REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS (2007)

 

 

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Megan Fox (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
Anthony Anderson (Kangaroo Jack)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)
John Turturro (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Jon Voight (Pearl Harbor)
Michael O’Neill (Bates Motel)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Julie White (Lincoln)
Amaury Nolasco (The Rum Diary)
Zack Ward (Bloodrayne 2)
W. Morgan Sheppard (Star Trek)
Bernie Mac (Bad Santa)
Travis Van Winkle (Friday The 13th)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Darius McCrary (Anger Management)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)
Jess Harnell (Little Nicky)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Charlie Adler (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Samantha Smith (Supernatural)
Tom Lenk (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Colton Haynes (Arrow)

Several thousand years ago, the planet Cybertron was consumed by a civil war between the two Transformer factions, the Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons led by Megatron. Optimus jettisoned the AllSpark, a mystical artifact that brings life to the planet, into space, but Megatron pursued it. Megatron crashed in the Arctic Circle and froze, and was discovered in 1895 by explorer Archibald Witwicky. Witwicky inadvertently activated Megatron’s navigational system, which etched the AllSpark’s coordinates into his glasses. The glasses end up in the possession of his great-great-grandson Sam Witwicky. In the present, Sam buys his first car, a rusting Chevrolet Camaro, but discovers it has a life of its own.In modern Qatar, Blackout attacks and destroys a United States military base in a failed attempt to hack the military network to find information on Megatron and the AllSpark. A team of Army Rangers led by Captain William Lennox escape across the desert, pursued by Blackout’s drone Scorponok. They fight Scorponok off, aided by aerial reinforcements, and travel home with Scorponok’s stinger, discovering sabot rounds damaged its armor. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense John Keller leads the investigation into the attack. Sound analyst Maggie Madsen catches another Decepticon, Frenzy, hacking into the U.S. military network while onboard Air Force One. While the hack is thwarted, Frenzy downloads files on Archibald’s glasses, tracking down Sam with Barricade, disguised as a police car.Sam and his high school crush Mikaela Banes are rescued from Barricade and Frenzy by the Camaro who turns out to be Autobot scout Bumblebee, but he is mute and has to communicate through his car radio. Previously sending a beacon to his fellow Autobots, Bumblebee takes Sam and Mikaela to meet the new arrivals – Optimus, Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet. Optimus explains the details of their situation, revealing that if Megatron gained the AllSpark he would transform Earth’s machinery into a new army and exterminate mankind. Sam, Mikaela, and the Autobots travel to Sam’s house to retrieve the glasses, but the teenagers are captured by agents of Sector Seven, a top secret government branch, led by Seymour Simmons. The Autobots stop the agents, but they call for backup, who take Sam, Mikaela, and Bumblebee into custody, while Optimus obtains the glasses, and uses them to locate the Allspark.The respective groups connected to the Transformers are gathered together at Hoover Dam by Sector Seven’s director Tom Banachek, who reveals Megatron, still frozen, and the AllSpark. Frenzy, who smuggled away in Mikaela’s bag, summons the other Decepticons to attack and sabotages Megatron’s cryonic system. Bumblebee is released to protect the AllSpark, shrinking it down to a handheld size so it can be transported to safety. Megatron escapes the dam after thawing out. Frenzy attacks Secretary Keller, Madsen and Agent Simmons in the Dam’s radio room, trying to prevent them from summoning the Air Force, but is decapitated by his own ricocheting shuriken.A lengthy battle occurs in Mission City, with most of the Decepticons being killed, but Megatron murders Jazz. He prevents Sam’s attempted escape with the AllSpark, and begins to fight Optimus. After a long brawl Megatron seems to get the upper hand. Optimus then tells Sam to push the cube into his chest in order to ensure their mutual destruction, but Sam rams it into Megatron’s chest instead, extinguishing his spark. Starscream and Barricade are the only Decepticons to survive the battle and escape.Optimus salvages a shard of the AllSpark from Megatron’s body. The United States government shuts down Sector Seven, disposing of the dead Decepticons in the Laurentian Abyss. Sam and Mikaela then start a relationship while the Autobots secretly hide out on Earth, Optimus sends a transmission into space inviting any surviving Autobots to join them. A brief mid-credits scene shows Starscream escaping into space to rally other Decepticons and summon them to Earth.Granted, these aren’t your granddaddy’s Transformers. Souped up to resemble high-tech living robots while fighting and the latest in automobile trends in car form, Bay and the producers have mucked around considerably with the look of the Autobots and Decepticons, putting the infamous flames on Optimus Prime and turning Megatron into an alien jet. Supporters of the all-holy “G1” have every right to scoff, but “Transformers” has a wonderful way of making these ludicrous alterations fit into the bigger, slicker picture, pressing down hard on the extra-terrestrial angle of our visitors. It’s only a matter of moments before you buy these reinvented incarnations of popular characters and another few seconds before you start to root for their victory and defeat. Running at 140 minutes, Transformers never runs out of juice.

