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Spy

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.

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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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The Rainmaker

Based on the excellent novel by John Grisham, The Rainmaker is a 1997 movie written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Matt Damon & Danny Devito. Danny Glover, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Roy Scheider, Mickey Rourke, Virginia Madsen, Mary Kay Place & Johnny Whitworth also star. This was the final film appearance of Academy Award-winning actress Teresa Wright.

Damon plays Rudy Baylor, a poor law student waiting to write the bar exams and looking for a job. After his abusive father left him and his mother, Rudy struggled to get by in a poor neighbourhood and worked many shifts in a bar while at law school. With no high paying firm interested in him, he reluctantly goes to an interview with J. Lyman “Bruiser” Stone, a ruthless and corrupt but successful personal injury lawyer, who makes him an associate. To earn his fee, Rudy is turned into an ambulance chaser, required to hunt for potential clients at a local hospital. He meets and joins Deck Shifflet, a less than ethical paralegal who failed the bar 6 times but is resourceful in gathering information, and practically an expert on insurance lawsuits. Rudy has two cases – one a will for a widow, who later also becomes his landlord as he manages to rent the small apartment above her garage- and a bad faith insurance case.

The latter case may be worth several million dollars in damages, which appeals to him because he is about to declare himself bankrupt. While he was studying for the bar in a hospital cafeteria, Rudy meets and becomes friends with Kelly, a young woman who is being battered by her husband. She never presses charges even if the cops know her case well. When Bruiser skips town, after being investigated for racketeering and his offices are raided, Rudy & Deck start their own 2 man law firm with their meager earnings from a couple of cases they worked for Bruiser (and who generously gave them a bonus) They file a bad faith suit on behalf of a middle-aged couple, Dot and Buddy Black, whose 22-year-old son Donny Ray is going to die from leukemia. Donny Ray would most likely have been saved by a bone marrow transplant had his medical claim not been denied by Great Benefit, the family’s insurance carrier. Rudy passes his exams and finds himself up against a group of experienced and devious lawyers from a large firm that is headed by Leo F. Drummond (Jon Voight), a showman attorney who uses unscrupulous tactics to win his cases.

Judge Hale, who is assigned the case is about to dismiss it but dies of a heart attack and the case is reassigned to a more sympathetic judge, Tyrone Kipler who immediately denies the insurance company’s petition for dismissal. After a particularly violent attack, Rudy persuades Kelly, to whom he is attracted, to file for divorce. At Kelly’s home the two pack her bags but are interrupted by her husband Cliff who fights with Rudy, attacking him with a baseball bat. The husband is killed and Kelly takes the blame, telling Rudy to go home and pretend he wasn’t there. To protect Rudy from being implicated in Cliff’s death, Kelly tells the police she killed her husband in self-defense. Rudy promises to defend Kelly if the case goes to trial, but the district attorney declines to prosecute, knowing Kelly would never be convicted. Donny Ray dies, with Rudy equally devastated along with the young man’s parets, but not before giving a video deposition and the case goes to trial, where Drummond capitalizes on Rudy’s inexperience. He gets vital testimony by Rudy’s key witness, former Great Benefit employee Jackie Lemanczyk (Virginia Madsen), stricken from the record, and attempts to discredit Donny Ray’s mother (Mary Kay Place).

Due to Rudy’s single-minded determination and skillful cross-examination of Great Benefit’s unctuous president Wilfred Keeley, the jury finds for the plaintiff with a monetary award far exceeding all expectations. However the jubilation is short lived as Keeley attempts to flee the country and Great Benefit declares itself bankrupt, thus allowing it to avoid paying punitive damages to the Blacks, as well as any future judgments in class-action lawsuits. With no big payout coming, Rudy & Deck won’t get their share Dot Black expresses satisfaction that at least they put Great Benefit out of business, and that it is now unable to hurt other families like hers. Convinced that he can never live up to expectations that future clients will have Rudy leaves his practice to instead teach law with a focus on ethical behavior. He leaves town with Kelly, wanting to retain a low profile and protect Kelly from any possible retribution by Cliff’s vengeful relatives.

