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Star Wars VII : The Force Awakes

Finally got around to watching the first Star Wars film since Disney took over. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also known as Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens) is a 2015 American epic space opera film directed, co-produced, and co-written by J. J. Abrams. The seventh installment in the main Star Wars film series, it stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow. Produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and distributed worldwide by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

The Force Awakens is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi and focuses on the search for Luke Skywalker who has gone missing several years ago. From the ashes of the Galactic Empire, the First Order has risen and is arming itself to defeat and wipe out the New Republic. Leia, or General Organa, leads the resistance that seeks to protect the Republic and fend off Supreme Leader Snoke, and his disciple the dark warrior Kylo Ren. Ren attacks the planet Jakku to get a chip that shows a map of where Luke currently calls home. He kills an elder named Lor San Tekka but the chip is in the hands of resistance leader pilot Poe Dameron who hides it in his driod BB8, when his ship is damaged and cannot take off. Poe is captured and taken to Starkiller Base, where Ren tortures him and learns of BB-8. Poe’s droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and encounters the scavenger Rey near a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe using the Force, and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187, unable to bring himself to kill for the First Order, frees Poe, and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”.

They crash on Jakku, and Finn survives but is unable to determine if Poe did as well. He encounters Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. Finn, Rey, and BB-8 flee the planet in the Millennium Falcon, which they steal from a junkyard. The Falcon is then captured by a larger ship piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca – the scene you see in the trailer that goes “We’re home” to the sound of a million fanboys & girls weeping) and he confronts Rey and & Finn but must now fight 2 groups of smugglers who are here to collect debts from Han. The 4 are able to escape and then go to the planet Takodana to get help from cantina owner Maz as the map is incomplete. Rey is drawn to a vault on the lower level and finds the lightsaber that once belonged to Luke and his father Anakin Skywalker. She experiences disturbing visions and flees into the woods. Maz gives Finn the lightsaber for safekeeping. While this is happening, Snoke orders his general to use the Starkiller weapon as he doubts Ren’s commitment to the cause due to his father Han Solo – Ren says Solo means nothing to him. Starkiller Base fires and destroys the Republic capital and fleet. The First Order attacks Takodana in search of BB-8. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn are saved by Resistance X-wing fighters led by Poe, revealing that he survived the earlier crash.

Leia with C3PO reunites with Han – they had separated due to Kylo going against the Jedi teachings of his uncle Luke and going to the dark side – and Chewy. Meahwhile, Ren captures Rey and takes her to Starkiller Base, but when he interrogates her about the map, she is able to resist his mind-reading attempts. Discovering she can use the Force, she escapes using a Jedi mind trick on a nearby guard. As Starkiller Base prepares to fire on D’Qar, the Resistance devises a plan to destroy the superweapon by attacking a critical facility. Leia urges Han to return their son alive. Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca, and Finn infiltrate the facility and plant explosives. Han confronts Ren, calling him by his birth name, Ben, and implores him to abandon the dark side. Ren kills Han, enraging Chewbacca who fires and hits Ren. He sets off the explosives, allowing the Resistance to attack and destroy Starkiller Base. Ren pursues Rey to the surface and they fight in the snow. A lightsaber battle between Ren and Finn ensues, leaving Finn badly wounded. Rey takes the lightsaber and uses the Force to defeat Ren, before they are separated by a fissure as the planet begins to disintegrate.

Snoke orders Hux to evacuate and bring Ren to him. Rey and Chewbacca escape with Finn in the Falcon. On D’Qar, the Resistance celebrates while Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn Han’s death. R2-D2 awakens and reveals the rest of the map, which Rey follows with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to a distant planet. She finds Luke and presents him with the lightsaber. Is that his daughter? Dunno but probably yes. The movie ends without Luke having said a single word. Many critics praised the film and compared it favorably to the original trilogy. The film has since broken many box office records, becoming the highest-grossing installment of the franchise, the highest grossing film in North America, and the third highest grossing film of all time with a worldwide gross of more than $2 billion. It received five Academy Award nominations and four British Academy Film Award nominations, where it won Best Special Visual Effects. Two sequels, Episode VIII and Episode IX, are scheduled for 2017 and 2019 respectively.

Really? This movie that basically rips of the original movie in its storyline? What about Rey being able to use the force so quickly, less than a few hours after learning she might be a descendant of a Jedi or atleast have the force be really strong in her? Anakin couldn’t do it, Luke couldn’t do it! And Finn, a Stortropper suddenly grows a conscience? And Luke ran away when things got bad? Boo hoo hoo! I am not blown away but then what do you expect from JarJar Abrams, who likes to rip old stories into new and think he is smart! A 7.5 outta 10!

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Room (2015)

Room is a 2015 Canadian-Irish independent drama film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel of the same name. The film stars Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, and William H. Macy. Held captive for seven years in an enclosed space, a woman (Larson) and her 5-year-old son (Tremblay) finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time. Larson’s performance won her the won multiple awards for her performance, including the Academy Award for Best Actress, the BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award. Room also received three other Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Teenage Joy is abducted by a man only called “Old Nick”, who pretended to have lost a dog. Joy tried to help him and ended up being a prisoner of his for the next 7 years, getting regularly raped. Two years after the abduction she gives birth to a son, Jack, who she raises in the makeshift room in Nick’s shed in his backyard and which has an electronic lock, who’s combinations are held secret by Nick. Room has a bed, toilet, bathtub, television, and rudimentary kitchen; the only window is a skylight, all of which Jack calls by name, as if they were living. Nick holds them both captive and he supplies Joy with food, medicines and vitamins. For Jack’s 5th birthday Joy bakes him a cake and they celebrate. At night she puts him to sleep in the little bed in the closet just before Nick visits for sex. She tries to stay optimistic for her son, but is suffering malnutrition and is sometimes overcome with depression. She allows Jack to believe that only Room and its contents are “real,” and that the rest of the world exists only on television.

Old Nick tells Joy that he lost his job and threatens he may not be able to afford their supplies in the future. When Joy reacts badly, he cuts their heat and power. Joy decides to tell Jack about the outside world; he reacts with disbelief and incomprehension, but also curiosity. She has Jack fake a fever, hoping that Old Nick will take him to a hospital where he can escape, but Old Nick says he will return the following day with antibiotics. Fearing that the tactic will not work, she coaches Jack to lie still and pretends he is dead and rolls him up in the carpet. Crying she makes Nick put the carpet in the back of his pickup truck and take the boy to a nice spot near the trees to lay him down. At a stop sign, Jack as coached by Joy, unrolls himself from the carpet and jumps out. Although stunned by his first exposure to the outside world, Jack jumps from the truck and attracts the attention of a passer-by. The police arrive and rescue him. Joy is rescued, Old Nick is arrested, and Joy and Jack are taken to a hospital.

