REVIEW: THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

Starring

Taron Egerton (Legend)
Anya Taylor-Joy (Glass)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones)
Donna Kimball (The Happytime Murders)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club)
Caitriona Balfe (Crush)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Harris Dickinson (The Darkest Minds)
Shazad Latif (Star Trek: Discovery)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle)
Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider)
Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)
Mark Strong (Shazam)
Theo James (Divergent)
Louise Gold (Muppets Most Wanted)
Jason Isaacs (Fury)
Simon Pegg (The Boys)
Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8)
Bendedict Wong (Doctor Strange)
Harvey Fierstein (The Simpsons)
Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Ralph Ineson (Ready Player One)
Alice Dinnean (The Happytime Murders)
Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars_
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)

Donna Kimball in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Dark Crystal is a tremendous filmmaking achievement that’s only a pretty good movie. A technical marvel, undoubtedly; definitive proof that film is a collaborative medium, and a formative experience for the devoted cult that saw it when they were young and have now passed it onto their children. But also a B-, B if you’re feeling generous. Like many other big-budget genre blockbusters flying in Star Wars’ contrails during the early 1980s—David Lynch’s Dune comes to mind—it puts a fully realized, authentically unearthly realm on the screen, and then fails to give that place much in the way of a narrative.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Another world, another time, in the age of Westeros: Netflix funds a return trip to Thra, winding the clock back to before the emergence of the heroic Jen and Kira, to an era when the elfin Gelfling and the monstrous Skeksis lived in tenuous (and, it turns out, entirely bogus) harmony. And a moment when the grand ambitions of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Brian and Wendy Froud, David Odell, and countless others are realized in The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance.Victor Yerrid in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)That original film is first and foremost a visual experience, and the imagery still takes precedence here: Age Of Resistance recreates Thra through further acts of practical-effects wizardry, a fantasia of forest glens, desert cliffs, underground caves, and castles both majestic and austere. The premiere episode leans into this (while also giving a good indication of the series’ pace) when it breaks from character introductions in order to send the camera corkscrewing through a glamour shot of the royal library favored by Gelfling princess Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy and Alice Dinnean—with a handful of exceptions, the principal performances are a collaboration between the puppeteers on screen and actors in the recording booth). With the elbow room of a potentially ongoing series, the writers—led by Will Matthews and Jeffrey Addiss (the duo who developed the series) and seasoned genre TV vet Javier Grillo-Marxuach—get deliberate with their opening chapters, luxuriating in palace intrigue amongst the Skeksis and the establishment of the seven fractious clans of Gelfling.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)It’s dense going, until the outlines of the heroes’ journey snaps into focus, showing the intersecting quests of the curious noble Brea, disgraced guard Rian (Taron Egerton and Neil Sterenberg), and the compassionate subterranean-dwelling Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel and Beccy Henderson). It is not coincidental that Age Of Resistance hits its hot streak once these elements are in place—and after Deet acquires a sidekick: Hup (Victor Yerrid), one of The Dark Crystal’s diminutive and gibbering creatures known as Podlings. Hup has outsize chivalric aspirations, carries a spoon he calls a sword, and generally rules.Anya Taylor-Joy in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Age Of Resistance improves on its big-screen source material by giving viewers protagonists who are worth a damn; even Egerton—whose most interesting star turns to date have been primarily interesting because they’re bolstered by the Elton John-Bernie Taupin songbook—is an improvement over The Dark Crystal’s ineffectual, underwritten Baggins stand-in, Jen. But there’s a taller hurdle to clear in the Gelfling’s humanoid appearances, which even four decades of technological advances can’t pull from the depths of the uncanny valley. (It comes down to the eyes: Deet, with saucer-sized pupils suited to underground living, looks far enough from human for this to ever be a problem.) The effectiveness of the Age Of Resistance illusion can vary depending on