REVIEW: BATMAN BEYOND- SEASON 3

Main Cast
Will Friedle (Batman Ninja)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Cree Summer (Bambi II)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
MV5BOTdmMTZjMDMtY2ZlYy00M2NhLWEwOTEtYTVmMjE3YTc2ZTM2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTU3MDE0MjQ@._V1_
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast
George Lazenby (Gettysburg)
Sarah Douglas (Superman I & II)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Parker Stevenson (Baywatch)
Gabrielle Carteris (The Event)
Angie Harmon (Agent Cody Banks)
Nicholas Guest (Trading Places)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Ryan O’Donohue (Toy Story)
Victor Raider-Wexler (Dr. Dolittle 2)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Shannon Kenny (The Invisible Man)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th 8)
Clyde Kusatsu (Paradise Road)
Stephen Baldwin (Bio-Dome)
William H. Macy (Shameless)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Gary Anthony Sturgis (Demise)
Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Christopher McDonald (Stargate Universe)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clark)
Wayne Brady (How I Met Your Mother)
Jodi Benson (Enchanted)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Takayo Fischer (War of The Worlds)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Grey Griffin (The Book of Life)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Henry Rollins (Wrong Turn 2)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Julie Nathanson (Dallas & Robo)
Keone Young (Crank)
Kerrigan Mahan (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Sean Marquette (Van Wilder)
Victor Rivers (Hulk)

MV5BNDc3MTU5NDY2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg5OTQ1MjE@._V1_The episodes in this final release aren’t as dark as some of the great shows in the first box, but they’re still very exciting. The villains don’t have that tragic quality which translated so well from the regular Batman universe, but this lack of atmosphere is made up for with a great sense of adventure and fun.MV5BMTc1NTIxNTUwN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzA5OTQ1MjE@._V1_“The Call”, for example, is a fantastic two-parter that sees Batman team-up with a future Justice League – it’s probably too much to assume that this “Justice League Unlimited” was a conscious forbearer to the actual series, but it’s certainly a great cartoon-geek moment. In the episode, Terry McGuiness uproots a villain who conspires to take over the JLU in a suspenseful story that has a great connection to the original comic book origin of the League.MV5BMTgwMzc0MTY4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTk4OTQ1MjE@._V1_But the champion episode of the box – and perhaps the series – is “Out of The Past” (would it surprise you to learn that it’s penned by Paul Dini?). Not only does the episode bring back two excellent characters from Bruce Wayne’s past, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia, and not only does it do it in a way that resonates with both Batman and Bruce, but it’s got, hands down, one of the best tongue-in-cheek moments in the entire DC Animated Universe. It is the stories, and their execution, where the true appeal of these episodes lies. Sure there’s a great setting and a great character, but each of these mini sci-fi/fantasy stories is a very fun and exciting peak into a great imaginary world. Sure, one that happens to borrow a lot from the Batman mythology, but it’s the show’s imaginative qualities that make it a unique world that translates perfectly to the cartoon form.x1080-lasWhile the traditional episode structure does tend to bore, it also does its job. Furthermore, the imaginative fight scenes – whether they be with a villain who is physically untouchable, or a fight in a giant wind tunnel – will keep your attention long after more kinetic, but ultimately rote new series have lost their appeal.  A major sticking point to this set is the lack of a satisfactory conclusion. The series was rather abruptly put to a stop after its checkpoint 52-episode run in 2001. It wasn’t until Justice League Unlimited’s Season Four finale, “Epilogue”, that Batman Beyond was given a proper send-off. But what a send-off it was! After you finish this set it is highly recommended that you seek out the aforementioned episode. While this box’s closer, “Unmasked”, is a nice story, it’s not the series finale that, ironically – yet thankfully – another series would provide. Batman Beyond was born out of a WB executive’s desire to cash in on a popular and recognizable franchise. Because of the fantastic people behind the show, what might have been a hollow concept was turned into something fresh, imaginative, and very worthwhile.