Although it is a good film, it never matches the book as a lot of things have to be left out to keep the film at less than the 2 hour mark. I feel that the story suffers from that, even the relationship between Kelly & Rudy isn’t highlighted enough. Still worth a watch. I will give the film a 7.5 outta 10!

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Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz is a 2007 British comedy / parody film directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. The film is the second in Wright and Pegg’s “Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy” and was preceded by 2004’s Shaun of the Dead and followed by 2013’s The World’s End, each of them featuring a different flavour of Cornetto ice cream.

London Police constable Nicholas Angel, is a serious by-the-book cop who is over-achieving in his job making his peers look bad. He gets a promotion to Sargent but is transferred to the idyllic village of Sandford, despite his protests. A somewhat dejected Nick moves his belongings to the village, finds the town is generally devoid of any crime, with its local Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA) helping to keep the peace as everyone prepares for the “Village of the Year” award contest. He partners with the slightly dim-witted but enthusiastic PC Danny Butterman, the son of town chief Inspector Frank Butterman – who he arrests on the very first day for drunk driving. Nick is disheartened that his job is to patrol the quiet streets and chase after errant swans, minor disturbances – the most exciting is which he & Danny confiscate a shed full of unlicensed weapons including a naval mine, which has been disabled.

However the town begins to get a series of strange deaths, which are written off as accidents by everyone except Nick. Even Danny seems to be more interested in discussing his love of police action films. Nick’s investigations led him to suspect the local supermarket manager, NWA member Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), of the murders, but is rebuffed when Skinner’s alibi is backed up by video footage. He then believes, after chasing a hooded figure who gets away, that there are more than one killer, but the idea is rejected by Inspector Butterman. As Frank goes home he is attacked by a hooded figure who turns out to be an employee at Skinner’s supermarket. Angel subdues the man, then impersonates him over a walkie-talkie to discover Skinner’s whereabouts. He gets to a meeting of the Sandford NWA, Angel confronts the group and tries to arrest them. They confess they are collectively carrying out the murders of any residents who could cause Sandford not to be entitled “Village of the Year.” Inspector Butterman then reveals himself to be the leader of the group, explaining that he is motivated by the memory of his late wife Irene, who committed suicide after her efforts to win that title were foiled by a group of “gypsies”.

The group chase Nick, who also discovers the bodies of several victims of the NWA along the way. When he is about to be caught, when Danny suddenly appears and stabs him, causing the Sergeant to lose consciousness. He awakens in Danny’s car, where the younger Butterman reveals he only faked Angel’s murder to cover his escape. Danny begs his partner to leave Sandford for his own safety. Initially Nick appears to listen to his only friend in the village but he changes his mind and comes back to Sandford, arms himself with the previously confiscated weapons, and reunites with Danny. What follows next is a firefight in the center of the main road after which the two policemen rally their fellow officers and besiege Skinner’s supermarket, eventually forcing Skinner to flee. Skinner accidentally spears himself while the older Butterman crashes his car into a tree after he is attacked by a swan. The culprits arrested, Nick is asked to move back to London but he declines the offer to stay back in Sandford.

As he and the other police officers process paperwork related to their recent activities, one of the townsfolk bursts into the station and attempts to kill Sgt. Angel. As the officers attempt to disarm the old man, though, he collides into the confiscated naval mine and activates it. Angel and the others barely escape the station before it is destroyed. One year later, Angel and Danny are in charge of the Sandford Police as Inspector and Sergeant, respectively.

Much laughs and comedy galore, Hot Fuzz is an enjoyable ride of action & mirth. A must for fans of the Pegg/Frost duo and everyone else who like a light-hearted action flick. 8 outta 10!

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Ex-Machina

Directed & written by Alex Garland, marking his directorial debut, Ex-Machina is a 2015 British science fiction thriller film about an android with artificial intelligence. It was written and directed . The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac & Sonoya Mizuno.

Caleb, a promising young programmer working for the world’s largest search engine, Bluebook, wins a competition to join the company’s eccentric CEO, Nathan, at his secluded research facility in the mountains for a one week visit as his house guest. The only other person there is Kyoko, a young Japanese housemaid. After he is flown via helicopter to the area, he walks past a river and reached the technologically state of the art house, where Nathan welcomes him and reveals he has been working on artificial intelligence and wants Caleb to administer the Turing test to a humanoid robot named Ava. Nathan wants to conduct The Turing test – designed to test a computer’s ability to persuade the tester it is human. Caleb points out that this isn’t a fair application of the test, as he already knows Ava is a robot. Nathan tells him that Caleb’s job is to judge whether Ava has consciousness to which Caleb can relate despite knowing she is a robot.

