Friday, November 28, 2014

"Sabotage" (2014)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams and Sam Worthington
Written by Skip Woods and David Ayer
Directed by David Ayer
Rated R - Strong violence, language, nudity
Running Time: 109 Minutes

John "Breacher" Wharton leads an elite squad of DEA tactical agents. On his team are James "Monster" Murray (Sam Worthington) and his wife Lizzy Murray (Mirielle Enos), Julius "Sugar" Edmonds (Terrence Howard), Joe "Grinder" Phillips (Joe Manganiello), Tom "Pyro" Roberts (Max Martini), Eddie "Neck" Jordan (Josh Holloway), Bryce "Tripod" McNeely (Kevin Vance) and "Smoke" Jennings (Mark Shlegel). And together they have just stolen $10 million from a vicious drug cartel during a DEA raid. But later that evening when they go to retrieve their stolen payout from its hiding place, they find that someone's taken the money.

Worse, the DEA figures out that $10 million is missing from the raid and puts the team under intense scrutiny. Six months later, the team is splintered. They've lost their trust in each other. And things are about to get worse: Someone starts picking them off. One by one, the bodies are found mutilated in ways that implicate the cartel, and Breacher partners with Atlanta PD homicide detective Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) to find out who's offing his friends.

The closer Brentwood gets to the case, however, the less it seems to make sense. Who is playing whom? Who are the real killers? And what happened to all that dirty money?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" (2014)

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Written by Peter Craig and Danny Strong
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Rated PG-13: Violence, peril
Running Time: 123 Minutes

After being rescued from the latest round of vicious Hunger Games, young rebel Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in District 13, a city long-thought destroyed. Instead, the residents of 13 live in a massive, militarized underground bunker and are led by President Coin (Julianne Moore). Together with marketing whiz Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), Coin plans to use Katniss as a rallying cry to get the other Districts to rise up against the villainous President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol.

But Katniss is far from in shape enough to accomplish this task, suffering from post-traumatic stress after her ordeal in the Games. But when she discovers what Snow and the Capitol have done to her home District 12, and what he's currently doing to any district that dares show any sign of rebellion, she realizes she can't sit on the sidelines.

The opening shots of a dangerous civil war have been fired. On one side, the down-trodden people of the districts, rallying behind a young girl who increasingly finds herself out of her depth. On the other, the near-endless resources of President Snow, who will stop at nothing to put down this rebellion once and for all.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Hours" (2013)

Starring Paul Walker and Genesis Rodriguez
Written and directed by Eric Heisserer
Rated PG-13: Peril, language
Running Time: 97 Minutes

Nolan Hayes (Paul Walker) brings his pregnant wife Abigail (Genesis Rodriguez) to the hospital one night. The doctors inform him that Abigail has given birth to a young girl, five weeks premature, and has died in the process. Meanwhile, Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on New Orleans and the hospital staff are in the process of evacuating the hospital as the storm grows worse.

Nolan's daughter needs to be kept in an incubator that can't be moved. Worse, with the power out, the incubator is operating on a backup battery - which only has three minutes of charge. Nolan soon discovers that the rest of the hospital has been evacuated without him, leaving him alone with his daughter, forced to crank and recharge the battery every two or three minutes in order to keep her alive until they can be rescued.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Interstellar" (2014)

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Ann Hathaway and Michael Caine
Written by Jonathan Nolan
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Rated PG-13 - Peril, language
Running Time: 149 Minutes

In the future, the human race is dying. Earth is now barely capable of supporting human life as a mysterious blight destroys food crops worldwide. Humanity has retreated within itself, broken and despondent and waiting to die. One day, former NASA pilot turned farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) discovers a strange gravitational anomaly in his daughter's bedroom and his investigation leads him to the remnants of NASA working secretly out of the old NORAD facility.

There, he finds his old mentor, Professor Brand (Michael Caine) has devised a bold plan to save humanity: A wormhole has been discovered near Saturn that leads to another galaxy, and there are possibly habitable planets nearby. Brand convinces Cooper to pilot the mission, which will also include Brand's daughter Amelia (Ann Hathaway), astronauts Romilly (David Gyasi) and Doyle (Wes Bentley), and two robots TARS (Bill Irwin) and CASE (Josh Stewart).

But in order to explore what lies on the other side of the universe, Cooper must leave behind his two children, Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and Murph (Mackenzie Foy), who may never forgive him for doing so.

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Dead Man Down" (2013)

Starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard
Written by JH Wyman
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
Rated R - Violence, strong language, sex
Running Time: 117 Minutes

Victor (Colin Farrell) is an enforcer for Alphonse (Terrence Howard), a midlevel crime lord. For the past three months, someone has been offing other members of Alphonse's crew and mailing him cryptic notes. Victor's friend Darcy (Dominic Cooper) tries to discover the identity of this killer by following a trail left behind by the latest victim, who was also on the case.

Meanwhile, Victor befriends his next door neighbor, a woman named Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) who recently had her face reconstructed after an automobile accident. The two recognize something in each other, each damaged in different ways, and when Beatrice learns what it is that Victor does, she asks him a favor: to murder the man who drunkenly smashed into her with her car, scarring her face and ruining her life.

But the pressure is on: What Alphonse doesn't know is that Victor is the man who has been killing his crew. But he's getting closer and closer to figuring that out.

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Gone Girl" (2014)

Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Carrie Coon
Written by Gillian Flynn
Directed by David Fincher
Rated R: Violence, strong language, nudity, sex
Running Time: 149 Minutes

On the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) disappears. Her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck), comes home to find their living room in disarray and calls the police. Detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and James Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) arrive and are immediately suspicious of Nick.

In the following days, as the evidence mounts against Nick, the public begins to turn against him. Even his loyal twin sister, Margot (Carrie Coon), always at his side, begins to wonder if he's not being entirely honest. Slowly, Nick's life begins to unravel. His year-long affair with one of his students is exposed, and the police come ever closer to pressing charges against him even without having found Amy's body.

What is Nick lying about? Where is Amy? And what was she so afraid of?

Monday, September 22, 2014

'Falling Skies' Season Three (2013)

Starring Noah Wyle, Will Patton and Moon Bloodgood
Created by Robert Rodat

Life has changed considerably at the rebel camp of Charleston, SC. The surviving humans, now led by former history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), have allied themselves with a group of rebel alien Skitters as well as another race from the stars, the Volm. Over the past seven months since the arrival of the Volm, the three groups have run joint missions attacking Skitter posts and liberating the Skitters' slave labor force - Earth's children.

Commander of the 2nd Mass, Dan Weaver (Will Patton) is now a high-ranking military official. He doesn't quite trust the Volm, and that finds him oddly in agreement with Pope (Colin Cunningham) who has taken to joining rebel raids as well as running his own bar and trading post in the revived Charleston. But Tom has struck up a friendship with the leader of the Volm, nicknamed Cochise (Doug Jones), and the two have begun construction of a weapon the Volm promise will strike a decisive blow against the Skitters.

