REVIEW: BARBAROSSA: SIEGE LORD

Starring

Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Raz Degan (Alexander)
F. Murray Abraham (Last Action Hero)
Hristo Zhivkov (The Passion of The Christ)
Antonio Cupo (American Mary)
Cécile Cassel (Foon)
Kasia Smutniak (Loro)

“Italy. 12th century AD. Northern Italy is ruled over by a German Emperor: Frederick I Hohenstaufen, known as ‘Barbarossa’. His dream is to conquer also Central and Southern Italy, thus reviving the ancient empire founded by Charlemagne. But in the North a young man from Milan has formed an army of 900 young men from different cities: the ‘Company of Death’. This young man’s name is Alberto Giussano. His dream is to defeat the Emperor and to regain freedom for the Northern lands.” The Emperor Barbarossa is out hunting when he is attacked by a wild boar, but is saved by a young boy. Rather, he is the boy’s Emperor, Frederick Hohenstaufen, better known as Barbarossa. With this the boy introduces himself as Alberto da Giussano, son of Giovanni; the grateful emperor gives Alberto his imperial dagger inscribed with his name.Rutger Hauer in Barbarossa (2009)A few years later, in the German city of Würzburg, Barbarossa is going to see Hildegard von Bingen, the great seër. He plans to marry for the second time. The seër says that the wedding is blessed. Then she says Frederick of Swabia’s name will be remembered for centuries, but to beware of water for it will bring his death. At the wedding, Henry, Duke of Saxony, is marrying a young French girl. The story cuts to Milan where Evandro calls over to the now grown Alberto and tells him to get onto his cart because they must reach the river before dawn. They reach the river and start to load their goods onto a boat there. Lodigiani soldiers arrive and say the merchants crossed through their territory in the night and now they must pay their dues. Evandro pulls a knife and slits the throat of the soldier next to him then Alberto and his companions slay the other soldiers but Alberto is in the fighting. His horse brings him back home where two beautiful women, the blonde Tessa and her brunette sister, sister Eleonora. The brunette kisses Alberto’s face while he is still unconscious.2barbaraossa-siege-lordTwo emissaries from Lodi come to Barbarossa to tell him that the city of Milan is trying to dominate them. Lodi has always been loyal to the Emperor and now they ask him for his help. Barbarossa says he doesn’t want to use any force right now on Milan. He says he will write a letter to Milan and the two emissaries will take it to them. A German emissary delivers the letter to Milan. He says that he comes in the name of the Emperor. Milan is warned not to attack Lodi on pain of being banished from the Empire. A cleric named Gerado throws the letter on the ground and steps on it. Gerado’s colleague, Siniscalco Barozzi is shocked at the behaviour of his friend and he asks the German emissary not to leave. Alberto is also shocked and asks Gerado what is he going to do now. Gerado says he will gather the army and attack Lodi. Alberto has a nightmare and awakens in fright from his deep sleep. His two brothers tell him that Lodi has been defeated. Barbarossa is furious that Milan attacked Lodi, but he really has no desire to fight. He says it’s as if Milan were trying to force him into fighting them. But Barbarossa’s charismatic and supportive new queen wants him to go to Milan and destroy that city. Barbarossa sets out for Milan.445776-16330-clp-950Tessa, Eleanora and father have dinner when Siniscalco Barozzi arrives, asking the father for the hand of his daughter Tessa. Tessa’s Father says that Tessa would make a good wife and he will put in a good word for him with her. Eleonora comes to tell Alberto that Siniscalco Barozzi wants to marry Tessa but she says that will never happen. Alberto says that they say she is a witch and jokes that maybe that is how she knows Tessa’s future. Eleanora is hurt and angry by the accusation so to pacify her, Alberto he shows her the large knife given to him by Barbarossa himself. Eleonora touches it and sees a vision of fighting. She recoils from the knife then she runs from the house. Tessa tells Eleonora that Ranero, one of Alberto’s brothers, says he wants to marry her and she returns his feelings. Siniscalco Barozzi reaches the camp of Barbarossa but The Emperor is not there so the scheming and cowardly Barozzi tells the substitute Rinaldo di Dassel that he has brought Milan’s oath of allegiance to Barbarossa. Rinaldo takes the money, but says that Barbarossa is still coming to attack Milan.maxresdefaultBarozzi returns to Milan to warn of the great size of the German army. In addition, they have a great many war machines. Barozzi implores the people to surrender Milan but they decide to fight, to Barozzi’s irritation. In Verona at the Adige River, a new bridge has been built to the satisfaction of the Germans. They start crossing the bridge, but soon heavy log rams are send down the river to knock the bridge into sections. German horses and soldiers are tossed into