HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE THING (2011)

CAST

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield lane)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Ulrich Thomsen (Festen)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Thor: The Dark World)
Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones)
Jonathan Walker (Red)

In 1982, an alien spacecraft is discovered beneath the Antarctic ice by a team from a Norwegian research base: Edvard (Trond Espen Seim), Jonas (Kristofer Hivju), Olav (Jan Gunnar Røise), Karl (Carsten Bjørnlund), Juliette (Kim Bubbs), Lars (Jørgen Langhelle), Henrik (Jo Adrian Haavind), Colin (Jonathan Lloyd Walker), and Peder (Stig Henrik Hoff). Columbia University paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is recruited by Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) and his assistant Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen) to investigate the discovery.They travel to the Norwegian base, Thule Station, located in Antarctica near U.S. Outpost 31, in a helicopter manned by Carter (Joel Edgerton), Derek (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Griggs (Paul Braunstein). After viewing the spacecraft, Kate, Sander, and Adam are told the group also discovered an alien body from the crash, buried in the ice nearby. In the afternoon the body is brought to the base in a block of ice. That evening, while the team celebrates their find, Derek sees the alien burst from the ice and escape the building. The team searches for the creature and discovers that it killed Lars’ dog. Olav and Henrik find the alien, which then grabs and engulfs Henrik. The rest of the group arrive and set fire to the creature, killing it. An autopsy of the scorched alien corpse reveals that its cells were consuming and imitating Henrik’s own.Derek, Carter, Griggs and a sick Olav take the helicopter to seek help. Kate discovers bloody dental fillings near a blood-soaked shower. She runs outside to flag down the helicopter after it takes off. When it attempts to land, Griggs transforms into the Thing and attacks Olav, causing the helicopter to spin out of control and crash in the mountains. When Kate returns to the shower, she finds the blood is gone. The team decides to send a party to the closest base, but Kate confronts them with her theory that the Thing can imitate them and has likely already done so. They dismiss her claims, but Juliette says she saw Colin leaving the showers. When Juliette and Kate look for the vehicle keys to prevent the others from leaving, Juliette transforms and tries to attack Kate. As Kate flees, she runs past Karl, who is impaled by the creature. Lars arrives with a flamethrower and burns the creature just as it assimilates Karl. At nightfall, they burn the remains of the Juliette-Thing and Karl’s body.That night, Edvard, Kate and Lars find Carter and Derek stumbling into base, half frozen. The team refuses to believe that they could have survived the crash. Kate has them isolated until a test can be prepared to verify they are human. Adam and Sander had started to work on a test, but the lab is set on fire in the few minutes it’s left unattended. Kate proposes another test, believing that the Thing cannot imitate inorganic material. She inspects everyone and singles out those without amalgam dental fillings: Sander, Edvard, Adam, and Colin, while herself, Peder, Jonas and Lars are proven human.Lars and Jonas go to retrieve Carter and Derek for testing, and discover they have broken out. As Lars searches a nearby building, he is suddenly pulled inside. The group hears Carter and Derek breaking into the building and rushes to intercept them. In the middle of a standoff, Edvard orders Peder to burn them. Before he can, Derek shoots Peder dead in self-defense with Lars’ gun, but also punctures the flamethrower’s fuel tank, setting off an explosion that knocks Edvard unconscious. When brought to the rec room, Edvard transforms and infects Jonas and kills Derek before assimilating Adam. Kate torches the infected Jonas and Derek’s body before she and Carter pursue the Thing. While the pair searches, Sander is ambushed by the Thing and Colin hides in the radio room and isn’t seen again. They get separated and the Thing, into which Edvard and Adam are now fused, corners Carter in the kitchen, but Kate burns it before it can kill him. They then see an infected Sander drive off into the blizzard and pursue him in the remaining snowcat. While they are pursuing Sander, Kate notices that Carter is wearing his gold earring, reassuring her that he is still human at this point.They arrive at the spacecraft, where it suddenly activates and its engines begin to melt the ice over it. Kate falls into the ship and is separated from Carter. Kate discovers the source of the radio transmission at the beginning of the film, in the form of a giant glowing cylinder with strange geometric blocks forming and shifting apart, the signal still broadcasting. Confronted by Sander, who has transformed into a larger creature, Kate destroys it with a thermite grenade and the explosion deactivates the ship, shutting down its engines. Kate and Carter escape the ship and Carter suggests driving to a Soviet base about fifty miles away, saying that they’d stashed enough fuel in their snowcat to be just able to cover that distance.As Kate and Carter return to their vehicle, Kate notices that Carter is missing his earring and becomes suspicious. She tells him that she knew he was human earlier because he was still wearing the earring, implying she suspects he may have been assimilated while they were separated in the alien ship. Upon hearing this, Carter realizes that the earring is missing and points to his ear while attempting to explain its disappearance and reassure Kate. When Carter points to the wrong ear, Kate realizes he must have been assimilated and proceeds to burn him. She then retreats to Sander’s snowcat and stares blankly as the screen fades black. As the final credits roll, a helicopter pilot, Matias, arrives by morning at the now destroyed Norwegian outpost. He shouts, looking for any survivors. Colin is shown to have committed suicide in the radio room using a straight razor to slash both his arms and throat to ensure the Thing could never get to him. Matias sees the charred remains of the Adam/Edvard-Thing in the snow.Lars, now revealed to be alive and uninfected, orders Matias at gunpoint to show his dental fillings to prove that he is a human. The Thing, having taken the form of Lars’ deceased dog, runs out of the camp. Lars realizes it’s the Thing and orders Matias to start the helicopter. As the dog flees, the two chase it in the Norwegian helicopter, with Matias piloting and Lars leaning out of the open doorway, trying to shoot it with a scoped rifle, thus leading into the events of the 1982 film.The Thing does have its problems of course. The early talkie helicopter scene is obviously a nod to the very original movie in the 1950s. It’s a sad replacement, the 50s version dialogie was arguably filled with some of the richest dialogue for a horror/sci fi film at the time. Also you can feel that the film steps into remake territory with same as for scenes, although some of these are neatly spun on its head- so in the end there is no blood test etc. The effects are sadly all CGI, but they work quite well. Interestingly it’s the close up shots that work the best. The Thing is pretty much a solid homage to what has gone before and fans will love the end credits so hang around!

