REVIEW: ANGELS & DEMONS

 

CAST

Tom Hanks (Sully)
Ewan McGregor (Bigt Fish)
Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Pierfrancesco Favino (World War Z)
Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Murk)
Armin Mueller-Stahl (12 Angry men)
Thure Lindhardt (Fast & Furious 6)
David Pasquesi (Year One)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
Rance Howard (Nebraska)
Elya Baskin (Spider-Man 2)

Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgård in Angels & Demons (2009)Under the watchful eyes of Father Silvano and Dr. Vittoria Vetra, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) initiates the Large Hadron Collider and creates three vials of antimatter particles larger than any ever produced before. Almost immediately, Father Silvano is killed and one of the vials of antimatter goes missing. At the same time, the Roman Catholic Church is mourning the sudden death of Pope Pius XVI in Rome and prepares for the papal conclave to elect the next Pope. The Camerlengo, Father Patrick McKenna, assumes temporary control of the Vatican. Before the conclave enters seclusion, four of the “preferiti” (the favorite cardinals to be elected pope) are kidnapped by a man claiming to represent the Illuminati. In a video message, he threatens to kill one candidate every hour starting at 8pm and to destroy all of Vatican City at midnight, using the missing vial of antimatter as a bomb. The Vatican summons symbologist Robert Langdon from Harvard University and Vetra to help them save the four preferiti and locate the vial.Tom Hanks and Victor Alfieri in Angels & Demons (2009)Langdon listens to the Illuminati’s message and deduces the four cardinals will die at the four altars of the “Path of Illumination”, marked by statues of angels in locations relevant to the four classical elements. Over the objections of Commander Maximilian Richter, head of the Swiss Guard, but with McKenna’s consent, Langdon is granted access to the Vatican Secret Archives. He examines Galileo Galilei’s banned book with Vetra. Following the clues and accompanied by Inspector General Ernesto Olivetti and Claudio Vincenzi of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps, they arrive at the Chigi Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo. There they find Cardinal Ebner dead, suffocated with soil and branded with an ambigrammatic word “Earth”. They verify the second location is the crowded Saint Peter’s Square and arrive just as a bloody Cardinal Lamassé emerges with his chest branded with “Air”. Vetra unsuccessfully attempts to perform CPR on him, only to discover his lungs had been punctured, while the assassin slips through the crowd.Tom Hanks, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Pasquesi, and Ayelet Zurer in Angels & Demons (2009)While Vetra studies Silvano’s diaries, Langdon, Olivetti and Vincenzi locate the third church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, and arrive to see Cardinal Guidera, branded “Fire” and suspended above a burning pile of wood. A gunfight erupts between the assassin and the officers, with Olivetti and Vincenzi being killed in the process. Langdon manages to escape, but not before being spotted by the assassin. Langdon convinces two Carabinieri officers to take him to the next location and the trio race to the Water altar, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, just as the assassin arrives in a van. The assassin murders the officers and drops a bound and weighted Cardinal Baggia into the fountain before bidding farewell to Langdon and driving off. With the help of bystanders, Langdon rescues the cardinal, who tells him the Illuminati’s lair is Castel Sant’Angelo. There, Langdon and Vetra discover a hidden passageway leading to the Vatican, being used as a hideout for the assassin. Discovering a case with marks for five branding irons, they realize the fifth brand is for the Camerlengo but are confronted by the assassin before they can alert McKenna. The assassin spares their lives once more, stating killing them is not a part of his mission unless they pursue him. He then cryptically warns them to be careful as his contractors are “men of God” before departing. He escapes to a car left for him by his contractor, but is killed immediately when it explodes upon ignition.Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons (2009)Langdon and Vetra rush back to the Vatican where they find Commander Richter hovering over McKenna with a gun, the Vatican symbol branded into McKenna’s chest. Richter and Archbishop Simeon are shot by the Guards. As Richter dies in front of Langdon, he opens his hand to reveal a key which Langdon takes. The stolen antimatter vial is found in St. Peter’s Tomb below the church, but the battery life is too low to risk re-connecting it to a battery. McKenna, a former military pilot, seizes the vial and uses an awaiting helicopter to fly above the Vatican. At a high altitude, he parachutes out as the antimatter bomb explodes overhead. McKenna is hailed a hero and savior, and the cardinals move to elect him pope. Langdon and Vetra use Richter’s key to watch a security video showing McKenna speaking to Richter before the attack. The video reveals it is McKenna, not the Illuminati, who masterminded the scheme. McKenna reveals he murdered the previous pope because he felt the pope had betrayed the church by trying to bridge the gap between science and religion. After McKenna had killed the pope, he intended to have himself elected to the papacy whilst rallying the most conservative Cardinals to his side. The recording is shown to the Papal conclave, and it dawns on McKenna that he has been exposed. He flees to a remote recess in the building where he is able to commit suicide by setting himself on fire.Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer in Angels & Demons (2009)The Vatican officially announces McKenna died due to internal injuries suffered during his parachute landing, and Cardinal Baggia is named Pope Luke I, with Cardinal Strauss as the new Camerlengo. Strauss thanks Langdon for his assistance and gives Langdon Galileo’s “Diagramma Veritatis” for his research as a gift from himself and Pope Luke, requesting only it be returned to the Vatican by Langdon’s testament, and any future references he may make about the Catholic Church in his future publications be done gently, to which Langdon replies, “I’ll try.” As the film ends, the new Pope Luke shares a grateful nod with Langdon and Vetra, and walks out onto the balcony to greet the crowd waiting for him in the Square.Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons (2009)Overall Angels and Demons is a fun thrill ride for the summer. Its a superior movie to Da Vinci Code.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACITCA (1978)