the Adige River. For Verona siding with Milan and killing many German soldiers, Barbarossa cuts off the ear of one of the Verona emissaries. Eleonora runs to tell Alberto that the Germans have destroyed the city of Brescia with more than one thousand dead. Alberto says they are still going to fight to save Milan. Eleonora thinks the battle has already been lost. As Soldiers from the cities of Parma, Cremona, Padua and Ferrara are sent to join forces with Barbarossa, the Germans are approach Milan. The bells are rung and the people come into the fort. There is a moat around the fortified walls of the city. The Germans come forward to the moat behind moveable wooden walls. They start pushing giant kegs into the moat water. The Milanese archers try to kill the men working on the kegs, but the German have hundreds of crossbowmen firing arrows into the Milanese archers. Then fire balls are thrown against the Milanese walls and the Milanese buildings inside. The Milanese fight back with their own fire balls launched at the keg bearers.BarbarossaBarozzi asks for volunteers to go out and collect food for the people inside the walls. Alberto raises his hand to volunteer, but Barozzi chooses his brother Ranero instead, who did not raise his hand to volunteer. Alberto tells Barozzi to leave his brother alone so Barozzi says then Alberto will go instead of Ranero. Shamed into volunteering, Ranero says he is going for he wants no man to say that he lacks courage. Barozzi wants Ranero to go to battle and die so he can have Tessa all to himself but Tessa, disgusted by Barozzi’s cynical manipulations, tells him that if Ranero does not return, she would rather die than be with him. The Germans then push their towers toward the walls of Milan. On the front of the towers they have tied the Millanese volunteers that went out in the fields to get fresh food for the residents of Milan. Orders are given not to shoot but Barozzi grabs a crossbow and shoots Ranero dead. Now others start shooting and most of the volunteers are killed. At night Alberto goes out and up to retrieve the bodies of his two brothers and swears vengeance for their deaths to his father. Eleonora tries to talk him out of going but he will not hear of it. Alberto slits the tent of Barbarossa and slips in, only to be confronted by Barbarossa who asks where he got his knife and Alberto says some time ago Barbarossa himself gave the knife to him. Out of gratitude for saving his life, Barbarossa lets Alberto go. As Alberto prepares to slip out of the German camp he sees Barozzi come into the camp.4275f89744278864da88c2fda68ec4e9_700x259Alberto returns to his father, but now the Germans are pouring through the gates, led by Barozzi whom Alberto wants to kill but he is captured before he can. Alberto and all the other prisoners are brought before the Emperor, who burns the Milanese flag. He then says that all of Milan will be razed to the ground and all the Milanese must leave the area before sunset. In Rome Barbarossa chooses the new Pope and now the Pope crowns he and his wife the Emperor and Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, respectively. As the Emperor and Empress leave the coronations, a man falls dead in front of them. The Empress demands to know what happened to the man. A man looks the body over and says the man died of the plague. Barbarossa and his new Queen make plans to flee. At the Pontida Monastery, men from Milan hold a meeting together in secret. The men are very pessimistic about their chances of ever defeating Barbarossa and rebuilding Milan. Alberto and his friend burst into the meeting and Alberto shouts that they can defeat Barbarossa if they can just stay united and that this time all the cities of Lombardy will unite against the Germans. Alberto comes to see Eleonora at her father’s house. Her asks her where Tessa is and Eleonora tells him she is dead when in fact Tessa has retired to a nunnery following the death of Ranero. Alberto plans to take Eleonora with him this time but Eleonora resists the idea saying that Alberto always treated her just like everyone else. Alberto apologizes to her.20090729083511Alberto and Eleonora come to visit with Eleonora’s sister-in-law when Barozzi and the imperial German soldiers arrive to collect the Emperor’s share of the local harvest. Alberto tells Eleonora that the Germans treat them like animals and says that it is time to stop running and form an army. In Rome Barbarossa’s men want to leave the plague infested city. His wife wants him to stay put, but Barbarossa sides with his men and says they are going home. Alberto tells his men that they will become the “Company of Death” and their motto shall be “Death or freedom”. Alberto and his men start rallying volunteers, soon gathering a large force of Lombard men. Eleonora goes to see Tessa in the nunnery. She tells Tessa of the rise of the power of the Lombard League and Tessa tells Eleonora to marry Alberto. Alberto again asks Eleonora again to marry him and this time she agrees however soon after, Barozzi comes to the nunnery