic, and self-absorbed, and besides, as best friends, “that would be weird.” Wally has always had feelings for Kassie, and they dated six years ago, but his friend Leonard (Jeff Goldblum) points out he missed his chance when she put him in the “friend zone”.

Kassie selects as sperm donor a handsome and charming (and married) assistant professor, Roland (Patrick Wilson). Kassie organizes an “insemination party”, where Wally meets Roland and takes an instant dislike to him. Roland is then called upon and produces his sperm in the bathroom, leaving it in a sample cup. Wally uses the bathroom and sees the sample. Drunk and doped up after taking a pill provided him at the party by Kassie’s friend, Debbie (Juliette Lewis), and not liking the idea of Kassie being inseminated with this sperm, Wally plays with the cup and accidentally spills it into the sink. Panicking, he replaces the sperm with his own. The next day at work, still hungover, he remembers nothing. The insemination is successful. Wally is then upset when Kassie tells him she is returning to her family home in Minnesota, as she thinks that would be a better environment to raise a child in, instead of New York City. She leaves, and Wally maintains a non-fulfilling, dreary existence.

Seven years later, Kassie returns to New York along with precocious-but-neurotic son Sebastian (Bryce Robinson). She wants to reconnect with Wally, and is eager to introduce her son to him. After an awkward first meeting, Wally eventually forms a bond with this loveable and seemingly mini-version of himself, and Sebastian starts to become close to Wally, but the bad news is that Roland is in the picture too: Kassie has started dating him because he is now divorced and, as she thinks he is Sebastian’s father, and a nice guy, maybe it would work.

After Wally notices the similarities between himself and Sebastian, and after talking to his friend Leonard, Wally realizes what happened seven years earlier. Just before Roland proposes to Kassie, Wally reveals to Kassie that Sebastian is his son, along with his true feelings for her. She is shocked and angry and does not want to see him again. Some time passes, and one day, as he is leaving work, Wally finds Kassie waiting for him on the street outside his office building. She tells him Sebastian really misses him and needs him. Wally admits he misses and needs Sebastian too. Kassie then discloses she isn’t with Roland any longer, and that she loves him, even with all of his idiosyncrasies. Wally proposes to her, Kassie accepts, and they kiss. The final scene shows a happily married Wally and Kassie throwing Sebastian’s eighth birthday party.

This film is a bog standard romantic comedy it is mildly humorous and it follows the same rom-com story arch that most films in this genre do, but is lifted slightly above the others because of the cast, You may be surprised at your enjoyment of this film.

REVIEW: THE CONJURING

 

CAST

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen)
Lili Taylor (American Crime)
Ron Livingston (Swingers)
Shanley Caswell (Detention)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Mackenzie Foy (Interstellar)

In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April. During the first day, their move goes smoothly, though their dog Sadie refuses to enter the house and one of the daughters finds a boarded up entrance to a cellar.
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A few paranormal events happen within the first few nights, including all of the clocks stopping at exactly 3:07 AM and Sadie being found dead in the back yard. One night, while they are both in bed, Christine feels a tugging on her leg, which she first expects to be Nancy, but is a spirit only she can see. She begins to scream and tells her family that the spirit wants the family dead. Carolyn is folding laundry in the night when she hears clapping in the hallway. When she goes to investigate, all the picture frames along the wall fall and shatter on the floor. She goes downstairs following laughter and finds the basement door opening slowly. When she goes inside to investigate, she’s trapped there by the spirit who claps beside her as her matchstick flickers out. At the same moment, Andrea and Cindy are attacked by a spirit on top of the wardrobe.

Carolyn decides to contact noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who agree to take on the case. The Warrens conduct an initial investigation and conclude that the house may require an exorcism, but they need authorization from the Catholic Church and further evidence before they can proceed. While researching the history of the house, Ed and Lorraine discover that the house once belonged to an accused witch, Bathsheba (a relative of Mary Towne Eastey), who sacrificed her week-old child to the devil and killed herself in 1863 after cursing all who would take her land. The property was once more than 200 acres but has since been divided up into smaller parcels. They find reports of numerous murders and suicides in houses that have since been built upon parcels that were once part of the property.

