REVIEW: ANNIE (2014)

CAST

Quvenzhané Wallis (12 Years a Slave)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Rose Byrne (Spy)
Cameron Diaz (Sex Tape)
Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)
David Zayas(Gotham)
Stephanie Kurtzuba (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Tracie Thomas (Cold Case)
Nicolette Pierini (The Punisher)
Patricia Clarkson (Easy A)
Michael J. Fox (Back To The Future)
Mila Kunis (Family Guy)
Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Bobby Moynihan (Revenge For Jolly)
Rihanna (Bates Motel)
George Clooney (Ocean’s Eleven)

In Harlem, Manhattan Island, N.Y.C, Annie Bennett lives in foster care with several other girls under the care of Colleen Hannigan, a bitter former singer who spends her days drinking or trying to find a husband. Annie spends Fridays waiting outside Domoni’s restaurant, believing her parents will come for her because a note written on a receipt from Domoni’s says they would return. When a city inspector checks on Hannigan’s treatment of the girls, Annie takes advantage of the situation; she manages to copy her social security number from his clipboard and heads off to get her information. Annie learns that there’s nothing more about her than what she already knows.Trying to save a Shiba Inu from bullies, Annie is nearly run over; however, she is saved by William Stacks, a germaphobe cell phone mogul running for mayor. Annie’s rescue goes viral on the internet, boosting Stacks popularity; per suggestion of Stacks’ campaign manager Guy Danlily, Annie moves in with Stacks to boost his popularity further. Annie enjoys her new surroundings, befriending Stacks’ assistant Grace Farrell. Annie also gets to adopt the stray dog from before, naming her Sandy. Bonding with Annie, Stacks reveals that he had humble beginnings in Queens; he never really knew his father due to his work hours, but believed he could understand him if he worked just as hard. Annie also helps Grace and Stacks begin realizing that they like each other romantically.Per Annie’s request, Stacks takes her and her friends in Hannigan’s foster care to see the premiere of MoonQuake Lake. Stacks is uninterested in the movie at first, but soon becomes a major fan, along with Grace. Per Annie and Grace’s insistence, Stacks joins in the after-movie party. After returning her friends home, Annie shows Grace her Friday routine of waiting to see if her parents will return; Grace sympathizes, agreeing to keep this a secret from Stacks. At Hannigan’s, the girls accidentally wake her; Hannigan snaps at them, saying rich people aren’t nice, and will ditch anyone they don’t like any more (recalling her own past). Slightly hungover, she laments about her situation of foster kids and her desire to reclaim stardom.When Annie is asked to read a speech during a charity event, she runs out, revealing that she doesn’t know how to read (despite being 10 years old and going to school). Stacks decides to get her a special-ed teacher, but Guy decides that Annie will only hinder Stacks’ campaign as his popularity isn’t improving any more. Teaming up with Hannigan, Guy plans to have imposters claim Annie as their daughter to boost Stacks popularity to the point where he wins; Guy will then share his payment with Hannigan. However, Guy plans to dump Annie back into the system after the election, not caring about her well-being. By the time Hannigan has second thoughts, Annie has already been kidnapped by the imposters; Hannigan tells Stacks about the plan, getting Guy fired. Stacks, Grace, Hannigan and the girls board Stacks’ helicopter; aided by the police, they chase the getaway car into the park. Annie, thinking Stacks arranged this (due to the kidnappers believing Stacks, not Guy, paid them), is upset and refuses to believe him when he tells her he didn’t know about the scheme. Stacks, to prove his innocence, announces to the press that he quits the mayoral race; Annie then helps Grace and Stacks admit their love. All three dance and sing happily.Later, Annie announces the opening of the “Stacks Literacy Centre”, to help children like herself, who couldn’t read. Everyone sings Annie’s Tomorrow; unhumorously, Hannigan attempts to continue singing after the song is done, only to receive stares that cue her to stop.Not sure why so many feel the need to bash this version of the movie just because they think they’re the top ‘original’ Annie movie fan of all time. Who cares if they made a new version…it’s not even close to being the same as the original. This one is  fun, and all of the actors/actresses are wonderful at acting and singing. I feel that the changes that were made were done so to reflect the times we live in…certain sayings from the original wouldn’t be related to as easily. Nothing wrong with liking both…they’re just movies, so I don’t think you’ll hurt the original Annie’s feelings if you decide to like this one just as much or more!!

