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An Emotional and Startling Film from Beginning to End with HOTEL MUMBAI
Coming to theatres from writer/director Anthony Maras and Bleeker Street comes the terrifying attack on the crown jewel of India with HOTEL MUMBAI.
It is 2008 and Arjun (Dev Patel) is a husband and father who works at the Taj Hotel. His boss Chef Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and hotel butler Jamon (Alex Pinder) strives to each employee that the hotel has a reputation so the staff must constantly strive for perfection. Stressing that whatever a guest needs is what a guest gets.
Arriving for their stay are couple Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) and husband David (Armie Hammer) along with their baby and nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). Also Vasili (Jason Isaacs), a Russian who owns a company and knows how to enjoy himself arrives with many more guests checking in.
What no one in Mumbai knows is that a group of men led on the phone by the Bull has a plan for the city. Imran (Amandeep Singh), Abdullah (Suhail Nayyar), Houssam (Manoj Mehra), Rashid (Dinesh Kumar), Ismail (Amriptal Singh) and Ajmal (Kapil Netra) are about to wreak havoc.
Beginning with a restaurant the shooting starts and no one is spared, and as the gunman run, again they shoot and this time at police. The crowd starts running and come to the doors of the Taj Hotel. Begging to be let in, what they don't know is that the gunman are among them.
Within minutes the hotel is under siege as Oberoi tries to get as many guests as possible into a room where Arjun helps all he can. From the reception desk and going room to room, the gunman are indiscriminate and unstoppable. Eating at the hotel restaurant, David, Zahra and Vasili hit the floor and remain quiet but Zahra is frantic that the nanny Sally and her baby don't know what's coming.
The gunman are guided by their constant telephone calls from the Bull who keep the frenzy going. Police can only sit by and watch helplessly as most of their force has been killed and the Special Forces are coming from Delhi.
The survivors must work together under the most unimaginable horror to survive and save as many as they can.
Patel as Arjun portrays such a humble man who wants to do a good job. It doesn't help that on this particular day he has footwear issues. He immediately goes into his job and is pleasant, knowledgeable and very endearing. That is what Patel does, he takes a character like Arjun and gives him such relatability and heart and in a second has a role in THE WEDDING GUEST and turns into something completely different. In HOTEL MUMBAI he puts himself second, third and fourth sometimes and always ahead of everyone else. The final scene with Patel just tore me up. THAT is how good Patel is on the screen.
Kher as Oberoi is the father figure of the hotel and his staff listens to him. Doing his best to keep everyone calm and, more importantly, quiet, he never forgets to treat them with dignity (even if some fly off the hinges). Pinder as Jamon has a small role but he constantly reminds everyone that the Taj Hotel is home to the staff and they will defend it.
Boniadi as Zahra is a mother who is going to do anything for her child and husband. Her plans are daring, dangerous and actually made me catch my breath a time or two. Hammer as David wants to bring the family back together which means finding a way to get back up to their room without the gunman discovering him.
Isaac as Vasili is a Russian who isn't afraid of the gunman but knows not to tangle with them either. He takes a protective role for Zahra when she needs it most. He usually is a good guy or a bad guy but in this role he has the opportunity to be both but has his reasons.
Singh, Nayyar, Mehra, Kumar and Amriptal Singh have the most difficult of all roles in this film. As the gunman they are wrapped up tightly in this story with their weapons and their belief that the voice of Bull is guiding them correctly. When I say this isn't an easy role I absolutely mean it. From the moment the first shots are fired, these characters are going to be absolutely disgusted by anyone viewing the film. Of course that is the point but man it takes some acting guts to put yourselves in a role that even though absolutely necessary to the story.
Other cast include Adithi Kalkunte as Simple, Vipin Sharma as Dilip, Gaurav Paswala as Sanjay, Natasha Bordizzo as Bree, Angus McLaren as Eddie, Chantal Contouri as Mrs. Karvelas, Carmen Duncas as Lady Wynn and Sachin Joab as Vijay.
FINAL WORD: To the actors may I say a heartfelt thank you. This is not an easy story to tell, nor could it have been easy to put on film, yet you all took a leap of belief that it is a story that needed to be told. To the writers John Collee and Anthony Masas, it is important that HOTEL MUMBAI not be sugar coated and you both wrote that extraordinarily well.
This is based on true events and no event could have been more terrifying than this one. We all know a little of the story that comes out from the news but until the details are put in front of you it is quite easy to forget. I do not think I will ever now forget what happened at the Taj Hotel. There have only been a handful of true event films that have hit me hard and the hardest was the 2012 film THE IMPOSSIBLE.
I can honestly say that now, said film will have to share the top spot with HOTEL MUMBAI. This film brings the brutality, the humanity, the intensity and the utter heartbreak with each frame of the film. In the midst of the constant barrage of gunfire is the bravery and courage of those who would not let a moment go by without helping - even if it cost them dearly.
There wasn't a moment where I couldn't catch my breath, found myself whispering at the screen, put my hand over my mouth and yes, even felt my eyes well up with tears. This is an extraordinary film from the beginning until the end scene that reminds us of what is truly important - and it isn't shoes.
In the end - in November of 2008 terror struck the heart of the India.
SHAZAM! Entertains the Kid in us All
Coming to theatres from director David F. Sandberg, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros comes the story of a boy who is about to become the one and only SHAZAM!
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a young boy who has seen his chair of heart ache. Lost from his mother when he was a child, Billy has bounced around the foster care system. He finds a family with Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa (Marta Milans) who already have a full house.
He meets Freddy (Jack Grazer), Darla (Faithe Herman), Eugene (Ian Chen), Mary (Grace Fulton) and Pedro (Jovan Armand) who embrace him immediately. Trying to keep to himself, Billy has no luck as Freddy attaches himself quickly to his new brother.
But Billy has his own plan and has spent years trying to find the mother he lost so long ago. Carrying a list and coming to the end of it, he doesn't know what to do next. That is until his new siblings offer a technological way to make his search easier and get to it.
While on a subway one day he is transformed into another world where the Wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) tells Billy a story of how his world came to be. He also shares with the boy that all he has to do is say one word and the Wizard transfers his powers to Billy.
And now he is an adult in a superhero suit which freaks Billy (Zachary Levi) out immediately. He races home to tell Jack what has happened (who by the way is totally thrilled) and the two decide to have fun with social media. What the new suited Billy doesn't know is that there is someone else wants the power.
Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) has had his share of bad times with family and makes it clear to them that he is about to take over, well, everything. Finding his way to the world where the Wizard lives, he still resents not being chosen the Champion and instead releases the seven deadly sins and takes them to Billy's world.
Billy doesn't really want to fight Dr. Sivana but once the evilness comes for his new family, it is clear that not only does he finally feel up to the task but gets a few friends to get in on the fun!
Levi as the adult Shazam is very, very funny. This is what I love the most about Levi playing this character - he has the wonderful ability to look surprised like a kid, get upset like a kid, become giddy like a kid and ask questions like a kid all the while in the body of an adult. He made me laugh so much and when he comes to care for his new family - it is done as a kid's heart. Levi has captured so much in the film and I had such a good time watching him develop this role.
Strong as Dr. Sivana is an actor I love to see what he will do with a character. Look at his acting resume if you want to see how he can be a gentle character, a complex character, a strong character and even a funny character. Trust when I say that when he wants to portray and evil character - he can do it and do it well. As Sivana he gets another chance to make a character his very own. Yea, I dig Mark Strong.
