The Longest Ride

Based on Nicholas Sparks’ 2013 novel of the same name, The Longest Ride is a 2015 American romantic drama film directed by George Tillman, Jr. and written by Craig Bolotin. the film stars Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, Alan Alda, Melissa Benoist, Lolita Davidovich, and Gloria Reuben.

Luke Collins is a bullrider on the professional circuit and gets seriously injured one night while performing. A year later he gets back on the circuit and wins his first tournament back, where he also meets New Jersey native Sophia Danko, who is working on being an intern at a posh art gallery in New York once her classes are done and was only there because her sorority friends asked her to. After they meet again at a bar, Luke asks her out and they have a really romantic picnic near a lake. On their way back they spot a car crash in the woods and help rescue an older man who is stuck inside. Sophia also pulls a wooden box from the vehicle, when the older man manages to mumble about it. The two take him to a hospital where Sophia decides to stay back while Luke goes back to his ranch.

While in the hospital, Sophia continuously visits the man she and Luke rescued, Ira Levinson. He explains that there are letters in the box, which he wrote as a teenager, and she offers to read them to him, as his eyesight is bad. They tell the story of how he met his late wife, Ruth. Throughout the film we flashback to the early 40s when a young Ira meets newly arrived immigrant Ruth and how they begin dating. Ruth tells a young Ira that she wants a big family and, eventually, he proposes to her before leaving to fight in World War II. However, Ira is shot during an attack and is later informed by the doctor that he can no longer have children, news that causes distance between him and Ruth when he returns because he knows how much she wants to be a mother. They decide to make it work regardless and move in together, decorating the house with many paintings that Ruth loves. Ruth was a school teacher who became very attached to a young boy in her class. Because he comes from a broken family, her and Ira begin taking him in as their own and, eventually, Ruth decides she wanted to adopt him but his guardians wouldn’t allow it.

This causes a rift between them and Ruth eventually leaves for a while but changes her mind and comes back regretful of her decision. They continue to live a happy and long life as a married couple when one morning 80 year olf Ira wakes up to find Ruth has died in her sleep. He boxes up all of the paintings they collected together to sell them at an auction. One night, a woman knocks on his door claiming to be the wife of Daniel McDonald, the child they almost adopted when they were younger, to inform him that he has died. She gives him a portrait of Ruth that Daniel had painted and the photograph Daniel had kept of Ira and Ruth (the one Luke found in his car the day of the crash) with a message on the back that reads: “Ruth Levinson, third grade teacher. She told me I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up”. Daniel became a professor, taking after Ruth. Meanwhile as Luke & Sophia’s relationship progresses, they hit a snag when at an art exhibit in Charlotte the following week, which she invites Luke to, Luke makes a rude comment to Sophia’s boss, which causes an argument between them. They talk about how their worlds are so different and Luke doesn’t feel the relationship will work because of it.

However Luke gets injured at his next event, and is unconscious and taken to a hospital. As Sophia is leaving for New York, she gets a call and goes to see him. Luke is told he can never ride again but refuses to accept that his career is over. Following an argument, Luke and Sophia break up. A few weeks pass when Ira passes and Sophia is asked by his lawyer to attend an auction held for the paintings. Luke too gets an invite and wins his last ride, but feels disappointed because Sophia isn’t there with him. He then decides to go to the auction, where he buys the first painting, Daniel’s portrait of Ruth. Sophia and Luke talk, and he tells her he won’t ride anymore because what he really wants is to be with her.

While they kiss , an uproar breaks out in the auction room. Luke is informed that he is now the owner of all of Ira’s paintings since Ira left a message in his will stating that whoever bought the portrait would get them all since it was the most important one to him. A year later Luke and Sophia, now married, have built a museum dedicated to Ira and Ruth. Luke takes Sophia to the old college where Ira and Ruth used to spend their anniversary. He then starts to read one of Ira’s letters. They live happily ever after.

Sweet and sappy at times, a bit contrived (especially that last part and the mirroring of the two relationships from two different times) but I can’t say that it was boring. It was actually quite well done and I’d give it a solid 7.5 outta 10!

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Poltergeist (2015)

Rebooting movies from the Scifi and horror franchise seems to be the way that Hollywood does things nowadays. Poltergeist, the latest, is a 2015 American supernatural horror film directed by Gil Kenan, written by David Lindsay-Abaire and produced by Sam Raimi. A reboot of the 1982 film of the same name, the film stars Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, and Jane Adams.

The story is basically the same – the Bowen family has moved into a house that fits their price range after dad Eric gets laid off. Amy wants to write, while Eric looks for a job, and also take care of their 3 kids: eldest daughter teenage, Kendra; their son, Griffin; and youngest daughter, Madison. From day one Griffin feels that there is something strange about this house and on their first night strange noise are heard and Griffin finds a box of toy clowns in a hidden compartment in his room. In the middle of the night, lights and electronic devices start turning on and off, as some unseen force appears to move through the home. Griffin sees his sister Madison talking to o an unknown presence inside the television. She tells Griffin someone is coming, and he attempts to unplug the TV, causing the lights to go out of control. Madison then tells the family they are here.