Nathan then lets on that he took personal information from millions of BlueBook users, using their search queries as indicators of human thought. He hacked billions of cell phones for recordings of people’s expressions and body language, so Ava’s behavior would be more realistic. Caleb finds himself drawn towards Ava, despite the fact that he only sees & speaks to her with a transparent wall between them and cannot touch her as she is confined to her “apartment”. Ava uses her charging system to trigger blackouts to shut down the surveillance system. During one of these blackouts, she tells Caleb that Nathan is a liar who cannot be trusted. Caleb is convinced that due to Ava’s human-like behavior that appears to include real emotions, her confinement is abuse. He is also shocked when Nathan says that he could also re-program her, killing her current personality. Caleb also seems to be disgusted by Nathan, especially after the latter makes Kyoko dance on command.

One night after Nathan passes out drunk, Caleb borrows his keycard and goes through hours of recorded footage – watches clips of previously built robots and discovers that Kyoko is a robot. He meets Ava the next day and during the blackout asks her to initiate a blackout, during which he tells her that he will get Nathan drunk again and help her escape, and asks her to trigger another blackout at 10pm on the last night of his stay. However when the time comes Nathan refuses to drink and tells Caleb that he added a battery operated camera and saw & heard Caleb’s plan with Ava. He tells Caleb that Ava does not love him and that she is merely using him to escape from the compound. Nathan divulges his real motive for inviting Caleb: to see if Ava can be convincingly human enough to trick someone into helping her escape. When Ava triggers the blackout, however Caleb reveals he already reprogrammed the doors to open while Nathan was drunk the previous night. Angered Nathan knocks out Caleb and goes to find Ava.

He hits and breaks off one of Ava’s arms when she refuses to obey his command to go back to her confinement but is stabbed with a knife by Kyoko from behind. A stunned Nathan hits and damages Kyoko but is stabbed again by Ava and dies. Telling Caleb to wait in the living room, Ava takes a replacement arm and artificial skin from the older models and changes into clothes to acquire the appearance of a real woman. She then leaves the house, leaving Caleb locked within the building, ignoring his desperate pleas. Ava is picked up by the helicopter which arrives to pick up Caleb and goes out to explore the world.

Stunning production for a movie of it’s low budget but the brilliant performances by the 3 main stars is what sets this film apart from it’s peers. The CGI for the android is excellent as is the contrasting setting – a sleek, futuristic interior with gorgeous natural surroundings. Yet the film is a bit dull and moves along a bit too slow for me. I still rate it high and will give it an 8 outta 10! A must see for scifi buffs!

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RIP Sir Christopher Lee

We’ve lost a true legend! The iconic star of stage and screen Christopher Lee has died at the age of 93. The actor, who is best known for his work in the Hammer horror films as well as villainous turns in the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies, was being treated for respiratory problems at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London when he passed away.

Born in Westminster in 1922, Lee found fame playing Count Dracula in a series of films for Hammer Horror, and continued to play bad guys for the rest of his career. He was a great Bond villain when he played Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun, and perhaps his greatest ever performance was as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man. With a career spanning nearly 70 years, Lee initially portrayed villains and became best known for his role as Count Dracula in a sequence of Hammer Horror films. His other film roles include Saruman in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit film trilogy (2012–2014), and Count Dooku in the final two films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy (2002 and 2005) and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (200. He has more than 280 credits to his name on IMDB, making memorable appearances in the likes of To the Devil a Daughter, Death Line, Race to Witch Mountain, Gremlins 2, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Golden Compass and Hugo.

Lee was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009, received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011 and received the BFI Fellowship in 2013. Lee considered his best performance to be that of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the biopic Jinnah (199, and his best film to be the British horror film The Wicker Man (1973). Always noted as an actor for his deep strong voice, Lee was also known for his singing ability, recording various opera and musical pieces between 1986 and 1998 and the symphonic metal album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross in 2010 after having worked with several metal bands since 2005. The heavy metal follow-up titled Charlemagne: The Omens of Death was released on 27 May 2013. He was honoured with the “Spirit of Metal” award in the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden God awards ceremony.