But all the while, something is wrong with Tom's son, Hal (Drew Roy). He's having strange nightmares of an affair with Karen (Jessy Schram), the new overlord of the Skitters' east coast operations. And there's a mole hidden somewhere within Charleston, a murderer and saboteur no one can identify. Hal thinks he might be the mole, and worse, he's not sure if he can stop himself.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

'Falling Skies' Season Two (2012)

Starring Noah Wyle, Will Patton and Moon Bloodgood
Created by Robert Rodat

Three months after the failed attack on the alien structure in Boston, former history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) mysteriously reappears. Unfortunately for his friends in the 2nd Mass, this is not quite the happy reunion, less so when they discover some kind of tracking device buried in his skull.

But Captain Dan Weaver (Will Patton) does welcome him back, just as his sons Hal (Drew Roy), Ben (Connor Jessup) and Matt (Maxim Knight). Over the last three months, Ben's strange powers have grown. Despite his efforts to fight alongside the 2nd Mass, many still don't trust him. Now they don't trust his father, either.

Forced to leave Boston, the 2nd Mass receives word of a human encampment and a growing army in Charleston, South Carolina. The road along the way will not be easy: the alien Skitters are hunting the 2nd Mass all along the way. But there's a new ripple: some of the Skitters have declared rebellion against their overlords. The only problem is, the humans aren't sure they can be trusted.

Friday, September 19, 2014

'Falling Skies' Season One (2011)

Starring Noah Wylie, Moon Bloodgood and Will Patton
Created by Robert Rodat

Aliens have arrived. And they are not friendly. The first wave of attacks was devastating, knocking out machines and electronics all over the world. The second wave targeted the cities and military. In less than six months, humanity has fallen.

History professor Tom Mason (Noah Wylie) is a resistance fighter with the 2nd Massachusetts after Earth was invaded by the malevolent aliens the humans call "skitters." He fights to keep his two young sons Hal (Drew Roy) and Matt (Maxim Knight) safe, though Hal is now old enough to be a fighter himself.

The 2nd Mass is led by Captain Dan Weaver (Will Patton), and after being run out of Boston by the skitters, takes refuge in an abandoned high school in Acton. From there, they prepare for a guerrilla strike against the skitters, who have been capturing human children and attaching strange bio-mechanical devices to their spines. Removing these harnesses kills the children, until a resistance doctor figures out the secret to getting them off safely.

Tom's third son, Ben (Connor Jessup) has been taken by the skitters and fitted with a harness. When Ben is found working as a slave in a hospital not too far from the 2nd Mass' camp, Tom and the others make a bold move to rescue them. But Ben and the other children aren't quite the same after their rescue. Ben displays enhanced strength and stamina, while his friend Rick (Daniyah Ysrail) shows more sinister characteristics. Whose side is he on? Will his secret derail the resistance's plan to strike a major blow against the skitters in the heart of Boston?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"A Walk Among the Tombstones" (2014)

Starring Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens and Brian "Astro" Bradley
Written and directed by Scott Frank
Rated R - Violence, strong language
Running Time: 113 Minutes

Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is a former New York cop and a recovering alcoholic. Not quite a private detective, he does "favors" for people who, in return, give him "gifts." One night he's approached by someone from his AA group who says his brother is in need of some help. That brother, Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens), turns out to be a drug trafficker and someone has just murdered his wife.

It seems Kenny's wife was kidnapped, and when Kenny paid the ransom, his wife was returned to him - cut up into little tiny bags. Against his better judgment, Scudder takes the case.

But the more he looks into it, the murkier things seem to get. It seems Kenny's wife isn't the only victim. It seems, somehow, that the DEA is involved. It seems, somehow, that even the other victims have secrets. And the killers have already identified their next target.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

'Hannibal' Season Two (2014)

Starring Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelson and Laurence Fishburne
Developed by Bryan Fuller

Criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is in custody, accused of being a serial killer. The real killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson), has now taken Will's place at the FBI, assisting Special Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) in catching brutal murderers along the East Coast.
While Will awaits trial, Jack is under investigation for his mishandling of Will, perhaps he is even to blame for the murders Will is accused of committing. Will maintains his innocence, telling anyone who'll listen (or won't) that the man they really want is Hannibal Lecter. 

With the bodies piling up, Jack, Will and Hannibal play a dangerous game. One of them or all of them might be killers. And none of them can trust each other.

Monday, September 15, 2014

'The Walking Dead' Season Four (2013)

Starring Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey and Norman Reedus
Developed by Frank Darabont
Executive Producers Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Scott Gimple, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse and Gale Anne Hurd

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has settled into the quiet life of a farmer. He and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) are now just citizens of a small community of survivors living inside a fortified prison. Inside the prison, danger is brewing. A strange sickness threatens everyone inside, and soon after two of their own are found murdered, one of which is Karen, Tyreese's girlfriend. The disease forces Tyreese (Chad Coleman), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Darryl (Norman Reedus) and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) to seek out medicines at a veterinary college. Meanwhile, Rick decides he has to deal with the culprit - his close friend, Carol (Melissa McBride) - by expelling her from the prison before Tyreese returns and learns the truth.

Outside the fences, hordes of flesh-hungry undead wander the countryside. But they're not alone: The Governor (David Morrissey) survived his last encounter months earlier with Rick and the others, and has gathered a new group of supporters to his cause. These people are desperate. They are well-armed. And Rick has something they want: a strong fence.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Oldboy" (2013)

Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley
Written by Mark Protosevich
Directed by Spike Lee
Rated R - Violence, language, nudity, sex
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Trailer (Red Band)

Joe (Josh Brolin) is a drunk. One night after missing his daughter's birthday party and screwing up an important meeting with a client, Joe wakes up in what at first appears to be a motel room. But he quickly learns it is, in fact, a prison cell. A cell in which Joe spends the next twenty years. Over those years, Joe manages to avoid going insane (barely) and eventually quits drinking and gets himself into shape in the hopes of finding his young daughter, Mia.

One day, his wish is granted and Joe wakes up having been released into the outside world, of which he knows only what he's managed to see on TV over the years. He's given money, clothes and a cell phone that he doesn't quite understand how to use. He hooks back up with his old friend Chucky (Michael Imperioli), who owns a bar, and meets a young nurse named Marie (Elizabeth Olsen) who helps him recover his health.

Soon enough, Joe is out for revenge. He wants to know who put him in a box for twenty years, and why. And he'll kill or hurt anyone who gets in his way. Unfortunately for Joe, he's not the hunter... he's the hunted. He just doesn't know it yet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"The Last Ship" - Season One (2014)

Starring Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra and Adam Baldwin
Created by Hank Steinberg and Steve Kane
Based on the novel by William Brinkley

After spending four months on a recon mission in the Arctic, the crew of the USS Nathan James is ready to return home. When a landing party led by two scientists, Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) and Dr. Quincy Tophet (Sam Spruett), is attacked by Russian forces, Commander Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) risks breaking radio silence to contact his superiors. Chandler is horrified to discover that in the months they've been out of contact, the world has fallen into chaos. A disease called the Red Flu has ravaged Earth's population. Governments have fallen, including the United States.

