Friday, October 31, 2014

The Town That Dreaded Sundown Movie

The Town That Dreaded Sundown is an American horror film meta-sequel to the 1976 film of the same name. It was made low-budget to keep the same cinéma vérité as Charles B. Pierce's film. The film is produced by Ryan Murphy of Ryan Murphy Productions (Glee, Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story) and Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, Insidious) for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film is directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon in his feature-length directorial debut, and is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. This is one of the last films of Ed Lauter before his death on October 16, 2013. The film was released on October 16, 2014.

While at the drive-in on Halloween during the annual showing of The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Corey Holland (Spencer Treat Clark) and Jami Lerner (Addison Timlin) are watching the film. Realizing that she is not enjoying it, they decide to leave. While parked in a secluded area, they begin to talk and kiss, but Lerner sees the Phantom in the woods. They decide to leave but the Phantom breaks the window and makes them get out of the car while pointing a gun at them. He makes Holland remove his pants and lie on the ground. He tells Lerner to turn around and to not look back. The Phantom begins to slash Holland to death. Lerner runs off but is caught when she falls. He tells her, "This is for Mary. Make them remember." Lerner walks back to the drive-in and collapses. The next morning, police interview her at the hospital. Later that night, Lerner and her grandmother, Lillian (Veronica Cartwright), watch the news about the attack. Lerner asks her grandmother what she remembers from the original attacks. She researches the crimes. The next day, she visits Holland's funeral.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Kendra Collins/Thompson goes to the airport to meet her boyfriend, Daniel Torrens, returning from the military. They have sex at a motel. He leaves to get snacks from the vending machine. Kendra hears something and looks out the window. The Phantom smashes the window with her boyfriend's severed head. She jumps out of the bathroom window, breaking her leg as she lands. She limps to the car but is killed while trying to start it. Lerner receives a phone call from Holland's phone. The Phantom tells her, "I'm going to do it again and again until you make them remember." She decides to tell her police escort, Deputy Foster (Joshua Leonard), about the incident. The next day, residents secure their houses and go to a town meeting.

Lerner goes to the City Hall archives to continue her research. She is helped by Nick (Travis Tope) and they become friends. At the police station, Texas Ranger Lone Wolf Morales (Anthony Anderson) takes over the investigation. While continuing her research at home, Lerner receives an e-mail from "Texas Phantom". Lerner takes this to the police and reveals her theories but they are disproven. Nick is waiting for Jami when she returns home and he asks her out to the vigil being held for the Phantom victims. While there, the Phantom shows up and is shot down by a marine officer. The news is told to the host of a social event and they celebrate. Afterwards, band members Johnny and Roy leave the dance and is warned by Deputy Tillman (Gary Cole) to go straight home. They decide, instead, to park at a lonely junkyard. While there, they see the Phantom. Johnny runs from the car. Roy drives off but is hit in the head and crashes. Johnny is beaten and Roy gets tied up. The Phantom recreates the trombone weapon from the original film. Johnny is then shot to death before Roy is stabbed to death. The next day, Deputy Foster tells Lerner that the man that was shot down at the vigil was a suicidal teen and that there were two more murders.

Texas Ranger Morales and Chief Deputy Tillman visit Reverend Cartwright (Edward Herrmann) at his church. They discovered that he sent Lerner the e-mail, but they do not believe he is the Phantom. Nick meets up with Lerner and tells her that he found out that Charles B. Pierce's son is still alive and lives in Texarkana. Chief Deputy Tillman goes to a bar on Christmas Eve and meets up with a woman. At home, while she is giving him a blowjob, he is shot through the eye. She runs into a farm field and is killed by the Phantom.

Lerner and Nick visit Charles Pierce Jr. (Denis O'Hare) where they learn about Hank McCreedy, a sixth victim of the original Phantom whose story was forgotten. He gives his opinion that the new Phantom is Hank McCreedy's grandson, because the family is angered that McCreedy's death was not remembered. Lerner is told that Hank McCreedy's wife was named Mary. That night, Lillian finds out that Lerner was accepted to college in California. Lillian decides to move to California so she can go to school. She tells Nick she is leaving in the morning and they have sex. Nick walks home and is attacked by the Phantom. While leaving town, Lerner pulls into a gas station and walks inside. She soon hears gunshots and finds her grandmother dying by the vehicle. The Phantom is seen shooting from a window in a nearby building. Lerner runs down the street and into the old Union train station. The Phantom follows her inside and calls her phone to find her. She runs to the train tracks where she finds Nick's body. She is shot down by arrows while trying to escape. While immobile, she is confronted by two Phantom Killers. One is revealed to be Deputy Foster and the other is Holland, Lerner's "dead" boyfriend who faked his death. Deputy Foster reveals that he is McCreedy's grandson. Holland is shot and killed by Foster. While Foster is attacking Lerner, she grabs his gun and shoots him. Lerner moves on with her life and goes to college.

The Homesman 2014 Film

What more is there for Tommy Lee Jones to do with a Western? We have seen him in a cowboy hat on screen so much it is almost part of his head. To my surprise, Jones has not made a film as a director set in the Old West since the 1995 TV movie The Good Old Boys, which I have not seen. I have seen his last two films, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and HBO's The Sunset Limited, and I have come to the conclusion Jones is a very underrated director. He knows how to expertly pace a scene to bring about the maximum amount of tension. This is particularly evident in The Sunset Limited, where he and Samuel L. Jackson talk for ninety minutes, and every second of it is riveting. For his latest film, The Homesman, Jones tries to make a traditional, epic Western centered on a strong woman. However, its gender politics become increasingly confused the further along the film goes and really hinder something that could have been great.

Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) is thirty-one years old and unmarried, living alone on a farm in Nebraska. She can ride a horse, shoot a gun, cook a pie, plow a field, and just about anything else you can do on a farm. The reason for her being single is she is "too bossy", which we hear from a man she asks to marry. During a church meeting led by the town reverend (John Lithgow), we learn three wives of the locals have gone "a little funny in the head", as President Muffley would say, due to the hostile conditions of the West and a surprising amount of dead babies. Mary volunteers to take these women up to Iowa, so they can be better taken care of, now that their husbands have given up on them. On her way out, she comes across a drifter, wearing only his undergarments, sitting atop a horse with a noose around his neck (Tommy Lee Jones). In exchange for his life (and some money), she employs him to help with her journey.

The film then becomes a whole mish-mash of different genres. It is sometimes a thriller about the dangers of the Old West. It is sometimes a drama about examining Mary's psychology. It is even sometimes a buddy, road trip comedy. Jones clearly wants this film to be a big epic, covering large swaths of material and various tones, but he never can nail down one to grab hold of. Each one is executed fairly well on their own, but they never find a good flow from one to the other. We will occasionally cut to flashbacks of the three women on their roads to madness, and the jarring tonal shift to something horrific always feels off, especially if the previous scene is Jones doing something wacky. And he has his fair share of wacky scenes. I mean, there are two separate scenes where he drunkenly sings and dances like a fool.