Lee died at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on 7 June 2015 at 8:30 a.m. after being admitted for respiratory problems and heart failure, shortly after celebrating his 93rd birthday there. His wife delayed the public announcement until 11 June, in order to break the news to their family.

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San Andreas Quake

So…..it’s not the major release blockbuster movie but another movie, with a much smaller budget and with an unknown cast, that has the same theme in it’s storyline. San Andreas Quake is a 2015 small budget release starring directed by John Baumgartner who also wrote the screenplay for this film that stars Jhey Castles, Jason Woods & Grace Van Dien.

Seismologist & scientist, Molly Dunn, is now a professor in a Los Angeles area college. She was discredited when her earlier project about creating a system that predicts earthquakes was a failure. Although teaching students and living with her husband and 18+ step-daughter, she is still working on a new prediction method. To her delight her new model seems to working fine, when she predicts almost to the exact moment (just 60 seconds delayed) a 4.0 quake; she warns the patrons of a campus coffeeshop. However the data she is collecting from several sensors in the region shows that a huge earthquake of 10.0 magnitude is about to hit the Los Angeles area and she tries hard to get the warning out but no one believes her.

Molly is able to convince her smart-Alec student Nick as she shows him the data while they were at the coffeeshop. He also just so happens to be the new boyfriend in Ali’s (Molly’s step-daughter’s) life. Molly warns her husband Hank, who is taking tourists on a helicopter tour and calls Ali at the upscale hotel where she works as a receptionist but the lines go dead as they are talking. Now Molly races to the hotel with Nick in his car and must survive a breaking bridge, a badly done CGI hippo momma that charges at them when their car hits her baby hippo, a desperate woman who pulls a gun on Nick to get the car for her and her young daughter and leaves them having to hoof it to the city. Hank meanwhile loses his chopper when a small plan crashes into it when it is on the ground and his tourist clients pay for a small plane provided he takes them to collect their dog first.

Ali and her co-worker Jackson have to help an elderly couple when the husband suffers a heart attack while stuck in an elevator. A reluctant hotel guest also helps them but they are late in getting to the bus that takes people away from the city. Molly and Nick get to the hotel via a tunnel, where they almost die of suffocation and head to the rooftop where they hope Hank can get to them on time. The elderly woman stays behind as her husband is now dead and the hotel guest is taken away by soldiers. Molly, Ali, Nick & Jackson head to the rooftop but Jackson falls off a broken window and the other 3 make it to the rooftop. At the last minute as the 12.0 earthquake destroys buildings nearby, Hank arrives in a chopper and the 3 make it safely and they take off as the city gets destroyed below them.

Really badly written with too man coincidences and bad acting by most. Jhey Castles looks a lot like Margiska Hargitay while the others barely do a good enough job but the bad CGI cannot save this story. A 3.5 outta 10 (and that is being generous)

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The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones is a 2014 British horror film & Hammer production directed by John Pogue. The film stars Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards & Rory Fleck-Byrne. The film is set in the 70s and is loosely based on the Philip experiment, a 1972 parapsychology experiment conducted in Toronto.

Oxford professor Joseph Coupland aims to prove that supernatural does not exist and in his class shows footage of a boy from several years ago who appears to be possessed and states that his research will cure for psychological diseases like this. One of his students, Brian McNeil, is invited to film the experiment process and joins Coupland, his two assistants Krissi and Harry, and their subject Jane Harper, a young woman who generates strange phenomena and has been abandoned. Jane is generally kept locked in a room with loud rock music playing during the daytime to prevent her from sleeping in the hopes that the psychological agitation will result in increased activity. When his funding is taken away, the professor packs up Jane and invites Krissi, Harry & Brian to an isolated house in the countryside to keep experimenting on Jane.

