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Sinister 2 (2015)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sinister 2, 30 August 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first film was a terrific old-fashioned scary movie, I had mixed feelings about there being a sequel, the trailer for it looked good, but it could have gone either way, but I gave it a chance. Basically Courtney Collins (A Knight's Tale's Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin boys, Zach (Dartanian Sloan) and Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) are attempting to start a new life, and have moved into a seemingly idyllic secluded rural farmhouse. But the building has a secret: over the past fifty years it has been the scene of a gruesome ritualistic murder, bearing a striking resemblance to a series of family slayings, as seen in the events of the previous film. Dylan is suffering from nightmares, all involving the visitation of a group of ghostly children who bring him to the basement and force him watch reels of Super 8 film of them. Each of their films start with them and their families looking innocent and happy, and then restrained and being savagely murdered, including being eaten by alligators, being electrocuted in a flooded kitchen, and being buried alive in snow on Christmas Day. The family are soon visited by private detective Ex-Deputy So & So (James Ransone), previously seen in the first film, he is investigating the recent massacre of author Ellison Oswalt and his family, he believes Courtney and her family will be the next victims. The Deputy starts piecing together the mystery behind the murders and uncovers an ancient myth of an evil demon called Bughuul (Nicholas King), the killer is someone - or something - more evil than anything he could have imagined. Dylan has watched almost all of the old reels of film, and the ghoulish children want him to be the one to kill his own family in a gruesome way, he is almost brainwashed into doing so. Courtney and the Deputy had seen seen strange things going on and heard things go bump in the night, soon enough the danger increases for them, it's obviously not going to be a happy ending. Also starring Lea Coco as Clint Collins, Tate Ellington as Dr. Stomberg, John Beasley as Father Rodriguez, Lucas Jade Zumann as Milo and Jaden Klein as Ted. Sossamon is alright as the mother who becomes frightened for her own and her children's lives, and Ransone is a welcome return as the man trying to help them, there are some differences in terms of how the terror occurs, but it is almost exactly the same concept, murders seen in old films and then nasty things come after the family, so it was a little predictable in places, but there were just enough jump scares and creepiness that worked, not such a bad supernatural horror sequel. Okay!

Secrets & Lies, 30 August 2015
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the career of Oscar BAFTA nominated director Mike Leigh (Abigail's Party, Vera Drake, Another Year) this was the film that became his biggest box office hit, it features in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, so I was definitely going to watch it. Basically Hortense Cumberbatch (Broadchurch's Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is a black middle class woman who works as an optometrist in London, she was adopted as a child and has chosen to trace her family history and find her birth mother, she is warned about what could happen when trying to contact lost relatives, but she continues her investigation. Cynthia Rose Purley (BAFTA and Golden Globe winning, and Oscar nominated Brenda Blethyn) is a white working class woman who lives with her daughter Roxanne (Carrie & Barry's Claire Rushbrook), who works as a street cleaner, and despite an awkward relationship often visits her brother Maurice (BAFTA nominated Timothy Spall), who works as a photographer and lives with his wife Monica (Downton Abbey's Phyllis Logan). Hortense is baffled to learn that her birth mother is a white woman, it is Cynthia, she meanwhile has had an argument with Maurice, once he has left Hortense rings Cynthia and asks to speak to "Cynthia Rose Purley, referring to baby "Elizabeth Purley", born in 1968, Cynthia is shocked to realise she is talking to her