Angel as the young Billy is a resourceful and slightly angry young man who spends his time searching and keeping people at arms length. All that aside, Angel has a side that sneaks out to let us know that he is vulnerable no matter how hard he fights it.
Grazer as Freddy is the absolutely perfect sidekick for both Angel and Levi's Billy/Shazam. He uses humor for the complications of his own life and although it doesn't always work, he doesn't lose it. Coming face to face with the other kids at school, it is when he is bullied that Billy sees they have more in common than he wanted to think.
Chen as Eugene is smart and loves a good challenge, Fulton as Mary is getting ready for college but can't decide if that's what she really wants, Armand as Pedro goes along to get along with the sibling group. It is Herman as Darla is the absolute cuteness of the group. She embraces Billy from day one and even when he gives her the cold-shoulder this young girl still radiates love.
Cooper as Victor and Milan as Rosa are happy with the home they've created. From the beginning they accepted Billy with all of his emotional standoffishness and believed that in time he would just blend into their already blended family.
Hounsou as the Wizard Shazam gets a chance to wear cheeky robes and wave around a walking stick that I'm sure he stole from Gandalf the Grey. He has the voice to share the scary story of why he is in the house of empty thrones and wicked statues so that's cool.
Other cast include Ava Preston as Lillian, Meagan Good as Darla, Evan Marsh as Burke Breyer, Natalia Safran as Mrs. Sivana, Andi Osho as Ms. Glover, Carson MacCormac as Brett Bryer, Sarah Bennani as Simone, Ali Badsha as Mehmet Kotil, and David J. MacNeil as Mr. Bryer.
FINAL WORD: This is our introduction to a new superhero with SHAZAM! I will admit that I kind of see him as a clean cut and child like Deadpool. Now understand there is nothing wrong with that at all except their comic homes are in different universes. Besides that, this is a fun film and I would absolutely recommend it for families.
Because of the kid/adult transformation, there are jokes, fun and situations that almost everyone can relate too. The audience I saw the film with didn't hide their excitement about seeing the film and during spend their time laughing, applauding and smiling from ear to ear.
That's what these films are all about, having a good time and doing it with family and friends. SHAZAM! is a film where it's okay to act a little giddy and maybe even a little kid-ish and nobody will mind in the slightest.
In the end - if you want to save the world just say the magic word!
THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is Crowned on Bluray
Coming to Bluray from writer/director Joe Cornish and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes a story of honor for THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING.
Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is a young boy living in England being raised by single mother Mrs. Elliott (Denise Gough). At school he isn't having a much better time except for his friendship with Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) who can't help with the bullying from Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris).
After a run in with the two and detentions handed out, Lance and Kaye are after Alex once again but he hides in a construction site. There he finds a sword and takes it out of the rocks. Taking it home, Alex shows it to Bedders and they do some internet searching and discover that the markings are that of Exaclibur, the sword of King Arthur.
What the two don't know is that Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), a sorceress is also looking for the sword and weird creatures are sent to find it. Shaken by what's happening, things get even weirder when the next day at school, Merlin (Angus Imrie) shows up as a boy of 16 and has to prove to Alex that he is actually the wizard Merlin by changing to an older version of himself (Patrick Stewart).
Merlin explains that in a few days things are going to become horrible for everyone in the town Alex lives in and all because of Morgana. Needing a few more knights, he shows Tom and Kaye what is going on and now they are, along with Bedders, Alexs' knights of the round kitchen table.
Alex also believes that his father might be the key to knowing how to find and defeat Morgana going to a place call Tintagel where Arthur was born. On the way, Merlin trains the four in ways that will help their quest. The problem is Morgana knows where they are and Merlin has to save them but not before Alex and Tom have a fight that breaks Exalibur and they all meet the Lady of the Lake.
Discovering the family truth, Alex feels defeated but it is Merlin that explains that the story may not be what he knew but it changes nothing. Morgana is still on a path of destruction so Alex must call upon the most unlikely people to create an army.
Morgana has no idea who she is dealing with!
Serkis as Alex is a young man who is perfect for this role. He looks like any other little boy and is very smart except for one thing - he is a king. Of course that might comes a quite a shock to the royal family but Serkis gives his character a good heart and an adventuresome spirit. Once he understands what must be done, his heart is as big as Excalibur.
Chaumoo as Bedder is such a sweetheart and very supportive friend to Alex. He is excited about the quest they are on and wants to be a part of it in every way. Even when things seem down, it is Bedders that lifts his friend up to move forward.
Taylor as Lance is a bully who just can't get enough of Alex. The problem is once the detention hits, he is even more ready to cause the young boy problems. That is until he sees that Alex isn't joking about what is going on and it does take him time but it seems being a knight suits him. Dorris as Kaye follows the same path as Taylor but finds a bit of power in her new role as a knight. She begins to see what is happening and wants to help but in the same way as the boys.
Imrie as Merlin is smart, funny and jumps through two worlds with a simple flick of his hands. He also knows what he needs to do to help Alex. Imrie gives his Merlin a sense of humor and a wicked way of getting his point across. He made me laugh - A LOT. Stewart as the older Merlin brings his usual wit and charisma to this iconic character.
Ferguson as Morgana is pretty upset at Merlin and being the half-sister of Arthur. Getting ahold of the sword is all she is interested in, oh and probably finding a way to get back at Merlin, Arthur and anyone else that gets in her way.
Other cast includes: Norma Dumezweni as Mrs. Lee, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Mr. Kepler, Mark Bonnar as Mr. Jeffreys, Alexandra Roach as Ms. Foster, Nick Mohammed as Mr. Hyde and Genevieve O'Reilly as Aunt Sophie.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.
MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.
The Bluray and DVD includes over an hour of Quest Features including: Deleted Scenes, Origins of a King, Young Knights, Knight School, The Two Merlins and so much more.
THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is a fun adventure not only for kids but for the kids at heart. This is actually a great family film to watch together (or even with grandkids if you have them!). It's a story of the struggles each of us face when we aren't understood by others, how to deal with those who want to cause harm, what can happen when everyone works together and the power of belief and friendship.
I enjoyed the story and the bringing together of four people who probably wouldn't have been friends if it hadn't been for fate and a sword called Excalibur. The film is filled with everything one would want from King Arthur and the round table mixed in with a young boy telling the story of his part in history.
Gather the family, break out the armor and pop the royal corn because it's time for a weekend adventure.
In the end - An army to fight, a demon to slay, a world to save…no pressure!
They Don't See MISS BALA Coming on Bluray!
Coming to Bluray and Digital from director Catherine Hardwicke and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment comes a thriller that starts with MISS BALA.
Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) is preparing to drive to Tijuana, Mexico to watch her best friend Suzu (Cristina Rodio) compete in the Miss Baja beauty pageant. Before the festivities begin, Gloria and Suzu take a night out to dance and have a few drinks. That idea is short lived when out of nowhere gunmen break into the nightclub and try to grab Gloria but she escapes.
The next morning she can't find Suzu and begins making telephone calls. Going to the police turns into a detour when she discovers that her friend was taken by the Las Estrellas gang. Let by Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova), he agrees to help her get Suzu back if, and only if, Gloria agrees to work for them.