The first proof that things aren’t quite safe is that the door to their van opens and closes on it’s own after the 5 of them have gone in. Soon Jane’s negative energy takes the form of “Evey” a baby doll like creature only she can see. Coupland instructs Jane to transfer her negative energy into a physical doll so they can destroy it. As the experiments drive Jane to the brink of insanity, strange things keep happening in the house. Brian meanwhile is upset at the unethical treatment of Jane and has begun to have feelings for her. Evey’s apparitions become more violent as anything that the people do to harm Evey ends up causing harm to Jane. Coupland, however, refuses to stop the inhumane experimentation as he is irreversibly convinced that “Evey” is merely a conventionally treatable, parapsychological disorder in Jane’s head, but the others become convinced over time that Evey is a true malevolent, supernatural force.

After another attack on the group by “Evey” Brian goes back to Oxford and conducts research on a symbol that was carved on Jane and he finds out that is from a cult who worshiped a Sumerian demon. They performed experiments on a young girl a few years ago; their leader believed that Evey Dwyer, a girl with clairvoyant abilities, was the one to bring their “idol” into the physical world. Everybody in the cult died in a house fire that Evey set, including Evey herself. Brian returns and tells them about the cult, certain that Evey is a demonic presence who is possessing Jane. He convinces Harry and Krissi, but Coupland denies his theory and responds that Evey must be a figment from Jane’s past rather than a demonic force. The 4 of them are soon painfully marked with the same symbol and later it is revealed that the boy in the experiment was Coupland’s own son and he is driven by his desire to cure his son, which upsets Jane who feels used.

After an attack on Krissi in a bathtub, Krissi & Harry are killed brutally by an unseen force. Jane realizes that she was the little girl that supposedly died in the house fire; she was born with clairvoyant powers and had set the house on fire to kill everyone. The authorities changed her name to Jane to give her a normal life, and that’s why all her negative energy is manifesting; Evey is not a demon, she is Jane’s real identity (one who can’t escape the trauma of her past life). Evey attacks Brian but Coupland knocks her out and then Brian too, typing him to a chair owever, before Coupland can prove his theory, Brian saves Jane and subdues Coupland. Once revived, Jane locks him out of the room and commits suicide by setting herself on fire. The movie ends with a now institutionalized Brian who is now clearly mad, asked questions by someone off camera about the 4 deaths and he is told that everything in the house, including the films, were destroyed by the fire. Brian laughs manically and his hand starts to smoke, just as Jane’s did.

Interesting story but a very dully and almost boring movie. Vry little to scare you but I do feel sad for the Jane character. Helps that she is played brilliantly by the rather sweet & pretty actress Olivia Cooke. Though the rest is drawn out and the movie is tedious to sit through as nothing exciting happens. 6 outta 10!

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Jupiter Ascending

An American-Australian science fiction / fantasy flick, Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 movie written, produced, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. The film stars Channing Tattum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Terry Gilliam & Maria Doyle Kennedy.

The movie has this premise that over a billion years ago a race of humans first evolved in another solar system (or is it another galaxy?) and as they advanced technologically they became transhumans and established colonies around the galaxy. They seeded humans on earth and other planets for the purpose of later “harvesting” the resulting organisms to produce a type of youth serum for the elites on still other planets. Hence these transhumans live for many, many thousands of years. After the death of the matriarch of the House of Abrasax, the most powerful of the alien dynasties, her children, Balem, Kalique, and Titus, quarrel over the inheritance, with Balem inheriting an enormous refinery on Jupiter and Titus declaring his intention to dismantle the youth serum trade, of which Earth is the next intended source.

Meanwhile on Earth, a young woman named Jupiter (named by her Russian immigrant mother after her husband’s wish and to honour him after he was killed by thieves) Jones, is living out a dull life cleaning people’s houses with her mother and aunts in Chicago, staying in a house with her mother’s relatives. To buy a telescope (a passion she shared with the father she never knew), Jupiter agrees to sell her eggs with the help of her cousin Vladie (Kick Gurry), under the name of her friend Katharine Dunlevy. One night at Katharine’s house, the girls are attacked by extraterrestrial ‘Keepers'; and when Jupiter photographs these, they erase her memory of the incident. Later at the clinic for donating the eggs, the doctors and nurses are identified as Balem’s agents, sent to kill her, and she is saved by Caine Wise, a former soldier sent by Titus. Caine takes her to Stinge Apini, a veteran soldier and former comrade of his, who was banished and has been now living on earth with his young daughter. While at the latter’s house, we learn that Jupiter is part of this alien royalty and Stinger explains to her about the origins of humanity on earth.