At the hospital Joy is reunited with her parents; her mother Nancy and father Robert have divorced and her dad lives in another city while Nancy lives at their home with her partner Leo. After a few days Joy and Jack are brought to the house where Jack struggles to get acclimatized to a whole large world and is overwhelmed and even later asks his mother to go back to Room. Robert is unable to accept Jack and leaves back for his home. Joy struggles with anger and depression, lashing out at her mother and ignoring doctor’s appointments. She agrees to a television interview, but becomes angry when the interviewer questions her decision to keep Jack after his birth. Overwhelmed with guilt, she attempts suicide and is admitted to a hospital. While she is away Jack slowly starts to bond with his grandmother Nancy and Leo, who introduces the boy to his dog Seamus (Jack had an imaginary pet dog while in Room). Jack also makes friends with a boy his own age and who lives in the same neighbourhood.

Believing his long hair will give Joy the strength she needs to recover, Jack has his grandmother cut it for him so he can send it to her. He even tells Nancy that he loves her. Joy returns home and apologizes, thanking Jack for saving her life again. At Jack’s request, they visit Room one last time, escorted by police. Jack is confused; their possessions have been removed for evidence, and he feels it has shrunk, and that it is a different place with the door open. Joy asks Jack if he wants her to shut the door, but he says no. He and Joy say their goodbyes to Room and leave.

Stunningly acted by both Larson and young Jacob Tremblay, it’s a riveting film that makes you feel for the plight of the duo. Amazing what a low budget film can do with a good script and wonderful actors. I give this film a 9 outta 10!

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The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed by Jon Favreau, written by Justin Marks, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous collective works, the film is a live-action/CGI reimagining of Walt Disney’s 1967 animated film of the same name. The film stars and introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli and features the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken.

Story wise it’s almost the same as the original film and stayed true to the story. What we learn is that Mowgli was orphaned as a toddler when his father was killed while fighting off the ferocious tiger Sher Khan. Sher Khan was scarred by the fire that Mowgli’s dad used to ward him off and holds a grudge. Mowgli was found by the black panther Bagheera who kept him safe and took him to a pack of wolves led by Akela. The wolves took him in and he was raised just like a son by Akela and his mate Raksha along with their other pups. However Sher Khan threatens his life since man isn’t allowed in the jungle, Mowgli is forced to leave his jungle home guided by Bagheera. But the duo are split up when Sher Khan attacks them and Mowgli finds himself alone. Before a hypnotized Mowgli can he devoured by Kaa the python, he is rescued by Baloo the bear. As a return favour Mowgli helps Baloo get all the honey he wants before Bagheera catches up with them. Bagheera wants Mowgli to move on to safety and reach a human village where he will be cared for but Baloo wants the boy to stay.

After Mowgli saves a young elephant from a pit using his skills and making ropes outta vines, Baloo is forced to pretend he doesn’t want the boy to stay and a hurt Mowgli runs away only to be abducted by monkeys. Mowgli is taken to the smooth-talking Bornean orangutan-resembling Gigantopithecus, King Louie, who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly “red flower”(fire). When Bagheera and Baloor intervene there is a fight against the monkeys and Mowgli is able to escape as the temple comes crashing down on Louie. When Mowgli learns that Sher Khan killed Akela and is bossing his old pack, he goes to the village and steals a wooden torch and runs to confront him. Unfortunately the falling embers from the fire causes a forest fire in some areas, which has some animals fearing Mowgli and he is taunted by Sher Khan. The animals attack Sher Khan but he is able to break free and chase Mowgli who lures the tiger to a dying tree and Sher Khan falls to his death into the fires as a branch he is on breaks. Mowgli is hailed as a hero and he returns to his pack and spends his days with his two best friends Bagheera and Baloo.

Scared that this movie would trample upon the loving memory of my childhood I was pleasantly surprised as the movie is indeed a mighty homage to a wonderful story. Everything was good. Full praise to the kid actor in his debut and the actors who voiced and brought life to the animals. 8.5 outta 10!

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RIP Don Francks

Missed this news somehow and I guess because he isn’t a really well known in media today, I guess Facebook posts were also at a bare minimum. Actor & jazz musician Don Francks died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 84. A veteran of classic American cop and detective TV shows like Mission Impossible, Mannix and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., his Toronto agent Jennifer Goldhar on Monday confirmed his death. Born in Vancouver on Feb. 28, 1932, Francks, as a young jazz musician and vocalist, drove east to Toronto and starred in a host of 1950s CBC TV specials. He later moved to New York City, where he performed in the 1960s at the Blue Angel and recorded a live album at the Village Vanguard.

As a spokesman for Other Voices (Canadian TV series) in mid-1960s, he investigated a boy’s murder at Saskatchewan Red Pheasant First Nation. He married and moved there with his second wife Lili Francks, named there as Red Eagle. He was adopted as a Cree, and named Iron Buffalo “strong like iron. Like the buffalo who knows where to go, is a good provider and good for his family”. She is dancer and member of the Plains Cree First Nation. His acting career got started with the CBC in 1954 as a regular on Burns Chuckwagon From the Stampede Corral, a Western-themed series with musical artists, and other Canadian shows such as Riding High and The Adventures of Tugboat Annie. In the 1960s, he also guest starred on classic U.S. TV series including The Wild Wild West, The Virginian and Ben Casey, and played the role of U.S. Army captain Franklin Sheppard on the short-lived 1966 drama Jericho.

After leaving entertainment to live on the Red Pheasant Reserve in Saskatchewan as Iron Buffalo, Francks returned to Toronto in 1974. His subsequent film and TV credits included Joel Surnow’s La Femme Nikita, in which he played the role of Walter; The Listener; My Bloody Valentine; and more recently a stint on Gangland Undercover. On the movie front, Francks co-starred alongside Petula Clark and Fred Astaire in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1968 fantasy musical Finian’s Rainbow. Since 1979, he has been living in Toronto with wife Lili and their son Rainbow Sun (former MuchMusic VJ & actor from Stargate Atlantis & The Listener). His daughter Cree Summer resides and works in Hollywood. He has two children from his first marriage, his son Trane and a daughter.

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Star Trek : Horizon

Another fan film with love to all fans of the franchise, Star Trek : Horizon is a 2015 film. Tommy Kraft was all of the following: director, writer, producer, editor, director of photography, he did the visual effects, he did the music, and he even was the costume designer. Set in the 22nd century, a little after the end of Star Trek : Enterprise the film and tells the tale of a sister starship of the same design, the NX-04 USS Discovery. The story sees the nascent Starfleet aided by the Vulcans & the Adnorians in a joint fight against the Romulan empire and brings back the Temporal Cold War elements that we saw in Enterprise.