That entails driving explosives that blow up a building, driving drugs and guns across the boarder and leading the DEA to Las Estrellas. In the meantime, Lino takes a liking to Gloria and shows her how to defend herself should the need arise again. No one around her, especially Poyo (Ricardo Abarca) seems to trust her but Lino and meeting Isabella (Aislinn Derbez), Gloria sees what happens to women they take.
The plans are about to get even more dangerous when Lino tells Gloria that he wants her to enter the Miss Baja pageant because it will lead him to the real target - the Mexican Chief of Police Saucedo (Damian Alcazar). Agreeing to let Gloria see Suzu, it is all a set up for the shootout that is going to change who is taking who.
Never point a weapon unless you intent to use it!
Rodriguez as Gloria puts in a stellar performance of a woman trapped in a web not of her own making. She takes her character into a place where it is safer to pay attention to even the smallest of details because they will come in handy later. Each step she takes brings her closer to even more danger but she can't exactly step back either. When Rodriguez finally gets to let her character loose, she still keeps it together and stays one step ahead of who ever is trying to stop her. I like that about this character and Rodriguez's portrayal.
Cordova as Lino is a smooth talking gangster who uses fear as a way to control Gloria. Even with the charm he is as ruthless as anyone can imagine. His character doesn't get loud, doesn't get physical but instead lets his weapon do the talking for him. There is no hesitation in distrusting anyone but there is a chink in his armor when it comes to Gloria.
Abarca as Poyo is a character you just can't stand from minute one. As one of Lino's "trusted" men, he keeps an eye on Gloria and tries to get Lino to turn on her every chance he gets. He definitely plays a bad guy you like to dislike immensely. Rodio as Suzu is used just as one would expect of a kidnapped woman and Gloria is determined to find her. Derbez as Isabella is also a kept woman who lives in as much fear as Gloria and manages to keep it under control doing what she is told when she is told, that's survival.
Other cast include: Erick Urbina as Tucan, Mikhail Plata as Chivo, Jorge Mardueno as Ortiz, Lilian Robles as Dona Rosita, Oscar Estrada as Owl Man and Matt Lauria as DEA Agent Brian Reich.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment encompasses motion picture production for television, digital content and theater releases. The studios include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films and Sony Picture Classics. To see what is coming to theaters and to home entertainment please visit www.sonypictures.com.
MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.
The Bonus Materials Include: Eight Deleted Scenes & Extended Scenes, Three Features including - Gina: The Unstoppable Strength of a Woman, The Bigger the Bang: Action on the Set and Making of MISS BALA, A Look into the Stunts and Costumes with Catherine Hardwicke and Feature Commentary with Director Catherine Hardwick, Executive Producer Jamie Marshall and Associate Producer Shayda Frost.
MISS BALA is a thriller that works its way into the final scenes. It allows the viewer to experience Gloria's journey step by step and what she must do to survive. Rodriguez also has the opportunity to share her views about her role playing a strong Latina woman and having a cast and crew that is 93% Latino led.
The story weaves its way through Gloria's smarts and Rodriguez truly does make the tale complete. I enjoyed every aspect of the film and can see how it could be possible to make more of them with the help of Jimmy played by Anthony Mackie. We shall see!
Anyone who lives in the San Diego area will recognize quite readily the scenes both in Mexico and across the United States border. I have to say that's almost a bonus for me as I know exactly where most of those locations are - it’s a fun bonus.
In the end - who would you become to save your family?
Coming this Friday to theatres is the highly anticipated finale with an iconic team from directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Marvel and Walt Disney Studios with AVENGERS: Endgame.
That's about the most I want to tell you about AVENGERS: Endgame and why is that? Well, I don't want to spoil anything about the film for those who have been waiting patiently and to back me up is this letter from the Russo brothers that circled the internet.
It reads as follows:
To the greatest fans in the world,
This is it. This is the end. The end of an unprecedented narrative mosaic spanning eleven years and eleven franchises. For all of you who have been on this journey with us since the very beginning, sharing every high and low with your family, your friends, your classmates, your co-workers. Investing so deeply in every character and storyline. Laughing. Cheering. Shedding tears. Giving so freely of your thoughts and emotions
In spirited dialogue, theories, fan art and fan fiction. Please know that the two of us, along with everyone involved in Endgame, have worked tirelessly for the last three years with the sole intention of delivering a surprising and emotionally powerful conclusion to the Infinity Saga.
Because so many of you have invested your time, your hearts, and your souls into these stories, we're once again asking for your help.
When you see Endgame in the coming weeks, please don't spoil it for others, the same way you wouldn't want it spoiled for you.
Remember, Thanos still demands your silence.
As always, good luck and happy viewing….
The Russo Brothers
This is important for people to read because AVENGERS: Endgame is the end of eleven years of storytelling and eleven years of a journey that has brought comic book fans to the theatres and at the same time created new comic book readers. After seeing it for myself, I agree with the Russo Brothers and ask the same of all those who are reading this.
In 2008, we were all introduced to IRON MAN, Tony Stark and the only man who will ever be this character to my way of thinking - Robert Downey, Jr. I didn't know much about this character and turned to my two sons to talk about it. I knew Iron Man's place in the world of comics and knew what he looked like but that's about it. Robert Downey, Jr. gave me a quick lesson which was not a surprise to me.
Seeing this first offering was fantastic and I remember thinking at the time that I wouldn't mind seeing more of Tony Stark. I had no idea that somewhere in the world someone else was thinking the very same thing as the universe (to be tagged the ‘Marvel Universe’) was about to get oh so much bigger.
Then came more Marvel characters with THE INCREDIBLE HULK, more IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, and THOR in 2012. Then the crew of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, the second AVENGERS in 2015, ANT-MAN, the return of SPIDER MAN, the introduction of DOCTOR STRANGE, and Wakanda brought us BLACK PANTHER. All of these set the stage for the 2018 AVENGERS: Infinity Wars.
Adding the final piece of the puzzle, we meet the new CAPTAIN MARVEL. All of this guiding us to this Friday's inevitable finale of AVENGERS: Endgame.
As each film came to the big screen, the crowds of people became bigger and bigger and all for different reasons. The most interesting thing about these Marvel films is that everyone's reason for becoming part of the theatre experience is different but the kid-like excitement is the same and generationally shared.
That is what Marvel has brought to everyone who has experienced the comic-book-to-screen phenomena. Each character has something that we all can relate to in some way or another. Their stories of struggle and reconciling love and loss is relatable and heartfelt. We want them to be our heroes and cheer for them to save our planet time and time again.
So, for AVENGERS: Endgame what can I tell you? The film picks up with what has happened after Thanos snapped his Infinity Stone-laden chunky fingers and what the left-over Avengers are doing in this new reality. Each is now dealing with their losses and the wish that the world were right again. That is where a plan to make that right happen is formed.
Sounds easy right? Hardly, because everything done by the Avengers isn't a straight line from chaos to success. Obstacles get in their way, twists and turns are put into play and stories have an opportunity to be told. There is also so much raw emotion in the entire three hours of the film, there are giggles, jaw drops and I do so highly suggest bringing tissue.
At the premier for the film, Chris Evans aka Captain America says about AVENGERS: Endgame, "It’s a double edged sword in that you have this wonderful fan base but also the pressure to satisfy the people who's taste is from the source material. You can't deviate too much and they deserve this."
