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John Wick

John Wick is a 2014 American action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. The movie stars Keanue Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe. The film pays homage to Hong Kong cinema’s choreographed fight and gun battles as well as other martial art films as well as Spaghetti Westerns.

John Wick is a retired contract assassin who quit the buisness after meeting Helen, who would become his wife. After Helen dies due to illness John receives a delivery that she had arranged prior to her death – a puppy named Daisy. Initially distant from the pup, John quickly connects with the dog after driving around town the next day. At a gas station Russian gang members led by their leader Iosepf (Alfie Allen aka Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) demand that John sell them his car to which he bluntly refuses. The three men follow John back to his home, break in and beat him up, kill the puppy and steal his car causing some other damage as well. Ioseph and his goons are informed by Aurelio, the owner of a chop shop that they stole John Wick’s car and that he won’t touch it. Ioseph’s father, Russian mob boss Viggo Tarasov, informs his father about Aurolio’s hostile rejection the mobster calls Aurelio, only to be stunned on knowing whose car his son stole.

Viggo berates Isoeph for stealing from “Baba Yiga” (Russian for the Boogeyman) & killing his dog; John was his best assassin and had helped Viggo gain control of his syndicate by single-handedly eliminating all competition, a task Viggo considered “impossible”. Viggo attempts to dissuade John from retribution but John disregards it and must fend off a hit squad that Viggo sends to his house. After dispatching them off and calling a cleaning crew John hseeks refuge at the Continental, a hotel that exclusively caters to assassins, with the rule that no business can be conducted on premises. However he must fend off from a female assassin after Viggo puts a contract out on him and fend off numerous Russian mobsters and killers before he can get to Ioseph. And ofcourse once he does kill the son will the Russian mob boss leave him alone? There’s also a fellow veteran assassin named Markus who is sympathetic to John’s situation and wants to help, but will it come at a steep price?

Wonderfully well choreographed this thriller starts off at a slow pace with the funeral and John adjusting to life as a widower and then getting the puppy. Once the film gets going it barely takes a breath and is edge of your seat excitement. Reeves shines in this type of role and I smell a sequel of two in the near future. The cinematography is amazing and everything looks so well done. With a great cast to boot, I think this was my favourite action based movie in a long time. 8 outta 10!

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Nominees For The 87th Academy Awards (Partial List)

The list of nominations for the 87th Academy Awards : this is only 6 categories and the only ones I usually look out for. Take a look.

Best Picture
Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“American Sniper”
“Whiplash”

Actress in a Leading Role
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days One Night”

Actor in a Leading Role
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”

Directing
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
Laura Dern, “Wild”

Actor in a Supporting Role
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”

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The Inbetweeners 2

The Inbetweeners 2 is the second movie to be based on the popular British sitcom that originally aired on E4 from 2008 to 2010, after 2011’s hilarious The Inbetweeners Movie. While the series was set during the 4 lads high school days and the first movie was a coming of age tale post high school with the boys on their holiday in Crete. This time round it’s the 4 lads having a bit of an adventure in Australia.

3 years after the events of the first film Will, Neil and Jay’s girlfriends have all broken up with them while Simon is unhappy with his obsessive and abusive girlfriend Lucy. While Neil is working in a bank Simon & Will are depressed and often bullied in college and Jay is taking a year off in Australia. After being denied entry at a dorm party and having Will’s furniture taped to his ceiling (again) the 3 of them decided to go join Jay in Sydney after receiving an email about how he is living it up as a star DJ, having sex with a lot of girls and sleeping in a mansion. However when they do make it to Australia they find that Jay was lying through his teeth; in reality he is working as the toilet attendant in the club and sleeps in a tent outside his uncle’s house. While at the club Will runs into Katie, who was his friend during childhood. Before they turn in for the night, Simon Skypes with Lucy in an attempt to break-up with Lucy via a Skype call however Jay’s uncle interferes and tricks Lucy into thinking Simon asked her to marry him, to Simon’s horror.

The next day the four friends travel by car to a youth hostel in Byron Bay where Katie and several other backpackers are staying and Will tries to become friends with Ben who does not seem impressed with him. Will also noticed that his mother seems to be living with someone when he Skypes her, but she denies it. It turns out that Jay was in Australia to try and win back his ex Jane who was working at a water park in Byron Bay and so the next day the quartet visit the park along with several of the backpackers. The staff inform Jay that Jane quit her job and is now in the Outbacks. After a hilarious song & playing of a borrowed guitar Will & a drunk Katie almost have sex but she falls asleep on him and he is mistaken for trying to rape her. In the morning things are sorted out but while the other 3 want to try and find Jane in the outbacks, Will wants to stay back and try his luck with Katie. But that night he struggles to fit in with the ‘spiritual’ activities of the travellers and on discovering that Katie is seeing multiple people at once, Will gets angry and rants a foul mouth tirade against them, which leads Katie into having sex with Ben. Will catches a plane the next day to reach his friends in an Outback town and joins them in their car.

While driving to Jane’s new workplace the car runs out of fuel and stuck in the desert without food or water. A dehydrated Simon almost drinks some urine from Neil but the latter only ends up splashing it on his friend’s face. The group hold hands together as they realise that they will most likely die, but are rescued by Jane and her co-workers and it’s only been two hours since the car stalled. Although Jane is touched by Jay trying to find her she does not take him back. The boys go back to Sydney and find Will’s mom, who has been sleeping with their old nemesis & former school teacher, and Jay’s dad there. Jay gets angry at his uncle who insults Jane and slaps him, which causes a fight between Jay’s dad and his uncle. Simon finds out via Skype that Lucy has been cheating on him with Pete, his university friend – but he is elated and abruptly closes the call with her. The four boys decide to travel to Vietnam in a montage during the film’s credits – they are seen hooking with transvestites! After their return to England Neil starts a relationship with one of the backpackers and Will’s mother announces her engagement, much to Will’s horror.

Filled with gross, young men’s humour and jokes the highlight of the movie is Neil pooping in his swim trunks and the poop “chasing” Will down the waterslide as he screams and it landing on his face only for him to puke violently in the water afterwards. There’s ribbing and joking and gross stuff all over the film and not everyone will enjoy that. But I find it hilarious so if dirty English humour is your cup of tea then pop in this film and enjoy. 8 outta 10!

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Dracula (1979)

One of the numerous but probably one of the best Dracula movies based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, Dracula (1979) was directed by John Badham and starred Frank Langella as the famed count. The film also starred Laurence Olivier as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, Donald Pleasence as Dr. Jack Seward, Kate Nelligan as Lucy Seward, Trevor Eve as Jonathan Harker, Tony Haygarth as Milo Renfield, and Jan Francis as Mina Van Helsing.

Similar to the story in the novel, Dracula arrives in Whitby, England via the ship the Demeter one stormy evening. In the form of a wolf he kills the entire ship’s crew just before the ship crashes on the shore. An ill Mina Van Helsing, who is visiting her friend Lucy Seward and Dr. Jack Seward’s house sees the crash and runs to the shore to find Dracula. The Count is taken to his newly purchased but old & run down Carfax Abbey, which was sold to him via young Johnathon Harker, Lucy’s fiance. Dracula is invited to dinner at Dr. Seward’s house, whose clifftop mansion also serves as the local asylum, where he charms everyone especially Lucy. Later that night while Johnathon and Lucy have a secret rendevouz, Dracula visits Mina in her bedroom and drinks her blood. Early in the morning Lucy finds Mina struggling to breathe and calls her father to the room. Powerless, they watch as Mina dies, only to find wounds on her throat. Lucy blames herself for Mina’s death, as she had left her alone.

Dr. Seward calls for Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, Mina’s father, to come to Whitby and fills him in on the mysterious circumstances of his daughter’s death. After a period of grieving, and a chance meeting with Dracula, Van Helsing suspects the workings of a vampire and does research on it after a nurse in the asylum swears that she saw Mina feeding on a baby. He & Seward visit Mina’s grave and discover that it has been broken from the inside and track her to the local mines. It is there that they encounter the ghastly form of an undead Mina, and it is up to a distraught Van Helsing to destroy what remains of his own daughter. Lucy, meanwhile goes alone to Carfax Abbey for dinner, as Johnathon is away on work and she reveals that she is under the count’s spell and professes her love to him. They share a sensuous night of love making after which Lucy drinks some of Dracula’s blood. However, after Johnathon arrives to find her in a similar sickly state as Mina, the two doctors manage to give Lucy a blood transfusion to slow her descent into vampirism, but she remains under Dracula’s spell.