Starring

Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Dirk Benedict (The A-Team)
Lorne Greene (The Bastard)
John Colicos (Star Trek)
Maren Jensen (Deadly Blessing)
Noah Hathaway (Troll)
Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Black Gunn)
Tony Swartz (Schizoid)
Laurette Spang-McCook (The Secrets of Isis)
Terry Carter (McCloud)
Anne Lockhart (Convoy)
Jonathan Harris (Lost In Space)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lew Ayres (Holiday)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Sarah Rush (Catch Me If You Can)
Carol Baxter (The Incredible Hulk)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Patrick Macnee (The Howling)
Felix Silla (Spaceballs)
Janet Julian (King of New York)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Larry Manetti (Hawaii Five-0)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Red West (Road House)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Christine Belford (Christine)
Richard Lynch (Puppet MAster III)
Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man)
Alex Hyde-White (The Fantastic Four)
Olan Soule (The Towering Inferno)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Lloyd Bridges (Airplane)
Kirk Alyn (Superman 1948)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Fred Astaire (Funny Face)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Lloyd Bochner (The Naked Gun 2)
Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Ana Alicia (Halloween II)

Since the the modern remake of this series rapidly become the next big thing in TV Sci-Fi, many people are going to be tempted to pick up this boxed set to find out how it all began. You can’t go wrong here – this represents astounding value for money, and a great opportunity to discover or rediscover a series that really does deserve its classic status. It even has some decent extras.

Battlestar Galactica was created in 1978 a year after the Star Wars, and was essentially a brazen attempt by ABC television to cash in on the mammoth unexpected success of that film. Under conditions that may never be repeated, it was suddenly considered viable to create a full-blown big-budget epic primetime family-oriented science fiction extravaganza with a budget of $1m per episode (big money in those days). The series ran for a total of 24 episodes before being canned due to its expense and sliding ratings, but it had a huge impact and is remembered with great fondness even by those who aren’t rabid fans.


The story draws inspiration from diverse mythical and religious sources, including Ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the book of Exodus, and the Mormon upbringing of its creator Glen A. Larson. When the 12 colonies of man are annihilated by the robotic Cylons, the only surviving Battlestar, Galactica, assembles a small fleet of dilapidated civilian ships and makes a run for it with the survivors, hoping to find the legendary 13th tribe who may have settled on a distant, mythical planet called Earth.