We start the film 2500 years ago, when the last surviving members of a race legendary in the galaxy, the Iconians. They have been defeated by another race that created a super weapon called Horizon. The two Iconians take and hide the weapon so it cannot be used again. Back in 2160 the crew of the NX-04 Discovery is captained by Captain Harrison Hawke, who took command of the ship just as the war with the Romulan Empire began. T’mar, a Romulan defector bringing important tactical information to Starfleet and the crew of the Discovery are bringing her back to Earth when they are attacked by a trio of Romulan Bird of Preys. Although they are heavily damaged, the Discovery is able to defeat the Romuans with help arriving in the form of the NX-01 Enterprise. But the ship suffers some casualties, including the helmswoman Lt. Amelia Yarris who was swept away into the vacuum of space when a section of the hull is destroyed. Hawke reports back to Admiral Gardner back on earth as the ship is being repaired and is given new orders; T’Mar is also assigned as the Discovery’s new helms officer, a fact that does not sit well with the rest of the crew. They learn from T’mar that the Romulans are building a super weapon just two light-years from earth. A fleet of Vulcan and earth ships, including the newly repaired Discovery, head out to find and destroy the weapon, called Horizon.

Before the repairs are done, the senior officers share a toast to Amelia, with Hawke confessing to his second in command, Commander Jackson Gates, that he and Amelia were in love. The fleet comes under attack by Romulans, and it’s left to the Discovery to destroy the weapon with their new prototype torpedoes. The torpedoes cause an unexpected spacial rift to form, and Discovery is pulled through. The crew find themselves at the planet Horizon was brought to by the Iconians. While investigating a structure on the surface they are found by Daekon, a Romulan defector from the future and a combatant in the Temporal Cold War. We learn that he is the mysterious man from the future in the Enterprise series. Amelia turns up alive; she informs Hawke that she is from the 31st century and is a Temporal agent and was pulled away at the last moment by her colleagues before she was about to be killed. The crew of Discovery works to defeat him and finally completely destroy the weapon, bringing the Temporal Cold War to a close at long last. The ship returns back to earth and Amelia bids farewell to Hawke, hopeful that they will meet again someday.

It’s got a good story, connecting the end of Enterprise and bringing an end to the Temporal Cold War. Fans of Enterprise and yes any Trekkie should be fond of this film. Is the film great? No but for a fan film it is. Is the acting top notch? No, but for a fan film the acting is good. Is the special effects top class? No but it’s better than even some smaller budget movies. Yes the lensflare is annoying at times but I give the team a pass on that. I’d rate Star Trek Horizon, as a movie, a 6.5 outta 10. But for a fan film it’s an 8!

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Batman vs Superman : Dawn Of Justice

You ever build a movie up in your mind so much that when you finally see it, it can never ever live up to the hype? I just did watch one such movie. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a 2016 3D American fantasy superhero film featuring the DC Comics characters Batman and Superman, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is a follow-up to 2013’s Man of Steel and the second installment in the DC Extended Universe. The film is directed by Zack Snyder, with a screenplay written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, and stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter and Gal Gadot. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the first live-action film to feature both Batman and Superman, as well as the first theatrical film to feature live-action portrayals of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. In the film, criminal genius Lex Luthor manipulates Batman into preemptively battling Superman.

Ok, so I went to the Cinepolis this afternoon after having booked an executive seat last night. I hadn’t known (or perhaps forgot) that this movie wals in 3D and I’m not really a fan of 3D but it was ok here. Now onto the film; this is a mess of a film to be honest. Let’s get one thing outta the way – the special effects and CGI is awesome. No doubt there, it’s spectacular. Except for some scenes where it kinda felt silly it was pretty good. But the story isn’t very good. So Bruce Wayne / Batman is pissed off at Superman because during the fight he had with General Zod several buildings were destroyed and a lot of people died including some of Wayne Industries employees who were close to Bruce. A little girl that is orphaned after her mom died in one of the destroyed buildings only reinforces to Bruce that Superman is bad for humanity. Ofcourse while Batman kills a bunch of baddies, causes chaos on the streets in his tank of a vehicle and destroys a bunch of real estate later, he conveniently does not relate this to his hatred of the Sup.

Superman, not the one I’ve grown up with and loved in the 4 movies that Christopher Reeves played him in (ok, first three) is a moody and dour personality dude who is either loved or feared by the general public. But why does Lex Luthor (portrayed like a maniacal nutjob by Jesse Eissenberg) hate Superman so much? He setsup several incidents to portray the universe’s most famous Kryptonian in a bad light including an attack in the middle east desert where several innocents were killed plus also masterminds a bombing that kills dozens of people, including Finch. The public blames the bombing on Superman, who goes into self-imposed exile. Luthor initial convinces Senator June Finch to help him recover kryptonite from Zod’s failed terraforming attempt from the Indian Ocean. Finch later stonewalls Lex’s efforts to use Zod’s DNA and the Kryptonian scout ship recovered from the battle to create a biological weapon. Bruce infiltrates a fundraiser promoted by Luthor to retrieve data from LexCorp’s mainframe, but his drive is stolen by mysterious antiques dealer Diana Prince, who learns that Luthor has files on herself, as well as individuals with superhuman speed (Flash), a cybernetic body (Cyborg), and a man that lives underwater (Aquaman).

Wayne learns not only of Luthor’s experiments with kryptonite, but also his ongoing investigation about metahumans including Prince herself, who is an immortal warrior. Batman attempts to retrieve Luthor’s kryptonite, but is intercepted by Superman, who orders him to cease his activities. Batman retrieves the kryptonite and prepares to launch a strike against Superman; building a powerful exoskeleton and kryptonite-powered arsenal. With Batman now having the kryptonite, Luthor activates the Genesis Chamber aboard the scout ship and splices his own DNA and Zod’s. Luthor endangers Superman’s love interest Lois Lane to lure him to LexCorp Tower, where he reveals that he has been aware of Superman’s secrets for some time. Lex blackmails Superman into confronting Batman by holding his adoptive mother Martha hostage in a warehouse. Sup and a bulked up Batman duke it out and the Bat nearly kills Superman with a kryptonite spear. Superman pleads for Batman to “save Martha”, which was also the latter’s late mother’s name, causing him to come to his senses and realize Superman is not a threat! What? So if his “enemy”‘s mother has the same name as his own, suddenly Batman decides that Superman is his newest BFF? How stupid!

Batman leaves to rescue Martha while Superman confronts Luthor, who unleashes a monstrous artificially bred creature (Doomsday) made with Kryptonian technology on the crashed ship. Superman and Batman join forces to fight him and are aided by an arriving Prince in her Amazonian attire, but are outmatched due to the creature’s ability to absorb and redirect energy. Realizing that their shared Kryptonian DNA results in shared vulnerabilities, Superman retrieves the kryptonite spear and sacrifices himself to impale the creature with it, while the creature stabs Superman with his bone protrusions, seemingly killing him. As the movie ends, there is a memorial for Superman in Metropolis using an empty casket and a military burial. In Kansas Wayne, Lane, Martha, and Prince attend a private ceremony in Smallville. Martha passes an envelope to Lois, which contains an engagement ring from Clark to Lois. After the funeral, Wayne reveals to Prince that he plans to form a team (Justice League) from Luthor’s file subjects to protect the world in Superman’s absence. Later, a faint heartbeat begins echoing from Superman’s grave and the dirt around it begins to levitate. Meaning, he will rise again!