REVIEW: BATMAN BEYOND – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Will Friedle (Batman Ninja)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Cree Summer (Bambi II)
Frank Welker (Transformers)

Terry_and_Bruce

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Teri Garr (After Hours)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Sherman Howard (Sueprboy)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Ryan O’Donohue (Toy Story)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Sam McMurray (Raising Arizona)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Shannon Kenny (7th Heaven)
Stockard Channing (Grease)
Mari Devon (Digimon)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Melissa Disney (Superman vs The Elite)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Pauley Perrette (NCIS)
Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Robert Davi (The Goonies)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
George Lazenby (Gettysburg)
Amanda Donohoe (Liar Liar)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Peter Jason (They Live)
Ian Ziering (Sharknado)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Jon Cypher (Masters of The Universe)
Vernee Watson (The Kid)
Dorian Harewood (Terminator: TSCC)
William H. Macy (Shameless)
Kimmy Robertson (Speed 2)
Barry Dennen (The Dark Crystal)
Victor Raider-Wexler (Minority Report)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Cary Elwes (Saw)

MV5BZTIyYjQ5OWQtNjVjNC00ZGY2LWI4NmItNjRiOTZlMzA1NWJmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzExODYzNzc@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1333,1000_AL_Fifty years after Batman: The Animated Series came to a close, Gotham City is without a protector. Failing health and a chilling act of desperation prompted Bruce Wayne to give up Batman’s cape and cowl, and the corporation that had stayed in his family for generations has been wrest from him by a corporate raider named Derek Powers. Never married and abandoned by his sidekicks, the elderly, embittered Wayne lurks inside a sprawling mansion that seems more like a mausoleum than the stately manor of old. Derek Powers is using the remnants of WayneCorp to illegally manufacture an endlessly destructive but extremely profitable nerve gas, a secret that Wayne/Powers employee Warren McGinnis stumbles upon and pays for with his life.DziRsC4XQAEU01AHis troubled son Terry blames himself for the murder, but a chance encounter with Bruce Wayne results in the theft of a Batman suit brimming with cutting-edge technology and the revelation of the man truly responsible for his father’s death. By the time the two-part episode “Rebirth” is over, Bruce Wayne has agreed to guide Terry as the new Batman, and an irradiated Derek Powers is a walking fusion reactor.batman-beyondBatman: The Animated Series, Superman, and Justice League all drew heavily from the established mythos, but Batman Beyond is a largely original creation. Sure, there are quite a few nods to the original series — it’s still set in Gotham City, Barbara Gordon has taken the mantle of police commissioner, and there are winks to fans like the Grey Ghost costume in the Batcave.MV5BMjI4Nzg0NTQ4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzY5OTQ1MjE@._V1_Terry McGinnis is a very different lead character than Bruce Wayne was in Batman: The Animated Series. In the previous series, it seemed more as if Batman was who this man really was and Bruce Wayne was just an occasionally convenient mask for him to wear. Terry is seen out of costume much more frequently than Bruce ever was and feels like more of a fleshed-out character. He has friends, he has family, and he has a life outside of the pointy-eared hood. Gotham City is still teeming with bad guys, but even though Batman has been transplanted to the future, he’s not squaring off against Joker II or The Riddler Redux. The rogue’s gallery of this futuristic Batman doesn’t lift much from the previous animated series or even from the comics. The only familiar faces are Mr. Freeze, The Royal Flush Gang, and, briefly and unrecognizably, Bane. The other villains are original creations with some striking character designs, such as the amorphous corporate saboteur Inque, sound-engineer-with-a-power-suit Shriek, and the hypnotic Spellbound. This season also doesn’t rehash the same villains over and over again, with Inque being the only baddie other than Derek Powers’ Blight to strike more than once.MV5BMTQ0ODcyNjYwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU5OTQ1MjE@._V1_Several of the supervillains aren’t costumed-threats-of-the-week, but ordinary people in extraordinary situations: Willie Watt in “Golem” is a nerdy high schooler who seizes control of a two-story-tall construction robot to exact revenge on the bullies who torment him, and “The Winning Edge” is about high school athletes using steroids yet deftly avoids playing like ‘a very special episode of Batman Beyond’. One thing Batman’s adversaries, costumed and plainclothes alike, have in common is their origins. Nearly all of the villains in Batman Beyond are born of tragedy or greed, and that gives these episodes more of a resonance than something like The Joker pumping Gotham City with laughing gas for no reason in particular.AscensionAnother stand-out is “Shriek”, pitting Batman against an enemy whose technology enables him to manipulate sound. One of the most inventive sequences in the entire run of the series is set in a car factory where Batman starts setting off every piece of equipment in arm’s reach as a distraction. Shriek uses his technology to block out the noise and isolate Batman’s movements, resulting in an almost entirely silent battle with no dialogue, few sound effects, and a sparse, subtle score.126915This first season of Batman Beyond is remarkably consistent, offering perhaps the strongest debut of any DC animated series to date.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 3