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REVIEW: BLOODRAYNE 2: DELIVERANCE

CAST

Natassia Malthe (Elektra)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Michael Pare (The Virgin Suicides)
Chris Coppola (Beowulf)
Chris Spencer (Being Mary Jane)
Brendan Fletcher (News Movie)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3)
Tyron Leitso (Wonderfalls)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)

bloodrayne-2-deliverance-blu-rayNewton Piles (Chris Coppola), a reporter on assignment for the Chicago Chronicle, has come to the town of Deliverance, Montana, to record tales of the Wild West. The peaceful and quiet town is expecting the arrival of the first Transcontinental Railroad in one week. Along with the railroad however, arrives an unwelcome and deadly guest, a vampiric Billy the Kid. Using the railway, the 357-year-old Transylvanian vampire is building an army of cowboy vampires to take over the country and create a vampire kingdom in the New World. Billy and his horde go on a rampage, slaughtering townspeople and rounding up children. Billy spares Newton’s life and promises Newton the greatest story ever told.MCDBLOO EC029Billy’s plans hit a snag when Rayne arrives in the town. Rayne is a Dhampir, the product of an unnatural union between a vampire and a human: she wields all the powers of a vampire, yet none of the weaknesses. Born over a century earlier in Romania, Rayne has hunted vampires for a long time and now she sets her sights on Billy.MCDBLOO EC032Naturally, Bloodrayne 2 also contains all the ulcer inducing Uwe Boll-isms we’ve come to know and loathe and even some new ones! There’s slow-motion death scenes, the dumb as nails dialogue, scenes dragging on needlessly due to a lack of editing, and vampires dying and sounding like squealing pigs.

REVIEW: NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY

 

CAST

Robert Englund (Wishmaster)
Heather Langenkamp (Hellraiser: Judgement)
Wes Craven (Scream 4)
Robert Shaye (New Nightmare)
Amanda Wyss (Highlander: THe Series)
Jsu Garcia (Along Came Polly)
Johnny Depp (Blow)
John Saxon (From Dusk Till Dawn)
Leslie Hoffman (Star Trek: DS9)
Robert Rusler (Weird Science)
Kim Myers (Hellraiser 4)
Clu Gulager (The Virginian)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)
Ken Sagoes (Intolerable Cruelty)
Rodney Eastman (I Spit On Your Grave)
Penelope Dudrow (After Midnight)
Jennifer Rubin (Screamers)
Ira Heiden (Alias)
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Priscilla Pointer (The Flash
Brooke Bundy (General Hospital)
Lisa Wilcox (Watchers Reborn)
Tuesday Knight (The Fan)
Lisa Zane (Bad Influence)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Kane Hodder (Jaxon X)
Breendan Fletcher (Bloodrayne 3)
Zack Ward (Transformers)

The documentary itself lasts just under 4 hours, each film gets at least 25 minutes dedicated to it, and Freddy’s Nightmares and New Line Cinema get a brief discussion as well. Asides from Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette more or less everyone from the 8 films is interviewed. I watched the whole documentary in one sitting, at no point does it drag. It isn’t just talking heads there are interesting behind the scenes photos and videos, some of which feature unused special effects and deleted scenes – including a replacement for Robert Englund if he had wanted to much of a pay rise for the second film, I’ll say this, thankfully the two parties came to agreement! The interviewees don’t just pander to one another and pat each other on the back, they are quick to point out flaws in their own performances and disappointment with others.

Highly recommended. It is the perfect companion to the films.

