REVIEW: DEFIANCE (2008)

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Jamie Bell (King Kong)
George MacKay (How I Live Now)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Allan Corduner (Vera Drake)
Mark Feuerstein (Prison Break)
Tomas Arana (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jacek Koman (Children of Men)
Mia Wasikowska (The Double)
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)

Jamie Bell and Daniel Craig in Defiance (2008)The film is based on a true story, beginning in August 1941. Nazi Einsatzgruppen (task forces) are sweeping through Eastern Europe, systematically killing Jews. Among the survivors not killed or restricted to ghettoes are the Belarusian Jewish Bielski brothers: Tuvia, Zus, Asael and Aron. Their parents are dead, killed by local police under orders from the occupying Germans. The brothers flee to the Naliboki Forest, vowing to avenge the deaths of their parents.Daniel Craig and Alexa Davalos in Defiance (2008)They encounter other Jewish escapees hiding in the forest, and the brothers take them under their protection and leadership. Over the next year, they shelter a growing number of refugees, raiding local farms for food and supplies and moving their camp whenever they are discovered by the collaborationist police. Tuvia kills the local Auxiliary Police chief responsible for his parents’ deaths and the brothers stage raids on the Germans and their collaborators. Casualties cause Tuvia to reconsider this approach because of the risk to the hiding Jews. Rivalry between the two eldest brothers, Tuvia and Zus, fuels a disagreement between them about their future; as winter approaches, Zus decides to leave the camp and join a local company of Soviet partisans, while his older brother Tuvia remains with the camp as their leader. An arrangement is made between the two groups in which the Soviet partisans agree to protect the Jewish camp in exchange for supplies.Daniel Craig in Defiance (2008)After a winter of sickness, starvation, attempted betrayal and constant hiding, the camp learns that the Germans are about to attack them in force. The Soviets refuse to help and they evacuate the camp as German dive-bombers strike. A delaying force stays behind, led by Asael, to slow down the German ground troops. The defense does not last long; only Asael and a camp member named Sofiya survive to rejoin the rest of the group, who, at the edge of the forest, are confronted with a seemingly impassable marsh. They cross the marsh with only one casualty but are immediately attacked by a German platoon supported by a Panzer III tank. Just as all seems lost, the Germans are assaulted from the rear by a partisan force led by Zus, who has deserted the Soviets to rejoin the group.Jamie Bell and Mia Wasikowska in Defiance (2008)As the survivors escape into the forest, the film ends as text on the screen states that they lived in the forest for another two years, building a hospital, a nursery, a school, growing to a total of 1,200 Jews. Original photographs of the real-life characters are shown, including Tuvia in his uniform and their fates are shared: Asael joined the Soviet Army and was soon killed in action, never getting to see the child he fathered; Tuvia, Zus and Aron survived the war and emigrated to America to form a successful trucking firm in New York City. The epilogue also states that the Bielski brothers never sought recognition for what they did and that the descendants of the people they saved now number in the tens of thousands.
defiance01Defiance is an important story that needs to be heard. Daniel Craig leads a great cast of characters in an emotional journey of community, camaraderie, and hope.

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 5

Starring

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

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Cyndi Lauper (Here and There)
Patricia Belcher (Jeepers Creepers)
Michael Grant Terry (Grimm)
Christopher B. Duncan (Veronica Mars)
Michael Arden (Bride Wars)
Riki Lindhome (The Muppets)
Eugene Byrd (Arrow)
Tiffany Hines (Nikita)
Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)
Kaitlin Doubleday (Empire)
Pej Vahdat (Shameless)
Leonardo Nam (Westworld)
Reggie Austin (Agent Carter)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Cheryl White (Major Crimes)
Paula Newsome (Guess Who)
Josie Davis (The Hot Seat)
Amy Gumenick (Arrow)
Carla Gallo (Superbad)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Andy Umberger (Buffy: TVS)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Joel David Moore (Avatar)
Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta)
Ryan Cartwright (Alphas)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Debbie Lee Carrington (Total Recall)
Wynn Everett (Agent Carter)
Martin Klebba (Scrubs)
Sarah Rafferty (Suits)
Lindsay Hollister (Get Smart)
Ralph Waite (The Waltons)
Nakia Burrise (Power Rangers Zeo)
Mickey Jones (Total Recall)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Dorian Missick (The Cape)
Dale Dickey (Iron Man 3)
Penny Johnson Jerald (The Orville)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Dilshad Vadsaria (The Oath)
Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut)
Robert Gant (Supergirl)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)
Henri Lubatti (Angel)
Amanda Schull (Pretty Little Liars)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander 2)
Clea DuVall (Better Call Saul)
Eric Millegan (Phobic)
Megan Hilty (Smash)
Jenica Bergere (Rat Race)
Victor Webster (Mutant X)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Suzy Nakamura (Dead To Me)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Ravil Isyanov (Transformers: Dark of The Moon)
Rena Sofer (Heroes)
Michael Des Barres (Poison Ivy 3)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
William Stanford Davis (A Lot Like Love)
Deirdre Lovejoy (The Blacklist)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)