the number of Gelfling on screen and the varying degrees to which their faces are articulated—large group scenes and Gelfling-to-Gelfling conversations occasionally have a ring of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson to them.Nathalie Emmanuel in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Thank heavens, then, for the Skeksis. A monument to the Frouds’ gnarly aesthetics and Henson’s lack of qualms about frightening the youngest members of his audience, the villains loom large over The Dark Crystal. In Age Of Resistance, they occupy a role akin to that of the Lannisters in Game Of Thrones: deeply out-of-touch aristocrats who believe power is their birthright, and whose extravagances and squabbles account for the series’ most amusing set-pieces. (In a playful casting choice, Cersei Lannister herself, Lena Headey, voices a Gelfling leader on the show.) They chance upon a fountain of youth when Thra’s all-powerful Crystal Of Truth sucks the life out of a Gelfling, leaving behind only her essence—which is discovered to have a rejuvenating effect. This corruption of the planet’s most precious resource coincides with the experiments the Skeksis Emperor (Jason Isaacs and Dave Chapman) conducts on a glowing, purple hole in the ground—a “darkening” that is both key to the series’ political subtexts and a regally hued thread in Age Of Resistance tapestry of mythological nonsense.Hannah John-Kamen and Taron Egerton in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Here, as in later in The Dark Crystal’s chronology, the ugliness of the Skeksis’ deeds manifests physically: the craggy sculpting of the puppets’ faces, their combination of avian and reptilian features, as if situated on the evolutionary scale from velociraptor to plain old raptor. They’re treated to new textures and terrors in Age Of Resistance. Sequences depicting their indulgences in the seven deadly sins don’t stray too far from their cinematic predecessors, but the staging and satirical edge remain sharp. A spa treatment brusquely interrupted by the similarly lumpy crone Aughra (Donna Kimball and Kevin Clash) is one of the first season’s comedic highlights.Victor Yerrid, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Taron Egerton in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Skeksis’ role in Age Of Resistance is more encore than elaboration, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like there’s been all that much change in the ruling class skewered by the Skeksis’ chomping, preening, condescending grotesquery. They’re perfect adversaries and an essential energy, which director Louis Letterier amps up in extreme close-ups and off-kilter camera angles. They’re creepy and campy, and the production lines up a murderers’ row of hams to handle their shrieks and whimpers: Simon Pegg, making a meal of the Chamberlain’s scheming murmurs; Mark Hamill, twisting his strangled Joker vocalizations into those of a mad Scientist; Harvey Fierstein, a choice so deliciously on the nose, it’s practically a part of the puppet’s face. Imperious turns from Isaacs and Benedict Wong make sure that the characters’ true, evil nature is never too far from mind.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Skeksis play the hits, but they bring some newly goopy accessories and freshly terrifying rituals, too. Bubbling, oozing pustules dot the face of The Collector (Awkwafina and Helena Smee), and the second episodes culminates in a royal-chamber sequence primed to send a new generation ducking behind the couch. A fantastical ingenuity prevails throughout Age Of Resistance: With an eye toward portraying Thra as a fully natural world, Matthews, Addiss, Grillo-Marxuach and team devised Skeksis carriages that roll across the landscape on giant pillbug wheels and a secret message etched into the geological equivalent of an Edison cylinder. Frames burst with creatures familiar and unfamiliar—each of them charmingly, refreshingly tactile.Jason Isaacs in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)And this time around it’s in service of a satisfyingly told tale with resonant themes of truth and rebellion. Age Of Resistance is the best type of YA fantasy fiction, engrossing and escapist and full of hidden depths, ideal for viewers weaned on Harry Potter and The Legend Of Zelda but not quite ready for George R.R. Martin. There is a complexity at play, particularly in the arc of Seladon (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Helena Smee), Brea’s sister whose loyalties and worldview are tested as word of the Skeksis’ treachery spreads. There are mystical MacGuffins and blind storytelling alleys littered about, but they’re far outweighed by the intrepid thrust of the Gelfling uprising and every thought of “How did they pull that off?” For decades, bands of true believers have sung the song of Thra; now, thanks to Age Of Resistance, that melody carries with the strength, distance, and richness the Dark Crystal concept has always deserved.