REVIEW: FREDDY VS JASON

CAST

Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Ken Kirzinger (Stan Helsing)
Kelly Rowland (Empire)
Monica Keena (The Devil’s Advocate)
Jason Ritter (Girls)
Chris Marquette (Fanboys)
Brendan Fletcher (News Movie)
Katharine Isabelle (American Mary)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Kyle Labine (Grand Star)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
David Kopp (Romeo Must Die)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Chris Gauthier (Earthsea)

Freddy Krueger is trapped in Hell, it’s 2003 and 4 years after the events and time of the sixth film and due to the fact the teenage residents of his town of Springwood, Ohio have forgotten about him, rendering him powerless, he can no longer return to Springwood, because there’s no fear of him left in the entire town. He “can’t come back if nobody’s afraid”, so, under the guise of Jason Voorhees’ mother, Freddy manipulates Jason, who he’d been looking for over a period of time to do so, into killing the teenage residents of Springwood, hoping the mass fear will restore his powers. Since the residents of Springwood were terrorized by him and not Jason, Freddy reasons, the fear will be directed towards him, giving him more power than ever hoped for. His plan succeeds and Freddy is allowed to return.

Lori Campbell now lives with her widowed father at 1428 Elm Street. Her friends Kia, Gibb, Trey, and Blake, spend the night, and Jason kills Trey by stabbing him in the back, before folding him in half with the mattress. The gruesomeness of the murder and the fact it happened in bed cause police to speculate Freddy was responsible. Later, Blake has a nightmare about Freddy, and awakens to find his beheaded father sitting beside him before Jason appears and kills Blake as well. The next day, the police blame the murders on Blake, who they say committed suicide.
Lori’s ex-boyfriend Will Rollins and his friend Mark Davis, are patients at Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital, forced to take Hypnocil to suppress their dreams. After seeing a news report on the murders, Mark devises a plan, and the two escape. He and Will return to Springwood, where Mark informs Lori and the others about Freddy. Mark later learns of the city’s plan to erase Freddy by making the population forget about him and realizes he may have ruined their plan. That night, Lori and the others attend a rave at a cornfield. A drunken Gibb believes she sees Trey and follows him to a silo, which turns out to be a dream trap set by Freddy. As Freddy is about to kill Gibb, Jason, who has arrived at the rave to slaughter partygoers, kills her in the real world. An enraged Freddy realizes Jason will not stop stealing his potential victims.

Linderman, a classmate who has a crush on Lori, and stoner Freeburg escape the rave unharmed along with Lori, and Kia. Lori confronts her father about her mother’s death and traps him in a lie. She and Will go to Mark’s house, only to find him being attacked by Freddy, who slashes his face with his bladed gloves. Deputy Stubbs suspects there is a copycat of Jason murderer, but his suspicions fall on deaf ears. He approaches Lori and her friends, who piece together Freddy’s plan. Learning of the Hypnocil, they decide to steal some from Westin Hills, but Freddy possesses Freeburg and disposes of the drugs. After electrocuting Stubbs, Jason is tranquilized by the Freddy-possessed Freeburg, whom Jason cuts in half before succumbing to the drugs.

The teens devise a plan to pull Freddy from the dream world and force the two killers to battle each other. They take the unconscious Jason to Crystal Lake; and should he defeat Freddy there, he’ll already be back home and will not come after the teens. Meanwhile, Freddy battles Jason in the dream world, and upon discovering Jason’s fear of water uses it to pull him into a nightmare of his drowning as a child. Lori enters the dream world to retrieve Freddy, saving Jason in the process. Enraged, Freddy attacks Lori, and reveals he was the one who killed her mother. In the real world, Jason awakens and chases the others into a cabin. Jason pushes Linderman into a shelf bracket and he is mortally wounded. The cabin catches fire, and Lori’s hand is dragged through flames, causing her to wake up and pull Freddy from her dream into the real world. Jason begins to fight Freddy while the others escape, and throws Freddy through the roof of another cabin.

Linderman dies, and Lori, Will and Kia encounter Freddy. Kia taunts him, but Jason kills her by slamming her into a tree with his machete. As Lori and Will escape, the two begin their final battle. An attempt to ram a mine cart into Jason goes wrong and both of them are hit and land on the boardwalk. Lori and Will igniting propane tanks that blow Freddy and Jason into the lake. Freddy makes one final attempt to kill Lori and Will; however, Jason saves them by using Freddy’s own arm to impale him through the chest, before falling back into the lake. Lori decapitates Freddy while Jason sinks below the water. Finally at peace with their past, Lori and Will leave Crystal Lake together. Later, Jason emerges from the lake holding Freddy’s severed head, which winks and laughs.

