REVIEW: CRASH (2004)

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Heat)
Matt Dillon (Wild Things)
Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2 & 3)
Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam)
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy)
Terrence Howard (Empire)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible II)
Michael Pena (American hUSTLE)
Ryan Phillippe (ANtitrust)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Loretta Devine (Little Nikita)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Tony Danza (Who’s the Boss?)
Kathleen York (The Guardian)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
David Keith (Pitch Black)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Glenn Taranto (The New Addams Family)


The film begins with commentary by passenger Detective Graham Waters (Don Cheadle) having suffered a car accident with his partner Ria (Jennifer Esposito). He mentions that the denizens of Los Angeles have lost their “sense of touch.” Ria and the driver of the other car, Kim Lee, exchange racially charged insults. When Waters exits the car, he arrives at a police investigation crime scene concerning the discovery of “a dead kid.”
While purchasing a revolver at a gun store, Farhad (Shaun Toub), a Persian shop owner, and his daughter Dorri (Bahar Soomekh), argue in Persian over what box of bullets they should buy. The gun store owner grows impatient and degrades the two of them by referring to Farhad as “Osama”. Farhad clarifies that he is an American citizen but the store owner continues exchanging racially stereotypical insults at Farhad and has the security guard escort him out of the store. Dorri demands the store owner to give her the gun or give her back the money. After the store owner gives the gun to Dorri, she asks for “the ones in the red box”. The store owner asks why, but Dorri does not answer and insists on buying that particular box. In another part of town, two black men, Anthony (Ludacris) and Peter (Larenz Tate), argue over racial stereotyping of African Americans after Jean Cabot (Sandra Bullock), the wife of the local district attorney Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser), walks in another direction whilst fearfully staring at them.
Anthony and Peter carjack the married couple as they are about to enter their Lincoln Navigator. Later, at the Cabot house, Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz (Michael Peña) is changing their locks when Jean notices his tattoos. She loudly complains to Rick about having been carjacked and now having to endure a Hispanic man changing their locks, feeling he will give copies of the keys to “his gang banger friends”. Having overheard this, Daniel leaves the keys on Jean’s kitchen counter. Detectives Waters and Ria arrive at the scene of a shooting between two drivers. The surviving shooter is a white male, identified as an undercover police officer. The dead shooter, a black male, is revealed also to be an undercover police officer. There is a large amount of cash found in the black officer’s trunk. This is the third time the white officer has shot and killed a black man.
LAPD officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) calls an HMO on behalf of his father and has an argument with a representative named Shaniqua Johnson (Loretta Devine). He then gets into the squad car with his partner Tom Hansen (Ryan Philippe) and sees a car passenger performing fellatio on the driver of a moving vehicle. They pull over the Navigator similar to the one carjacked earlier, despite discrepancies in the descriptions. They order the couple, television director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton), to exit. Cameron is cooperative, but Christine is argumentative. This annoys Ryan, who manually molests Christine under the pretense of administering a pat-down. Intimidated, Cameron says nothing. The couple is released without a citation. Once home, Christine becomes enraged that Cameron did nothing while she was being violated. Cameron insists that what he did was correct and storms out.
Arriving home from work long after dark, Daniel finds his young daughter, Lara (Ashlyn Sanchez), hiding under her bed after hearing a gunshot outside. To comfort her, Daniel gives her an “invisible impenetrable cloak”, which makes her feel safe enough to fall asleep in her bed. In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter, arguing and distracted, hit a Korean man while passing a parked white van. They argue about what to do with him, finally dumping him in front of a hospital and driving away. Due to the blood in the vehicle, they are unable to receive payment for the carjacking. The next day, at the Los Angeles Police Department station, Hansen talks to his superior, Lt. Dixon (Keith David), about switching partners. Dixon, a black man, claims that Hansen’s charge of Ryan as a racist could cost both Hansen and Dixon their jobs. Dixon suggests a transfer to a one-man car and mockingly tells Hansen that he should justify it by claiming to have uncontrollable flatulence.  