REVIEW: VANTAGE POINT

CAST

Dennis Quaid (Movie 43)
William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk)
Matthew Fox (Lost)
Forest whitaker (The Butler)
Said Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman)
Sigourney Weaver (Paul)
Édgar Ramírez (Joy)
Ayelet Zurer (Daredevil)
Eduardo Noriega (The Last Stand)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Bruce McGill (MacGyver)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Holt McCallany (Heroes)

U.S. President Henry Ashton (Hurt) attends a political summit in Salamanca, Spain, to promote an international treaty. Displayed with eight differing viewpoints, an assassination attempt on the president occurs, relayed in a time span of 23 minutes. Each time the events unfold from the beginning, a new vantage point is shown revealing additional details, which ultimately completes the story of what actually took place during the incident.From the first vantage point, GNN producer Rex Brooks (Weaver), directs various media personnel from a mobile television studio as the president arrives at the gathering. Mayor De Soto (Rodriguez) delivers a short speech and then introduces the president, who is shot twice as he greets the crowd from the podium. An explosion outside the plaza soon follows. Moments later, the podium itself is destroyed by a secondary explosion, killing and injuring numerous people. As the smoke clears, GNN reporter Angie Jones (Saldana) is seen lying dead in the rubble.The second vantage point follows Secret Service agents Thomas Barnes (Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Fox). Barnes notices a curtain fluttering in the window of a nearby building that was allegedly vacated. He also observes American tourist Howard Lewis (Whitaker) filming the audience. After the president is shot, Barnes tackles a man rushing to the podium named Enrique (Noriega). Taylor pursues a lead to a potential assassin. Following the second explosion, Barnes barges into the GNN production studio and asks to view their footage. He calls Taylor, who reports the direction of the suspected assassin’s escape route. Barnes then views an image on one of the camera’s live feeds that startles him and prompts him to run out.In the third vantage point, Enrique, a Spanish police officer assigned to protecting the mayor of Salamanca, sees his girlfriend Veronica (Zurer), being embraced by a stranger and overhears them speaking about meeting under an overpass. When he confronts her, Veronica assures Enrique of her love for him as he hands her a bag. When the president is shot, Enrique rushes onto the stage to protect the mayor, but is tackled by Barnes. While being detained, he witnesses Veronica toss the bag he gave her under the podium, causing the second explosion. Enrique escapes as the agents who previously had him in custody mount a chase while firing shots in his direction, failing to subdue him. Enrique confronts an unseen individual at the overpass and asks if he is surprised to see him still alive.The fourth vantage point revolves around Howard Lewis who is chatting with a man called Sam (Taghmaoui), while a little girl named Anna (Zapien), bumps into him and drops her ice cream. Later, Lewis notices Barnes looking at the curtain fluttering in the window of a nearby building, and captures the footage with his camcorder. Following the second explosion at the podium, Lewis chases Enrique and the pursuing Secret Service agents. At the overpass, Lewis views the pair of agents from afar shooting in the direction of Enrique as he greets an individual in a police uniform under the overpass. Seriously wounded, Enrique falls to the ground. Lewis sees Anna who had earlier become separated from her mother, trying to cross a busy intersection. An ambulance races down the road about to hit Anna, as Lewis runs out to save her.The fifth vantage point begins as President Ashton, having been informed of a credible assassination threat, has returned to his hotel room with his aides while his body double proceeds to the gathering in the plaza. The President talks with his personnel about the reason for the terrorists’ plot, the retaliation by the U.S. to the plot, the return of Barnes to active duty, and giving the order for the retaliation to proceed. The first explosion occurs just outside the hotel. Seconds later, a masked assailant bursts into the president’s room, shoots his advisers and then proceeds to abduct Ashton. By the sixth vantage point, terrorist Suarez, previously seen as Sam, shoots Ashton’s body double using a remote-controlled automatic rifle placed in an adjacent window next to the one with the fluttering curtain that had drawn Barnes’ attention earlier. The rifle is retrieved by Taylor, who Barnes sees leaving the scene wearing a Spanish policeman’s uniform on one of the GNN live feeds, even though he tells Barnes that he’s in pursuit of the assassin over the phone. Barnes realizes Taylor is actually part of the terror plot. The man Enrique saw embracing Veronica is revealed to be sharpshooter Javier (Ramirez), whose brother is being held hostage to ensure Javier’s cooperation with the terrorists. The first explosion, at the hotel, is revealed to be a device detonated by a suicide bomber disguised as a bellhop who had previously handed Javier a hotel room key. Javier kills the guards and aides within the hotel, and kidnaps the president. Ashton is later placed in an ambulance with Suarez and Veronica disguised as medics. Javier joins Taylor in a police car to a planned rendezvous at the overpass.Barnes commandeers a car and chases Taylor and Javier. Barnes gets into a collision with a truck, allowing the duo to escape. At the overpass, Enrique, who did not die in the blast at the podium as intended, confronts Javier and Taylor. Enraged, Javier shoots Enrique, mistakenly believing he had knowledge of his kidnapped brother’s whereabouts. Javier is then shot and killed by Taylor when he demands to be brought to his brother, who had been killed earlier by Suarez. Enrique dies of his wounds as Barnes reaches the scene on foot firing several rounds at Taylor, who attempts to flee. After crashing his car, a critically injured Taylor is dragged out by Barnes. He orders Taylor to reveal where the president has been taken, but Taylor dies. Meanwhile, Ashton regains consciousness in the ambulance and attacks Veronica, distracting her and Suarez just as Anna runs into their path. Suarez swerves causing the ambulance to flip over just as Lewis pulls Anna out of its way. Barnes runs to the ambulance where he sees Veronica lying dead. He shoots Suarez dead and rescues the president.This film really gets going right away and there is no time for a break.