REVIEW: SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011)

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Claire Foy (Going Postal)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Thing)
Stephen Campbell Moore (The Bank Job)
Stephen Graham (This Is England)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Brian F. O’Byrne (Flashforward)
Robert Sheehan (Mortal Engines)

In Villach in the year 1235, three women are accused of witchcraft by a priest. While one claims to be a witch through persuasion from the church, one denies it, another does neither and curses the priest. He orders them hanged and drowned. That done, he urges the guards to pull them back up for a ritual to make sure the so-called witches never come back to life. The guards refuse, claiming they are dead enough. The priest returns late at night to perform the ritual. One of the corpses, one of a hag with a blind eye suffers a seizure but dies, While another corpse, a younger woman takes on a demonic appearance and kills the priest and burns his book with the rites in it.In the 14th century, Teutonic Knights Behmen von Bleibruck (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) are engaged on a crusade, taking part in several different battles throughout the 1330’s (1332 Gulf of Edremit, 1334 Siege of Tripoli, 1337 Imbros & 1339 Artah) and eventually in the Smyrniote crusades. After witnessing the massacre of civilians during the 1344 capture of Smyrna, the two knights desert the Order and the crusade and return to Austria.While traveling through Styria, Behmen and Felson encounter the grotesque sight of people infected with the Black Death and discover that the Holy Roman Empire has been swept by the plague. They enter an unnamed town, trying to conceal their identity as deserters, but are revealed as knights by the crest on Behmen’s sword. They are arrested and taken to Cardinal D’Ambroise, who is infected with the plague. The Cardinal asks the knights to escort an alleged witch suspected of causing the plague to a remote monastery, where an elite group of monks reside. These monks can determine if the girl is truly a witch, and if she is found guilty, know a sacred ritual to cancel her powers and stop the plague that is devastating Europe. The two knights agree under the condition she be given a fair trial and that the charges of desertion against them be dropped. The Cardinal agrees and they set out accompanied by a priest, Debelzaq; a young altar boy, Kay von Wollenbarth, who wants to become a knight like his deceased father; a knight, Johann Eckhardt, whose family was killed by the plague; and the well-traveled swindler Hagamar, who will serve as their guide to the monastery in return for a pardon. The witch, a young girl later identified as Anna from Marburg, shows hatred towards Debelzaq and forms a bond with Behmen.Shortly after setting off, the group camp for the night. Johann decides to take first watch. When Debelzaq comes to relieve him of the watch, Johann says how much she remind him of his dead daughter, then goes on to speak of the politics of her trial, and how the Church cannot have her not be guilty. Johann decides to give up the mission and goes to convince the others to do the same, leaving Anna alone with Debelzaq. Anna becomes hysterical at the prospect of being left alone with Debelzaq. She attacks him and grabs his key to the cage, then escapes, fleeing toward a nearby village. The search for her leads the group to a mass grave, where Eckhart has visions of his dead daughter. Chasing the visions, he impales himself on Kay’s sword and dies. When they recapture her, the tearful Anna explains that she only ran away for fear of Debelzaq. However the group gradually becomes less trusting of her. They cross a rickety rope bridge, where Anna saves Kay from falling to his death by grabbing him with one hand, showing unnatural strength. The group enters the dark forest called Wormwood, where Hagamar attempts to kill Anna so that the group can go home, only to be stopped by the others. Anna appears to summon monstrous wolves, which chase the group and kill Hagamar. An enraged Behmen tries to kill Anna, but is stopped by Debelzaq and Felson, who point out that the monastery is in sight.At the monastery, the men find that all the monks have been killed by the plague, but locate the Key of Solomon, an ancient book filled with holy rituals used to defeat evil. The men confront Anna, and Debelzaq begins to perform a ritual used on witches. However, as Anna begins precisely recounting Behmen’s past actions during the Crusades, Debelzaq realizes that she is not a witch, and begins frantically performing an exorcism. However, the demon that is possessing Anna reveals himself and melts the metal of the cage. He fights off the knights effortlessly, but when Debelzaq throws a vial of holy water on him, the demon flies out of sight. As the men search for the demon, they realize he is not trying to escape, but to destroy the book so that nothing can stop his powers. They find a room where the monks were writing copies of the book, where the demon, revealing himself to be Baal, destroys the copies and possesses the dead monks’ bodies to use as weapons. The three men fight the possessed monks while Debelzaq continues the exorcism ritual. During the fight, Baal/Anna breaks Debelzaq’s neck, then kills Felson.Kay picks up the book and continues the ritual, while Behmen continues fighting Baal/Anna. Behmen is mortally wounded during the fight, but Kay is able to finish the ritual and Baal is expelled from Anna’s body, freeing her. Behmen asks Kay to keep Anna safe and then dies of his wounds. Kay and Anna bury their fallen friends. Anna asks Kay to tell her about the men who saved her. They depart from the monastery with the book.

