REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 2

Westworld (2016)

Starring

Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Batman)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Fares Fares (Chernobyl)
Luke Hemsworth (The Anomaly)
Louis Herthum (What/If)
Simon Quarterman (THe Scorpion King 2)
Talulah Riley (Bloodshot)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Gustaf Skarsgård (Kidz in da Hood)
Ed Harris (The Truman show)
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Angela Sarafyan (The Immigrant)
Katja Herbers (Sonny Boy)
Shannon Woodward (Adult World)
Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal)
Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep)

Thandie Newton in Westworld (2016)

Recurrin / Notable Guest Cast

Betty Gabriel (Unfriended: Dark Web)
Jimmi Simpson (White House Down)
Ben Barnes (The Punisher)
Peter Mullan (Hostiles)
Jonathan Tucker (Pulse)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That into You (film))
Ptolemy Slocum (Hitch)
Martin Sensmeier (Yellowstone)
Tao Okamoto (Batman v Superman)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Neil Jackson (BLade: The Series)
Fredric Lehne (lost)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim)
Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine)
Kiki Sukezane (Heroes Reborn)
Masayoshi Haneda (Edge of Tomorrow)
Lili Simmons (The Purge TV)
Erica Luttrell (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Inferno)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Julia Jones (Jonah Hex)
Booboo Stewart (Descendants)
Sela Ward (Gone Girl)
Jack Conley (The Cell)

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)The first season of Westworld, and maybe the second, can be encapsulated by an exasperation-inducing exchange in Sunday night’s premiere, in which William (Ed Harris, but Jimmi Simpson plays him, too) encounters an android boy (Oliver Bell) modeled after Ford (Anthony Hopkins, whose character died last season). The boy, in quaint pedal pushers, speaks in digital tongues to William, teasing and prodding him to participate in the park’s games now that the stakes are real. When William grouses about his riddles, the boy reproaches the man in the black hat: “Everything is code here, William.” Soon after, bullets fly.Thandie Newton and Simon Quarterman in Westworld (2016)Maybe I’m being too harsh. Yes, it’s obvious—but for the viewer, his words have deeper implications than they do for ol’ Black-Hat Bill. It’s true that everything in Westworld is code—artificial, semiotic, programmed, significant. In the first season, the audience was introduced to an adult playground, populated with fleshy androids designed for human gratification. As the hosts gained sentience and found a path to liberation, they became stand-ins for human fears: the silent omnipresence of technology, the exploitation of the oppressed, the struggle for self-actualization, and/or the horrifying immortality of creation. They are also, in Season 2, scattered across time and space, broken into contingents of unlikely pairings and shaky alliances, trying to survive within the parameters of the sandbox created last season.If a prestige drama is a complex machine, what’s unique about Westworld is how willing the show is to depict that machine without explaining the processes that comprise it. It’s committed to the endpoint of its fantasies, and surprisingly vague on process, which is one of the reasons Season 1 could be so frustrating. It often feels as if Westworld works backwards—first presenting a scenario, then spending endless future scenes explaining how that scenario came to exist. (I await an explanation for why Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores is clearly wearing cream foundation and blush in her initial close-ups this season; perhaps we’ll learn that the robot women, freed from their masters, have started experimenting with lipstick feminism.)