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REVIEW: THE GOOD SHEPHERD

CAST

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Alec Baldwin (Mission: Impossible 5)
William Hurt (The Host)
Joe Pesci (Home Alone)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Tammy Blanchard (Into The Wood)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Timothy Hutton (Secret Window)
Keir Dullea (Black Christmas)
Gabriel Macht (Suits)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)

A photograph and an audio recording on reel-to-reel tape are dropped off anonymously at the home of Edward Wilson (Matt Damon), a senior CIA officer, after the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba fails due to an undisclosed leak. In 1939 Edward is at Yale University and is invited to join Skull and Bones, a secret society. He is compelled to disclose a secret as part of his initiation: he reveals that as a young boy in 1925 he discovered the suicide note left by his father, Thomas (Timothy Hutton), although he says he never read it. After the ceremony, a fraternity brother tells him that Edward’s father, an admiral, was to be chosen as Secretary of the Navy, until his loyalties were questioned. Afterwards Edward is recruited by an FBI agent, Sam Murach (Alec Baldwin), who claims that Edward’s poetry professor, Dr. Fredericks (Michael Gambon), is a Nazi spy, asking Edward to expose his professor’s background. Edward’s actions result in Dr. Fredericks’ forced resignation from the university.

Edward begins a relationship with a deaf student named Laura (Tammy Blanchard), but while on Deer Island, Edward meets his friend John Russel’s (Gabriel Macht) family and is later aggressively seduced by his sister Margaret ‘Clover’ Russell (Angelina Jolie). General Bill Sullivan (Robert De Niro) asks Edward to join the OSS, offering him a post in London. Later while Edward and Laura are at the beach, Margaret’s brother privately reveals that she is pregnant, so Edward marries her. At the wedding reception Edward accepts the London OSS office position, while his new wife remains in the United States. In London he meets Dr. Fredericks again, who is actually with British intelligence. An intelligence officer in the British SOE, Arch Cummings (Billy Crudup), tells Edward that Fredericks’ indiscriminate homosexual relationships pose a security risk. Edward is asked to deal with his mentor, who refuses to protect himself by returning to teaching. Shortly afterwards, he is brutally killed and his body is dumped into the Thames, all while Edward watches.In post-war Berlin, where both Allies and Soviets are recruiting German scientists. Edward encounters his Soviet counterpart, code named “Ulysses”, for the first time. After learning from his son, Edward Jr., during a phone call home that his wife is having an affair, Edward has a one-night stand with interpreter Hanna Schiller (Martina Gedeck); the same night, he realizes she is a Soviet agent and she is killed. Edward returns home to his wife and son. His wife confesses her adultery, and Edward confesses his. General Sullivan approaches Edward again to help form a new foreign intelligence organization – the CIA – where he would work with his former colleague, Richard Hayes (Lee Pace), under Phillip Allen (William Hurt). Edward accepts, hiding the details of his position from everyone but his wife.Edward’s first assignment deals with coffee in Central America where the Russians are trying to gain influence. Edward spots Ulysses in the background of footage of the country’s leader, but doesn’t disclose this. Edward arranges for airplanes to fly over and release locusts during a public event where the