Season of the witch was a far better film than critics and fellow moviegoers lead you to believe. If you want to see a fun yet dark heroic adventure, go see Season of the Witch!

REVIEW: MORTDECAI

 

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Michael Culkin (The Hours)
Ulrich Thomsen (Hitman)
Jeff Goldblum (The Fly)

Lord Charlie Mortdecai, an unscrupulous art dealer and swindler, is accosted in Hong Kong by one of his victims, a gangster named Fang. Jock, Mortdecai’s faithful manservant, extricates his master before they can be killed by Fang’s gunmen. They return to London, where Mortdecai and his wife, Johanna, consider ways to pay off their crushing debt. A painting by Francisco Goya becomes the target of an elaborate theft which results in the murders of an art restorer and one of the thieves. Inspector Alistair Martland is put on the case. Martland, who has been in love with Johanna since college, asks Mortdecai to assist him. Martland believes the prime suspect to be Emil Strago. Mortdecai agrees to help in exchange for 10% of the insurance money.

Mortdecai interviews people affiliated with the art world, including Spinoza, an art smuggler and another of Mortdecai’s victims. While they argue, Strago arrives and shoots at them, killing Spinoza; Mortdecai and Jock escape unharmed. Johanna meets with a man known as The Duke, who knows the thief and says that the painting conceals the location of a hoard of Nazi gold. Mortdecai is kidnapped by thugs working for a Russian named Romanov. Romanov and Strago think that Mortdecai has the painting. Romanov threatens torture unless Mortdecai surrenders it, but Mortdecai escapes through a window and Jock spirits him away.

Martland, wanting to be alone with Johanna, sends Mortdecai to America to meet with Milton Krampf, a potential buyer for the Goya. Mortdecai plans to sell his beloved Rolls-Royce to the American, and uses the opportunity to see if Krampf is involved with the theft. Arriving in Los Angeles, he discovers that the Goya has been hidden in the Rolls. Spinoza, in the employ of Krampf, stashed it there after stealing it from Strago, the original thief; Krampf planned to dupe Mortdecai into smuggling the Goya into the United States in his own car. He invites Mortdecai to a party that night, where Krampf intends to display the ill-gotten painting. Jock secretly proposes that he and Mortdecai steal the painting for themselves during the party. Krampf’s daughter, Georgina, is secretly Strago’s partner. She attempts to seduce Mortdecai while Strago steals the painting. Johanna arrives with Martland and catches her husband in a compromising position. Mortdecai flees the scene to help Jock steal the painting, but they find Krampf has been murdered by Strago and the painting is gone. Martland and Johanna capture Strago, but Georgina gets the drop on them, liberating her lover and the painting. Pursued by Mortdecai, Jock, Martland and Johanna, they hide in a motel where Strago intentionally sets fire to the Goya and the fire causes the explosion of the building. Johanna reveals that the painting was a fake; The Duke has the real one hidden.

The Mortdecais retrieve the painting and put it up for auction. The sale attracts Fang, still seeking revenge, and Romanov, who wants the painting regardless of cost. While Mortdecai and Jock waylay both men’s thugs, Strago attempts to kidnap Johanna. Mortdecai bids up the Goya but Romanov wins it; Martland apprehends Strago during the commotion. The Mortdecais use the proceeds to pay off some of their debt, but the painting is revealed to be another fake. Romanov plots his revenge.