Michaela Conlin, Emily Deschanel, Tamara Taylor, and T.J. Thyne in Bones (2005)At the beginning of the fifth season of the wildly popular forensic drama “Bones,” many viewers tuned in trepidatiously after the spectacularly strange fourth season finale. Thankfully, all fears were allayed and relieved when the fifth season kicked into high gear in the very first episode and maintained that pace throughout the season; “Bones”‘ fifth season is perhaps its greatest yet.David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, and Randy Oglesby in Bones (2005)The one thing that has always set “Bones” apart from the countless other procedurals on the airwaves right now is the focus on the characters solving the crimes rather than the crimes themselves, and the strength of this approach shines through brilliantly in every episode of this season.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel return to the roles of Booth and Bones and deliver their strongest performances yet as each character is shaken to their core. As Booth struggles to regain his sense of self, he has to confront the knowledge of his feelings for his partner, while Bones herself goes through a whirlwind of emotion as the emotional barriers she has erected around her heart begin to crumble down, leaving her questioning not only herself but her relationship with Booth as well as her work at the Jeffersonian itself. The tension between the two has never been more delicious or more addictive, and both lead actors knock their roles absolutely out of the park.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)But while the relationship between Booth and Brennan becomes increasingly more complex, the wonderful supporting cast of engaging characters at the Jeffersonian keep the show moving along briskly and lightly. Cam (Tamara Taylor) must run the lab while dealing with the challenge of being a good mother, guiding the team effectively toward each conclusion; Sweets (John Francis Daley) continues to provide invaluable insight into the minds of the team; Angela (Michaela Conlin) remains the emotional heart and soul of the team as she opens her heart to love’s possibilities; and Hodgins (TJ Thyne) struggles with his feelings for Angela as he returns to his abrasive, loveable self.David Boreanaz, Dan Castellaneta, and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)The cases themselves have regained a fascinating light as the mysteries the team confronts become more complex, and the special effects department has outdone themselves in the gore and goop department this year as Booth and Bones investigate some of the most gruesome crime scenes in history, all moved along by the brisk black humor the show excels at; the team investigates a possible secret agent locked in a truck for days, a would-be rocker torn to pieces by an industrial washer/dryer, a gamer literally melted in a vat of fast-food grease, and a dozen more cheerfully disgusting cases where the outcomes of the mysteries hold the power to shock and surprise the audience; the writers have once again caught the perfect balance between the whodunnit and the drama to craft a truly unique show.David Boreanaz and Ralph Waite in Bones (2005)But it’s not merely the cases that hold the viewers’ attention this season; season five is full of true powerhouse episodes: heartbreaking cases like “The Plain in the Prodigy”; darkly comical shows like “The Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”; truly shocking mysteries like “The Proof in the Pudding,”; and even a historically fascinating case written by the author of the original Temperance Brennan novels Kathy Reichs herself (“The Witch in the Wardrobe”) — however, all of these merely lead up to the three knockout moments of the season:David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)In the fifth season, “Bones” reaches its 100th episode, “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole.” Likely the most beloved and most contested episode in the show’s history, the 100th episode completely redefined Booth and Brennan’s relationship as it showed the viewers the pair’s first meeting, something never before revealed, and circles around to one of the most hearbreaking and yet most powerfully hopeful moments of the series. “Parts” was also directed by David Boreanaz, one of the series’ leads, and the sheer emotion wrung out of Boreanaz and Deschanel by the end speaks volumes to the talent of the show’s leads.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)As the series continues, however, the characters were shocked to their cores as they were forced to come face-to-face with their most terrifying adversary yet: the cunningly frightening sociopath dubbed The Gravedigger, in “The Boy with the Answer,” a nail-bitingly tense hour of television that had viewers’ hearts pounding as Heather Taffet, the Gravedigger, proved that her true arena was the courtroom, tearing apart her victims and throwing the entire future of Brennan’s life into question.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)This only segues into the season’s amazingly dramatic finale, “The Beginning in the End.” As the team investigates the home of a hoarder, Bones questions what she truly wants to do with her life, Booth’s past comes calling, and Angela’s father blows back into town, all leading to a truly shocking season ender, a masterful finale that not only redefined the very foundations of the show and the characters but also continued to set the show on a rising point, ensuring that every faithful viewer of “Bones” will be frantically waiting for the sixth season to premiere in the fall.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
John Turturro (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Patrick Dempsey (Made of Honor)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Julie White (Lincoln)
John Malkovich (Red)
Frances McDormand (Hail, Caesar!)
Keiko Agena (13 Reasons Why)
Lester Speight (Faster)
Josh Kelly (Jarhead 2)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Buzz Aldrin (The Big Bang Theory)
Elya Baskin (Heroes)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Jess Harnell (Little Nicky)
James Remar (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation)
Francesco Quinn (Hell Ride)
George Coe (The West Wing)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Greg Berg (The Muppets)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)