to take the Emperor’s share of their bounty and to abduct attractive nuns. As Barozzi pulls off the veils of the nuns, he finds Tessa among them. He is ecstatic to find her but Tessa, aware that Barozzi killed her fiancé slashes his face with a dagger and runs to the roof of the nunnery. There she stands on the ledge threatening to plunge to her death. Barozzi begs her not to do it, promising to change his dishonest ways but Tessa fulfils her vow and throws herself to her death rather than be forced to marry him. Far away, her sister senses the death of Tessa and weeps for her. Barozzi and Eleonora are at the funeral. Eleanora approaches Barozzi and he tearfully tells her that he loved Tessa. Blaming Barozzi for Tessa’s suicide, Eleonora is unforgiving and slashes Barozzi’s throat, non-fatally wounding him.UntitledNews comes to Alberto that Eleonora almost killed Barozzi who has taken Eleonora to the camp of Barbarossa at Alessandria. There they plan to burn her at the stake. Alberto is enraged upon hearing the news. At The Empress is frightened by rumours that Eleanora is a witch while Barbarossa is upset because they have been trying for weeks to take the city without success. He tells his staff to double the digging of the tunnel. His staff tell him that the frequent rains have slowed the digging and the rivers around the city are filled up with water; if the rains continue the rivers will overflow and the whole camp will be submerged. In addition, the rain and mud are destroying the morale of the troops. The Empress goes to see Eleanora. She sees her right arm has been burned and asks what happened. Eleanora tells her that it is scarring from a lightning strike. The Empress is amazed. Eleonora’s cellmate screams that the woman is a witch and she runs to the cell door banging hard on it to be let out. The Empress leaves the cell still wondering how the woman survived. The tunnel is discovered when there is a cave in opening up a large hole to the sky. When Barbarossa learns of this, he orders that the war machines all be set on fire. They are retreating. Barbarossa says they will retreat to Pavia in Lombardy. His wife advises him to send a message to his cousin Henry the Lion to bring fresh troops for the German army to which Barbarossa agrees but the Empress has an additional request; to free Eleanora because she believes that is protected by God but Barbarossa refuses.barbarossarenzomartinellifotorutgerhauerAt the Mera River, Emperor Barbarossa and his troops arrive and Barbarossa asks his cousin Henry the Lion when he is going to give the army he promised him. Henry says that war is no longer a luxury that he can afford and he has no soldiers to give to Frederick, but he does have a small chest filled with coins with which Frederick can buy fresh troops. Possessed of great wealth already, Frederick growls that Henry is “useless” and leaves him behind. Barozzi arrives late to Eleanora’s burning but a masked woman is on the pyre which is set alight. He does not see her face but is told that she is Eleanora. Alberto and the men of the Company of Death prepare to attack the forces of Barbarossa and beforehand Alberto gives his men a speech about fighting for their freedom. In Legnano, to the North of Milan, The German army faces what they think is only the Milanese army. They are roughly two miles away on the plain and Barbarossa is sure of victory. He gives the order to take the Empress to Pavia for her protection. He then leads the charge. The cavalry retreats and the Germans face the secret weapons of the scythes. The wagons filled with scythe-wielding men cut the cavalry down. Now with the German cavalry weakened the Lombard cavalry attacks them. In the battle Barozzi kills Lorenzo, Alberto’s only remaining brother and attacks Alberto from behind, saying that he will send him to join his “whore in Hell.” Alberto rams into Barozzi who drops his sword and falls to the ground, his helmet rolling off as Alberto lands atop him. As Barozzi cries and pathetically begs for his life, Alberto avenges his brothers by slowly driving a stiletto knife into Barozzi’s throat, killing him. The Lombards win the battle. Found on the battlefield is a wounded Eleonora in full uniform. She tells Alberto that the Empress saved her life by substituting another woman to be burned in her place and moving the time of her execution so that Barozzi and the Emperor would not find out. Alberto gets his wife back.maxresdefault (1)The film ends with an onscreen text saying that three days after the Battle of Legnano, Barbarossa reappeared at the court of Pavia. No one knows where he was or what he did during those three days. Fourteen years later, he left for the Crusades. On a spring evening, in Anatolia, he waded in the waters of the Salef River and, just as foretold, he met his death in the water after being bitten by a snake. The audience is told “Alberto da Giussano lived a long life with Eleanora, and they had several children. The Company of Death was dispersed: the towns of the Lombard League had won their freedom.”