Ryan visits Shaniqua and apologizes for the argument. He explains that his father was previously diagnosed with a bladder infection, but he fears it may be prostate cancer. Shaniqua nearly calls security to escort Ryan out of her office when he proceeds to insult Shaniqua by calling her an affirmative action hire. When Ryan asks for his father to see a different doctor, Shaniqua denies the request and he storms out of her office in anger. Meanwhile, Daniel is seen replacing a lock at Farhad’s shop and tries to explain to him that the door frame needs to be replaced. Farhad, whose English is limited, misunderstands and accuses Daniel of cheating him, which causes Daniel to leave.The next morning, Farhad discovers the store has been wrecked and defaced with graffiti. His insurance company does not cover the damage, calling it a case of negligence due to the defective door. When Farhad is told that his shop will be closing down, he vows revenge on Daniel. Detective Waters visits his mother (Beverly Todd), a hard drug abuser. She asks him to find his missing younger brother. He promises and takes notice that there is almost no food in the apartment as he is leaving. When he tries to present evidence in the shooting between undercover police officers, his superiors tell him not to reveal the cash in the black officer’s trunk, saying that their work in crafting a non-racist image for the department will be undone.
Jean comes home and sees dishes in the dishwasher. She accosts her Hispanic maid Maria for not putting them in the cupboards. Ryan comes across a car accident and as he crawls into the overturned vehicle, he finds Christine trapped. Upon recognizing Ryan, Christine becomes hysterical, but gasoline is leaking from the tank and running downhill towards another wreck, which has already caught fire. He calms her down, and with the assistance of his partner and spectators, Ryan pulls Christine out just as her car bursts into flames. Anthony and Peter approach another Navigator which happens to be Cameron’s. They only see Cameron driving after they open the door and are shocked to see that the driver is black. Cameron is tired of being pushed around and resists. Anthony tells Peter to shoot Cameron, but Peter does not.
As police officers arrive, Cameron and Anthony both race for the car and jump in. Cameron drives away, with Anthony continuing to point a gun at him. A car chase ensues. Hansen is one of the police officers who has responded and recognizes Cameron’s vehicle. Cameron drives into a dead end, puts Anthony’s gun into his pocket, and gets out of the car, all the while yelling insults at the officers. Just before he pulls out the gun, Hansen convinces him to stop aggravating the situation and to go home. Hansen vouches for Cameron, fending off the other officers, and promising to give him a “harsh” warning. Later, Cameron tells Anthony that as a black man he is embarrassed for him and drops Anthony off at a bus stop.
Farhad locates Daniel’s house and waits in ambush. Just as Daniel’s daughter Lara jumps into his arms, attempting to protect him with the “invisible cloak”, Daniel’s wife Elizabeth (Karina Arroyave) runs out the front door and watches in horror as Farhad shoots Lara. It takes the grief-stricken parents and Farhad a moment to realize that Lara is miraculously unharmed. The box of ammunition that Dorri had selected contained blanks. Farhad later tells his daughter that he believes the little girl was his guardian angel, preventing him from committing a terrible crime. Jean is complaining to someone she knows over the phone that she wakes up angry every day and does not know why. Immediately afterwards, she slips and falls down a flight of stairs, spraining her ankle. Jean phones Rick, telling him of her accident. Whilst resting in her bed, Jean hugs Maria, saying she is the only true friend she has ever had and apologizes.
Peter, who is hitchhiking, is picked up by Hansen. Peter sees that Hansen has a small statuette of Saint Christopher like his own. He begins to laugh as he realizes that they have so much in common, but Hansen thinks that he is being laughed at. Hansen pulls over and tells Peter to get out if he wants to be “funny”. Peter moves to pull the statuette out of his pocket in explanation, but Hansen believes he is pulling out a gun and mistakenly shoots and kills Peter. Hansen dumps the body in the bush beside a road and then torches his own car. Peter is revealed to be Waters’ missing brother. Waters and his mother meet at the morgue, where Dorri is revealed to be a coroner and Waters promises to find who is responsible. Mrs. Waters blames her surviving son for his brother’s death, claiming he was always too busy to look for Peter.
Anthony returns to the white van owned by the Korean man whom they had run over the night before. Finding the keys still hanging from the door lock, he drives the van away. The Korean man’s wife Kim Lee arrives at the previously mentioned hospital looking for her husband, the man who was run over, named Choi Jin Gui. Conscious and coherent, he tells her to go and immediately cash a check that he has in his wallet. The check is most likely payment for the contents of the van. Anthony has driven the white van to a chop shop he frequents, and as they inspect the van, a number of Cambodian immigrants are discovered locked in the back of the van, revealing that Choi was involved in human trafficking. Anthony is offered $500 for each person in the van but refuses out of disgust. Anthony drives to Chinatown and sets the Cambodian people free. As Anthony drives away, he passes a car crash, which turns out to involve Shaniqua. Shaniqua and the other driver get out and begin to exchange racial slurs.Although the blatant racism and bigotry may make us feel uncomfortable it is nonetheless a very realistic portrait and though few of us admit it we have all at some time or another made the same assumptions, if only in the company of those we feel comfortable with.