Well, it certainly isn’t a highly accomplished piece of film-making, and it will never win any Oscars, but “Mortdecai” certainly does not deserve the bad press it attracted. If you’re looking for a light-hearted, diverting entertainment, seek it out, and you may well be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

REVIEW: HITMAN (2007)

CAST
Timothy Olyphant (Catch & Release)
Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible 2)
Olga Kurylenkio (Max Payne)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Ulrich Thomsen (Killing Me Softly)
Henry Ian Cusick (Lost)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)
Peter Hudson (Highlander: The Series)
At an unknown location, near a remote asylum, a group of young bald boys are receiving tattoos of bar codes on the back of their heads; men observe, direct, and coordinate the training of these young boys in firearms and hand-to-hand combat, as well as stamina and strength. In these scenes, it is shown that these young boys are trained from an early age to be professional, international hitmen-for-hire.
Years later, Interpol agent Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott) arrives at his house and discovers Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) in his study, where the two talk about 47’s life as a professional hitman, working for a mysterious unknown paramilitary group known as The Organization. The movie unfolds as he tells the story, and Whittier tries to capture him.
Three months prior, 47 is completing a hit on a gang leader named Bwana Ovie (Eriq Ebouaney) in Niger. He is told by his Organization contact, Diana (Lisa Jacobs), to kill his next target, Russian President Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen), publicly. He completes his mission as ordered, but before he can leave Russia, he is contacted by his employers. They tell him that there is a witness to the assassination and order him to intercept her. When Agent 47 pulls his gun to shoot her on the street, he realizes she has never seen him before. He does not shoot her, but just misses being assassinated himself.
His employers reveal his location to agents of FSB, who make plans to intercept him. As he is about to be taken, Diana personally calls him to warn him. She tells him that Belicoff ordered the hit on himself. After a dramatic escape from the hotel, 47 intercepts Nika (Olga Kurylenko), the woman who supposedly witnessed his hit and Belicoff’s mistress. He interrogates her about Belicoff and discovers that Belicoff had a body double, who ordered the hit on the real Belicoff so that he could take his place as the president of Russia. 47 was to be killed after the hit to ensure total secrecy. As Nika and 47 attempt to take a train further into the Russian interior, they are intercepted by more assassins from the Organization. 47 kills three of them before disarming Agent Whittier and wounding his partner. Infuriated at yet another escape, the FSB and Agent Marklov (Robert Knepper) order Interpol to leave the country immediately. In the meantime, 47 contacts Agent Carlton Smith (James Faulkner) of the CIA. He offers Smith a deal—he will kill Udre Belicoff (Henry Ian Cusick), Mikhail’s brother, in exchange for a favor from the CIA. Udre is an arms dealer and slave trader whom both the CIA and FSB have wanted dead for some time. Agent Smith informs 47 that Udre had been planning something with a German arms dealer named Price. Intercepting him could lead 47 to Udre.
47 and Nika travel to Istanbul, where 47 abducts Price from a restaurant in order to pose as Price at a meeting with Udre. 47 later kills Udre and his henchmen, so Belicoff’s double is forced to attend Udre’s funeral. 47 kidnaps Agent Marklov and forces him to have his own FSB agents try to shoot Belicoff’s double as he delivers a eulogy for Udre. Disguised as a soldier, 47 manages to kill all of Belicoff’s double’s guards and takes him into the archbishop’s chamber in the church. 47 instead kills him and then allows himself to be taken into custody by Interpol and Agent Whittier. At this point Agent Smith delivers on his end of the deal, having the agents under his command intercept the Interpol convoy that is transporting 47 to the airport, giving 47 the distraction necessary to escape. The scene then flashes forward to the conversation between Agent Whittier and 47 occurring at Agent Whittier’s house. After wrapping up their conversation, 47 reveals the body of a dead Organization hitman. 47 suggests Agent Whittier go along with 47’s plan, saying that he will notify the police that he has killed the fake Agent 47, implying that Whittier will not survive if he does not. Nika is shown picking up an envelope from an undisclosed sender. Inside it, there are papers and a message saying that she now owns a vineyard (she had told 47 of her childhood dream of having one). Meanwhile, 47 is watching her from afar, through the scope of a sniper rifle. He then looks at the corpse of another Organization hitman, lying close to him, and says, “I told you to leave her alone. You should have listened.” He then turns back, and walks away.
For once the film sticks close to the style of the games and doesn’t try and change anything that didn’t need changing. The story isn’t too complicated and doesn’t require much thinking, which is what you’d expect from this kind of movie. The action is pretty much non stop and there are some really impressive fight scenes all the way through, so there is never a dull moment. Basically, if you take this movie for what it is, it is a very fun, very enjoyable film that is entertaining from start to finish .