The series is often criticised for endlessly recycling stock footage, especially during the space battles where this reaches almost unreasonable levels, and for its cheesiness (plenty of cute kids and robots in this one), but on the whole it’s much easier to forgive such faults in retrospect. It also benefits enormously from its arresting premise, strong plotting, and above all its nigh-on perfect casting. It’s worth watching the 24 episodes through as well, because it does improve as it goes along, and is serialised to a degree. Considering it ran for such a short time, it does a surprisingly thorough job of exploring its themes, so it’s debatable what its natural life would have been had it been allowed to continue. Towards the end it becomes more cerebral and interesting, as eventually Galactica moves beyond its own space and begins to encounter worlds and cultures that bear an eerie resemblance to modern Earth.

There are several documentaries on the seventh disc featuring interviews with almost all of the surviving cast and crew. These are fairly entertaining and informative, especially the production footage which reveals how hard the back-projection was to pull off (it’s a shame there isn’t more on the effects). It’s clear that Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict are still bitter that the plug was pulled so early, and they express this with some eloquence. Both campaigned vigorously, independently, to bring it back.

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 10

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Tamara Taylor (Lost)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
John Francis Daley (Game Night)
John Boyd (Argo)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Patricia Belcher (Jeepers Creepers)
Carla Gallo (Superbad)
JD Cullum (The Lone Ranger)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Rance Howard (Far and Away)
Ignacio Serricchio (Lost In Space)
Laura Spencer (The Big Bang Theory)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Sean Gunn (Super)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Pej Vahdat (Shameless)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
François Chau (The Tick)
Brian Klugman (Cloverfield)
Gil Bellows (Sanctuary)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Sean Marquette (The Goldbergs)
Chastity Dotson (Veronica Mars)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Andrew Leeds (Office Christmas Party)
Mather Zickel (Mike & Molly)
Michael Grant Terry (Grimm)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Cyndi Lauper (Vibes)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Nathaniel Buzolic (The Originals)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Stargate SG.1)
Shalita Grant (Santa Clarita Diet)
Arden Myrin (Insatiable)
Eric Allan Kramer (The Incredible Hulk Returns)
Todd Williams (The Vampire Diaries)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash)
Jeremy Ratchford (Cold Case)
Eugene Byrd (Arrow)
Mike Starr (Ed Wood)
Noel Gugliemi (The Fast and The Furious)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters II)
China Anne McClain (Black Lightning)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)
Linda Lavin (The Good Wife)
Taylor Spreitler (Melissa & Joey)
Michael Cram (Flashpoint)
Rick Overton (Eught Legged Freaks)
Amanda Brooks (Aquarius)
Lindsey Kraft (The Big Bang Theory)

Eugene Byrd, Michaela Conlin, Emily Deschanel, and T.J. Thyne in Bones (2005)In the 10th season of Bones, suspense is at an all-time high as Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) is framed and jailed for the murder of three FBI agents while Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) considers committing blackmail to get him out of prison.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)The new season brings some changes. The team will lose a key player at a dramatic moment early in the season, and have to work in a replacement after an emotional farewell. Another primary character will develop a emotional bond with one of the rotational lab interns, one that threatens their official relationship. Still another will strike it rich, a couple of season after having been cleaned out by a particularly nasty serial killer.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)Yet another character will revisit a gambling habit that threatens a job and a relationship. And, one key character will become pregnant. And those events are just character development. There is a fresh lot of challenging cases that will need solving.Those week to week cases continue to be innovative and interesting, challenging the team and the viewer to keep up. At the same time, the series hasn’t lost its sense of humor, or its willingness to experiment. Bones is still good fun and recommended to its loyal fans in its tenth season.