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REVIEW: SAFE HOUSE

CAST

Denzel Washington (Training Day)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Sam Shepard (Swordfish)
Ruben Blades (Predator 2)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop 2014)
Stephen Rider (Daredevil)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Sebastian Roche (The Originals)

In Cape Town, South Africa, ex-CIA NOC operative turned traitor and international criminal Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) acquires a data storage device from rogue MI6 agent Alec Wade (Liam Cunningham). After the pair is attacked by a team of mercenaries led by Vargas (Fares Fares), Wade is killed and Frost is cornered by the gunmen, leaving him no choice but to surrender to the American consulate.

Frost is transferred to a local safe house maintained by “housekeeper” Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a young agent on his first low-level CIA posting and then the CIA sends in a team led by veteran agent Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick) to interrogate Frost and bring him back to the US. Weston watches uneasily as Kiefer and his men waterboard Frost. When the power to the safe house is cut, the CIA team realize that they are in grave danger. Vargas and a heavily armed group attack the safe house, killing Kiefer and his team. Weston escapes, taking Frost as his charge. When Weston makes contact with his superior, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga), another CIA operative, orders Weston to lie low and await further instructions.

Weston hides out with Frost and calls his girlfriend Ana Moreau (Nora Arnezeder), a French medical resident who does not know that he works for the CIA, and tells her to leave the house. Barlow later tells Weston to go to Cape Town Stadium to retrieve a GPS device with the location of another nearby safe house. He retrieves the GPS at the stadium, but Frost creates a diversion and gets away by disguising himself as a policeman. Weston, detained by the police, escapes but is unable to catch Frost. Weston goes to recapture Frost but Frost ambushes him and aims a gun at him as if to shoot him, but then tells him “I only kill professionals”.

Weston is ordered to visit the nearest American embassy for debriefing. Instead he meets with Ana and reveals that he is a CIA agent. He tells her to return to Paris for her safety. Weston tracks Frost to a shantytown in Langa, where Frost is meeting Nicaraguan national Carlos Villar (Rubén Blades), an old contact and document forger. Vargas and his team attack again, killing Villar along with his wife, but Frost eludes him and his men with Weston’s help. Weston brutally interrogates one of Vargas’ wounded mercenaries, who reveals that Vargas is working for the CIA, which is seeking to retrieve the storage device Frost received from Wade. The device contains Israeli intelligence which contain details of corrupt officials and secret money transfers involving American CIA, British MI6, and other intelligence agencies; Weston recognizes the reference to the Mossad because the CIA accused Frost of selling secrets to them before he became a rogue agent. Weston’s own superiors may be implicated. Weston takes Frost to the new safe house, where Weston keeps the housekeeper, Keller (Joel Kinnaman) at gunpoint, because he no longer knows if he can trust the CIA.

Keller attacks Weston, and after a brutal struggle, Weston breaks Keller’s neck, but he is badly wounded in the fight. Frost leaves Weston, who passes out from his wounds. Meanwhile, Linklater arrives in South Africa with Barlow to collect Frost and Weston from the safe house, but on the way is shot and killed by Barlow, who goes to the safe house and reveals that he is Vargas’ employer. He confirms that the file contains incriminating evidence against him, and encourages Weston to lie about what has happened. Frost returns and kills Vargas and his men but is shot by Barlow. Weston then shoots Barlow in the chest, killing him. Frost gives Weston the file and tells Weston he is better than him before he dies from his injuries.
Image result for SAFE HOUSE 2012Back in the United States, Weston meets with CIA Deputy Director Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), who informs Weston that unflattering facts about the CIA must be removed from his report, but that he will be promoted. He asks Weston about the file’s location but Weston denies having been told about it by Frost. Whitford states that whoever has those files will have many enemies. Weston leaves, then leaks the files to the media, incriminating personnel from many intelligence agencies, including Whitford. Later on, Weston sees Ana across a street in Paris, France. She reads a note passed to her from him, looks up at Weston, and they both make eye contact and she smiles before Weston walks away.Image result for SAFE HOUSE 2012Safe House is a great action thriller with non-stop action. This is the first mainstream feature for Daniel Espinosa and he comes forth as promising due to his skillful camera work with the action scenes. One of the most impressive is the rooftop chase at night. The editing is pitch perfect as it allows the audience to feel the danger of the situation from each point of view. This film could have been bleak and predictable if the leads were miscast but Washington and Reynolds’ enigma make the film satisfyingly fun and fresh.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: WONDERFALLS – CAGED BIRD