Chandler also discovers that Dr. Scott knew about this, and that her mission, secretly, was to locate primordial strains of this deadly flu virus so that she might figure out how to create a vaccine for it. Unfortunately, somehow the Russians knew what Dr. Scott was looking for. Now, hunted across the world's oceans by mad Russian Admiral Ruskov (Ravil Isyanov), Chandler and the crew of the Nathan James are mankind's only hope.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Transformers: Prime: Beast Hunters - Predacons Rising" (2013)

Starring Peter Cullen, Frank Welker and John Noble
Written by Duane Capizzi, Marsha Griffin and Steven Melching
Directed by Vinton Hueck, Scooter Tidwell and Steven Melching
Unrated - Cartoon sci-fi violence
Running Time: 65 Minutes

After the battle to retake Cybertron, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) realizes that to repopulate his planet, he must seek out an ancient relic known as the Allspark. He heads off to its last known location with Wheeljack (James Horan), leaving his small crew of Autobots to begin reconstruction of their homeworld.

While scouting the ruins in search of Megatron's minions, Ultra Magnus (Michael Ironside) and Smokescreen (Nolan North) are attacked by predacons - vicious, dragon-like Transformers created in a cloning lab by Shockwave (David Sobolov) and Starscream (Steven Blum). With Ultra Magnus severely injured, Bumblebee (Will Friedle) takes command and decides to track down the Predaking (Peter Mensah). Predaking is uninterested in allying himself with the Autobots, content only to watch over his ruined kingdom.

But things are about to get a lot worse: On Earth, Unicron (John Noble) resurrects Megatron (Frank Welker) and inhabits and upgrades his body. Now, using Megatron as his ultimate weapon, Unicron sets out to complete his life's mission: the complete and utter destruction of Cybertron.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"The Expendables 3" (2014)

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Mel Gibson
Written by Sylvester Stallone, Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt
Directed by Patrick Hughes
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 126 Minutes

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) has a crisis of conscience after a CIA-sponsored mission goes sour. With his friend and teammate Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) wounded and in the hospital, Ross disbands the Expendables and plans to go after the man responsible: Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a former teammate Ross thought he'd killed years earlier.

With the help of a recruiter named Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer), Ross recruits a new generation of Expendables: Smilee (Kellan Lutz), Luna (Ronda Rousey), Thorn (Glen Powell) and Mars (Victor Ortiz). Ross' CIA contact, Drummer (Harrison Ford), wants Stonebanks brought in alive. When their capture op goes sour and Stonebanks ends up with the new team as hostages, the old Expendables, Christmas (Jason Statham), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren) and Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) along with wild-eyed newcomer Galgo (Antonio Banderas) decide to get the band back together.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Jurassic Park III" (2001)

Starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy and Tea Leoni
Written by Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Directed by Joe Johnston
Rated PG-13 - Language, violence
Running Time: 93 Minutes

Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) continues his research into velociraptors, years after his ordeal on Isla Nublar. But while the public is still fascinated with the living dinosaurs on Isla Sorna, Grant prefers to focus on actual fossils rather than "theme-park monsters" as he describes them. One day, he's approached by a wealthy businessman named Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) who offers to pay Grant a large sum of money to guide Kirby and his wife Amanda (Tea Leoni) on a sight-seeing tour of Isla Sorna. Grant is convinced to go along by his research assistant, Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola).

But when they reach the island, Grant discovers that Kirby is in fact not a wealthy entrepreneur but a simple hardware store owner. It seems his son, Eric (Trevor Morgan) was lost on the island during an illegal parasailing adventure. Now Kirby has gathered a team to try and find Eric. But with their own plane destroyed, Grant, Brennan and the Kirby's are now trapped on the island as well, hunted by a fearsome new predator: the "Spinosaurus."

"The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997)

Starring Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore and Vince Vaughn
Written by David Koepp
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 129 Minutes

Four years after the disaster on Isla Nublar, scientist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) lives in disgrace. Chewed up and spit out by the corporate PR machine after going public with his experiences at Jurassic Park, Malcolm is reluctant to take on another trip for InGen founder John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). But when he discovers that Hammond has sent Malcolm's girlfriend, paleontologist Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) to "Site B," another island full of genetically-engineered dinosaurs, he has little choice.

Malcolm gathers the rest of Hammon's small team including wildlife photographer Nick van Owen (Vince Vaughn) and equipment specialist Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) and heads to the island to rescue Sarah. But no sooner have they arrived do they discover that Hammond's nephew, Peter Ludlow, a rival at InGen, has unleashed a full-fledged hunting expedition on the island to capture dinosaurs for a new zoo park in San Diego.

Determined to allow the animals their freedom to develop naturally on their own without human interference, Malcolm and the others try to stop the hunters' plans, only to find that both groups are being hunted by the island's most dangerous and territorial predators: the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (2014)

Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett and William Fichtner
Written by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Rated PG-13 - Language, violence
Running Time: 101 Minutes

April O'Neil (Megan Fox) is a young reporter for Channel 6 News who is tired of doing fluff pieces. She's much more interested in covering the crime wave sweeping through New York City and unmasking the mysterious Foot Clan that has the city's populace and politicians frightened. One night, April is among the hostages taken by the Foot in a subway attack, and is again rescued by someone or some thing. She races up to the rooftop and discovers that the mysterious vigilantes fighting back against the foot are actually four massive, mutant turtles: Leonardo (Pete Ploszek doing motion capture, voice of Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard).

The turtles and their master, Splinter (Danny Woodburn doing motion capture, voice of Tony Shalhoub) live underground in the sewers. The turtles train to be the protectors of the citizens of New York.

Meanwhile, billionaire scientist Eric Sachs (William Fichtner) has secretly partnered with the Foot's leader, Shredder (Tohoru Masmune) to renew a decades-old plan that will make Sachs incredibly rich and bring the Foot back into the world terrorism stage in a big way. And the only ones that stand in the way are four teenage mutant ninja turtles.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Tomorrow, When the War Began" (2010)

Starring Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Deniz Akdeniz
Written and directed by Stuart Beattie
Rated R - Violence, language
Running Time: 104 Minutes

Ellie (Caitlin Stasey), Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood), her boyfriend Kevin (Lincoln Lewis), Ellie's neighbor Homer (Deniz Akdeniz), Fiona (Phoebe Tonki) and their friends Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings) and Lee (Chris Pang), head off into the woods for a weekend camping trip. Out of cellular range and hidden miles from any road, they spend several bliss-filled days out in the Australian wilderness before returning home to make a shocking discovery: their country has been invaded, and their town captured by enemy forces.

Moving from home to home to keep from being spotted by the enemy, the group struggles to come up with a plan for their next move. They split into teams and head into town to gather information. Ellie, Corrie and Kevin discover the townspeople have been rounded up in the center of town where a local festival was to take place. When they return in the morning, they learn that Lee has been shot and is stuck in town.

Taking charge, Ellie plans a daring rescue. The teens realize now that their vacation is over... it's time to go to war.

"How I Live Now" (2013)

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland and Harley Bird
Written by Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni and Penelope Skinner
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
Rated R - Violence, language, sex
Running Time: 101 Minutes

Daisy (Saoirse Ronan), an American, arrives in England to spend the summer with her cousins. At first they don't much get along. Daisy likes to spend her time listening to music and looks upon her cousins' simple farm life with disdain. Eventually, she begins to warm to them and even become friendly. The group, consisting of young Piper (Harley Bird) and her older brothers Isaac (Tom Holland) and Eddie (George MacKay), spend their days swimming and having fun. Daisy finds herself attracted to kind-hearted Eddie.