Barbarossa (2009)This is about the campaigns to conquer Italy of German Emperor Frederick ,whom the Italians called Barbarossa because he had a red beard.Its obvious that a movie of this scope would need a Hollywood grade-A budget and basically everything grade-A.They didn’t have it in this movie,they tried with second-grade actors like Rutger Hauer and a mediocre budget.Which means its not exactly cheap,some battle scenes are pretty decent but its also not exactly satisfying in size and scope of such events.If they had managed to bring to life such historical events,they would be worthy of academy awards.That said,its not bad as a mediocre medieval movie,but its just too small for the story it is undertaking.They could have limited themselves to a smaller part of the Barbarossa campaigns.Yet,for people who like medieval historical movies with battle scenes,its an OK effort.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 3

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Terence Stamp (Superman)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Jesse Metcalfe (Dead Rising)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Christopher Shyer (The Core)
John DeSantis (Thirteen Ghosts)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lorena Gale (Traitor)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
William B. Davis (TheX-Files)
John Mann (Dark Angel)
Kendall Cross (The Butterfly Effect)
Tim Henry (88 Minutes)
Kevin Zegers (Dawn of The Dead)
Patrick Bergin (Lawnmower Man 2)
Michael Daingerfield (Sausage Party)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)
Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Missy Peregrym (Van Helsing)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3)
Moneca Delain (Trick ‘r Treat)
Sarah Carter (The Flash)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
Jerry Wasserman (I Robot)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Tahmoh Penikett (Man of Steel)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Aaron Pearl (Godzilla)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Gary Hudson (Fifty Shades Freed)
Alisen Down (Stargate SG.1)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Gordon Tootoosis (Lone Star)
Nathaniel Arcand (Pathfinder)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Amber Rothwell (Whoite Noise)
Adrianne Palicki (The Orville)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)

Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Season Three begins three months after the cliffhanger that ended Season Two – with Clark under the influence of Red Kryptonite, which doesn’t hurt him – but does bring out his darker side. Clark has left Smallville because he feels responsible for his mother’s miscarriage at the end of Season Two, and the first two episodes – Exile and Phoenix – deal with Clark’s coming to terms with what he has done and where he belongs.Much like The X-Files and other sucessful science-fiction programs, Smallville has both “mythology” episodes and “stand-alone” shows, with the former moving along the overall story, and the latter tending to be more “fun” – generally focusing on someone in town who has a special ability or power that Clark has to deal with. Season Three is also peppered with some great guest-starring roles for notable actors, including Rutger Hauer playing criminal mastermind Morgan Edge; Michael McKean (who happens to be the real-life husband of Smallville star Annette O’Toole) guest-starring as Perry White; and the return of Christopher Reeve as Dr. Swann in Legacy in what would sadly be Reeve’s final appearance on the show.John Schneider and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Perhaps more than any previous season, there’s a lot of context to the ongoing storyline in this third season, which may be why many fans (including some right here at DVD Talk) got so frustrated with some of the episodes. Because of the ongoing storyline involving Clark’s biological father, Jor-El (voiced by Terrance Stamp) and his connection to some mysterious caves in Smallville, the chant of “Another Cave Show” and “No More Caves!” became a frequent one on forums here and elsewhere on the Net.John Glover and Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville (2001)But all in all, this is a quite satisfying season of one of the more underrated (and under appreciated) series on TV. Smallville is easily the best incarnation of the Superman legend since Christopher Reeve’s theatrical films, and any fan of The Man of Tomorrow will want to add this boxed set to their collection – assuming you’ve seen the first two seasons first, of course! Entertaining, well-written, well-acted and featuring some impressive special effects, television programs don’t get much better than Smallville. While this may be the weakest season of the first three, it’s still better than most seasons of any hour drama that is currently on the air. This one’s an easy call: fly (don’t walk!) to your local store or online retailer and pick a copy up.