Image result for WONDERFALLS LOGO

MAIN CAST

Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal)
Katie Finneran (Bewitched)
Tyron Leitso (Bloodrayne 2)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Diana Scarwid (Pushing Daises)
Tracie Thomas (Cold Case)
Neil Grayston (Earthsea)

GUEST CAST

Jeffrey R. Smith (Warehouse 13)
Glenn Fitzgerald (The Sixth Sense)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)

Caged Bird’ brings the series to a close with a hostage crisis at Wonderfalls and with Jaye and Eric trying to cope with “goodbye” after Heidi arrives to take Eric home to New Jersey. While trying to escape police, an armed robber ends up trapped in the gift shop and takes Jaye, Sharon, Alec, and Wade (the mall security guard) hostage. Jaye is continually encouraged to bolster Wade’s confidence, which leads to him having a heart attack while attempting to bludgeon the robber with a souvenir paddle. As the robber grows increasingly desperate, the animals tip Jaye off to an escape route through the bathroom. The robber takes her along to protect himself, but ends up getting killed by an ambulance speeding to the scene. Ultimately, the deceased robber’s heart goes to the security guard, saving his life, and Eric and Heidi split up, leaving Jaye and Eric free to be together at last!

The frustrating, heartbreaking torture of the last run of episodes finally comes to an end as Jaye and Eric are united at long last! I’m thrilled we got to close on a “happily ever after” note for our favorite, star-crossed, not-yet-lovers. I like to imagine the two of them growing old together, keeping busy with hilarious and vague mission directives from Jaye’s animal voices. Setting the Universe to rights with trusty sidekicks Mahandra and Aaron, and with the hapless Sharon inadvertently helping out or getting screwed over, depending on the week. Oh, and the team always makes time for family breakfast and family game night at the Tylers. Dreamy sigh.

This episode was also a solid hour of entertainment, with good misdirection and multiple interpretations for Jaye’s missions, plus loads of great character interactions. Sharon comforting Jaye in the manager’s office. Aaron inviting Mahandra to his parents’ anniversary dinner as his date. Mahandra giving in to her feelings by kissing Aaron in public. Eric and Jaye in all their goodbye scenes and the wonderful “hello!” scene at the end. A great epsiode that sadly became the last episode of the show.

REVIEW: LOOPER

CAST

Bruce Willis (Red)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises)
Emil Blunt (The Girl On The Train)
Paul Dano (The King)
Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly)
Jeff Daniels (The Martian)
Noah Segan (Cabin Fever 2)
Pierce Gagnon (Rio 2)
Xu Qing (League of Gods)
Tracie Thoms (Wonderfalls)
Garret Dillahunt (Killing Them Softly)
Nick Gomez (Hours)