But all the while, the world is devolving into chaos. One day during a picnic, the kids hear a loud boom and ash begins to fall from the sky. A third World War has begun, and England has been bombed and invaded. The kids decide to remain in their home, but are soon removed forcibly by English troops and split up. As the situation grows more dire every day, Daisy and Piper vow to make their way home to find Eddie and Isaac, whatever it takes.

"The Last Days" (2013)

Starring Quim Guitierrez, Jose Coronado and Marta Etura
Written and directed by David and Alex Pastor
Rated R - Violence, language, nudity
Running Time: 100 Minutes

Marc (Quim Guitierrez) can't go home. No one can. For three months, Marc has lived in his office in Barcelona, Spain, where he was a computer programmer. It has been months since the onset of 'the Panic,' a strange affliction that manifests itself as deadly anxiety attacks whenever someone goes outside.

Everyone in the building takes turns going down to the basement to help dig a tunnel into the nearby subway line. Marc's goal is to get home to his girlfriend, Julia (Marta Etura). To that end, he makes a deal with Enrique (Jose Coronado) when he discovers that Enrique has stolen a GPS unit from a car in the building's underground parking lot.

Together, Marc and Enrique set out through the city's subway and sewer tunnels, hoping to make it first to Marc's apartment building to find Julia and then to a hospital in another part of town where Enrique hopes to find his ailing father.

"Starship Troopers: Invasion" (2012)

Starring Luci Christian, Justin Doran and David Matranga
Written by Flint Dille
Directed by Shinji Aramaki
Rated R - Violence, language, nudity
Running Time: 88 Minutes

Fort Casey, a station built into the side of an asteroid, has been infested with bugs. The starship John A. Warden, under the command of Captain Carmen Ibanez (Luci Christian) is sent on a rescue mission. But when a squad of infantry arrives on the base to evacuate the survivors, Ibanez is relieved of command by her old 'friend' Carl Jenkins (Justin Doran) who takes the starship and abandons Ibanez and her marines. They're soon rescued by the starship Alesia, and receive orders from General Johnny Rico (David Matranga) to track down the John A. Warden.

When they find it, the ship is adrift in space, with no sign of life aboard. The marines, led by disgraced Major Varro (David Wald) lead the boarding party, along with Ibanez. Soon enough, the marines discover why the ship is dead: the bugs have taken over and slaughtered the crew. Worse, they find that a queen bug has gained control of the vessel and plans to take it back to Earth. Trapped on board with no hope of rescue after the queen destroys the Alesia, Ibanez, Varro and the marines realize that stopping an invasion of Earth might just be a suicide mission.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

"Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)

Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista
Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Directed by James Gunn
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 122 Minutes

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a thief. Kidnapped from Earth at a young age, Peter, now calling himself "Star-Lord," has come to a long-abandoned world where he hopes to find a mysterious artifact he was hired to return to the planet Xandar.

He soon learns that this orb is wanted by other powers in the galaxy: specifically Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who has made a contract to find the orb for galactic tyrant Thanos (Josh Brolin). Ronan sends Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to Xandar to intercept Peter and retrieve the orb from him, but the two are set upon by bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a genetically engineered raccoon, and Groot (Vin Diesel), a powerful sentient... tree.

Captured by the Nova Corps, a galactic police force, Peter, Gamora, Rocket and Groot are sent to the space prison known as the Kyln. There, they meet Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) another inmate who has sworn vengeance against Ronan for killing his family. Together, this group of freaks, losers and misfits realizes they hold the key to stopping Ronan and Thanos' plans for galactic domination. They might hate each other, but if any of them are going to get out alive, they'll need each other.

And so will the rest of the galaxy.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

'Star Trek: The Next Generation - Chain of Command' [Blu-Ray] (1992)

Starring Patrick Stewart, David Warner and Ronny Cox
Written by Ronald D. Moore, story by Frank Abatemarco
Directed by Robert Scheerer (Part I) and Les Landau (Part II)

Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is stunned when Admiral Necheyev (Natalia Nogulich) relieves him of his command of the starship Enterprise. But he quickly learns that she needs him to participate in a top-secret mission: Picard must infiltrate Cardassian space and destroy a dangerous new kind of biological weapon Necheyev believes is being developed there.

Picard is replaced aboard the Enterprise by Captain Edward Jellicho (Ronny Cox) who quickly finds himself at odds with Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes). While the crew struggles to adjust to Jellicho's command style and demands, Picard readies his team. He'll be going behind the lines with Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn).

But once their mission is underway, they learn the unfortunate truth: the whole thing is a ruse. Now, Cardassian forces are massing near the border in response to what could be an act of war on the part of the Federation. At the same time, Picard finds himself at the mercy of Gul Madred (David Warner), who is tasked with obtaining vital information about Starfleet tactical plans from Picard at any cost.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Sharknado 2: The Second One" (2014)

Starring Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and Vivica A. Fox
Written by Thunder Levin
Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante
Unrated - Violence, language
Running Time: 90 minutes

Fin (Ian Ziering) and his wife April (Tara Reid) are headed to New York City for a book signing. En route, their plane encounters a storm... full of sharks. Forced to take action again, Fin takes control of the plane after the pilots are killed, but April is injured in the ensuing chaos.

Arriving in the city, Fin seeks to locate his family including his sister Ellen (Kari Wuhrer) and her husband Martin (Mark McGrath). But of course, all hell is breaking loose. With superstorms approaching the city, New York finds itself under siege by sharks falling from the sky. With Manhattan in a panic, Fin must take control and figure out how to save everyone... including Matt Lauer.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Lucy" (2014)

Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and Choi Min-sik
Written and directed by Luc Besson
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 89 Minutes

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is an American in Taipei who is forced by her boyfriend to deliver a briefcase to a man named Jang (Choi Min-sik). Inside this briefcase is a new synthetic drug that Jang's organization wants to smuggle to various countries around the world. To that end, they have kidnapped several other young people, cut them open and stuffed packets of this drug into their bellies and sent them on their way - unwilling drug mules, and they've decided Lucy will play that role, too.

But when Lucy denies the sexual advances of one of Jang's men, he kicks her in the stomach, rupturing the pouch and pouring the drug into her bloodstream. Amazingly, instead of killing her it begins to transform her. As the drug allows her to access more and more of her brain's unknown capacities, she gains more knowledge and otherworldly powers to match. Teaming up with a French police captain, Del Rio (Amr Waked) and a kindly professor of neuroscience named Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman), Lucy attempts to understand her transformation long enough to dismantle Jang's drug-smuggling operation and stop her body from breaking down.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Homefront" (2013)

Starring Jason Statham, James Franco and Kate Bosworth
Written by Sylvester Stallone
Directed by Gary Fieder
Rated R - Violence, strong language, brief sexuality
Running Time: 100 Minutes

Former DEA agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) and his daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) move to a sleepy southern town in Louisiana following the death of Maddy's mother. Trouble starts soon enough, however, when Maddy beats up a young schoolyard bully. The boy's mother, Cassie (Kate Bosworth), decides she can't let this stand and gets her brother Gator (James Franco) to put the fear into Broker and Maddy.

Gator happens to be a small-time meth dealer looking to make it big. Broker's friend Tito (Omar Benson Miller) warns him about Gator and his family. Broker makes several attempts to patch things over with Cassie, which are ultimately successful.

