Saturday, July 27, 2013

"42" (2013)

Starring Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford and Nicole Beharie
Written and directed by Brian Helgelund
Rated PG-13 - Strong language, mild violence
Running Time: 128 Minutes

In the late 1940s, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) makes a bold move: He decides to offer a place in his baseball club to a player from the negro leagues, a temperamental young player named "Jackie" Robinson (Chadwick Boseman). Of course, the fact that the United States is still a deeply segregated country means that this is a decision fraught with danger.

Jackie starts out with the Montreal Royals, quickly proving himself a talent, but running up against the insurmountable wall of racism. At every turn, Jackie is reminded that he's considered barely human by not only the populace, but even his own teammates. But, also at every turn, he finds Rickey pushing him to bigger and greater things. Rickey pushes Jackie to hold in his temper, to "have the guts not to fight back" whenever the white men around him push him around. Rickey wants him to play ball, and that's what Jackie wants, too.

Soon enough, Rickey gives Jackie a chance to move up to the Dodgers, becoming the first black player in the major leagues. Will that milestone prove to be a watershed moment for baseball as Rickey and Jackie hope, or will it be a grand embarrassment for all involved?

"The Wolverine" (2013)

Starring Hugh Jackman, Tao Okimato and Rila Fukushima
Written by Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback and Scott Frank
Directed by James Mangold
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language, brief male nudity
Running Time: 126 Minutes

Logan (Hugh Jackman) is a broken man in the wake of events in "X-Men: The Last Stand." Forced to kill the woman he loved, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Logan retreats from his friends and his life into the Canadian wilderness. He lives alone in the woods, with only the clothes on his back, the booze in his bottle and a battery-operated radio. He has nightmares every night, of his lost love begging him to join her in the afterlife, of his adamantium claws stabbing through her gut.

One evening, Logan is approached by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a young Japanese woman sent to find him by Shingen Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada), owner of the largest and most powerful corporation in Asia. Yukio, with some convincing, brings Logan to Tokyo, where he finds Shingen dying of old age. In 1945, Logan saved Shingen from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, and Shingen, on his death bed, wishes to repay Logan that kindness. He offers to take Logan's incredible healing abilities from him, leaving him a mortal, ordinary man.

But Logan refuses, and the next day attends Shingen's funeral. But he's not the only unwanted guest: Yakuza thugs attack the funeral, attempting to kidnap Shingen's granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okimato). Logan intervenes to rescue her, but is wounded in the process. He quickly discovers that his healing powers have been stolen from him, but manages to get Mariko to safety anyway. Weakened, Logan takes Mariko on the run from the Yakuza.

But the Japanese mob aren't the only ones trying to find Logan and Mariko. To protect this woman, Logan realizes he's going to have to become something he promised himself he isn't anymore, that he would never become again. The animal within. The Wolverine.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Pacific Rim" (2013)

Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi
Written by Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Rated PG-13 - Violence, frightening images, language, peril
Running Time: 132 Minutes

Humanity always thought an alien invasion would come from outer space. They never expected that huge, powerful monsters might rise up from a dimensional rift deep beneath the Pacific Ocean. But that's exactly what happened. In response to the threat from these massive beasts, called Kaiju, humanity has banded together to create the Jaegers - incredibly powerful robots, controlled by human pilots connected psychically to the machine and to each other. Two people are required to pilot the machines, as the psychic toll of doing so is too much for any one man to take.

One such pilot is Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) who controls the Jaeger called Gypsy Danger with his brother, Yancy (Diego Klattenhof), as the two are "drift compatible." Jaeger pilots, it seems, are a select breed - only two people who are deemed psychically compatible may join together to control the Jaeger, each pilot serving as one hemisphere of the giant robot's brain. But during an encounter off the coast of Alaska, a Kaiju causes serious damage to Gypsy Danger, killing Yancy and forcing Raleigh to pilot the Jaeger back to shore - alone.

Five years later, bigger, badder Kaijus are slaughtering the Jaeger teams, and the world's governments have decided to mothball the program in favor of building a massive, impenetrable wall around the entire Pacific Ocean. The leader of the Jaeger program, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) has moved the final four Jaegers to a base in Hong Kong, from where he intends to launch a desperate final attack on the rift under the Pacific. But to do so, he needs Raleigh to come back and pilot Gypsy Danger one last time. But Raleigh, in returning, finds only rivalry and resentment among his fellow Jaeger pilots, who view him as a quitter. And the one person he believes could be his copilot, a young woman named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) has been forbidden from doing so by Pentecost.