Ed and Lorraine return to the house to gather evidence to receive authorization for the exorcism, placing cameras and bells around the house. A bell goes off near Cindy after they finish setting up. They catch a glimpse of Cindy sleep walking into Andrea’s room, and from the EVPs coming from the radio, they hear a spirit luring Cindy into the wardrobe, where she reveals a secret passage inside. Lorraine enters the passage and falls through the floorboards into the cellar, where she sees the spirit of a woman whom Bathsheba had long ago possessed and used to kill her child. Another of the Perron children, Nancy, is violently dragged by her hair along the floor by an unseen force.
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The Perron family decides to take refuge at a hotel while Ed and Lorraine take their evidence to the Church to arrange an exorcism. While the Warrens are on their way home, their daughter Judy is attacked in their own home by the spirit of Bathsheba, along with the haunted Annabelle doll from the Warrens’ previous case, though Ed arrives in time to prevent her from being harmed. Carolyn, now possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba, takes two of her daughters, Christine and April, and drives back to the house. Ed, Lorraine, Roger, their two assistants, and a police officer rush to the house where they find Carolyn in the cellar trying to stab Christine with scissors. After subduing Carolyn and tying her to a chair, Ed decides to perform the exorcism himself. Though Carolyn escapes and attempts to kill April, who is hiding under the floorboards, Lorraine is able to temporarily distract the possessed Carolyn from killing her daughter by reminding her of a special memory she shared with her family, allowing Ed to complete the exorcism, saving Carolyn and April and lifting Bathsheba’s curse forever.
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Returning home, Lorraine tells Ed that the priest whom they sought for the exorcism had called back and left a message, saying that he had gained approval from the Catholic Church to perform it. In addition to this, he also has another case for them to investigate on Long Island. When they leave, the music box that April had found opens and plays music as the camera lingers on it. Once it stops, the screen cuts to black.

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Based  on a haunting investigated by real-life paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren whose body of work also inspired the Amityville Horror. The Conjuring” is an exceptional piece of film that pulls all the right stops to frighten the audience, leaving a lasting impression on your mind as well the recently tired genre of horror.

 

REVIEW: THE A-TEAM (2010)