What really hurts The Homesman is its supposed feminist angle, and the large departure the film takes away from that. Everything we have been told about Mary allows us to think she will figure out a way to maneuver her way through this long and difficult journey. However, about half-way to two-thirds of the way through the movie, the film is no longer about a strong woman. It is about a woman who redeems a man. A major thing happens at the end of the second act which is totally unbelievable for Mary to do given everything that has proceeded it and completely took me out of the rest of the movie. For an hour and half, we have been told the movie is about this one thing, and in one decision, it becomes all about a man fulfilling his duty. It is a massive issue the film, which had been very solid up until that point, can never fully come back from.

Director of photography Rodrigo Prieto captures the West and all of its dangers beautifully. When these characters are traversing through the snow, you can feel how cold and desolate the space is. Westerns often just want to go with the majestic shots (and this film certainly has those), but it also has its moments of stark, harsh reality. Also, a shot of a building on fire at night with someone silhouetted in the flame will always be beautiful.

Tommy Lee Jones did not make a bad film here. On a technical level, it is quite impressive. He was just confused about the story he wanted to tell. He tries to cover so many things, and only some reach their full potential. Then, the gender politics of everything is rather troubling, though I do not think Jones did that with bad intentions. I think it was just the way he knew how, and unfortunately, it is pretty troublesome. I had the intention of giving this film a C+ coming out of the theater, but then I remembered James Spader shows up for a scene as a snobby hotel manager with an Irish brogue. A film containing that automatically gets a bump in its grade. You know you all agree with me.

The Prince 2014 Film

It’s often an arrogant and presumptuous critical tic to reflexively refer to turkeys starring major stars as “paycheck projects,” as though venality were the only possible reason a good actor might end up in a bad film. Yet it’s hard to think of a better explanation for the presence of John Cusack and Bruce Willis in Brian A. Miller’s “The Prince.” With the latter turning in one of his least committed onscreen performances, and the former appearing to be suffering from the worst migraine of his life every second he’s on camera, it’s up to star Jason Patric to somehow salvage this basic-cable-quality actioner, yet his options are limited. A brief theatrical run seems a mere formality for the Lionsgate release, with on-demand offering more promising returns.

Set very prominently in New Orleans, though shot in Mobile, Ala., “The Prince” seems to imagine itself a sort of Cajun-seasoned take on “Taken,” tossing in a dash of “Unforgiven” and a soupcon of David Mamet’s “Spartan” for extra flavor. The results, however, are far more “Grand Theft Auto: Ninth Ward,” with rote backstories, videogame-like shootouts and repetitive, uninteresting interrogations hustling the pic through its by-the-numbers paces.

Protagonist Paul (played by a competent if uncharismatic Patric), is a humble, ripped, widowed Mississippi auto mechanic with a shady past in the New Orleans criminal underworld. When his college-age daughter (Gia Mantegna) goes missing, he’s forced to sharpen up his dormant ass-kickery chops and revisit his old stomping grounds, shaking down a series of token hoods and reawakening some sleeping grudges from his bad old days in the Big Easy, most of which revolve around resident crime lord Omar (Willis, all but checking his watch). Violence quickly and inevitably ensues.

Along the way, he’s joined by his daughter’s snotty, coked-up friend Angela (Jessica Lowndes), who provides some moderately valuable intel at the start, and then inexplicably sticks around for the duration of the film to complain, scream and occasionally provide strange doses of sexual tension. Midway through, the pic introduces another ally in Paul’s old running buddy Sam (Cusack), who sighs and grimaces through his scenes as a luxury hotel-bound hustler.

No one seems to want to reinvent the wheel here, and an idle Netflix user could certainly do far worse when browsing for mindless actioners. But the overall air of shrugging obligation from those both in front of and behind the camera proves contagious. Rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Jung Ji-hoon (better known as Korean pop superstar Rain) have minor, not entirely comfortable roles which seem to serve no purpose other than to broaden the pic’s potential appeal to younger auds and Asian demos, respectively. The action sequences are competently directed, but exhibit virtually no flair or invention, as Patric simply stands there shooting at waves of anonymous henchmen until they all fall down.

If nothing else, “The Prince” does seem to afford its array of weaponry greater than average care, and unlike most mid-grade shoot-‘em-ups, the film actually shows its central avenger frequently stopping to reload, and even making multiple trips to an ammo shop between gun battles. If only the rest of the film paid as much attention to detail.

Hercules 2014 Film

This article is about the 2014 film starring Dwayne Johnson. For the 2014 film starring Kellan Lutz, see The Legend of Hercules. Hercules is an American adventure film directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Reece Ritchie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Joseph Fiennes, and John Hurt. It is based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars. Distributed jointly by Paramount Pictures and MGM, it was released on July 25, 2014.
It is one of two Hollywood-studio Hercules films released in 2014, the other being Summit Entertainment's The Legend of Hercules.

Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is the leader of a band of mercenaries comprising the spear-wielding prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), the knife-throwing thief Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the feral warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), the Amazon archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and his nephew storyteller Iolaus (Reece Ritchie). Hercules is said to be the demigod son of Zeus, who completed the legendary Twelve Labors, only to be betrayed by Hera, who drove him insane and caused him to murder his wife Megara (Irina Shayk) and their children during a visit to King Eurystheus (Joseph Fiennes). Hercules has since rejected Zeus and chosen to live as mortal, and is tormented by visions of Cerberus.

One day, Hercules and his men are approached by Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson), on behalf of her father, Lord Cotys (John Hurt), who wants Hercules to train the armies of Thrace to defend the kingdom from bloodthirsty warlord Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann). Hercules accepts after he and his men are offered his weight in gold, and the band is welcomed to Thrace by King Cotys and General Sitacles (Peter Mullan), leader of the Thracian army. After training the army, Hercules and his men lead them into battle against local barbarians as a test of their strength. After the barbarians are defeated, Hercules and Sitacles confront Rheseus and his soldiers, believed to be Centaurs, but soon proven to be men on horseback. Rheseus is defeated and taken back to Thrace as a prisoner, where he is tortured and humiliated. Noticing that Ergenia has taken pity to him, Hercules confronts her and finds out Rheseus was merely retaliating against Lord Cotys' aggressive attempts to expand his kingdom, and, although Ergenia doesn't agree with his methods, she abides to them for the sake of her son, Arius, Lord Cotys' successor to the throne.

After receiving their reward, the mercenaries are ready to leave, but Hercules decides to stay behind to stop Cotys, and all but Autolycus choose to follow him. However, they are overpowered and captured by Sitacles and his men. While chained, Hercules is confronted by King Eurystheus, who is in league with Lord Cotys, and reveals that he drugged Hercules the night his family died, viewing him as a threat to his power. Hercules' family was in fact killed by three vicious wolves sent by Eurystheus, resulting in Hercules' constant hallucinations of Cerberus. When Lord Cotys orders Ergenia to be executed for her betrayal, Hercules is encouraged by Amphiaraus to embrace his destiny and breaks free of his chains, saving Ergenia and slaying the wolves with his bare hands. Hercules releases the prisoners, including Rheseus, and then confronts King Eurystheus, impaling him with his own dagger. He is attacked by Sitacles, who is then stabbed by Iolaus.

Outside, Hercules and his forces battle Lord Cotys and his army. Arius is taken hostage, but then rescued by Autolycus, who has decided to return to help his friends. In the ensuing battle, Tydeus is mortally wounded while protecting Arius, but fights on slaughtering numerous Thracian soldiers. Hercules then pushes a statue of Hera from its foundations and uses it to crush Lord Cotys and many of his soldiers. The surviving soldiers bow to Hercules, and Arius takes the throne, with Ergenia at his side, while Hercules and his men depart in search of other adventures.