Russians (including Ulysses) are present in order to intimidate the Central American leader. An American agent’s severed finger is sent to Edward in a coffee can. At a Christmas party, Edward’s son wets himself. At the same party, General Sullivan tells Edward that Phillip Allen was going to be on the Mayan Coffee Company’s board of directors, prompting Edward to ask Sam Murach to look into Phillip’s finances.A Russian man requests asylum and claims to be high-ranking KGB agent Valentin Mironov. While attending the theater with Mironov and Cummings, Edward encounters his former sweetheart, Laura. They begin seeing each other again. Sometime later, Margaret receives photos of Laura and Edward getting into a taxi together and kissing. After she confronts him, Edward ends the relationship with Laura. Another Russian defector appears, claiming that he is the real Valentin Mironov, the other man being an impostor called Yuri Modin, a KGB operative working for Ulysses. Thinking he is lying, agents torture him, and administer liquid LSD believing it to be a potential truth serum. The second defector does not break, instead telling them how the Soviets’ power is just a myth, before hurling himself through a window and down several stories. The first man claiming to be Valentin Mironov, who has watched the entire ordeal together with Edward, offers to take LSD to prove his innocence, but Edward does not take him up on his offer. Edward visits his son, who has, like his father, joined the Skull and Bones society at Yale, and been approached by the CIA, which he joins despite his mother’s misgivings, widening the rift between his parents. Edward Jr. overhears his father and Hayes discussing the imminent Bay of Pigs invasion. His father warns him to be silent. Margaret leaves Edward.

Returning to the recording at the beginning of the story, detailed analysis points to Leopoldville, in the Congo. Having tracked down the room where the recording was made, Edward realizes that the source of the leak was his son speaking to his lover, revealed to be a Soviet agent by Ulysses when he appears and plays Edward an unedited version of the recording in an attempt to turn him. Edward confronts his son, who plans to marry the woman. Growing suspicious, Edward discovers evidence that Cummings and Mironov (really Yuri Modin) are double agents. Meeting Ulysses in the National Air and Space Museum, Edward finally refuses his offer, but argues that, having won in Cuba, there is nothing to be gained for the Soviets in hurting his son. On their wedding day, Edward Jr.’s fiancée is killed by being thrown out of the plane she was taking to the ceremony. When Edward Jr. asks if his father was responsible, he denies it.

Edward meets with Hayes at the new CIA headquarters still under construction. Allen is resigning under a cloud of financial improprieties, and the President has asked Hayes to be the new director. Hayes makes Edward the first head of counter-intelligence, an entire wing of new building. At home, Edward retrieves and reads his father’s suicide note. In the letter, his father confesses to having betrayed his country. Edward burns the note. The final scene shows Edward leaving his old office for the new position.

Some might wonder how so many actors could be recruited for such small roles, like Alec Baldwin, Michael Gambon, and Joe Pesci, but one only has to see as far as the director to get their answer. Don’t let the big names and the anagram CIA get you. This movie is as edgy as it is intricate with twists and turns that take the viewer through the world of trust and the human element. A man like Edward Wilson is just the perfect vessel for the journey.