Batman also warns Lex, who is now shaved bald and in prison that he will be watching him but Lex seems to be on the verge of a mental breakdown. The whole Batman vs Superman thing seems so superficial and how they finally team up is really dumb! Gal Gadot looks superb as Wonder Woman and I would love to see more of her in this role. She is also rather gorgeous. Ben Affleck, despite misgivings and that dumb explanations, does really well as an older Batman/Bruce Wayne (he is 43 and the oldest actor to play the Bat). The film is told in bits and pieces and the whole storyline is not very palatable. I think they could have come up with better and more sensible way to patch things up between the two main superheroes. The first half is rather dull and boring in parts while the second is a boombastic, CGI & effects laden, action packed fun ride. The film will probably make big bucks. I give it a 7 outta 10!

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Spotlight

Spotlight is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer. The film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories by the actual Spotlight Team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup.

It won numerous guilds and critics’ association awards, and was named one of the finest films of 2015 by various publications. The film received a total of six nominations at the 88th Academy Awards, winning two for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

After the Boston Globe hires a new editor, Marty Baron, he meets up with Walter “Robby” Robinson, the editor of the Spotlight team, a small group of journalists writing investigative articles that take months to research and publish. They discuss an article in which a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, who says that Cardinal Bernard Law (the Archbishop of Boston) knew that the priest John Geoghan was sexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him. Journalist Michael Rezendes contacts Garabedian, who initially declines interview. Though he is told not to, Rezendes reveals that he is on the Spotlight team, persuading Garabedian to talk. Although they initially believe that they are investigating the sexual crimes of just one man, the Spotlight team begin to uncover a pattern of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Massachusetts, and an ongoing cover-up by the Boston Archdiocese. After interviewing a former abuse survivour who now runs a victim rights organization, they start checking after 13 priests.

They learn through an ex-priest who worked at trying to rehabilitate pedophile priests that there should be approximately ninety abusive priests in Boston (six percent of priests). Through their research, they develop a list of eighty-seven names, and begin to find their victims to back up their suspicions. And then – 9/11 happens, putting off their investigations for a while as everyone focuses on the tragedy and the team is forced to deprioritize the story. Rezendes learns that the there are publicly available documents that confirm Cardinal Law was aware of the problem and ignored it. Although Rezendes argues vociferously to run the story immediately before more victims suffer and rival newspapers publish, Robinson remains steadfast to research further so the whole system that Law serves in this scandal can be exposed. After The Boston Globe wins a case to have even more legal documents unsealed that provides the evidence of that larger picture, the Spotlight team finally begins to write the story, and plan to publish their findings in early 2002, a little after New Year so as not to affect the public during the holidays.

While talking about the blame as to people and society that looks away despite the horrible crimes, Robinson confesses to the team that he was sent a list of 20 pedophile priests in 1993 in a story he never followed up on. Baron, nevertheless, tells Robinson and the team that the work they are doing is important. The story is printed with a link leading to a website that shows the documents that expose Cardinal Law, and a phone number requesting victims of pedophile priests to come forward. The next morning the Spotlight team has an avalanche of phone calls to attend from victims or families of victims who want to come forward. The film closes with a list of places in the United States and around the world where the Catholic Church has been involved in concealing abuse by priests.

Which is why I and many others say that the Vatican is nothing but a criminal organization, a powerful one at that, which covers it’s crimes and protects their pedophiles in their ranks. Cardinal Law was moved to a position in Rome, one of the most important ones for the Catholic church. Basically a promotion, for looking away when the priests when molesting kids. How depraved must you be?

Riveting and inspiring, the movie deserved it’s Oscar. Hope there are more movies like this. 9.5 outta 10!

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Steve Jobs (2015 Film)

Just watched this movie this afternoon, Steve Jobs is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. Based on the biography of the same name by Walter Isaacson, as well as interviews conducted by Sorkin, the film is structured into three acts which cover fourteen years (1984–1998 ) in the life of personal computing innovator and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, with each act taking place immediately prior to the launch of a key product – the Apple Macintosh, the NeXT Computer and the iMac G3. Jobs is portrayed by Michael Fassbender, with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg and Jeff Daniels in supporting roles.

Let’s get one point across, I found the film a bit of a bore. I am not criticizing the acting; everyone is excellent in their acting. Fassbender, Rogen, Daniels & Winslet are awesome in their roles. Only thing is I don’t get why they shot all this backstage dialogues and stuff when hardly anyone would want to know about it. A morhre straight forward biopic about Jobs from his college years to his death would have been better in my opinion.

Instead we get these three main events from 1984 to 1998 –  the Apple Macintosh, the NeXT Computer and the iMac G3 and all with his daughter at the event. The other 4 people he converses with are ofcourse Hoffman, Wozniack, Sculley and Andy Hertzfeld. I kept waiting for something more to happen and despite the awesome acting for the cast, nothing much takes place. All I kept getting was Jobs strained relationships with his friend Wozniak, Sculley and Hoffman who is more like his conscience. And ofcourse the ex-girlfriend Chrisann who he initially refuses to support financially and acknowledge that her daughter Lisa is infact his. After bonding with 5 year old Lisa backstage before the 1984 event, he finally agrees to buy a house for Chrisann and support the girl.

Over the years it becomes apparent that Jobs is a broken individual due to the fact that he was put up for adoption, makes him feel that he was rejected, despite Sculley saying that he should look at it as he was chosen by his adoptive parents. Jobs admits that his need for control stems from his feelings of powerlessness in being given up. As the movie ends at the unveiling of the iMac in 1998, he reconciles with Lisa after saying that he is “poorly made”. She joins him backstage as he goes out to thunderous applause. 

I don’t get this film, why show this backstage stuff. Wozniak says that a lot of the stuff in the movie, the conversations never happened added that he felt honored to be portrayed by Rogen and had spoken with him prior to the beginning of production. Wozniak claimed that the film’s scenes between him and Steve Jobs never occurred in reality. Wozniak specifically mentioned that he never requested Jobs to acknowledge the Apple II team onstage, as was shown in the movie. However, he added that Jobs did purportedly show a lack of respect towards the group. When asked about the accuracy of the film’s portrayal of Steve Jobs, Wozniak replied: “In real life, to real people, that’s the way he could be, very sharp, (although) never quite as much as in the movie.” So why chose to make this film?

I dunno, like I said I found it to be boring in a lot of places though I admit the acting is top notch. The story just never went anywhere. I give it a 7 outta 10! On a budget of $30 million the movie made $32.

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Ted 2

Ted 2 is a 2015 American comedy film directed by Seth MacFarlane and is a sequel to the 2012 film Ted. The film’s screenplay was written by MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild and stars Mark Wahlberg and MacFarlane, both reprising their roles from the original film, as John Bennett and his sentient teddy bear friend Ted respectively and Amanda Seyfried. The film also sees the return of Giovanni Ribisi and Jessica Barth, reprising as Donny, Ted’s stalker, and Tami-Lynn, Ted’s wife. We have supporting roles from Morgan Freeman, Giovanni Ribisi, Sam T Jones (playing a fictional version of himself), John Carroll Lynch, John Slattery, Patrick Wharburton & Michael Dorn with a cameos by Nana Visitor, Tom Brady, Liam Neeson, Jay Leno & Jimmy Kimmel and narrated by Patrick Stewart.