As the credits roll, an animated retelling of the Twelve Labors shows how Hercules accomplished these feats with the help of his companions.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a 2014 American science fiction action comedy film based on the franchise of the same name. A reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series, the film is directed by Jonathan Liebesman, and stars Megan Fox, Johnny Knoxville, Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub, William Fichtner, and Will Arnett.

The film was announced shortly before Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird sold the rights to the franchise to Nickelodeon in 2009. It was produced by Nickelodeon Movies and Michael Bay's production company Platinum Dunes, and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

The film was released on August 8, 2014 and received generally negative reviews, with critics commenting the unoriginal plot and characters, acting performances and pacing; but was a box office success, grossing over $392 million worldwide, and becoming Nickelodeon Movies' highest grossing film. A sequel is scheduled to be released on June 3, 2016.

April O'Neil is a reporter for Channel 6 news in New York who has been researching a gang called the Foot Clan which has been terrorizing the city. She questions a dock worker about shipments of chemicals that may be linked to the Foot Clan. Later that night, she returns and witnesses the Foot Clan unloading cargo. April tries to record footage using her phone, but a shadowy figure arrives and takes out the Foot Soldiers one by one. She tells her coworkers and her boss Bernadette Thompson, but no one believes her story.

The Foot Clan next attacks a subway station and hold hostages in order to lure the vigilante out. April rushes to the scene, hoping to encounter the vigilante or find evidence confirming his existence, but ends up getting held hostage by The Foot Clan. She sees four figures this time, who disappear after defeating the Foot Clan. She follows them to a rooftop and photographs them. The Turtles Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael notice her and delete the camera's images, warning her not to divulge their existence. April catches some of their names and finds them familiar.

April runs home and opens a box filled with documents, pictures, and July 1999 videos on "Project Renaissance", which involved her now-deceased father. She notices that the turtles she cared for from her father's laboratory fifteen years earlier seem similar to the Ninja Turtles. She recalls that her father was developing some type of mutagen. She continues researching and eventually realizes that the Ninja Turtles are the turtles from the laboratory.

Once again, she tries to convince Bernadette Thompson that the Turtles are real. Bernadette becomes so infuriated that she fires April. April tries telling her cameraman Vern Fenwick about them, but he does not believe her either. He does agree to take her to the old laboratory, though. There she finds her father's lab partner Eric Sacks; a famous scientist and a successful business man.

April tells him about the Ninja Turtles, showing him the photos. Sacks explains Project Renaissance: he and her father were cultivating the mutagen for its healing properties. Sacks theorizes that, when the laboratory was destroyed, the mutagen must have somehow caused the turtles to mutate into humanoids.

Meanwhile in the sewers, the Turtles tell their master, Splinter, that April has spotted them. Splinter orders them to find April and bring her to their lair, as she is now in great danger from the Foot Clan since she made contact with the Turtles.

The Turtles find April and blindfold her so she won't know their lair's location. They take her to Splinter, who explains how she saved their lives years before when she rescued them from the fire and released them into the sewers. As the turtles and Splinter grew more intelligent from the mutagen over the past 15 years, he started to teach the turtles how to defend themselves in the art of ninjitsu from a martial arts book he found in the sewer. April admits that she has told her father's associate about them, unaware that Sacks is actually the adoptive son of the Foot Clan's leader The Shredder.

Meanwhile, Sacks relays the information to Shredder. Shredder and Sacks plan to spread a deadly virus throughout New York, causing a quarantine, in order to seize control by offering the mutagen as a cure. Shredder needs the Turtles to extract the mutagen from their blood. After the virus is spread all over New York, Sacks plans to sell the mutagen cure for a massive profit and making him even more richer.

He and his gang find Splinter and the Turtles in the sewers, and a battle ensues. They are overwhelmed and Shredder captures Leo, Donnie and Mikey and leaves Splinter severely injured. Thought dead, Raphael survived the wreckage of the lair. Splinter instructs Raphael and April to save the other three Turtles. April calls Vern to give them a ride to the laboratory where the other three Turtles are being held.

When they arrive, April frees the Turtles, who join Raphael in fighting Shredder, but Shredder escapes. April, the Turtles, and Vern escape down a snowy mountain with The Foot and Karai in pursuit, and manage to get away.

The Turtles plan to attack Shredder on the rooftop of Sacks' building before he is able to release the toxin, while April and Vern search for the mutagen and battle Sacks inside the building. He reveals to April that he killed her father for burning down the lab. As he closes in on April, Sacks is knocked out by Vern. April finds the mutagen and heads onto the rooftop to give it to the Turtles. With April's help, the Turtles finally defeat Shredder who falls off the roof where he is immediately surrounded by the police. He is last seen touching the spilled mutagen.

That night, Vern attempts to impress April with a Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, but unfortunately fails when the Turtles come in with a vehicle of their own and accidentally blow it up with an RPG. The turtles then offer April a ride home but she kindly turns down the offer. The film ends with Mikey serenading April with "Happy Together" (a love song performed by 60's rock band The Turtles).

Before I Go to Sleep Film

Before I Go to Sleep is a 2014 British-American mystery thriller film written and directed by Rowan Joffé. A film adaptation of S. J. Watson's 2011 novel of the same name, the film stars Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, and Anne-Marie Duff.

Forty-year-old Christine Lucas wakes up in bed with a man she does not know, in an unfamiliar house. The man explains that he is her husband, Ben, and that she suffered brain damage from a car accident ten years earlier. Christine wakes up every morning with no memory of her life from her early twenties onwards.

Christine receives treatment from Dr. Nasch, a neurologist at a local hospital who gives her a camera to record her thoughts and progress each day, and calls her every morning to remind her to watch the video in the the camera. Dr. Nasch instructs Christine to keep the camera hidden from Ben and reveals that her memory loss occurred after she was attacked and left for dead near an airport hotel. They surmise that Ben tells Christine it was a car accident to avoid upsetting her.

Over the course of treatment, Christine faintly remembers a red-haired woman named Claire. Ben tells her that Claire was a friend who couldn't handle Christine's condition and ended contact with her. Later, Christine recalls that she had a son. She angrily confronts Ben over hiding their child, but he says their son died of meningitis when he was eight. Christine remembers the name Mike and believes it may be the name of her attacker.

Christine learns that, several years after her attack, Ben had placed her in an assisted care facility and divorced her, then had a change of heart and brought her home to live with him. Christine learns that Claire had been trying to contact her at the care facility, unaware that Ben took her away. Christine obtains Claire's phone number and meets her. Claire reveals that Christine had embarked on an affair prior to her attack, while Ben and Claire had a one-time sexual encounter, due to their shared grief at Christine's memory loss. Feeling obliged to keep Ben and Christine's marriage intact, Claire ended contact.

Out of gratitude for his love and care, Christine decides to let Ben see the videos she has made on the digital camera. However, Ben angrily accuses Christine of having an affair with Dr. Nasch, strikes her, and storms out. On the telephone, Claire tells Christine that Ben claims to not have seen Christine for several years. Claire asks Christine to describe the "Ben" she is living with, and they realize he is not Ben. Christine attempts to escape the house, but "Ben" renders her unconscious.