But things go from bad to worse when Gator realizes that Broker helped put a biker named Danny T behind bars, and that Danny T blames Broker for his son's death. Through his girlfriend Sheryl (Winona Ryder), Gator sets up a deal for Danny T's boys to come kill Gator and Maddy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Snowpiercer" (2013)

Starring Chris Evans, Song Kang-Ho and Jamie Bell
Written by Bong Joon-Ho and Kelly Masterson
Directed by Bong Joon-Ho
Rated R - Violence, strong language
Running Time: 126 Minutes

In 2031, seventeen years after the world was devastated by a failed experiment to reverse global warming, the human survivors live on a special train that continuously circles the globe. People in the front live a decadent life of parties, good food and endless comfort. People in the back live in a world of darkness, being fed rationed protein bars each day at the whim of brutal guards.

Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) lives in the tail section. With his friend Edgar (Jamie Bell) and mentor Gilliam (John Hurt), Curtis is planning a revolution: he'll take a group of men forward and seize the engine at the front of the train, which is operated by a mysterious man known as Wilford.

Between Curtis and his objective are dozens of cars filled with guards who will not hesitate to use lethal force, and leaders who will not allow him to upset their delicate balance.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Trails: "Star Trek Into Darkness"

An Experiment: I'd like to take a look at the advertising campaigns for certain movies, and how I feel they're either successful or not. A good place to start, in my mind, was 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness

The Film:
I like Star Trek Into Darkness. In fact, I like it more each time I see it. I'm a huge Star Trek fan, and I loved the 2009 film, so I was predisposed to see this one. But I have to admit, the advertising campaign for the film did little to entice me. I had to rely on my general feeling of excitement about new Star Trek to really feel much of anything before the film was released.

Let's talk about why.

The Posters:
First we have this rather apocalyptic shot of Benedict Cumberbatch, San Francisco burning behind him. "Earth will fall," we are told. 
Next up, one of the film's general release posters featuring the Enterprise crashing toward the Earth. This image was also featured on the soundtrack album cover and some of the home video release covers.
Four character posters released separately and in one large banner featuring Kirk, Uhura, Spock and Khan. 
Another banner poster. There were a lot of similar posters featuring the characters in dramatic action poses.

So what about these posters is problematic? Personally, I don't think they represent either the film or Star Trek all that well. Aside from the bold colors on the third poster, all of these images are fairly generic. Removing the Star Trek Into Darkness logo and one might not even guess from some of them that this is a Star Trek film.

But posters aren't really the most egregious part of this film's dull advertising campaign.

The Trailers:

What do these trailers do? Their major crime is that when you think about it, they really do kind of give away the entire film. All those shots of the ship crashing into San Francisco? The shots of Spock and Khan in San Francisco? The Enterprise falling apart as it enters the atmosphere? 

All that stuff is from the climax of the film. In their hopes of giving us the big money shots that will lure us into the theatre, the trailer editors did us a disservice because now we've seen a little bit of literally every major sequence in the movie. The film's major plot twist was one of the worst-kept secrets on the Internet in 2013, and the "kitchen sink" approach to the trailers wasn't helping anyone.

It's a problem too many movies suffer from these days - the trailer has almost become a condensed version of the film itself, rather than something designed to get us interested in seeing it. 

Coming out of the film, I found myself frowning, thinking about how the trailers had really shown me a lot of what I had just seen, and I didn't feel surprised about it. My general reaction to the movie was, "That's about what I expected." When I saw the film a second time, I enjoyed it a lot more. 

Star Trek Into Darkness is definitely an action film, no doubt about it. But it is also a Star Trek film, steeped in the lore of that universe as well as its common themes and social commentary. It is a bit darker than its 2009 predecessor, but it's also a colorful movie full of humor. Very little of that is represented in the posters or the trailers for the film, and worse, the trailers essentially give away all the big sequences. (And, hell, some of Benedict Cumberbatch's ominous lines aren't even in the movie.) Why should anyone bother to see the film after that? I went because I love Star Trek and because I had faith the team behind the 2009 film had made another movie I would enjoy, but not because of the advertising campaign.

I approached the movie with trepidation because of these factors. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (2014)

Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke and Toby Kebbell
Written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
Directed by Matt Reeves
Rated PG-13 - Violence, strong language, frightening images
Running Time: 131 Minutes

Ten years have passed since Caesar (Andy Serkis) led his revolt of genetically enhanced apes and retreated into the forests outside of San Francisco. While the apes set up their peaceful new society in seclusion, the outside world plunged into chaos: the sickness born from the same experimental drug that gave Caesar and his friends their enhanced intelligence ravages the human population, killing millions. Now, Caesar wonders if there are any humans left at all.

He's soon answered when a party of survivors from San Francisco, trekking through the forest to a nearby dam in hopes of reviving it for electrical power, stumbles across the apes and wounds one of them. Malcolm (Jason Clarke) returns to San Francisco and tells Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) that the damn will work, if only the apes will let them through their territory to do the necessary repairs. He takes a couple of men along with his wife Ellie (Kerri Russell) and son Alex (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and negotiates with Caesar.

Malcolm finds much in common with Caesar, who leads the apes but also looks to protect his family and friends, and the two begin to bond. But Kobo (Toby Kebbell), one of Caesar's friends and advisors, spent much of his life being tortured and experimented on by humans, and doesn't trust them. When he discovers that Dreyfus is arming the human colony for war despite Malcom's pleas for peace, he begins to clash with Caesar. With hatred and mistrust on both sides, Malcolm and Caesar realize that they may be the only ones who can stop the coming war.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Season 6 [Blu-Ray] (1992)

Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner
Created by Gene Roddenberry
Executive Producers Rick Berman and Michael Piller

Screencap by
The starship Enterprise continues its adventures patrolling the outer reaches of space, safeguarding the Federation and discovering strange new lifeforms. This sixth season contains some true high points, such as the second of the two-part episode "Chain of Command," but also some real lows - like the Troi-centric and painfully bad "Man of the People."

The first season produced entirely after the death of series creator Gene Roddenberry, Season Six shows the writers breaking out into some new territories that they had been forbidden to approach previously. A few familiar faces return, including John De Lancie's trickster Q in two episodes, Robert O'Reilly as Gowron, as well as Data's twin brother, Lore (Brent Spiner).

Though there are a few episodes that aren't up to snuff, the show is still firing hard when it gets going. Episodes like "Tapestry," "Chain of Command, Part II," "Starship Mine," "Lessons," "The Chase," and "Face of the Enemy" are examples of a show that, even six years in, still knows how to craft a top-notch hour of television... even if it is uneven, as a whole.

Monday, June 30, 2014

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" (2014)

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Peter Cullen and Stanley Tucci
Written by Ehren Kruger
Directed by Michael Bay
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 165 Minutes

Five years have passed since the Autobots defended Earth from Sentinel Prime and Megatron's attempt to transform Earth into a new Cybertron and enslave its human population. But despite their victory and heroic defense of Earth, the Autobots have been branded dangerous by the United States government.

Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) leads a CIA operation to hunt down and destroy remaining Decepticons on Earth. But what Attinger hasn't told his superiors is that with the help of a non-alligned transformer named Lockdown (Mark Ryan), his CIA team is also hunting down and killing the Autobots.