CAST

Liam Neeson (Batman begins)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Jessica Biel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Quinton Jackson (Vigilante Diaries)
Sharlto Copley (Powers)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Gereald McRaney (Mike & Molly)
Henry Czerny (Revenge)
Maury Sterling (Coherence)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica)
Dwight Schultz (Star Trek: TNG)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson) is held captive in Mexico by two Federal Police officers working for renegade General Javier Tuco (Yul Vazquez). Hannibal escapes and sets out to rescue Templeton “Faceman” Peck (Bradley Cooper), who is held captive at Tuco’s ranch. Hannibal saves Face after enlisting fellow Ranger B.A. Baracus (Quinton Jackson), driving to the rescue in BA’s modified GMC Vandura van.[9] Pursued by Tuco, they stop at a nearby Army Hospital to recruit the services of eccentric pilot Howling Mad Murdock (Sharlto Copley). They flee in a medical helicopter, chased by Tuco, in a dogfight that leaves BA with a fear of flying. The battle ends when they lure Tuco’s helicopter into American airspace, where it is shot down by a USAF F-22 Raptor for trespassing.Eight years later in Iraq, Hannibal is contacted by CIA Special Activities Division operative Lynch (Patrick Wilson), who assigns them a black ops mission to recover U.S. Treasury plates and over $1 billion in cash from Iraqi insurgents slated to move it out of Baghdad in an armored convoy. Hannibal’s commanding officer, General Morrison (Gerald McRaney), consents to the operation but Face’s former girlfriend, Defense Criminal Investigative Service Capt. Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel), tries to discourage the team against getting the plates. The mission is successful; when the team returns to base, however, the money and Morrison’s vehicle are destroyed by Brock Pike (Brian Bloom) and his men from the private security firm Black Forest. Without Morrison (the only proof that they were authorized to act), Hannibal, Face, Murdock, and BA are court martialed and they are sentenced to ten years in separate prisons and dishonorably discharged. Sosa also ended up court-martialed and is demoted to lieutenant.Six months later, Lynch visits Hannibal in prison and tells him that Pike may be trying to sell the plates with the help of an Arab backer. Hannibal, who has been tracking Pike on his own, makes a deal with Lynch: full reinstatement and clean records for his team in return for the plates. Lynch agrees and Hannibal escapes, breaking out Face, BA, and Murdock in the process. Sosa is hot on the team’s trail. The team hijacks a USMC Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft, which is later shot down by Reaper UCAVs, but not before the team parachute away in a tank stashed aboard and make it to the ground safely. The team moves to reclaim the plates and kidnap Pike’s backer. It is revealed that the backer is actually General Morrison, who plotted with Lynch and Pike to steal the plates but teamed up with Pike to double-cross Lynch and fake his death. Lynch orders an airstrike to kill the team and Morrison, but the team manages to escape.Hannibal arranges to meet Sosa on board a container ship at the Los Angeles docks, saying he will hand over Morrison and the plates. Face then calls Sosa on a drop phone he planted on her at the train station, and conspires a different plan with her. It all unfolds according to plan until Pike, who is now working with Lynch, blows up the container ship and chases Face to near death. BA finally gives up his pacifist ways and kills Pike, saving Face. Hannibal leads Lynch into a container with Murdock, who, wearing a covered bullet-proof helmet, is portraying Morrison. Lynch shoots at Murdock’s head, believing that he is killing Morrison, and is later tricked into admitting that he stole the plates, and is subsequently arrested by Sosa.The CIA agents led by a man named “Lynch” (Jon Hamm) comes and claims custody of the other Lynch. Despite their success and proving themselves innocent, the military still arrests the team for escaping from prison, also a crime; they and Sosa are angered by this. Sosa is reinstated to captain, but she promises to do all she can to set the team free and kisses Face as everybody is led into a prison van. In the van everyone starts saying that the system has burned us again, but Hannibal tells them that there is always a way out of any situation, and turns towards Face, who smiles and says “I dont want to steal your line boss but, I like it when the plan comes altogether” and opens his mouth and reveals a handcuff key, given to him by Sosa through the kiss.The final scene includes a narration (spoken by Corey Burton) similar to the show’s opening narration.In a post-credits scene, Murdock and Face of A-Team’s original cast are seen.A Strong cast. I think that it is a good stand alone romp with lots of twists and turns, good plot and nice nods to the original series. I know that it has been criticised, and that Dirk Benedict subsequently regretted his involvement; but for me at least it was a brilliant film. It had a good pace, great stunts.

REVIEW: WATCHMEN (DIRECTORS CUT)

 

CAST

Malin Ackerman (The Heartbreak Kid)
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous)
Matthew Goode (Match Point)
Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rob Labelle (Jack Frost)
Garry Chalk (Dark angel)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)

Watchmen was easily the most hotly awaited picture of the first half of 2009, and I’ll readily admit that the dynamic yellow-and-red poster billboards around town generated a charge of anticipation that Savant hasn’t felt in years. That the film was not considered a runaway success doesn’t surprise me. A movie about superheroes that is neither consistently feel-good nor entertainingly funny is a hard sell. Other writers have noted that the Watchmen are relative unknowns in comparison to icons like Spiderman and Superman; there’s less of a built-in audience for them. Describing the Watchmen movie also suggests expressions like “intellectual puzzle” and “non-linear”. Large segments of the audience have little use for narrative complexities and historical irony.