Starring

Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
David Kaufman (Stargate SG.1)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

66ecc5cb9e5f69f97e34a97d45d7e8f4--warrior-queen-queen-maxima

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sharon Lawrence (The Ranch)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Renée Taylor (The Nanny)
Jack Carter (McCloud)
Brad Garrett (Christopher Robin)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Steve Sandor (The Yellow Rose)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
Victor Brandt (The Batman)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
Diane Michelle (Robotech: The Movie)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
William H. Macy (Fargo)
Peter Gallagher (The Gifted)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mathew Valencia (The New Batman Advntures)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Glover (Smallville)
Paul Williams (Smokey and The Bandit)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Bob Hastings (The Poseidon Adventure)
Charity James (Space Jam)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Melissa Joan Hart (No GOod Nick)
Joely Fisher (The Mask)
Bud Cort (Harold and Maude)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Gilbert Gottfried (Critters: A New Binge)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Carl Lumbly (Supergirl)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael P. Greco (Bleach)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Peter Mark Richman (Defenders of The Earth)
Melissa Disney (Superman vs The Elite)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Billy West (Futurama)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
David Warner (Tron)
Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas)
Michael Horse (Roswell)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

3447328-absolute-powerSuperman is everywhere. He’s also been everywhere; for nearly seventy years now the character has been inspiring us with his tales of heroism, adventure, and fantasy. Seventy years is a long time and with a character as popular as Superman it equates to a lot of different interpretations. From the original comic books to a radio series to a handful of television shows, it seems that the Last Son of Krypton has done it all. We are very lucky then to have these DVDs, because in all of that time, throughout all the years, the stories found in Superman: The Animated Series are his best. The fifty-four cartoon episodes (spread across three boxed sets) that make up the complete run of Superman: The Animated Series aren’t just the best take on the character because they’re faithful. Nor is it because they’re animated, for all ages, or very imaginative. It’s for all of these reasons. And several more.3447300-little_big_head_manThe creative team behind the series has plundered the rich mythology of the character and come up with a fantastic take on each and every piece of the Superman universe. For starters, their Clark Kent and Lois Lane interpretation is spot-on. Clark isn’t too much of a goof, nor is he too simple. Similarly, Lois is fiery, funny, and lovely. Seeing the characters come together at the end of Legacy, Part 2 makes for a great cathartic moment. Superman has saved Lois a countless number of times, it is only fitting then that Lois save him when he needs it. The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.maxresdefault (1)While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.stas-legacy7Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League. We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.Superman_TAS_2x27_001The animation is somewhat more limited when compared to the fancy digital effects that more modern shows exhibit, but the handcrafted style gives the show a wonderful atmosphere. If you pay close attention you’ll notice that a lot of effort has gone into the design of the animation – much more so than most animated series. The framing here is frequently packed. Helping flesh out the world are all of the voice actors; everyone from Tim Daly (as Superman/Clark) to Clancy Brown (as Lex Luthor) is perfect in his or her role. The only thing holding the show back, and this is a small point, is the fact that the stories, due to their child-friendly animated nature, are a little more limited than the best television shows tend to be. Even so, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better adventure series – animated or live action.Superman_meets_SupergirlIn one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.