The next morning, Christine again awakens with no memories. That night, "Ben" takes her to a hotel close to where she had been found. He reveals that he is Mike, the man she had an affair with. Mike had wanted Christine to reveal their affair to Ben, but Christine refused, and their argument culminated in Mike attacking Christine, resulting in her amnesia. He also inadvertently reveals that Christine's son Adam is still alive. Declaring his love for Christine, Mike deletes the videos on her camera and states that he is no longer interested in playing the part of Ben. He demands that Christine leave with him. Another struggle ensues, but this time Christine knocks Mike out and gets away.

Christine wakes up in a hospital bed and is visited by Dr. Nasch. He assures her the man responsible for her condition has been arrested. Christine is then visited by the real Ben, as well as their son Adam, now a teenager.

The Equalizer 2014 Film

The Equalizer is a 2014 American action thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Richard Wenk, based on the television series of the same name. It stars Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas, David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo.

Principal photography began in June 2013 on location and took place in different cities of Massachusetts. This was the first film to have Village Roadshow Pictures co-finance the deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment since Saving Silverman in 2001. The film was premiered at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014, and released worldwide on September 26.

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a retired black ops government operative who lives in Boston, Massachusetts and works at a Home Mart hardware store, where he befriends many of his co-workers and also tries to help a security guard trainee named Ralphie pass his qualification exam. McCall has promised his recently deceased wife that he'd leave his old life behind, but is compelled to act after his teenage friend Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) whose real name is Alina, was seen being mistreated by her pimp. Alina's life was destroyed at the age of five or six when she was a victim of sex trafficking by the Russian Mafia and then became their sex slave and forced into prostitution.

Robert vows to save her after she is hospitalized after being brutally beaten by her pimp, Slavi (David Meunier). McCall enters a restaurant owned by the Russian mob and tries to convince Slavi to release Alina by paying him $9800, but Slavi refuses. McCall pretends to walk away, but turns back and takes out Slavi and his men with their own weapons, removing the footage from all the security cameras.

In retaliation, Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his enforcer Teddy (Marton Csokas) to Boston to find and eliminate the culprit. Meanwhile, Ralph withdraws his application for being a security guard at Home Mart to help out his mother at his family restaurant, which was set on fire by corrupt policemen as an act of extortion. McCall confronts the corrupt policemen and forces them to pay back all the money they have gotten through extortion. Ralph passes his test and becomes a security guard at Home Mart.

Teddy determines McCall is the culprit; surprised by his skills, Teddy tries to capture him to use those skills instead of killing him. McCall, however, outsmarts his pursuers and escapes, while completing more acts of vigilantism. McCall visits fellow retired operatives Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) and Brian Plummer (Bill Pullman) in Virginia, who help him acquire intelligence on Pushkin's activities. It is revealed that Teddy is ex-Spetnaz, and that his real name is Nikolai. After McCall leaves, Susan remarks to Brian that McCall was not actually looking for help, but was actually asking for permission.

McCall then captures Frank Masters (David Harbour), a corrupt Boston policeman who has been aiding Teddy, by trapping him in his car and threatening to flood the vehicle with carbon monoxide. Frank relents and helps McCall destroy one of Pushkin's money laundering operations in Boston. Later, McCall confronts Teddy at dinner; McCall pledges to bring Pushkin's empire down, and soon destroys a container ship used by Pushkin to smuggle goods. Unsatisfied with Teddy's lack of progress and his increasing monetary losses, Pushkin warns Teddy he can either kill McCall or not come home to Moscow.

In retaliation, Teddy and his men attack Home Mart and take Ralph and the workers of Home Mart hostage, threatening to kill them if he does not surrender. McCall enters the store and disables most of the lighting, tells Ralph to get the hostages to safety, and then kills Teddy's henchmen one by one. After a struggle between McCall and one of Teddy's men, Ralph comes back to help McCall, but is shot in the leg. McCall tells Ralph to turn on the electricity after an exact time of 40 seconds. McCall sets up a number of chemicals in a microwave; the electricity turns it on, causing an explosion that kills the last of Teddy's men. McCall finally kills Teddy with a nail gun.

McCall then travels to Moscow and kills Pushkin's guards, and sets up an electrical trap to kill Pushkin himself. McCall returns to Boston, where he reunites with Alina, who has recovered from her wounds and thanks him for giving her a second chance. McCall is inspired to continue using his skills to help people in need and posts an online ad, identifying himself as "The Equalizer". He soon receives another plea for help and agrees to answer it.

Kill the Messenger Film

Kill the Messenger is an American drama thriller film directed by Michael Cuesta and written by Peter Landesman. It is based on the book of the same name by Nick Schou and the book Dark Alliance by Gary Webb. The film stars Jeremy Renner (in his first film as a producer), Michael Sheen, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Barry Pepper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosemarie DeWitt, Paz Vega, Oliver Platt, Richard Schiff, and Michael K. Williams. The film was released on October 10, 2014.

Kill the Messenger has received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a "Certified Fresh" rating of 75%, based on 88 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's consensus reads, "Kill the Messenger's potent fury over the tale of its real-life subject overrides its factual inaccuracies and occasional narrative stumbles." On Metacritic, the film currently has a rating of 60 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews.

Dracula Untold Movie

Here’s the thing about vampires: They’re not only cool to begin with but they are also afforded endless opportunities to further their coolness. This is where they differ significantly from werewolves and Frankenstein’s monster. I mean, if proms and singles’ parties were held in the realm of paranormal creatures, vampires would be the ones getting all the hot dates, leaving werewolves weeping into their wine and Frankenstein’s monster tinkering with the bolts sticking out of his head. But I digress.

The vampire in “Dracula Untold” is even cooler than the rest, if you can believe that. Directed by Gary Shore, who used to make commercials before this debut feature, “Dracula Untold” is fresh, sexy and does not feature teenagers with fangs. No, the whole package seems designed for a more mature audience who grew up collecting Marvel comic books and loving Batman — and boy, will they get this Dracula.

Luke Evans stars as Vlad Tepes, a prince in 15th-century Transylvania. Like most of the rest of Europe, Vlad’s country has suffered much at the hands of the Turks, but during the first scenes, he’s celebrating 10 years of peace with his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and friends. Alas, the festivities are cut short when news comes in that the Turks are back, and they’re demanding 1,000 Transylvanian boys to become slave soldiers in the Turkish army.

Vlad himself is no stranger to the slave-soldier system, and the scars that crisscross his upper body bring back awful memories. What to do? Vlad seeks help from a zombie-like creature lurking in the mountains (Charles Dance), who presents Vlad with a bowl of blood, promising to endow him with vampiric superpowers for a full three days. The catch? Vlad must refrain from drinking human blood or succumbing fully to his new Prince of Darkness identity during that time, or he may never walk in daylight again.

The outlandish action is expertly executed with a generous dash of originality. Director Shore isn’t interested in splashing blood about so much as coming up with creative alternatives to wipe out the Turkish Army. Vlad has command over about 10 million bats, which swoop down and pulverize the enemy like a winged battalion from hell. It’s an elegant tactic and astounding to witness — never before has Dracula been able to take center stage of such mega proportions, or wielded power on such a grand scale.