In Texas, struggling inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) purchases a beat-up old truck and tows it back to his workshop where he discovers it's actually a gravely wounded Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). Prime tells Yeager that he's hiding from humans out to kill him, barely having survived an ambush in Mexico. Cade is willing to help Prime, but his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) is afraid and begs Cade to call the government. Instead, his friend Lucas (TJ Miller) does it for them. A CIA team led by James Savoy (Titus Welliver) arrives and threatens to kill Cade and his daughter if they don't give up Optimus Prime.

Cade and Tessa are rescued by Shane (Jack Reynor), Tessa's boyfriend, and the three go on the run with Prime. The group meets up with surviving Autobots Hound (John Goodman!), Bumblebee, Drift (Ken Watanabe), and Leadfoot and Crosshairs (both voiced by John DiMaggio). They soon discover that the transformers killed by Lockdown are taken to facilities owned by Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) who has unlocked the secret of the transformers shape-shifting abilities.

Joyce has constructed his own transformers, and while Cade struggles to learn the truth and figure out a way to protect his daughter, Optimus Prime wonders whether he should even bother protecting humans anymore.

Friday, June 20, 2014

"22 Jump Street" (2014)

Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube
Written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Rated R - Violence, strong language, drug use, sexual references
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Trailer (red band)

Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are back on the streets, trying to infiltrate a drug operation run by a major player named Ghost (Peter Stormare) that uses encoded messages in online college lecture videos. Unfortunately, Ghost escapes their bust and the deputy chief (Nick Offerman) decides to reassign the two back to the Jump Street undercover unit, now located at another, larger abandoned church across the street from their old HQ.

Once again under the command of Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), Jenko and Schmidt are ordered to go undercover at the local university to root out the source of another dangerous synthetic drug. Posing, again, as brothers, even using the same cover names as their high school adventure, the two enroll at college and almost immediately find themselves in the same shit, different day.

Continually ordered to merely do what they did before, the two cops find themselves unable to crack the case. Worse, Jenko has begun to bond with the quarterback of the school's football team, causing stress on his partnership with Schmidt. Schmidt, meanwhile, has fallen for Maya (Amber Stevens) and run afoul of her acidic roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell) and her father... Captain Dickson.

But the boys are back at it, with a bigger budget and bigger stakes. Jump Street is on the case.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

'Arrow' Season Two (2013)

Starring Stephen Amell, David Ramsey and Emily Bett Rickards
Developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg

In the wake of the Undertaking that nearly destroyed Starling City, causing many deaths including that of his best friend, billionaire playboy and secret vigilante Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has retreated from the public eye. When his company is threatened with a takeover, his friends and allies John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) convince him to return. He soon finds that Starling City has changed, and not perhaps for the better, even with two new vigilantes on the scene: Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), a young street tough who also happens to be dating Oliver's sister, Thea (Willa Holland); and the mysterious Canary that Oliver is surprised to learn is Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz), who was marooned years earlier with Oliver on the island that forged him into a warrior.

But Sarah has taken a darker path than Oliver, having fallen in with the League of Assassins. Slowly, Oliver attempts to convince her that killing isn't the only way to fight crime in Starling. At the same time, Sarah attempts to reintegrate with her family, the family that was torn apart by her supposed 'death' years earlier. Her sister, Laurel (Katie Cassidy), has lost her job as an attorney and is spiraling into alcoholism, and her father Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) has been demoted from detective back to patrol officer.

Oliver's family life is just as complicated, with his mother (Susanna Thompson) imprisoned for her role in the Undertaking, and Thea struggles with the revelation of the identity of her true biological father.

All the while, a new danger is brewing in Starling City: Another refugee from the island, long thought dead, has returned seeking vengeance on Oliver and Sarah. Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), the man who trained Oliver to fight, believes Oliver to be responsible for the death of the woman he loved, and he'll stop at nothing to make sure Oliver pays for that. And he's got an army of super-strong psychopaths ready to do anything he orders.

The city is falling once more into chaos, and only Oliver, Sarah, Diggle and the others stand in the way.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Edge of Tomorrow" (2014)

Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton
Written by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth
Directed by Doug Liman
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language, frightening images
Running Time: 113 Minutes

After a meteor strike in the middle of Germany unleashes an unstoppable alien force, the world's military might is on the brink. The "mimics" as they are known have taken over most of Europe, leaving only the UK on one side and Russia on the other. A major invasion is planned, with forces from the world's remaining military ready to storm Europe from all sides and meet in the middle.

Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a former marketing exec essentially drafted after the start of the war, is now in charge of the media campaign to get volunteers to sign up for the invasion. But on the eve of battle, he's ordered by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) to be embedded with the troops to document the invasion personally. He refuses, vehemently. He's arrested, charged as a deserter and dumped into a combat squad as a new recruit.

Unfortunately for Cage, he's no soldier - his rank is mostly honorary, he doesn't even know how to turn the safety off on his weapons. Within minutes of landing on the beach, it's obvious that the entire invasion is a failure. The mimics were somehow aware of the invasion plans, and every soldier on the beach is slaughtered - including Cage, who manages to die somewhat heroically by taking out an "Alpha," a rare sort of mimic. Its blood mixes with his and...

...he wakes up the previous morning, repeating the same events. Again and again and again, Cage goes into battle, is killed, and wakes up to do it all over. He soon meets Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), one of the few surviving heroes of the war who explains that she went through a similar experience earlier. Together, the two of them realize that knowledge of the future gives them the same advantage as the mimics - to keep at it until they get it right, and win the war.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014)

Starring Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender
Written by Simon Kinberg
Directed by Bryan Singer
Rated PG-13 - Language, sci-fi violence and peril
Running Time: 131 Minutes

In a dark future, mutants and humans have been hunted nearly to extinction by robots known as Sentinels. Nearly indestructible, with the ability to absorb and adapt the powers of any mutant, they have spread across the globe exterminating not only the mutant race, but any human that might one day give birth to a mutant or whose lineage may eventually lead to one.

A surviving band of mutants led by Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen) escape to the mountains of China to hide. They discover that one of their own, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has the ability to send the consciousness of another mutant several days into the past, alerting themselves to threats in the future. But Xavier has a new, bolder plan - to send someone much farther back, decades even, to avert this disastrous timeline and save humanity. It all started, he says, when Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) murdered Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), creator of the Sentinels.

Pryde warns that a trip that far back would wreak havoc on any mind, so the only mutant capable of recovering from it steps up to the plate: Logan, the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman).

Arriving in 1973, just before a peace summit in France that is to end America's involvement in the Vietnam war, Logan tracks down the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and finds him a broken man. After the war in Vietnam took most of his students and even some of his teachers, Charles closed his school and retreated into self-pity, with only Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) to watch over him. Hank has nearly perfected his mutant gene suppression serum, allowing Charles to walk again but robbing him of his fantastic mental abilities.

Once Logan has recruited Charles and Hank, there's one more piece to the puzzle before he can complete his mission: He needs the young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to help him and Charles convince Mystique to avert her plan to kill Trask. But that will prove harder than anyone anticipates: After all these years, Charles and Erik have the same goals but two drastically different philosophies on how to achieve them.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Godzilla" (2014)

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe and Elizabeth Olsen
Written by Max Borenstein
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Rated PG-13 - Frightening imagery, violence, peril, language
Running Time: 123 Minutes

In 1999, a mysterious discovery is made in a mine in the Phillippines. Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) investigates and discovers a massive fossil underground, but also makes another startling discovery: a large spore of some unknown creature, fully intact. But a second spore seems recently hatched, and the larva has disappeared.