REVIEW: JURASSIC PARK III

CAST

Sam Neill (The Piano)
William H.Macy (The Cooler)
Téa Leoni (Ghost Town)
Alessandro Nivola (The Eye)
Trevor Morgan (The Glass House)
Michael Jeter (The Fisher King)
John Diehl (Nixon)
Laura Dern (Everything Must Go)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Linda Park (Star Trek: Enterprise)

Ben Hildebrand and 12-year-old Eric Kirby go parasailing around the waters of Isla Sorna. An unknown creature attacks and kills the boat crew, forcing Ben to detach the line; he and Eric drift towards the island. On the mainland, Dr. Alan Grant has become famous after his involvement at Jurassic Park, while Ellie Sattler is married and has two children. Grant discusses with Sattler how raptors are far more intelligent than they had previously believed. At a dig site, Grant’s assistant, Billy Brennan, demonstrates how he can use a 3D printer to replicate a Velociraptor larynx.

Paul and Amanda Kirby, a seemingly wealthy couple, offer Grant funding for his research if he will give them an aerial tour of Isla Sorna. Desperate for research support, Grant reluctantly agrees. He flies there along with Paul, Amanda, Billy, and the Kirbys’ mercenary associates, Udesky, Cooper, and their pilot Nash. On the plane, Grant learns that the Kirbys actually plan to land on the island. When Grant opposes, he is knocked out by Cooper and wakes to the sound of Amanda using a megaphone. This attracts a Spinosaurus, which devours Cooper and Nash, and causes the plane to crash into the forest. Fleeing, the survivors briefly lose the Spinosaurus, only to encounter a Tyrannosaurus rex. The Spinosaurus returns, but the group escapes while the two carnivores fight each other. The Spinosaurus overpowers the T. rex and kills it.

Grant learns the Kirbys are actually a middle-class divorced couple, who are looking for their son Eric, and Amanda’s boyfriend Ben, who have been missing on the island for eight weeks. Later, the group finds the parasail with Ben’s corpse attached. The group takes the parasail, and then encounter raptor nests. They find an abandoned InGen compound, where Amanda is ambushed by a raptor. The group manages to trap it, but it escapes and contacts the rest of its pack. The group flees into a herd of Corythosaurus and Parasaurolophus, causing a stampede, separating Grant and Udesky from the others. Grant retrieves Billy’s satchel, while Udesky is killed by the raptors.

Grant suspects the raptors are searching for something, while observing two of them communicating. He is then ambushed and cornered by the raptors, but is rescued by Eric, who managed to survive in an overturned water truck. The next day, Grant and Eric hear Paul’s satellite phone ringing and are reunited with the Kirbys and Billy. Paul explains that he gave the phone to Nash before he was devoured, before the group is attacked by the Spinosaurus. After the group escapes, Grant discovers Billy took two raptor eggs to use for funding, which provoked the raptor attacks. He decides to keep the eggs to ensure the group’s survival. The group unknowingly enters a large aviary used to house Pteranodons, which attack the group and fly away with Eric. Billy rescues Eric by using Ben’s parasail, but is then attacked and seemingly killed by the Pteranodons. The rest of the group escapes the aviary, unintentionally leaving the door unlocked. They make their way downriver using a boat.

That night, the group hears the phone ringing buried in the faeces of the Spinosaurus and retrieves it. As rain falls, Grant tries to contact Sattler, but the Spinosaurus attacks the boat. Grant and Paul scare it off by setting the boat’s fuel on fire. The next day, the group makes their way towards the shoreline, but are surrounded by the raptors once again. The eggs are surrendered to the raptors, while Grant uses the replicated raptor larynx to confuse the pack, who run off with the eggs. The group flees to the coast and find that Sattler had called in the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy to rescue them. They discover that Billy, while seriously injured, is still alive. As they leave the island, they see the Pteranodons flying free, and Grant muses they are looking for new nesting grounds.Overall though, “Jurassic Park 3” is well-acted, generally passably written (by “Election”‘s Alexander Payne and two other writers) and offers up just what it says it will – 90 minutes of solid thrills, well-staged and consistently exciting. It certainly won’t go down as one of best films films, but I definitely thought it was  most entertaining.