A group of hunters attack the house and take Jupiter to Kalique’s palace on a distant planet, where Kalique explains that Jupiter is genetically identical to the dead matriarch, and therefore the Earth’s rightful owner. Supported by Captain Diomika Tsing , part of an intergalactic police force, Caine retrieves her from Kalique, and brings her to the planet Ores (the intergalactic capital city) to claim her inheritance. On the way back to Earth, Titus detains Jupiter and Caine, to whom he reveals his plan to marry and then kill Jupiter and claim Earth before throwing Caine into the void; but Caine survives and saves Jupiter at the altar. Jupiter asks to return home, but learns that her family has been taken hostage by Balem.

At Balem’s refinery, hidden behind the Red Spot on the plant Jupiter, he demands earth in exchange for Jupiter’s family. Jupiter decides not to hand over earth for her family as Balem would need her permission to harvest the humans on her planet. Balem tries to kill Jupiter; but she defeats him in a fight, and is rescued by Caine, Stinger, and Tsing. Jupiter’s family is returned home with no memory of their disappearance, while Jupiter secretly retains ownership of the Earth. Her family buys her the telescope she wanted and Caine receives a pair of wings earlier removed from his body.

Ok, visually – stunning. Conceptually – maybe somewhat original. The finished product – a mess. You don’t really feel connected to the characters or the lazy story and the writing. Humanoids that are part dinosaur, deer and canine? Ok! A couple of hairstyles that made me laugh out loud. Spaceships are awesome, effects are great, sound awesome etc etc. But still just barely ok. I was actually bored in between because Tattum and Mila Kunis seem like a dull couple. 7 outta 10!

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May Not Watch

Since the last time I posted about this topic, my list has changed slightly. This is my current list of popular, and in my opinion for some of them atleast, at times overhyped tv shows / movie series that I have not yet watched.

  • Lost
  • Harry Potter (movie & books series)
  • Twilight (I will never watch them)
  • The Wire
  • Mad Men
  • Dr. Who
  • Transformers
  • Breaking Bad (I plan on watching them sometime)
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Hunger Games (will be watching them)
  • The Fast & The Furious (no interest)

I know a lot of folks, including friends, who are fans of these show and have tried to convert me but it’s not working. Yes, I changed my mind about Hunger Games as I am curious and Breaking Bad I was interested in but the others? I don’t think so.

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

One of the most iconic movies of the 80s and famed for it’s setting in which cartoons interact with live action humans, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a 1988 comedy live action/animated film directed by Robert Zemeckis with a screenplay by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman based on Gary K. Wolf’s 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? The movie stars Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd & Joanna Cassidy with Charles Fleischer as the eponymous character’s voice; & Kathleen Turner as the voice of Jessica Rabbit, Roger’s cartoon wife.

The film is set in 1947 Hollywood or Los Angeles, in a world where toons and people co-exist together and the toons act out cartoons in much the same way that human actors act in films/tv shows. Roger Rabbit is a fun loving rabbit toon one of the stars of Maroon Cartoon studios, owned by R. K. Maroon. Maroon hires private detective Eddie Valiant to investigate rumors that Jessica is having an extramarital affair. Eddie and his brother Teddy used to be friends of the toon community, but Eddie has hated them, and has been drinking heavily, since Teddy was killed by a toon who dropped a piano on his head some years earlier while investigating a Toontown bank robbery. Eddie sees Jessica, a voluptuously drawn cartoon in the shape of a woman, playing “patty-cake” with Marvin Acme, the practical joke-loving owner of Toontown and the Acme Corporation. When Roger sees the photos that Eddie took he is devastated and runs away. The next day Acme is found murdered and Roger is the prime suspect.