Amy & Eric write it off as Madison talking to her imaginary friends but when they are out to have dinner at a friends house one night they learn that their house was built on an old cemetery, but the bodies were moved to a better neighbourhood. Kendra is attacked by black goo coming out of the basement when she investigates strange sounds and is grabbed by hands from a corpse. Griffin is attacked by the clowns but he destroys one and escapes from his bedroom. He finds Madison in her room, scared, crouching at a corner, and tells her to stay while he goes to find Kendra. Madison is then lured into her closet and becomes lost in an unending void. As she sees her bedroom drifting away further, she is dragged into the darkness by ghosts. Griffin, while running around the house, is grabbed by the branches of the old tree outside their house, which pulls him out to be hanging on the tree. Eric & Amy come home to find him in the branches of the trees and a frantic Kendra who can’t find Madison.

After hearing Madison’s voice coming from inside the tv Amy and Griffin visit the Paranormal Research department for help. The staff sets up equipment in the house, and install GPS locators on everyone in the house. While trying to contact Madison, Eric is ambushed in the closet by a ghost resembling her. Angered, he breaks down the closet wall, throwing a chair into the darkness inside the closet, and as the chair falls back into the living room of the house, it reveals a possible portal Madison can escape through. The investigators realize that this haunting is a poltergeist. Dr. Brooke, calls her ex-husband, an occult specialist and television personality Carrigan Burke. Carrigan explains that Madison is a possible psychic, able to communicate with spirits. He reveals that the poltergeists are trapped and are angry because only the headstones were moved to the new cemetery, but the bodies remained, and plan on using Madison to free them from their purgatory.

Using a rope that they toss into the vortex they try and use a toy drone to guide Madison back to them but when it is destroyed inside the vortex, Griffin decides to enter the realm and bring his sister back. When he finds Madison, the poltergeists attempt to destroy the rope to trap them, but they both escape. The family get in their car and begin to take their leave from the house, but the poltergeists drag them back into the house and attempt to abduct Madison again. The family saves her from being sucked into the portal, and Carrigan decides that as the only other psychic, he must go into the vortex and lead the spirits into the light. The Bowens flee as the house is torn apart by a giant light. The investigative team run to their equipment, looking for a sign that Carrigan managed to get back. As the Bowens look for a new house, the realtor shows them a house with lots of closet space and an old tree in the backyard; the Bowens drive away laughing. During the end credits, it’s revealed that Carrigan survived the incident and is back filming his ghost program, now hosting the show with Dr. Powell.

The movie does not offer anything new to the story, other than perhaps some awesome updated CGI and special effects. The movie lacks the charm of the original and fails to be memorable. 6.5 outta 10!

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The Lazarus Effect (2015)

What happens when you get a good cast but a not go good script? The Lazarus Effect is one such example that even good actors who have done a reasonably good job cannot save a film such as this. Directed by David Gelb and written by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater, the horror/supernatural film stars Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, Evan Peters, and Sarah Bolger.

Medical researchers Frank & his fiance Zoe are working a serum code-named “Lazarus” to help patients in coma but they discover that the serum can bring back the dead to life. The initial experiments are on dead animals, like a pig shown just before the credits, and later a dog. With the help of their friends Niko & Clay, plus student videographer Eva, they document their first successful attempt when they bring a recently deceased dog to life. The 5 of them celebrate but it is soon evident that the dog is not normal. First, his cataracts are gone and it refuses to eat and seems rather docile and confused but in one creepy scene the dog is shown to stare at a sleeping Zoe in a rather ominous manner. It also seems to be able to easily get out of it’s kennel and growls menacingly to stoner Clay. Tests reveal that the serum, instead of dissipating, is constructing strange new synapses within the dog’s brain.

When the dean of the university finds out about the experiment she reprimands Frank and that a major pharmaceutical corporation has bought out the company that funded their research. The company and their attorneys confiscate everything associated with the project. The 5 sneak back in to the laboratory as the company had missed Eva’s pass, and try to recreate the experiment but a freakish accident electrocutes Zoe and she dies. A grieving Frank uses the serum to resurrect her. Initially, the procedure appears to be a success, but the team soon realizes that something is wrong with Zoe. She claims that when she died, she went to her version of Hell which was a nightmare originating from her childhood; as a child, Zoe’s apartment building had caught on fire and she watched her neighbors burn to death after they were trapped inside, causing recurring nightmares. She also begins to demonstrate unusual psychic abilities. The Lazarus serum causes brains to “evolve” incredibly rapidly, giving Zoe inhuman powers such as telekinesis and telepathy.

Zoe is aware that the others are wary of her and she walks into a room where Nico is and when he wards of her attempts to kiss him, she uses her telekinetic powers to throw him into a locker and crushes it with him inside, killing him. When Clay demands to know where Niko is, she kills him as well by suffocating him with an e-cigarette. Later, Zoe kills Frank after he attempts to kill her with a poison injection. After this, Zoe injects herself with an entire bag of the Lazarus serum, making her abilities stronger than before. Eva is alone with Zoe in the underground lab, in the dark as Zoe cuts off the power. Zoe finds Eva and sends her into the hell that she went to when she died. Inside the nightmare, it is revealed that Zoe was the one that caused the fire in the building, causing her to go to hell upon death. Eva is able to escape and inject Zoe with the syringe, but Zoe survives and kills Eva anyway. She then injects Frank with her own blood loaded with the Lazarus serum and he awakens as the film ends.

This sort of theme of “playing god” and returning from the dead all wrong has been played out so many times that there is a lack of originality in the film. The film also relies on tried & boring jump scares that soon becomes a little annoying. However Wilde’s little evil smile & wink at Clay as she kills him is priceless. Most horror fans would be disappointed. 6 outta 10!