In 1961, the “Ark”, a Cybertronian spacecraft carrying an invention capable of ending the war between the benevolent Autobots and the malevolent Decepticons, crash lands on the dark side of Earth’s Moon. The crash is detected on Earth by NASA, and the President authorizes a mission to put a man on the Moon as a cover for investigating the spacecraft. In 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 lands on the Moon.In the present, the Autobots assist the United States military in preventing major conflicts around the globe. During a mission to Chernobyl to investigate suspected alien technology, Optimus Prime finds a fuel cell from the “Ark”, discovering that it had survived its journey from Cybertron. The Autobots are then attacked by Shockwave, a Decepticon scientist, who manages to escape. After learning of the top-secret mission to the Moon, the Autobots travel there to explore the “Ark”. They discover a comatose Sentinel Prime – Optimus’ predecessor as leader of the Autobots – and the Pillars he created as a means of establishing a Space Bridge between two points to teleport matter. After returning to Earth, Optimus uses the energy of his Matrix of Leadership to revive Sentinel Prime.Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is frustrated that he is unable to work with the Autobots or find a job. He also becomes envious of the close relationship between his new girlfriend, Carly Spencer, and her boss Dylan Gould. After finding work, Sam is provided information by his eccentric co-worker Jerry Wang about the “Ark”, before Jerry is assassinated by the Decepticon Laserbeak. Sam contacts the now-independently wealthy Sector 7 Agent Seymour Simmons, and together they realize that the Decepticons and their leader, Megatron, are murdering people connected to the American and Russian space missions to the “Ark”. They locate two surviving Russian cosmonauts, who reveal satellite photos of hundreds of Pillars being stockpiled on the Moon. Sam realizes that the Decepticons raided the “Ark” long before the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and intentionally left Sentinel and the five Pillars behind to lure the Autobots into a trap with Sentinel being the key to activating the Pillars and the Decepticons lacking the means to revive him. The Autobots rush to return Sentinel to their base for protection, but Sentinel betrays them and murders the Autobot Ironhide, revealing he had made a deal with Megatron to ensure Cybertron’s survival.Sentinel uses the Pillars to transport hundreds of concealed Decepticons from the Moon to Earth. Carly is later captured by Gould, who is revealed to be in service of the Decepticons. The Autobots are exiled from Earth at the demand of the Decepticons to avoid war, but as their ship leaves Earth it is destroyed by Megatron’s second-in-command, Starscream, seemingly killing the Autobots. The Decepticons, led by Megatron and Sentinel, invade Chicago as their agents place Pillars around the world. Gould reveals to Carly that the Decepticons plan to transport their homeworld of Cybertron to the Solar System, then to enslave humanity and use Earth’s resources to rebuild their world. Sam teams up with former USAF Chief Robert Epps and ex-NEST soldiers to go into Chicago to save Carly, but they are nearly killed by Decepticon forces before the Autobots intervene, revealing they concealed themselves during the launch of their ship to convince the Decepticons they were destroyed.Working together, the Autobots and human soldiers manage to rescue Carly and kill Laserbeak, Starscream, Soundwave and Shockwave, with Optimus using Shockwave’s arm-cannon to blast the Control Pillar, disabling the Space Bridge. Sam confronts Gould as he reactivates the Control Pillar, and knocks Gould into the Pillar, electrocuting him. Bumblebee and Ratchet arrive and destroy the Control Pillar, permanently disabling the Bridge and causing the partially transported Cybertron to implode. Optimus and Sentinel fight while Carly convinces Megatron that he will be replaced by Sentinel as leader of the Decepticons. Sentinel severs Optimus’ right arm, and is about to execute him when Megatron intervenes, incapacitating Sentinel. Megatron slyly proposes a truce, having the desire to become the one in charge again, but Optimus instead attacks Megatron, decapitating and killing him. Sentinel pleads for his life, but Optimus executes him too for betraying his own principles. With the Decepticons defeated, Carly and Sam are reunited and the Autobots accept that, with Cybertron gone for good, Earth is now their home.Ultimately, Bay’s primary success here is casting. In addition to Dempsey (pleasingly cynical), Dark of the Moon boasts an elaborate roster of recognizable, exceptional professionals, like John Malkovich (ridiculous), Frances McDormand (deadly serious), Ken Jeong (psychotic), and Alan Tudyk (over-the-top), who give the film color. McDormand in particular adds a level of gravitas to the first half of the movie that really greases the wheels, and even though she’s relegated to the far back in the last third, she shares her time with returning player John Turturro, with whom she has amusing chemistry. Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, and Julie White also return. Everything else is action, action, action. This time, Bay is better with his action geography and choreography, illustrating fights from a distance and turning down the dust clouds a little bit.

REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 4

Starring

Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Jack Coleman (Spawn)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Adrian Pasdar (Supergirl)
James Kyson Lee (Sleepy Hollow)
Ali Larter (Final Destination)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)

Robert Knepper in Heroes (2006)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Madeline Zima (Crazy Eyes)
Ray Park (G.I. Joe)
Deanne Bray (Universal Signs)
Elisabeth Röhm (Angel)
Ashley Crow (Minority Report)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Lisa Lackey (Planet of The Apes)
Rachel Melvin (Sleepy Hollow)
Saemi Nakamura (The Truman Show)
Zeljko Ivanek (The Event)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)
Rick Worthy (Duplicity)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Tessa Thompson (Westworld)
Christine Adams (BLack Lightning)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Candice Patton (The Flash)
Jayma Mays (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Danielle Savre (Boogeyman 2)
Santiago Cabrera (Big Little Lies)
Danica Stewart (Passions)
Andrew Connolly (Patriot Games)
Ravi Kapoor (Bones)
Carlson Young (Scream: The Series)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
David Anders (Izmbie)
Sasha Pieterse (Pretty Little Liars)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
K Callan (Lois & Clark)

Deanne Bray in Heroes (2006)