The three men realize that to save Lucy they must destroy the Count but have to restrain Lucy first as she desperately wishes to be with him. The two doctors & Harker go to the Count’s home in daylight but he is prepared and waiting for them and despite it being daylight he manages to escape. At night he bursts into the Asylum and frees Lucy and they make their way to board a ship carrying the vampire cargo bound for Romania. Harker & Van Helsing take a boat to the ship and get on board to confront the Count. They find the Count’s coffin; upon opening it they see Lucy sleeping beside her new “husband”, Dracula. Again they try to destroy him, but the Count awakens and once more fights with them. Van Helsing is fatally injured by Dracula as he is impaled by the stake intended for the vampire but manages to throw a hook (attached to a rope, from the ship’s rigging), into Dracula’s back. Harker hoists the body of Dracula high into up through the cargo hold and into the sunlight above. With animalistic screams of agony the Count dies a slow death, his body burnt into ashes.

The last scene shows a now more herself Lucy reaching out to Harker but he rejects her still feeling betrayed. As Lucy looks up she sees Dracula’s cape flying in the wind and smiles to herself, leading me to believe that we haven’t seen the last of the Count. Good film and excellent casting. A classic gothic-romantic style film with an emphasis on the romance. 8 outta 10, though it drags a bit in the middle!

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Dumb And Dumber To

A full 20 years later we finally get the proper sequel to 1994’s hit comedic film Dumb And Dumber in Dumber And Dumber To. Co-written and directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly, the movie brings back the then smash duo of Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels who reprise their roles as Lloyd Christmas & Harry Dunn. Joining them this time around are Kathleen Turner, Laurie Holden, Rachel Melvin, Rob Riggle & Steven Tom.

When we start the film we see that for the past 20 years Lloyd has been admitted in a mental institution after his apparent grief over his failed romance with Mary Swanson from the first film. Harry has been regularly visiting his friend every Wednesday and – changing his dirty diapers and removing the urine bags – and finds out that Lloyd has been faking it for 20 years as a gag. Lloyd decides to leave with Harry and the duo head to their apartment. When they get there, Harry tells Lloyd about his medical issue: one of his kidneys is bad and he needs a donor soon. Lloyd does not offer his but suggest that they go to meet Harry’s parents (down the road) and get one of them to donate but since they adopted Harry they are not compatible. On their way out, Harry’s dad gives him his mail that’s been piling up since he moved out. One of them is a postcard from his old girlfriend Fraida Felcher dating from 1991. It in she says that she is pregnant and needs Harry to call her.

The two friends go to meet Fraida at her place of work, a funeral parlor, and Fraida admits that she had a daughter named Fanny that she gave up for adoption. She wrote Fanny a letter, only for it to be sent back and noted to never contact her again. Fraida shows the two a picture of Fanny that she found online, Lloyd then instantly falls in love with Fanny after seeing the picture of her. Taking a hearse from Fraida, the two of them drive to Maryland where Fanny lives with her adopted family (after first going to Fraida’s home as they mistake the Return to address for Fanny’s) and find that the girl’s name was changed to Penny by her adoptive parents Dr. Bernard Pinchelow and his wife Adele. Penny, also not too bright, has already left for El Paso (Texas) for a KEN convention where she is to accept an award on her father’s behalf, as he is unwell, and also speak about her father’s work. She was supposed to give a package to the organizer but forgets that as well as her phone at home. The wife Adele, is secretly poisoning her husband with the help of her lover & family housekeeper Travis. Harry & Lloyd tell them why they are there at which point Bernard realizes Penny left the package, which he says is worth billions. Adele suggests that Harry and Lloyd deliver the package to Penny. So Adele and Travis can get the billions from the package, Travis accompanies the duo, but he becomes extremely annoyed with the duo’s antics.

Travis sets off firecrackers in the hearse which temporarily affect the duo’s hearing but as they step out a freight train to plows into Travis and the Hearse, which Harry and Lloyd do not see. Harry & Lloyd end up finding their old van but when it break down they get a zamboni and drive to El Paso. Captain Lippencott, Travis’s twin brother and special ops soldier, informs Adele that his brother is dead and offers to help kill Harry and Lloyd. At the KEN convention Harry is mistaken for the reclusive Dr. Pinchelow and invited to the auditorium but he argues with Lloyd when he finds out that Lloyd wants to get with Penny and the latter is escorted out. Lloyd then gets a call from Penny. They arrange a meeting at a fountain after he tells her that he’s there with her dad. The two then head to a restaurant, where Lloyd deduces, as he recalls one night he was with Fraida, that he is the biological father of Penny, not Harry. Adele arrives at the convention and exposes Harry as a fraud when she tells the heads of the convention that he is not her husband. Fraida also arrives and pulls the fire alarm and everybody exits. Harry runs into Fraida and Penny, only for the moment to be ruined by Lippencott pulling a gun.

They run into the bathroom to hide but are caught by Lippencott & Adele After Lloyd arrives, having undergone a kidney removal at an illegally run clinic, Adele and Lippencott attempt to shoot them, but three cops bust in with a healthy-looking Bernard, who knew that Adele was trying to poison him. The package he gave Penny were just cupcakes for one of the convention heads. As Adele and Lippencott are arrested, Adele then turns her gun on Penny and shoots, but Harry jumps in front of the bullet and is severely injured. Harry is rushed to the hospital, where he reveals that he was pranking Lloyd about needing a kidney. Good thing to as Lloyd was duped by the clinic and given a pork chop instead of his kidney in a medical freezer! Harry and Lloyd are told by Fraida that neither are Penny’s father and that her biological father is a deceased high school friend of theirs named Pete Stainer (or “Pee Stain”, as they called him). As the duo leave El Paso, they spot two beautiful women walking in their direction. They decide not to waste this opportunity, and they end up shoving both women into a bush as a joke. They run off and high-five each other. In the final scene they hurl their milkshakes behind them, as they are riding their zamboni, which hit the truck of their old nemesis Sea Bass, who angrily chases the two.

Funny, gross funny in places and they had me falling outta my bed as I was laughing so hard in a couple of scenes. I know the movie was panned by critics and given negative reviews but I liked it. Not as much as the first one but still it was thoroughly enjoyable. On a budget of $40 mil the movie has made a little over $130 million. I give it an 8 outta 10!

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Hercules (2014)

Hercules is a 2014 directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Reece Ritchie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Joseph Fiennes, and John Hurt. Much like in the view of the recent spate of Greek legend movies with a lot of liberties taken. This is one of two Hercules themed movies that was released this year and the latest of Hercules themed movies that I can remember.

Hercules is a wizened warrior and leader of a band of mercenaries that consists of the spear-wielding prophet Amphiaraus of Argos, the knife-throwing thief Autolycus of Sparta, the feral warrior Tydeus of Thebes, the Amazon archer Atalanta of Scythia and his nephew storyteller Iolaus of Athens. Iolaus recounts the legend of Hercules who was born to a human woman after she was impregnated by the might god Zeus and who completed the 12 labours to appease Zeus’s wife the goddess Hera. However the story goes that he went insane and murdered his wife & 3 children during a visit to King Eurystheus, after being betrayed by Hera. He was banished by the king but continued to show displays of great strength and skill in combat. Hercules is frequently haunted by the memory of the deaths of his wife and daughters by his hand, as well as visions of Cerberus. After a mission, Hercules and his group are celebrating at a tavern when Ergenia, daughter of Lord Cotys Hercules to train the armies of Thrace to defend the kingdom from bloodthirsty warlord Rheseus. Hercules accepts after he is promised his weight in gold if successful.