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Star Trek : Renegades

So we have yet another fan film (or in this case a series pilot) based on the Star Trek universe. This is the 4th that I have watched and one that I like a lot just like the other 3. Star Trek: Renegades is a fan film based upon the Star Trek franchise that features several characters from commercially produced Star Trek series, played by the same actors who realized them for film and TV. Made on a budget of roughly $375,000, the film was largely funded through crowdsourcing, and the film’s producers claimed they were going to submit it to CBS as a spec TV pilot (however CBS have turned down the offer to make it into a series). The completed pilot film was released for public viewing via YouTube beginning August 24, 2015. Plans have been announced for a web based series, much like Star Trek Continues.

It is about 10 years after Voyager comes back to earth. A now 143 year old Admiral Pavel Chekov, head of Starfleet Intelligence, is worried about the crisis that the Federation is in as an unknown alien force is destroying the Federation’s main suppliers of dilithium crystals (the primary catalyst for the fuel used in faster-than-light travel). Space and time have folded around several planets, isolating them from outside contact. The phenomenon is unnatural – someone or something is causing it to happen. Chekov gets a message from his friend Admiral Satterle (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) that he is on to a conspiracy within Starfleet and that he is to trust no one. Before the message is over, Satterle is killed in an explosion, which Chekov knows is sabotage. Not knowing who he can trust within Starfleet, Chekov enlists Commander Tuvok, the current head of Section 31, to put together a covert renegade crew of outsiders who will have to find out the people behind this. Tuvok knows of an able leader – Lexxa Singh, a descendant of Khan Noonien Singh – but who is in a Federation prison!

Tuvok gets Lexxa to agree to the mission, dangling the hope of finding her older sister, and she is released from prison and joins her crew of outcasts – Dr. Lucien (Sean Young), Ragnar (Gary Graham), Icheb (Manu Intiraymi), Fixer (Edward Furlong), Jaro Ruk (Kevin Fry) & Ronara (Chasty Ballesteros) – on board their ship, The Icarus and head to investigate. They must evade the USS Archer led by Captain Alvarez (played by Corin Menec) who is unaware of the nature of the Icarus’s mission and stop the aliens led by Borrada (Bruce A. Young) before they can destroy earth using two weapons that case the folding of space. Robert Picardo has two brief scenes as Dr. Lewis Zimmerman while Richard Herd does a brief appearance as Admiral Owen Paris. From Star Trek Continues we have Grant Imahara as Lt. Masaru & Vic Mignogna as Garis coming in to support the Renegades team. Lexxa and her team are able to stop the aliens in time and also uncover a couple of conspirators in Starfleet.

In the end the Icarus crew is given two extra crew members to replace the ones they lose in this mission & their freedom in exchange for the occasional covert operation; they will never be part of Starfleet or having any status in the Federation and in fact will be hunted down as only Chekov & Tuvok will know of their arrangement. Sounds like a good premise for a regular tv series. What did I like about the show? The choice of main cast was good, having Picardo, Russ & Chekov was a huge plus. Wilkinson looks great as does Chasty B but I think Manu as Icheb was just excellent as was Edward Furlong as Fixer (check out the surprise about that character). Some of the others were really not good, including the crew members of the Icarus that die, the villains and what the heck is with that great great granddaughter scene with Chekov? That was my least favourite part of the movie. Make isn’t the best but hey they barely had a budget and that also shows on the sets where they have to be on planets. Starfleet headquarters and the Archer’s interiors looked very tacky to me. However the space scenes and battles were awesome as were the CGI effects on Icheb’s new enhancements. Very well done.

I’d give this movie / pilot a 7 outta 10, maybe an 8 considering the budget.

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So if you have not been living under a rock, under the oceans or in some secluded forest, you would know and probably love the Minions. They were the loveable small, yellow creatures first introduced to us in Despicable Me and continued to charm us in the sequel. Minions is a standalone and yet serves as a prequel to the franchise as it gives us an origin story for the Minions as well as show how they came to be Gru’s henchmen. The film stars Coffin (as the Minions), Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, and Steve Coogan, and is narrated by Geoffrey Rush.

Minions are small, yellow creatures who have existed since the beginning of time, evolving from single-celled organisms into beings who exist only to serve history’s most villainous masters. They find great masters—including a T-Rex, a caveman, an Egyptian pharaoh, Dracula and Napoleon — but after accidentally killing nearly all of them with their incompetence, they decide to isolate themselves from the world and start a new life in Antarctica. But after centuries of not serving a master they have become depressed and by 1968 so one Minion named Kevin seeks out to find a new master so that all Minions can serve him/her and enjoy life again. Stuart — a bored, teenaged minion who is obsessed with guitars — joins him reluctantly, as does an over-enthusiastic Bob, who is only choosen due to a lack of volunteers. After a long journey they find themselves in NYC where they learn of a a Villain-Con – a convention of super villains – in Florida and hitch-hick with a family of bank robbers and make their way to the convention.

There they become the henchmen for Scarlet Overkill, who is a world famous villain, and her husband Herb, and Kevin informs the other Minions back in Antartica, who have started working for a Yeti vbut accidentally kill their leader. Fleeing from the remaining angry Yeti, they travel around the world to find Kevin, who had already told them to meet the trio in England. In England Kevin, Stuart & Bob try to steal the Queen’s crown, as that is Scarlet’s biggest dream but have to flee from the security. Bob crashes onto the mythical Sword in the Stone and pulls the sword, Excalibur, out to defend himself. After he has pulled out the legendary sword, Elizabeth II is immediately removed from the throne and Bob is crowned as the new King of England. An angry Scarlet comes to England and confront the 3 but Bob abdicates his thrown to make Scarlet the future queen but she has them tossed in the dungeons to be tortured by Herb. But their unique physiology makes them impervious to torture and The three of them manage to escape when Herb eventually leaves to attend his wife’s coronation.