REVIEW: CHANGING LANES

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Kim Staunton (Heat)
Toni Collette (Krampus)
Sydney Pollack (The Firm)
Tia Sloan (Black Swan)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Ileen Getz (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Amanda Peet (Identity Thief)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2)

In New York City, a middle-aged African-American insurance salesman named Doyle Gipson is a recovering alcoholic who is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to stay sober. On the same morning that Gipson drives to a hearing to try to regain custody of his children, a successful, white, young Wall Street attorney, Gavin Banek, is distracted while driving and collides with Gipson’s car. Banek was in a rush to get to court to file a power of appointment document, which will prove a dead man signed his foundation over to Banek’s law firm.

Gipson was also in a rush to get to a hearing to prevent his estranged wife from taking his two boys to Oregon. Banek tries to brush Gipson off with a blank check, rather than exchanging insurance information, thereby disobeying the law. After Gipson refuses to accept the check and voices his desire to “do the right thing”, that is, filing a police report and insurance claim, Banek strands Gipson on a median, telling him, “better luck next time”. After arriving to the court late, Gipson learns that it proceeded without him and that it did not go in his favor. Gipson did not get the chance to tell the judge about a house he is buying for his wife and children.

When Banek, gets to court, he realizes that he dropped the crucial power of appointment file at the scene of the accident, and the judge gives him until the end of the day to re-obtain the papers and present them. Gipson, who took the papers, is in dilemma on whether to return the file, especially after the events of the day. On the other hand, Banek, who is desperate to get his papers back, goes to a “fixer”, a shady computer hacker, and gets him to switch off Gipson’s credit. Gipson needed credit for a loan so he could buy the house for his family. Gipson becomes very upset when he finds out his credit has been cut off, and he comes close to starting to drink again. Determined to get back at Banek, Gipson loosens the bolts on the front tire of Banek’s luxury car, and the wheel comes off later while Banek is driving, causing his car to crash on the highway, leading to minor injuries. Enraged, Banek goes to the elementary school of Gipson’s children and falsely claims to school officials that Gipson plans to kidnap the boys, which leads to Gipson being arrested and jailed.

Both men continue to do morally reprehensible things in an attempt to one-up each other, and eventually they begin to question their actions. Though it is made clear that Banek and Gipson are radically different, they both have an angry, vengeful streak, each capable of abandoning his morals just to punish the other. The film ends with both men having a new outlook on life, concentrating on ethics and the moral implications of their actions. Ultimately the two men apologize to each other and Gipson returns the file, but it looks to be too late for both of what they were trying to do. Banek ends up using the file to force his law firm boss to conduct business honestly and plans to represent Gipson pro bono so he can get the house he wants. Banek also visits Gipson’s wife to explain everything to her, knowing he owes Gipson that much. The film ends with Gipson’s wife and children smiling at him from across the street.

This is a superb film with great performances from Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. Watch it and enjoy it fully

REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

CAST

Chris Evans (The Losers)
Robert Downey, Jr (Sherlock Holmes)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Sebastian Stan (The Covenant)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House)
Paul Rudd (Role Models)
Emily VanCamp (Revenge)
Tom Holland (The Impossible)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Marisa Tomei (The Fighter)
John Kani (Coriolanus)
Hope Davis (About Schmidt)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

In 1991, the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up, hoping to kill Rogers. When Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.
U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the team. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because of his role in Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s devastation, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers intends to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from T’Challa and the authorities, but all four including T’Challa are apprehended.
Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed “Winter Soldiers” are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’ permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff goes into exile.

Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and convinces Wilson to give him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware they were secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, dismembering Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.

In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, Barnes, granted asylum in Wakanda, chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget.

The best Marvel film to date: great, charisma from the leads delivered through fantastic action that’s actually driven, for once, by a tight, believable and interesting storyline.