REVIEW: THANK YOU FOR SMOKING

CAST
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight Rises)
Maria Bello (The Closer)
Cameron Bright (The Butterfly Effect)
Sam Elliott (Hulk)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
William H. Macy (Jurassic Park 3)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Robert Duvall (The Judge)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Renee Graham (The Convent)
Adam Brody (Mr. & Mrs. Smith)
Rob Lowe (Waynes World)
Dennis Miller (What Happens in Vegas)
Aloma Wright (Scrubs)
Nick Naylor is a handsome, smooth-talking tobacco lobbyist and the vice-president of a tobacco lobby called the “Academy of Tobacco Studies”, which for 15 years has been “researching” the link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer. They claim that their research—funded primarily by tobacco companies—has found no definitive evidence of any linkage. Naylor’s job consists mainly of reporting the questionable research of the “Academy” to the public and defending Big Tobacco on television programs by questioning opposing health claims and advocating personal choice. Naylor and his friends, firearm lobbyist Bobby Jay Bliss and alcohol lobbyist Polly Bailey, meet every week and jokingly call themselves the “Merchants of Death” or “The MOD Squad”. As anti-tobacco campaigns mount and numbers of young smokers decline, Naylor suggests that product placement of cigarettes could once again boost cigarette sales. Naylor’s boss, BR, sends Naylor to Los Angeles to bargain for cigarette placement in upcoming movies. Naylor takes along his young son Joey in hopes of bonding with him. The next day, Naylor is sent to meet with Lorne Lutch, the cancer-stricken man who once played the Marlboro Man in cigarette ads and is now campaigning against cigarettes. As his son watches, Naylor successfully offers Lutch a suitcase of money for his silence. During the drive back, Nick and Joey discuss the beauty of argument.
 Senator Finistirre, one of Naylor’s most vehement critics, is the promoter of a bill to add a skull and crossbones POISON warning to cigarette packaging. During a televised debate with Finistirre, Naylor receives a death threat from a caller. Despite the threat, Naylor still plans to appear before a U.S. Senate committee to fight Finistirre’s bill. Naylor is then kidnapped and covered in nicotine patches. Awakening in a hospital, he learns that the very high nicotine tolerance level resulting from his smoking has saved him from death by nicotine poisoning, but now he is hypersensitive to nicotine and can never smoke again.
Meanwhile, Naylor has been seduced by a young reporter named Heather Holloway. During their steamy fling, the besotted Naylor tells Holloway all about his life and career—information that she happily publishes in an exposé that appears just after the kidnapping. Her article relentlessly bashes Naylor and his work, exposing Lutch’s bribe, the product-placement scheme, and the MOD squad. It accuses Naylor of training his son Joey to follow his amoral example. All public sympathy due to Naylor’s kidnapping evaporates, and Naylor is fired by BR. Naylor falls into depression until Joey helps him recall the integrity in his job of defending corporations that almost no one feels deserve a defense.
Rejuvenated, Naylor tells the press about his affair with Holloway and promises to clear the names of everyone mentioned in her article. He also declares that he will still appear before the Senate committee. At the hearing, Naylor admits to the dangers of smoking but argues that public awareness is already high enough without extra warnings. He emphasizes consumer choice and responsibility and, to the dismay of Senator Finistirre, claims that if tobacco companies are guilty of tobacco-related deaths, then perhaps Finistirre’s state of Vermont, as a major cheese producer, is likewise guilty of cholesterol-related deaths.
BR congratulates Naylor on the speech and offers him his old job but Naylor has a change of heart. Seeing Big Tobacco settling claims of liability, Naylor remarks that he has left just in time. He also mentions Heather was humiliated upon being terminated by the paper for her article and is working as a weather reporter on a local news station. Naylor supports his son’s newfound interest in debating and opens a private lobbying firm. As he consults cellphone industry representatives concerned about claims that cellphones cause brain cancer, he narrates: “Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.”
Full of great lines and a redemptive story arc that is actually believable the films greatest triumph is in the casting which is flawless for virtually every role.