The movie starts off with Ted getting married to his love Tammi Lynn but John is depressed having gotten a divorce from his wife Lori who isn’t accepting of Ted. One year later, their marriage is beginning to break down so they decide to have a child. As Ted cannot have children, John agrees to help Ted find a sperm donor. They ask Sam J. Jones, but he refuses due to a low sperm count. Then they try unsuccessfully to break into Tom Brady’s house and steal his sperm. Ultimately, John offers to donate his sperm (something that Ted wanted to ask him but hesitated due to John’s divorce). Ted & Tammi try adoption but are rejected because of their drug records and as a result of the background check on Ted, he loses his legal status as a person. The state authorities of Massachusetts declare Ted property rather than a person, resulting in the loss of his job at a grocery store. Furthermore, his marriage to Tami-Lynn is annulled by the government. John suggests that they take the state to court, and their case is assigned to a novice lawyer pro bono, Samantha Leslie Jackson. The three bond over their love of marijuana as they prepare to present the case.

Meanwhile Donnie, longtime nemesis and stalker, working as a janitor at Hasbro convinces the CEO to hire an expensive and able lawyer to ensure that Ted maintains his status as property, therefore leaving him open to seizure by the firm to create more living teddy bears. Samantha argues well but the jury comes out against Ted as a person. Disheartened but determined, the trio decide to contact Patrick Meighan, a highly respected civil rights attorney, hoping he will take the case and overturn the court’s decision. Driving to Manhattan to meet him, Ted crashes into a hidden marijuana patch, where Samantha and John realize their attraction for each other. The next day, the trio meet Meighan, who is sympathetic to Ted’s plight but ultimately refuses the case, as he believes he has not significantly contributed to humanity due to his juvenile slacker lifestyle. Ted is devastated and jealous of John & Samantha’s new relationship and walks on in anger. He runs into Donnie, dressed up as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, at ComiCon who tried to kidnap him. Before he is captured Ted is able to call John on his phone for help.

John and Samantha arrive at Comic-Con and search for Ted, arriving as Donny is about to cut him open. As they make their escape, Donny cuts the cables holding up a model of the USS Enterprise and it swings towards Ted. John pushes Ted out of the way, takes the hit, and is knocked unconscious after being pinned under a TV wall. Donny is arrested after Ted identifies him among other Ninja Turtle cosplayers. At the hospital John’s heart stops beating for a bit and he is resucitated but not before he pulls a prank on Ted, Tammi & Samantha, pretending to be dead! Meighan visits the, saying he had a change of heart after seeing what happened on the news. He is able get the ruling overturned by demonstrating that Ted is self-aware, that he feels complex emotions, and is capable of empathy. Outside the court, Ted re-proposes to Tami-Lynn. After they are re-married, Ted and Tami-Lynn, adopting the surname of “Clubberlang”, adopt a baby boy, whom they name Apollo Creed, while John and Samantha happily pursue their own relationship.

Funny with crude, sophomoric comedy and rude gestures and bromance at it’s best. Ted 2 is good enough for a Saturday afternoon watch for me. Not as great as the first one, I’ll give it a 7.5 outta 10!

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88th Academy Awards Winners

The Oscars are done and the award goes to:

Spotlight – Best Picture · Steve Golin, Michael Sugar, Blye Pagon Faust, etc
Leonardo DiCaprio – Best Actor · The Revenant
Brie Larson – Best Actress · Room
Alejandro González Iñárritu – Best Director · The Revenant

Mark Rylance – Best Supporting Actor · Bridge of Spies
Alicia Vikander – Best Supporting Actress · The Danish Girl
Son of Saul – Best Foreign Language Film · László Nemes

Writing’s on the Wall – Best Original Song · Sam Smith, Jimmy Napes
Spotlight – Best Original Screenplay · Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
Emmanuel Lubezki – Best Cinematography · The Revenant
The Big Short – Best Writing Adapted Screenplay · Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
Ex Machina – Best Visual Effects · Andrew Whitehurst,
Amy – Best Documentary Feature · Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees

Inside Out – Best Animated Feature Film · Pete Docter, Jonas Rivera
Jenny Beavan – Best Costume Design · Mad Max: Fury Road
Bear Story -Best Animated Short Film · Gabriel Osorio, Pato Escala

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Deadpool

So for my first movie seen at the theatres since 2005 was at the VIP Cinepolis – a swanky theatre with reclining seats and food service at your seat – today and it was (it just had to be) Deadpool. A 2016 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, it is the eighth installment of the X-Men film series, and is directed by Tim Miller. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the film stars Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, and Stefan Kapi?i?.

What can I say about this awesome flick? It is funny, bloody, gory, swear word fest, superhero action flick with elements of science fiction which delivers on it’s promise and a lot of the fans are lapping it up. The movie tells us about the origin story of Wade Wilson aka Deadpool, a former special forces operative who while working as a mercenary for hire in NYC meets and falls in love with Vanessa Carlyle. A years after they move in and he proposes to her, Wade falls unconscious in their bedroom – the diagnosis is terminal cancer. Though she sticks by him, Wade doesn’t want her to see him die. When he is approached by an executive for a secret program offering an experimental cure for his cancer, Wade initially dismisses it but then changes his mind and leaves Vanessa alone at home while he goes to meet the recruiter.

At a laboratory, Wade meets Ajax and Angel Dust, whom he instantly resents. Ajax injects Wade with a serum designed to awaken latent mutant genes, then has him subjected to days of torture to induce stress and trigger the mutation without success. Wade discovers Ajax’s real name, Francis Freeman, and mocks him. In response, Ajax straps Wade into an airtight chamber which raises and lowers the oxygen level to keep Wade constantly on the verge of asphyxiation – leaving him over the weekend but not before Ajax reveals to Wade their true purpose: to make super-powered slaves to be sold to wealthy customers. While inside the chamber, Wade develops a healing factor that cured his cancer but left him severely disfigured as a side-effect. He escapes from the chamber and attacks Ajax, but relents when told that his disfigurement can be cured. Ajax subdues Wade, impales him with a rebar and leaves him for dead in the burning laboratory.

Wade survives and tries to get back to Vanessa but he stops short of contacting her as he sees others recoiling at his disfigured face. With the help of his best friend Weasle, Wade covers himself in a costume, uses the name Deadpool and hunts for Ajax. As a masked vigilante he also moves in with an elderly, blind black woman. He finally tracks Ajax making his way across a large bridge with a convoy of his goons and attacks them, killing of the goons and demands a cure for his condition from an impaled Ajax, when two X-Men, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who have been trying to recruit Deadpool, stop him from inflicting more damage. Ajax uses the distraction and escapes, Colossus handcuffs himself to Deadpool and begins dragging him away, in order to take him with them back to the X-Men’s mansion to ‘see the Professor’ (Charles Xavier / Professor X). Deadpool cuts off his own hand and escapes. His hand slowly regenerates overnight. Ajax goes to Weasel’s bar and learns about Vanessa. In response, Weasel calls Wade and tells him Vanessa is in danger. Wade goes to the strip club where she works but hesitates before he can face her. As a result, Ajax has time to kidnap Vanessa. He and Angel Dust tell Deadpool to meet them on a decommissioned helicarrier in a scrapyard.