REVIEW: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

CAST

Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Maria Bello (The 5th Wave)
Ed Harris (Gravity)
William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk)
Ashton Holmes (Revenge)
Peter MacNeill (CrasH)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)
Kyle Schmid (The Covenant)

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is a diner owner who lives in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana, with a loving wife Edie (Maria Bello), teenage son Jack (Ashton Holmes), and daughter Sarah. One night, two men attempt to rob the restaurant. When a waitress is threatened, Tom deftly kills both robbers with surprising skill and precision. He is hailed as a hero by his family and the townspeople, and the incident makes him a local celebrity. Tom is visited by scarred gangster Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), who alleges that he is actually a gangster named Joey Cusack who had dealings with him in the Irish Mob in Philadelphia. Tom vehemently denies this, but Fogarty remains persistent and begins to stalk the Stall family. Under pressure from Fogarty and his newfound fame, Tom’s relationships with his family become strained.
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Following an argument with his father over the use of violence on a bully at his school, Jack runs away. He is caught by Fogarty, who, with Jack as his hostage, goes with his men to the Stall house and demands that “Joey” return to Philadelphia with them. After the gangsters release Jack, Tom is slow to join them in their car, so they attempt to force him to cooperate. Tom kills the two henchmen with the same precision he used against the robbers, but Fogarty shoots Tom as Tom is aiming at him. As Fogarty is standing over Tom, preparing to kill him, Tom finally admits he is indeed Joey. However, before Fogarty can deliver a coup de grâce, Jack kills Fogarty with a shotgun.
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At the hospital, Edie confronts Tom, claiming that while he was attacking Fogarty’s men, she saw “the real Joey” that Fogarty was talking about. Tom shocks Edie by admitting that he is actually Joey Cusack, and that he has killed for both money and pleasure. He tells Edie that he ran away from Philadelphia to escape his violent criminal past. This admission deepens the tensions in their marriage.
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After Tom gets out of the hospital, Sam (Peter MacNeill), the local sheriff, pays a visit. Sam expresses confusion about everything that has happened. He tells Tom and Edie that these mobsters wouldn’t go to all this trouble if they weren’t sure they had the right man. Just when Tom is about to confess, Edie lies to Sam, claiming that Tom is who he says he is, that their family has suffered enough. At a loss for words after Edie breaks down into tears, Sam leaves. Edie and Tom then start slapping and hitting each other, their fight eventually culminating in violent sex on the stairs; this is in contrast to the tender and romantic sex they were shown having in the beginning of the film. Afterward, Edie and Jack continue to further distance themselves from Tom, leaving him isolated. He receives a call from his brother Richie Cusack (William Hurt), who also demands his return to Philadelphia, or else he will come to Indiana to find him. After traveling to meet his brother, Tom learns that the other mobsters whom he had offended in Philadelphia took out their frustrations on Richie, penalizing him financially and delaying his advancement in the organization. Tom offers to make peace, but Richie orders his men to kill his brother. Tom manages to kill most of the guards and escape. As Richie and his last henchman are hunting for him, Tom surprises and dispatches both.
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Tom returns home, where the atmosphere is tense and silent as the family sits around the dinner table. The future of his marriage and his life as Tom Stall are uncertain, but Jack and Sarah indicate their acceptance of their father by setting a plate for him and passing him some food. The film ends as Edie looks up at Tom, leaving their future in question.

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There is violence, and there is sex, but all tightly controlled and more tense than graphic, and all carefully crafted to service the story. The ending will disappoint you if you tackle this as a mere action movie.. but if you want a real kick off into the whole subject of the influence and effects of violence, then this is a perfect place to start.