After training the army, which is usually led by General Sitacles, Hercules and his men lead them into battle against local barbarians as a test of their strength. After the barbarians are defeated, Hercules and Sitacles confront Rheseus and his soldiers. Rheseus is defeated and taken back to Thrace as a prisoner, where he is tortured and humiliated. However back in Thrace, Rheseus informs Hercules that regarding actions of burning down villages, it was not him or his army, and tells Hercules that he has been fighting on the wrong side. In the palace during a celebratory feast Ergenia takes pity on Rheseus Hercules confronts her and finds out Rheseus was telling the truth in that he was merely retaliating against Lord Cotys’s aggressive attempts to expand his kingdom, and, although Ergenia doesn’t agree with his methods, she goes along with them for the sake of her son, Arius, Lord Cotys’s successor to the throne, who is being threatened by Cotys. Hercules confronts Cotys and has to be restrained by Autolycus. The group gets their gold and prepare to leave but Hercules wants to stay back and correct things.

All but Autolycus choose to follow him but they are overpowered and captured by Sitacles and his men. While chained, Hercules is confronted by King Eurystheus, who is in league with Lord Cotys, and reveals that he drugged Hercules the night his family died, viewing him as a threat to his power. Hercules’s family was in fact killed by 3 vicious wolves that Eurystheus sent, resulting in Hercules’s constant hallucinations of Cerberus. Lord Cotys orders Ergenia to also be executed for her betrayal and Hercules, encouraged by Amphiaraus to become the legend that people know him to be. Summoning inhuman strength, Hercules breaks free of his chains, saving Ergenia and slaying the 3 wolves with his bare hands. Hercules releases the prisoners, including Rheseus, and then confronts King Eurystheus, impaling him with his own dagger. He is attacked by Sitacles, who is then stabbed by Iolaus. Outside Arius is taken hostage, but then rescued by Autolycus, who has decided to return to help his friends.

In the ensuing battle, Tydeus is mortally wounded while protecting Arius, but fights on slaughtering numerous Thracian soldiers. Hercules again uses inhuman strength and pushes a massive statue of Hera from its foundations and uses it to crush Lord Cotys and many of his soldiers. After this show, the remaining soldiers bow down to Hercules, believing the legend of the demigod. Later Arius takes the throne, with Ergenia at his side, while Hercules and his men depart in search of other adventures.

And perhaps more movies to follow. Good enough film for an afternoon’s fun. It’s entertaining and the creature effects are done well as is the production. 7.5 outta 10!

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At The Devil’s Door

A movie titled like that is sure to get it’s share of people checking it out. I expected a lot more from this film, even after glancing through it’s synopsis but I was somewhat disappointed. At The Devil’s Door is 2014 horror film directed by Nicholas McCarthy and starring Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ashley Rickards & Naya Rivera.

Teenager Hannah is with her new boyfriend who takes her to meet a man in a trailer who offers her $500 to play a game and “sell her soul”. Not making much of it she agrees and wins a round of the shells game. The man tells her she’s been chosen, and to go down to where the roads meet and say her name (so he knows her name when he calls for her). Later that night at her house, she hears a male voice from her closet that says “come to me” and she is attacked by an unseen entity that lifts her in the air and then throws her down with some force. The movie then shifts to Leigh, a real estate agent who has just visited the now empty house that Hannah lived in and she sees a girl in a raincoat who walks away without saying a word. Leigh then goes to her artist sister Vera at the latter’s house and offered to buy one of her works, even though Vera wants to gift it to her. Later Leigh meets the owners of the house are trying to sell the house due to being unable to pay the mortgage since Chuck, the husband got sick. Leigh tells them that she say a girl there earlier and the couple say that it must have been their daughter Charlene who has been missing for several months (they think she ran away with her boyfriend).

Later when Leigh is at the house awaiting some inspection crew she see the girl again and takes her out of the rain and to her own home. As Charlene sits in the kitchen Leigh calls Chuck and says that she has his daughter with her but is stunned to hear Chuck tell her that police picked Charlene up at a local mall hours ago and that she is with him. Leigh then sees the girl’s picture in an newspaper article among the files for the house – it is Hannah White, who committed suicide back in 1987. Leigh notices Hannah is gone and she goes around the house to look for her. She finds her in an empty room staring into a mirror. When Leigh asks who she is, Leigh falls to the floor and her heart stops. A grey creature comes out of Hannah. The next day Vera is contacted by the police to come to identify the body of her sister Leigh, who died the day before. Vera finds the same files in Leigh’s home and goes to the empty house where she too sees Hannah who then takes out. Vera then goes to see Charlene who is in an institute and she tells her that she saw the same girl and what looked like a dark figure of man watching her through a mirror.

Vera then goes to see one of Hannah’s old friends who says that Hannah was pregnant before she committed suicide and that she wasn’t herself the last few days she was alive. Also that Hannah claimed a demon was inside of her, wearing her body like a costume. That night at her own loft Vera is awakened by a voice that says “come to me” and she sees a demonic face in the mirror. The entity then attacks her and throws her out the building window onto the roof of a car. When she comes to at the hospital she is told that she was in a coma for 8 months that she was also pregnant at the time. The baby is safe and progressing along fine but Vera wants it out of her. During her ultrasound, Vera sees a demonic face on the monitor and demands an immediate C-section. Refusing to hold or look at the baby she gives the baby up for adoption and after a week later, Vera goes back to Leigh’s house to gather some of her sisters belongings before leaving town.

6 years later Vera tracks down her baby, a girl and meets the mother. While the mother is in another room Vera asks the girl why she was chosen and that she knows who the girl is. The girl hands a finished puzzle to Vera and then leaves the house and runs into a partially completed house in the woods. Vera chases after her with a knife and in a room sees a dark shadow of a demon which then changes shape to that of the girl and almost stabs the girl with the knife. We then see the girl’s mother running to the house searches desperately for her daughter who she cannot find.
In Vera’s car, the little girl and Vera prepare to leave when the girl touches Vera’s hand and says, “I knew you’d come back for me, mommy.” The end!

For a movie that is about the anti-christ or coming of the devil in human form, it’s not very scary (just a couple of jump scares) and falters to excite you as anything worthy of Satan’s spawn should do. Hannah’s angst at trying to burn the money to get rid of the entity and on failing to do so tries to bury it but it still comes back is good but the film hinting that she probably harmed an infant she was babysitting and not doing so – what? The film didn’t really work for me although it is worth a watch. 6.5 outta 10!

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Lucy

A Luc Besson direction, Lucy is an English language French science fiction  action flick starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked and Choi Min-sik. Shot in Taipei, Paris & New York the movie is about a woman who gains psychokinetic abilities from a nootropic drug being absorbed into her bloodstream.

Lucy is an American student in Taipei and gets tricked into delivering a suitcase to Korean mob boss & drug lord Mr. Jang at a hotel by a man she just started dating. While she waits at the lobby, the boyfriend is killed and she is taken up to Jang’s suite by his goons. The suitcase contains four large vials of a new synthetic drug called CPH4 and the goons have the vials surgically inserted into the abdomens of Lucy and 3 other unwitting drug mules who will deliver the drugs to various cities in Europe. Lucy is taken away to a warehouse and while in captivity, one of her captors kicks her hard in the stomach which releases a large quantity of the drug into her system.  As a result, she begins acquiring increasingly enhanced physical and mental capabilities, such as telepathy, telekinesis, mental time travel, and can choose not to feel pain or other discomforts, in addition to other abilities. Using her new found abilities, she dispatches her captors and escapes.

She goes to a hospital nearby and has a surgeon remove the bag of drugs at gunpoint and Lucy is told by the operating doctor of the volatile nature of the drug, based on a substance given to fetuses during prenatal development, and its destructive side-effects. Lucy then goes back to the hotel where Mr. Jang stays and kills a bunch of his men, stabs the mob boss’s hands and telepathically extracts the locations of all three drug mules from his brain. She then goes to her friend’s place and uses the internet to find out about & contact a well-known scientist and doctor, Professor Samuel Norman, whose research may be the key to saving her. She does this by controlling his phones, computers and tv to convince him of her genuineness. Lucy then contacts Paris police captain Pierre Del Rio and tells him about the remaining 3 bags of drugs that is being smuggled. During her flight to Paris Lucy starts to disintegrate when she takes a sip of champagne as her cells destabilize, due to the alcohol which makes her body inhospitable for cellular reproduction. She rushes to the bathroom and ingests more of the CPH4 which stabilizes her. Meanwhile the Korean drug gang had captured the 3 mules and taken the drugs from them.