Vlad Tepes is based on a real-life Transylvanian prince, and not a nice one at that — consider his nickname: Vlad the Impaler. In his prime, he wiped out entire villages with the end of his spear. Interestingly, the film does its mighty best to justify Vlad’s past brutality by stressing his wonderful vampire qualities. These include, firstly, wiping out the Turks single-handedly, and secondly, refraining from taking bites out of his loved ones’ necks.

Laying out the groundwork for a new Dracula franchise is undoubtedly a virtue, too, because as far as bloodsucking alpha males in dark capes go, Vlad is as good as it gets.

The Book of Life 2014 Film

The Book of Life is a 2014 American 3D computer-animated adventure musical comedy film produced by Reel FX Creative Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Co-written and directed by Jorge Gutierrez, the film stars the voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, and Channing Tatum with supporting roles by Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Ron Perlman, and Kate del Castillo. The film was theatrically released on October 17, 2014.

A group of children arrive at a museum and are taken on a secret tour by a tour guide named Mary Beth (Christina Applegate), who tells them about the famous legends and myths of Mexican folklore. She leads them to a hidden room containing the Book of Life that holds every story in the world. Mary Beth proceeds to tell the children the story of the Mexican town of San Angel and two gods: La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), who reigns over the Land of the Remembered, and Xibalba (Ron Perlman), who rules the Land of the Forgotten.

The story begins when La Muerte and Xibalba appear at San Angel's Day of the Dead festival where they set up a bet after seeing two boys, Manolo and Joaquín, competing over a free-spirited girl named María. La Muerte bets that Manolo will marry María, while Xibalba bets on Joaquín. If La Muerte wins, Xibalba can no longer meddle in mortal affairs; however, if Xibalba wins, he and La Muerte would switch lands.

Days later, María sets free the butcher's animals after seeing a baby pig (Carlos Alazraqui), much to the chagrin of her father General Posada (Carlos Alazraqui). Posada decides to send his daughter to a private boarding school in Spain to learn to behave. While seeing her off, Manolo gives her the baby pig named Chuy. María gives Manolo a new guitar which has "Always play from your heart" engraved on it.

Years pass as Manolo (Diego Luna) is trained by his father Carlos (Héctor Elizondo) to become a skilled bullfighter while Joaquín (Channing Tatum) becomes the town hero with the help of Xibalba's Medal of Eternal Life. On the day that María (Zoe Saldana) returns, a celebration is held in town culminating in Manolo's first bullfight. During the fight, Manolo refuses to kill the bull, disappointing his father and the crowd but delighting María. That night, María learns her father is arranging her marriage to Joaquín so that the hero would stay and protect San Angel from the bandit Chakal, but she is conflicted by her feelings for Manolo. Fearing he will lose the wager, Xibalba turns his staff into a twin-headed snake and sends it to kill Manolo. María and Manolo secretly meet and profess their love for each other, but they are interrupted when the snake bites María and seemingly kills her. Xibalba appears before Manolo, who states that he would do anything to be with María again. Xibalba summons the snake to inflict a bite with both heads to kill Manolo.

Manolo travels to the Land of the Remembered where he meets his mother, Carmen (Ana de la Reguera), and the rest of his deceased family members. Manolo and his family travel to La Muerte's castle, but find it now occupied by Xibalba. Xibalba explains the bet and that the snake only gave María enough venom to put her into a coma, but it gave Manolo enough to kill him. Once María awoke, she learned of Manolo's death and decided to accept Joaquín's proposal for the sake of the town. Manolo, Carmen, and Manolo's grandfather Luis (Danny Trejo) travel to the Cave of Souls in order to reach the Land of the Forgotten. After forced through dangerous tasks, Manolo's pure heart allows him and his family to enter the Cave. They meet the Candle Maker (Ice Cube) who oversees the lives of everybody in the living world. Manolo convinces him to take him through to the Land of the Forgotten to meet La Muerte after seeing that Manolo's story in the Book of Life has yet to be written because he is writing it himself. Manolo finds La Muerte and exposes Xibalba's cheating. Xibalba appears and agrees to give Manolo life again if he can defeat every single bull his family ever fought.

In the living world, Chakal (Dan Navarro) learns that Joaquín has the Medal of Eternal Life and leads his army of bandits to San Angel on the day of the wedding. The bandit kills Carlos, who joins his family as they watch Manolo's challenge. Manolo apologizes to the grudge-filled spirit to forgive his family's transgressions, and it dissolves peacefully away. Impressed, the deities grant Manolo his life back and send him and his family's spirits to the living world to defeat Chakal. Manolo and Joaquín make amends and fight against Chakal together. Realizing he will lose, Chakal lights the fuses on multiple bombs to take the entire town down with him. Manolo knocks over a column that causes the bell to fall over him and Chakal, protecting the town from the blast but seemingly killing Manolo. However, when Manolo emerges safely, Joaquín reveals that he secretly gave Manolo the magic medal. General Posada gives Manolo his blessing to marry María, and the two celebrate their wedding happily as Xibalba and La Muerte reconcile.

At the very end, the school group is very enlightened and as they leave, the tour guide and the security guard reveal themselves as La Muerte and Xibalba. Finally, the Candle Maker returns and reminds everyone to write their own stories.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Marvel basically exploded the Internet yesterday by announcing its entire Phase Three slate of films, including Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy 2,Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, The Inhumans, and The Avengers: Infinity War – Part One and Two. But before we can see those films on the big screen, we have to close out Phase Two with The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man.

Speaking of Age of Ultron, an extended version of the film’s recently released trailer aired last night with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (see above). The new footage appears at the beginning of the preview and involves a party that The Avengers throw at Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) penthouse, possibly as a result of a successful mission.

In the new footage, the Avengers – plus War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) – take turns trying to lift Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) hammer, Mjolnir. After Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) mocks the Hammer’s inscription (“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor“), Tony tries his hand at lifting it.

When his normal human hands aren’t capable of doing the deed, he retrieves his Iron Man glove armor and tries again. No go. Then he enlists War Machine’s help, but again, it doesn’t work.

Finally, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) takes his turn – and the hammer budges. Just a little bit. Not enough for him to be able to lift the hammer, but enough to surprise Thor, who seems relieved when Cap ultimately is incapable.

(Who wants to bet this comes back into play later on in the film? I’m convinced that Cap will lift Thor’s hammer by the time Age of Ultron‘s credits roll, perhaps during a very pivotal, climactic moment.)

At this point in the trailer, Ultron (James Spader) crashes the party, makes fun of The Avengers for not being worthy, and then the trailer plays out as the first one did last week, creepy Pinocchio music and all. For my money, the whole thing works much better with the addition of the Avengers party scene.

What say you, Screen Ranters? Do you like the extended trailer? Do you prefer it to the original? Are you excited to see if Captain America proves himself worthy by the end of the film?

Jupiter Ascending Movie

Jupiter Ascending is an upcoming epic space opera film written, produced, and directed by The Wachowskis. It marks their first return to original screenplays in the science fiction genre since the The Matrix trilogy.