The ever so charming and never-aging Paul Rudd says, "I can't believe we are finally going to see the movie. I'm excited for audiences to experience the culmination of these films and see where this thing has landed and have a satisfying emotional roller coaster ride experience."
I'm giving Robert Downey, Jr. the final say about how he feels with, "I'm excited, nervous and have such pride. We are fans and that is the reason this has been such a great adventure."
I have always found it difficult to watch a film where there is a huge cast because I always want to see more of one character over another, not the case with the AVENGERS films. Don't get me wrong, I do have my personal favorites in Tony Stark and Loki (I love a smart smart-ass and a smooth talking Asgardian what can I say!), but the AVENGERS cast mesh in the sense that each has a job to do and they don't screen-hog to do it.
The MCU is one of action, adventure, storytelling, lessons to be learned, friendship, loyalty, chaos, a lot of destruction, those who want to see the world burn and superheroes that make it their life mission to stop it and all of this brought to a hungry audience who want more. That's what Marvel does and will continue to do. Although AVENGERS: Endgame is a finale in this particular chapter of that MCU, there are so many more stories waiting in the wings to be shown to us on the big screen.
This weekend I suspect that theatres on our particular universe and planet will be bursting at the seams with fans waiting to spend three hours with their closest super hero friends. AVENGERS: Endgame is a film to be experienced with your family, friends and every person in what ever theatre you find yourself in. I don't think anyone who has invested so much time and emotion into these films will be disappointed.
There is so much to take in and so much to prepare for. Here are a few suggestions if I may: 1) Lay off the liquids a few hours before the film so you can have plenty of popcorn and drink during the film, 2) take a deep breath and exhale slowly from the moment the theatre goes dark and then remember to breathe often after that, 3) bring tissue…lots and lots of tissue.
They started this together and each scene attempts to bring closure for fans so embrace every moment of the film. Clearly AVENGERS: Endgame was made with love, fun and a sense that the creators wanted to give fans everything – the good, the bad, the cheering and the sad. AVENGERS: Endgame is going to give everyone exactly that.
In the end - each of these Avengers has something to lose, something to gain and a world that needs to be set right.
His Story and Life Collide in TOLKIEN
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Dome Karukoski and Fox Searchlight Pictures comes the story of stories told about the life of TOLKIEN.
The story begins with war as Private Sam Hodges (Craig Roberts) finds a very ill Tolkien and makes it his mission to help him survive. Out in the field as bombs rage and gas explodes, he once again sees how his life began and led him to the field of inhumanity.
J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) was a young man living with his mother and brother in a small English house in the middle of vast fields. One day Father Francis (Colm Meaney) helps the family move to the city to start again but it doesn’t last long as once again Father Francis moves Tolkien and his younger brother to the house of Mrs. Faulkner (Pam Ferris). Becoming their guardian, she starts with the boys’ education and Tolkien dives deeper into his drawings and writings.
Eventual Mrs. Faulkner takes in Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) and Tolkien is quite taken with her. Continuing to be watched over by Father Francis, the young man is told that he can’t share his feelings about her and still go to university. He makes the sad choice to leave her and joins childhood friends Rob Gilson (Patrick Gibson), Geoffrey Smith (Anthony Boyle) and Christopher Wiseman (Tom Glynn-Carney), also known as the TCBS, to university.
As the group continues to meet, Tolkien is one step away from having to leave school when he discovers Professor Wright (Derek Jacobi). Sharing his story’s with the Professor, both men become thrilled at the possibilities of the story and language. Finally finding his place in school, the war breaks out and Tolkien is called up.
Before shipping out he once again sees Edith and he finds himself still smitten with the young girl. They have a chance to explain to one another the situation as it was then but their hearts never let go of one another only to be parted again by battle.
Tolkien fights to stay alive, fights to find his friends and without realizing it would soon take all the horrors of war and create one of the most iconic stories ever written.
Hoult as Tolkien takes on the monumental task of playing a character that became famous for his books and his name becomes world wide again when the films come to the screen. I will be honest, I wasn’t sure that justice could be done in the story telling of a writer who impacted my life so profoundly yet Hoult did so. The struggles of youth followed Tolkien and he could have ‘gone wrong’ as the sayings goes but instead he found a path that Hoult walks honorably.
Collins as Edith is a young girl understanding Tolkien much more than anyone else (other than his brother). She pushes him to continue to write stories because she saw something magical about the world Tolkien creates. Collins gives her character strength, dignity and a forwardness not seen by women of Edith’s day. Meaney as Father Francis takes the role of father, protector and if that doesn’t work he uses good old fashioned guilt to ‘guide’ Tolkien’s life choices. I have to say I wasn’t happy with this character and that’s probably because I’m not much for emotional bullying which means Meaney did a fantastic job!
Gibson, Boyle and Glynn-Carney as Rob, Geoffrey and Christopher are three friends I’d love to have had growing up. Although they started out prickly, the story of each of these young men would impact Tolkien in ways they would never see coming. These four actors when on screen together are gripping and I enjoyed watching their friendship grow.
Now, as for Roberts as Private Sam Hodges, I have only one thing to say – stellar and well done young man, extremely well done. From beginning to end it was the life of Tolkien that was his mission and he took it so seriously that nothing would turn him from it. Sound like a story character you might know?
Other cast include Laura Donnelly as Mabel Tolkien, Guillermo Bedward as Hilary Tolkien, Nia Gwynne as Browen, Tony Nash as Mackintosh, Owen Teale as Headmaster Gilson, Lara Maguire as Rose, Holly Dempster as Beryl, Genevieve O’Reilly as Mrs. Smith and David Birkbeck as Porter.
TOLKIEN is well done, beautifully put on screen and gives the viewer a deep look inside what it took for THE LORD OF THE RINGS to make it to the page. Watching the story unfold is like seeing how characters were born in his mind. I caught myself a few times pointing at things I saw on the screen with an inhale and then a smile. Okay, so being a raging Tolkien fan it was like being part of a mental treasure hunt.
The cast brings together with such intensity the moments in Tolkien’s life that he held on to for dear life. The story is raw and beautiful at the same time to the point where I didn’t want it to end. The good news is that sitting on my library shelf are the books and films which are a wonderful solace brought by a man who took what he experienced in his life and shared it in the most magnificent way with the world.
In the end – a life of love, courage and fellowship!
POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Rob Letterman and Warner Bros. Pictures is a little yellow fluff ball with a mind of his own known as POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU.
Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) is a young man raised by his grandmother in a world of Pokémon’s and working at a life insurance company. All of that is about to change when he receives a telephone call from Lt. Hide Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) to inform him that his father Henry Goodman has died.
Meeting with Lt. Yoshida it is clear that Tim doesn’t want to hear about what happened asking for the keys to his father’s apartment. Arriving, Tim discovers that the room his father made for him remains exactly the same. Well, maybe not exactly the same as something is creeping around the room.
Shining a light Tim discovers Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), his father’s Pokémon and that he understands him! That’s when a story pours out of the yellow eared creature saying there is something wrong with his memory. Believing that something is amiss, Tim tells Pikachu about a vile of blue liquid that makes other Pokémon’s a little nut.