In 2044, 25-year-old Joe works for a Kansas City crime syndicate as a “looper.” Since future technology has made it near-impossible to dispose of bodies, the syndicate uses time travel, invented thirty years later and outlawed instantly. Managed by a future man named Abe Mitchell, loopers kill and dispose of face-concealed victims, and are paid with silver bars strapped to the target. To prevent connections to the syndicate, loopers kill their future selves with gold bars strapped to them when they retire, effectively ending the contract and “closing the loop”.Joe’s friend Seth, part of a minority that manifest low-level telekinesis (or TK), confides that his old self has escaped, after warning him of a person in the future called the Rainmaker who will overthrow the five major bosses and close all loops. Joe reluctantly hides Seth in his apartment’s floor safe, but is taken to Abe by Kid Blue, one of Abe’s elite “Gat Men.” Joe reveals Seth’s location instead of forfeiting half his silver, and Abe’s men cut an address into younger Seth’s arm, then begin severing body parts. As Old Seth’s limbs disappear, he goes to the address and is killed. When Joe’s next target arrives, it is his older self with his face uncovered. Before Joe can kill him, Old Joe shields himself, knocks younger Joe unconscious and escapes. Returning to his apartment, Young Joe fights with Kid Blue, only to fall off a fire escape and black out.In another timeline, Young Joe kills his older self as he arrives. He moves to Shanghai, where his drug addiction and partying persist, becoming a hitman to finance himself. Years later, he meets a woman during a bar fight and they marry. Thirty years after, Joe is taken to close the loop and his wife is killed in the process. Overpowering his captors, Joe sends himself back to 2044 thereby altering history. When Old Joe sees Young Joe fall, he shoots the Gat Men and drags him away. Old Joe begins to manifest vague memories of Young Joe’s actions in the present, and meets his younger self at a diner to explain that he intends to save his wife by killing the Rainmaker as a child. Kid Blue and several other Gat Men arrive at the diner and a gunfight ensues: Young Joe collects a corner of Old Joe’s map as both escape. Young Joe follows the map to a farm where Sara and her son Cid live. Sara recognizes the number on the map as Cid’s birthday and birth hospital’s code. Young Joe guesses that Old Joe is going to kill all three children born at the hospital that day, not knowing which one will become the Rainmaker, so he waits at the farm to protect Cid and Sara.Jesse, another Gat Man, comes looking for both Joes at the farm, but Cid and Young Joe hide in an underground tunnel. Later that night Sara and Young Joe have sex, and Sara reveals she has TK powers. Cid’s powers are revealed to be even stronger, with Sara hiding in a safe when he has a tantrum. In the morning, Young Joe wakes to find Jesse holding Sara at gunpoint in the living room. Frightened, Cid falls down the stairs and telekinetically destroys Jesse. Young Joe realizes that Cid will become the Rainmaker, using his powers to control the city, and that Old Joe will now know this from his memories.Kid Blue captures Old Joe and takes him to Abe. Old Joe breaks free and kills Abe and his henchmen, then travels to Sara’s farm. While Young Joe kills Kid Blue, Old Joe pursues Sara and Cid. Cid’s cheek is grazed by Old Joe’s bullet, and he creates a telekinetic blast that destroys much of the surrounding cane field and wrecks Young Joe’s van, but is calmed by Sara before he can kill anyone. Telling Cid to run into the still-standing cane, Sara stands between Old Joe and her son, and Young Joe realizes that the death of Cid’s mother will turn him into the Rainmaker. Unable to run due to injuries to his legs sustained when Cid wrecked the van and knowing Old Joe is out of range of his weapon, he shoots himself, erasing Old Joe’s existence and saving Sara. The film ends with the implication that Sara’s demonstration of love towards Cid has healed the rift between them, meaning Cid will not become the Rainmaker, and they will have a much better life – especially as they find Joe’s silver in the van.This is a brilliant movie experience, its an wholly original and entertaining idea, that the writer/director has managed to successfully transpose to film.

 

 

REVIEW: THE WATCHER (2016)

CAST

Erin Cahill (Power Rangers Time Force)
Edi Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Riley Baron (Prosperity Lane)
Kevin Daniels (Sirens)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Obba Babatundé (The Notebook)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Takayo Fischer (Moneyball)

Emma and Noah have been on a search to locate the perfect home in a neighborhood that will not only fit their financial ability but also is big and spacious enough with room to grow. Finally, they believe they’ve found it and are ready to sign on the dotted line. What more could they want? Not only is the house beautiful, but it is also in an area that is peaceful and scenic. Plus, the neighbors seem friendly enough.
firestarterHowever, their dream of living in the serene community is shattered after they are told by their real estate agent that some deaths have occurred there. Just after they make the deal, a local boy tells them that a large black raven is appearing around their house. Soon, they receive ominous letters from “The Watcher,” who tells them that he is watching their every move.111Usually, I’m a bit skeptical of Lifetime horror films. The Lifetime format doesn’t always lend itself to horror.  But The Watcher actually works surprisingly well.  As directed by Ryan Rothmaier, The Watcher is an atmospheric and well-acted portrait of housebound horror.  The film ends with a twist that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and yet it works because it is just so odd and totally out there.  The implausibility of the twist actually adds to The Watcher‘s dream-like atmosphere.

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN (2011)

CAST

Adrienne Palicki (Agents of Shield)
Elizabeth Hurley (EDtv)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones)
Justin Bruening (Knight Rider 2008)

In an inner city home a teenager tells his family that he has been accepted to college moments before he begins convulsing and bleeding from the eyes and ears. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is in a foot chase with a super-strength criminal on Hollywood Blvd and, after knocking him out, takes a sample of his blood and leaves him to the police. Wonder Woman returns to the headquarters of Themyscira Industries, a large corporation which she runs as the CEO in her alter-ego of Diana Themyscira. Themyscira Industries owns and operates the concept of Wonder Woman as both a privately run crime fighting operation and for marketing the image of Wonder Woman as a role model to the outside world. Diana has trouble balancing her life as both the CEO of the corporation and as Wonder Woman. Diana’s frustration with having to maintain a perfect image to the outside world in both these capacities leads her to create a third identity for herself, “Diana Prince,” so that she can have an element of normalcy in her life and sit at home with her cat watching romantic comedies and surfing the internet.