This is a brilliant film especially if you grew up watching these two maniacs before they both fought on the big screen in the same film. It does not disappoint and leaves you wondering who will win the fight between two of the cinemas most notorious killers.

REVIEW: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES – SEASON 1 & 2

SarahConnorChronicles

MAIN CAST

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Thomas Dekker (Heroes)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Richard T. Jones (Godzilla)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games)
Garret Dillahunt (Winter’s Bone)
Shirley Manson (Knife Fight)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Owain Yeoman (Supergirl)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Nick Wechsler (Roswell)
Dean Winters (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Charlayne Woodard (The Crucible)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Jonathan Sadowski (Friday the 13th)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
Catherine Dent (Taken)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Tiya Sircar (The Vampire Diaries)
Andy Umberger (Angel)
Lee Thompson Young (Smallville)
Neil Hopkins (Lost)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Bruce Davison (High Crimes)
Karina Logue (Scream: The Series)
Craig Fairbrass (Cliffhanger)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Busy Philipps (The Smokers)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Jon Huertas (Sabrina: TTW)
Mackenzie Brooke Smith (Supergirl)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Concflict)
Stephanie Jacobsen (Alex Cross)
Adam Busch (Buffy)
Richard Schiff (The Cape)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Rebecca Creskoff (Bates Motel)
Carlos Jacott (Firefly)
Samantha Krutzfeldt (A Mann’s World)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Chad L. Coleman (Arrow)

When we first heard that FOX was making a Terminator series, we mostly groaned and rolled our eyes. It just sounded like a bad idea and a cynical ploy to capitalize on a flagging movie property. What’s more, when you think of Terminator, you think of big movies with huge effects and action sequences that set new standards. You don’t think of “Terminators of the Week” battling on smaller screens with tighter budgets.