Fifteen years later, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) heads to Japan after learning that his crackpot father Joe (Bryan Cranston) has been arrested trespassing in a nuclear quarantine zone. Joe is convinced that the government is covering something up inside the zone, and claims the proof is inside their old home there.

He manages to convince Ford to help him get into the quarantine zone to find the data he needs, but the two are arrested and brought to the remains of the plant where they're made aware of the truth: The larva that Serizawa was searching for fed on the radiation from the reactor, causing the meltdown. It cocooned itself, feeding on the radioactive remnants, and has been growing ever since.

Now it's hatched, causing death and devastation wherever it goes. But it's not the only problem: The military has been tracking the reappearance of another monster, one called Godzilla. The military wants to kill it, but Serizawa isn't sure they can -- or if they should. He wonders, is Godzilla here to destroy us, or to save us?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Godzilla Raids Again" (1955)

Starring Hiroshi Koizumi, Setsuko Wakayama and Minoru Chiaki
Written by Shigeaka Hidaka and Takeo Murata
Directed by Motoyoshi Oda
Not Rated - Violence, peril
Running Time: 82 Minutes

Note: This is a review of the US version of the film, which features a number of differences from the original Japanese version, detailed here

 Two pilots, Tsukioka (Hiroshi Koizumi) and Kobayashi (Minoru Chiaki) are forced to make an emergency landing on a mysterious island near Osaka, Japan, after Kobayashi's plane suffers a malfunction. While resting themselves on the beach, they are witness to an incredible sight: a fight between two gigantic monsters.

The two pilots make their way back to civilization and tell the tale, and once again, Japan is gripped with fear over the kaiju menace. An archaeologist, Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura), explains that millions of years ago, fire creatures roamed the earth. They were of the Anguiris family, and now slumber only to be awoken by radioactive fallout.

Soon enough, though the government prepares as best it can, the creature they're calling "Gigantis" makes its way ashore in Osaka and proceeds to wreck up the place. Now Tsukioka and Kobayashi join a fleet of fighter pilots to concoct a desperate plan to destroy Gigantis and save Japan once more.

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Young Justice" - Season One (2010)

Starring Nolan North, Jesse McCartney and Khary Payton
Created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman
Based on the DC Comics characters

Teenage sidekicks Dick 'Robin' Grayson (Jesse McCartney), Wally 'Kid Flash' West (Jason Spisak), Kaldur-ahm 'Aqualad' (Khary Payton), and Roy 'Speedy' Harper (Crispin Freeman) think they're the next generation of the Justice League. But on the big day when they're supposed to be inducted, the adult heroes of the League tell them to wait in the lobby. Furious, Speedy strikes out on his own, determined to become a hero in his own right, out from under the shadow of Green Arrow/Ollie Queen (Alan Tudyk).

When they hear of a fire at a scientific facility called Cadmus, Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad decide to investigate, against the orders of Batman (Bruce Greenwood). Discovering a massive underground facility full of strange creatures, they dig deeper and discover something called "Project Kr" - a clone of Superman (Nolan North). After liberating 'Superboy' from Cadmus and freeing the other genetic slaves there, the young heroes are rewarded by the Justice League as Batman orders the formation of a new team to be sent on clandestine recon missions for the older heroes.

They're joined at Mount Justice by M'gann M'orzz 'Miss Martian' (Danica McKellar), supposedly the niece of Martian Manhunter (Kevin Michael Richardson), and Artemis Crock (Stephanie Lemelin), supposedly the niece of Green Arrow. Supervised by the android hero Red Tornado (Jeff Bennett), sent on missions by Batman, the team must first overcome their own inability to work together before they can mature into the heroes their mentors hope they'll one day become.

To do that, they have to trust each other. But how can they trust each other when there might be a mole on the team?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (2014)

Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Dane DeHaan
Written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner
Directed by Marc Webb
Rated PG-13 - Language, violence, peril
Running Time: 142 Minutes

Things are going pretty well for the amazing Spider-Man, superheroic alter ego of high school nerd Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield). Though there's a good amount of debate, New Yorkers seem to like having him around. He gets to fight crime, have a blast swinging about the city, and go home to his cool girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). But something nags at him: the promise he made to Gwen's late father that he stay away from her, for fear that his adventures as Spider-Man would put Gwen in harm's way.

After too many months of this putting strain on their relationship, Gwen finally dumps Peter just after the two graduate high school. Around the same time, Spidey saves a hapless electrical engineer named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) who becomes obsessed with Spider-Man, even thinking that the two are friends. Dillon works at Oscorp, and one night while attempting to fix an electrical problem in one of the facility's genetics labs, he falls into a vat full of genetically engineered eels. When he emerges, he discovers that he, too, has fantastic powers - the ability to absorb and control electricity.

Meanwhile, Peter's old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), son of billionaire and founder of Oscorp Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), returns to the city after years at boarding school. The two old friends reconnect, and Harry makes a strange request of Peter: it seems whatever ailment killed his father is genetic, and Harry believes that Spider-Man's blood may hold the cure. But Peter fears what his genetically-altered blood might do to his friend, so he refuses.

Harry grows more and more desperate in his search for a cure, willing to make dangerous alliances that could spell doom for Spider-Man and the city of New York.

Friday, May 2, 2014

"Godzilla" (1954)

Starring Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi and Akihito Hirata
Written by Ishiro Honda and Takeo Murata
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Running Time: 96 Minutes

Off the coast of Japan, fishing boats begin to go missing. Survivors are soon found - wounded, delirious, telling stories of a gigantic monster that attacked them. The fishing community of Odo Island is hit by what is first assumed to be a typhoon - but the survivors describe a massive creature stomping their homes.

The country's eminent scientist, Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura) heads an expedition back to Odo Island and makes startling discoveries: Gigantic footprints that are radioactive, and a living specimen of a trilobite, which should have gone extinct millions of years ago. As Yamane and his daughter Emiko (Momoko Kochi), along with her lover, a salvage ship captain named Ogata (Akira Takarada) investigate, Godzilla appears once more.

Soon enough, Japan is gripped by fear. What is this creature? Where did it come from? Most importantly: How can it be stopped? The answer may lie in the research of Emiko's fiance, Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata)... who doesn't yet know that Emiko is really in love with Ogata.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014)

Starring Chris Evens, Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie
Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 136 Minutes

Steve 'Captain America' Rogers (Chris Evans) has settled into his new life in the 21st century. As an agent of SHIELD, he works for Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who sends Cap, Natasha 'Black Widow' Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and SHIELD's "Strike" unit out on missions. During one such particular mission to liberate a SHIELD boat from pirates, Cap discovers Natasha had an objective Fury kept secret from him: to extract information from the ship's computers.

Back in the US, Fury discovers that even he is locked out of the information Natasha recovered. When Cap demands to know why Fury kept the mission secret from him, Fury reveals the existence of Project: Insight - a fleet of heavily-armed helicarriers capable of locating and eliminating targets anywhere in the world.