 

REVIEW: WAG THE DOG

CAST

Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Anne Heche (Spread)
Denis Leary (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Willie Nelson (The Dukas of Hazzard)
Andrea Martin (Black Christmas)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
William H. Macy (The Cooler)
John Michael Higgins (Stil LWaiting)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eyed)
Woody Harrelson (The Hugner Games)
Suzanne Cryer (Veronica Mars)
Phil Morris (Jingle All The Way)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
Craig T. Nelson (My Name Is Earl
David Koechner (Anchorman)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Jack Shearer (Star Trek: First Contact)
Dustin Hoffman and Kirsten Dunst in Wag the Dog (1997)
The President of the United States is caught making advances on an underage “Firefly Girl” less than two weeks before Election Day. Conrad Brean (De Niro), a top-notch spin doctor, is brought in to take the public’s attention away from the scandal. He decides to construct a diversionary war with Albania, hoping the media will concentrate on this instead. Brean contacts Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Hoffman) to create the war, complete with a theme song and fake film footage of a photogenic orphan (Dunst) in Albania.
When the CIA learns of the plot, they send Agent Young (Macy) to confront Brean who convinces him that revealing the deception is against his best interests. The CIA announces that the war has ended, but otherwise maintains the deception and the media begins to turn back to the President’s abuse scandal. Motss decides to invent a hero who was left behind enemy lines, and inspired by idea that he was “discarded like an old shoe” has the Pentagon provide him with a soldier named Schumann (Harrelson) around whom he constructs a further narrative including T-shirts, additional patriotic songs, and faux-grassroots demonstrations of patriotism. At each stage of the plan, Motss continually dismisses setbacks as “nothing” and compares them to past movie-making catastrophes he averted.
When the team goes to retrieve Schumann, they discover he is in fact a criminally insane Army prison convict before their plane crashes en route to Andrews Air Force Base. The team survives and is rescued by a farmer, but Schumann attempts to rape the farmer’s daughter and the farmer kills him. Motss then stages an elaborate military funeral, claiming that Schumann died from wounds sustained during his rescue.
While watching a political talk show Motss gets frustrated that the media are crediting the president’s win to a tired campaign slogan of “Don’t change horses in mid-stream” rather than Motss’s hard work. Despite previously claiming he was inspired by the challenge, Motss announces that he wants credit and will reveal his involvement, despite Brean’s warning that he is “playing with his life”. Motss refuses to back down, so Brean reluctantly has him killed and makes it look as if he had a heart attack. The president is successfully re-elected and a news report about a violent incident in Albania is shown, but it is ambiguous whether this is a true event or simply a continuation of the fictional war.
“Wag the dog” gathers a very good cast to tell a clever story about politics and its close connection to the TV business. Although the story sometimes seems to be topped by real-life events (Clinton-Lewinsky) it still remains a very entertaining flick. This is due to the many great characters and its precise dialogue which delivers a whole lot of sharp little comments on the dirty business of politics.

REVIEW: CELLULAR

CAST

Chris Evans (Captain America)
Kim Basinger (LA Confidential)
William H. Macy (The Cooler)
Jason Statham (Fast & Furious 7)
Jessica Biel (Stealth)
Richard Burgi (Chuck)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Ron Rogge (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Sherri Shepherd (How I Met Your Mother)
Valerie Cruz (Dexter)

MV5BMTI1NjAxODI0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODUzMzE3._V1_Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), a high school biology teacher, takes her son Ricky to the school bus. After she returns home, several men kidnap her and confine her in the attic of their safe house. Ethan Greer (Jason Statham), the group leader, smashes the attic’s telephone. Jessica uses the wires of the broken phone and randomly dials a number. She reaches the cell phone of Ryan (Chris Evans), a carefree young man who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, Chloe (Jessica Biel).MV5BMTI4MTc4MzcyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDU1Mjc2._V1_Jessica persuades Ryan to go to the police station, where he briefly reports to Mooney, but has to leave to avoid losing connection. Ethan asks Jessica about something, which she denies knowing, and leaves to get Ricky. Overhearing them, Ryan gets to Ricky’s school, only to see the boy kidnapped. He hijacks a security officer’s car and gives chase. When his phone battery runs out, he takes the gun in the car, cuts in line at a shop and buys a charger.MV5BMTg1MjgzODk4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTQ1Mjc2._V1_