The film is centered on Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a down-on-her-luck janitor and Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), an interplanetary warrior who informs Jones that her destiny extends beyond Earth. Supporting cast member Douglas Booth has described the film's universe as a cross between The Matrix and Star Wars while Kunis named its underlying themes as indulgence and consumption.

The film is co-produced by Grant Hill, who acted as executive producer on The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions and as producer on V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, Ninja Assassin and Cloud Atlas, making Jupiter Ascending his seventh collaboration with the Wachowskis. Several more longstanding Wachowski collaborators since the creation of The Matrix films have contributed to the picture, including production designer Hugh Bateup, visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, visual effects designer John Gaeta, supervising sound editor Dane Davis and costume designer Kym Barrett. Other notable past collaborators include Speed Racer's composer Michael Giacchino, Cloud Atlas' director of photography John Toll along with its editor Alexander Berner and hair and make-up designer Jeremy Woodhead, who worked on both.

The film is a co-production between the United States' Warner Bros. Pictures and Australia's Village Roadshow Pictures. Roberto Malerba and Bruce Berman serve as executive producers. Principal photography commenced at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden on April 2, 2013. Filming also took place at Ely Cathedral in England. The production remained in the London studio through June, then moved to various locations in Chicago, Illinois throughout late July and August. Minor reshoots to clarify plot points took place in January and early May of the next year, the latter of which took place in Bilbao, Spain. This is cinematographer John Toll's second feature film he is shooting digitally, using Arri Alexas and Codex Recorders, after Iron Man 3, in part due to the visual effects element. Legend3D is handling the stereoscopic conversion of the film, having recently integrated the Mistika post-production software into their pipeline. Vision3's Chris Parks is the stereoscopic supervisor of the film.

An eight minute long chase sequence, code named "Fifty-Two Part" by the film's crew, depicts Jupiter and Caine fleeing from aliens and spaceships in downtown Chicago shortly after they first meet. It was the longest sequence in the script, involving some of the film's most difficult stunts. To complete it, Kunis and Tatum had to film every day for six months.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The much-anticipate premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has been announced on Wednesday. In a video, Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and some of his friends, invite fans to join the cast and crew one last time to witness what director Peter Jackson has dubbed “The Final Chapter.”

Fans have waited for the conclusion to Jackson’s trilogy for three years (some for many more), and it is finally taking shape. McKellen, along with Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Luke Evans (Bard the Bowman), Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit), and Orlando Bloom (Legolas) shared the news of the awaited event. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies premiere will take place on Monday, December 1 at London’s Leicester Square, which has become synonymous with red carpet events.

The video invitation shows some scenes from what promises to be an epic conclusion to the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale. In the previous installment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug viewers were left at a crossroads, as things turned bleak for the company of dwarves — led by Thorin Oakenshield — after they arrive at their long lost home of Erebor.

There lies the feared dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), who has been guarding the treasure buried in the Misty Mountains and its awakening will bring death and destruction to the residents of Laketown. There lives Bard, the Bowman, a dragon slayer who has lost much at the hands of the evil beast, but is the only hope to destroy it forever.

McKellen explains that with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the 14-year-old tale that began with The Lord of the Rings trilogy is coming to an end, and Jackson is bringing us one his most epic films. Bloom said that the entire cast and collaborators of previous films in the franchise will be present for the awaited premiere.

Luke Evans announced that the event will be available on live stream for those who are unable to attend the premiere in London, while Richard Armitage said that there will be chances to win tickets to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies premiere on movie’s official Facebook page.

Fast And Furious 7

On April 4, 2013, Justin Lin, the franchise's director since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), announced that he would not return to direct a seventh film, as the studio wanted to produce the film on an accelerated schedule for release in summer 2014 which would have required Lin to begin pre-production on the sequel while performing post-production on Fast & Furious 6 which he considered would affect the quality of the final product. Despite the usual two to three year gap between the previous installments, Universal chose to pursue a sequel quicker due to having fewer reliable franchises than its competitor studios. However, subsequent interviews with Lin have suggested that the sixth installment was always intended to be the final entry directed by him. In April 2013, James Wan, predominantly known for horror films, was announced as the sequel's director, with Moritz returning to produce and Morgan returning to write the script, his fifth in the series. Diesel and Walker were also confirmed to return to star.

Johnson said that if Universal pursued the accelerated development of a seventh film with a summer start date, he would be unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts with filming on Hercules. However, as production for the film commenced in September, he confirmed his return for the film as Hercules would complete production in time for him to film a significant part. On April 16, 2013, Diesel announced that the sequel would be released on July 11, 2014. In May 2013, Diesel said that the sequel would feature Los Angeles, Tokyo and the Middle East as locations. In August 2013, it was reported that Denzel Washington had turned down a small role in the film, and that Universal was looking for another big star to take the part which would play a larger role in an eighth film. In August 2013, Kurt Russell was confirmed to be in talks for joining the seventh film playing an unknown character. Diesel confirmed his involvement in the film through a production photo on his Facebook page in September 2013. In August 2013, mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey was confirmed to be in negotiations to join the cast. Thai martial arts actor Tony Jaa has been confirmed to join the cast, making his Hollywood debut.

It was also confirmed that Lucas Black has signed on to reprise his role as Sean Boswell for this film and two more installments.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

There's only so much pulp you can ingest before it starts to get stuck in your teeth, and that's the takeaway from Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Robert Rodriguez and graphic novelist Miller's sequel to their hit black-and-white-but-sorta-color CG noir from 2005. For all the watermelon-like smashing of noggins and copious nudity (with a particularly odd choice of rendering males genital-less), the overall effect is less titillating than numbing. That more or less puts Dame on par with its predecessor, even if the narrative focus is as blurry as the film's resolution when you remove your 3-D glasses. (The 3-D, by the way, is at least warranted and not half bad.) Revenge is the order of the day here, with a slick card shark (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, recalling his teen gumshoe in Brick) attempting to swindle ruthless politico Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), while the now-hardened, boozy exotic dancer Nancy (Jessica Alba), looks to settle the score that forced her beloved protector (Bruce Willis, cameoing as a ghost) to take his life in order to preserve hers.

Any movie whose cast includes two dozen famous actors has to coast on those thesps' abilities, and that proves to be the case here—though, disappointingly, Alba, Rosario Dawson, and the Mother Monster herself, Lady Gaga, share about 15 lines of dialogue. Mickey Rourke is back as biker brute Marv and Josh Brolin takes over for Clive Owen's tortured ladies' man Dwight. With their low-rumble vocal stylings, they were born for this type of flick. The filmmakers wisely hired the fearless, magnetic Eva Green to play—what else?—the delectably twisted femme fatale Ava, who offers up most of the aforementioned copious nudity. Reminiscent of Linda Fiorentino's classic turn in the seedy suspenser The Last Seduction, and far more resourceful than the movie she's in, Green's Ava more than lives up to this picture's subtitle.

The Judge 2014 Film

It's been a while since we've seen Robert Downey Jr. as anything other than Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes. But in The Judge, he plays the closest thing to a real human being he's tackled in ages. The film is a throwback to the rousing, middle-of-the-road courtroom dramas that flourished during the Grisham box office gold rush of the mid-'90s. Back then, movies like The Firm and A Time to Kill turned self-righteousness and witness-stand theatrics into the kinds of crowd-pleasers that made you think. How quaint. How old-fashioned. How extinct.