 It was the first regular episode after the pilot that I feel the show really came into its own. That’s when the tone of the series was established, the more deliberate and introspective pace. Summer Glau’s performance as Cameron changed a bit.
 It’s the mark of a good show when, one by one, all of your issues are accounted for. In the episode Heavy Metal John does what he has to do despite Sarah’s overprotection. He’s becoming the leader he needs to become, and when Sarah says it’s too soon, Cameron says something to the effect of “Is it? The world ends in 4 years…” At the same time, Sarah came to value Cameron’s strategic value. She might not trust her (and should she?), but she no longer denies her the tactical advantage they have when using her.
As for the missing Terminator parts, the show picked up the ball there and ran with it. Agent Ellison finds the missing hand, and destroying the Terminator Cameron disabled becomes a great scene and establishes the use of thermite. When a show proves to you that it’s got the bases covered, and that it isn’t being sloppy with its storytelling – it gains your confidence and makes tuning in each week that much more satisfying. Terminator pulled this off in just nine episodes – which is remarkable considering they had only so much time and never planned on having such a short season because of the writers strike. There were a number of stylistic flourishes throughout the show that demonstrated how the series was different from the movies, and that this wasn’t going to be a show that was afraid to strike out on its own. Sarah’s dream where she assassinates the creators of the atomic bomb was particularly inspired. Bruce Davison (as Dr. Silberman) describing in awed rapture the events from T2 was a terrific bridge between this series and one of the most famous sequences of the entire franchise. The series ended on a high note, with Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” playing while a Terminator does what Terminators do. Only this time it’s done in a stylistically original way. It’s another scene that serves as an example of how the show stepped out on its own. It shows a level of creative maturity not usually found in franchised properties.
Then there’s the introduction of Brian Austin Green as Derek Reese. This was a decision that had us – and other fans – concerned that the show was making a big mistake. Why Green? It seems there could have been dozens, if not hundreds of other actors to take on this role. Actors who didn’t play the keyboard wielding dweeb on Beverly Hills 90210. Yet, again, the show proved worthy of our confidence and trust. Green did an excellent job, and played Reese not as your standard badass, but instead a man of emotional depth who had been turned into a soldier because the world around him fell apart.
Green’s best moments came in the finale. First, he uses a little girl to creatively settle a hostage situation. Then, he takes John to the park to celebrate his birthday. Without getting specific, there’s a touching moment, playing on the time travel device. “Happy Birthday,” Derek says, and leaves it at that. It’s an emotional note that was never quite achieved in the movies – and proof that the episodic format allows for greater complexity and character development than we’ve seen in the franchise. It’s also encouraging that the characters had become so resonant in these early episodes – and bodes well for the future.
No one likes to see a good show go under, especially just as it’s approaching new heights, and the recent cancellation of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009) proved almost equally disheartening. At least the latter had a fighting chance, though: the mid-season replacement pulled down great numbers at first, but its popularity rapidly declined during the initial nine-episode run. Higher production costs didn’t help matters, either…yet Chronicles was renewed for a full-sized second season, where it expanded the series’ mythology and tossed in a few stand-alone episodes. Featuring plenty of terrific characters, tense action and special effects on par with Hollywood blockbusters, there was plenty to like…but roughly a month after the season finale aired, it was confirmed that the series wouldn’t return.
Nonetheless, this second and final season stands as one of the better stretches of television in recent memory. In an accompanying behind-the-scenes featurette, creator Josh Friedman admits that the cast and crew had no idea that Season 1 would end where it did—but you’d never know from watching, since the series stops and re-starts so seamlessly. Opening adventure “Samson and Delilah” kicks things off in a major way, punctuated by a gripping slow-motion sequence set to a musical cover by Shirley Manson of Garbage fame. Speaking of Manson, she’s front and center this season as Catherine Weaver, the mysterious leader of ZeiraCorp, a growing corporation with an interest in advanced technology. She’s eventually joined by former FBI agent James Ellison (Richard T. Jones); Ellison acts as her head of security and a mentor to ZeiraCorp’s experimental computer, who’s known as “John Henry”. Though more intelligent and efficient than the world’s greatest minds put together, this powerful entity is still a child learning about the the world and the humans in it.
Naturally, such a vague company—especially one with its hands in high-tech gadgetry—soon ends up on the radar of Sarah Connor (Lena Headey), who continues to forge onward with her son John (Thomas Dekkar), John’s uncle Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) and Cameron, a Terminator sent from the future to aid them. New to the crowd are Jesse Flores (Stephanie Jacobsen) and Riley Dawson (Leven Rambin); both serve as love interests to Derek and John respectively…but like Catherine Weaver, they seem to have somewhat questionable pasts. Far more than the typical good-versus-evil formula that typically dominates modern sci-fi, The Sarah Connor Chronicles takes a decidedly different approach: it focuses on human existence and emotion as much as firefights and chase sequences. The formula works amazingly well during this season of 22 episodes.
 After the blistering “Samson and Delilah”, things don’t let up for a while. “Automatic for the People” introduces Riley and takes our heroes inside a nuclear power plant—but a major clue is unearthed, as Sarah discovers a list of events, places and other clues about Skynet, the company that Sarah believes will bring about Judgment Day. “Mousetrap” is a standout episode for a number of reasons: not only does it push the story further onward, but it’s one of the more suspenseful and exciting episodes in the bunch. “Allison from Palmdale” stands tall as a solid origin story for Cameron, while the extended “Goodbye to All That” sends John and Derek on a field trip with a Terminator model 888 in hot pursuit. These episodes—and several others, of course—show how much Season 2 has expanded the story’s scope. Well over half the episodes are shot on location in various parts of California and beyond—and with the vague threat of ZeiraCorp looming overhead, tension remains high throughout the first half of the season.
As the season’s second half approaches, things start to get a little cloudy…both for the narrative itself and the show’s ratings, which gradually slid as the season progressed. “Self-Made Man” and “Alpine Fields” are two stand-alone episodes designed to draw in new fans, as the creative team felt that a continuous thrust forward would hurt the series’ chances of survival. Unfortunately, these two episodes are some of the least impressive: while decent enough on their own terms, they feel completely out of context and arrive at the wrong time. These may have added a few viewers, but I imagine they probably confused and frustrated those expecting the series to continue its steady pace forward. Nonetheless, “Earthlings Welcome Here” gets things back on track…but within the context of the series’ original broadcast dates, it may have come too late. This would be the last episode before the holiday break, with Chronicles returning two months later in the dreaded Friday night timeslot…which television fans refer to as “the kiss of death”.
It’s sad, really, because The Sarah Connor Chronicles really got back on its feet from that point onward. “The Good Wound” was much better suited to draw in new fans than a stand-alone episode: taking several cues from Terminator 2, this Sarah-centered adventure re-acquaints us with an important figure from her past. The next several episodes flesh out story elements introduced earlier in the season, as Sarah, John, Derek and Cameron set out to solve a mysterious factory explosion in the desert. After “Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep”, Chronicles sprints to the finish line: Jesse and Riley’s pasts begin to unravel, John Henry and ZeiraCorp’s true intentions are revealed, Sarah and company head off into unfamiliar territory and several major characters meet their doom. It all culminates with “Born to Run”, which ends the series on a high note, tying up several loose ends but leaving others to the imagination. Poignant, clever and almost hopeful, it’s a fitting farewell to a series that was killed off too early.