Westworld this season is a story about games. The park is supposed to be a hermetically sealed playground that allows participants to safely pursue anything without consequence, but the series itself emphasizes that this notion is actually impossible. Season 2 introduces two new parks; one, as hinted at in the trailers and in details of Season 1, is a facsimile of shogunate Japan, starring Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi. The other, which I won’t spoil, is such a pointed fantasy of white male entitlement that it leads the viewer to see all of Westworld’s illusions as fantasies designed for that exact viewer. Both underscore one of Westworld’s most disturbing details: practically every female host has been designed to be some kind of whore.Ed Harris in Westworld (2016)The series is not subtle with these thematics, even as it revels in the fantasies it presents. When we get to Shogun World, it’s hard to tell if the show means to comment on orientalism, or if it’s just showcasing samurai and geishas because they look cool. All of its portentous conversations between hosts and humans about android consciousness exist somewhere in the space between an aha moment and an eye roll—without fully committing to either. The spoken discourse is a red herring that distracts from what’s really at play in the show. The hosts aren’t human, and the human characters aren’t interesting. What instead pulsates with life is the sandbox itself: the potential energy of this playground, with its unexplored easter eggs yet to be discovered.James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, and Talulah Riley in Westworld (2016)Which is why it is so satisfying—if still rather confusing—that in Season 2, the show has committed to spinning out, sending its sprawling cast on side quests as though they were Dungeons and Dragons campaigners. And as it unfolds, this iteration of Westworld becomes less a story about games than it is a series of games about story. Stakes, climax, and continuity are just tools to be tweaked and adjusted; characters’ personalities and motivations are little more than quirks, drawn from a deck or determined by a die. As the show posited in its first season finale, the hosts’ backstories—the things they keep forgetting and remembering—are both pre-programmed methods of control and pathways to deeper meaning. Westworld follows both avenues, simultaneously. As a result, it’s a scrambled, tabletop R.P.G. of a season, in ways that are both supremely satisfying and incredibly frustrating. Many adventures in Season 2 have the quality of a dungeon master inventing a plotline on the fly, after a few rolls in a row have landed the campaign somewhere unexpected.Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright in Westworld (2016)It’s a feeling that other shows might try to avoid. But Westworld is instead embracing it, leaning into chaos, actively doing all of the things that it’s sowing distrust in: producing a mythology, playing a game, telling a story. Its deep ambivalence toward the stuff it’s made of is ultimately what matters about the show, more than the thing itself. Just as Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) installed reveries into the hosts to provide them with a pathway to self-consciousness, Westworld itself is a collection of reveries, seeking to locate its own center. This might be why Bernard (also Wright)—the host version of Arnold—becomes the viewer’s surrogate in the second season. Wright is a criminally overlooked performer in general, but in Season 2 he is the emotional register that the rest of the show is calibrated around. A human consciousness turned digital, he is a part of both worlds—both the watchmaker and the watch. Through him and characters like him, the narrative takes on the structure of the maze metaphor from Season 1—a convoluted, repetitive path towards the middle.Ed Harris in Westworld (2016)Westworld encourages the viewer to see its animated puzzles from every angle. It seems less and less that the show knows what it wants to be about, which will always be a knock against it. But with much more centripetal force than last season, it also draws the audience towards its own center, in its own vivid journey toward self-consciousness. It’s easy to get sucked in to Westworld’s reveries. It’s harder to convince yourself that its dark fantasies are just a game.

REVIEW: THOR: THE DARK WORLD

CAST

Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak)
Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of The Lambs)
Christopher Eccleston (G.I. Joe)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)
Zachary Levi (Chuck)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Tadanobu Asano (Mongul)
Idris Elba (Pacific Rim)
Rene Russo (Get Shorty)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Sucide Squad)
Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls)
Stellan Skarsgard (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Clive Russell (Sherlock Holmes)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Chris Evans (Injustice)
Ophelia Lovibond (4.3.2.1)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Richard Brake (Doom)
Talulah Riley (Westworld)
Tony Curran (The Veteran)
Royce Pierreson (Survivor)

 

Marvel's Thor: The Dark World (2013) Loki (Tom Hiddleston)

After learning about a new powerful foe that even Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must embark on another dangerous mission. This time, the risk is much more personal than it ever has been for this powerful hero. With both Asgard and Earth facing the chance of destruction, he must sacrifice everything by reuniting with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in order to save us all. This forces Thor to request help from the most unlikely of characters. If they aren’t able to stop the ominous danger that approaches us, then this universe will belong to the darkness.
screen-shot-2013-04-23-at-11-45-14-amPicking up a couple years after the previous Thor motion picture, this sequel gets started rather quickly. A bulk of the plot is carried from the perspective of Jane Foster and her intern, Darcy (Kat Dennings). While there’s still a small amount of humor to be seen in the beginning from Asgard, the majority of it comes from the humans.
The casting is excellent. Chris Hemsworth returns in the role of Thor.  Natalie Portman is pretty solid, as she always is. While this isn’t the most memorable performance of her career, she’s convincing as Jane Foster. Anthony Hopkins is a satisfying Odin, as he was in the previous picture. However, the real star of Thor: The Dark World is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He’s clearly one of the most charming and entertaining actors to portray a role from the Marvel universe. While he always seems to receive good material, Hiddleston’s delivery is simply unparalleled.thordarkworld_newsWhen it comes to the visual department, always expect incredible effects. Thor: The Dark World looks fantastic from its opening scene until the quick scene after the credits. The make-up, costumes, and special effects blend together in an impeccable fashion. These elements aid audiences in becoming a part of this universe.