REVIEW: THE BOYS – SEASON 1

Laz Alonso, Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Tomer Capon, and Karen Fukuhara in The Boys (2019)

Starring

Karl Urban (Dredd)
Elisabeth Shue (Piranha 3D)
Laz Alonso (Straw Dogs)
Jack Quaid (Logan Lucky)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones)
Tomer Kapon (Wedding Doll)
Antony Starr (Outrageous Fortune)
Dominique McElligott (Leap Year)
Jessie Usher (Shaft)
Chace Crawford (Eloise)
Nathan Mitchell (IZombie)

Erin Moriarty and Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Simon Pegg (Ready Player One)
Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam)
Ann Cusack (Tank Girl)
Shaun Benson (ARQ)
Jimmy Fallon (Almost Famous)
Colby Minifie (Jessica Jones)
David Andrews (Terminator 3)
Brittany Allen (Falling Water)
Malcolm Barrett (Timeless)
Tara Reid (Sharknado)
Brit Morgan (Supergirl)
Jess Salgueiro (Mary Kills people)
Billy Zane (The Phantom)
Shantel VanSanten (The Flash)
Haley Joel Osment (A.I.)
John Dorman (Gotham)
Brendan Beiser (Andromeda)
Jim Beaver (Breaking Bad)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)

 

Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)
Traditional superhero lore primarily revolves around individuals who inadvertently (and sometimes reluctantly) step into their saviour destinies. Typically, these superheroes are cognisant of the public’s reverence for their abilities, yet they often choose to either live on the fringes of or blend seamlessly into society. The few who publicly embrace their fame manage to maintain their moral compass despite ever-present temptation and opportunities to make negative choices.Laz Alonso and Karl Urban in The Boys (2019)In 2006, The Boys comic book explored this concept through a hyper-violent and decidedly darker lens, questioning what would happen if these figures became tainted by their social status. Now, The Boys TV series, set to premiere on Amazon Prime on July 26, expounds on this alternative premise. In a world dominated by corporate greed, approval ratings, social media stats, a clan of superheroes bends the rules to their whim, and a group of everyday people tries to stop them.Ann Cusack and Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)The  series, developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen, is everything that fans of the Gareth Ennis (Preacher, The Punisher)-penned comic expect it to be – gory, diabolical, and unapologetically blunt with an undercurrent of social commentary. But, it’s also an easy saga for viewers coming straight to the show to follow. The costuming, action sequences, and cinematography are solid for a TV production and the plot mostly maintains a steady pace with pivotal moments that work well for a streaming service style release. And, there’s just enough expository information revealed in the first few episodes to set the stage for a packed ending to its first season. There’s already strong speculation concerning The Boys season two, so there will likely be several loose threads in the finale.Karen Fukuhara in The Boys (2019)The Boys obviously leans on its source material for a general framework; however, a few tweaks, including protagonist Hughie Campbell’s background, are made. In the TV adaptation, Campbell (Jack Quaid, The Hunger Games) is a tech store employee who’s afraid to stand for himself or take risks to change his mundane existence – which makes him much more relatable to the general audience than his comic counterpart. The plot swiftly puts Hughie’s vigilante arc in motion after (as revealed in the trailer) his girlfriend Robin is gruesomely obliterated by A-Train, a speedster and member of the dominant superhero (aka “supes”) collective known as the Seven.Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)Robin’s unintentional death is written off as collateral damage by Vought International, a massive superhero marketing and management company that dominates the United States, led by the pleasingly ruthless and ingeniously manipulative Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue). Her character is the first of several who are either gender or race swapped, but it’s permissible since none of their backgrounds are inextricably tied to their origin stories. Hughie’s difficulty processing Robin’s death and mounting anxiety attacks over realising the supes’ indomitable influence is interrupted by Billy Butcher, portrayed by Star Trek’s Karl Urban, a vigilante whose mission to eliminate superheroes leads to the formation of The Boys. His accent is a bit iffy at points, but Urban fully embodies the role of a madman with a singular focus, dishing out a level of charismatic energy and sharp wit that’s incredibly fun to watch. Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonzo) and Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) round out the vengeful quartet characters who consistently challenge and surprise each other with their ingenuity when they aren’t butting heads over sticking to the script. The fifth leg of their crew, simply named Female, comes into play but it’s not clear how this person will fit into their overall mission.Karl Urban and Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)The internal examination of Vought and Seven’s corrupt partnership filters through Annie “Starlight” January (Erin Moriarty), the newest member of the elite Seven who realises that her dream job is full of smoke and mirrors. Her childhood crush on a renowned idol is shattered when he uses it as a sickening abuse of power and she struggles with maintaining her creed as a hero and meeting the expectations of her proud mother in the midst of constant coercion. Starlight manages to swiftly gain her footing in this sphere as she goes off-script to push back against her employer’s ridiculous standards. She’s truly good at heart with badass powers, so perhaps she will be treated well in the TV series and given the space to have an impactful arc. Hughie and Starlight’s paths cross in the most mundane way and sets up an inner conflict for the former about his motivations. It’s a classic case of falling in love with the supposed enemy who shows that everyone on the other side isn’t a monolith but, thankfully, it doesn’t feel like a trope in this narrative.Antony Starr and Chace Crawford in The Boys (2019)The Boys has focused on a few primary members of the Seven, giving them varying levels of development with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), the sole woman hero of the clan until Starlight’s arrival, getting the least screen time. The Wonder Woman-esque hero is fully aware of the morally reprehensible behaviour of her comrades but she remains silent and offers little support to Starlight. However, a pivotal atrocity will certainly change her outlook. There’s a deeper story begging to be told with Maeve that will hopefully unfold as The Boys progresses. The Deep (Chace Crawford) is annoyingly surface-level – a poor man’s Aquaman who’s hyped up on his fame, immature, condescending, and trying to flex the little power he has against those whom he perceives to be weaker when he’s the weakest link. His purpose at this moment is to be irritating and he’s succeeding on all fronts. The Deep, who was Black in the comics, and his comrade A-Train, portrayed by Jessie T. Usher of Survivor’s Remorse, switch races in the live adaptation and have some different personality traits than their comic versions. A-Train’s lack of accountability and egoic decisions are the catalyst for much of the initial action and plot progression, but the series also digs deeper into his personal relationships and insecurities about his future with Voight.Elisabeth Shue, Chace Crawford, and Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)The most intriguing hero is Homelander (Antony Starr), the leader of the Seven and a mashup of Captain America and Superman. The show does a great job of slowly peeling back his outer layer of high moral standards and leadership qualities to reveal an obsessive, manipulating, narcissistic, and sinister being who is capable of unthinkable callousness. Homelander is undoubtedly the supreme villain hiding in plain sight that too many people are underestimating. The Boys has the potential to become Garth Ennis’ next comic-to-TV production win on the heels of Preacher’s upcoming fourth and final season. Sure, some of the scenes run a tad bit too long and the punchlines occasionally fall flat, but those are outweighed by truly clever moments, an engaging plot, and several WTF moments to create a dark and oddly realistic take on the superhero genre.