Wanting answers, Tim finds himself caught up in Pikachu’s investigation which leads them to Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) who also believes that Tim’s father is still alive. Clifford also believes his son Roger (Chris Geere) has something to do with what is happening.
Wanna-be reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) steps in and wants to help because she believes there is a story in all of this. At a secret lab Tim, Pikachu and Lucy discover that this is more frightening than they could have imagined. Someone is trying to let loose a chemical that will change everything. Who is who will surprise them all.
That doesn’t mean Pikachu, Tim and Lucy aren’t going to go without a fight!
Smith as Tim is a young man who isn’t too thrilled with his life. He has a thing against Pokémon’s so discovering he has to work with Pikachu to get answers doesn’t exactly thrill him. As the story of his father unfolds, Tim finds himself more and more curious about the true story. Smith is moody and definitely needs Pikachu’s comic relief.
Newton as Lucy is on the ball, has a nose for news and doesn’t grasp the concept of the word ‘no’. She isn’t about to let a story like Tim’s go without investigating and she certainly gives it her all. Newton is spunky and funny in a quirky way. Watanabe as Yoshida has a small role but I’ll take any screen time he can get!
Nighy as Clifford is an inventor who believes Tim’s father isn’t gone but just missing. Wanting to help in any way he can also means keeping his son at bay. Geere as Clifford seems to be the bad guy in this scenario with his creepy smile and ability to take out anyone that gets in his way.
Now, let’s talk about Reynolds even though we really don’t need to as far as I’m concerned. Yes, his wit and timing are absolutely astounding and yes I love him as Deadpool which means I wasn’t certain how I’d feel about him taking on Pikachu. It was a fleeting thought because as Pikachu he gets to once again be silly and the audience loved every minute of it. That basically means Reynolds can do no wrong in pretty much everyone’s eyes.
Other cast include Suki Waterhouse as Ms. Norman, Josette Simon as Grams, Karan Soni as Jack, Diplo as DJ and Rita Ora as Dr. Ann Laurent.
POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU is definitely a film that fans of Pokémon are going to enjoy. They are going to recognize characters from the Pokémon world and will be laughing at a lot of their antics. My kids who are now grownups are the ones I watched go through the Pokémon era so I know they are going to enjoy this film lot.
I recognized the characters and found myself giggling quite a few times. The film is fun, colorful, fast paced and did I mention fun? The CGI is pretty cool and the scene between Tim, Pikachu and their mime attests to that.
POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU is charming and even delightful. There are a few twists and turns that I’m avoiding because I want everyone to enjoy it for themselves. So grab a bucket of popcorn with the kids and go have a good time this weekend!
In the end – the mystery is on!
It’s all Out Wrestling When FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY
This week on Bluray/DVD and Digital from writer/director Stephen Merchant is a story of family, friends and a little bit of wrestling when FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY.
The Knight family is a little different than most families living in England. Led by Dad Ricky Knight (Nick Frost) and Mom Julia (Lena Headey), their kids Zak (Jack Lowden) and Saraya (Florence Pugh) go around the country with their own brand of wrestling to take care of the family.
Their goal is getting the WWE to watch a tape of their wrestling so that Zak and Saraya can get their shot. In the meantime they all do their part and even teach other kids about wrestling.
One day they get the call they have been waiting for when the WWE come to town giving Zak and Saraya a chance to show what they’ve got. Getting a few pointers from The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), they are excited to begin. Judged by Coach Hutch (Vince Vaughn), it doesn’t take long before a decision is made and Saraya changes her name to Paige and heads to Florida to NXT training.
The Knight family is beside themselves and their business also begins to pick up. Paige is having a difficult time with training and isn’t sure who she is in this wrestling world as it’s nothing like back home. She isn’t getting much in the way of friendship from the other girls Jeri-Lynn (Kim Matula), Kirsten (Aqueela Zoll) and Madison (Ellie Gonsalves).
When it all seems to be falling apart, Paige must learn who to trust, who to listen to and what to believe about herself if she is ever going to be a true Diva!
Pugh as Saraya aka Paige is a fighter that comes from a family who believe in everything wrestling. They live and breathe it only wanting to be a part of something that they see as their salvation. Pugh portrays Paige as a young woman that wants to please everyone and at the same time doesn’t quite know how to fit into this world she was raised on. Her performance is strong and sweet at the same time, just like her character.
Lowden as Zack believes in wrestling with his heart and soul. Putting everything into it and then expecting a family of his own, he wants to succeed and make their lives easier. There comes a time when he sees his life turning on him and after losing one brother to prison could quite easily follow. The truth isn’t easy but needed to be heard.
Vaughn as Hutch is a hard-ass coach who doesn’t take excuses and certainly doesn’t dish out sympathy. He has one job and that’s to make the incoming WWE wrestlers steadfast and with their eye on the prize. Vaughn gets a chance to show that he can play someone who doesn’t have the luxury of being emotional. I like him in this role.
Frost as Ricky is a Dad who came from a questionable early life but turned it all around. He raised his family to do everything together, include wrestling, and doesn’t mind one bit if they all seem a bit different than everybody else. Headey as Julia is a Mom to beat all Moms, seeing wrestling as something that saved her life she also is a Mom who wants her children to be happy no matter what ever path they chose to follow.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gets a chance to steal a few scenes and I loved when he was. Especially the scene when Zak and Paige meet him for the first time – a geek out moment that he responds to as only he can.
Other cast includes: Thea Trinidad as AJ Lee, Paul Wight as Big Show, Stephen Farrelly as Sheamus, Josh Myers as Bruiser, Stephen Merchant as Hugh, Hannah Rae as Courtney, Jack Gouldbourne as Calum, Elroy Powell as Union Jack, Mohammad Amiri as Ez, Leah Harvey as Hannah and a special appearance by John Cena.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.
The Bluray/DVD Bonus Features include Deleted & Extended Scenes, Gag Reel, A Family’s Passion: A Making Of, Learning the Moves, and Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Merchant.
FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY is a look at an unusual family I see as not so unusual. They definitely have their own style and outlook but they have found something that joins the family together. What makes me laugh the most is they don’t care who doesn’t understand their love of wrestling and personally go out of their way to explain it all and reel in almost anyone.
Each member of the family believes in the other no matter what mistakes are made and reaches out to those who see themselves as different embracing them. I just love watching Zak and Saraya teach these kids how to be part of a group, a team and don’t believe in limitations.
It’s an amazing story about a family to be sure but also about Paige, a young girl who takes on the WWE world but takes a tough road to find her place and that makes the victory all the sweeter.
In the end – meet and outsider who changed the game!
Otzi the ICEMAN is a Find that Needs to be Seen on DVD
The story ICEMAN comes from Omnibus Entertainment and director/writer Felix Randau to portray a time in history that is still being discovered and constantly changes today.
The film tells the story of Kaleb (Jurgen Vogel), a man who is part of a small village. Surrounded by his woman and other members, they lived a quiet and productive life. When Kaleb ventures out one day to do some hunting up in the hills, he doesn't know that a band of men is about to destroy everything he knows.
Seeing the smoke from his village, Kaleb returns to discover everyone is dead and those responsible are lingering nearby. After they leave, he goes from house to house looking for survivors. Away from the village next to a young boy, the newest member of their tribe has been protected from the savagery.