 

REVIEW: THE BAD EDUCATION MOVIE (2015)

Starring

Jack Whitehall (Good Omens)
Ethan Lawrence (Trying Again)
Charlie Wernham (Hollyoaks)
Kae Alexander (Krypton)
Layton Williams (Rocketman)
Nikki Runeckles (#MurderSelfie)
Weruche Opia (Top Boy)
Jack Binstead (101 Dalmation Street)
Harry Enfield (Skins)
Mathew Horne (Planet 51)
Sarah Solemani (The Wrong Mans)
Joanna Scanlan (Bridget Jone’s Baby)
Talulah Riley (Westworld)
Jeremy Irvine (War Horse)
Iain Glen (Game of Thrones)

The Bad Education Movie (2015)The film opens with Alfie Wickers (Jack Whitehall) having taken Class K on a school trip to Amsterdam. Unbeknownst to him, Mitchell (Charlie Wernham) has spiked his crepe with magic mushrooms, causing Alfie to hallucinate while in the Anne Frank Museum. He believes Jing (Kae Alexander) is a panda and is convinced that the Anne Frank dummy is alive, which leads to him stealing it from the museum (in a parody of E.T.) and ends up in a canal.The Bad Education Movie (2015)One year later, Alfie plans to take his class to Las Vegas, angering the PTA, who doubt the educational value of the trip. They demand that Alfie be sacked. Deputy Head and Alfie’s father Martin Wickers (Harry Enfield), headmaster Shaquille Fra$er (Mathew Horne) and teacher and Alfie’s girlfriend Rosie Gulliver (Sarah Solemani) insist that Alfie is given another chance and that they conduct a surprise visit to his classroom. Meanwhile, Mitchell has been attempting to tattoo ‘Class K Forever’ onto Alfie’s back, but Alfie passes out from pain before Mitchell can get any further than the letters ‘CLA’. The classroom visit ends with the children’s parents refusing to pay for the Las Vegas trip. Alfie says he will pay for the trip, but upon realising the cost of this, decides on a trip to Cornwall. Joe (Ethan Lawrence) is concerned his overbearing mother Susan will not let him go on the trip, but Alfie creates a fake trip itinerary to fool the parents into thinking the trip is academical. Alfie also informs his class that his best friend from school, Atticus Hoye (Jeremy Irvine), is hosting a house party in Cornwall.The Bad Education Movie (2015)Susan, concerned about what the trip will involve, comes with the group to Cornwall, and implements Alfie’s fake itinerary, starting with a trip to the Eden Project. While at the Eden Project, Mitchell picks a plant known as ‘nature’s laxative’ which Alfie spikes her drink with. The class continue to Penleven Castle where they see John the Baptist’s foreskin. Susan, beginning to feel the effects of the laxative, goes to the toilet and leaves the group unattended. While she is away, Mitchell attempts to steal the foreskin, but loses it instead. Alfie retrieves it, but is unable to put it back before Susan returns. Alfie is forced to eat the foreskin to cover his tracks.The Bad Education Movie (2015)The group then arrives at the fishing town of Port Jago, where their hotel is located. Alfie and the children manage to sneak out to the local pub without being caught by Susan. At the pub, the barman (Steve Speirs) and Pasco Trevelyan (Iain Glen) are discussing the Cornish Liberation Army, a terrorist organisation fighting for Cornish independence, which they are both members of. Alfie and the class arrive at the pub, where Alfie is mistaken for a CLA member because of the unfinished tattoo on his back. Pasco has a plan to assassinate the local MP, Michael Hoye, who is also Atticus’ father. Overhearing Alfie talking to Joe about going to the party at Atticus’ house, Pasco reveals himself to be a smuggler and recruits Alfie to the CLA. Alfie and the class become involved in the frivolities at the pub, which get out of hand and end up with Joe being stabbed in the hand. Susan records the incident from outside through a window, but before she can send the recording to the other parents, Pasco (at Alfie’s request) slips her some sleeping pills, packs her in a trunk, and abandons the trunk in Cherbourg, France. Pasco then takes the group to a strip club, where he asks Alfie to deliver some cannabis to Atticus Hoye’s party the following evening on his behalf. Unbeknownst to Alfie, the truck he is to deliver the cannabis in is actually packed full of explosives. Meanwhile, Susan hitches a lift back to the UK from France with some illegal immigrants.Gavin Lee Lewis in The Bad Education Movie (2015)Back at school, the other teachers have lost contact with the Cornwall trip since Susan went missing. Martin, Fraser, and Rosie drive down to Cornwall in an attempt to find them. Alfie and the children arrive at the party, where Alfie is bullied by his so-called friends and made to teabag a swan. Feeling betrayed by everyone, including his class, he decides to call Pasco to be picked up from the party. Pasco takes this as a signal and detonates the truck, which blows up in the grounds of the Hoye house. Pasco drives Alfie and the children in his truck back to Port Jago and decides to make Alfie the leader of the Cornish rebellion. They are joined by many of the people from the pub and Port Jago itself, who all reveal themselves to be members of the CLA. Meanwhile, the other teachers, trying to find Alfie, have involved the police, who believe the situation to be so serious they call in Interpol, who in turn conclude that Alfie has been radicalised. They are joined at the operation’s nerve centre by Susan and some other parents.Gavin Lee Lewis in The Bad Education Movie (2015)Pasco informs the group that the CLA is going to seize the means of production, which in Cornwall’s case is its most important tourist attraction. The police believe this to be the Eden Project, and send troops there, but it soon transpires that the group are actually heading to Penleven Castle again. Alfie sabotages the rebellion, but expresses sympathy for Pasco’s cause. Pasco turns violent and imprisons them. While the children escape thanks to a secret passage Joe finds in the castle which leads down to the beach, Alfie is forced into a swordfight with Pasco. Rosie and Fra$er arrive in a helicopter and pull Alfie to safety, with Pasco being arrested. The story then jumps to results day when Mitchell again mixes magic mushrooms in some brownies which he gave to Alfie. Alfie once again lost his senses and hallucinated, before posing for a very unusual ‘Leavers Photograph’. It is also revealed in this scene that Michael Hoye has resigned as MP of Port Jago.The Bad Education Movie (2015)I think this movie will mostly suit the fans of the TV show ,the humour is pretty dumb and trashy and some will find this movie as a garbage.