Deadpool, after calming himself down, recruits Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead and ride to the scrapyard in a cab. While Colossus and Negasonic battle Angel Dust, Deadpool fights his way through Ajax’s henchmen, and eventually engages him in close combat. While Colossus and Negasonic battle Angel Dust, Deadpool fights his way through Ajax’s henchmen, and eventually engages him in close combat. Colossus urges Deadpool to be a hero and spare his enemy, but Deadpool kills Ajax anyway. Wade turns to Vanessa, who removes his mask revealing his face. Vanessa is angered that Wade left her, but still loves him. She accepts him, and they reconcile by kissing. Wade comically tells the X-Men to leave and stop watching them.

Hilarious (so many laughs in the theatre), cuss words filles, R-rated, black humour riddled, fun filled, action packed and boombastic blockbuster. The fight scenes are excellent and the special effects is awesome. What more do you want? Indian censors bleeped out the film and also cut 10 minutes from it. But I give it a 9.5 outta 10!

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My First PVR Experience

So…..I haven’t been to a movie theatre in almost 11 years! *Waits, hums a tune and twiddles his thumbs while that settles in* Yes it is true.

I used to go for a lot of movies till 2005, a movie or 3 in a month atleast and some months a bit more. I loved going to the theatre and usually went only for English language movies since my late teens. I remember going to one was my escape for the week or month. Those times we could bring our own food into the theatres and I would get a Coke or Pepsi with some popcorn or a sandwich or candy.

Sometime in 2004 I went for a whole lot more movies, especially the James Bond festival that ran in one of the theatres. But then in 2005 I suddenly stopped going. I was 29 and I felt that there were too many college going kids making a lot of noise in there and I usually went alone and didn’t enjoy the last 3-4 movie going experiences because of the noise factor. I stopped going to theatres and it just stuck. The theatre going experience in Kerala and India has changed so much and many people have been trying to encourage me to go to a PVR and I would change my mind. I resisted so long – I dunno why – and finally today, almost 11 years later, I finally went to one. And it was awesome!

With my friend Anil, I went to Cinepolis and went to the VIP section to watch Deadpool and though it was expensive, Rs.500 for two tickets and Rs.150 for that medium popcorn (which by the way is too much enough for the two of us) and I would say that it was worth it. For once in a month or so. I mean, recliners so I can relax and watch and such an awesome theatre – just so wonderful to watch. And an awesome movie to choose as well. It was fantastic and I want to go for more.

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Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak is a 2015 American gothic romance film by director Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Matthew Robbins. The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Jim Beaver. Produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Universal Pictures, the film was released on October 16, 2015.

The movie starts in 1887, after young 10 year old Edith, the daughter of wealthy American businessman Carter Cushing, has just lost her mother to an illness. Later at night she gets a visit from her mother’s ghost who warns her to “beware of Crimson Peak”. 14 years pass and a young Edith is a budding writer but her editor wants her to write more romance in the ghost stories that she prefers to write. Edith is introduced to Sir Thomas Sharpe, an English baronet, who is in the US to get investors for his clay mining invention. Cushing, who built his business the hard way, lightly insults Thomas’s privileged upbringing and mentions the Englishman’s previous failed attempts to get raise capital and rejects his proposal along with his fellow businessman.

Edith notices that Thomas and his sister, Lucille, wear expensive but outdated and somewhat-frayed fashions. Shortly after, Edith once again is visited by her mother’s spirit bearing the same warning. Thomas begins to court Edith, sharing similar passions in ghost stories and offers to read her manuscript. He and Edith become romantically attached, Cushing and Edith’s childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael, disapprove. Cushing hires a private detective to check into the Baronet’s background uncovers unsavory facts about the Sharpes. Mr. Cushing confronts the siblings and bribes them into returning to England. As Cushing insisted he do, Sir Thomas abruptly and cruelly ends his and Edith’s relationship, but the next morning, he sends her a note explaining his actions. That morning someone in a black coat brutally murders Cushing in the bathroom, making it look like like a possible accident. Thomas stays behind while his sister goes back to England and is at Edith’s side as she arranges for her father’s funeral. Edith and Thomas eventually marry and travel to Allerdale Hall, the Sharpes’ dilapidated mansion in rural England, which sits atop a red clay mine. As Edith settles in, she finds that Lucille acts somewhat cold toward her while Sir Thomas remains physically distant. Edith is left confused and uncertain by their behavior.

Edith starts encountering greusome ghosts in the mansion and she leaps at the chance to go into town with Thomas, where they spend the night in a rented room and consummate their marriage. When they get back home the next morning Lucielle lashed out angrily at Edith, saying she was worried sick before calming down. Edith learns from Thomas a little later that the estate is also referred to locally as “Crimson Peak,” due to the warm red clay seeping up through the snow and she remembers the warning. Edith starts to feel sick and coughs up blood but explores the mansion and begins piecing clues together, discovering that Sir Thomas previously married three wealthy women who were fatally poisoned for their inheritances. She realizes she, too, is being poisoned. She also discovers the siblings have had a long-term incestuous relationship, resulting in a sickly infant that died. Lucille, older by 2 years, murdered their mother after she had discovered her children’s incest. Thomas inherited the family manor that, like many aristocratic estates of the era, is no longer profitable; the siblings are almost out of money. The brother and sister began the “marriage and murder” scheme to support themselves and to fund Thomas’s inventions.

While this happens back in the US Dr. McMichael couldn’t let go of his suspicions about Cushing’s death contacts the detective that Cushing had hired, who tells Alan what he uncovered about the Sharpes, including Thomas’s multiple marriages and Lucille’s time in a mental institution. Alan goes to England and reached the mansion to rescue Edith. Lucille however stabs him and then demands that Thomas finish him off. Thomas, in love with Edith and does not want her harmed, inflicts a second, non-fatal stab wound to Alan before hiding him in the cellar. Lucille forces Edith to sign a transfer deed granting the Sharpes ownership of the Cushing estate and also confesses to her that she was the one who murdered Edith’s father. Edith signs the deed then she stabs Lucille in the chest with a pen and tries to flee. Thomas burns the deed and promises to protect Edith so that she and Alan can escape. Lucille, jealous over Thomas falling in love with Edith, murders him in a rage. She then pursues Edith. Aided by Thomas’ ghost, Edith kills Lucille with a shovel. Thomas bids Edith a silent farewell as his spirit departs. Edith and Alan are rescued, and Lucille’s ghost now haunts Allerdale. The end credits imply that Edith has written a novel titled Crimson Peak based on her experiences.