Kaleb clearly makes the decision to track down those responsible and holding them accountable. Taking the child with him, their travels are difficult and slow. As he closes in on the men responsible, he makes a decision regarding the child that becomes a necessity.
The weather begins to change but Kaleb pushes on until he finds what he is looking for and makes the second biggest decision of this journey. Sometimes when you are blinded by vengeance, you don't see what's coming.
Vogel as Kaleb plays a man of few words but then again this is a film with few words. He is a strong man among his people and when it is all stripped away, he has nothing to lose regarding his decisions. This actor has the unique ability to let his acting speak volumes and I understood every message he is trying to convey. It takes a lot to impress me and Vogel has done just that with this performance. Inviting me into this journey and then keeping me there through the entire story is what I love about this film.
In playing the role of Kaleb, Vogel says, "The great thing about being an actor is that there are always roles that present a challenge. Roles like this one make you learn a lot. It got me interested in Otzi and the time he lives in and the script is really exciting. I didn't have to think about it for long. I found the idea of playing Otzi fascinating because this role is something completely new for me."
The theme of revenge for the character of Kaleb is front and center after discovering his family and friends are dead. Vogel says, "Ortiz is compelled by revenge to extremes and only then does he sense that he has gone too far. In this early period, the rule of force was applied to exercise justice, but men also have feelings, a conscience, this is not an invention of the modern age. That is what links us today with this Stone Age man. We can identify with his conflicts and challenge just as much today".
Other cast include Andre Hennricke as Krant, Sabin Tambrea as Tasar, Susanne Wuest as Kisis, Martin Schneider as Gosar, Violetta Schurawlow as Mitar, Anna F. as Rulan, Paula Renzler as Rasop and Franco Nero as Ditob.
Where did the idea of this character come from, well I'm about to tell you.
In 1991, two hikers were walking near Tisenjoch/Giogo di Tisa in the Senales Valley when they discovered a human corpse. Believing it was someone who had died due to exposure on the mountain, what they did not realize is exactly what they had found and how it would change what we know about early man.
Unable to bring the body down due to the weather, they did manage to bring an axe that was found and showed it to Reinhold Messner who realized it was very old. Returning to finally retrieve the body, they would also make a discover of personal items and a bow. Taking their find to Otztal Valley in Austria, the forensics could begin.
Testing concluded that the man was over 5,000 years old and when researchers returned to where he was found, they uncovered other possessions. As the study of the mummy continued, they would discover tattoos and what seemed to be his understanding of illness and how to treat what ailed him like the use of birch bracket fungus.
The clothing found with Otzi consisted of leather and grass fibers and a fair amount of braiding. His tools consisted of a copper axe, a dagger and tools to make repairs. He was also found with a woven map and other items.
The question became, how did Otzi die? It quickly became clear that he was shot with an arrow but may have also been attacked days before he died. The question then became was he hunted down and murdered? All of this would come into play in making of the film ICEMAN.
Writer/director Randau says about the story, "When we started getting into the material, I had been searching for a mythical figure from our culture who could provide me with the basis for an archaic story - the drama of man, as it were. Then Otzi simply arrived at my doorstep, a gift that I gladly accepted."
Producer Jan Kruger adds, "I have to frankly admit that Otiz hadn't really been on my radar before Felix game me this script to read. I was reminded of films like DANCES WITH WOLVES and QUEST FOR FIRE which I found brilliant. A native subject from Europe and on top of that, an uncopyrighted protagonist."
In regards to the lack of language in the film (which by the way I felt was in no way needed), Randau said, "I wrote the story in such a way that language does not have any dramaturgic function in the classical sense. The plot is not driven forward by the spoken word". Of course there are moments in the film where there is a language that although no one knows how language was used at that time, Randau called on linguist Chasper Pult to help.
ICEMAN takes us on the journey of a man who feels the need for justice. From the moment the film began I was taken in and never turned away from the screen. Every movement the peoples of this time made was not wasted - from living life, making food, rituals of death, making clothing, hunting and even revenge. This film does exactly the same thing - wastes nothing.
Using the surroundings to bring the story even more believability, I have to give the cast and crew so much credit because it looked rough, cold, wet and uncomfortable. That being said the places chosen to bring the story to film are sheer perfection in keeping me invested in the storyline.
If you given the opportunity see ICEMAN and share in the wonder of someone who once lived in our world and the story that needed to be told. The Bonus Feature of Making of Iceman is amazing.
In the end - they found a man but not his story!
TRIAL BY FIRE Questions Guilt
Coming to theatres from director Edward Zwick and Flashlight Films comes the story of the secrets and lies with TRIAL BY FIRE.
It is 1992 and Todd Willingham (Jack O'Connell) is in a complicated and jealousy driven relationship with wife Stacy (Emily Meade). One morning after leaving for work, Todd wakes up to his children calling him. He notices immediately that the house is filled with smoke.
Trying to get to them he becomes overwhelmed with smoke. Running outside, Todd breaks windows still trying to reach his children but the fire causes an explosion.
Dealing with the death of their three children, Todd and Stacy are pulled over after the funeral to have him arrested for murder. The town's law enforcement have investigated the fire and come to the conclusion that Todd intentionally killed the children.
After a quick trial filled with testimony that is anger filled and no defense put in place for Todd, he is sentenced to the death penalty and sent to prison.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern) is a writer raising two teenagers while taking care of an ex-husband. A friend tells her about writing to prisoners and Todd lands in her life. She learns he has been in prison for twelve years awaiting execution.
Visiting him in prison, she learns about who Todd was when the incident happened and how he is now. After getting a copy of the trial she realizes that everything about it was a travesty. Todd's only other 'regular' relationship is prison guard Daniels (Chris Coy) who doesn't want to befriend a prisoner but can't seem to help himself.
As Todd comes closer to execution, Elizabeth races to find help from those who also see the wrongs and try to make them right before it is too late.
O'Connell as Todd is a man with anger and jealousy issues in his marriage. The one thing that even his wife can agree with is that Todd loves his children. While in jail that is all he can think about while trying to figure out how he got behind bars. O'Connell gives a startling performance with moments of somber realizations that how he has lived his life has set the stage for those who want to see the execution go through.
Dern as Elizabeth is a woman dealing with so many things in her life of which none have to do with her. Reaching out to Todd and getting to know him starts a friendship that is based on the truths they both tell.
Meade as Stacy is a woman who doesn't know how to do the right thing. Dealing with the death of her children she is constantly being pushed in all directions by family and law enforcement to agree with the verdict handed down to Todd.
Coy as Daniels tries from the moment Todd steps into the prison to dehumanize him. As the years go on, Daniels sees who this man really is and even finds himself enjoying Todd's company. He, like Elizabeth, want someone to save a changed man.
Other cast include: Jade Pettyjohn as Julie Gilbert, Jeff Perry as Hurst, Jason Douglas as John Jackson, Wayne Pere as George Gilbert, Katie McClellan as Margaret Hays, Blair Bomar as Sandy and Rhoda Griffis as Darlene.
TRIAL BY FIRE is not only the story of Todd Willingham but the story of Texas, law enforcement and even then governor Rick Perry. As each step progresses from the moment Todd is arrested to the films conclusion is aimed at added another notch to the execution belt of a state that seems to have the highest in the country.