REVIEW: A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING

Starring

Simon Pegg (Shaun of The Dead)
Clare Higgins (I Give It a Year)
Amara Karan (The Darjeeling Limited)
Paul Freeman (Getaway)
Kerry Shale (Snow Dogs)
Alan Drake (BLackwood)
Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Weekender)
Alice Orr-Ewing (The Theory of Everything)
Kiran Shah (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Bernard Cribbins (Carry On Columbus)
Simon Kunz (City of Ember)

Simon Pegg and Amara Karan in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Jack is a children’s author whose happy marriage has been destroyed by his obsession with his unpublished first book, Harold the Hedgehog. He is working on a series of scripts titled Decades of Death, about Victorian era serial killers. He has become obsessed with serial killers and paranoid that people are watching him and trying to kill him, which isn’t helped by the fact that a serial killer called the Hanoi Handshake Killer, who cuts off the fingers of his victims, has been active in his neighbourhood.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)While trying to give money in a sock to carolers, Jack is startled by a phone call from his agent, Clair. She tells him that Harvey Humphries, the head of scripts at the BBC, is interested in Jack’s scripts and arranges a meeting between the two in just a few hours. Jack convinces himself that Humphries is a serial killer but plans to attend the meeting anyway.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Jack tries to clean his clothes in the oven to be presentable for his meeting with Humphries, only to find that he has super-glued a carving knife to his hand. After trying to remove the knife, he discovers that his clothes are ruined. Jack realises that he has to go to the laundrette. Since he is terrified of the prospect, he calls Professor Friedkin, an old friend, and asks for help. After listening to Jack’s traumatic memories of the launderette, Friedkin convinces Jack that he must confront his fears and go there.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)While at the laundrette, he doesn’t understand how the machines work. Frustrating the fellow patrons, he decides to just dry the clothes because he doesn’t have time to wash them again. A beautiful young woman then enters, causing Jack further distress, so he rushes to remove his damp clothes from the dryer so he can leave. Forgetting that the carving knife is still glued to his hand, he removes his hand from his pocket and causes the other customers to panic and lock him in the laundrette. The police arrive, break into the laundrette and subdue Jack. The police remove the knife from his hand and treat his wounds. They are about to take him to the police station when a helicopter flies over and announces that there is an emergency and they are needed elsewhere. They hastily throw Jack into the back of the police van and drive off, but he falls out of the vehicle as it begins driving.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Perkins, a community support police officer, follows the young woman while Jack returns to the laundrette to get his clean shirt for his meeting. While Jack is changing into his shirt, he notices that a back door that had been locked is now open. He goes through the door and finds a hatch in the floor. As he looks through the hatch, someone hits him from behind. Jack wakes up in the basement of the laundrette tied up next to the young woman. As they begin to panic, Perkins comes down the stairs. They urge him to get help but he reveals that he is the Hanoi Handshake Killer; he cuts the fingers off of his victims and blames the killings on the Vietnamese mafia. Perkins says the laundrette used to belong to his grandmother until the Vietnamese immigrants pushed her out, and he now murders for revenge. He then goes upstairs to sharpen his knife.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Jack tells the woman about the traumatic events in his childhood regarding the launderette, and she comforts him and urges him not to give up hope. She says her name is Sangeet and Jack asks her if she will have dinner with him if they survive. Perkins returns carrying a boombox playing the song “The Final Countdown” by Europe. Perkins and Jack argue about the song’s genre, causing Perkins to tell them about his childhood. His mother died when he was very young and his grandmother took him in and gave him a room in the cellar. During this story we see that this was the same launderette that Jack was abandoned in and he was being watched by Perkins from the back room.Jack and Sangeet try to get Perkins to admit that his grandmother did not take proper care of him. Jack argues that Tony is not a good serial killer because he is not original (he supposedly has his grandmother’s body in a rocking chair, which references the film Psycho).Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Sangeet frees herself and injures Perkins as he is about to murder Jack. Sangeet tries to escape but Perkins recovers and drags her back into the cellar. As Perkins is struggling with Sangeet, she frantically suggests that Jack tell a story. Jack convinces Perkins to listen to a story as his final request. Jack tells a story called Brian the Hedgehog; Perkins relates to the story and cries, admitting that he didn’t kill the first victim and he had only found the body. The owner of the launderette opens the hatch, prompting Jack and Sangeet to scream for help. Several months later, we see a well-groomed Jack reading his book about Harold and Brian to a group of children. Sangeet and Professor Friedkin are there. Clair finally introduces Jack to Humphries, causing Jack to become briefly fearful. Sangeet reminds Jack that they are going to dinner, and so they leave the event and catch a taxi as the credits roll over the frame.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Overall, the film is humorous, entertaining, and incorporates a number of dark, unorthodox story-telling features (including bits of animation). Therefore, if you primarily enjoy big-budget blockbusters or expect that every film featuring Simon Pegg to be “Shaun of the Dead” that sadly, you will probably not enjoy this film. However, if you appreciate story-telling, exemplar acting, and something a little different than the norm, I would highly recommend this film.