REVIEW: MOJAVE

CAST

Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy)
Louise Bourgoin (A Happy Event)
Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)
Walton Goggins (Django Unchained)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Talulah Riley (Westworld)
Sterling K. Brown (Black Panther)

Mojave is the brain child from the writer of ‘The Departed’. Add in a slew of great actors and the result is me, with high hopes for this movie. But within the first few minutes those hopes were drastically lowered. This is mainly due to the all around aimlessness of the story. Garrett Hedlund wanders into the desert and meets the hick version of Oscar Isaac. Than Hudlund inexplicably bludgeons Isaac and frames him for the murder of a police officer. So, Isaac follows Hedlund back to LA in hopes of exacting of his revenge. All of this roughly taking place with in the first ten or twenty minutes of the film. Now we have our story. What I liked most about ‘Mojave’ is the scenes that Isaac and Hedlund share. While there may only be two or three of them, I found them to be the best parts of the movie. Both sociopaths, it was interesting and sometimes rather funny to watch these two go back and forth.The only other aspect worth mentioning is the music. In this otherwise uninspired film, the music really helped capture the mood of each scene. Whether or not the scene actually has the desired affect on you is beside the point. Even though, more times than not, the music is really the only thing that helps move scenes forward. Other than these few things there really isn’t much that ‘Mojave’ offers. The performances are passable but almost every actor in the film feels miscast. All of them seem to over or under act in a strange attempt to give these flat characters meaning. And boy most of these characters are two dimensional. They worst offenders come in the form of Mark Wahlberg and Walton Goggins. These two come into the film as nothing more than vessels for director William Monahan to force in his own opinions. There is nothing more to them than that. They come into the film, spit their “political commentary”, and leave as quickly as they came.2As you watch this, it’s impossible not to think, “Wow, what the heck was that about?”. Not to mention the incredibly in your face social commentary. I understand that many of us are hopelessly addicted to our phones but do you have to pretend like EVERYONE is? And, do you seriously have to show this in every single scene?? The worst part is, they don’t just talk about it. There is one scene in particular where a character exits a bar and passes a line of people. ALL of which are on their phone, and to make things even less subtle the film feels the need to add phone clicks and buzzes. This is not a film that children are going to see so do you have to make it this obvious?

maxresdefaultI’m pretty sure that I do actually have a brain and I can pick up on subtly. So why ram it down my throat with next to no subtly? Aside from the two or three scenes that Isaac and Hedlund share this is all the film does for its hour and a half run time. Use uncomfortably pretentious celebrity cameos to drive home the films own misguided views of the world. While it does do some things right I can’t say that this is worth recommending. This overall standardness is enough to send ‘Mojave’ spiraling into obscurity.