long- lost daughter. Cynthia initially hangs up the phone, but Hortense calls back and is determined to find out more about her background, she convinces Cynthia to meet her outside a tube station, they go for a cup of tea, looking at documents Hortense shows her Cynthia feels ashamed, and cannot talk about the birth father. After a while Cynthia and Hortense have formed a friendship, Roxanne notices her meeting a black woman often, but Cynthia is secretive about who she is, she mentions the birthday party for Roxanne to her and invites her, with Maurice's permission accepted, despite thinking it will be awkward Hortense agrees. The day of the birthday barbecue arrives, Hortense posing as a work colleague, Monica makes everyone feel welcome, Cynthia makes open comments about Monica making improvements on the house rather than giving Maurice a child, and Maurice suggests to Roxanne going to college, she does not take this seriously, and while Maurice prepares the food Hortense answers questions from the guests about her career and future. Roxanne blows out her birthday candles, Cynthia becomes exceptionally nervous, she lets slip that Hortense is her daughter, everyone dismisses this as a drunken comment, but she insists it is true, and Roxanne walks out angry and horrified at her mother, Maurice finds her at a bus stop and calms her down. Maurice convincer her to return and talk to Cynthia, who apologises profusely, she explains she became pregnant at fifteen and the father sent Hortense away for adoption, she never expected Hortense to come back. In the heat of the moment Cynthia accuses Monica of being selfish, Maurice reveals that she is physically incapable of having children, they have gone to various doctors and therapies in the past, but she cannot conceive a child, he then loses his temper, stating he tries to make people happy and cannot take it anymore. Hortense has sat back and watched these secrets and lies unfold, Maurice stops her from leaving, he admires her for courage trying to find her own past, he does know who her father is, but will not reveal it either, Cynthia then explains to Roxanne that her father was an American medical student who disappeared following a holiday to Benidorm. In the end a while has passed and things have calmed down, Hortense is free to visit Cynthia and Roxanne at their home, Hortense says she always wanted a sister, Roxanne says that she would be happy to introduce her to people as her half-sister, in spite of the long explanation that comes with it, and the three of them gather at Cynthia's for a cup of tea. Also starring Elizabeth Berrington as Jane, The Bill's Michele Austin as Dionne, EastEnders' Lee Ross as Paul, Lesley Manville as Social Worker, Ron Cook as Stuart, Bridget Jones's Diary's Emma Amos as Girl with Scar, The Bill's Brian Bovell as Hortense's Brother, Trevor Laird as Hortense's Brother, EastEnders' Clare Perkins as Hortense's Sister-in-Law, Elias Perkins McCook as Hortense's Nephew, Big Brother's Keylee Jade "Shabby" Flanders as Girl in Optician's, EastEnders' Nitin Ganatra as Potential Husband, EastEnders' Stephen Churchett as Man in Suit, Coronation Street's David Neilson as Man in Suit, Abigail's Party's Alison Steadman as Dog Owner, The Royle Family's Liz Smith as Cat Owner, Calendar Girls' Angela Curran as Little Boy's Mother, Philip Davis as Man in Suit and Another Year's Ruth Sheen as Laughing Woman. Blethyn is fantastic as the emotional white woman who's past comes back to haunt her, Jean- Baptiste is great as the black woman longing to find out about herself, and Spall and Rushbrook give impressive supporting performances. The storyline of the black woman finding her white birth mother is interesting, the highlight is them talking in the café, and the other secrets and lies from other characters are good as well, this is essentially a razor-sharp observation of life in suburbia, full of melancholy, it is more about the characters interactions than the storyline, overall it is a must see British drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for Mike Leigh, it won the BAFTAs for the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film and Best Original Screenplay, and it was nominated for Best Film, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama. Very good!