At the crime scene, Eddie meets Judge Doom and his Toon Patrol of weasel henchmen. Although toons are virtually impervious to physical harm, Doom has discovered that they can be killed by being submerged in a mixture of Turpentine, Acetone, and Benzene that he refers to as the “Dip”. He demonstrates it by sampling an innocent cartoon shoe which quickly dissolves in the dip leaving red paint. Eddie is shocked and goes back to his office where he finds Roger sleeping in his bed and pleads his innocence. Eddie investigates the case with help from his girlfriend Dolores as he finds out that Acme’s will is missing; in it he was to bequeath Toontown to the toons. If the will is not found by midnight, Toontown will be sold to Cloverleaf Industries, which recently bought the Pacific Electric system of trolley cars. essica tells Eddie that Maroon blackmailed her into compromising Acme, and Eddie learns that Maroon is selling his studio to Cloverleaf.

Maroon explains to Eddie that Cloverleaf will not buy his studio unless they can also buy Acme’s gag-making factory. His plan was to use the photos to blackmail Acme into selling. Before he can say more, he is killed by an unseen assassin and Eddie sees Jessica fleeing the scene. Thinking that she is the killer, Eddie pursues her into Toontown. When he finds her, she explains that Doom killed Maroon and Acme in an attempt to take over Toontown. Eddie, Jessica, and Roger are captured by Doom and his weasels and held at the Acme Factory and after a long fight – and a dance by Eddie which makes the weasels die of laughter – and in which it is revealed that Doom is a toon wearing a human mask, Doom is killed when he dissolves in the Dip. The will is found (Roger had written a love letter to Jessica on it and the actual will is in disappearing ink and the Toons celebrate their victory.

Funny and ground breaking, it is a must see for movie aficionados and lovers of awesome 80s humour. Jessica is still a sight to behold even in this day and age! 8.5 outta 10!

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8mm

Directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker, 8mm is a crime-thriller mystery style movie from 1999 starring Nicholas Cage along with Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, Anthony Heald, & Catherine Keener. A younger Norman Reedus has a small role as well. The movie dwells into the world of snuff films and the shady part of adult films.

Tom Welles is a private investigator, who having just wrapped up a case in Florida is contacted by Daniel Longdale, attorney for wealthy widow Mrs. Christian, whose millionaire husband has recently died. Tom was highly recommended and Mrs. Christian urges him to discretion. Apparently while cleaning out her husband’s private safe she came across an 8mm film in which a young girl is brutally treated and a man in a mask appears to kill her. The widow wants Tom to find out if the murder is real, which he agrees to after sitting through the disturbing film. Tom says good bye to his wife and baby, and heads to Cleavland to start the investigation of missing persons. Eventually he finds that the girl’s name was Mary Ann Mathews and he contacts her mother Janet. While searching the house with her permission, he finds Mary Ann’s diary, in which she says that she went to Hollywood to become a film star.

Tom next heads to Los Angeles and searched stores that sell S&M, Bondage and hardcore porn magazines and films. He meets and enlists the help of a sex shop employee and former musician named Max California to penetrate the underworld of illegal pornography. This leads them to find out that the masked man, named “Machine” who is a frequent performer for noted director Dino Velvet’s violent pornographic films. This leads them to talent scout Eddie Poole and after tapping his phone Tom has him agree to arrange a meet with Velvet, pretending to be a client interested in commissioning a hardcore bondage film to be directed by Velvet and starring Machine. Velvet agrees and arranges a meeting in New York City. All this while it is shown that someone is following and tracking Tom’s movements. Tom does not want Max to continue with him fearing that the events that follow will be dangerous and gives him a ticket to go back to LA. At the meet Tom finds attorney Longdale there who explains that Mr. Christian had contracted him to procure a snuff film – confirming that the snuff film was real and that Mary Ann is dead.

Longdale had contacted Velvet informing him that Tom might come looking for him and Eddie & Velvet drag a bound and beaten Max. They force Tom to bring them the only surviving copy of the illegal film. He delivers it, but before he turns it over, they kill Max and beat Tom and then burn the film. Before they can kill him Tom tells Velvet that Christian had paid $1 million for the film but as Longdale had only handed over a lesser amount for the film, Dino thinks that Longdale cheated him outta his proper fee. Velvet and Eddie corner Longdale and in the ensuing argument both Velvet and Longdale are both killed while Tom wounds Machine and escapes. Tom warns his wife to get out of the house and stay in a motel and he goes to see Mrs. Christian after calling her ahead of going there and telling her the details. After meeting his wife Tom goes to see the widow but finds that she committed suicide and has left him a large sum of money as well as some for Janet Mathews. Tom decides to take matters in his own hands and tracks Eddie, taking him to the run down shack where Mary Ann was killed.