The first season of Heroes remains a landmark moment in television. Taking Watchmen’s ‘if superheroes existed’ thesis to its natural conclusion, the show’s realisation of the ultimate nerd fantasy of ordinary people with extraordinary powers and subtle nods to comic book tropes was a revelation, producing one of TV’s all time great villains, the delightfully menacing Sylar. Then it all fell apart.Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)The fun, frenetic pace of the first season was almost completely absent from its follow-up. In a jarring and completely misjudged shift of tone, the show became more about the nefarious dealings of the mysterious ‘Company’ and less about character development and the simple joy of watching a cheerleader mend her own bloody and broken shinbone. (The season also introduced the worst superpower ever: the ability to kill by dilating your pupils.) Admittedly, this was partially as a result of the 07/08 US writers’ strike, but the show never recovered critically, haemorrhaging viewers at an alarming pace. In following this unmitigated disaster, Tim Kring and co attempted to return to the heart of what made the show such a blast in the first place and, a handful of ridiculous plot points aside, they have been reasonably successful. However, viewers had lost faith and THE show was officially axed by NBC.Robert Knepper in Heroes (2006)However, with the fourth and final season going back to basics, as well as injecting some much needed warmth and depth into several previously underdeveloped characters, Heroes definitely went out with a bang. Season four follows the characters attempts to return to normality following the tragic events of Nathan Petrelli’s death at the hands of Sylar. In an attempt to keep his death a secret, psychic ex-cop Matt Parkman enters an unconscious and powerless Sylar’s mind, convincing him he is Nathan. All does not go to plan, however, as Sylar’s subdued consciousness worms its way into Matt’s head, taunting him and attempting to force Parkman to restore his identity by any means necessary.Robert Knepper and Zachary Quinto in Heroes (2006)Hiro Nakamura, previously just a loveable, if highly one-dimensional, comic book nerd, is finally given some depth, after discovering he is terminally ill with a brain tumour. Following a mysterious encounter with shadowy carnival owner Samuel Sullivan (played to creepy perfection by Prison Break’s Robert Knepper), Hiro decides to use his time travelling powers to change tragic or regretful moments in his past, often to destructive effect. The majority of the plot revolves around the arrival of Samuel’s peculiar fair. As self-healing cheerleader-turned-fresher Claire Bennet soon discovers, it is much more than a travelling freak show. The carnival is a tight knit group of ‘heroes’ travelling under the radar. However, as Samuel tries to convince Claire to join his family, things may not be as they appear.Hayden Panettiere and Madeline Zima in Heroes (2006)With season four, the creators have finally realised what it is viewers loved about Heroes in the first place. Like all good comic books, the series is a rollercoaster ride, with an engaging (if a tad stupid) plot, and a plethora of dastardly villains. Characters are given conflict that, for a change, is genuinely thrilling. Hiro’s awful dilemma is particularly heartbreaking, bringing some essential empathy to what was previously the show’s increasingly tired comic relief. Although it may have proven too little, too late for casual viewers, the season is a worthy farewell to what deserves to be remembered as one TV’s most enjoyable shows.

 

REVIEW: ALONG CAME A SPIDER

CAST

Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Monica Potter (Saw)
Michael Wincott (Talk Radio)
Dylan Baker (The Cell)
Mika Boorem (Blue Crush)
Billy Burke (Twilight)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)
Jay O. Sanders (Zenith)
Michael Moriarty (Children of The Dust)
Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist)
Anna Maria Horsford (The Fan)
Kim Hawthorne (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)
Christopher Shyer (V)
Samantha Ferris (The 4400)
Jonathan Walker (Red)
Steve Makaj (Arrow)

After Washington, D.C. detective, forensic psychologist and author Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) loses control of a sting operation, resulting in the death of his partner, he opts to retire from the force. He finds himself drawn back to police work when Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), the daughter of a United States senator, is kidnapped from her exclusive private school by computer science teacher Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott). U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), held responsible for the breach in security, joins forces with Cross to find the missing girl. Soneji contacts Cross by phone and alerts him to the fact one of Megan’s sneakers is in the detective’s mailbox, proving he’s the kidnapper. Cross deduces the man is obsessed with the 1932 Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. kidnapping and hopes to become as infamous as Bruno Hauptmann by committing a new “Crime of the Century” which might be discussed by Cross in one of his true crime books. Megan’s kidnapping proves to be only part of Soneji’s real plan: to kidnap Dimitri Starodubov (Anton Yelchin), the son of the Russian president, guaranteeing himself greater infamy.
After Cross and Flannigan foil his second kidnapping plot, a supposed call from the kidnapper demands Cross deliver a ransom of $10 million in diamonds by following an intricate maze of calls made to public phone booths scattered throughout the city. Cross ultimately tosses the gems out the window of a rapidly moving Metro train to a figure standing by the tracks. When Soneji later arrives at Flannigan’s home and confronts Cross after disabling Flannigan with a taser, the detective realizes the kidnapper is unaware of the ransom demand and delivery. Soneji tries to leave with Flannigan but Cross kills him. Cross becomes suspicious and realizes someone discovered Soneji long before his plot came to fruition. After searching Flannigan’s home computer, he finds enough evidence to prove Flannigan and her fellow Secret Service agent, Ben Devine (Billy Burke), used Soneji as a pawn in their own plot. He tracks them down to a secluded farmhouse where Flannigan has murdered Devine and is now intent on eliminating Megan Rose. Cross saves Megan and shoots Flannigan in the heart, killing her. Afterwards, Cross takes Megan back to her parents.Along came a spider is a film that you will not forget in a hurry. It’s packed with suspense, action and superb acting, with Morgan Freeman truely showing just why he is one of the greats.