 

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: STIGMATA

CAST

Patricia Arquette (True Romance)
Gabriel Byrne (End of Days)
Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones)
Nia Long (Big Momma’s House 2)
Rade Šerbedžija (X-Men: First Class)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Jack Donner(Power Rangers In Space)
Thomas Kopache (The West Wing)
Portia de Rossi(Scream 2)
Ann Cusack (Sully)
Patrick Muldoon (Starship Troopers)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)

In the Brazilian village of Belo Quinto, Father Andrew Kiernan, a former scientist and a Jesuit priest who investigates supposed miracles, examines a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe weeping blood at the funeral of Father Paulo Alameida, who had experienced stigmata. While Andrew is collecting evidence, a young boy steals the rosary from the father’s hand. The boy later sells it to a woman in a marketplace, who sends it to her atheist daughter, Frankie Paige, living in Pittsburgh.Frankie is attacked by an unseen force while bathing, and receives two deep wounds on her wrists. As the wounds are treated, the doctors cannot find the cause. Frankie asks a priest if he is Andrew Kiernan, but the priest says he is Father Derning, the lights in the train flash, and Frankie is whipped from behind by an unseen force. While Frankie is hospitalized again, the priest sends security tapes showing the attack to the Vatican, and Andrew is sent to investigate.Andrew interviews Frankie, believing her wounds may also be stigmata. When she tells him she is an atheist, Andrew tells her that stigmata is when the deeply devoted are struck with the five wounds that Jesus received during the crucifixion. Frankie begins to research on her own what the cause could be. Her head begins to bleed, the third stigmata wound caused by the Crown of Thorns. Frankie runs home, where Andrew is waiting, and then runs into an alley. As Andrew pursues her, Frankie smashes a glass bottle and uses the shards to carve symbols on the hood of a car: when Andrew approaches her, she yells at him in another language.Andrew takes Frankie to Father Derning’s church, and the Vatican translates what she was yelling in Aramaic. The next morning, Andrew returns to her apartment to find her writing on the wall, now covered in Aramaic. Frankie talks in a male voice, speaking Italian. Wounds appear in her feet, the fourth wound of stigmata. Andrew emails photographs of Frankie’s apartment wall to the Vatican, where Brother Delmonico recognizes the words and deletes the pictures. He tells Andrew the words are from a document the church found that looked to be an entirely new gospel. Father Dario shows the pictures to Cardinal Daniel Houseman, who also recognizes them. Delmonico phones Marion Petrocelli and tells him the missing gospel has been found in Pittsburgh.Andrew goes to Frankie’s apartment to find the wall she wrote on painted over, and Frankie attempts to seduce him. When Andrew rejects her, she attacks him and denounces his beliefs in a male voice, ending with Frankie levitating off the bed, crying tears of blood. Houseman and Dario arrive with Derning and take Frankie to another church, sending Andrew to Derning’s. At Derning’s church, Andrew meets Petrocelli, who tells him the words Frankie has been writing are part of a document found outside Jerusalem they believed to be a gospel in the exact words of Jesus. Petrocelli, Delmonico and Alameida were assigned to translate it, but Houseman ordered them to stop. Alameida refused and stole the document to continue translating it alone, having been excommunicated by Houseman.Petrocelli tells Andrew that the document was Jesus telling his disciples that the Kingdom of God is in all of us and not confined to churches. Petrocelli tells Andrew that Alameida suffered from stigmata. Andrew races to the church where Frankie is, while Houseman and Dario attempt to perform an exorcism on Frankie. Frankie shouts at them in a male voice, and Houseman attempts to strangle her. Andrew stops him, and the room is set on fire. Now believing Frankie is possessed by Alameida’s spirit, Andrew offers to be Alameida’s messenger instead. He walks unharmed through the fire to retrieve Frankie, bidding Alameida’s spirit to depart in peace. Some time later, Andrew returns to Belo Quinto and finds the original documents for the lost gospel in Alameida’s church. Text describes the discovery of the Gospel of St. Thomas, believed to be the closest to the actual words of Jesus stating that the Catholic Church refuses to recognize the document as a gospel and considers it heresy.I loved this film, both for it’s interesting film quality and it’s thought provoking script. I believe it had an important message for us all to ponder created by excellent acting and beautiful film imagery. The mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been a subject avoided by the Church since their discovery in 1945. I appreciate controversial filmmaking.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: IRON MAN 3

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Gwyneth Paltrow (A Perfect Murder)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Rebecca Hall (Town)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Ben Kingsley (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Badge Dale (World War Z)
Stephanie Szostak (R.I.P.D.)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
William Sadler (Roswell)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Mark Ruffalo (Just Like Heaven)
Joan Rivers (Spaceballs)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)
Corey Hawkins (6 Underground)