The three accidentally crash the coronation before Scarlet can be crowned Queen and Stuart and Bob are captured by super villains while Kevin hides in a bar where he finds Elizabeth. Kevin learns that Stuart and Bob are to be executed and breaks into Herb’s laboratory, with villains chasing him. He accidentally triggers an experimental machine that enlarges him, destroying the Overkill residence in the process, which scares the villains away. Kevin rescues his companions just as the other Minions arrive in London. Scarlet is distracted by the army of Minions and Kevin knocks her through numerous buildings. She sends a missile towards Kevin, which he swallows, sacrificing himself to save Stuart, Bob and the other Minions. Scarlet and Herb attempt to escape using her dress rocket but Kevin holds onto it as the missile inside him explodes, apparently killing Scarlet and Herb and shrinking Kevin back to his original size.

Elizabeth is once again crowned Queen of England. She publicly presents Bob with a tiny crown, Stuart with an electric guitar and Kevin with a knighthood. Scarlet—suddenly revealed to be alive—steals the Queen’s crown with Herb, but they are frozen by a young Gru, who takes the crown from them. Scarlet is disappointed until Bob gives her his tiny crown. The Minions see Gru as their new potential boss and chase after him to his home.

Funny and cute, Minions is a must see but I think the first two Despicable Me movies are better. I’d give it an 8 outta 10! Great soundtrack too.

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Fifty Shades Of Grey

Fifty Shades Of Grey is a British-American erotic-romantic film directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson with a screenplay by Kelly Marcel, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by British author E. L. James. It stars Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele and Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and has sadomasochism as a central theme. Supporting roles go to Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Dylan Neal, Marcia Gay Haden, Rachel Skartsen & Callum Keith Rennie.

Anastatsia or Ana, an English literature major at Washington State University’s satellite campus near Vancouver, Washington goes to interview 27 year old billionaire business man Christian Grey for her college’s newspaper. Her roommate, Kate Kavanaugh was supposed to do it but fell ill and Ana stepped in as a replacement. After stumbling through the interview at his Seattle headquarters, she seems to have created an interest in Christian who even visits her at the hardware store she works after classes. He also agrees to a photo-shoot for the college paper after which he asks her out for coffee. While talking to Ana, who clearly is smitten with the eligible bachelor, he leaves abruptly saying that he is not the man for her. However he later sends her first editions of her favourite author’s books as a gift.

After Ana graduates she goes out drinking with her friends to celebrate and gets too drunk and calls Christian berating him about his behaviour towards her and says she is returning the books. Concerned he goes to the bar and takes a passed out Ana home to his permanent residence on the top of a large hotel. They soon start seeing each other though Christian says he wants her to sign an NDA preventing her from revealing details about their alliance. Christian explains that he only has interrelations involving bondage that is clearly defined in a signed contract. Ana reveals that she is a virgin. While considering the agreement and negotiating her own terms, she and Christian engage in some of Christian’s desired sexual practices. Christian says she can have her own room and that he won’t go to sleep with her on the same bed after their sexual stuff and that he normally doesn’t go the romantic things like dinner & movies or date nights. But he bestows Ana with gifts and favors, such as a new car and laptop computer.

After their graduation ceremony, where Ana’s dad meets Christian and learns that he is her new boyfriend, Ana and Kate move to Seattle and Ana grows closer to Christian. One night, she accompanies him to his parents’ house. During dinner, Ana suddenly mentions she is leaving the next day to visit her mother in Georgia. Later, Christian becomes frustrated when Ana expresses she wants romance rather than the one-sided relationship he proposes. She is shocked when Christian unexpectedly arrives in Georgia. He leaves soon after to tend to an emergency in Seattle. Once she returns home she moves in with Christian who still wants to experiment sexually and although she takes part in some, Christian remains distant and refuses to become more intimate. He does mention to her that he was introduced to bdsm by a friend of his mother when he was 15 and he played the submissive role to her dominant for 6 years. While still considering the contract, and in an effort to understand Christian psychologically, Ana asks him to demonstrate how he would “punish” her for rule breaking.

Christian whips Ana’s buttocks six times with a belt, making her count out each strike. When he attempts to help her up, she angrily shoves him away, upset and disgusted. It is far from Ana’s romantic expectations, and she leaves after concluding that Christian is wrong for her, despite the fact that she is falling in love with him, and that his practices border on being deviant and excessive. Both are troubled by flashbacks while the film ends abruptly as Christian leaves a business meeting distracted with images of Ana.

I wonder how they participated in such intimate scenes and engaging in BDSM in this movie. I found the movie interesting while slightly disturbing. Even romantic as the endearing Dakota Johnson manages to portay Ana as a character we can root for. 7.5 outta 10 for me!

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RIP Wes Craven

Wes Craven, the famed maestro of horror known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76. Craven, whose iconic Freddy Krueger character horrified viewers for years, died at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced. Survivors include his wife, producer and former Disney Studios vice president Iya Labunka. Wesley Earl Craven was born Aug. 2, 1939, in Cleveland. His father died when he was 5. Raised in a strict Baptist household, he graduated from Wheaton College with degrees in English and psychology, then earned a masters in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins.