REVIEW: OCTOPUS

CAST

Jay Harrington (Better off Ted)
Ravil Isyanov  (Agents of SHIELD)
David Beecroft  (Creepshow 2)
Carolyn Lowery (Candyman)
Ricco Ross (Aliens)
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)

During the Cuban Missle Crisis, a Russian sub is sunk while en route to Havana. As the sub goes down, the hold is breached and barrels full of some mysterious substance tumble out. Years later, an American nuclear submarine is transporting a captured terrorist to the States. The terrorist’s henchmen, however, are planning to hijack the sub and rescue their leader. Meanwhile, a large, unidentified creature is approaching the sub at high speed.

4864487_l4Bolstered by brilliantly unrestrained performances from a dedicated cast seemingly unfazed by the sheer awfulness of the script, and digital special effects scraped from the very bottom of the barrel, Octopus manages to entertain by being unbelievably dumb.

 

REVIEW: HACKERS

CAST

Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary)
Angelina Jolie (The Changeling)
Jesse Bradford (Swimfan)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Laurence Mason (The Crow)
Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit)
Alberta Watson (La Femme Nikita)
Penn Jillette (Sabrina: TTW)
Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives)
Ravil Isyanov (Defiance)
Ricco Ross (Aliens)

In 1988, 11-year-old Dade “Zero Cool” Murphy is arrested and charged with crashing 1,507 computer systems in a single day and causing a single-day 7-point drop in the New York Stock Exchange. His family is fined $45,000 for the events and he is banned from using computers or touch-tone telephones until he is 18 years old. Seven years later, Dade (Jonny Lee Miller), is now living with his divorced mother in New York City. On Dade’s 18th birthday, he receives a computer and uses social engineering to hack into a local television station’s computer network, changing the current TV program to an episode of The Outer Limits. However, Dade’s intrusion is countered by another hacker (handle “Acid Burn”) on the same network, and they briefly converse, with Dade identifying himself by a new alias: “Crash Override”.Dade enrolls in a local high school (for which Stuyvesant High School is used as the filming location) where he meets Kate Libby (Angelina Jolie) who pranks Dade by claiming that there’s a pool on the roof of the school. Ramon “The Phantom Phreak” Sanchez (Renoly Santiago) observes Dade accessing the school network during computer class to put himself in the same English class as Kate, and invites him to a hacker nightclub, Cyberdelia, where Dade beats Kate’s high score in the Wipeout arcade game. Soon after, Dade exacts revenge for the earlier prank by scheduling a test of the school’s sprinkler system the next day. Dade begins integrating himself into Phreak’s circle of hacker friends: Emmanuel “Cereal Killer” Goldstein (Matthew Lillard), Paul “Lord Nikon” Cook (Laurence Mason) (so named for his photographic memory), and Joey Pardella (Jesse Bradford), an aspiring novice hacker without an alias. At a party, Dade learns that Kate is “Acid Burn”, the hacker that kicked him out of the TV network earlier.Meanwhile, Joey, out to prove his skills, successfully breaks into “The Gibson”, an Ellingson Mineral Company supercomputer. He attempts to download a garbage file as proof of his feat, but his mother disconnects his computer so he’ll sleep, leaving Joey with a fragmented file. However, prior to Joey’s disconnection, the company’s IT employee Hal (Penn Jillette) detects this unauthorized entry and summons computer security officer Eugene “The Plague” Belford (Fisher Stevens), a former hacker. While going through the files, Plague realizes the garbage file being downloaded is a worm he inserted to defraud Ellingson. The Plague pretends the hackers are to blame and enlists the US Secret Service to recover the file, claiming it is the code to a computer virus (named “Da Vinci” for an image of the Vitruvian Man that accompanies it) that will capsize the company’s oil tanker fleet. In fact, The Plague had inserted the virus as a red herring to cover for his worm.Soon after, Joey is arrested and his computer is searched, but the Secret Service doesn’t find anything, as Joey had hidden the disk containing the files. In response, Dade and Kate decide to settle their disagreements with a bet, with Dade choosing a date with Kate as his prize and Kate electing to have Dade perform menial computing tasks. The hacking duel focuses on harassing Secret Service Agent Richard Gill (Wendell Pierce), “Hacker enemy number one”, who was involved in Joey’s arrest. After various pranks including canceling Gill’s credit cards, creating a fake embarrassing personal ad in Gill’s name, fabricating a criminal record, and changing his payroll status to “deceased”, the duel remains in a tie status.After being released on parole, Joey reveals the disk to Phreak in a public park; but they quickly realize that they are being followed by the Secret Service. The next day, Phreak is arrested and uses his phone call to inform Kate that he hid the disk in a boys’ bathroom at school. That evening, Kate and Cereal Killer ask Dade for his help; but he declines, stating he has “a record”. Kate then asks Dade to copy the disk so that, if anyone else is arrested, they have the disk as un-tampered evidence. After determining that Dade is not the one who hacked into Ellingson, The Plague attempts to enlist Dade’s help to find the one who did. First, he sends Dade a high-powered laptop that displays a video message from The Plague encouraging Dade to join him. Later, he threatens to have Dade’s mother incarcerated with a manufactured criminal record. At this, Dade agrees to deliver Kate’s copy of the disk.