The story is kinda nothing new and even ends a bit predictable but it is a gorgeous set movie and acted well with a strong cast. I like horror stories and Gothic films and this one does most things well. I give it an 8 outta 10!

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San Andreas

San Andreas is a 2015 American disaster film directed by Brad Peyton. The screenplay was written by Carlton Cuse, with Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore receiving a story credit. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, and Paul Giamatti.

As most of you movie buffs will know by now this film is about a huge earthquake that triggers off a sequence of other quakes and even a tsunami that kills hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, and destroys a huge section of California, forever altering the landscape in the process. Like many such blockbuster natural disaster films this also involves a family as the focus of the film; separated dad and mom about to go through a divorce, a rich boyfriend that the mom is dating, boyfriend dies in the process of the movie, dad and mom unite after saving the daughter. Oh and there’s the “ghost” of the dead other child too, one who drowned much earlier.

I was happy to see Archie Panjabi in this film, looking really hot too I must say. She is the main Asian represent as Dr. Kim Park (Will Yun Lee) is killed very early on, when a 7.1 on the Richter scale quake levels off the Hoover dam. Ray Gain is a rescue pilot for the LA Fire department and has to go back to duty and cannot take his daughter, Blake, to San Francisco. Blake instead goes to San Fran with Emma’s, her mom, new boyfriend Daniel Riddick in his jet. While at Riddick’s office, Blake meets and befriends British architect Ben and his younger kid brother Ollie. That’s when the quake hits the city and the reading is 9.1. Ben and Ollie rescue a trapped Blake from a car as Riddick has left her and making his way to safety but he too dies. Ray rescues Emma from the top of a tumbling building, where she was having lunch with Riddick’s disapproving sister (hey look it’s Kylie Minogue – she is killed before I could say for sure it was here). They then go to rescue their daughter.

On the way much destruction, much chaos, convenient drama and tension filled scenes where you know the main characters will not die no matter what and some awesome scenes filled with special effects abound. Ben is hurt in the leg, Blake almost drowns but her dad saves her, “I love yous” are said and the family is reunited with Ray & Emma giving their marriage another chance (they were about to sign the divorce papers) and oh yeah that heart wrenching moment when amid the destruction a clean and bright US flag is unfurled in slow motion. No mention of Jesus but I’m sure it is implied. And ofcourse, “now what?” is replied with the hero saying “we rebuild”. Oh and Colton Hayes is there for a little bit too.

Overall it is a very watchable movie with lots of great scenes but it is highly predictable. An 8 outta 10, must be seen in large screens to fully appreciate the glory.

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Paranormal Activity : Ghost Dimension

Hmmm, I am not sure how I feel about this franchise now. After 6 movies I feel a bit let down for having stuck to this much maligned (and loved in some ways) franchise as it ended on a lame note. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is a 2015 American 3D found footage supernatural horror film directed by Gregory Plotkin in his directorial debut, and written by Jason Pagan, Andrew Stark, Adam Robitel, and Gavin Heffernan. The movie stars Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Dan Gill, Ivy George & Olivia Taylor Dudley (the hot actress who I just watched in a movie with a similar theme).

The shows us the ending of Paranormal Activity 3 in which Dennis’ spine is crushed by a mysterious force and grandma Lois takes Katie and Kristi upstairs while the same entity takes the camera with them (so a demon who wants all this to be recorded? Right!). They all go into a dark room where a man speaks to the girls about “Toby” and how they are critically important to his plan. 25 years later, in 2013, we have Ryan Fleege, his wife Emily, and their eight-year-old daughter Leila are about to celebrate Christmas, when Ryan’s brother Mike moves in for 2 weeks after breaking up with his girlfriend. Along with them, is Skylar (it’s not explained as to who she is but I guess she is either the nanny or Emily’s sister. Leila seems to be talking to an imaginary friend (who we know is Tony). Mike finds a box of old video tapes, dating from 1988 to 1992. In them contains videos of Kristi and Katie with their mother and her boyfriend Dennis in 1988, whilst others from 1992 are in Lois’s house where the two are practicing supernatural abilities with the mysterious man. While watching one of the videos, Ryan and Mike notice that the girls are seemingly aware of the two’s presence: they are able to foresee Ryan and Mike’s every action as the pair simultaneously watch the video.

Ryan finds an old video camera which when he uses up spiritual beings. He tries to record things overnight to see if these being come up and at night, a black figure arises out of the ground and hovers over Leila for several hours, and she eventually talks to it. Soon, Skylar walks in and checks on Leila, only to be attacked by the spirit. The next night, Ryan tapes Leila sleeping, but a dark and demonic spirit appears on camera and forces him to drop the camera. The following day, Ryan and Emily go out for the night and leave Skyler and Mike to take care of Leila. After experiencing the entity outside, they discover a slab of concrete in the ground with Katie and Kristi and the year 1987 etched in it. They discover their house is built on the same property that Katie and Kristi used to live in before their house burned down in 1992. As days pass Leila becomes less and less talkative and this worries her parents, who call in a priest named Todd. Although he tries his best to talk to the girl, Leila ends up attacking him. Todd says that ‘Toby’ is a demon linked to a cult called The Midwives. Ryan researches the cult, and realizes they killed a family in Nevada related to a boy named Hunter, who was born on the same day as Leila. He also learns that Leila’s blood is needed to finish his transformation into a physical being. One night, Leila’s interaction with Toby leads her to open a doorway to another realm into which she disappears. Ryan and Emily find her soon after, but flee with Leila to a hotel.

They later come back with Todd to cleanse the house and trap the demon. The house starts to shake violently and Todd is dragged away by Toby (and killed I suppose). The family continues the cleansing the demon in a white sheet and finishes reciting a prayer. Leila returns to normal and the demon disappears. But suddenly Skylar vomits blood and some of it spills on Mike and they both die as if by the effects of acid. Leila then flees, and Ryan and Emily chase her upstairs, but Ryan is killed when a large arm impales him through his chest. Leila sprints away into the “portal” in her room with Emily following her; she arrives at Kristi and Katie’s mother’s house in 1988, where she finds a young Katie and finally confronts the human version of Toby. Emily pleads with the demon to spare Leila, but is killed and her body is tossed at the camera as it flips over. Leila identifies the demon “Toby” and the two walk off as the camera cuts off, ending the film.

That ending was as unsatisfying as most and doesn’t offer anything new from a whole spate of movies that I have seen in the horror/supernatural genre. I give this film a 6.5 outta 10!

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Paul Blart : Mall Cop 2

Six years after the hit original comedy movie comes Paul Blart : Mall Cop 2. A 2015 film directed by Andy Fickman and written by Kevin James and Nick Bakay, we have James returning as the eponymous mall cop Paul Blart. The other cast includes Neal McDonough, Daniella Alonso, David Henrie, Raini Rodriguez, and Vic Dibitetto.