Craven’s first feature film was The Last House of the Left, which he wrote, directed and edited in 1972. A rape-revenge movie, it appalled some viewers but generated big box office. Next came another film he wrote and helmed, The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Craven re-invented the youth horror genre in 1984 with the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, which he wrote and directed. He conceived and co-wrote Elm Street III as well, and then after not being involved with other sequels, deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was nominated for best feature at the 1995 Spirit Awards. In 1996, Craven reached a new level of success with the release of Scream. The film grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did Scream 2 (1997). Between Scream 2 and Scream 3, Craven, offered the opportunity to direct a non-genre film for Miramax, helmed Music of the Heart (1999), a film that earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for best actress in the inspirational drama about a teacher in Spanish Harlem.

Craven again pushed the genre boundaries with the 2005 psychological thriller Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. And in 2006, he wrote and directed a romantic comedy homage to Oscar Wilde featuring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as a segment in the French ensemble production Paris Je T’aime. Craven then produced remakes of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Last House on the Left (2009). His most recent written and directed film, My Soul to Take (2010), marked his first collaboration with Labunka, who also produced Scream 4. Craven directed several other thrillers and horror movies during his career, including Swamp Thing (1982), Deadly Friend (1986) and The People Under the Stairs (1991).

Wesley Earl “Wes” Craven (August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015)

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Pitch Perfect 2

I had watched the first movie twice last year (once on cable and once on dvd) and liked it a lot, much more than I expected to. The sequel, simply titled Pitch Perfect 2 came out this year and is once again directed & co-produced by Elizabeth Banks and stars Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle, and Shelley Regner as The Bellas. Banks, Skylar Astin, Adam Devine and Anna Camp return in their previous roles while Katey Sagal has a supporting role as a former Bella and Snoop Dog has a cameo.

It’s been 4 years since the events of the first film and the Bellas have won the nationals 3 years in a row. During a performance at President Obama’s birthday gala, disaster strikes when Fat Amy’s airlifting solo goes awry with her bottoms ripping and both her butt & front being displayed for all to see and they are suspended from performing in any a cappella showcase. Beca makes a deal to allow the Bellas be reinstated if they win the Worlds a cappella tournament. While the girls start practising for the worlds, Becca meanwhile has been secretly also working as an intern in a real studio impresses her boss with her mashup skills for Snoop Dogg’s Christmas album and is given a chance to become a producer. Only her boyfriend Jesse knows but Fat Amy soon finds out and advises Beca to tell the other Bellas.

The Bellas welcome freshman Emily Junk, who auditions for and impresses the ladies, to the delight of her mom who was a former Bella in the 80s. That night, the Bellas have a party with the Treblemakers and several other a capella students, where Benji awkwardly develops a crush towards Emily. The Bellas later attend a car show where they were initially due to perform, to meet their replacements, German powerhouse “Das Sound Machine” (DSM) – led by intimidating duo Pieter Krämer and Kommissar. They then attend an exclusive riff off, but lose to DSM in the final round when Emily flubs an attempt to sing her own song. The Bellas have another disaster when at another event things go wrong mid performance when Cynthia-Rose has her hair set ablaze by pyro. In response Chloe takes all the Bellas on a retreat, which is run by former leader of the Bellas Aubrey Posen, saying that they need to regain their lost harmony. While there Becca admits that she has been working as an intern because she is worried about her future after graduation. Each Bella talks about their dreams and hopes and they sing and talk about how much being a Bella has meant to them.

The senior Bellas graduate and all head off to Copenhagen for the Worlds a capella tournament, with Jesse and Benji to cheer them on. The Bellas perform along with Emily’s original song with the help of several former Bellas, including Aubrey and Emily’s mother, winning them the competition. Afterwards, Emily is given a proper initiation by the senior Bellas.

Funny and cool like the first one, though I still can’t stand most of the songs and style of singing. It’s good that the movie is funny plus I love Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow. Good fun movie for the weekend. 8 outta 10!

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RIP Yvonne Craig

Yvonne Craig, an American ballet dancer and actress best known for her role as Batgirl from the 1960s television series Batman, and as the Orion slave girl Marta in the Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy”. died this week after a long two-year battle with breast cancer. She was 78. Craig was a pioneer of female superheroes on screen. As an actress, she originated the role of Batgirl in the 1960s “Batman” television series. As a trained dancer, she did her own stunts. The cancer metastasized to her liver, and she died Monday in her home in Pacific Palisades.

She originally trained to be a ballet dancer and was a member of the corps de ballet of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1950s. Gradually, she moved into acting, and in 1959 appeared in three films: The Young Land, The Gene Krupa Story, and Gidget. She also had a guest role as Beverly Mills in the 1959 episode “Little Miss Wow” of the television series Mr. Lucky. In 1960, she appeared with Bing Crosby in High Time. In the following year, she appeared with Cesar Romero in Seven Women from Hell. Romero would later play the Joker in Batman. Another connection to Batman occurred when Craig appeared in “The Case of the Lazy Lover”, a 1958 episode of the television series Perry Mason, which also featured Neil Hamilton as her stepfather. Hamilton would later play her father, Commissioner Gordon, in Batman.

Yvonne starred in roles with Elvis Presley in two films: It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963) and Kissin’ Cousins (1964). She also starred in the cult sci-fi film Mars Needs Women (1966), and appeared in In Like Flint (1967) as a Russian ballet dancer opposite James Coburn. In the 1960s, with film roles beginning to taper off, she moved into television, appearing in several shows, including The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Death Valley Days, Hennesey, and My Three Sons. Craig appeared five times on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, portraying five separate girlfriends for the titular character between 1959 and 1962. One of her more memorable roles came in 1969 when Craig appeared on Star Trek as Marta, a green-skinned Orion slave girl in the third-season episode “Whom Gods Destroy”. Craig’s highest profile would come with the cult 1960s television series Batman as Batgirl (and her alter ego, librarian Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter). She appeared in the final season (1967–196.