 

REVIEW: THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX

CAST

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Jupiter Ascending)
David Oyelowo (Jack Reacher)
Daniel Brühl (Rush)
John Ortiz (Kong: Skull Island)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Aksel Hennie (Hercules)
Zhang Ziyi (House of Flying Daggers)
Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Simon Pegg (Mission Possible: Rogue Nation)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)

 

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)In the near future, Earth is suffering from a global energy crisis. The collective space agencies of the world prepare to launch the Cloverfield Station for testing of the Shepard particle accelerator, which would provide Earth with infinite energy if it works, but pundits fear it will create the “Cloverfield Paradox”, opening portals to other dimensions and allow horrors from those to threaten Earth. Among the crew is Ava Hamilton, who frets about leaving her husband Michael, a doctor, for potentially many years. The two struggle with their relationship after losing their children to a house fire.John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)In orbit, the station crew fail to achieve success with Shepard for about two years but eventually achieve a seemingly-stable beam, but it then overloads and creates a power surge on the station. After restoring basic power, they find Earth has vanished from their view, along with the gyroscope that aids in navigation. As the crew work to repair the ship, strange events begin to occur. They rescue a woman, Jensen, fused with wires behind a panel. Volkov fears something crawling beneath his skin before he is compelled to craft a gun; before he can threaten the crew, his body convulses and ruptures, revealing the station’s colony of worms within him. Mundy’s arm gets pulled into a wall, and then severed clean off; they later find the arm moving on its own volition, and when they recognize that it is try to write something, they are led to dissect Volkov’s body and locate the missing gyroscope. They quickly discover Earth and realign their communications, but pick up mistaken transmissions that state that Cloverfield Station had been destroyed and fallen to Earth.Chris O'Dowd in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)They speak to Jensen and discover they are in an alternate dimension. In this one, Hamilton’s children had not died and she stayed on Earth as a civilian engineer, while Jensen had replaced Tam as the station’s engineer. They suspect that the Shepard device caused them to move into the new dimension, and reactivating Shepard will reverse that; Tam works out a means to then make Shepard work properly, but she is killed in a freak accident. The crew start working on repairs, while Hamilton decides to return with Jensen to Earth to be with her kids. As they prepare, Mundy is killed in an explosion caused by a strange magnetic field, which nearly tears the station in half. The station commander Kiel sacrifices himself to disengage a wildly-spinning accelerator ring from the station before it is destroyed, leaving Hamilton in charge.Gugu Mbatha-Raw in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)Meanwhile, on Earth, Michael wakes up to discover a number of strange events happening across the planet, including witnessing the silhouette of a giant monster. On his way to offer his assistance at the local hospital, he stops to help a young girl named Molly. After learning that the hospital has been destroyed, he takes Molly to an underground shelter belonging to a friend and tends to her wounds.Daniel Brühl and Ziyi Zhang in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)With Shepard ready to activate, Hamilton and Jensen prepare to leave, but Jensen suddenly knocks her out, uses the gun Volkov made to kill Monk and wound Schmidt, and insists that the station must stay in this dimension so they have access to the Shepard device. Regaining consciousness, Hamilton overpowers Jensen for the gun and shoots out a window, ejecting Jensen into space. Hamilton decides to return to their dimension with Schimdt, but makes a recording to herself in the alternate dimension, giving her the plans for the Shepard device, and stressing the importance of her family. Hamilton and Schimdt successfully reverse the dimension shift, and then make Tam’s modifications to engage Shepard properly to provide the energy source. The two, after reporting in, are then forced to evacuate, since they had sacrificed their life support systems to make the return trip to their dimension. As the evacuation shuttle breaks through the earth’s atmosphere, a giant monster comes up roaring through the clouds.Cloverfield is becoming a great outlet to tell really good Sci-Fi stories. Some of the best we have seen in a long time. Paradox adds to the mythos while also being its own movie. I can see from many of the reviews that this is not for everyone, I get that, but you can’t come in to these movies looking for answers, that’s not how the Cloverfield movies work. They present themselves and leave us to draw conclusions based on what we witnessed. An excellent addition to the Cloverfield franchise.