Regardless, Warner Bros. has given The Sarah Connor Chronicles a strong send-off on DVD, as this second season arrives in a fully-loaded six-disc collection. The series’ crisp cinematography and ambitious sound mix—both of which feel more like big-screen efforts than typical TV fare—are supported by a solid technical presentation, while fans can also look forward to a collection of entertaining and informative bonus features. Though Friedman’s excellent series now joins the gone-too-early ranks

REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE

CAST

Milla Jovovich (The Three Musketeers)
Sienna Guillory (Eragon)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Thomas Kretschmann (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Sophie Vavasseur (Evelyn)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Mike Epps (The Hangover)
Iain Glen (Game of Thrones)
Sandrine Holt (Underworld: Awakening)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Megan Fahlenbock (Get Over It)

After the contamination of The Hive in the previous film, the Umbrella Corporation unwisely sends in a research team to reopen the complex and investigate the incident, since no one survived except Alice and Matt Addison, both of whom were imprisoned and experimented on. When the team reprograms and opens the sealed blast doors, they are slaughtered by the massive crowd of T-virus infected zombies.With the zombies released, they reach Raccoon City, spreading the infection among the general population. Two days after the infection has spread to the surface, Umbrella, now worried about a possible worldwide contamination, quarantines Raccoon City and establishes a security perimeter around it, also evacuating all important Umbrella personnel. However, a girl named Angela Ashford (Sophie Vavasseur), daughter of the Level 6 Umbrella researcher and T-virus creator Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris), goes missing after an Umbrella security car transporting her out of Raccoon City suffers a traffic accident.Alice awakens in the deserted Raccoon City hospital attached to wiring, and after unstrapping herself, she manages to exit her room. Finding no one in the hospital, she wanders outside only to find the city a ghost town, overrun by zombies. She arms herself with a shotgun from a police car and wanders the city looking for supplies. She is constantly disturbed by visions of a man, who was revealed to be experimenting on her; she now has superhuman agility and strength.While Umbrella is evacuating civilians at the Raven’s Gate Bridge, the only exit out of the town, disgraced police officer Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), confers with Sergeant Payton Wells (Razaaq Adoti), her old ally, after hearing about the infection being true. However, the T-virus infects a man having a heart attack, turning him into a zombie that bites Payton at the city gates. Umbrella’s supervisor and the head of the Raccoon City contamination operation, Major Timothy Cain (Thomas Kretschmann), worried that the T-virus has reached the gates, seals the exit and orders his soldiers to fire over the crowd’s heads, scaring them back into the city. Elsewhere, Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and other Umbrella soldiers link up with Special Tactics And Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) units to defend against an onslaught of zombies. Their positions are overrun, causing Carlos and his team to retreat with a bitten Yuri (Stefen Hayes), who turns into a zombie and infects Carlos before being killed. Jill, Payton, and news reporter Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt) lock themselves in a church, where a panicked man is also hiding. Inspecting the church, Jill finds a priest who has been feeding other people to his zombified sister. They soon find the church is full of Lickers. The priest and the panicked man are killed, but Jill, Payton, and Terri are saved at the last minute by the heavily armed Alice.In the meantime, Umbrella dispatches their Nemesis Program to fight the zombies in order to test him. When Nemesis encounters a surviving citizen, L.J. (Mike Epps), and members of S.T.A.R.S., the latter open fire on Nemesis. Nemesis guns the team down but spares L.J.’s life when he drops his weapons. Meanwhile, Dr. Ashford has refused extraction, since Angela is missing, and soon discovers she is hiding in her school. He hacks into the city’s CCTV system, uses it to contact Alice and the other survivors, and offers to arrange their evacuation in exchange for their rescuing Angela. Alice, seeing no other escape, accepts the offer. Payton, Terri, and Jill initially refuse, intending to hide until backup arrives, but