I don't expect The Judge to usher in a new era of legal thrillers, but I'm happy to see Downey leave the Marvel universe and Baker Street behind. As hotshot Chicago attorney Hank Palmer, Downey is his usual onscreen type — the whip-smart wiseass who's cynical and selfish...until he's not. When his mother dies, he returns to his rural Indiana hometown and is forced to stay and defend his estranged, holier-than-thou father (Robert Duvall), a respected local judge, after he's arrested for the hit-and-run murder of an ex-con he once put away. What makes the film more than just a dusty Grisham retread is that the case (as compelling as it is) is merely the backdrop for a more emotionally engaging story about fathers and sons played, like a duet, by two virtuoso actors who give the film not only all they have but probably more than it requires.

X-Men Nightcrawler 2014 Movie | Watch on Halloween

This month we've seen the release of the mediocre evil doll movie Annabelle, the rebooted dud that was Dracula Untold, and the embarrassingly uninspired Ouija. Which is to say October has been painfully underwhelming when it comes to horror movie releases. So what is a moviegoer to do on Halloween to get those chills that creep up your spine and follow you home? How will you get that electric adrenaline that races through you veins and makes even the most mundane situation seem potentially perilous?

Easy: see Nightcrawler.

Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler is on one level a satire of our current "if it bleeds it leads" news culture. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a freelance videographer who uses a fast car, police scanner, consumer camera, and a very flexible sense of morality to capture catastrophes--murders, fires, car wrecks--for the morning news. Like the latest trailer has been teasing, the film has a wicked sense of humor. It's biting and laugh out loud funny. But more than that, it's deeply, thoroughly chilling.

As Lou Bloom strives to make this weird night gig into an empire, he begins to make choices that go from distasteful to downright evil. And since we are tied to him through it all, Gilroy spares us no horror and offers no reprieve. He's a villain -- cold, calculating, and charismatic in a creepy way. There's no hero here. There's just Lou Bloom, who'll we'll follow to gory news stories and rivetingly uncomfortable situations, including the most unnerving dinner date cinema has ever seen.

Jake Gyllenhaal is spectacular as this driven and deranged anti-hero. Shedding muscles and his pleasantly chubby cheeks, he's gaunt and gangly here, looking like a malnourished animal that will do anything for a meal. It's a smart choice, and one that's underscored by an energetic and unhinged performance that literally gave me goosebumps.

Flat-out, I'll be cursing the Academy if Jake Gyllenhaal is snubbed for a Best Actor nomination this year. While others have had guidelines or real-life inspiration for their buzzed about parts, Gyllenhaal brings us an original, unmapped and gangly monster who could well be among us. Lou Bloom is his Hannibal Lecter, which--yes--won Anthony Hopkins the Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs. But for now, forget about the Oscars. Focus on taking the opportunity to see this deeply creepy performance in a theater where it will surround and totally entrance you.

From its twisted tale of a bad man gone worse to its unapologetically shocking visuals and its sure to be classic movie monster, Nightcrawler is a joy ride down a path to damnation, it's exhilarating, disturbing, and brilliant filmmaking. It's one of the best films of the year. And it's the absolute perfect choice for Halloween.

The Maze Runner

Dystopian overload. That was my first thought when I saw the ads for “The Maze Runner” last spring when I went to see “Divergent.” Granted, I was sitting in a theater to see a movie based on a Young Adult dystopian fiction novel — but I was still not sure I was prepared for yet another franchise devoted to YA novels with eerily similar plot lines. I couldn’t handle it. Even with Dylan O’Brien, I wasn’t sure I was ready for another dystopian world to compete with “Divergent,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Giver.”

I hadn’t read the book and I didn’t plan to. Still, somehow, I ended up in a theater over fall break watching “The Maze Runner” movie. It was raining, all the museums were closed and we really didn’t want to see the new Nicholas Sparks movie. It was the best choice, but still, I couldn’t imagine I’d actually enjoy the movie all that much. Apparently, I was wrong.

I’ve never been the type of person to see the movie before I read the book. In general, I think that’s a poor practice. But I did it for “The Maze Runner” and I have to admit, I think it’s probably what saved me from being sorely disappointed with the movie.

The end of “The Maze Runner” (both the book and the movie) is sort of mind-boggling, one of those cliff-hangers where you race to the bookstore to get the sequel because you just can’t stand to let it hang in your mind for any longer than absolutely necessary. So of course, after seeing “The Maze Runner,” I went out and purchased the entire book series at Target.

The book and the movie are the same general plot line, but the movie changes nearly all the little details. I imagine if I’d seen the movie after reading the book, this would have bugged me a lot more than it did. Given that I did it the other way around, I had a weird sense of empathy for why the movie changed what it did — certain things, upon reflection, didn’t seem to make sense in a movie context and usually, I decided the way the movie rendered it was probably a better option.

With that said, I think I still would have enjoyed the movie. It stars two of my favorite actors (Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario, whose character Effy Stonem on “Skins” is one of my favorite of the series) and it was an enjoyable, if emotionally tumultuous, way to avoid the rain for a couple hours.

The movie does an excellent job at introducing the ideas of “The Maze Runner” to someone who had only the vaguest idea about what happened in the books. Its presentation of the more confusing aspects (i.e. the sudden memory loss or the coding within the maze) simplified the ideas so that they made sense on screen. There wasn’t space in the movie for the long explanations the book is able to give — there was no voice-over narrator to explain those things that the book gives only in protagonist Thomas’ thoughts.

I think this works cinematically. The story was compelling and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire movie. It made me want to read the books. This, of course, only made me realize once again what movies always seem to miss out on when they translate a book from page to screen.

“The Maze Runner” isn’t “The Hunger Games” and I’m not sure it will ever quite reach that level. In terms of dystopian YA fiction, I’d place the movie on par with the “Divergent” movie and leap years ahead of “The Giver” movie (I’m pretty forgiving on cinematic changes, but that was a bit too far). It’s not quite the same story James Dashner originally wrote but the underlying theme is the same and the finale gave me the same adrenaline rush reading and watching. It’s kind of fun and not too complicated in its critiques of our modern society — in a nutshell, it’s all I could ever really ask from a YA dystopian fiction, novel or movie.

Left Behind 2014 Film

Left Behind is an apocalyptic Action-Thriller movie starring Nicolas Cage based on the New York Times bestselling novel that brings biblical prophecy to life in modern times.

The most important event in the history of mankind is happening right now. In the blink of an eye, the biblical Rapture strikes the world. Millions of people disappear without a trace. All that remains are their clothes and belongings, and in an instant, terror and chaos spread around the world. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn. Planes fall from the sky. Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. There is no one to help or provide answers. In a moment, the entire planet is plunged into darkness.

The Steele family is caught on the razor’s edge of that darkness. RAY STEELE, an airline pilot, struggles to calm, and ultimately to save the lives of the passengers that remain on his flight, as the world below loses its ability to help his plane, and any other to safety. Running out of fuel, his equipment failing, his crew escalating into panic, Ray must guide the plane with the help of GWN reporter, CAMERON “BUCK” WILLIAMS who takes over the role of co-pilot in the face of the crisis. For Buck Williams, being trapped at 30,000 feet with a plane full of terrified passengers means a struggle to understand the incomprehensible.