As her powers grow Lucy is able to telepathically incapacitate armed police and members from the Korean drug gang and with the help of Del Rio she takes the 3 drugs back from them and hurries to meet Professor Norman, with whom she agrees to share everything she now knows, after he points out that the main point of life is to pass on knowledge. Jang and his men now in Paris have a shootout with the Paris police while Lucy speaks to Prof. Norman discusses the nature of time and life and how people’s humanity distorts their perceptions. She has his fellow scientists intravenously inject her with the contents of all three remaining bags of CPH4. She begins to metamorphose into a black substance which begins to spread over the computers and other devices in the lab and transform these into an unconventionally shaped, next generation supercomputer that will contain all of her enhanced knowledge of the universe. She then travels through space and time back into the past and sees the oldest discovered ancestor of mankind, implied to be Lucy, and touches fingertips with her. Jang then enters the lab, having killed off most the cops and his own men all dead, intending to kill the scientists and Lucy. Just before he shoots her Lucy reaches 100% of her cerebral capacity and disappears within the spacetime continuum, where she explains that everything is connected and existence is only proven through time. Left behind are only her clothes and the oddly shaped black supercomputer.

Jang is shot dead by an injured but still alive Del Rio and Professor Norman takes a black, monolithic flash drive offered by the advanced supercomputer before it disintegrates into dust. When Del Rio asks where Lucy is, he gets a message on his phone from her that say she is everywhere. As the film fades to black Lucy’s voice is heard stating, “Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what to do with it.”

I think the movie has a lot of good points and has shot some of the scenes really well. As for the science, I guess they take a lot of liberties with it but that still makes for a good movie. I still have some issue with the plot. It was a box office success, grossing over $458 million against a budget of $40 million. 8 outta 10!

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The Maze Runner

Based on James Dashner’s 2009 novel of the same name, The Maze Runner is a 2014 American science fiction dystopian action thriller film directed by Wes Ball. The film, which is one of the latest in the spurt of  young adult themed semi-scifi kinda fiction, is the first installment in The Maze Runner film series and was produced by Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, and Lee Stollman with a screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, and T.S. Nowlin. The film stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, and Ki Hong Lee.

A teenage boy wakes up inside a rusty elevator that has come up from several levels below and is greeted by several other unfamiliar boys on a grassy enclave.  He makes a run from them but finds that the clearing, called The Glade, is surrounded by huge stone walls. The boy has no memory of who he is and how or where he came from but the leader of the group of all boys, Albi, says that he will remember his name in a little while. The boys all work and survive together in a sort of community and the boy is befriended by the second in command Newt, who shows him the work in the garden, and a chubby younger boy called Chuck. All the boys came up to the surface in the same way, one at a time every 30 days, without their memory and only remembers their name after a couple of days. The boy wonders what is beyond the opening in the wall adjacent to the Glade, but he is warned not to go through there, being that it is a maze. Newt, second in command and gardener, explains that the Maze is the only way out. The most able boys become Runners, who are the only ones allowed into the Maze. They search for an escape route during the day, but return before nightfall, since the Maze entrance closes at dusk, and no one has ever survived a night in the Maze.

That night at a bonfire party the boy remembers his name, Thomas, after a brief fight with Gally, one of the stronger boy. The next day Thomas is attacked by Ben, who has been stung by a griver, one of the deadly part organic-part robotic creature that prowls the Maze at night and the other boys capture him and banish him into the Maze, forcing Ben inside it as the walls close. The next day Minho, the leader of the runners and Albi go into the Maze to retrace Ben’s path but Alby is stung and rendered unconscious. Minho appears at dusk, dragging Alby towards, but is unable to reach the entrance in time. Seeing this, Thomas runs into the maze to try and help. All three boys survive the night, with Thomas successfully killing a Griever by tricking it into running into a closing wall, crushing the Griever, and they return the next day with Alby to the astonishment of the other boys. Gally fears that the peace between the Grivers and the boys will come to an end, wants to punish Thomas by banishing him into the Maze but Newt overrules him and makes Thomas a runner. The next morning a few of the runners with Thomas & Minho go into the Maze and find the corpse of the Griver and retrieve a mechanial part which has an LCD display with the number 7 on it, corresponding a certain section of the maze.

The next morning the very first girl is sent up via the elevator with two syringes of a medical substance and a note that reads that she is the final person to be sent. The girl, Teresa knows Thomas but he does not remember her. The boys use one of the syringes on Alby and he starts to recover. Minho shows Thomas a model of the Maze he has created with all the data they collected during the last 3 years and the two of them go back in discovering an escape route. They barely make it back after being forced to retreat by collapsing sections, and inform the others. That night the Grivers attack killing some of the boys including Albi. Thomas stabs himself in the leg with a severed sting and remembers that he and Teresa were part of the organization that created the Maze, and that all of this was a test, and not imprisonment as they all were supposing so. Gally blames Thomas and Teresa for everything and attempts to execute them. The Gladers stop him, and most of them follow Thomas through the maze’s escape route. They battle the Grivers losing a couple of the boys along the way and using the pattern in which the Maze sections open up every day, which Minho has memorized, unlock a password locked door behind which they find a lab with a lot of dead scientists lying about.

A video plays in which a woman explains that the earth has been devastated by solar flares and a pandemic, The youths in the Glade were all part of an experiment researching their apparent resistance to the pandemic. At the end of the recording, she shoots herself in the head as the lab is attacked. Gally then shows up with a gun he found and shoots at Thomas but Chuck jumps in the way and is killed while Minho kills Gally using a spear. Armed masked men rush in to take the group away to a helicopter and fly them over the walls and reveals a vast desert and they approach the ruins of a destroyed city. In the final scene the scientists, all alive having faked the scene in the lab, sit at a table and the woman states that the experiment has been a success, the group havingbought the bait, and the survivors are now entering Phase Two.

Not bad as far as the young adult films goes (I have no idea how the books are) and there is very little cliched stuff in it. The execution is good and I think the actors chosen did a commendable job. I’m not fully convinced though as we don’t too much of an explanation but seeing as this is the first of a series of films that negates some of it. I’d have to say this is a 7.5 outta 10!

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Jessabelle

Jessabelle is a 2014 horror movie directed by Kevin Greutert and written by Ben Garant. he film stars Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter, David Andrews, Amber Stevens and Ana de la Reguera. The movie is about ghosts and possessions and is produced by Jason Blum who also produced Insidious, Sinister & The Purge.

Jessie, a young woman who is moving to her boyfriend’s place, is in an accident that kills her boyfriend and also her unborn baby. Having injured her legs badly that she needs a wheelchair, the hospital make her call her estranged father, who she hasn’t seen in ages, to come pick her up when she is discharged. Her dad comes and picks her up in his truck and takes her home to his farm house in St. Francis, Louisiana. He sets her up in his wife’s, Jessie’s mom’s, old room which hasn’t been used in a while. Jessie’s mom Kate had died a little after giving birth due to cancer, which she hadn’t allowed to be treated with chemo. After a couple of awkward days spent mostly alone by her self, Jessie finds a few old VHS tapes in a box labeled “Jessabelle” and pops on in in the VCR. She sees a taping of her mother Kate, still pregnant at the time, back in 1988 who is addressing her unborn daughter.

In the video Kate does a card reading for her daughter in which “transition” comes up. The next card says that she has never left St. Francis and that she is never going to leave – which is untrue for Jessie. The third card is Water and Jessie laughs as she doesn’t know how to swim. She reads that Jessie is not alone, that there is a presence in the house with her, a female who wants her out of the house. At this point her dad walks in and breaks the tape and tells Jessie not to watch that garbage. He is so angry that he dumps the wheelchair into the bayou. That night Jessie sees a girl in a wheelchair in her room that latter disappears. In the morning she sees an old wheelchair, which her dad says he left there. He apologizes for his behaviour and says that it was Kate’s, which he found in the shed. After he leaves Jessie pops in another video in which her mother says that she spoke to Moses about the reading that he said the presence is a demon, and she should stop blaming herself for an accident that happened. Her mother then gives her another reading. Death comes up again, meaning transition, but further reading shows a very horrible death.