REVIEW: VALENTINE’S DAY

CAST

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Bradley Cooper (Serena)
Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
Patrick Dempsey (Transformers 3)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Eric Dane (X-Men 3)
Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Anne Hathaway (Interstellar)
Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Queen Latifah (Bringing Down The House)
Taylor Lautner (Twilight)
George Lopez (The Smurfs)
Shirley McLaine (Bewitched)
Emma Roberts (Scream Queens)
Taylor Swift (New Girl)
Larry Miller (10 Things I Hate About You)
Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign)
Kirsten Schaal (Bob’s Burgers)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Rance Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

MV5BMjE0MzEyNjMzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjMyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_The film follows a group of related characters and their struggles with love on Valentine’s Day.
MV5BMTUwOTg4Nzg4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTEyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Florist Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) wakes up and proposes to his girlfriend Morley Clarkson (Jessica Alba), who accepts. However, Reed’s closest friends, Alfonso Rodriguez (George Lopez) and Julia Fitzpatrick (Jennifer Garner), aren’t surprised when Morley suddenly changes her mind and leaves Reed a few hours later.
MV5BMTk5NjUwODU1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDMyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_On a flight to Los Angeles, Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts), a captain in the U.S. Army on a one-day leave, befriends Holden Wilson (Bradley Cooper). Kate is travelling a long distance to get back home only for a short time, and Holden states that she must really be in love to do so. When the plane lands and Kate has to wait hours for the taxi, Holden offers his limousine to allow her to be there on time.
VALENTINES DAYJulia, an elementary school teacher, has fallen in love with Dr. Harrison Copeland (Patrick Dempsey), but does not know that he is married to Pamela (Katherine LaNasa). Harrison tells her that he needs to go to San Francisco for a business trip: on his way, he stops by at Reed’s flowershop and orders two flower bouquets – asking for discretion. Wanting to surprise him and despite Reed’s warnings, Julia flies to San Francisco, convinced that Reed was wrong. Julia finds out that he is married and finds him at a local restaurant. Dressed as a waitress, Julia makes a scene at the restaurant, making Pamela suspicious. One of Julia’s students, Edison (Bryce Robinson), orders flowers from Reed, to be sent to his teacher. Julia suggests to Edison to give the flowers to a girl named Rani in his class who has a crush on him after telling Edison the meaning of love.
MV5BMTM5OTA4NDEzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTEyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Edison’s babysitter Grace Smart (Emma Roberts) is planning to lose her virginity to her boyfriend Alex Franklin (Carter Jenkins). The planned encounter goes awry when Grace’s mother discovers a naked Alex in Grace’s room, rehearsing a song he wrote for Grace. Edison’s grandparents, Edgar (Héctor Elizondo) and Estelle Paddington (Shirley MacLaine) are facing the troubles of a long marriage. Estelle admits to Edgar about an affair she had with one of his business partners long ago. Although she is deeply sorry, Edgar is very upset. Grace’s high school friends, Willy Harrington (Taylor Lautner) and Felicia Miller (Taylor Swift), are experiencing the freshness of new love, and have agreed to wait to have sex.
MV5BMzA1MTY2MDA4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTEyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Sean Jackson (Eric Dane), a closeted gay professional football player, is contemplating the end of his career with his publicist Kara Monahan (Jessica Biel) and his agent Paula Thomas (Queen Latifah). Kara is organizing her annual “I Hate Valentine’s Day” party, but soon becomes interested in sports reporter Kelvin Moore (Jamie Foxx), who was ordered to do a Valentine’s Day report by his boss Susan Moralez (Kathy Bates), and who shares Kara’s hatred of the holiday. Substituting for Paula’s absent secretary is one of the firm’s receptionists, Liz Curran (Anne Hathaway), who dates mail-room clerk Jason Morris (Topher Grace). Jason is shocked when Liz turns out to be moonlighting as a phone sex operator. Liz explains that she is only doing this because she has a $100,000 student loan to pay off. Jason is upset, but eventually reconciles with her after seeing Edgar forgive Estelle.
MV5BMTgwNTU1MzM5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODIyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Sean finally comes out on national television, and Holden, Sean’s lover, goes back to him. Kate arrives home late at night to greet not her supposed boyfriend but her son Edison. Willy drops Felicia off at home after a date and they kiss. Kelvin and Kara hang out at Kelvin’s news station where they later kiss. Alfonso dines with his wife, and Grace and Alex agree to wait to have sex. Edgar and Estelle reconcile and redo their marriage vows, Harrison’s wife has left him because of his infidelity and Morley tries to call Reed, who is instead starting a new relationship with Julia. Paula receives a call from one of Liz’s masochistic clients and takes delight in expressing her dominance and sadism.MV5BMTI2ODIzMzM0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjU3NzMwMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Big star cast with lots of intertwined storylines going on with a lovely little twist at the end. A proper feel good movie thatt ticks all the right boxes for Valentine’s Day.