Meanwhile, Kate, Lord Nikon, and Cereal Killer attempt to discern the contents of the disk. Dade joins them; and, after working all night, they learn the purpose of its code—a worm designed to salami-slice $25 million from Ellingson transactions. Dade confesses that he knows Plague is behind this scheme, admitting that he gave him the disk and revealing his hacking history as “Zero Cool”. Determined to stop the scheme, the assembled hackers plan to hack the Gibson again. Kate and Dade go dumpster-diving for employee memos with passwords; Cereal Killer installs a phone tap in the Ellingson offices; and Nikon poses as a delivery boy wandering the Ellingson cubicles, memorizing employee passwords as they enter them into their terminals.Reading the memos, they discover that the Da Vinci virus is set to capsize the oil fleet the next day, which would provide the perfect cover to distract from the salami-slicing worm. In need of help, Dade and Kate seek out Razor and Blade, the producers of a hacker-themed unlicensed TV show, “Hack the Planet.” Razor and Blade are at a club where Urban Dance Squad is performing and Dade and Kate manage to convince Razor and Blade to join them in disrupting The Gibson enough that the garbage file can be located and copied. Lord Nikon and Cereal Killer learn through their Ellingson phone tap that warrants for their arrest are to be executed at 9AM the next day.The next morning, after being paged by Kate, Nikon and Cereal roller-blade from Washington Square Park, evading the Secret Service after exploiting the traffic system and using a payload that reconfigures traffic lights and converge on Grand Central station, where they use payphones and acoustic couplers to begin their assault on the Gibson. At first, their attempts are easily rebuffed by Plague, who calls Dade to taunt him to escape before he is arrested. However, Razor and Blade have contacted hackers around the world, who lend their support with virus attacks, hampering the Gibson and distracting Plague long enough for Joey to download the incriminating file to a floppy disk.

Shortly after crashing the Gibson, Dade and company are arrested. As they’re being led away, Dade surreptitiously informs Cereal Killer, hiding in the crowd, that he’s tossed the disk in a trashcan. As Dade and Kate are being interrogated, Razor and Blade jam the local television signals and broadcast live video of Cereal Killer, revealing the plot and Plague’s complicity, along with the account number with the stolen funds. Plague is arrested while attempting to flee to Japan under the alias “Mr. Babbage” (itself a reference to Charles Babbage). Their names cleared, Dade and Kate go on a date at a swimming pool on the roof of a building, their friends showing off their latest hack—the lights in several adjacent office buildings spelling out “CRASH AND BURN.” Confirming that they have had dreams about each other, the two begin to make out.

Director Ian Softley handles preceedings well, and even blurs the line between fantasy and reality by showing how the hackers see the world as a labyrinth of computer connections. The film has a harsh sense of humour too, and demonstrates just how powerful a computer hacker can be. Although the dialogue and plot can be dodgy in some moments, Hackers is definitely an original and well-crafted movie adventure.

REVIEW: AGENTS OF SHIELD – SEASON 3

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MAIN CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Lost In Florence)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Iain De Caestecker (Filfth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)
Nick Blood (Trollied)
Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue)
Luke Mitchell (The Tomorrow People)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Constance Zimmer (UnReal)
Andrew Howard (Bates Motel)
Matthew Willig (Year One)
Juan Pablo Raba (The 33)
Alex Hyde-White (The Fantastic Four)
Spencer Treat Clark (Mystic River)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters 2)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Blair Underwood (Gattaca)
Daniel Roebuck (The Man In High Castle)
Powers Boothe (Sin City)
Jack Guzman (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Axle Whitehead (Home and Away)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Daniel Feuerriegel (Spartacus: Blood & Sand)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Dillon Casey (Nikita)
Briana Venskus (Supergirl)
Bayo Akinfemi (Bob Hearts Abishola)
Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Los Minondo)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Bethany Joy Lenz (One Tree Hill)
Ravil Isyanov (Bones)
Gaius Charles (Roswell, New Mexico)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Alicia Vela-Bailey (Lights Out)
John Hannah (The Mummy)
D. Elliot Woods (Star Trek: Insurrection)