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)As the start of “Phase Two” of Marvel’s ever-expanding film lore, Iron Man 3 picks up shortly after the events of The Avengers, where Tony Stark (RDJ) played a crucial role in stopping an other-worldly invasion in New York City. Shaken by the experience to a point of acute panic attacks, Stark finds himself obsessed with his mechanical tinkering, creating and modifying suits in the hours where he can’t sleep or spend time with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), now CEO of Stark Industries. During that time, a bearded fanatic known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) claims responsibility for curiously evidence-free terrorist activities through hacked television broadcasts, backed up by cryptic “lessons” about American indulgence, artifice, and claim to territory. In a fragile state of mind and dealing with the reemergence of a momentary colleague from his past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), whose radical plans for human advancement (and his attractiveness) draw Pepper’s attention, Tony flexes his Iron Man muscle by publicly provoking The Mandarin.Ben Kingsley in Iron Man Three (2013)Before that, Iron Man 3 offers a glimpse nearly fifteen years into the past as a quasi-preamble, before Stark made his reputation as a public hero. Outside of Black and co-writer Drew Pearce’s evident character reasons for doing so — namely introducing Killian at a younger age, as well as the beautiful, brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) and her invaluable yet unstable work in organic regeneration — this also serves as a reminder of a Tony Stark before he stumbled into the duties of a narcissistic hero in a near-impervious suit of his design. Thus begins a personal journey for Stark: complete with voiceover directed at an unspecified listener (you find out who in the post-credit sequence) that transitions to the present era, the strain on his persona created by a near-death sacrificial decision in New York flirts with the comic-book’s famous “Demon in a Bottle” story arc … without ever mentioning alcohol.Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)The script from Black and Pearce expands on that internal crisis by finding a way to leave Stark without his gear, his girl, and his support structure at a pivotal point, where he’s abandoned in the middle of nowhere with only his wits and scientific knowledge (and a boy essentially embodying a young engineering-savvy version of Tony Stark) to guide him. Some will find this change of pace refreshing, a return to those moments in the Afghanistan cave where he constructed the first rudimentary suit; once again, he’s using only his inventiveness to weave in and out of tricky situations and get Iron Man in fighting shape. Others will find the lack of higher-octane action and similarities to other recent “fallen, morale-damaged hero” storylines frustrating, and that’s partially due to circumstances that are wobbly even for comic-book logic. The pressure rests on Downey Jr. to convince those watching of his fraught situation, and his charisma — now with the added touch of Shane Black’s humorous edge — keeps the attitude upbeat, hectic, and faintly mythic, bolstered by scenes such as Tony literally dragging the weight of his armor over his shoulder across a snowy field.Iron Man Three (2013)As  the film approaches a climax full of Iron Men, fireworks, and plenty of Hail Mary leaps within a dangerous shipyard, backed by a reliably fierce performance from Guy Pearce as his role in the Extremis program comes to fruition. What surprised me the most about the ending, once the smoke clears, is how final and cathartic it ends up feeling, as if it very well could be the bookend to Iron Man himself if they decided not to move the series forward. Giving closure to Stark’s tribulations as a self-focused hero and his rocky relationship with Pepper Potts, it’ll make the eminent day when the Avengers come knocking on his door again all the more intriguing.

REVIEW: IRON MAN (2008)

 

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Terrence Howard (The Brave One)
Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Contagion)
Leslie Bibb (The Skulls)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark0
Faran Tahir (Supergirl TV)
Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Tim Guinee (Blade)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Samuel L. Jackson (XXX)
Nazanin Boniadi (How I Met Your Mother)
America Olivo (Bitch Slap)

MV5BMTUzODkyNDE2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzEzNTIzMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) isn’t just an industrialist or one of the most brilliant minds on the planet: he’s practically a rock star. C’mon, when was the last time you saw a billionaire weapons manufacturer on the cover of “Rolling Stone”? Following in his late father’s footsteps and mentored by Stark Industries CEO Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Tony keeps the world safe for democracy — and rakes in eight figure paychecks and a parade of “Maxim” cover girls in the process — by engineering the most efficiently destructive arsenal that the U.S. military has ever had at its fingertips.During a trip to Afghanistan to show off the latest and greatest missile technology that Stark Industries has on the table, Tony’s convoy is attacked by an underground group of soldiers using his own weapons against him. Despite being on the brink of death from the shrapnel embedded deep in his heart and kept alive only by a jury-rigged electromagnet in his chest, Tony is ordered by his captors to recreate the Jericho missile. Tony’s brilliant mind immediately starts spinning — not to build a missile but to create a suit of armor that’ll carve through the waves of heavily-armed thugs and get him and his newfound friend Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub) far out of harm’s way. Fueled by months of bottled-up rage and the miniature arc reactor that keeps the shards of shrapnel from skewering his heart, Tony does manage to escape in his armor, and the devastation he’s seen his own weapons wrought makes him vow to leave that life of arms manufacturing behind.Stane nods his head when Tony drops that bombshell in a press conference, asking the weaponeering wunderkind to lay low for a few months while he smooths things over with the company’s board of directors. Tony uses that time to rebuild and refine his armor technology, assembling a more efficient arc reactor and learning to fly with boot-jets and flight stabilizing gauntlets. He’s not setting out to build a weapon, but when Tony learns that his company’s hardware is being sold under the table to butcher untold thousands of innocent people, he slips on his newly-crafted armor to destroy every last trace of that arsenal. This attracts the unwanted attention of the U.S. military — including Tony’s old friend Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) — as well as what’s left of his captors in Afghanistan, who start piecing back together the scraps of the ramshackle suit that Tony used to escape.Robert Downey Jr. is the most inspired casting choice for a superhero flick since Christopher Reeve back in the Superman days. Even before the camera pans over to Downey’s face for the first time — when all we see is a hand holding a glass of scotch, with chunks of ice clinking around as a Humvee bounds up and down a barren stretch of Afghan desert — he is Tony Stark. The smirking charm, that swaggering confidence, a brilliance that he tends to keep restrained until he’s off by himself…Downey’s so perfect in Iron Man that it’s hard to believe the script wasn’t written with him expressly in mind. One of the hallmarks of a truly great superhero story is if it’s still compelling when the character isn’t in the suit, and that’s certainly the case here.Still building it for most of the movie — but some of Iron Man’s best moments are when he’s working out the kinks in the hardware. Tony’s inventiveness and half-bungled experiments in refining the tech in the Mark I armor score some pretty enormous laughs while also bringing out that wide-eyed sense of wonder I had reading comics growing up. As for the supporting cast, Gwyneth Paltrow — looking more drop-dead gorgeous than she ever has on-screen — captures the dogged loyalty of Tony’s right-hand, Pepper Potts, while infusing her with a charming sort of awkward energy.MV5BMTMwOTIwMTk2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDEzNTIzMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Iron Man is and always will be one of my all time favorite movies.

REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 3

Starring

Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Henry Ian Cusick (Hitman)
Dominic Monaghan (Flashforward)
Naveen Andrews (The Brave One)
Michael Emerson (Arrow)
Jorge Garcia (How I Met Your Mother)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Terry O’Quinn (The Rocketeer)
Emilie de Ravin (Operation: Endgame)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Kiele Sanchez (A Perfect Getaway)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)

Josh Holloway in Lost (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Julie Adams (Code Red)
Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
M.C. Gainey (Breakdown)
William Mapother (The Mentalist)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
John Terry (Full Metal Jacket)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Rob McElhenney (Wonder Boys)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Chris Mulkey (Whiplash)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Kim Dickens (Gone Girl)
Bill Duke (Black Lightning)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Gods & Heroes)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
François Chau (The Tick)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Fredric Lehne (Men In BLack)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heores)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Robin Weigert (Jessica Jones)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Shishir Kurup (Coneheads)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderland)
Cheech Marin (Coco)
Kimberley Joseph (Hercules: TLJ)
Sung Hi Lee (The Girl Next Door)
April Grace (A.I.)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick (MMPR: The Movie)
Kevin Tighe (My Bloody Valentine)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Patrick J. Adams (Legends of Tomorrow)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: TTW)
Andrew Connolly (Heroes)
Marsha Thomason (White Collar)
Jon Gries (Welcome To The Jungle)
Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone)
Samantha Mathis (American Psycho)
Carrie Preston (True Blood)
Sterling Beaumon (The Killing)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
L. Scott Caldwell (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
Neil Hopkins (The Net 2.0)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Lana Parrilla (Once Upon A Time)
Malcolm David Kelley (Detroit)
James Lesure (Las Vegas)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)

This season is easily broken down into two separate parts; the first six episodes that aired before an eight week hiatus and then the rest of the season. Even though the first six are considered part of the third season, they feel much more like a prologue. Very little time is spent with the survivors on the beach and the main focus of the story is Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer’s (Josh Holloway) imprisonment by the Others.Evangeline Lilly in Lost (2004)The second half of the season also featured some of the show’s best episodes to date. Including the brilliantly told “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, which is an interesting twist on Lost’s flashback scenario. Other episodes like “The Man from Tallahassee” and “The Brig” answered long asked questions while “The Man Behind the Curtain” and “One of Us” gave us a much needed back-story on both Ben (Michael Emerson) and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell).Really, the only weak point of the final sixteen-episode run would be “Stranger in a Strange Land”, an episode that primarily focused on the origins and meaning of Jack’s tattoo. We still don’t really understand the significance and we’re not too sure if the writers do either as they never bring up the subject again for the rest of the season.Terry O'Quinn in Lost (2004)Even “Expos¿”, an episode that featured fan-hated Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro), told an interesting “Twilight Zone” style story and we couldn’t be happier with the conclusion.If you were to suggest that the theme for season one was man vs. the unknown and that season two’s was man vs. machine it would be fair to suggest that the theme for season three is man vs. man, as the main crux of the season deals with the survivors of Flight 815 dealing with the Others. There is a constant power struggle between the two groups and the narrative frequently shifts back and forth from the Others camp to the survivor’s beach. Intertwined throughout, are personal struggles for several of the characters in both camps and we realize as the story pushes forward that even though they are enemies, their survival appears to be dependant on each other.At the core of this struggle is Benjamin Linus, and it would be a sin not to mention Michael Emerson’s fantastic performance as the enigmatic leader of the Others. He never once falters in portraying a creepy and unnerving nemesis for the survivors of Flight 815 and in particular, John Locke.Evangeline Lilly in Lost (2004)Terry O’Quinn puts in an equally inspired performance and every time these two appeared on screen together, you knew something special was about to happen. Everything culminates in what can be described as one of the best season finales in recent memory. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof deliver a brilliantly told story that is full of emotion, suspense and action.