No one in the town Todd is from all the way up the ladder seemed interested in whether the truth was told or not. That's what I took away from the film the most - the lack of concern for the possibility that the law wasn't followed.
The cast constantly brings more and more questions to the forefront of the story as the film goes on which by the end had me totally and emotionally worn out.
Another aspect of the film is watching Todd grow as a person realizing the mistakes he made in his life. The one thing that didn't change and perhaps actually grew was this man's love of his children. The film explores his realizations and the truth behind the tragedy. Is he really innocent?
TRIAL BY FIRE is directed by Academy Award winner Edward Zwick and adapted by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Fletcher from David Grann’s article Trial by Fire found in The New Yorker.
In the end - stand up for what is right and for what is true!
Two Hours in the Dark with JOHN WICK: Chapter Three - Parabellum!
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Chad Stahelski and Lionsgate Is the next installment on the journey of JOHN WICK.
Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still on the run especially now since it has been declared that he is 'excommunicado' for killing a man at the Continental - major boo-boo. Basically it means that all the dogs are off their leashes with a W$14 million dollar bounty and no rest anytime soon for him.
Those he has relied on now tread carefully because the Table has sent The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to punish anyone who has helped Wick to this point. Her first task is to sentence Winston (Ian McShane), Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and The Director (Angelica Huston).
Wick knows he has only one chance, to find The Elder (Said Taghmaoul) to ask how he can make this all stop. The one person who can make the meeting happen is Sophia (Halle Berry) who isn't actually thrilled to see him at the door. Watching his every move is Zero (Mark Dacascos), an assassin who is quick and deadly.
Making a deal with the devil, as it were, Wick returns to The Continental where an all out war is declared.
Reeves as Wick has most definitely made sure no one else could possible take his place. He is still broody, still soft spoken and can still give a killer glare that gives nothing away. Oh, and one more thing, he can still make my heart flip-flop in that funny exciting way. What he also does is bring sympathy to a character we should all probably be afraid of!
McShane returns as Winston, the manager of The Continental who has a flare for words, for the finer things in life and has an elegant way of letting who ever know that he is going no where. His affinity for Wick is obvious but there is also a sneakiness about him that makes me give him side eye constantly. Well done!
Berry as Sophia has a history with Wick that is filled with a little rage yet she has no problem wielding a gun when wrong comes her way. Reddick as Charon keeps his concierge desk refined and run like a well oiled machine. I just love his calm demeanor, even when bullets are flying past his face.
Fishburne as the Bowery King is a rougher version of Winston running his bowery as he sees fit. He regrets nothing and is always looking at the bigger picture - that is his saving grace. Fishburne still has it and Wick should be glad he does.
Huston as The Director knows that even though there is an excommunicado order, there is one thing higher than that even if The Table doesn't want to acknowledge it. I just love when Huston plays roles like this because she is a tough broad and I love it.
Dacascos as Zero, aka the Iron Chef Chairman, is fantastic! From the moment his character hits the screen to the very last frame he brings martial arts and twisted humor to the film. Taghmaoul as The Elder brings his own brand of justice and a plan for Wick to stop all the madness.
A serious shout out to Dillion as The Adjudicator and let me tell you why. I have NEVER heard outcries throughout a film when one character shows up on a screen. I'll admit I was one of them yelling at the screen toward this cold hearted character who felt she was above everything and untouchable. When a room full of people react the same way to a character then listen because 1,000 people can't be wrong!
Thumbs up to Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog, Cecep Arif Rahman as The Assassin and Man of Tai Chi as Tiger Hu Chen for taking on the Baba Yaga with admiration and humor and, of course, sweeping martial arts moves and guts for taking on the boogeyman!
Other cast include Jerome Flynn as Berrada, Randall Duk Kim as Doctor, Margaret Daley as Operator, Tobias Segal as Earl, Obin Lord Taylor as Administrator, Susan Blommaert as Librarian, Jason Mantzoukas as Tick Tock Man, Sergio Delavicci as Ruska Roma, and Boban Marjanovic as Ernest.
Lets be honest here, anyone who loves the JOHN WICK franchise won't need me to say anything to convince them to see the film. But let’s pretend there are those who haven't seen any of the films or even know who John Wick is, wait, what?
Sorry, had to shake off that thought because seriously it is almost incomprehensible to the Keanu Reeves warm and fuzzy side of my brain. Moving onward!
From the first five seconds of the film until the last five seconds of the film I think blinking didn't much happen for me. There is little downtime and since John Wick doesn't get any, then WE don't get any either. This is a ride we take with him and the filmmaker made damn sure we are exhausted by the end - or are we?
Audience participation in films can go between being a good or irritating thing. Let me tell you in the case of JOHN WICK it is almost an involuntary reflex. The gasps, the shock, the wicked (pardon the semi-pun) humor, the action, the story, the cinematography that are happening on screen create the shouting at the screen from the audience.
During this screening I heard shouting, applause, cheering, guttural reactions of groaning, hostility, actual hissing and a theatre full of people rooting for a different kind of super-hero. I can not even count how many times The Adjudicator was a target of audience wanna-be verbal assassins. People in front of me were jumping, the gentleman beside me was constantly fist pumping with a 'yesssssssssssss' and comments behind me ranged from 'they don't know who they're dealing with' to 'ouch - that's gonna leave a mark'.
We were in unison with cheering, applause and groans which makes JOHN WICK: Chapter 3 - Parabellum a group experience. This is the reason we go to the movies (at least a lot of us anyway), to be transported, entertained and walk out of the theatre alive and full of conversation that is going to last for days.
Personally, I was completely exhausted not even realizing how much this film was slowly draining me. Yes, yes, I realize it is Reeves and the cast who worked their collective asses off to bring the story to the screen so let it be known that they drained every bit of everything out of this viewer.
That being said it should also be stated that I may be personally exhausted but after spending two glorious hours in the dark with John Wick aka Keanu Reeves, I'd gladly do it again, and again….and again.
In the end - if you want peace then prepare for war!
DETAILS COMING SOON!
Finale of GAME OF THRONES Brings Emotional Duality
(...and a Few Worthy Memes)
Well, our time in Westeros has come to an end and that saddens me in a dual way. I came to enjoy my Sunday evenings all cured up with my yarn crocheting while watching (yes I can crochet without looking) the antics of heroes and villains I either openly cheered and jeered or even secretly cheered.
The cast of GAME OF THRONES is one fans have felt they have watched grow into their characters. From the first season even I wasn't sure what this was all about having not read the books but was immediately curious with each episode. I'm not sure if it was because I wanted to see if Sean Bean lived (as he tended not to do with his characters) or my love of period pieces but week after week I stayed.
The journey of the Stark clan with Ned (Bean), Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), Robb (Richard Madden), Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), Bran (Isaac Wright) and the bastard Jon Snow (Kit Harington) didn't take long to be put under the thumb of the Lannisters’.
Speaking of a dysfunctional family led by Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), daughter Cersei Lannister-Baratheon (Lena Headey), along with sons Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) made sure fans appreciated their own families more. Of course dangling on that family tree was also the kid most likely to be strangled by the masses Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) amongst the rest of the kids.
Then there was this little blonde Targaryen girl named Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) who was traded to a very tall Dothraki leader in the form of Jason Momoa. Of course there is a history of craziness in her own family that she needs to come to terms with. That little marriage brought out the Mother of Dragons who flew her way into creating an army as we all cheered her on.