The next day a physiotherapists comes to the house and places Jessie in the bath and leaves the room for a bit. Jessie falls asleep and is attacked by a ghost girl as the bathtub fills with dark blood. Hearing her screams her father comes in and she opens her eyes, the attack seemingly a hallucination. The dad gets upset and makes the physio leave and on finding the rest of the tapes, attempts to burn it in the trash. However as he goes in to the shed for matches, it closes and locks by itself and the shed is accidentally set on fire, killing him and Jessie is unable to get to him. At the funeral she meets her childhood friend Preston but a hallucination of a partial burned African-American man makes her faint. After recovering she goes to have lunch with Preston and tells him about the tapes and that she’s been having nightmares. Later on her own at night she watches more tapes and in one of them is of her parents at Christmas and another is of her mother telling Jessabelle that she is already dead. The ghost then begins attacking Jessie, again leading to her discovery of another tape in the wall.

She calls Preston and after he comes they investigate lights across the bayou and find voodoo objects and a small grave labeled Jessabelle. Preston opens it up and finds the skeleton of a baby, which they think was still born, and they call the police who take the remains for analysis. The next day Preston takes Jessie to see a lady who used to cook for her parents and who’s son was a friend of Preston. On seeing Jessie the old woman starts chanting a voodoo song to allow spirits to possess people and she gets a bit violent. They leave and try to find Moses but only find his shrine with voodoo objects. While there, a group of men find them, attack Preston and tell them to leave. Preston takes Jessie home to get her things so she can stay at his mother’s, but he is attacked by the ghost and is taken to the hospital. Jessie later learns from the sheriff that the baby was African-American who was murdered after she was born, which leads Jessie to believe that the spirit, that of the baby, needs saving. When she is alone, she tries to talk to the ghost. She finds the last tape on the coffee table and plays it. She sees a white baby and her mother. At first it looks as if the mother will kill the baby but instead she curses her with a voodoo spell and then shoots herself.

It is then that Kate’s spirit appears and the truth comes out. The baby was half black because Kate had an affair with her friend Moses and he is father of the baby. When Jessie’s dad sees the baby, Kate’s infidelity comes out in the open and enraged he kills the baby and then Moses and adopted Jessie to hide this. Moses’s spirit also appears and together they tie Jessie’s hands and push her into the bayou. Preston & the sheriff see her from afar and rush to the edge of the water. As Jessie sinks to the bottom, Jessabelle comes up to her and takes her bracelet and swims to the surface, having assumed the form of Jessie. Preston lift her out of the water and takes her inside the house and when the Sheriff asks “Jessie” if she is alright – calling her Miss Laurent – she replies with a sly look, “It’s Jessabelle.” Spooky!

I would say that I like this film, though the “twist” ending is foreseeable by a mile. I still enjoyed them film and the lead actress Sarah Snook is very effective in her sweetness and vulnerability. No one else stands out but I will give it a 6.5 outta 10!

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Left Behind (2014)

I must admit I had no clue going in that this film would be this bad! But what did you expect? Left Behind is a 2014 Christian film about the apocalyptic rapture film directed by Vic Armstrong and written by Paul LaLonde and John Patus. The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins and stars Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan, and Jordin Sparks. Yes, Cage has fallen to act in such drivel.

Ok, so what is this movie about? It’s about the rapture – where Yahweh is supposed to instantly beam or take all his believers into heaven and leave all the rest behind – that is believed to happen just before the end of days. The events of the film focus on one city (supposed to be NYC) & her people are shown and one plane and it’s crew plus passengers. Chloe is home from college to celebrate her pilot father’s birthday but is upset to learn that he is scheduled to be flying from New York to London. Things have been rough at home ever since Chloe’s mom Irene became a devout Christian, spouting off Bible quotes and heavy on the prayers. Her dad Rayford is flirting heavily with the pretty blonde stewardess  Hattie who is on the same plane, when Chloe sees him. Hattie accidentally finds out that Rayford has plans to spend his London trip with Hattie and she goes up upset.

At home after brushing off Irene’s religious concerns & preachings Chloe goes to the mall with her young brother and it is there that the shit hits the fan! Her brother disappears from her arms, as do several other people at the mall. Panic ensues and you see looting, shoving, and absolute mayhem. A driverless car crashes through the window and when Chloe is outside a small planet crashes into her car. She run to the hospital (for what?) and finds all the babies have disappeared from their cribs. She also sees television reports of chaos on the streets and of people disappearing. Meanwhile on the plane a bunch of people including the co-pilot and a stewardess have also disappeared, leaving their clothing & personal belongings behind, causing panic among the remaining passengers. A mother cries out about her young daughter missing cries while a drug addict woman freaks out as she knows what is happening. With the help of Cameron, who is on the same flight, Rayford tries his best to calm things down. An antagonistic man sees a muslim praying and has suspicions on him. Rayford has difficulty getting radio or cell phone contact with anyone on the ground, until he is finally informed that people have disappeared everywhere and the world is in uproar. Soon a pilotless jet approaches directly into Rayford’s flight path. He narrowly avoids a midair collision but the jet damages Rayford’s fuel line. He decides his only option is to return to New York and hope his fuel holds out.

Chloe meanwhile goes home and finds the shower still on and her mom’s jewellery on the shower floor and goes to their church and finds it empty with the exception of their family pastor. He explains that god has taken all his believers to heaven while those that remain must face the end of days. When Chloe asks her how come he wasn’t taken, the pastor says that he never truly believed in what he preached as he had doubts. Back on the plane, Rayford confesses to Hattie that he is married and has 2 children and she is upset as she didn’t know that he was married. Chloe feels that everything is hopeless and climbs on top of a bridge to jump to her death but at that precise moment – it’s a fucking miracle – her phone rings! Hallelujah! It’s Cameron who along with Rayford has been trying to contact her several times and it is at this precise moment that the connection gets through! Rayford apologizes to his daughter saying that it is all his fault for the rift between her mom and him.  He loves her and “I love you daddy” and but bitch this plane has no runway to land. So Chloe finds an abandoned Ford truck and uses it to clear away the equipment from a bridge under construction in order to create a makeshift runway. And she uses a Compass app and tells Rayford the coordinates of the landing site.

Using all his skills Rayford is able to make the emergency landing, saving everyone on board. As Chloe is reunited with Rayford and Cameron, they look onto a city or make that world in chaos and fire and she says this is just the beginning! What a lousy film! Shit script, horrendous acting and nonsensical cliched dialogues. Even most devout Christians would be ashamed of this drivel and they were as the rantings in critical websites show. But I laughed a lot! 3 outta 10!

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Guardians Of The Galaxy

Guardians Of The Galaxy is a comic series that I have had no idea about till very recently. I must admit that I was never that much into comics as a kid and kinda stopped being interested in reading the superhero comic books and cartoon series by age 13. Ofcourse I was a fan of the big ones like Superman, Batman, Spider-man etc but beyond knowing the names and superpowers of some of the rest, I knew very little. With the success of the recent spate of Marvel superheroes coming to life on the big screen (and one fine tv series) in a big way, I am atleast interested in learning much more about the Marvel universe. And also, I prefer to call these as Science fiction movies with action themes, as that’s basically what they are. So, Guardians Of The Galaxy is a 2014 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film was directed by James Gunn, who wrote the screenplay with Nicole Perlman, and features an ensemble cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio del Toro.

What’s cool about this film? First of all let me take a minute to praise the casting. Chris Pratt’s time is now and he is making big bucks in big movies and will go on to be a big star for years. Dave Bautista was actually pretty decent in his role as Drax the Destroyer though he does look and behave a lot like like a wrestler who has been “pained”. But it works here. The voice of Bradley Cooper, thought not really recognizable as him, works well for the character of Rocket the genetically engineered racoon. Groot ofcourse has captured a lot of hearts and launched the “I Am Groot” saying and seems to be a fa favourite. Zoe Saldana plays the orphaned assassin Gamora who was sent by Thanos to work for Ronan and does justice to that role. Lee Pace is ok as the main villain of Ronan as does Karen Gillan as Nebula, the other adopted daughter of Thanos, and the female villain. Michael Rooker is awesome in his “not a bad man, not a good man” character of Yondu Udonta. John C Reilly, Glenn Close & Benetio Del Toro are good as always but why waste Del Toro in a small role?