Not long after, Fury is attacked by the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), a mysterious assassin that no one seems to know the true identity of. He seeks Cap's help, but before he can reveal his concerns, Winter Soldier reappears and finishes the job. Cap is soon brought before Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), who demands to know why Fury went to see him. But Cap proves unwilling to reveal what Fury told him, and soon enough, Cap is branded a fugitive.

Not sure who to trust, Cap recruits Black Widow and Sam 'Falcon' Wilson (Anthony Mackie). Hunted by SHIELD, the team traces the source of the computer information that got Fury killed. What they find reveals a conspiracy that burns right in the heart of SHIELD itself, putting the entire world at risk.

And nipping at their heels the entire time is the Winter Soldier. Who is he? Who does he work for? What is his part in all this? Captain America may not live long enough to find out.

Monday, March 31, 2014

'Stargate SG-1' - Season 2 (1998)

Starring Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks and Amanda Tapping
Developed by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner
See Also: Stargate reviews

When last we left the members of SG-1, the team had defied orders to stop an impending alien attack on Earth only to find themselves trapped aboard the enemy ship in orbit. Colonel O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), Captain Carter (Amanda Tapping), Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) and Teal'c (Christopher Judge) are now prisoners of Apophis (Peter Williams) and his son Klorel who has possessed O'Neill's young friend Skaara (Alexis Cruz).

With time running out before the ships attack Earth, the team is surprised to find an ally among Apophis' army of Jaffa - Bra'tac (Tony Amendola), whose own plan to stop the attack is thwarted by SG-1's arrival.

Over the next year, SG-1 and their allies will travel to more new worlds and find themselves in a variety of new adventures as the battle against the evil Goa'uld continues. New alliances are forged with the mysterious Tok'ra, an offshoot of the Goa'uld who oppose the conquering ways of their brethren, and with the Asgard - little gray beings who use their advanced technology to protect humans whenever possible.

But these new friends might not be enough to save Earth from the increasingly frustrated Goa'uld. Defeating Apophis has proven to the enemy that Earth is a force to be reckoned with and the other powerful System Lords aren't about to let it go unanswered.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

'Stargate SG-1' - Season 1 (1997)

Starring Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks and Amanda Tapping
Developed by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner
See Also: Stargate reviews

A year after the events of the "Stargate" film, the alien transportation device remains inactive in a US Air Force base in Colorado. But one day it activates, and alien invaders step through. The invaders kill several of the guards standing watch over the stargate, and kidnap another. The man now in charge of the base, General George Hammond (Don S. Davis) brings Colonel Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) out of retirement in his search for answers.

O'Neill reveals that, despite his report to the contrary, he left Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) alive on the alien world Abydos a year earlier instead of having detonated a massive nuclear device that was supposed to wipe the planet clean of the threat to Earth. Now, searching for their kidnapped colleague, O'Neill leads a team back to Abydos. He's joined by Captain Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), one of the Air Force's most brilliant astrophysicists and a leading expert on the stargate technology.

On Abydos, Jackson reveals to O'Neill and Carter that Ra was not the only alien posing as an ancient Egyptian god. There are a whole race of beings known as Goa'uld, parasites who take human hosts and subjugate worlds across the entire galaxy.

Not long after their arrival on Abydos and reunion with Jackson, the Goa'uld's alien warriors, known as Jaffa, arrive once more. This time, they kidnap Jackson's wife Sha're (Vaitiare Bandera) and her brother Skaara (Alexis Cruz). Jackson begs to join O'Neill in the search, and Hammond allows the team to follow the aliens back to their homeworld. There, they encounter a Jaffa named Teal'c (Christopher Judge) who believes that the Goa'uld are, in fact, not gods as they claim. Teal'c helps O'Neill and the others escape, but they are unable to recover Sha're and Skaara.

Under the leadership of Hammond, a number of teams are created with the purpose of traveling through the stargate to explore alien worlds, find alien technology and allies to help defend Earth against the Goa'uld. O'Neill, Jackson, Carter and Teal'c are the front line team, SG-1, defending our world in secret from certain doom.

"Stargate" (1994)

Starring James Spader, Kurt Russell and Jaye Davidson
Written by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 128 Minutes

Disgraced archaeologist Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) is given the chance of a lifetime when the United States Air Force hires him to translate a set of mysterious hieroglyphics found on a set of stones decades earlier in Egypt. Beneath those stones, Jackson learns, was an alien device also covered in strange symbols.

When Jackson discovers that the symbols are star constellations, the Air Force is able to activate the device that Jackson translates as "stargate" and use it to travel across the universe to an alien world. A special forces team led by Colonel Jack O'Neil (Kurt Russell) makes the trek to this strange new world, taking Jackson along with them.

Once on the other side, however, they discover that their ride home won't be as simple: Jackson can't locate the symbols he needs in order to dial the stargate back to Earth. The team finds that the humans of this world are slaves who still worship the Egyptian sun god, Ra (Jaye Davidson). They are led by Kasuf (Erick Avari), who is devout in his belief that Ra is a god, and is also frightened beyond reason by him.

Kasuf's daughter, Sha'uri (Mili Avital) is given to Jackson as a gift, and the two begin to fall for each other. Kasuf's son Skaara (Alexis Cruz) forms a bond with O'Neil, who has recently lost his own son.

When Ra appears to collect his latest shipment of ore from his slaves, Jackson, O'Neil and the team are drawn into fostering a revolution among a people who have only ever known fear, yet who dream of freedom.

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Need for Speed" (2014)

Starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper and Imogen Poots
Written by George Gatins
Directed by Scott Waugh
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language, brief nudity
Running Time: 130 Minutes

Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is a racer, but he lives squarely in the small-time. Together with his friends Benny (Scott 'Kid Cudi' Mescudi), Joe (Ramon Rodriguez), Finn (Rami Malek) and Pete (Harrison Gilbertson), he runs an auto shop in a small town in New York that used to belong to his father. Now, he's behind on his payments and the bank is threatening to foreclose. That's when Tobey is paid a visit by his longtime rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) who once stole Tobey's girlfriend and then made it into the pro-racing circuit, leaving Tobey behind in the dust.

Dino, it seems, has acquired a legendary car: the last Ford Mustang built by the famed Carroll Shelby, incomplete at the time of Shelby's death. Dino says there's no one more qualified to finish the car than Tobey, and he intends to sell it for a cool $3 million and give Tobey a cut of the profit. Desperate for the money, despite his hatred of Dino, Tobey agrees to do the work. But when Tobey steals Dino's thunder by test-driving the car for the buyer, Dino is furious and challenges Tobey to a race.

A race that kills young Pete. Dino uses his power and connections to pin the death on Tobey, who gets sentenced to two years for manslaughter. But when he gets out, Tobey has a plan. He convinces the buyer of the Mustang to let him borrow it to compete in a secret illegal street race against Dino. He gathers his old crew, and a new addition: Julia (Imogen Poots), the buyer's personal assistant, along for the ride to ensure that Tobey follows through on his promise and doesn't make off with the car.

The only problem is, they've only got 45 hours to drive the Shelby Mustang from New York to California. Not only are the cops on the lookout for Tobey, but Dino has posted an exquisite bounty on Tobey's head - a $3 million Lamborghini to whoever can stop Tobey from making it to California.