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Randy Quaid (Kingpin)
Margaret Colin (Gotham)
James Rebhorn (Meet The Parents)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Harvey Fierstein (Kull The Conqueror)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
James Duval (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Lisa Jakub (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Iron Man)
Kiersten Warren (13 Going on 30)
Harry Connick Jr. (The Iron Giant)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Leland Orser (Daredevil)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Raphael Sbarge (Risky Business)
Bobby Hosea (Xena)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Thom Barry (Cold Case)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Derek Webster (Stargate)
Rance Howard (Nebraska)
Kevin Cooney (Legally Blonde)
Jim Piddock (Mascots)
Tracey Walter (Batman)

On July 2, 1996, an enormous alien mothership that has one fourth the mass of the Moon enters orbit around Earth, deploying 36 smaller spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, that take positions over some of Earth’s major cities and military bases. David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, decodes a signal embedded in the global satellite transmissions that he determines is a timer counting down to a coordinated attack. With the help of his former wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano, Levinson, and his father Julius, gain access to the Oval Office and warn President Thomas J. Whitmore that the aliens are hostile. Whitmore orders large-scale evacuations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., but it is too late; the timer reaches zero and the ships activate devastating directed-energy weapons, killing millions. Whitmore, the Levinsons, and a few others, narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the capital is destroyed, along with other locations over which the ships are positioned.On July 3, international military leaders begin ordering individual counterattacks. Their aviation forces attack destroyer ships positioned above the ruins of the cities, but they are protected by force fields. Each destroyer launches a swarm of attack fighters, which wipe out the human fighter squadrons. Captain Steven Hiller, a pilot with the Marine Corps squadron VMFA-314 based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, survives by luring his attacker to the enclosed spaces of the Grand Canyon and sacrificing his plane, forcing the alien to crash-land. He subdues the injured alien pilot and flags down a convoy of refugees, hitching a ride with former combat pilot Russell Casse. They transport the unconscious alien to nearby Area 51 where Whitmore’s group has landed. Through Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki, they learn that a faction of the government has been involved in a UFO conspiracy since 1947, when one of the invaders’ attack fighters crashed in Roswell. Area 51 houses the refurbished alien fighter and three alien corpses recovered from the crash.When eccentric scientist Brackish Okun examines the alien captured by Hiller, it regains consciousness and attacks. It telepathically invades Okun’s mind and uses his vocal cords to communicate with Whitmore before launching a psychic attack against him. Whitmore sees visions of the alien’s plans: their entire civilization travels from planet to planet, exterminating all indigenous life and harvesting the planet of all natural resources. After Secret Service agents and military personnel kill the alien, Whitmore reluctantly authorizes a nuclear attack; a B-2 Spirit fires a nuclear cruise missile at an alien destroyer positioned above Houston, but the ship remains intact.On July 4, Levinson demonstrates that the key to defeating the aliens lies in deactivating their force fields, and devises a way to do so by uploading a computer virus into the mothership. He proposes using the refurbished alien fighter to implement the plan, which Hiller volunteers to pilot. The two are able to implant the virus and deploy a nuclear weapon on board the mothership. With military pilots in short supply, Whitmore enlists the help of volunteers with flight experience, including Casse, and leads an attack on a destroyer ship bearing down on Area 51. With the alien’s shields deactivated, the fighters are able to inflict damage but their supply of missiles is quickly exhausted. As the destroyer prepares to fire on the base, the last missile, equipped on Casse’s plane, jams, and Casse decides to sacrifice his own life. He flies his plane kamikaze-style into the directed-energy weapon port, which results in an explosion that destroys the ship. Human resistance forces around the world successfully destroy the other craft using this vulnerability. As humankind is rejoicing in victory, Hiller and Levinson return to Area 51 unharmed and reunite with their families. They and military officers nearby accompany Whitmore and his daughter in watching the wreckage from the mothership burn up, resembling a fireworks display as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.Independence Day is arguably one of the greatest SF disaster movies of all time. With REM’s ‘It’s the end of the world’ sampled near the beginning of the movie, you definitely know that Roland Emmerich’s view about alien encounters is more akin to War of the Worlds than E.T. Filled with stunning special effects, stirring music, unpretentious sentimentality and laced with good natured humour there is no need to bemoan the lack of character development or obvious narrative coincidences. There is no pretence at being a great cinematic masterpiece examining deep philosophical themes. This is a two hour long, ludicrously enjoyable, preposterously pompous, unbelievably incredible ‘backs against the wall’ slice of SF fantasy which still entertains after numerous viewings.