Outmanned and outgunned, the Jaegers and their pilots are the last remaining force standing between the increasingly devastating forces of the Kaiju and the extinction of humanity.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

"The Lone Ranger" (2013)

Starring Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp and Tom Wilkinson
Written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Russo
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Rated PG-13 - Language, violence, sexual references
Running Time: 149 Minutes

John Reid (Armie Hammer) is a lawyer returning home to Texas to take a job as a county prosecutor. On the train there, he notices a gang of outlaws boarding the train and goes to investigate. It seems that vicious murderer Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) is aboard the train, being transported for hanging, and his gang has come to bust him out. A Comanche warrior, Tonto (Johnny Depp), is also aboard the train, planning to kill Cavendish, but Reid interferes in the name of the law. Cavendish gets away, but his men have killed the train conductor, leaving the locomotive out of control.

John's brother Dan (James Badge Dale), a Texas ranger, catches up with the the train and helps John and Tonto unhook the cars to save the other passengers as the locomotive crashes off the end of the rail line. Soon, the chase is on to find Cavendish. John is deputized as a ranger, and heads into the desert with Dan and his posse to find Cavendish, leaving Dan's wife (and John's former love) Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) and her young son behind.

But the mission ends in tragedy when one of Dan's men betrays the rangers, leaving them for an ambush that kills them all. Tonto discovers that a spirit horse has revived John, whom Tonto calls "a spirit walker" to help him on his quest for vengeance against Cavendish. As the two track the outlaws, they find themselves in a vast conspiracy aimed at igniting a war between the remains of the Comanche nation and the United States as the railroad expands westward.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"White House Down" (2013)

Starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Written by James Vanderbilt
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language, children in peril
Running Time: 137 Minutes

John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a DC cop working protection detail for Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins). He manages to call in a favor to snag a job interview for the Secret Service, and takes his politics-fanatic daughter Emily (Joey King) along for the chance to check out the White House.

At the same time, President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) has unveiled a bold plan for peace in the Middle East that involves exposing all the dirty deeds of the military-industrial complex and pulling all American troops out of the region. Facing stiff opposition, today is the day that will either make or break his plan as he tries to get Congress and America's allies on board.

It's also the last week on the job for Martin Walker (James Woods), Secret Service agent in charge of the Presidential Detail. But as his cohorts throw him a retirement party, including Special Agent Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), they have no idea that Walker has masterminded a plan to seize control of the White House and everyone within it.

Soon, the country is in crisis as the seat of our government's power is under attack. A bomb devastates the Capitol building, prompting Raphelson to move to the Pentagon. The Vice President (Michael Murphy) is whisked away on Air Force One. Armed men storm the White House from within, slaughtering security guards and the Secret Service. They are led by Eli Stenz (Jason Clarke), a vicious former black ops soldier.

And stuck in the middle of it is John Cale, who manages to get away from the terrorists and rescue the president. Cale and Sawyer are on the run in the White House, outnumbered and outgunned. But Finnerty suspects that Walker isn't the only black hat around, and wonders just who the real players are, and what their endgame might be.

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Safe" (2012)

Starring Jason Statham, Chris Sarandon and Catherine Chan
Written and directed by Boaz Yakin
Rated R - Violence, strong language
Running Time: 95 Minutes

Luke Wright (Jason Statham) is a disgraced New York cop and cage fighter expected to take a fall in his latest bout. Instead, he trounces his opponent, infuriating the mob bosses who were set to make a great deal of money on this fight. Soon after, mob enforcers murder Luke's wife in retaliation. Luke loses everything and wanders the streets, a homeless drunk.

A year later, Luke crosses paths with Mei (Catherine Chan) a young girl with a gift for numbers. She can instantly memorize and recall anything she sees, and has been used by the Chinese mafia in their illegal gambling operations in the United States. With Mei, there is no need for records or a paper trail of their activities. When the Russian mafia ambushes Mei's Chinese captors, she escapes and finds a reluctant protector in Luke. Wanted by the Russian and Chinese mafias, as well as the corrupt cops (and Luke's former colleagues), Luke vows to keep Mei safe and free her from a life of slavery and crime.