The movie is quite light hearted in nature, even when compared to the other superhero movies of late, this is probably the most hilarious one with lots of jokes. I think the cast gelled well and there is a lot of chemistry between them. The special effects are awesome and I just love the scenes in space and the spaceships fighting. The scenes in the dead planet of Morag looked awesome as does the planet Xandar which is awesome looking. Some of the aliens and alien technology looks great as well. Designs of the ships, spectacular! Buildings – great. But what is even better was the choice of the music. As a young kid back in 1986 Peter had a walkman with a cassette tape of his mum’s favourite songs and he keeps that with him and we hear the songs playing throughout the film as part of the soundtrack. The dancing and miming to the song on Morag is fun to watch. I think the choice of music is big factor in the fun element of this film.

So overall how good is this film? I give it an 8 outta 10, thoroughly enjoyable though the villains are mostly predictable and a bit stale. I felt that they could have done more with the villains and perhaps utilized Del Toro a bit more. The revelation of Peter being half-alien – I could have seen that coming a mile away and about the time the mother died (please note I know nothing about this character prior to this movie) and Yondu remarking that it turned out well that they did not deliver Quill to his father per their contract. Makes me think what plans they have for Peter’s heritage being revealed in further movies (“Peter, I am your father”, “NO!”. Lol, maybe or maybe not!

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Flowers In The Attic (1987)

A movie that (I remembered very little of it) I had watched in my cousins’ house back in 1989. Flowers In The Attic is a 1987 film starring Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson, and Jeb Stuart Adams and based on the 1979 novel of the same name by V. C. Andrews. Directed by Jeffrey Bloom & produced by Sy Levin & Thomas Fries, the incest story is toned down in the final cut of the film.

The Dollanganger family – mother Corrine, teenagers Chris & Cathy and 5 year twins Cory & Carrie – are devastated when their doting father is killed on his 35th birthday in a car crash. He left the family with a heavy debt and Corrine is forced to sell most of their belongings and finally the house. Broke, she takes her kids with her to her wealthy parents’ huge estate. She tells the kids that the reason they never saw their grandparents till now was because of something that she did many years ago and that her father was upset with her. After a long journey they reach the estate and Corrinne’s religious fanatic mother Olivia takes them in, with the condition that the children are to be locked in a bedroom on the top floor and that her husband Malcolm not know of their existence. Olivia & Corrine leave the children in the locked room.

Later Olivia reveals the shocking truth to the kids; their father was Corrine’s uncle and Malcolm’s much younger brother making the children products of an incestuous marriage. As penance for her incestuous relationship, Corrinne was whipped by Olivia in front of a bedridden Malcolm. Corinne tells the children that their confinement will only be for a short time: her father is deathly ill, and once she is able to win back his love, he will write her back in his will, giving her a large inheritance and they will be free when he dies. The children are given access to the attic, which has a secret door through the closet in their room, which they clean up and make it a garden/playroom and where they spend most of their time. Olivia has John the butler bring the children their food on a daily basis but Corrinne’s visist become sporadic as the weeks turn into months and finally she stops coming. Olivia becomes obsessed with Chris & Cathy thinking that they will become lovers, when she finds them sleeping in the same bed one morning and another time when she finds Chris talking with Cathy as the latter is bathing in the tub. The grandmother smashes Cathy’s ballerina music box, given to her by her deceased father and calls then sinners. Chris chases her out the second time but she later catches Cathy alone and cuts of most of her hair.

Olivia them starves the children for a week who become ill without food and their skin becomes pale. Cory is the worst off and Chris is forced to feed him his blood to keep him alive. When Corrinne finally shows up with gifts, dressed in the finest and looking healthy and well fed, and says that her father has forgiven her and is planning a party for her, after which he plans to change his will. As Cathy lashes out at her and Chris questions her long absence their mother gets upset and says that she won’t return to see them until they apologize. The food starts coming back but the kids are still sick. Chris & Cathy remove the door secretly from it’s hinges and sneak off to see the party, watching their mother dancing with a man and being given a ring by him. They also find her bedroom which is lavish & luxurious with a giant wardrobe. They try to escape at night but find guard dogs loose in the grounds. Cory becomes too sick to move and the children ask Olivia and Corinne to take Cory to the hospital during an argument in which Corrinne & Cathy slap each other. Cory is taken to a hospital but later Corinne returns to inform them he has died.

The devastated children learn that Cory’s pet mouse has died after eating a cookie from their breakfast tray and Chris does research using books from the attic library and comes to the conclusion that their are being poisoned using arsenic mixed with sugar on the cookies. That night sneaks out to steal some money and overhears the plans for a wedding – between Corrinne and the man she was dancing with – to be held in the mansion the next day. The next morning the remaining 3 children dress in fancier clothes found in the attic and, on finding Olivia sneaking into their room, Chris beats her unconscious with a broken bedpost. They then find out that their grandfather has been dead for over 2 months and find a copy of his will in which he had left all his wealth to Corrinne; however a clause states that if it is ever revealed Corinne had children from her first marriage, she will be disinherited and lose all of her money. They realize that Corinne was the one poisoning the cookies, not their grandmother. They kids crash the wedding revealing their mother’s actions to everyone there. Corrinne denies that they are her children but the damage is done.

As Cathy confronts her mother about poisoning them and killing Cory in the process, she tries to make her eat some of the poisoned cookie, Corrinne stumbles out to the balcony and trips and falls to her death, strangled by her own wedding gown caught on the side of the house. The children then leave the estate watched by their grandmother who glares at them from a window. The narrator (an older Cathy’s voice) says that the children did manage to survive all by themselves although Carrie was “never truly healthy”. She wonders aloud if her grandmother is still alive, anticipating Cathy’s eventual return to claim the family’s fortune.

Interesting movie with a unique story, some sadness and melancholy and a bit of psychological horror. The incestuous relationship between Chris & Cathy is toned down for the film (in the book they fall in love during the 2 years they spend in the house and Chris angrily rapes her at one point). There’s even a jealously angle hinted in the beginning as the father clearly favours Cathy and when she hugs him closely on getting a gift, Corrinne is seen watching them from behind a door. I see that movie was successful but was panned by critics and fans of the novel. I still like it though it is quite dull in places. 7 outta 10!

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Dracula Untold

In one of a countless depictions of the legend, Dracula Untold is a 2014 reimagining of the story of Vlad the Impaler and creating an origin story for the Count. A dark fantasy with supernatural elements film it is directed by Gary Shore in his feature film debut and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Luke Evans portrays the title character, and Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, and Charles Dance appear in supporting roles.

After being sent by his father to be trained as a soldier for the powerful Turkish Sultan, Prince Vlad has grown to become a feared warrior earning the nickname the Impaler after slaughter thousands. Grown weary of fighting, he returns to take his place as the prince of Transylvania and rules in peace. While in the woods Vlad and his men find a Turkish helmet and fearing an invasion, he sends the rest of his party back home while he proceeds with 2 soldiers towards the trail that leads to a cave on a mountain side. Inside an ancient vampire attacks and kills the two soldiers but Vlad is able to escape at the mouth of the cave as the creature cannot go into daylight. Vlad rushes back to his castle finds out from a local monk that the creature is vampire, once a man who made a pact with a demon in return for special powers.

While celebrating Easter in the castle with his wife Mirena and their son Ingeras and their subjects, a Turkish contingent enters the castle and ask about some dead Turkish soldiers that they found.Vlad offers the regular tribute of silver coins but denies having killed the soldiers. The Turks then demand an additional 1000 young boys to be sent for training, a practise that was stopped for years. Vlad refuses and since his army is small goes to see the current Turkish Sultan, who he knew from their childhood, and asks that the boys not be taken. The Sultan, Mehmed, instead insists that the boys be sent with the soldiers and also includes Ingeras be included just as Vlad himself was. A desperate Vlad goes back to the cave and pleads with the vampire for help. The vampire offers him his blood, which will give him the powers of a vampire for 3 days; if Vlad resists the temptation to drink human blood for those 3 days he will return to normal at the end of it. Vlad agrees and drinks the blood, gaining heiaghtened senses, super strength and the ability to transform into a flock of bats but his skin burns in sunlight.