 

REVIEW: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER

CHRONICLES OF NARNIA 4

CAST

Georgie Henley (Perfect Sisters)
Ben Barnes (Dorian Gray)
Skandar Keynes (Ferrari)
Will Poulter (Son of Rambow)
Gary Sweets (The Pacific)
Bruce Spence (Legend of The Seeker)
Laura Brent (Anzac Girls)
William Moseley (The Royals)
Anna Popplewell (Reign)
Tilda Swinton (Constantine)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Rachel Blakely (The Lost World)
Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz)

Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, and Georgie Henley in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

Three Narnian years after the events of Prince Caspian, Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are staying with their irritating bookworm cousin Eustace Scrubb until the war is over. Edmund is still too young to enlist in His Majesty’s Armed Forces. At their cousin’s home a painting of a ship on the ocean transports Lucy, Edmund and Eustace into an ocean in Narnia.
Georgie Henley in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
They are rescued by Caspian, who captains the Dawn Treader. He invites them on a voyage to rescue the seven Lords of Narnia whom his uncle Miraz banished. In the Lone Islands, where people are sold as slaves, Caspian and Edmund are captured and imprisoned while Lucy and Eustace are sold as slaves. Caspian meets one of the lost lords (Lord Bern), who reveals that the slaves are not sold, but sacrificed to a mysterious green mist. They are rescued by their crew. Bern, who becomes the new governor, gives Caspian a sword, one of seven given to each of the lords by Aslan.
Will Poulter in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)At another island, Lucy is abducted by the invisible Dufflepuds who force her to enter the manor of the magician Coriakin to find a visibility spell. Coriakin encourages the crew to defeat the mist by laying the lords’ seven swords at Aslan’s Table on Ramandu’s island, but warns them that they are about to be tested. Lucy recites a beauty incantation she found, and enters a dream in which she has transformed into Susan and neither Lucy nor Narnia exist. Aslan chides Lucy for her self-doubt, explaining that her siblings only know of Narnia because of her.
Another sword is recovered from a magical pool that turns anything that touches it into gold, including one of the lost lords. Meanwhile, Eustace finds, and steals from, a rock pit full of treasure. While Edmund and Caspian look for Eustace, they discover the remains of another of the lords and recover his sword. A dragon approaches and is driven away from the Dawn Treader. The dragon is Eustace, transformed by the treasure after succumbing to its temptations. Reepicheep befriends Eustace, and Eustace is touched by the mouse’s kindness. He undergoes a change of heart and becomes helpful to the crew.
The crew arrive at Aslan’s Table to find three lost lords sleeping. As they place the swords on the table they realize one is still missing. A star descends from the sky and transforms into Lilliandil, a beautiful woman who guides them to the Dark Island, lair of the mist, where they discover the last surviving Lord, Rhoop. Edmund’s fear manifests itself as a monstrous sea serpent that attacks the ship. Eustace fights the serpent, but Rhoop wounds him with the last sword, causing him to fly away with the sword impaled in his side. He encounters Aslan, who transforms him back into a boy, removes the sword from his body and sends him to Ramandu’s island with it. As the crew fights the serpent, the mist tries to distract Edmund by appearing as Jadis, the White Witch. Eustace reaches the table and places the sword upon it, allowing the swords to unleash their magic and bestow Edmund’s own sword with the power to slay the sea serpent, the death of which awakens the three sleeping lords, destroys the mist and Dark Island and liberates the sacrificed slaves.
Eustace rejoins Lucy, Edmund, Caspian and Reepicheep, and they sail to a mysterious shore before a massive wave. Aslan appears and tells them that his country lies beyond, although if they go there they may never return. Caspian refuses, knowing that he has more duties to do as king, but Reepicheep is determined to enter, and Aslan blesses him before he paddles beyond the wave. Aslan opens a portal to send Lucy, Edmund and Eustace home, but informs Lucy and Edmund they have grown up and can never return to Narnia. Aslan encourages them to know him in their world by another name, and tells a reformed Eustace that he may return. The three enter the portal and swim up to the bedroom. Eustace hears his mother announcing a visitor, Jill Pole. The three leave the room, stopping to look back at the painting, which shows the Dawn Treader sailing out of sight.The special effects were very good and the action scenes were well thought out without being too gory for the kids. A very good end to the trilogy. Hopefully the rest of the Narnia books will be adapted.