REVIEW: INCEPTION

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Tom Hardy (The Dark KNight Rises)
Ken Watanabe (Godzilla)
Dileep Rao (Avatar)
Cillian Murphy (Red Lights)
Tom Berenger (Platoon)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Michael Caine (Batman Begins)
Lukas Haas (Brick)
Talulah Riley (The Boat That Rocked)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)

Dominic “Dom” Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are “extractors”, who perform corporate espionage using an experimental military technology to infiltrate the subconscious of their targets and extract valuable information through a shared dream world. Their latest target, Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe), reveals that he arranged their mission himself to test Cobb for a seemingly-impossible job: planting an idea in a person’s subconscious, or “inception”.To break up the energy conglomerate of ailing competitor Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite), Saito wants Cobb to convince Fischer’s son and heir, Robert (Cillian Murphy), to dissolve his father’s company. In return, Saito promises to use his influence to clear Cobb of a murder charge, allowing Cobb to return home to his children. Cobb accepts the offer and assembles his team: Eames (Tom Hardy), a conman and identity forger; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a chemist who concocts a powerful sedative for a stable “dream within a dream” strategy; and Ariadne (Ellen Page), an architecture student tasked with designing the labyrinth of the dream landscapes, recruited with the help of Cobb’s father-in-law, Professor Stephen Miles (Michael Caine). While dream-sharing with Cobb, Ariadne learns his subconscious houses an invasive projection of his late wife Mal (Marion Cotillard).When the elder Fischer dies in Sydney, Robert Fischer accompanies the body on a ten-hour flight back to Los Angeles, which the team (including Saito, who wants to verify their success) uses as an opportunity to sedate and take Fischer into a shared dream. At each dream level, the person generating the dream stays behind to set up a “kick” that will be used to awaken the other sleeping team members from the deeper dream level; to be successful, these kicks must occur simultaneously at each dream level, a fact complicated due to the nature of time which proceeds much faster in each successive level.The first level is Yusuf’s dream of a rainy Los Angeles. The team abducts Fischer, but they are attacked by armed projections from Fischer’s subconscious, which has been trained to defend against extraction. The team takes Fischer and a wounded Saito to a warehouse, where Cobb reveals that while dying in the dream would normally wake Saito up, the powerful sedatives needed to stabilize the multi-level dream will instead send a dying dreamer into “limbo”, a world of infinite subconscious from which escape is difficult and a dreamer risks forgetting they are in a dream. Despite these setbacks, the team continues with the mission. Eames impersonates Fischer’s godfather, Peter Browning (Tom Berenger), to suggest Fischer reconsider his father’s will. Yusuf drives the van as the other dreamers are sedated into the second level. In the second level, a hotel dreamed by Arthur, Cobb convinces Fischer that he has been kidnapped by Browning and Cobb is his subconscious protector. Cobb persuades him to go down another level to explore Browning’s subconscious (in reality, it is a ruse to enter Fischer’s).The third level is a fortified hospital on a snowy mountain dreamed by Eames. The team has to infiltrate it and hold off the guards as Cobb takes Fischer into the equivalent of his subconscious. Yusuf, under pursuit by Fischer’s projections in the first level, deliberately drives off a bridge and initiates his kick too soon. This removes the gravity of Arthur’s level, forcing him to improvise a new kick that will synchronize with the van hitting the water, and causes an avalanche in Eames’ level. Mal’s projection emerges and kills Fischer, Cobb kills Mal, and Saito succumbs to his wounds; all three fall into Limbo. While Eames sets up a kick by rigging the hospital with explosives, Cobb and Ariadne enter Limbo to rescue Fischer and Saito.Cobb reveals to Ariadne that he and Mal went to Limbo while experimenting with the dream-sharing technology. Sedated for a few hours of real time, they spent fifty years in dream time constructing a world from their shared memories. When Mal refused to return to reality, Cobb used a rudimentary form of inception by reactivating her totem (an object dreamers use to distinguish dreams from reality) and reminding her subconscious that their world was not real. However, when she woke up, Mal was still convinced that she was dreaming. In an attempt to “wake up” for real, Mal committed suicide and framed Cobb for her death to force him to do the same. Facing a murder charge, Cobb fled the U.S., leaving his children in the care of Professor Miles. Through his confession, Cobb makes peace with his guilt over Mal’s death. Ariadne kills Mal’s projection and wakes Fischer up with a kick. Revived at the mountain hospital, Fischer enters a safe room to discover and accept the planted idea: a projection of his dying father telling him to be his own man. While Cobb remains in Limbo to search for Saito, the other team members ride the synchronized kicks back to reality. Cobb eventually finds an aged Saito in Limbo and reminds him of their agreement. The dreamers all awaken on the plane and Saito makes a phone call.Upon arrival at Los Angeles Airport, Cobb passes the U.S. immigration checkpoint and Professor Miles accompanies him to his home. Cobb tests reality using his totem, a spinning top that spins indefinitely in a dream world, but ignores its result and instead joins his children in the garden.Christopher Nolan’s intelligent and complex SF movie is an intriguing thriller. similar to the director’s other perplexing movie, Memento, it is a film which rewards with each repeat viewing. Definitely a film to watch, probably more than once.