REVIEW: HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX

CAST
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Valeria Golino (Year of The Gun)
Brenda Bakke (Under Siege 2)
Richard Crenna (Marooned)
Miguel Ferrer (Iron Man 3)
Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English)
David Wohl (Terms of Endearment)
Mitchell Ryan (Halloween 6)
Ryan Stiles (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
Clyde Kusatsu (Shopgirl)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Gerald Okamura (Big Trouble In Little China)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5)

One night, an American special forces team invades Saddam Hussein’s (Haleva) palace and a nearby prison camp to rescue captured soldiers from Operation Desert Storm and to eliminate Saddam, but they find the Iraqis prepared for them, and the entire rescue team is captured. This failed operation turns out to be the latest in a series of rescue attempts which were foiled by the Iraqis, and consequently the advisors of President Benson (Admiral Benson in the previous film, played by Bridges) suspect sabotage in their own ranks. Colonel Denton Walters (Crenna) suggests to gain the aid of war hero Topper Harley (Sheen) for the next mission, but Topper has retired from the Navy and become a Buddhist in a small Thai village. Walters and Michelle Huddleston (Bakke), CIA, arrive and try to persuade him to come out of retirement in order to rescue the imprisoned soldiers and the previous rescue parties.Topper initially refuses, but when yet another rescue mission (this one, in turn, led by Walters) goes awry, he agrees to lead a small group of soldiers into Iraq. He is joined by Williams (Colyar), Rabinowitz (Stiles) and Harbinger (Ferrer), the sole escapee of the prior rescue mission and whom Topper suspects to be the wanted saboteur. They parachute into an Iraqi jungle close to the heavily guarded hostage camp and set off to meet their contact, who turns out to be Topper’s former love, Ramada (Golino). Ramada guides them to a fishing boat that she prepared for their transportation. As they move towards the camp, she and Topper reminisce, and she explains that she was married before she met him. When she was informed that her husband, Dexter (Atkinson), was still alive and a prisoner in Iraq, she volunteered to participate in his liberation, but was instructed to keep this strictly confidential, forcing her to break up with Topper just as they were ready to start a new life together; this also led to Topper’s decision to retire.Topper’s team proceeds to the prison camp disguised as river fishermen, but a confrontation with an Iraqi patrol boat thwarts them. When President Benson hears of the apparent failure of another mission, he takes matters into his own hands and joins additional forces in Iraq. However, Topper and his teammates have survived, and soon reach the Iraqi hostage camp. In the course of the operation, the alarm is raised and a gunfight ensues, during which Topper finds out that Harbinger is not the saboteur, but has merely lost faith in fighting, and manages to motivate him. After the prisoners are freed, Topper decides to rescue Dexter, who has been brought to Saddam’s palace.While the squad evacuates the hostages, Topper enters Saddam’s palace and runs into the dictator himself, who pulls out his machine pistol and commands Topper to surrender. Topper disarms Saddam, and they engage in a sword fight. President Benson arrives and orders Topper to rescue Dexter while Benson and Saddam continue the duel. Benson defeats Saddam by spraying him with a fire extinguisher, upon which he and his dog solidify and crack into pieces, only to subsequently liquify, combine and reform as Saddam with his dog’s head fur, nose, and ears. In the meantime, Topper manages to find and liberate Dexter, but is forced to carry him out on his shoulder as the Iraqis have tied Dexter’s shoelaces together.The squad heads back to the army helicopter, where Ramada, after a complicated revelation involving unfounded jealousy, reveals and arrests Michelle as the saboteur who betrayed the previous rescue attempts to the Iraqis. Dexter arrives with Topper and insists on taking a picture of him and Ramada, but backs away too far and topples over a cliff. President Benson joins the escapees, and the evacuation team lifts off; Saddam is about to shoot down the chopper when Topper and Ramada get rid of extra weight in it by pushing a piano out the open door, which crushes him. Topper and Ramada kiss as they ride off into the sunset.In the end this is an absurd comedy and parody on many kinds of movies. If you like this kind of humor and know most of the other movies, then you’ll probably have a great time with it. I sure liked it .

REVIEW: BROKEN ARROW

CAST

John Travolta (The Punisher)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Samantha Mathis (American Psycho)
Delroy Lindo (Up)
Bob Gunton (Argo)
Frank Whaley (Vacancy)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Casey Biggs (Star Trek: DS9)
Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
French Stewart (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)
Vyto Ruginis (The Fast and The Furious)
Chris Mulkey (Captain Phillips)

Major Vic Deakins (John Travolta) and Captain Riley Hale (Christian Slater) are pilots in the United States Air Force. After a sparring match, they are assigned to a top secret evening exercise over Utah, flying a B-3 Stealth Bomber (a fictional iteration of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber) with two B83 nuclear bombs on board. After successfully evading Air Force radar during the exercise, Deakins distracts and attacks Hale. A struggle ensues, ending when Deakins ejects Hale. Deakins then releases the bombs from the plane without detonating them, and reports that Hale’s gone rogue. He then ejects from the bomber himself, leaving it to crash on the mountainside over the Utah canyons.broken-arrow-john-travolta-small-head-2