Set 6 years after the end of the first movie, Paul’s marriage to his wife lasts just 6 days before she leaves him. To make matters worse his mother dies when she is hit by a milk truck. Paul continues to takes pride in patrolling his mall, the West Orange Pavilion Mall. In 2015 Paul receives an invitation to a security officers’ convention in Las Vegas and begins to believe his luck is about to change. Maya, his daughter, gets accepted to join UCLA on a scholarship but withholds her news for a while in light of Paul’s invitation. The two go to the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, the venue of the event, where they meet Divina – the general manager of the hotel – to whom Paul develops and instant attraction. Maya meets the hotel’s valet, Lane and they become become instantly attracted to each other, though Paul does not share their enthusiasm. A fellow security guard Donna thinks Paul might be the keynote speaker but it turns out to be another security guard, Nick Panero.

Meanwhile at the hotel a criminal named Vincent Sofel and his accomplices arrive at the hotel plotting to steal priceless works of art from the hotel and replace them with replicas, then sell the real ones at auction. They disguise themselves as hotel staff and setup base in Sofel’s suite. Maya is upset over her father’s overbearing protectiveness and decides to spend the evening with Lane at a party after declaring that she is going to UCLA despite Paul wanting her to stay closer to home. Paul goes with three other security guards, Saul Gundermutt, Khan Mubi and Gino Chizzeti check out the non-lethal security equipment on display. He also runs into Eduardo who dislikes the fact that Paul seems to be interested in Divina who also seems to be, despite her reservations, falling for Paul. Later Paul ends up having to give the keynote speech as Nick is drunk and passed out. After delivering a stirring and emotionally well received speech, Paul is looking for Maya. Maya and Lane fall into the path of the criminals and are taken hostage.

Following the speech, Paul learns about Maya and Lane’s situation and rushes to help but passes out due to his hypoglycemic condition that has plagued him for years. Once he recovers he uses some of the non-lethal weapons at the convention he takes out much of Sofel’s accomplices and takes the help of Donna, Saul, Khan, and Gino – Paul is able to clumsily dismantle Vincent’s operation and when Sofel aims a gun at Paul, after Eduardo’s brave intervention, Maya uses oatmeal infused sunscreen on Sofel’s face to make him burn due to his allergy. Afterward, Paul convinces Divina that her attraction for him is misplaced, and Eduardo is who she should really be with. Paul also accepts Maya going to UCLA, funding her tuition with the reward money he obtained for stopping Vincent. After dropping off Maya at UCLA, Paul falls in love with a passing Sheriff’s Deputy who reciprocates his advances.

Though it has several detractors and got mostly negative reviews, I found this movie funny and I like Kevin James and his clumsy portrayls of the average Joe with weight issues. I give it a 7.5 outta 10!

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Maggie

 alt=I haven’t seen an Arnie film in which he hasn’t been the tough guy blowing up things, shooting guns and kicking ass in quite a while. Maggie is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s second horror/supernatural genre movie after End Of Days and stars him with Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson. I can’t really say that it’s a horror film because the focus is not on horror but still this will fall in the horror genre.

In the film there is a pandemic which causes infected people to become zombie like creatures after a few weeks of getting bitten by an infected person. Having been infected by a zombie, teenager Maggie calls her dad, Wade, in his Mid-western farm and tells him not to look for her. She is caught by the authorities and taken to a hospital for treatment. After 2 weeks of searching for her Wade finds her in the hospital he brings Maggie home to care for her until she must eventually be quarantined. During their return, a zombie attacks Wade at an abandoned gasoline station and he breaks its neck. Maggie doesn’t see this.

Once they reach home, plans are made to send Wade’s two younger kids (by his second wife Caroline) to live with their aunt. Maggie, having said goodbye to her step-siblings, withdraws in her room and doesn’t come out much or go to see her friends. When she falls from her swing she lands on her finger on her infected arm but feels no pain despite the bone breaking. Terrified she cuts off the finger from which a black liquid oozes out, causing her to panic and she runs out into the woods where she encounters her neighbour Nathan and his young daughter who are both zombies now. Wade comes up to them and kills them both and calls the sheriff. Although he is remorseful the sheriff finds his decision right and blames the wife Bonnie for hid her infected family from the authorities. Bonnie visits Wade that night, decrying the dehumanizing treatment of the infected and revealing that Nathan had locked himself in with his sick daughter, becoming infected himself, rather than abandon her to death among strangers in quarantine.

After a doctor checks on Maggie’s status he warns Wade that the time is soon coming for him to either quarantine Maggie or give her a lethal injection which is painful. The doctor also advises to shoot the girl as it is quicker. Wade and Maggie talk about her mom and how Wade met her. Despite finding maggots inside her decaying arm Maggie strives to achieve some sense of normalcy by going out with her friend Allie to a party, after being encouraged by Caroline, and kissing Trent – an infected boy who she used to date before the outbreak. Trent tells her of horror stories of the infected in quarantine. A couple of days later Caroline is stunned when Maggie smells “food” and realizes that it’s not something being cooked in their kitchen but rather human meat that Maggie smells. Later Maggie finds Trent, who had smelled his father as “food”, locked up his room refusing to come out. Though she tries to talk to him, the cops come by and take Trent away to quarantine by force.

Back at home Maggie finds a trapped fox that she tries to free but can’t help herself and bites off some it’s flesh. Wade kills the poor creature and Caroline leaves, urging Wade that it is time to take Maggie to a hospital. He doesn’t do so but keeps a loaded shotgun ready with him incase she turns completely and attacks. At night as Wade pretends to fall asleep, an almost completely zombified Maggie comes down her skin now gray and her eyes blackened. She stops at his side and sniffs him but kisses him lightly and goes out to the top of the house and jumps to her death.

Although it is a bit dull…..ok a lot dull….the acting is certainly really good. Arnold finding more serious character roles as he approaches his 70s (he is 68 people) and can’t do those high octane action movies anymore. Abigail is awesome as the girl knowing that her end is near but I feel that the movie could have done a lot more with the story. I give it a 7 outta 10!

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RIP Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman, a much-loved star of stage, TV and films including Harry Potter and Die Hard – and owner of one of the most singular voices in acting ­– has died in London. He was 69 years old. A stage actor who made his name in the theatre world, Rickman gained wider notice for his film performances as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series. Rickman’s other film roles included the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility, Harry in Love Actually, P. L. O’Hara in An Awfully Big Adventure, Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest, and Judge Turpin in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

The actor had been a big-screen staple since first shooting to global acclaim in 1988, when he starred as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis’s sardonic, dastardly adversary in Die Hard – a part he was offered two days after arriving in Los Angeles, aged 41. In 1995, he was awarded a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny. He won a BAFTA Award for his role in Robin Hood. In 2013, he played Hilly Kristal, the founder of the famous East Village punk-rock club CBGB, in the CBGB film with Rupert Grint. In 1965, at the age of 19, Rickman met 18-year-old Rima Horton, who became his first girlfriend and would later be a Labour Party councillor on the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council (1986–2006) and an economics lecturer at the nearby Kingston University. They lived together from 1977 until his death. In 2015, Rickman confirmed that they had married in a private ceremony in New York City in 2012.

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016)

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