Of course behind the two families were such characters as Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen), Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), The Hound (Rory McCann), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Melisandre (Carice van Houten), and the beloved Hodor (Kristian Nairn).
There are so many characters to name that I just don't have enough room or time to write this all out so let’s move on and know that I am giving credit to every character as they are due with our humble thanks.
Onward, each season the story line grew bigger and bigger, so much so that I couldn't wait to go to Comic Con and sit in on the panel AND happily receive a goodie that included an awesome bag and inside a book so that I could read what I was missing, Seeing the casts on panels, it was fun to hear them talk about their time on the show as well as trying so very hard not to give anything away.
As the story unfolded season after season there was plans, survival, death, secrets, destruction, betrayal, power struggles (with family and with distant family) and all in the name of the Iron Throne and who will end up sitting on it. We began with Robert Baratheon and his friendship with Ned Stark and ended up with Joffrey being the next king (and I use a small 'k' because it fits him). Joffrey was the kind of king who would burn the wings of flies with a magnifying glass while his mother Cersei stands behind egging him on.
That's when Sansa gets put into play between the Starks and Lannisters but there is oh so much more to that story. As the houses begin to shift and loyalties become apparent, the one person who isn't loyal to anyone is Tyrion and that's when I started cheering for him. Yes, I understand that he has a problem with prostitutes and he likes to spout that 'That's what I do, I drink and I know things!' becoming his (and our) mantra.
We watched weddings, funerals, battles, enemies from far away and enemies close up fighting for supremacy, lack of love, a few crushes, women being passed on and men being passed over, magic, dragons, friendships (both faked and deserved), honesty wrapped in lies, and oh so much more in Westeros. Our loyalties, like the characters in Westeros, were solid - until they weren't.
The break between season 7 and 8 was the longest break in the show and fans believed, as I did, that it was because the last season would be epic. We bit our collective tongues when it was announced that there would only be six episodes, and we bit even harder when we learned collectively that it would be almost two years before the end would happen. Okay, we are die-hards, we can take it…right….RIGHT?
And so we all did, rumors would drop here and there and speculation about what would happen in the final season kept fans going until the first trailer dropped. I think the world might have stopped spinning for a second or two when that happened. It didn't give us much but it was something and we were raised to believe that it was better than nothing.
Then that first Sunday brought us all back, and sometimes in groups, to see who would finally sit on the Iron Throne. Bets were placed, surveys taken, and polls done with different opinions varying with Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys, Arya and Sansa being the top picks. Of course I had my pick which I will save till the end of this rant, rave or otherwise.
Each episode brought out grumbling fans who weren't to happy with how the stories were playing out. The grumblings were a bit low until the infamous 'coffee cup' screw up that hit the internet like wildfire. It started out as funny until people begin writing that this isn't the first 'ooops' that had been caught in this season and many began to see it as lack of caring. That translated into fans feeling slapped with a freshly caught trout across the kisser by the creators.
Along with that petitions started wandering around the internet demanding that the entire 8th season be redone. I actually thought that myself but in a more amused way because we all know that it would never happen. With all the complaining it was only a matter of time before creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss tried to humor there way out of the complaining. I read an article about it and laughed myself thinking 'well this is one way to thumb your nose at fans'.
As the finale drew near, I put my favorite Westeros shirt on and filled up my Tyrion "that's what I do is drink and I know things' cup and prepared to see who would finally sit on the Iron Throne. Yet, there was a nagging feeling I couldn't shake that with the way the final season had been going, I should just take a deep breath and suck it up that I wasn't going to get what I wanted.
That's exactly what happened, I didn't get what I wanted. Now its easy to say 'well no one is going to always be happy with the way things end on a long running series', tis true enough, however - that's not what disappointed me.
What caught me was the duality of feeling regarding the final season. So here’s the pros and cons of what went on inside my head these past few weeks (insert deep breath here, a crack of the knuckles and fingers on the keys…here we go!).
Let’s start with the downers shall we? What disappointed me is just the 'lack-of' I felt in the final season. The waste of time with these long drawn on scenes of longing looks or pull back camera work instead of putting the effort into talking, telling the story and really getting in there to let the characters hands get really dirty before its all over. It felt like a lack of umph that we would never have come to expect from GAME OF THRONES.
Each episode was about an hour and a half and yet there wasn't anything there that made me feel like my subscription to HBO was worth it. I felt like, without reading the final book, that there was so much room to play out the story effectively instead of special effects. Sure, I have no idea what it takes to bring a show like GAME OF THRONES to the screen and sure I don't have any idea how much it costs but lets be honest - that's not my job and it's not the viewers job to know that.
I don't want dark battles, I don't want long battles - I get it, there's a dragon that they used sparingly and you can't kill white walkers because the Night King has a wavering hands that revives them. Did I need a whole hour and a half of that? Nope. Did I need to see and hour and a half of Cersei staring at the destruction of Kings Landing? Nope. Did I need an hour and a half of a dragon burning innocent people into ash? Nope. Such a waste of time - my time - everyone's time. THEN, the finale ends up being an hour and 20 minutes? Seriously?
My remark on Twitter that the season was "lazy" is exactly how I feel, and even more-so with the finale. The only character I was riveted by was Tyrion because Dinklage showed me something, made me feel something even if I didn't like his choice. The only character I thought had a pair was Sansa and her declaration that was basically, 'screw you all, I'm doing what I want….period…so peace out!'.
We aren't even hours after the finale when, once again, a mysterious item shows up on the screen. Behind the leg of Samwell when the leaders bring Tyrion to them at the hands of Grey Worm - a plastic water bottle. Do you see what I mean by lazy? With each mistake that is on screen the suspension of disbelief is crushed and we only went to Westeros each week to be taken OUT of reality.
On the other hand…….
What did we learn on our journey? We learned that absolute power corrupts absolutely so sometimes melting a throne is best and love doesn't conqueror all, in fact in Westeros love could get you killed and usually did. We understood many things about the trials of some characters and we embraced others who seemed un-embraceable. Twisted life lessons but lessons all the same.
From the very beginning we all knew this was a game, a game among men and women for a throne, something that didn’t care about any of them was easily taken away. A game of life and death and there was plenty of that to go around from all the seven kingdoms.
We also learned that loyalty exists, friendships can come from the most unlikely places, that family (even dysfunctional ones) will beat each other up but let no one else do it and that magic is in the eyes of the beholder. All of these things are what makes us love GAME OF THRONES even when we are disgruntled by it.
We will all settle in time, we will watch and re-watch until a comfortability sets in. We will wait to see if the prequels that are rumored will give us back our Sunday's evenings of being whisked away to another time, another place and another story and restore our suspension of disbelief.
In Westeros, after everything, they are beginning again. Perhaps not as they wished and not as we wish but we are left knowing that they do go on in some form or another. In our own imaginations let us hope that the choices made in the finale send them all on their way to a peace not known in Westeros for eight season.
So we should all take a collective deep breath and remember, there are always box sets coming of every season to enjoy whenever you feel the need to visit old friends and enemies. It should keep us busy until we see the first trailer to the prequel to GAME OF THRONES.
In the words of Tyrion and the truth is in it, even after everything that has happened in the years we've all invested in GAME OF THRONES, "even knowing what I know now, I'd do it again" - and we will.