At Themyscira Industries Diana grows suspicious of evil businesswoman Veronica Cale for distributing an illegal performance-enhancing drug that gives users super-human strength and endurance, but can cause death through repeated use. The blood sample she draws from the Hollywood Blvd fight and the story of the college bound teen confirm Diana’s suspicions. Without enough hard evidence to bring Cale to justice as Wonder Woman, Diana holds a press conference and airs her beliefs about Cale to the world. Cale in turn confronts Diana in person to intimidate her and threaten legal action. In a flash back, Diana ends up breaking it off with her boyfriend Steve Trevor because of her busy life. Back in present day, the college bound teenager dies from his drug sickness and Diana is galvanized to confront Cale as Wonder Woman. She arrives at Cale’s facilities, defeats all of her super-powered henchmen and confronts Cale face-to-face.

Cale threatens legal action and to release security footage of Wonder Woman killing the henchmen, but Wonder Woman responds by pulling Cale down with her lasso and throwing her against the wall. Later Cale is put in jail and a Justice Department representative comes to meet Diana. This turns out to be Steve Trevor who says that he will be working with Diana in her capacity as Wonder Woman but also reveals that he has married another woman.

The Wonder Woman pilot that is floating around on the internet is an unfinished work designed to function as a display for potential companies to sign it and assign to their network. Some of the digital effects are not finished and this apparently makes some people say that the show is low quality. Therefore if you are going to watch this you should be aware that it is in an unfinished form  I really enjoyed this pilot. From what I had been hearing I was expecting dreadful, but by comparison to what is on TV today on most channels I’m really disappointed that it never went to a full series.

REVIEW: DEATH PROOF

 

CAST
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Zoe Bell (Freshwater)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil)
Vanessa Ferlito (Spider-Man 2)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Veronica Mars)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Rose McGowan (jawbreaker)
Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3)
Quentin Tarantino (Alias)
Michael Bacall (Django Unchained)
Michael Parks (Red State)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Three friends, Arlene, Shanna and radio DJ “Jungle” Julia Lucai, drive down Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas on their way to celebrate Julia’s birthday. In a bar, Julia reveals that she made a radio announcement offering a free lap dance from Arlene in return for addressing her as “Butterfly,” buying her a drink, and reciting a segment of the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Aging Hollywood stunt double “Stuntman” Mike trails the women to a bar and claims the lap dance. Arlene is suspicious, having seen Mike’s car earlier that day, but he puts her at ease.The three women prepare to depart with Lanna, another friend. Pam, an old classmate of Julia’s, accepts Mike’s offer of a ride home. Mike takes Pam to his Hollywood stunt car rigged with a roll cage and tells her the car is “death-proof,” but only for the driver. He speeds recklessly and slams on the brakes, smashing Pam’s skull on the dashboard, killing her. He catches up with the women’s car and drives into it at speed, killing them. Mike survives with no serious injury. Sheriff McGraw is suspicious, but because Mike was sober while the women were intoxicated, he cannot be charged.
Fourteen months later, three young women, Abernathy Ross, Kim Mathis and Lee Montgomery, are driving through Lebanon, Tennessee. They stop at a convenience store where Mike watches them from his car. Unaware of Mike, the women pick up their friend, stuntwoman Zoë Bell, from the airport. Zoë tells them she wants to test-drive a 1970 Dodge Challenger, the same type of car from the 1971 film Vanishing Point, for sale nearby. The car’s owner lets them test-drive it alone after Abernathy lies to him that Lee is a porn star and will stay behind. Zoë tells Abernathy and Kim that she wants to play a game they call “Ship’s Mast”, whereby she rides the hood holding leather belts while Kim drives at speed. Kim is hesitant, but agrees. The three enjoy the stunt unaware that Mike is watching them. He rear-ends them in his car, causing Zoë to drop one of the belts. After several more collisions, he T-bones them, throwing Zoë from the car. Kim shoots him in the shoulder and he drives away. Abernathy and Kim cry over the loss of their friend, but discover that Zoë is uninjured. The three agree to catch Mike and beat him. Mike has stopped in a narrow road to treat his wound with whiskey. The women rear-end him at speed. Zoë gets out and beats him with a pipe; he speeds away, pleading with them, and they pursue. Mike crashes and the women beat him mercilessly.
Pure, unadulterated fun and excitement: that’s the key to appreciating Death Proof. Do not expect a smart, unusual take on an overused genre, like the director has done in the past: this time around, he sticks to the rules, delivering a loud, silly, sexy, violent piece of Entertainment with a capital “e”. It may not be the best film of 2007, but it sure as hell is one of the most purely enjoyable.