A search and rescue team is sent to recover the warheads. They do not find the warheads and report a “Broken Arrow”, a situation wherein nuclear weapons are missing. The team later locates the warheads in a canyon but are killed by mercenaries, including Sgt. Kelly (Howie Long), a corrupt member of the team. Deakins arrives moments later and plots his next move with Pritchett (Bob Gunton), the operation’s financier. They plan to blackmail the government with the threat of detonating the warhead in a civilian area. Hale survives the ejection and is found by Park Ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis). He convinces her to help him track down Deakins and foil his plot. After recovering one of the warheads from a hijacked Humvee and escaping to a nearby copper mine, Hale attempts to disable them using a safety feature which would render them unusable, by intentionally entering the arming code incorrectly. However, Deakins had anticipated this possibility, and rigged the device. As a result, Hale’s action instead arms the warhead, setting the detonation timer for 30 minutes.tftds_shot7lUnable to disarm the warhead, Hale hides the unarmed one deep in an abandoned mine. Deakins arrives and secures the unarmed warhead. He then shortens the detonation time to 13 minutes and destroys the keyboard so the device cannot be stopped, then leaves Hale and Terry to die. A NEST team helicopter chases Deakins’ team. During the chase, Deakins kills Pritchett when he becomes fed up with the latter’s complaints. Hale and Terry escape from the mine via an underground river just before the bomb detonates. The bomb’s EMP destroys the NEST helicopter, allowing Deakins to escape. Terry and Hale track him to a motorboat used for transporting the warhead. While trying to steal the boat, Terry is forced to hide on board while Deakins moves the warhead. Military forces rescue Hale.lovers-vow2Hale deduces that Deakins intends to use a train to transport the warhead. Travelling on helicopter with Colonel Wilkins (Delroy Lindo), Hale locates and infiltrates the train, and finds Terry. A gunfight ensues and the helicopter is destroyed; Wilkins and most of Deakins’ mercenaries are killed. With his own helicopter sabotaged by Hale and his plan falling apart, Deakins decides to detonate the nuke regardless. Not wanting to die, Kelly holds Deakins at gunpoint and orders him to disarm the weapon. Hale takes advantage of the situation and kicks Kelly out of the train to his death.Terry detaches the rear section of the train (with the bomb) from the front, but gets into a shootout with the engineer. The latter is shot and falls on the train brakes, causing the train to stop. The detached boxcars continue to coast at high speed. Meanwhile, Deakins, still in possession of a device that can either disarm or detonate the bomb instantly, forces Hale to drop his gun and challenges him to close-quarters combat. Hale eventually overpowers Deakins, acquires the detonator, disarms the warhead and leaps out of the train. As the detached boxcars slam into the halted front half, the warhead flies into Deakins, and the entire train derails and explodes, incinerating him.Hale finds Terry and the damaged nuclear warhead. The two formally introduce themselves to each other amidst the wreckage.tales-from-the-darkside-deborah-harry-blondie-matthew-lawrenceTravolta ham’s it up a bit but makes an impressive villain. Slater is a bit underplayed as the hero. The action is fast flowing with no disjointed bits for love scenes etc. The special effects are good and as with most modern day action movies you have to sit back and watch, tongue in cheek for the most part, letting your vision take control and ignore some of the more unbelievable bits.

REVIEW: CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR

 

CAST

Tom Hanks (Catch Me If You Can)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Ned Beatty (Superman)
Christopher Denham (Duplicity)
Emily Blunt (Into The Woods)
Omn Purri (London Dreams)
Ken Stott (The Hobbit)
John Slattery (Ant-Man)
Denis O’Hare (Derailed)
Daniel Eric Gold (Ugly Betty)
Jud Tylor (That 70s Show)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Rachel Nichols (Conan The Barbarian)
Wynn Everett (Agent Carter)
Shiri Appleby (Roswell)
Cyia Batten (Killer Movie)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)

Faran Tahir (Iron Man)

Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Michelle Arthur (Lost)
Rizwan Manji (The Dictator)
P.J. Byrne (Rampage)
Navid Negahban (Legion)
Jim Jansen (Death Becomes Her)
Kevin Cooney (Roswell)
Spencer Garrett (Yes Man)
Nazanin Boniadi (How I Met Your Mother)
Lara Flynn Boyle (Men In Black 2)

In 1980, Congressman Charlie Wilson is more interested in partying than legislating, frequently throwing huge galas and staffing his congressional office with young, attractive women. His social life eventually brings about a federal investigation into allegations of his cocaine use, conducted by federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani as part of a larger investigation into congressional misconduct. The investigation results in no charge against Charlie.