She eventually moved into private business. For a time, she was a co-producer of industrial shows, after which she worked successfully in the real estate business. She maintained her own internet Web site.

Yvonne Joyce Craig (May 16, 1937 – August 17, 2015)

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Unboxing The USS Reliant

Huge delay in posting this. Up next in my personal collection is the USS Reliant. As seen in the second Star Trek film The Wrath Of Khan, the Reliant is a 23rd Miranda class starship which was taken over by Khan Noonien Singh and his crew and which engaged the USS Enterprise in battle. Khan, his crew and the ship was destroyed as the Genesis device was activated and the result led to the creation of the Genesis planet. The Reliant is a nice design and looks pretty good in this model. Here are some shots I took of the ship after I received it.




And here is the unboxing video.

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It Follows

It Follows is a 2014 American supernatural – horror film written and directed by David Robert Mitchell. The film stars Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi & Lili Sepe and deals with a supernatural entity that follows people who have had sex with a curse person.

The movie centers around the character of Jay, a carefree college student in Michigan, who goes on a date with her new love interest Hugh. At the movie theatre Hugh points out to a girl in a yellow outfit but when Jay looks back she cannot see her. Hugh is disturbed by this and asks to leave the theatre saying that he is unwell. On another night, they park in Hugh’s car in a park and have sex. Afterwards Hugh puts Jay unconscious and she wakes up to find herself tied to a chair in an abandoned building. Hugh tells her that through sex he passed on a curse to her; apparently he got it himself after a one night stand in a bar and the curse is that a supernatural being takes on the form of someone Jay knows and only she will be able to see it. The being will follow the cursed one at a walking pace and will kill her if it catches up to her and then pursue the person who passed the curse to her. Hugh implores that Jay sleep with someone else as soon as she can to be rid of the entity. A naked woman approaches them from the nearby woods as they go. Hugh drops Jay off at home.

Jay is helped by her sister Kelly and their friends & neighbours Yara & Paul. The cops are called but they cannot find Hugh at his reported residence. Later at her college Jay is approached by an old woman only she can see and she freaks out. That night while Paul is over at their house, the entity breaks a window in the kitchen and Jay sees a half naked woman approaching her. She runs to her room but Paul & Kelly can’t see the being, now in the form of a tall man with gouged-out eyes, so Jay jumps out of the window and runs to a nearby playground. As the others catch up with her Greg, another neighbour their age, comes to find out what happened and they will him in. The next morning they 5 of them head to the house that Hugh claimed to live in and find it to be abandoned. Using a photo of his, they track him to his school and find out that his real name is Jeff and go to his house. Jeff reiterates that Jay must have sex with someone else to get rid of the curse. They drive to Greg’s lakehouse, where Jay learns to fire a gun. The entity catches up to Jay and attacks her on the shore. She shoots it, momentarily incapacitating it, and escapes in Greg’s car, crashing into a cornfield. She wakes up in the hospital with a broken arm, surrounded by her mother and friends.

In the hospital Greg has sex with Jay and after a few nights he is killed when the entity takes on the form of his mother and kills him. Once again the target, Jay flees and spends the night by the beach. The next morning, she sees three young men on a boat. She undresses and walks into the water. Back home, Paul expresses his feelings about Jay sleeping with Greg and not him; he offers to have sex with her, but she refuses. Later the 4 of them decide to lure the entity to a public indoor pool and electrocute it but instead of entering the pool, the entity picks up the electrical devices and throws them at Jay. Paul attempts to shoot the entity but cannot see it and accidentally wounds Yara. Kelly drapes a blanket over the entity, allowing Paul to shoot it in the head. It falls into the pool. Paul asks Jay if she can see if the entity is dead. Jay approaches the pool, which slowly fills with blood. To be sure Jay has sex with Paul who then goes to find prostitutes in another part of the city. As the movie ends, Jay and Paul hold hands and walk down the sidewalk; someone walks behind them.

The movie seems to be a parable about AIDS and other STDs and perhaps anxieties about sex and intimacy. Although an interesting plotline, I found the movie a bit dull and boring in parts. I give it a 7 outta 10!

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RIP “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

The Wrestling world loses another legend taken much before his time. Legend and cult-film favorite “Rowdy” Roddy Piper has died after suffering a heart attack at his Hollywood home at the age of 61. He earned the nickname “Rowdy” by displaying his trademark “Scottish” rage, spontaneity and quick wit. Despite being a crowd favorite for his rock star-like persona, he often played a villain. Aside from his ring name, he was also known by the nickname “Hot Rod”.

Born Roderick George Toombs, in Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Canada, Roddy Piper rose to success as a member of the World Wrestling Federation after working in various lower-tiered pro-wrestling organizations, including the National Wrestling Alliance, throughout the ’70s. After joining the WWF in 1984, Piper started out as a manager for up-and-coming combatants in the squared circle. Toombs’ character, “Rowdy,” was perpetually clad in a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Hot Rod” and a kilt; he would enter the ring to a bagpipe theme and say he heralded from “Glasgow, Scotland,” despite actually being raised in Winnipeg. Piper headlined several major pay-per-view events; he participated in the main events of WrestleMania I and WrestleMania X – as a special guest referee in the latter. Never a world champion, he nevertheless accumulated 34 championships in various promotions during his career. Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and named No. 1 of the Top 50 villains in wrestling history by WWE.