REVIEW: BATMAN BEGINS

CAST

Christian Bale (American Psycho)
Michael Caine (Quills)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Katie Holmes (Go)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Cillian Murphy (Inception)
Tom Wilkinson (Cassandra’s Dream)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Ken Watanabe (Godzilla)
Mark Boone Junior (Memento)
Linus Roache (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Morgan Freeman (Ted 2)
Colin McFarlane (Doctor Who)
Christine Adams (Pushing Daises)
Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones)
Tamer Hassan (Layer Cake)
Karen David (Legacies)
Martin McDougall (Hyde Park On Hudson)

Gary Oldman and Christian Bale in Batman Begins (2005)As a child, Bruce Wayne falls down a dry well and is attacked by a swarm of bats, subsequently developing a fear of bats. While watching an opera with his parents, Bruce becomes frightened by performers masquerading as bats and asks to leave. Outside, mugger Joe Chill murders Bruce’s parents in front of him. Orphaned, Bruce is raised by the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth.
Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale in Batman Begins (2005)Fourteen years later, Chill is freed in exchange for testifying against Gotham City mafia boss Carmine Falcone. Bruce intends to murder Chill in revenge, but one of Falcone’s assassins does so first. Bruce’s childhood friend, assistant district attorney Rachel Dawes, berates him for attempting to undermine the justice system, saying that his father would be ashamed. Bruce confronts Falcone, who tells him that real power comes from being feared. Bruce decides to travel the world, learning new skills and abilities to confront injustice. In Ladakh he meets Henri Ducard, who trains him as a member of the League of Shadows, led by Ra’s al Ghul. After completing his training and purging his fears, Bruce learns that the League intends to destroy Gotham, believing it to be corrupt and beyond saving. Bruce rejects the League’s cause and burns down their temple during his escape. Ra’s is killed by falling debris, while Bruce saves the unconscious Ducard.
Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, and Jack Gleeson in Batman Begins (2005)Bruce returns to Gotham intent on fighting crime. Inspired by his childhood fear, he takes up the vigilante identity of “the Batman” and sets up a base in the caves beneath Wayne Manor. He takes an interest in his family’s company, Wayne Enterprises, now run by the unscrupulous William Earle. Company archivist Lucius Fox allows Bruce access to prototype defense technologies including a protective bodysuit and a heavily armored car called the Tumbler. To avert suspicion from his vigilante activities, Bruce poses as a shallow playboy.

Batman intercepts a drug shipment, provides Rachel with evidence against Falcone, and enlists honest Police Sergeant James Gordon to arrest him. When Falcone threatens to reveal psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Crane’s illicit activities if Crane does not declare him mentally unfit for trial, Crane uses a fear-inducing hallucinogen and a scarecrow mask to drive Falcone insane and has him transferred to Arkham Asylum. While investigating “the Scarecrow”, Batman is exposed to the hallucinogen and left incapacitated. He is saved by Alfred and given an antidote developed by Fox. When Rachel accuses Crane of corruption, Crane reveals that he has been pouring his fear-inducing drug into Gotham’s water supply. He doses Rachel with it, but Batman saves her and subdues Crane, who claims to work for Ra’s al Ghul. Batman evades the police to get Rachel to safety, administers the antidote, and gives her a vial of it for Gordon and another for mass production. Ducard reappears at Bruce’s 30th birthday party and reveals himself to be the actual Ra’s al Ghul. Having stolen a powerful microwave emitter from Wayne Enterprises, he plans to vaporize Gotham’s water supply, rendering Crane’s drug airborne and causing mass hysteria that will destroy the city. He sets Wayne Manor on fire and leaves Bruce for dead, but Alfred rescues Bruce.
Christian Bale in Batman Begins (2005)Ra’s loads the microwave emitter onto Gotham’s monorail system, releasing the drug as the train travels toward the city’s central water source. Batman rescues Rachel from a drugged mob and indirectly reveals his identity to her. He pursues Ra’s onto the monorail and overpowers him just as Gordon uses the Tumbler’s cannons to destroy a section of the track. Batman refuses to kill Ra’s but also chooses not to save him, gliding from the train and leaving Ra’s aboard as it crashes and explodes. Bruce gains Rachel’s respect but loses her love, as she decides she cannot be with him while he is Batman. Bruce buys a controlling stake in the now publicly traded Wayne Enterprises, fires Earle, and replaces him with Fox. Gordon is promoted to Lieutenant of the Gotham City Police Department, shows Batman the Bat-Signal, and mentions a criminal who leaves Joker playing cards at crime scenes. Batman promises to investigate.Christian Bale in Batman Begins (2005)This is a superb telling of the origins of the Batman character, full of brooding tension, a very apt musical score and an exciting finale. This film is a testament to how effective it is as an origin story.