REVIEW: JONAH HEX

 

Image result for JONAH HEX UK DVD
CAST
Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad)
John Malkovich (Red)
Megan Fox (Jennifers Body)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Will Arnett (The Lego Movie)
John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom)
Tom Wopat (Django Unchained(
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games)
Julia Jones (Twilight: Eclipse)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Seth Gabel (Arrow)
Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Lance Reddick (John Wick)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Josh Brolin and Michael Fassbender in Jonah Hex (2010)
During the American Civil War, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) served as a Confederate cavalryman until his commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), a general for the Confederates who is obsessed with the fall of the Union, ordered him to burn down a hospital. Hex refused, and was forced to kill his best friend, Turnbull’s son Jeb. After the war, a vengeful Turnbull and his right-hand man, Burke (Michael Fassbender), a psychopathic sadist, tie up Hex and force him to watch as his house is burned down with his wife and son inside. Turnbull then brands Hex’s face with his initials, “QT”, and leaves him to die of thirst or exposure. Days later, American Indians find Jonah and revive him with their mystical powers. While they did manage to bring Jonah back from the dead, it is stated that they couldn’t bring “all of him back”. As a result, Jonah acquired the ability to, as long as he maintains physical contact with the corpse, temporarily resurrect and communicate with the dead; the corpse physically and mentally brought back to physical condition prior to death (apparently, only Jonah sees them restored like that. To everyone else, they continue to seem decayed and lifeless). It is also explained that the fresher the dead, the quicker that body begins to burn up as they are being touched. Once contact is broken, the corpse instantaneously reverts to its former, lifelesscondition. When Turnbull apparently dies in a hotel fire, Hex satisfies his hunger for vengeance by turning to bounty hunting.
Josh Brolin and Megan Fox in Jonah Hex (2010)In 1876, Hex rides into the town of Stunk Crick with four dead outlaws and demands his bounty, only to realize that the mayor and sheriff have no intention of paying, intending instead to kill Hex for his own bounty. Hex instead kills them and several sheriff’s deputies, collects his bounty from the dead mayor’s pockets, and leaves. In another part of the country, Turnbull, alive and well, orchestrates the hijacking of a train carrying components of a classified weapon, slaughtering its military guards and civilian passengers alike. When informed of the theft, President Grant (Aidan Quinn) surmises that Turnbull is planning a terrorist attack for July 4, during the celebration of the American centennial. Grant instructs Army Lieutenant Grass (Will Arnett) to find Hex and hire him to stop Turnbull. Jonah goes to a brothel and spends the night with Lilah (Megan Fox), a prostitute attracted to the disfigured man for more than just professional reasons. As Jonah prepares to leave the next morning, Grass’ men burst in and tell Jonah that Turnbull is still alive. They show him a captured thug from the train hijacking who told them Turnbull is headed northwest, before dying during interrogation. But Jonah briefly resurrects the man and learns that he has no knowledge of Turnbull’s whereabouts; the best he can do is tell who recruited him, ex-Colonel Slocum (Tom Wopat), who is running an illegal deathmatch pavilion in South Carolina, to the southeast.