REVIEW: ROBIN HOOD (2010)

CAST

Russell Crowe (Gladiator)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Max Von Sydow (Minority Report)
William Hurt (The Host)
Mark Strong (John Carter)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars – Episode VII)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Eileen Atkins (Cold Mountain)
Mark Addy (Game of Thrones)
Matthew Macfadyen (Frost/Nixon)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Arthur Darvill (Legends of Tomorrow)

In 1199 A.D., Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is a common archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston). A veteran of Richard’s crusade, he now takes part in the siege of Chalus Castle. Disillusioned and war-weary, he gives a frank but unflattering appraisal of the King’s conduct after the King asks him to answer him honestly. Though the Kings commends him for his honesty Robin and his comrades – archers Allan A’Dayle (Alan Doyle) and Will Scarlett (Scott Grimes) and soldier Little John (Kevin Durand) – find themselves in the stocks.
When the King is slain during an attack on the castle, Robin and his men decide to free themselves and desert. They come across an ambush of the English royal guard by Godfrey (Mark Strong), an English knight who has conspired with King Philip of France to assassinate the King. As Godfrey flees Robin attempts to shoot him but only succeeds in wounding Godfrey’s face with an arrow. Robin decides to take advantage of the situation by having his men impersonate the dead English knights to return to England. As they depart, Robin promises one of the dying knights, Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), to return a sword to his father in Nottingham.
As Robin and his men become drunk on the voyage, they awake too late to flee unnoticed and Robin is forced to assume the identity of the slain Loxley and publicly inform the royal family of the King’s death. He witnesses the coronation of King John (Oscar Isaac), who orders harsh new taxes to be collected, dispatching Sir Godfrey to the North to do so – unaware that Godfrey will instead use French troops to stir up unrest and create an opening for Philip to invade England.
Robin and his companions head to Nottingham, where Loxley’s elderly and blind father, Sir Walter (Max von Sydow), asks him to continue impersonating his son, to prevent the family lands being taken by the Crown. However, Loxley’s widow, Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett), is initially cold toward Robin, but warms to him, when he and his men merrily recover tithed grain for the townsfolk to plant. Godfrey’s actions incite the northern barons, who march to meet King John. Speaking now for Sir Walter, Robin proposes the King agree to a charter of rights to ensure the rights of every Englishman and unite his country. Having realized Godfrey’s deception, and knowing he must meet the French invasion with an army, the King agrees. Meanwhile, the French marauders plunder Nottingham and Godfrey murders Sir Walter. Robin and the northern barons arrive and stop Godfrey’s men.

As the French begin their invasion on the beach below the Cliffs of Dover, Robin leads the now united English army against them. In the midst of the battle, Robin duels with Godfrey, who attempted to kill Marion and flees until Robin finally succeeds in shooting him with an arrow from afar. Philip realizes that his plan to divide England has failed and calls off his invasion. When King John sees the French surrendering to Robin instead of himself, he senses a threat to his power. In London, John reneges on his promise to sign the charter, instead declaring Robin an outlaw to be hunted throughout the kingdom. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen) announces the decree as Robin and his men flee to Sherwood Forest with the orphans of Nottingham. Marion narrates their new life in the greenwood, noting that they live in equality as they right the many wrongs in the Kingdom of King John.

Helgeland wrote a clever script, showing Medieval ideology and a complex political situation. His previous Medieval film was A Knight’s Tale, which he wrote and directed. But with Robin Hood he seems to have grown up as a writer and gives this film a little more of a complex plot and shows a bigger picture. He also cleverly mixes different aspects about how the legend has changed, like how Robin starting as a commoner and pretends to be a higher ranked man. The film also covers its bases by showing the two sites places that claim to be Robin’s home, Nottingham and Barnsdale. However this film felt like an origins story, a start to a new film series. This is Robin Hood that has not been seen on screen like this before.  Robin Hood is also historically suspect, with events and dates being changed and made up, some ideas and culture also seems to be the victim of artistic license. But Scott knows that storytelling requires character development and show a more balanced picture, particularly with historically set films. At least this film does accept that it is a piece of historical fiction.