REVIEW: STAR TREK BEYOND

CAST

Chris Pine (Into The Woods)
Zachary Quinto (Heroes)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Simon Pegg (Paul)
John Cho (Total Recall)
Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog)
Sofia Boutella (Monsters: Dark Continet)
Idris Elba (Thor)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Danny Pudi (Community)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Melissa Roxburgh (Arrow)

Three years into its five year mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at Starbase Yorktown, a massive space station, for resupply and shore leave for her crew. Struggling to find continued meaning in the endless nature of their mission of exploration, Captain James T. Kirk has applied for a promotion to Vice Admiral and commanding officer of Yorktown. He recommends Spock as the new captain of the Enterprise. Meanwhile, Hikaru Sulu reunites with his husband and their young daughter, Montgomery Scott works to keep the ship operational, and Spock and Nyota Uhura amicably end their relationship; Spock also receives word from New Vulcan that Ambassador Spock (Spock’s future self from the original timeline) has died.

The Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission at short notice after an escape pod drifts out of a nearby uncharted nebula. The survivor, Kalara, claims her ship is stranded on Altamid, a planet within the nebula. The rescue turns into an ambush when the Enterprise is quickly torn apart by a massive swarm of small ships. Krall and his crew board the ship, and unsuccessfully search for a relic called an Abronath that Kirk had obtained for a failed diplomatic mission. Krall captures and removes many crew members from the ship. Kirk then orders the crew to abandon ship as the Enterprise’s saucer section hurtles towards the planet.

On the planet’s surface, Sulu, Uhura, and other survivors are captured by Krall. Kirk and navigator Pavel Chekov, accompanied by Kalara, locate the wrecked saucer section. Kalara is discovered to be following Krall’s orders when she tries to retrieve the Abronath. To escape Krall’s soldiers, Kirk activates the still-functional thrusters, causing the saucer to lurch forward, crushing Kalara. Meanwhile, a wounded Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy search for other survivors. Spock confides to McCoy that he intends to leave Starfleet to continue the late Ambassador Spock’s work on New Vulcan. Meanwhile, Scott is rescued by Jaylah, a scavenger who previously escaped Krall’s encampment. She takes Scott to her makeshift home, the grounded USS Franklin, an early Starfleet vessel reported missing over a century earlier. Scott is reunited with Kirk, Chekov, McCoy and Spock. Using the ship as a base, they plot to raid Krall’s camp and transport the crew to the Franklin, then escape the planet in the repaired ship. Meanwhile, Krall coerces Ensign Syl to hand over the Abronath that she had kept hidden for Kirk, then kills her with it. The Abronath is the missing half of an ancient bioweapon, created by the planet’s original inhabitants, which can disintegrate any humanoid. With the device complete, Krall intends to attack Yorktown and kill its inhabitants, and, using its advanced technology, go on to attack the Federation. Kirk and the others free the crew as Krall launches into space with the bioweapon, leading his drone fleet to Yorktown.

The Starfleet crew pursues Krall in the Franklin. Scott transports Spock and McCoy into one of Krall’s drone ships. After dispatching the pilot, they learn that VHF transmissions can disrupt Krall’s communications. Matching the drone fleet’s frequency and using the ‘classical’ song “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, they destroy almost the entire fleet. Krall and his three surviving ships crash in Yorktown. As Krall flees into the city, Uhura and Kirk discover from the Franklin’s logs that he is actually Balthazar Edison, the former captain of the Franklin. A pre-Federation human soldier, Edison became disillusioned with the newly founded Federation, rejecting its principles of unity and cooperation with former enemies, like the Xindi. When he and his crew were stranded on Altamid by a rogue wormhole, he believed the Federation had deliberately abandoned them. The three survivors prolonged their lives with the technology of the planet’s extinct natives (at the cost of their human physiology and their numerous victims’ lives), and repurposed their dormant drone workers into the swarm. Krall now plans to destroy the Federation and resume galactic conflict. Kirk pursues Krall into Yorktown’s ventilation system, where Krall activates the bioweapon. Before it can be unleashed, Kirk ejects the weapon and Krall into space. Spock and McCoy save Kirk moments before he is also blown into open space.

Commodore Paris closes the unsolved cases of the fate of Captain Edison and the USS Franklin crew. Kirk decides to remain as a captain, and Spock chooses to stay in Starfleet and resumes his relationship with Uhura. Jaylah has been accepted into Starfleet Academy based on Kirk’s recommendation. As the crew celebrates Kirk’s birthday, they view the construction of their new ship, USS Enterprise-A, and after its completion, they depart on their next mission.This film feels in many ways like a completion of the work done to establish the rebooted series. The actors have now made the characters their own and no longer feel like imitations of the original incarnations. The film ends with the commissioning of an all-new Enterprise. As Paramount has already confirmed that a fourth instalment is on the way, we can be sure that Kirk and his crew will continue their little Trek through the Stars for some time to come.