Deciding to check on Ryan’s kidnapping claim, Mooney goes to Jessica’s house. At the house, he finds Dana Bayback (Valerie Cruz), the kidnappers’ accomplice, posing as Jessica. Believing the claim is a false alarm, Mooney leaves. With Ricky in tow, Ethan returns and asks Jessica about a place her husband Craig mentioned, “The Left Field”, and learns that it is a bar at the Los Angeles International Airport.
MV5BMTM1ODAwMTk0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI2NzI0NA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1491,1000_AL_A cross-connection between phone lines causes Ryan to rob a nearby lawyer’s cell phone and car. At the airport, Ryan plants the gun on one of the kidnappers, which trips the alarm. When security intervenes, the kidnappers flash police badges and apprehend Craig. After viewing a news report of a man holding up a store for a charger, Mooney identifies Ryan and calls Jessica’s home. He notices the voice on the answering machine is different from that of the woman he met. The kidnappers learns that Craig put a videotape in a bank safe deposit box. One guards Jessica and Ricky, while the rest go to the bank. Ryan finds the box first and leaves with the video camera, but loses the lawyer’s cellphone. Watching the videotape, Ryan learns that Craig accidentally filmed LAPD Detective Ethan, Mad Dog, Dimitri, Bayback, Deason, and Jack Tanner (a friend of Mooney’s) robbing and murdering drug dealers.
MV5BYzM3Y2U5NzEtZDc5ZS00NTZiLWE4OWItYjY1MjI0MjAwMjBjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjAwODA4Mw@@._V1_Ryan steals the lawyer’s car from the impound lot and retrieves his own cellphone. Mooney returns to the Martin residence, where Bayback injures him. He kills her and learns that she is also a cop. Back at the safe house, Mad Dog learns that Jessica has been trying to contact help and attacks her. Jessica cuts his brachial artery, and he bleeds to death. Before Jessica and Ricky can escape, Ethan’s gang returns. Ryan contacts Ethan and makes a deal: the videotape in exchange for the Martin family at the Santa Monica Pier. Tanner convinces Mooney to go to the pier to identify Ryan. Ryan disguises himself, but is inadvertently exposed by Chloe and identified by Mooney. Tanner sends Mooney away for medical attention, arrests Ryan and brings him to Ethan. Ethan destroys the videotape, and Tanner radios the order to kill the Martins, however, Mooney overhears the radio transmission. Ryan escapes, following a distraction by his friend Chad. Mooney overpowers Dimitri and handcuffs him then returns to the pier. Tanner and Ethan confront Ryan in a boathouse. Ryan knocks out Tanner, but Ethan beats him up until Mooney intervenes. After a brief chase, Ryan notices Ethan has circled behind Mooney, and calls Ethan’s cell phone. The phone’s ring betrays Ethan’s position, and Mooney promptly shoots him to death.
MV5BMzU2NDA0Nzk4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzE2NzI0NA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1488,1000_AL_On the van, Jessica strangles Deason with her handcuff chain, then frees her husband and son. However, Deason was merely stunned, and aims his gun at them. Ryan intervenes and knocks Deason unconscious. While Ryan and Mooney are being treated by medics, Tanner is also exposed, because Ryan had copied the video recording onto his cell phone, and the Martin family is set free. Jessica finally meets Ryan, the man who risked his life to save her family. When she tells him she doesn’t know how to thank him, Ryan replies that he does and half-heartedly tells her to not call him again.MV5BOGE4MmNjYjMtYTM0My00ZGY5LWIwZjQtNDRkZWI4YWI3YjgxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQxOTM1NTc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_The movie starts slowly, but hang in there, it gets better. By the end it I felt I had got my moneys worth. It is exciting, suspenseful with the usual shoot outs, car chases and an unlikely hero who comes good.