A friend and romantic interest, Joanne Herring, encourages Charlie to do more to help the Afghan people, and persuades Charlie to visit the Pakistani leadership. The Pakistanis complain about the inadequate support of the U.S. to oppose the Soviet Union, and they insist that Charlie visit a major Pakistan-based Afghan refugee camp. Charlie is deeply moved by their misery and determination to fight, but is frustrated by the regional CIA personnel’s insistence on a low key approach against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Charlie returns home to lead an effort to substantially increase funding to the mujahideen.

As part of this effort, Charlie befriends maverick CIA operative Gust Avrakotos and his understaffed Afghanistan group to find a better strategy, especially including a means to counter the Soviets’ formidable Mi-24 helicopter gunship. This group was composed in part of members of the CIA’s Special Activities Division, including a young paramilitary officer named Michael Vickers. As a result, Charlie’s deft political bargaining for the necessary funding and Avrakotos’ careful planning using those resources, such as supplying the guerrillas with FIM-92 Stinger missile launchers, turns the Soviet occupation into a deadly quagmire with their heavy fighting vehicles being destroyed at a crippling rate. The CIA’s anti-communism budget evolves from $5 million to over $500 million (with the same amount matched by Saudi Arabia), startling several congressmen. This effort by Charlie ultimately evolves into a major portion of the U.S. foreign policy known as the Reagan Doctrine, under which the U.S. expanded assistance beyond just the mujahideen and began also supporting other anti-communist resistance movements around the world. Charlie states that senior Pentagon official Michael Pillsbury persuaded President Ronald Reagan to provide the Stingers to the Afghans.

Charlie follows Gust’s guidance to seek support for post-Soviet occupation Afghanistan, but finds no enthusiasm in the government for even the modest measures he proposes. In the end, Charlie receives a major commendation for his support of the U.S. clandestine services, but his pride is tempered by his fears of the blowback his secret efforts could yield in the future and the implications of U.S. disengagement from Afghanistan.
Charlie Wilson’s War is a very good film in my opinion, that is compelling, clever and entertaining.

REVIEW: CHUCK – SEASON 2

CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Julia Ling (Undoing)

Chuck and Sarah - 2x01 - Chuck vs the First Date - chuck-and-sarah Screencap

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin City)
Matthew Bomer (Tru Calling)
Melinda Clarke (Gotham)
Nicole Richie (The Simple Life)
Tony Hale (Stranger Than Fiction)
Clyde Kusatsu (American Pie)
Jordana Brewster (D.E.B.S.)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Gary Cole (Crusade)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Andy Richter (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and A Half Men)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Patricia Rae (Life)
Katrina Law (Arrow)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Chevy Chase (Christmas Vacation)
Christopher Cousins (The Vampire Diaries)
Ken Davitian (Borat)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Morgan Fairchild (Roswell)
John Larroquette (Stripes)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Mark Pellegrino (13 Reasons Why)
Anthony Azizi (Eagle Eye)
Jed Rees (Deadpool)
Jonathan Cake (First Knight)
Tricia Helfer (Van Helsing)
David Burke (The Tick)
Stefanie Scott (Jem and The Holograms)

Sarah Walker (Chuck)

For those of you who have not watched Chuck before, I would recommend that you check out Season 1. Although Season 2 is superior in my opinion, Season 1 really lays down all the groundwork for what is to come.
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For those of you who have see Season 1, you will not be disappointed by what the new season has to offer. In S1, Chuck was mainly the passive observer, the guy who flashed on things, and often made situations worse than before. However, at times he was given opportunity to save the day, in something I like to call a ‘Chuck Moment’. Season 1 had a few of them (setting off the fireworks to distract the guards to save Sarah and Casey would be one) but Season 2 is full of them – and better off for it. Now don’t get me wrong, Chuck can still be blundering and innapropriate, but in the new season, he always gets the opportunity to be the hero. The first episode has a particularly good example of this.
Promo pics - 2x06 - Chuck vs. the Ex - chuck-and-sarah Photo
The season starts off very strong, following on with the storyline that involves the governement trying to make a new intersect (and invariably the team have to go on missions to help furthur that cause). In fact, the majority of the season is brilliant television, apart from a few select episodes that are merely good, dotted around the season. The season has a much more coherent storyline, with a smallish story arc near the start, and a solid story arc that takes off around episode 13.
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The character’s pasts are delved into alot more in this season, with a great appearance from Sarah’s father, a conman. Chuck’s past gets more attention however, as the long talked of ex, Jill gets reinvolved in Chuck’s life. Best of all may be the casting of Scott Bacula as Chuck’s father, who does a great job of convincing the audience of his connection to both Chuck and Ellie. Unfortunately, Casey’s past does not get an episode that shows him in a new light, like the Ilsa episode, rather a fairly disappointing face-off between him and his old mentor.
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Morgan’s back, along with the rest of the buy-more crew, and a new face joins the buy-more – that of Emmet (played by Tony Hale, of Arrested Development fame) to provide more comic relief in that bizzare place.

A truly amazing series, with twists and turns abound, and an ending that will only leave you wanting more.