As the Turkish army attacks at night Vlad is able to single handedly destroy most of their forces and sends his people to a monastry. Enroute Mirena learns of his new found powers but is ok as long as he returns to normal at the end of those 3 days. As they near the monastery, the Transylvanians are ambushed by Turkish soldiers, and while Vlad and his men successfully repel them, Vlad’s sudden increased strength arouses suspicion among his subjects. The next day the monk traps him in a small building and opens the flaps to burn him. Some of the people join in and burn the building but using his powers Vlad is able to send a black cloud to block the sunlight & escapes the fire, and angrily reveals that he became a vampire for the sole purpose of protecting his people from the Turks. That night as a huge army attacks, Vlad transforms in swarm of bats and kills a lot of them but a small decoy kidnaps Ingeras and Mirena is pushed, falling to her death.Vlad is unable to save her and as she lays dying in his arms, she begs him to drink her blood before the sun rises completely, and make him a vampire permanently. He does and as Mirena dies, Vlad is transformed into a vampire. As this happens the old vampire is released from his curse and can now escape the cave.

Vlad then transforms a few of the injured survivors among his people into vampires and they attack the Sultan’s camp, killing off all the soldiers. Mehmed uses bags of silver coins to weaken Vlad but in the end Vlad kills the sultan, drinking his blood and freeing his son and takes the name Dracula, son of the Devil! However the other vampires demand that the boy be killed being the only human in their group. The monk who had previously led the Transylvanians against Vlad appears and keeps the vampires at bay with the Christian Cross. Dracula orders the monk to take Ingeras away, then uses his power to clear the black clouds in the sky, burning all the vampires into dust and he himself becomes a charred corpse. Ingeras is crowned prince of Translvania as the Turkish empire’s threat is no more and Vlad the Impaler is presumed dead. However, Shkelgim, a slave who had earlier approached Vlad to be turned into a vampire, secretly takes Dracula into the shadows and revives him with his blood. As the movie ends, it is now present day (London I think) and Dracuala is walking on the streets when he sees Mina, a young woman who looks a lot like Mirena, and strikes up a conversation with her. The vampire who cursed Vlad watches them from afar, and anticipates what he has planned for Dracula in the future, saying, “Let the games begin.”

It’s an ok movie for Dracula I guess, nothing special or memorable. Focusing on the real prince but adding the origin story for the later legends probably will set it apart. The ending seems to me like they want the movie to be the first of a series about Dracula. Who knows? I’ll give it a 7 outta 10!

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Obvious Child

Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre (based on her 2009 short film) Obvious Child is an American romantic comedy film stars Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann and David Cross with Richard Kind and Polly Draper. The film is Robespierre’s directorial debut and focuses on abortion.

Donna Stern is a young 28 year old woman who works at a struggling book store and does regular gigs as stand up comedian at a small bar. On her birthday her boyfriend breaks up with her as he often gets embarrassed when she talks about their sex life on stage for laughs. He also has been cheating on her with a close friend and proceeds to move in with her right after. Heartbroken she drinks a lot and gets sympathy from her best friend and roommate Nelli as well as Joey, their gay friend who is also a comedian. She is about to get another bit of unpleasant news when her boss says that the book store is closing as they don’t make enough profit and have 6 weeks to sell as much of their stock as possible. As Donna visits her divorced parents separately and drowns in pity.

One evening at the bar she meets a preppy & studious Max with whom she hits it off as they spend the rest of the night drinking and end up in bed. To her chagrin she discovers that she is pregnant. Nelli, who went through an abortion in her teens offers her support and says that although she often thinks of her unborn child, she never regretted the decision. Although she keeps running into Max she doesn’t tell him about the pregnancy. She invites him to see her set after one such chance meeting but leaves to go hang out with a friend & fellow comedian Sam, which upsets Max who then avoids her. After rejecting Sam’s awkward advances, Donna takes a taxi to her mom’s place and weepily tells her about the baby. Her mom is surprisingly supportive and tells her about her own unplanned pregnancy and abortion while she was a college student, before she met Donna’s father. Donna makes an appointment to get an abortion and finally, decides to tell Max after finding out that he is her mom’s student. She does this by blurting it out while on stage while he stands in the crowd. Max is upset and leaves but decides to forgive her and joins her as she goes to the clinic for the procedure.

It is at times sweet and funny and even thoughtful. My only issue with the film is the lead actress, who I did not like. Well it is more correct to say that I didn’t like the lead character because I do think Jenny Slate is at times funny but I couldn’t stand the constant repetitive and stalling way that Donna delivers some of her jokes while on stage. And her laugh, at her own jokes or even before the punchlines, is so annoying. The character actually ruined some of the film for me. It’s a low budget, indie type film set in New York and I like the locales and the places. 7 outta 10!

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

From director Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, comes the 8th movie from the Planet of the Apes franchise and 2nd in the reimagination of this science fiction series. The movie stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. It is the sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Ok so after the events of the previous film, the virus spreads across the globe and a lot of humans die as martial law takes over in some places and the economy crumbles. The surviving humanity is made up of people who are immune to the virus and who live in ruins of once proud cities. Caasar remains as leader of a new generation of apes in the Muir Woods where they have created a community of their own. 10 years pass by and a small group of humans are making their way through the woods when they come across two apes Caesar’s son Blue Eyes and Rocket’s son Ash; one of group, carver, panics and shoots Ash wounding him. Blue Eyes calls for the other apes who surround the humans but Caesar lets them go. As the humans reach the guarded tower where they live in San Francisco, Koba a bonobo still scarred by his previous mistreatment at the hands of humans, prompts Caesar to warn the remaining humans. So Caesar and his apes head to the tower and hands over a bag that a boy in the group had dropped and conveys the message that while the apes do not want war, they will fight to defend their home. He then demands that the humans stay in their territory and states the apes will stay in theirs, too. The apes then leave.

The humans want to attack the apes with the weapons found in an armoury as they need to fix a hydro-electric dam that lies in the woods to fix their power needs. Malcolm, one of the human leaders, convinces his fellow leader Dreyfuss to wait for 3 days and takes a small group, including his son Alexander and his second wife Ellie, and heads back to the forest where he pleads to Caesar to let his people work on the dam. The humans bond with Caesar and some of the apes as they work to fix the dam but Carver almost ruins it when he threatens Caesar’s baby son with a shotgun he had concealed. Malcolm & Ellie manages to calm things down, especially as Ellie treats Caesar’s ill wife with some antibiotics she has in her bag, and has Carver banished to the vehicles where he is to wait until the work is finished. Koba however wanders into the city and discovers the armoury and humans testing the guns and heads back to confront Caesar taunting him over his ‘love for humans’. In response Caesar beats him up but doesn’t kill him as he believes that “Ape shall not kill ape” and forgives Koba, who however eturns to the armory, steals an assault rifle and murders two human guards. He then secretly kills Carver, stealing his lighter and cap.

By this time the dam is fixed restoring power to the city. In the woods the humans are saying goodbye to Koba lights fire to some of the apes’ homes and unseen by everyone except Caesar, he shoots Caesar with the rifle. With their leader presumed dead and “finding” Carver’s cap and rifle, Koba assumes command and leads the apes towards the city to battle the humans. They raid the armoury and head towards the tower. Despite heavy casualties, the apes breach the gates using a hijacked tank, overrun the tower and imprison all the humans as Dreyfus flees underground. When Ash refuses Koba’s orders to kill unarmed humans, citing Caesar’s teachings, Koba kills Ash and imprisons all those known to be loyal to Caesar. Malcolm’s group, who had hid in the bushes when they saw the apes on a rampage, head back and find a barely alive Caesar and take him to the city prompted by Caesar to the house where he lived. Caesar reveals to Malcolm that Koba shot him, realizing his notion that all apes were better than humans was naive. Malcolm sneaks into the tower, hiding from the apes, to get medical supplies for Caesar’s treatment. Blue Eyes sees him but does not alert the others and Malcolm takes the young ape to see his wounded father.