With the help of a corrupt Washington aristocrat, Adleman Lusk (Wes Bentley), Turnbull tracks down and steals the remaining components of the weapon he is seeking. When Hex confronts Slocum in South Carolina, Slocum refuses to talk, sarcastically telling Hex to ask Turnbull’s dead son, Jeb, where his father is. Jonah says that is a good idea, then overpowers Slocum’s men and throws Slocum himself into the ring, to be killed by his own fighters. After setting fire to the ring, he frees a dog being tormented by Slocum’s handlers, which starts to follow him around. In a cemetery in Gettysburg, Jonah digs up and resurrects Jeb Turnbull (an uncredited Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Jonah apologizes for killing Jeb, and says that his father has to be stopped before he murders more people. Jeb reveals that his father is at Fort Resurrection, and then returns to the afterlife.
After entering the fort, Hex sees plans for the “superweapon” that Turnbull has stolen and assembled. In another part of the fort, Turnbull explains to Burke that the weapon was designed by Eli Whitney for the U.S. military, but they refrained from building it after realizing it was simply too powerful to ever consider using. Jonah confronts Turnbull, killing several of his men, but Turnbull escapes and Hex receives a near-fatal wounding from Burke, but is able to escape. He collapses in a field, hovering near death for several days. Turnbull, anticipating that Hex will return, sends Burke to bring him “something Hex loves.” Burke kidnaps Lilah from the brothel. Turnbull test-fires the “superweapon” on a small town in Georgia, which is leveled to the ground, killing hundreds of civilians. When President Grant receives the news, his aide reports that they have no idea where in the country Turnbull will strike, and that they do not have enough military manpower to guard every centennial celebration. Hex is found by his Native American allies, who perform a ceremony that heals him. Back on his feet, he relays a message to Lt. Grass that Turnbull plans to attack Washington, D.C., then rides to Independence Harbor alone to stop him.
Josh Brolin in Jonah Hex (2010)
When Jonah attempts to infiltrate the harbor where Turnbull’s ironclad warship is anchored, Burke spots him and attacks him. Hex overpowers and kills him, then uses his powers to bring Burke back from the dead, just so Hex can incinerate his body completely. Jonah prepares to shoot Turnbull but Turnbull holds Lilah at gunpoint and forces Jonah to surrender. Turnbull chains Jonah and Lilah in the hold of his ship and tells Jonah that he wants him to watch as the Union is destroyed. The ship leaves harbor and steams toward Washington, D.C. A monitor commanded by Lt. Grass intercepts Turnbull, but is quickly destroyed with the weapon, which has been mounted on the bow.
In the hold, Lilah picks her handcuffs and frees herself and Jonah. She holds off the guards with two pistols while Jonah rushes up to the deck to stop Turnbull. Turnbull gains the upper hand and orders the weapon to fire. The weapon blankets Washington with a volley of delay-action bomb shells, and Turnbull gives the order for the trigger shell to be launched. But Hex and Turnbull’s fight takes them down into the engine room, where Hex throws his tomahawk into the weapon’s belt feeder, trapping the trigger shell. He then brutally beats Turnbull and traps his neck in a gear, before saving Lilah. The pair jump into the water just as the trigger shell ignites in the engine room, killing Turnbull and all his men. The next day, President Grant rewards Jonah with a large sum of money, a full pardon, and offers him a job as Sheriff of the entire United States. Jonah declines, but assures the president that if they need him, they’ll be able to find him. Lilah is waiting for him outside the White House, and they leave the city together. In the last scene, Jonah visits Jeb’s grave to apologize for having to kill his father, then rides out of the cemetery with his dog.
Josh Brolin in Jonah Hex (2010)
This is another example of a fun movie that doesn’t deserve anything like it’s poor reputation would suggest