After its rocky start, Agents of SHIELD had turned into a much more entertaining, involving series by its second season. Season 3 of the Marvel series found the show operating on as strong a level as the year before, There was a lot to enjoy. The show used the mid-season split to essentially divide between two villains – both played by Brett Dalton. In the fall, Dalton was still playing Ward and in the spring, he was Hive (walking around in Ward’s dead body). Overall, the fall run was very Strong and cohesive. The rising threats, including Gideon Malick and Lash, were intriguing, the storyline about Simmons’ time on another planet really compelling and the tragically short love story between Coulson and Ros (a very strong Constance Zimmer) played well – even if his quest for revenge after Ward shockingly killed her was a bit heightened, given how quick their relationship was.That aforementioned Simmons storyline was a standout, with Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker both doing excellent work, as Fitz did all he could to rescue Simmons, only to find she had changed while she was gone. It all led up to the phenomenal episode “4,722 Hours,” which is the best hour of Agents of SHIELD to date. A very offbeat, ambitious episode, “4,722 Hours” took place almost entirely on the alien planet Simmons was trapped on, with only her and the Earthling astronaut she discovered there, Will (Dillon Casey), anchoring the story. The reveals in this episode set up a love triangle that felt earned (something that often isn’t the case on TV shows), as we could understand the pain this situation was causing both Fitz and Simmons, and feel sympathetic towards both of them. Once more, I have to note that these two characters have come a long way since the show began, backed by two great performances.You really can’t go wrong with Powers Boothe as a villain and it was very fun to see the veteran actor greatly expand upon his shadowy role in the Avengers as Hydra leader Gideon Malick. The way they used Malick to connect some dots on Hydra history from the MCU was cool and in his final episodes, he did a great job showing the loving father beneath the scary façade – who realized too late he was messing with the wrong Inhuman alien-god creature.We also had Lincoln and the Secret Warriors. The idea of the Secret Warriors was cool, as Agents of SHIELD amped up its superhero side and we met characters like Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) and Elena/Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), There was a lot of teasing and set up here with some payoff. When this team within the team finally went on their first mission, in “The Team,” it was immediately followed by them turning on one another, with no time to really see what their dynamic might be like.Lincoln’s character got an expanded role, His best material was early in the season, when he was on the run and refusing to join SHIELD. But once he was part of the team (officially or not). Daisy herself however, fared better. Now fully aware of and embracing her Inhuman heritage and superpowers, she was re-introduced as a kick ass, capable superhero. The early days of Agents of SHIELD pushed “Skye” too much as being special when she hadn’t earned it, but now, it was much easier to buy into her transformation and Chloe Bennet flourished showing off Daisy’s dangerous physicality, which allowed her to blend martial arts with those increasingly powerful earthquake powers.Among the rest of the cast, Mack (Henry Simmons) was a very likable, easy too root for part of the team in Season 3, and making him and Daisy field partners turned out to be a clever pairing. May’s storyline was mostly cantered around Lash and the reveal he was truly Andrew, which initially was very compelling. Hunter and Bobbi continued to be a cool couple, and getting Bobbi back in the field after the early episodes was easy too root for. The two got a big, sad  send off for a spinoff that now isn’t happening. As for Coulson, his aforementioned romance with Ros worked well, and him killing Ward was a suitably big moment. Some of his angst and guilt over that murder felt a bit unfocused in the spring run, but there was some good material here as well – including the show retroactively accounting for Coulson being so damn adoring and protective of Daisy since the beginning.Brett Dalton had done great work on SHIELD since we learned Ward was a Hydra agent, taking the bland boy scout he appeared to be and subverting it in a big way. And I was glad that SHIELD’s creators never tried to redeem Ward or put him back on the team somehow – we understood what shaped him, but also never forgot he was a broken, bad person. However, it was time for Ward to go and the Hive storyline allowed them to put him to rest for good.Season 3 was a great season to a continuing great addition to the MCU.

REVIEW: K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Sam Spruell (The Hurt Locker)
Peter Stebbings (bates Motel)
Roman Podhora (Final Destination 5)
Ravil Isyanov (Alias)
Peter Starsgaard (Jarhead)
Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones
Tygh Runyan (Versailles)
Christian Camargo (See)
In 1961, the Soviet Union launches its first ballistic missile nuclear submarine, the K-19. The ship is led by Captain Alexei Vostrikov, aided by executive officer Mikhail Polenin. Polenin, the original captain, and the crew have served together for some time but Vostrikov’s appointment is alleged to have been aided by his wife’s political connections. During his first inspection, Vostrikov discovers the submarine’s reactor officer to be drunk and asleep on duty. Vostrikov sacks the officer and orders Polenin to request a replacement. The new reactor officer, Vadim Radtchenko, arrives direct from nuclear school having just been fresh from the naval academy, annoying Polenin who thinks Vostrikov was too punitive on the former reactor officer who was competent despite his momentary lapse of judgment. Also, during the preparation period for the sub’s launch, the ship’s medical officer is killed when struck by an oncoming truck, and is subsequently replaced by the command’s foremost medical officer, an army officer who has graciously offered himself in the submarine’s time of need, but also privately admits to Vostrikov that as an army officer he has never been out to sea and suffers from motion sickness. During the K-19’s official launch, the bottle of champagne fails to break when it strikes the bow; the sailors nervously glance at each other due to this customary sign of bad luck.
The crew’s performance improves and Vostrikov decides to carry out the K-19’s first mission, which is to surface in the Arctic and fire an unarmed (“test”) ballistic missile. After that, the K-19 will patrol a zone in the Atlantic within range of New York and Washington D.C. just in case the U.S. launches an attack to the Soviet Union. As a test of the sub’s endurance, Vostrikov orders the K-19 to submerge past its maximum operational depth of 250 meters to its “crush depth” (300 meters), then surface rapidly at full-speed to break through the Arctic pack-ice which he estimates to be no more than one metre thick. Polenin regards this maneuver as dangerous and, during the surfacing procedure, storms off the bridge. After scraping along the underside of the ice, the K-19 finally breaks through and surfaces with no apparent damage. The crew is both relieved and exhilarated by Vostrikov’s bold maneuver and the test missile is launched successfully.
As the K-19 sails southwards to begin the second part of its mission, a pipe carrying coolant to the reactor cooling system springs a leak and then bursts completely. Polenin and Vostrikov are informed that once the nuclear reactor reaches 1000 °C, the nuclear reactor will explode and most likely plunge the world into a nuclear war. The frightening possibility prompts the crew to solve the problem. The control rods are inserted to stop the reactor, but without coolant the reactor temperature continues to rise rapidly. Polenin and Radtchenko are shocked to discover that back-up coolant systems have not been installed. Vostrikov orders the K-19 to surface so that he may contact fleet command to inform them of the accident and await orders. But upon surfacing they discover the long-range transmitter on the conning tower is damaged and they are unable to contact fleet headquarters – Vostrikov assumes, ruefully, his surfacing maneuver in the Arctic caused the antenna damage.
An engineering team reluctantly have to enter the reactor to make repairs, and produce a makeshift coolant system to get the reactor temperature down. Polenin discovers the submarine has been provided with chemical suits rather than suits to protect against radiation. He nonetheless tells the first team that the suits will protect them. The first group emerges from the reactor compartment vomiting and heavily blistered. The second team panics, but make their way in. The repairs succeed in cooling the reactor, but many are severely ill with radiation poisoning.
Vostrikov is informed that a helicopter is approaching; he and some of the crew climb out onto the deck, thinking a Russian ship has come to save them, only to discover that it is a US Navy helicopter from a nearby US destroyer. The destroyer is asking if the K-19 requires assistance. Vostrikov orders a reply in the negative; the men on the deck notice a crewman in the helicopter photographing them, and they drop their trousers and bare their buttocks at him. The helicopter flies away. Vostrikov refuses to allow the Americans anywhere near K-19. The US destroyer follows them at a discreet distance. Back in the Soviet Union, the Soviet government begins to have suspicions about the K-19 abandoning the mission following K-19’s failure to contact fleet headquarters about the condition of the mission.The submarine makes its way towards a group of diesel submarines in the south, but the pipework ruptures and the temperature begins to rise once again, forcing Vostrikov to dive the submarine and quell a mutiny. The second repair is a success, but the engineer has sustained more radiation than the previous teams and is certain to die. Captain Vostrikov drags him from the reactor. After that, the K-19 finally reaches to the location of the diesel submarines. However, the Soviet leadership order him to confine the crew on the submarine until a freighter can arrive to pick them up. Knowing that it would be too dangerous to keep the crew on K-19, Vostrikov orders the crew to be evacuated to the diesel submarines despite knowing he will most likely lose his command and be sent to a gulag. After the incident, Captain Vostrikov is tried for endangering the mission and disobeying a direct order, but Polenin comes to his defense, which resulted in his charges being dropped.
An epilogue shows an aged Captain Vostrikov in 1989, putting on his dress uniform in a small flat and catching a train to meet up with Polenin. It is exactly 28 years after the accident; the Berlin Wall is shown to be coming down. Vostrikov grumbles about the inconvenience but Polenin informs him this is the anniversary of the day they were rescued. The commanders enter a cemetery where a number of the surviving K-19 crewmen are gathered by a grave site. We learn that this is the first time the K-19 survivors have met since the incident. Vostrikov is visibly moved as he greets the men and informs them that he nominated the men now dead of radiation poisoning (28 in total) for the distinction of Hero of the Soviet Union, but was told they were not worthy of the title as they died not during war time, but as the result of an accident. The film ends with the moment when, years before, the whole crew took a group photograph in front of the submarine.
This is a well crafted, true story and Exposition of the cold war submariners’ duties. The unusual thing is that the Russians are depicted as the good guys. The editing, as signified by the pace of the film is superbly done. The claustrophobic aspects of the ship could have been boring but it was not the case. The two captains are shown as mutually distrusting at first but under duress begin to see the others point of view under the weight of an unreliable and dangerous vessel.