Alice explains her choice – as the contamination cannot be controlled, a nuclear bomb will be dropped on Raccoon City, completely destroying it, with a cover story of a meltdown of the local nuclear power plant.Seeing no choice, the others join Alice in heading for the school. However, Nemesis appears and shoots Payton dead. Alice separates and assaults him, but she is overwhelmed and forced into retreat. Jill and Terri make it to the school, and they pick up L.J. on the way. Inside the school, they find Carlos and Nicholai (Zack Ward), acting on the same offer. After encounters with zombie dogs and infected children who kill Nicholai and Terri, Alice saves the group again, and they find Angela. Angela reveals she was injected with the T-virus; she was ill with a genetic disease and forced to walk on crutches. Dr. Ashford created the T-virus to allow her to walk, and he created the anti-virus because of the T-virus’ potential for mutations, but the virus was then impounded and weaponized by Umbrella. Alice uses Terri’s video camera to record her story and injects Carlos with the anti-virus carried by Angela, to keep her infection in check.Dr. Ashford gives Alice the location of the extraction point at City Hall, where the helicopter waits. The group makes it to the rendezvous but is cornered by Major Cain, who has caught wind of Dr. Ashford’s intentions and is holding him prisoner. All but Alice are restrained, and seconds later Nemesis appears; the helicopter is actually Nemesis’ extraction before the bomb detonation. Cain commands Alice to fight Nemesis. Alice refuses, but when Cain shoots Dr. Ashford dead in cold-blood and threatens the others, she relents and fights Nemesis, impaling him on a pole. Defeating Nemesis, she realizes he is Matt Addison, her friend and one of the survivors in The Hive. As he was infected by a Licker and started to mutate, he was placed in the program and experimented on.Her stand and refusing to kill him rekindles a trace of Matt’s former humanity; he and Alice join forces and attack the Umbrella forces. Meanwhile, Carlos and Jill cut themselves free from their bonds and join the fight. Nemesis is killed, protecting Alice from an exploding helicopter. Cain, having been knocked out in an attempt to flee during the fight, is thrown out of the helicopter by Alice and is left to be devoured by a horde of encroaching zombies, including Dr. Ashford. As the survivors escape in the remaining chopper, the nuclear missile detonates over the City Hall. The helicopter is caught in the blast wave and crashes. As the helicopter falls, a metal pole comes loose and is flung towards Angela. Alice moves in front of Angela and is impaled, saving her but mortally wounding herself.Some hours after the explosion, Umbrella employees locate the helicopter’s crash site, deep in the Arklay Mountains. There, they find Alice’s body, badly burned; the others are nowhere to be found. The media later shows that Terri’s footage has been shown to the press, but despite Carlos and Jill’s best efforts, Umbrella promotes a fake story about a nuclear power plant explosion near the city with ease. The infection is characterized as a hoax, and the media announces that Jill and Carlos are wanted by the police for questioning.Three weeks later, in Umbrella’s research facility in Detroit, Alice awakens. Led by Umbrella scientist Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen), the doctors begin questioning her. Soon, she recalls events from Raccoon City and before. She realizes that the man who appeared in her visions is Dr. Isaacs. She attacks him, fights her way out of the facility, and makes her way outside, only to be surrounded by more Umbrella guards holding her at gunpoint. Suddenly, Jill, Carlos, Angela, and L.J. arrive, disguised as Umbrella employees. Carlos shows the guards an order placing her in his custody. Dr. Isaacs is shown allowing them to leave, and then saying that “Project Alice” is activated. A close-up of Alice’s eye shows a flashing Umbrella logo, revealing she is under their control. The scene then pulls away from the car she is in and into orbit, where an Umbrella satellite is seen.While Resident Evil 2 is light on plot, it is heavy on kills, explosions and various other forms of mayhem. I definitely felt I got my money’s worth. There are really only two differences between this movie and the original “Resident Evil”. One, this movie introduces a new monster, the Nemesis. It’s a big monster with bad teeth wearing an overcoat and wielding a rocket launcher. The other difference is that they added another hot woman to the zombie killing mix. Alice needed some babe backup. Overall, I was pleased with this one. It’s worth a look.