As Caesar recovers he finds an old camcorder & grows nostalgic watching video clips from his childhood on his former owner Will Rodman’s. Telling Malcolm of his past he tells his son to go back to the tower to free the humans who have been captured as well as the apes loyal to Caesar and his teaching who were locked up by Koba. Caesar then battles Koba as the other apes watch at the summit of the tower. Malcolm is unable to stop Dreyfuss from blowing up the tower with C-4 and also learns that his men have alerted a military base and they are sending soldiers to the tower’s location. As the C-4 detonates, part of the tower collapses & Caesar overpowers Koba, knocking him to the edge of the tower. Koba reminds Caesar that apes do not kill apes, but Caesar proclaims that Koba is no longer an ape, and lets him fall to his death. As Malcolm informs him of the troops who are headed their way Caesar tells him that the humans will never forgive the apes for the war they started and tells him to leave with his family for safety and the two of them acknowledge their friendship. As Malcolm leaves to find his family, Caesar readies his apes for the coming war with the humans.

Awesome movie and brilliantly shot though the CGI kinda let me down for parts of this movie, especially the beginning where it looked like I was watching a good animated film. But overall I think it is a worthy sequel and I’m happy with the story and the battle scenes. I’ll give it an 8.5 outta 10!

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Ouija

From the age of 9 or 10 I have been fascinated by the Ouija board. I remember seeing it in a semi-horror tv film (it was prominent in the film but the killer wasn’t supernatural) and boom – instant like! At the age of 19 me and some friend tried to make our own ouija board. That died in an hour or so! Anyways, Ouija is a 2014 supernatural horror film directed by Stiles White and co-written by White and Juliet Snowden. The film stars Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith and Bianca A. Santos with Lin Shaye.

The movie is predictable; two friends Laine & Debbie, played with this Oija board that Debbie happen to find in the attic of her house. Years later as high school students Debbie, is using the board on her own and clearly disturbed by something, she burns the board and planchette in the fireplace. Acting all withdrawn she then cancels going out with Laine to join other friends and stays home alone. At night Debbie investigates noise upstairs and goes into her room and finds – the board intact and lying on her bed. She looks through the planchett and her eyes turn white and then she hangs herself. The next morning Laine is with her boyfriend at a diner where their friend Isabelle works when she gets the call from her parents that Debbie is dead.

After the funeral Debbie’s grief-stricken parents leave town and keep the keys with Laine who promises to look after the place. Also Laine’s dad, a single parent leaves for a trip so Debbie & her younger sister Sarah are alone at home (though Nona stays close by). While at the house with Trevor Laine finds the board and calls Isabelle, Sarah & Debbie’s boyfriend Pete to hold a seance at their friend’s house at night. Yeah, we got rid of the grown ups so now the kids can play! So using the Ouija board they make contact with a spirit called D who they think is Debbie but have to leave when the power goes out. The 5 of them later experience weird sightings and strange sensation of being watched & followed and find “Hi Friend” notes. So they go back again to the house and contact the spirit – D is not Debbie but D Z, aka Doris Zander. Laine looks through the planchette and finds a young girl with her mouth stitched who is running away from her mother’s spirit. Doris warns the group about her mother and the 5 teens run away, only for Isabelle to be killed while she is in her bathroom. Doing research on the house Laine finds out that years before Debbie’s family lived there, the house was the home of a young girl named Doris Zander who’s mother claimed was missing. Doris had a sister named Pauline, who is still alive, but who is in a mental institution for killing her mother.

Laine visits Pauline who says that their mother was experimenting with contacting spirits and believed that evil ones were trying to speak through Doris and hence had her mouth stitched shut and killed her and left the body in an underground chamber of the house. Pauline feared for her life and hence killed her mother in return. The four friends head to the basement of the house and find Doris’ decaying body and free her by cutting the stitches. Doris vanquishes her mother and her spirit is freed. Thinking it to be over the group go back home but Doris is the actual evil spirit and she kills Pete. Laine confronts Pauline who was in league with her evil sister and is happy that she is now free. Laine’s grandmother advices the kids to burn Doris’s body and the board but Trevor is killed before that can happen. Doris’s spirit attacks Laine and has Sarah restrained but with help from Debbie’s spirit, Laine is able to burn Doris’s body and the board in the furnace which destroys Doris’ spirit. The two sisters return home, only for Laine to find the planchette waiting for her in her room.

Predictable & stale with just a couple of jump scares, double twists that everyone and their grandmother can see coming from a mile away. I don’t hate it but there’s nothing really good or memorable about this film 6 outta 10!

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A Million Ways To Die In The West

From director & writer Seth MacFarlane comes a western comedy-romance film titled A Million Ways To Die In The West. Written and produced by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild and starring MacFarlane himself, the film also features an ensemble cast including Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, and Liam Neeson. There are cameos by Gilbert Gottfried, Ryan Reynolds, Ewan McGregor & Jamie Foxx with Patrick Stewart lending his voice as well.

It’s 1882 in the wild west town of Old Stump, Arizona and sheep farmer Albert Stark manages to talk himself out of a duel by promising to sell a couple of his sheep and compensate the angry gunslinger who’s property was damaged by them. Albert’s girlfriend Louise, who says she needs to be by herself for a while but she soon shacks up with the mustached & rich businessman Foy. Albert tells his best friend Edward and his prostitute girlfriend Ruth that there is nothing left for him in Old Stump and he is planning to go to San Francisco. Meanwhile infamous outlaw Clinch Leatherwood heads near the town and kills an old man for his old. Clinch sends his wife Anna, who wants out, along with one of his henchmen Lewis to lay low in town as the rest of the continue their looting ways. Anna takes in the old man’s dog and goes into town with Lewis, pretending to be siblings looking to setup a farm.

The next evening Lewis gets into a fight in the saloon and in the ensuing fight much property is destroyed. Albert saves Anna from falling  brawlers and they hit it off. The two of them smoke a joint and begin a friendship. The next day at a fair Foy challenges Albert to a shooting contest and the latter is is defeated, but Anna steps up and defeats Foy. Foy insults Albert who angrily challenges Foy to a duel in a week’s time. Anna spends the next few days teaching Albert how to shoot better and he improves a bit. At a formal dance, after Foy manages to insult Albert again, Anna slips some laxative drug into Foy’s drink before they leave. As Albert & Anna share more bonding moments they kiss at the end of the night, which is seen by Lewis who had escaped from jail by beating the sheriff. The next morning Foy is tired and unable to stand properly and has to shit into two hats right in front of the crowd. Albert decides that Louise isn’t worth the fight and forfeits the duel. However Lewis has told Clinch about seeing a man kissing Anna and the bandits come into the bar and demand that that man who kissed Anna show himself by the next day at noon and kills a man as a warning. The bandits head out and Clinch proceeds to have sex with Anna in a secluded spot but she knocks him out with a rock and leaves him on the grass with a flower sticking in his ass.

Anna finds Albert at his family farm preparing to leave and he confronts her for not telling him she was married and that to to the most notorious outlaw around. She tells him that this life of being an outlaw’s wife wasn’t what she wanted and that she rally loves Albert. Clinch and his men reach the farm and apprehend Anna but Albert escapes by first hiding among his sheep and the jumping onto a train with his horse. Deep in the desert he is captured by natives who prepare to burn him at the stake but he pleads for his life in their language which the chief likes and hence they release him. They give him a bowl of peyote, which sends him flashing back to his birth and through traumatic events of his childhood before making him realize that he loves Anna. At noon he shows up in town to face Clinch and shoots first, wounding Clinch with a snake venom lace bullet which kills the man – before Albert could finish telling his clever plan. Anna breaks loose from the outlaws who are taken in by the law. Louise attempts to win back Albert, but he rejects her and instead enters a relationship with Anna. Albert also receives a bounty for killing Clinch and uses the money to buy more sheep.

Funny as hell with a lot of raunchy humour, dirty jokes, sex jokes and fart and poop stuff and lots of physical comedy too. I can understand that not everyone will like this kind of humour in a film as it’s a film that does not appeal to all audiences. Hence on a budget of $40 million it only made about twice that much, which is considered a moderate success. I however enjoyed every bit of it, farts and all. 8 outta 10! I will enjoy this film a few times over the next years.

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