REVIEW: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

CAST

Chris Pine (Into The Woods)
Zachary Quinto (Heroes)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Simon Pegg (Paul)
John Cho (Total Recall)
Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog)
Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Hobbit)
Alice Eve (Men In Black 3)
Peter Weller (Robocop)
Noel Clarke (4.3.2.1)
Nazneen Contractor (Heroes Reborn)
Amanda Foreman (Alias)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Heather Langenkap (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Sean Blakemore (Bones)
Nick E. Tarabay (Spartacus)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Scott Lawrence (Avatar)
Nolan North (Con Man)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Audrey Wasilewski (Red)

In the year 2259, Captain James T. Kirk is removed from command of the starship USS Enterprise for violating the Prime Directive: he exposed the ship to the primitive inhabitants of the planet Nibiru in order to save them, and Spock, from a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. Admiral Christopher Pike is reinstated as commanding officer with Kirk demoted to the rank of Commander and first officer. Commander Spock is transferred to another ship. Shortly after, the Section 31 installation in London is bombed, perpetrated by the renegade Starfleet operative John Harrison (Cumberbatch). Harrison then attacks Starfleet Headquarters in a jumpship during the emergency meeting about the situation, killing Pike and other senior officers. Kirk disables the jumpship, but Harrison escapes by transporting to Kronos, the homeworld of the hostile Klingons.

Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) reinstates Kirk and Spock to the Enterprise with orders to kill Harrison. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott strongly objects to allowing untested torpedoes on board the ship, and when ordered to allow them resigns his commission in protest. Kirk assigns Pavel Chekov to replace Scotty. En route to Kronos, the Enterprise’s warp capabilities mysteriously become disabled. Kirk leads a team with Spock and Uhura onto the planet, where they are ambushed by Klingon patrols. Harrison dispatches the Klingons, then surrenders after learning the number of torpedoes aboard the Enterprise.

Dr. Leonard McCoy and Marcus’s daughter, Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), open a torpedo at Harrison’s behest. Inside is a man in cryogenic stasis. Every torpedo aboard Enterprise contains a human in stasis. Harrison reveals his true identity as Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered superhuman awakened by Admiral Marcus from centuries of suspended animation to develop advanced weapons of war against the Klingon Empire. Khan reveals that Marcus had sabotaged the Enterprise’s warp drive, intending for the Klingons to destroy the ship after it fired on Kronos, creating an act of war by the Klingon Empire. Khan also gives Kirk a set of coordinates. Kirk contacts Scotty on Earth and asks him to investigate. Scotty discovers they lead to a covert Starfleet facility near Jupiter.

The Enterprise is intercepted by a much larger Federation warship, the USS Vengeance, commanded by Admiral Marcus. Marcus demands that Kirk deliver Khan, but the Enterprise, with a hastily repaired warp drive, flees to Earth to expose Marcus. After the Vengeance intercepts and disables the Enterprise near the Moon, Kirk reveals Carol’s presence aboard the ship. Marcus forcibly transports Carol to the Vengeance before ordering the Enterprise’s destruction, Kirk offers Khan and himself for the lives of his crew, but Marcus rejects Kirk’s offer and orders Vengeance to fire when ready. However, Vengeance suddenly loses power, sabotaged by Scotty, who infiltrated the ship. With transporters down, Kirk and Khan, with the latter’s knowledge of the warship’s design, space-jump to the Vengeance. Spock contacts his older self, who warns that Khan is ruthless and untrustworthy, and, in another reality, Khan was only defeated at a terrible cost. Meanwhile, after capturing the bridge, Khan overpowers Kirk, Scott, and Carol, kills Marcus, and seizes control of the Vengeance.

Khan demands that Spock return his crew sealed in the cryogenic tubes in exchange for the Enterprise officers. Spock complies but surreptitiously removes Khan’s frozen crew and arms the warheads. Khan beams Kirk, Scott, and Carol back aboard the Enterprise, but betrays their agreement by critically damaging the Enterprise; however, the Vengeance is disabled when the torpedoes detonate. With both starships caught in Earth’s gravity, they plummet toward the surface. Kirk enters the radioactive reactor chamber to realign the warp core, saving the ship, but losing his life in the process.

Khan crashes the dying Vengeance into downtown San Francisco in an attempt to destroy Starfleet headquarters, destroying some of the city. Khan escapes the wreckage as Spock transports down in pursuit. McCoy discovers that Khan’s blood has regenerative properties that may save Kirk. With Uhura’s help, Spock chases down and eventually subdues Khan, who is consequently arrested and re-frozen, and Kirk is revived.

Nearly one year later, Kirk speaks at the Enterprise’s re-dedication ceremony. Khan is sealed in his cryogenic pod and stored with his compatriots. The Enterprise crew embarks on a five-year exploratory mission.I didn’t overly mind that the film is based on Khan, but I can understand how some people would have an issue with it. The first film so cleverly re-wrote the shows history and gave Abrams the opportunity to do whatever he wanted story wise so it was a little bit surprising to see he had embarked on somewhat of a `re-make.’ But all in all a very good film. Great action sequences and great CGI – even if you’re not a Trekkie this is still an enjoyable film.