On the ground, Ray’s daughter CHLOE STEELE struggles to find her young brother and mother, both of whom may have disappeared in the Biblical event. Forcing herself through the chaos, Chloe must navigate a world filled with terror and despair.

A veteran airline pilot struggling with the pressure of his troubled marriage and strained relationship with his headstrong daughter Chloe, Ray Steele is responsible for the passengers that remain on his flight after the Rapture. In a world in crisis, with all public and private transportation services in chaos, Steele’s jumbo jet is running out of fuel and all of the lives in his care are running out of time.
Left behind 2014 cast

Fury: Movie review

The last time we saw Brad Pitt hunting for Nazis, he was the fun guy with a Southern drawl who leads a squad of killers in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. This time around, he is a serious, stern sergeant popularly known as Wardaddy, commanding a tank with a diverse quartet. There's a reluctant soldier, Norman (Logan Lerman of Perks of Being a Wallflower), a god-fearing gunner (Shia LaBeouf), an uncouth loader (Jon Bernthal) and, for diversity's sake we think, a Mexican-American driver (Michael Pena). Devastation happens yet again, but there are few laughs and more dead bodies on the way.

In Fury, death lurks at every corner. War converts even the innocent into merciless killers evident in the film's finest track which follows Norman, a typist suddenly expected to be a soldier. The rookie Norman is the audience's eye to the bloody battlefield. He has never been inside a tank or held a gun. Lerman does a fine job highlighting the emotional trauma of the war on the soldiers. He is the man in uniform who cries and screams. It is up to Wardaddy, taking his name a tad seriously, to become a father figure to Norman. There are lessons on how to kill, lectures on the harsh realities of war, and even an order to make love to a young woman. Soon Norman earns the nickname Machine. Meanwhile, Wardaddy's rocky exterior reveals a soft, vulnerable heart.

Obviously, the Americans are the good guys. They don't plunder or attack women as they conquer German towns in the final days of World War II. Here, German women enjoy the soldiers' attention and after initial hesitation sleep with them. Prettiness doesn't survive for long in Fury. A young woman smiles coyly and the next minute her dead body is spotted in the bricks.

Fury is no-holds-barred action drama. It is not for the faint-hearted. A soldier shoots himself than suffer a painful death. Young kids are shown firing guns. Dead bodies hang from houses or are spread across fields. Survival is crucial and it only comes at the cost of eliminating others, often brutally. As Wardaddy and company go about shooting everything in sight, Fury begins to feel like a video game. One waits for the moment when the band of brothers runs out of ammo and becomes one of the many in the rising body count.

That moment arrives when the five US soldiers now with a broken tank are confronted with a battalion of 300 SS soldiers. By now you know that Wardaddy isn't the sort to run away from a fight and desert his tank. The subsequent result, a noisy spectacle, comes at a heavy price. If you know the WWII history, then you know how it ends.

The actors do a commendable job with both Pitt and LaBeouf as standouts. But the heart of the film is Lerman, whose eyes speak volumes as they take in the incessant violence. What's the point of it? Who is a hero and who a villain? With the aid of cinematographer Roman Vasyanov, Ayer shows the nerves, the camaraderie and the energy in the claustrophobic space of a tanl.

While Fury never lulls, it also doesn't surprise as a war drama, its emotional range rather limited. Nonetheless, the film is a hard reminder that with war leaves many scars, both seen and unseen.

Interstellar 2014 Film

Mother nature’s going to be fine – but we might not be, adds Matthew McConaughey, star of film that addresses humans’ place in the cosmos In Christopher Nolan’s new movie, humanity’s hope for survival is pinned on one man: Matthew McConaughey, pilot of a last-ditch mission to find humans a new home as Earth becomes uninhabitable. And in turn, Interstellar, which opens worldwide on 7 November, heads towards cinemas heavy with expectations.

In a year strikingly light on both critical and commercial hits, it’s down to this three-hour Imax epic to save cinema as the clock ticks on the last quarter. Nolan has millions of devoted fans from his Batman trilogy, plus the rare clout to get studio backing for adult blockbusters which don’t feature superheroes. Early screenings have attracted very warm reviews, Oscar buzz and comparisons to Kubrick’s 2001, whose extended deep space sequences Nolan appears to ape.

Yet at a press conference in London on Wednesday, Nolan said his key inspiration was films such as Close Encounters of a Third Kind, which sought to speculate about a moment when humans would need to reassess their place in the cosmos.

Interstellar does so from a post-climate change perspective. It shows a world disseminated by a man-made agricultural blight that forces other options to be scoped out. Rather than being a call to arms to preserve the planet, it fast-forwards to a time when any such battle has been lost.
“It has as a jumping-off point not that we’re meant to save the earth, we’re meant to leave it,” said Nolan. “Obviously, if that’s taken literally it would not be particularly positive. The film feeds off certain concerns that are very valid in the world today. But really it’s about saying what is mankind’s place in the universe? I think it’s very exciting to deal with that dramatically and I think it’s important we have to deal with that out of necessity. In real life, it would be far better if we dealt with that issue out of choice.”

McConaughey’s character is mentored by a man played by Michael Caine and loosely based on the astrophysicist Kip Thorne. Thorne’s work both inspired and informed the film, but Caine, 81, said that until he spoke with the scientist, the only wormholes he’d been familiar with were those in his garden.

Caine, who has now worked with Nolan six times, said his own re-evaluation of the reality of climate change coincided with his making the film. “When I went to do this movie in LA two years ago I left on 2 October. It was 86 degrees here and when I got to Los Angeles it was pouring with rain. That is the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to be. That worried me. I’d never believed in global warming and I went: ‘Whoops. Maybe there is something in it.’”

Asked if he was taking measures to try reduce his own ecological footprint, Caine jokingly protested that he was still making up for a frugal youth. “I was so poor for so long. I didn’t use anything or eat very much so I figured the world owed me a debt. Now I’ve been eating very well and have had a big car for a long time.”

His fellow cast-members banged the ecological drum a little harder, with vegan Jessica Chastain championing “meat-free Mondays” and Anne Hathaway saying she timed her showers and tried to support small, ethical businesses. Nolan, meanwhile, expressed enthusiasm for pooling resources, “gathering people in one place, like a movie theatre – you can save an enormous amount of electricity”.

Interstellar suggests the survival of the species may depend on enough people extending a sense of empathy beyond their immediate family. It acts as a tribute to those adventurers of the past who were able to sideline short-termism in the service of exploration. But the cast agreed what would be needed to prevent such action from becoming necessary in the first place was a rapid and concerted effort.

“I think mother nature’s gonna be just fine,” said McConaughey. “But we might not. The masses have to have a personal stake in things to take action.”

Hathaway pointed to societal structures as a cause of such inertia. “I don’t think we’ve learned how to broach with the topic with your average person that your life is being controlled by a small group of people who are themselves controlled by greed.”

Both actors, as well as Chastain and Nolan, reported that they nonetheless remained optimistic, and had faith in the sentiment of the film’s tagline: “The end of Earth will not be the end of us.”

Caine, however, remained sceptical. “If Earth screws up, I think we all go,” he said. “How many people can go through a black hole in a rocket? It’s not a bus.”