What movie audiences do care about is action, and to compensate Watchmen ratchets up the graphic novel’s considerable violence. Bloody content limited to a single comic panel or two, looks like gore porn when turned into a film sequence.  Even with a few subplots deleted, Watchmen is so complicated that it bears comparison with David Lynch’s noble 1984 attempt to film Dune. Lynch got lost in wall-to-wall exposition and characters reduced to walk-ons. Watchmen avoids the same fate by closely following the original’s highly cinematic structure. Moore and Gibbons’ comic book panels made heavy use of devices familiar to moviegoers — parallel cutting, associative transitions.Watchmen is a multi-generational story of costumed superhero crime fighters. They got their start in the 1940s as “The Minutemen”, later formed another association called “The Watchmen” and then were outlawed in the early 1980s. Most have kept their anonymity in retirement. Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre (Malin Ackerman), Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) have no super-powers. The one Watchman who does is Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), an “atomic man” who glows a soft blue color. A research scientist transformed into a near demigod by an experiment gone wrong, Dr. Manhattan wins the Vietnam War for Richard Nixon, allowing the President to run for a third term by popular demand. Most of Watchmen plays out as a science fiction alternate history tale, although the film drops a major Sci-Fi element from the final act.In 1985 an unknown assailant murders The Comedian. Defying the ban on costumed vigilantes, Rorschach warns the other Watchmen and puts pressure on the underworld to find out who is responsible. Dr. Manhattan breaks up with Laurie Jupiter (secretly the Silk Spectre) and abandons humanity to meditate on Mars. The Cold War goes into panic mode, as the U.S. and the Soviets are already at the brink of nuclear war, and Dr. Manhattan was America’s defense insurance policy. Laurie and Dan Dreiburg (secretly the Nite Owl) become an item. Frustrated by all the bad news, they ignore the ban and reassume their roles as crime fighters. Laurie and Dan spring Rorschach from prison and begin an investigation that leads to the activities of the millionaire technocrat Adrian Veidt, formerly Ozymandias.That synopsis doesn’t begin to touch the intricacies of Watchmen or its pleasing assortment of superheroes, that collectively flesh out a pantheon of comic book traditions. The Nite Owl is a kinder Batman type, a quiet millionaire who has engineered a flying vehicle and other crime-fighting gadgets. He’s actually following in the footsteps of the original Nite Owl, a two-fisted hero from the 1940s. The Silk Spectre is a Wonder Woman- like beauty with identity issues. She was pushed into her role by her flamboyant mother, the Silk Spectre of the Minuteman years. The corrupt Comedian lost sight of his crimefighting ethics and became a murderer, war criminal, rapist and dirty ops agent for Dick Nixon. The highly intelligent Ozymandias is also a fabulously wealthy international businessman under the name Adrian Veidt; he’s put his crime-fighting past on the public record and even sells Ozymandias toy action figures. Veidt considers himself a modern Alexander the Great.The most interesting Watchman is Rorschach, a seedy misanthrope who wears a strange mask that forms mysterious symmetrical patterns identical to a psychologist’s inkblot test. Now considered an outlaw vigilante, Rorschach keeps a bitter Travis Bickle-like diary and refuses to compromise on his mission to slay criminals. Between them the Watchmen cover numerous approaches to the concept of “masked crusaders” trying to function in a complex world. Director Zack Snyder  epitomizes the modern director who prepares computerized pre-visualization sequences, directs the live action, and waits for his technician-artisans to deliver test composites to critique. Elements that the director once had to make “come together” before a real camera on a real set can now be added, subtracted or altered almost indefinitely; the director of an effects-heavy film now functions as a creative manager. Snyder openly admits that his goal is to faithfully replicate the visions of other artists, which has prompted some to question exactly what he contributes artistically to the show. To the extent that Snyder still casts and directs the actors and decides when and when not to follow the graphic novel, he is actually much more “involved” than were many old-school studio directors. Even the biggest Hollywood names sometimes worked from locked scripts and often had little contact with projects before or after the actual filming. Considering how little opportunity for personal expression the Watchmen assignment afford, Snyder’s done a fine job.In this case, closely following the original was Snyder’s only choice. CGI allows the presentation of almost any visual, and the leagues of Watchmen fans wouldn’t have tolerated detours from their story. Most of Snyder’s adjustments are good ones. The strange sidebar tangent involving a “Black Freighter” horror comic has wisely been spun off into a separate direct-to-video production. To get out from under a mountain of plot complications, Snyder drops Adrian Veidt’s elaborate hoax on humanity that involves murdering an army of technicians that mock up the corpse of a gigantic space alien.Watchmen was somewhat overpowering in the movie theater, precisely because it is so close to the original. Instead of being taken in a new direction, I felt like Snyder was holding the book in front of my eyes and turning the pages for me. But movies of this kind are no longer made to be seen only once, and on a second viewing it was easier to simply watch what was happening, admire the classy designs and marvel at the excellent casting.