A formidable opponent in the ring, Piper truly found his calling as a trash-talking shit starter when he began hosting “Piper’s Pit,” a segment where Piper would insult and antagonize other members of the WWF universe. Some of the more infamous segments on his talk show-inspired segment included being manhandled by Andre The Giant after insinuating that the big guy may not be very intelligent and smashing a coconut over “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka’s head. He also starred in several movies including Hell Comes To Frogtown, Body Slam & They Live. He leaves behind his wife Kitty, 4 children and a grandchild.

Roderick “Roddy” George Toombs (April 17, 1954 – July 30, 2015)

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Wanna watch a good, silly & humorous film filled with some laughs and even some cool action stuff? Watch 2015’s Spy written and directed by Paul Feig. The film stars Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney, and Jude Law.

Susan Cooper is a desk bound CIA analyst who sits at her computer guiding her suave partner, field agent Bradley Fine when he goes out on missions, using the latest technology and miniature cameras to warn him of imminent danger. At the latest mission in Bulgaria, Fine accidentally shoots & kills Tihomir Boyanov without first finding a suitcase nuke whose location is known only to Boyanov. With Susan guiding him Fine is able to escape the compound. Meanwhile, the agency learns that Boyanov’s daughter Rayna (Rose Byrne) might know the location of her father’s device, so they send Fine to infiltrate her home. However, Fine is shot dead by Rayna while Susan watches online. Rayna also divulges that she knows the name of the top agents like Fine and Rick Ford. Susan volunteers to be the agent on field as she will be unknown and her boss Eliane Crocker agrees, much to Ford’s disgust who quits.

Susan, in disguise, is sent to Paris to spy on Sergio De Luca and finds that Ford has followed her. Though Ford thinks he is being secretive, Susan sees De Luca and his assistant switch Ford’s bag with one that contains a bomb and is able to warn Ford. Susan then follows De Luca to Rome, where she meets her contact Aldo, a suave Italian informant who makes inappropriate advances towards Susan. At a casino that night Susan runs into Rayna and after warning her about an assassin dropping poison in her drink, becomes part of Rayna’s inner circle. Gaining Rayna’s trust, they fly in her private plane to Budapest. Along the way, the steward kills the bodyguard and pilots and tries to kill Rayna, but Susan is able to subdue him and take control of the plane before landing it in Budapest. Rayna suspects her of being a CIA agent but Susan is able to convince her that Boyanov hired her to be Rayna’s bodyguard in the event of his death. In Budapest, the two encounter Susan’s best friend Nancy (Miranda Hart), who is sent by Crocker to back up Susan. After being shot at in the street, Susan orders Nancy to get Rayna to safety while she pursues the shooter’s vehicle. The shooter turns out to be CIA double agent Karen Walker, who sold Rayna the names of the agents. As Walker is about to fatally shoot Susan, Walker is killed by an unknown sniper.

While accompanying Rayna to a party they run into Lia, De Luca’s associate who turns out to be an assassin. While Nancy creates a diversion, Susan fights Lia in the club’s kitchen. Lia is killed by Fine, who is very much alive, and apparently fakes his death so he could be with his lover Rayna. After Susan is captured and put in an abandoned bunker along with Also, Fine appears and reveals that the real reason he faked his death was to gain intelligence on the device’s location, which could only happen by gaining Rayna’s trust. Wanting to prove herself, Susan escapes from the bunker with Aldo’s help and poses as a double agent with Rayna and Fine at De Luca’s mansion. De Luca’s buyer is a Chechen terrorist who arrives with a suitcase filled with diamonds in exchange for the nuclear device. However, De Luca, now in possesion of the device and doubting that Dudaev can safely smuggle it into the United States, kills him and his men and keeps the diamonds. De Luca intends to sell the device to not only an even higher bidder, but to someone who can transport it to New York City within a week.

As De Luca is about to kill Rayna, Ford appears and distracts De Luca, allowing Susan to save Rayna’s life again. DeLuca tries to escape in his helicopter but Susan and Ford grab onto it before it can take off. Though Ford loses his grip and falls into the lake, Susan confronts De Luca in the helicopter alone. After Nancy and Aldo arrive in a helicopter and help Susan kill De Luca, Crocker arrives to recover the device. Rayna is arrested, but it’s implied that she has come to like Susan as a friend. Also, reveals himself to an undercover MI6 agent and invites Susan to dinner if she visits London. Susan declines a similar offer from Fine and instead opts for a girls night out with Nancy. The next morning, Susan is shown screaming after waking up amidst empty champagne bottles and realizing that she has slept with Ford.

A barrel of laughs and rib-tickling comedy with lots of cool action scenes and fights. It is quite funny. I give it an 8.5 outta 10!

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RIP Omar Sharif

Actor Omar Sharif, best known for his roles in classic films Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, has died aged 83. Egypt-born Sharif won two Golden Globe awards and an Oscar nomination for his role as Sherif Ali in David Lean’s 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia. He won a further Golden Globe three years later for Doctor Zhivago. Earlier this year, his agent confirmed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. His agent Steve Kenis said: “He suffered a heart attack this afternoon in a hospital in Cairo.”