 

 

REVIEW: MR. AND MRS. SMITH

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Vince Vaughn (Weddign Crashers)
Adam Brody (The OC)
Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Chris Weitz (American Pie)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss bang bang)
Stephanie March (The Invention of Lying)
Jennifer Morrison (Amityville: The Awakening)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)

 

MV5BMTI5MDg3NDQ1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTAxNjUyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_Mr. and Mrs. Smith, while not flawless, is a feature that works well despite the realization as the credits roll that there’s not a great deal to it. Of course, everyone knows by now that stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are a couple, the mere fact of which has somehow managed to be covered in every single edition of every single tabloid in every single country. The film, from “Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman, stars Pitt and Jolie as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a suburban couple who lives in a large, beautiful and ultra-modern house on a quiet street. The two met cute and got married, despite keeping a rather large secret from one another – that both are actually assassins who are working for rival organizations.a0acad5c7a89d5b7f3182585aad6c19dThe marriage has obviously cooled over the years, and now discussions over decorations and minor dinner changes are the only thing keeping things from falling into uncomfortable silences. Things get nasty, however, when the two are sent in on the same job – an operative (Adam Brody, from “The O.C.”) and find that their cover has been blown by the person they’d have least expected. From there, Smith turns into a more violent War of the Roses as the two, despite still being together, wage war on each other in their suburban estate.MV5BMTUyNzA3MzMwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTk5NTUyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_However, when it becomes clear that their bosses want them eliminated, they realize they have to turn to each other. Liman, who brought urgency and tension to even the quietest moments of “The Bourne Identity” manages to handle both the action and dark comedy of “Smith” wonderfully. Pitt, who proved he was a surprisingly sharp comedic talent in “Ocean’s 11” has the same off-beat delivery here, and it works well. More surprising is Jolie, who successfully gives the performance a bit more warmth and dark glee than she has in her roles in the past. Vince Vaughn also steals a few scenes as a co-worker who lives with his mother.Director Liman and writer Simon Kinsberg wisely keep things light for the most part,  and yet don’t go so breezy that the film loses urgency and we lose interest. The two stars also manage to portray their subtle inner feelings for each other well during the film’s few quiet moments. Technically, the film is superb, with well-choreographed action sequences, excellent production design, slick cinematography and a superb sound mix.Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s mixture of very dark comedy and action certainly walks a fine line, and yet Liman and the two leads have managed to work it out very well.