REVIEW: THE HOST (2013)

CAST

Saoirse Ronan (Hanna)
Jake Abel (I Am Number Four)
Max Irons (Red Riding Hood)
Frances Fisher (The Roommate)
Chandler Canterbury (Knowing)
Diane Kruger (Troy)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Rachel Roberts (Simone)
Stephen Rider (Safe House)
Bokeem Woodbine (Total Recall)
Emily Browning (Sucker Punch)

The Host 11 still (WTF Watch the Film Saint Pauly)

The human race has been taken over by small parasitic aliens called “Souls”. They travel to planets inserting themselves into a host body of that planet’s dominant species while suppressing the host’s consciousness. They access the host’s memories, and occupied hosts are identifiable by silver rings in the hosts’ eyes. A human on the run, Melanie Stryder, is captured and infused with a soul called “Wanderer.” Wanderer is asked by Seeker to access Melanie’s memories in order to discover the location of a pocket of unassimilated humans. Melanie’s consciousness, however, has not been completely eliminated, and it struggles to regain control of her body. Melanie and Wanderer carry out an internal conversation and debate with each other, forming a friendship.
The Host 05 still (WTF Watch the Film Saint Pauly)
Wanderer shares with Seeker that Melanie was traveling with her brother, Jamie, and her boyfriend, Jared Howe, to find Melanie’s uncle Jeb in the desert. Wanderer admits that Melanie is still present, so Seeker decides to be transferred into Melanie’s body to get the information herself. With the help of Melanie, Wanderer escapes and makes her way to the desert, where she is found by Jeb, who takes her to a series of caves hidden inside a mountain where the humans (including Jared and Jamie) are hiding.
The Host 06 still (WTF Watch the Film Saint Pauly)
Wanderer’s presence is met with hostility by all but Jeb and Jamie. Melanie instructs Wanderer not to tell anyone she is still alive, since it would provoke them, though she later allows her to tell Jamie. Wanderer begins interacting with the humans and slowly begins to gain their trust, forming a bond with Ian O’Shea. Seeker leads a search party into the desert to find Wanderer. They intercept one of the shelter’s supply teams, and in the ensuing chase, Aaron and Brandt commit suicide to avoid capture. During the chase, Seeker accidentally kills another Soul, leading her superiors to call off the search.
The Host 09 still (WTF Watch the Film Saint Pauly)
Returning to the caves, Jared and Kyle move to kill Wanderer, causing Jamie to reveal that Melanie’s consciousness is alive. Jeb and Ian accept this, but Jared refuses to believe it until he attempts to determine the truth by kissing Wanderer, provoking Melanie to take back control and slap him. Kyle tries to kill Wanderer but endangers his own life and ends up being saved by Wanderer. Ian believes that Kyle attacked Wanderer and tells her that he loves her. Wanderer admits that, while occupying Melanie’s body, she must love Jared, but she has feelings of her own, and the two kiss. Wanderer enters the community’s medical facility and discovers that Doc has been experimenting with ways to remove Souls and allow the host’s mind to regain control, resulting in the deaths of many Souls and Hosts from his failed experiments. After isolating herself for several days, Wanderer learns that Jamie is critically ill with an infection in his leg. She infiltrates a Soul medical facility to steal some of their alien medicine, saving Jamie’s life.
The Host 10 still (WTF Watch the Film Saint Pauly)
Seeker has continued looking for Wanderer on her own, but Jeb captures her and imprisons her in the caves. Wanderer offers to show Doc the proper method of removing Souls, on the condition that he remove her from Melanie’s body and let her die. Doc uses the technique to remove Seeker from her host, with both Host and Soul surviving. Wanderer takes the Seeker alien to a Soul space-travel site, where she sends it far enough from Earth that it can not return for numerous generations. Wanderer makes Doc promise to let her die when she is removed and not tell anyone. Their friends intervene with Doc, who then inserts Wanderer into Pet, a human who was .

The Host 18 still (WTF Watch the Film Saint Pauly)

This film caught me by surprise. It’s rare to see such a well-done SF film with good ideas where everything else also comes together – plot development, characters and action. It’s a sign of a good film to have many good characters, and this film does, but Saoirse Ronan stands out in what could be a difficult role to pull off without confusing (essentially playing 2 x characters in one). There are points where there is true humour when the characters in her head are at odds with each other.  an Excellent Film.