Finding Eddie with no remorse for the murder of a young girl, Tom is unable to bring himself to kill him at first but he calls Janet and tells her the truth about her daughter’s fate and asks a devastated Janet for her permission to punish those responsible, to which she says yes. He then kills and burns Eddie’s body along with the shack and also throws out all the porn stuff he found during the investigation. He then tracks Machine at his home and finds behind the mask a balding, respectable man and is surprised at how ordinary he looks. Machine asks if Tom expected some kind of monster and attacks Tom, telling him that has no ulterior motive for his sadistic actions; he does them simply because he enjoys it. They struggle, and Tom kills him. After returning to his family, Tom receives a letter from Mrs. Mathews, thanking him for killing the men responsible and suggesting he and she were the only ones to care about Mary Ann.

Quite brutal in places but I was expecting a lot more. It definitely shows the sleazy, grimy side of the adult industry and how filthy people can be. I dunno why I waited so long to watch this film. 8 outta 10!

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Scary Books & Films

Do You Like Scary Movies and Books?

Hell yeah! Have you not seen my past blog posts where I do reviews of horror flicks? Though I must say that this year, with the new job, I haven’t had much chance to watch many movies lately and hence I think I have only seen one horror movie so far in 2015. Yeah but in the summer, now that a lot of the shows that I watch are winding up their seasons, I will have more time to watch movies.

As for books, sure I love to read them but you know what? In the past few years I have stopped reading books as I find that I am engrossed in stuff like Youtube and Facebook and Twitter and find reading a lot more tedious and hence can’t finish a book. It is a bit annoying that I can’t concentrate and commit to finishing a book in a week or two whereas I used to devour books at rates of like 3 in a week up till 2008. The internet is too much of a distraction I tell ya!

I think I need to set aside a week or so, get some of my vacation time and find a quite place to lay low for a few days and read a few books. I miss books.

Prompt from The Learning Network from The New York Times

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RIP Grace Lee Whitney

Grace Lee Whitney, 85, most famous for portraying Yeoman Janice Rand on the original series of “Star Trek,” died this weekend in the town of Coarsegold, California, her family confirmed. No cause of death was reported. Whitney, a recovering alcoholic, spent the last 35 years of her life helping others with addiction problems, often at women’s correctional facilities or the Salvation Army, her family said. They said she was credited with having helped thousands of people successfully complete 12-step addiction programs.

Whitney was born Mary Ann Chase in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1930, and was raised by an adoptive family. After several years as a dancer with big bands, she was cast as Janice Rand, a Star Fleet yeoman who was personal assistant to William Shatner’s Capt. James T. Kirk, in the first season of the original 1966-to-1969 run of “Star Trek.” When the series was reborn as a movie franchise in 1979, Whitney returned, now promoted to chief petty officer, in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” She appeared again in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), with another promotion, as Lieutenant (JG) Janice Rand. Five years later, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the franchise, she returned to Star Trek in 1996 in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Flashback” along with George Takei. She has filmed roles in two Internet Star Trek episodes: “Star Trek: New Voyages” and “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men” (reprising her role as Janice Rand in both). “New Voyages” premiered on August 24, 2007. “Of Gods and Men” made its debut in late 2007.

For other roles she was in the movies Top Banana (1954), Some Like It Hot (1959) and was credited as Tracey Phillips in the 1962 drama A Public Affair, and as Texas Rose in the western The Man from Galveston (1963) with Jeffrey Hunter. Billy Wilder then gave her the featured role of “Kiki the Cossack” in the 1963 film Irma la Douce with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon. In the 1960s and 1970s, Whitney sang with a number of orchestras and bands, including the Keith Williams Orchestra. Later, she concentrated on jazz/pop vocalizing while fronting for the band Star. In the 1970s, with her then-husband, Jack Dale, she wrote a number of Star Trek-related songs

Grace Lee Whitney (born Mary Ann Chase; April 1, 1930 – May 1, 2015)

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