In 1954, Sharif began his acting career in his native Egypt with a role in Shaytan Al-Sahra (Devil of the Desert). In the same year he appeared in Sira` Fi al-Wadi (Struggle in the Valley). He quickly rose to stardom, appearing in Egyptian productions, including La Anam (Sleepless) in 1958, Sayyidat al-Qasr (Lady of the Palace) in 1959 and the Anna Karenina adaptation Nahr el hub (The River of Love) in 1961. He also starred with his wife, Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, in several movies as romantic leads. Sharif’s first English-language role was that of Sharif Ali in David Lean’s historical epic Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. This performance earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, as well as a shared Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor.

In recent roles he was seen in The 13th Warrior, Hidalgo and narrated 10,000 BC in 2008. In later life, Sharif lived mostly in Cairo with his family. In addition to his son, he had two grandsons, Omar (born 1983 in Montreal) and Karim. Omar Sharif, Jr. is also an actor.

Omar Sharif (born Michel Demitri Chalhoub) – April 1932 – 10 July 2015

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Unboxing The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E Model

I almost forgot to post this. The next Eaglemoss model in my collection is the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E as seen in the movies Star Trek First Contact, Star Trek Insurrection & Star Trek Nemesis. Commissioned and assigned to Captain Jean-Luc PIcard and crew after the events of the movie Star Trek Generations and the destruction of the Enterprise D. She was sleeker looking, with longer warp nacelles but that also means that the ship itself is longer and hence on a smaller scale model it looks too small and lacking in some of that awesome detail. I was disappointed with this one, mainly due it it’s small size and really wish they had made this a much bigger model. Still, I love having it in my collection.






And here is an unboxing video of the ship.

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Insidious : Chapter 3

Well we needed to have a sequel didn’t we? Insidious : Chapter 3 is the prequel to the events of the first movie written and directed by Leigh Whannell in his directorial debut. The 2015 film stars Dermot Mulroney and Stefanie Scott, with Angus Sampson, Whannell, and Lin Shaye reprising their roles from the previous films.

Set a few years before the events of the first film, Elise Rainer, is living a reclusive life in her home still recovering from the death of her husband, who killed himself as he was suffering from depression. Teenager Quinn Brennan approaches her at her home asking for help in contacting the spirit of her recently deceased mother who she feels is trying to contact her from beyond her grave. Feeling pity on the young girl Elise, who has stopped doing readings, agrees to try to contact Lillith Brennan, however she stops after hearing a demonic presence who threatens to kill her. She warns Quinn to stop trying to reach out to her mother on her own and that if “you call out to one of the dead, all of them can hear you.”

Quinn skips school to go to an audition for a NYC based theatre academy and sees a strange figure waving to her from the side. Not having had much time to prepare (with her overbearing father Sean asking her to help raise her younger brother Alex) Quinn flubs her lines and does not do well. Later she sits with her best friend Maggie and discusses her unhappiness and as they leave, she sees the same dark figure waving to her from across the street. This distracts her and causes her to be hit by a car, which breaks her legs. Using a wheelchair she is now resting at home with her legs in a cast and her father gets more time off from work to be around for her and even gives her a bell to ring in case she needs him. At night she notices weird things like the bell going off on it’s own and hearing a knock from behind the wall (which is the room of next door neighbor Hector, she knocks back and he copies her. Quinn texts Hector, who reveals that he isn’t home. Fearing it was someone else next door, she goes to bed. The paranormal experiences keep escalating with Quinn seeing the figure in her room and the ceilings getting craked above her bed.

The demonic figure, resembling a corpse with a breathing mask, brings Quinn upstairs to the empty apartment above hers and she sees a faceless, limbless version of herself. Hearing banging from above Sean rushes up and finds Quinn on the floor and follows the bloody footprints to the broken window. A man is lying on the pavement below, as if he committed suicide by jumping out. As Quinn goes to observe the window, the demon grabs Quinn and tries to pull her over the ledge. Sean saves her, but her neck is injured in the process. Sean contacts a reluctant Elise who tries to enter the spiritual realm but is scared away by the Bride in Black who tries to strangle her. Knowing that the Bride has vowed to kill her, Elise leaves. Alex shows Sean a video of two bloggers, Specs & Tucker, who are ghost hunters. They attempt to catch the demon but find a semi-possessed Quinn attacking them. Meanwhile Elise returns, having found encouragement from a fellow medium & friend who tells her that she is stronger than she thinks she is, and offers to help again. This time she fights off the Bride in Black and goes on.

The Demon takes the form of Elise’s dead husband, Jack, in an attempt to trick her into killing herself so they can be together. After a tearful reunion, Elise realizes that it is actually the Demon, and easily defeats him, but it grabs hold of a faceless version of Quinn. This version of Quinn is revealed to be half of her soul, which the demon now controls. Elise returns to the others and tells them that only Quinn can get the rest of her soul back. However, Quinn is losing the battle, as her alternate version gains more of her features. Elise hears the voice of the wife of the Brenner’s neighbor who had died the other night, leading her to Quinn’s diary, which contains a letter that Lillith wanted her to read before she graduated. The power from this letter helps guide Lillith to save Quinn and banish the demon. Lillith leaves her with some parting words, and the family is finally reunited. Specs and Tucker decide to join Elise to deal with other supernatural disturbances. At the end of the film, Elise realizes something is wrong when her dog keeps barking at a dark closet and the the Lipstick-Faced Demon pops out next to her.

Not bad for a sequel, which usually tends to be the worst of all horror movie franchises. This one was decent and well acted and not cheesy either, despite the plot with the mother’s spirit being involved. I’d give it a 7.5 outta 10!

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