REVIEW: FAR AND AWAY

CAST
Tom Cruise (Collateral)
Nicole Kidman (Batman Forever)
Thomas Gibson (Son of Batman)
Robert Prosky (Gremlins 2)
Barbara Babcock (Home Alone 4)
Colm Meaney (Layer Cake)
Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes 2
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
In 1893 Ireland, Joseph Donnelly’s family home is burned down by his landlord Daniel Christie’s men led by Stephen Chase because of unpaid rent. Vowing revenge, Joseph unsuccessfully attempts to kill Daniel. Joseph meets the landlord’s daughter Shannon, who has rebelled against family tradition and made plans to claim free land in America. She offers to take Joseph with her as her “servant” so she, a single woman, can travel without scandal. Joseph agrees, convinced he can also stake a land claim.
On a ship bound for America, Shannon meets McGuire, who warns her that the free land is very far away in Oklahoma. She explains that her collection of valuable silver spoons will cover all expenses and he offers to help her find a shop to sell them to. On arriving in Boston, McGuire is shot and Shannon’s spoons fall out of his clothing and get snatched up by passersby. Joseph rescues her but not the spoons. A worker for Ward Boss Mike Kelly, a leader of the Irish immigrant community, introduces them to him. Kelly finds them lodging and jobs, but only one room, which they must share. To avoid scandal, Joseph says she’s his sister.
Joseph and Shannon become attracted to each other, but both keep up a front of indifference. One night Joseph rushes out to Boss Kelly’s club, where a bare-knuckle boxing match is underway. Joseph challenges the winner, knocks him out and soon becomes a regular at the club. Back in Ireland, the Christies’s house is burned down by angry tenants in the Irish Land War, so the Christies decide to emigrate to America, hoping also to find their daughter.
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Joseph is told Shannon is at Kelly’s club. Rushing to the club, he discovers Shannon on stage as a burlesque dancer. He tries to cover her with his jacket, demanding that she stop dancing. The Irish men surrounding the couple beg him to fight and offer him a small fortune ($200). Shannon, who previously scorned boxing, urges him to fight, since the money would get them to Oklahoma. Joseph agrees and is winning until he notices one of his backers (a member of the city council) groping Shannon on his lap. Joseph pushes through the crowd to free her, but is pushed back into the ring, where his foot accidentally “toes” the line, falsely signaling he is ready to begin fighting. But he isn’t ready and the Italian lands a sucker punch, after which he’s beaten.
In retaliation for the hundreds of dollars Joseph’s boxing loss has cost Boss Kelly and his friends, Joseph is thrown out into the street outside the club and he meets a policeman who shows him a picture of Shannon asking if he’s seen her. He then comes back to the room to find Kelly and his thugs searching their room for the money he and Shannon saved. With their valuables having been stolen by Kelly’s thugs, they’re both then thrown out into the streets. Joseph and Shannon are left homeless. Cold and famished, the pair enter a seemingly abandoned luxurious house. Joseph encourages Shannon to pretend the house is hers and he is her servant, but she begs him to pretend they are married and the house is theirs. During that tender moment, the owners of the house return and chase them away, shooting Shannon in the back. Joseph brings Shannon to the Christies, newly arrived from Ireland. He decides Shannon will be better cared for by them and leaves despite his obvious feelings for her.
Joseph finds work laying track on a railroad, seemingly abandoning his dream of owning land. Told a wagon train he sees out the door of his boxcar is heading for the Oklahoma land rush, Joseph abandons the railroad and joins the wagon train, arriving in Oklahoma Territory just in time for the Land Run of 1893.
Joseph finds Shannon, Stephen, as well as the Christies already in Oklahoma. Stephen, having seen Joseph talking to Shannon, threatens him that he will kill him if he goes near Shannon again. Joseph buys a horse for the land rush but the horse dies in a few hours and he is forced to ride an unruly horse he manages to tame. On this horse, he quickly outpaces everybody and catches up with Shannon and Stephen, having discovered that Stephen cheated by illegally inspecting the territory before the race and is headed for extremely desirable land he found.
Joseph is ready to plant his claim flag. Shannon rushes to his side and rejects Stephen when he questions her actions. Joseph professes his love for Shannon. They drive their flag into the ground and claim the land together.

This is not a bad movie from Tom Cruise’ earlier films back in the 90s. It’s not an Oscar winning performance nor is it fantastic but it is enjoyable to watch.