 

REVIEW: ALMOST FAMOUS

CAST

Patrick Fugit (Saved)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Fairuza Balk (Return To Oz)
Bijou Phillips (Hostel: Part II)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby)
Jimmy Fallon (Taxi)
Rainn Wilson (House of 1,000 Corpses)
Eric Stonestreet (Bad Teahcer)
Pauley Perrette (NCIS)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)

In 1973, William Miller is a 15-year-old boy aspiring to be a rock journalist. His mother, Elaine, wants him to become a lawyer. Shunned by his classmates, he writes for underground papers in San Diego, sharing the love of rock music instilled in him through a gift of albums left behind on the day his sister Anita left home.
William listens to an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs. William has sent Bangs copies of his work, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a review of a Black Sabbath concert. At first reluctant to assist a journalist, the band Stillwater brings William backstage after he praises their work. The guitarist, Russell Hammond, takes a liking to William, partly because of William’s friendship with a groupie he has romantic feelings for, Penny.
William goes with Penny to the Riot House – the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard – to meet Stillwater. Penny, feigning retirement from her rock glory days, acts as William’s chauffeur, but only to get close to Russell, for whom she has genuine feelings and a past relationship. William is called by Ben Fong-Torres, editor of Rolling Stone, who wants him to do a story, believing William is several years older than he really is. When William convinces Ben to let him do a story on Stillwater, he is instructed to go on the road with them.
On the first leg of the trip, William makes his first in an increasingly frustrating number of attempts to interview Russell. Penny watches the interaction and sympathizes with William. William experiences tensions with the band due to his role as a journalist. new manager, Dennis, comes on board to help steer the band, and it is revealed that Penny must leave the tour before New York, where Leslie, Russell’s ex-wife/girlfriend, will join them. During a poker game he allows Dick to put up the groupies as a stake. The band loses the groupies to the band Humble Pie for $50 and a case of Heineken. When William tells Penny, she acts nonchalant but is devastated. Penny and Doris, the band’s tour bus, are left behind; Dennis has piled the band into a plane for more gigs.
Penny goes to New York on her own, and as the band gathers in a restaurant with Russell’s girlfriend, Penny shows up. As they celebrate making the cover of Rolling Stone, Penny makes Leslie uncomfortable and Dick asks her to leave. William chases Penny back to her hotel and finds her overdosed on Quaaludes. Believing they will die during a plane ride, the group confesses their secrets. When Penny is insulted by Jeff, the band’s lead singer, William defends her and discloses his love. The plane lands safely, leaving everyone to ponder the changed atmosphere. William continues to San Francisco to finish the story, parting ways with the band in the airport. Upset about Penny, he rewrites the article, telling the truth. The Rolling Stone editors cannot wait to publish it, but have to ask the band to verify it. Fearful of how the article will affect their image, the band makes William look like a liar. William is crushed and the story is dead. Sitting dejected in the airport, he sees his sister, who has become a stewardess and lives on her own terms. She tells him they should go on a trip together and, exhausted, William chooses to go home to San Diego.
Backstage at the Miami Orange Bowl on the Stillwater tour, Sapphire talks to Russell about Penny’s near-suicide and how despite the warnings she received about letting people fall in love with her, one of them saved her life. Russell is curious about the person in question, but Sapphire chastises him, saying that everyone knows what the band did to William and how awful they think it is. Russell calls Penny and asks for her address, telling her he wants to meet. Unbeknownst to Russell, she gives him William’s address in an attempt to resolve their conflict. Russell goes to the house, thinking it is Penny’s, but finds Elaine instead. Learning who he is, she lets him in to see William as Russell realizes where he is. They reconcile and Russell reveals that he called Rolling Stone and told them William’s story is true. Russell gives William a proper interview, Penny purchases a ticket to Morocco, and William’s story is published, with Stillwater on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The movie is a wonderful coming of age story with a fantastic soundtrack