"Vicious" (2013)
Vicious, 29 August 2015
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched the first episode and originally couldn't really get into it, but the I saw it was coming back for a second series, so I gave the first another chance, and I did end up watching the lot, directed by Ed Bye (Kevin & Perry Go Large, My Family, Fat Slags). Basically the show revolves around the lives of openly gay elderly couple Freddie Thornhill (Sir Ian McKellen) and Stuart Bixby (Sir Derek Jacobi) who have been together for forty-eight years. They live together in their Covent Garden home and have a love/hate relationship, Freddie is a budding actor and Stuart used to work in a bar, both of their careers are almost over and they spend most of their time entertaining guests. Most of the episodes consist of them hurling sarcastic and bitter (or "vicious") insults to each other, and they have an aged dog named Balthazar that is unseen but they always check is still breathing. The most frequent guests visiting Freddie and Stuart are their handsome young neighbour Ash Weston (Iwan Rheon) who lives in the flat upstairs and sees them as father figures for advice about girls and jobs, and their close friend Violet Crosby (Frances de la Tour) who openly admits to having a sexual appetite for Ash, but later gets married to a scoundrel named Jasper. Their other visitors are old friends dotty Penelope (Marcia Warren) who gets confused over simple things, and Freddie's often sharp-tongued brother Mason (Philip Voss). Most episodes of all the series and the Christmas special consist of the banter between Freddie and Stuart, giving either useful advice to or mentoring Ash, Stuart talking to his mother who is remarkably still alive, Freddie finding rubbish acting or performing parts, listening to Violet's problems, and getting into some awkward, odd or sometimes outrageous situations. McKellen being posh and Jacobi being camp are gay in real life, they are convincing as the aging couple, de la Tour is amusing as the older woman lusting for the younger man, and Rheon is alright as the awkward but reasonably charming young man. I have to say that I do have a small soft spot for this programme, it is very predictable with its writing, performances and overall feel, but the homosexual relationship is original and there were some moments that made me laugh, so it's not a bad sitcom. Worth watching!

Breaking Bad, 29 August 2015
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Many people and sources were telling me that this was one of the greatest shows on TV, so I was getting frustrated that I had not seen it, but I finally decided to give it a go when I had plenty of time to watch, I am so happy I did, created by Vince Gilligan. Basically the show sees the story of high school chemistry teacher Walter "Walt" White (Golden Globe winning and three-time nominated, and four-time Emmy winning and twice nominated Bryan Cranston, also producing, and directing some episodes), he is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, and he wants to make sure his family is financially supported after he dies. Therefore, with former student Jesse Pinkman (Golden Globe nominated, and three-time Emmy winning and twice nominated Aaron Paul), having seen the opportunity to make thousands of dollars from it, Walter with his chemistry knowledge manages to cook a perfect batch of crystallised methamphetamine, coloured blue, so he produces it and Jesse finds methods to sell it. They start independently, cooking in an RV, selling to psychopathic Mexican drug kingpin Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), with Walter using the alias "Heisenberg", but he becomes too dangerous to do business with, so they find a way to dispose of him and move on. Walter and Jesse settle on business with Gustavo 'Gus' Fring (Emmy nominated Giancarlo Esposito), a respected man who owns many businesses, including fast food restaurant chain Los Pollos Hermanos (Spanish for "The Chicken Brothers"), he uses his businesses to secretly distribute crystal meth across America, he gives the pair their own lab, hidden beneath his laundry business. Walter tries to balance his life of crime while continuing to maintain his family life, with wife Skyler (twice Emmy winning and nominated Anna Gunn), who eventually finds out, but helps to hide the money and all from teenage cerebral palsy suffering son Walter "Flynn" White, Jr. (RJ Mitte) and the rest of the family. Meanwhile, Walter's brother-in- law Hank Schrader (Under the Dome's Dean Norris) is a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent trying the stop the selling and distributions of drugs across America, especially crystal meth, following the many clues he finds to find "Heisenberg", he is completely unaware (until near the end) that his own brother-in-law is responsible. To make certain that business continues to grow, and the DEA and other authorities do not discover Walter, Jesse and all others involved, Walter hires lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) as their accomplice, he has connections to "fixers", and they also have his private investigator Mike Ehrmantraut (Emmy nominated Jonathan Banks), who also works for Gus, getting involved when needed. Throughout the series Walter struggles to keep his personal and "professional" life separate, with dangerous criminals and the authorities getting too close, Jesse struggles with his conscience in situations and to keep those he cares for safe, Hank gets obsessive about finding those spreading the blue crystal meth across the many states, and Skyler becomes understandably concerned for the safety of her family, as well as depressed and loathsome of Walter. In the end, after the deaths of Gus and Mike and much more going on, Walter's world crumbles when he is exposed for the drug criminal he is, Hank is killed, Jesse is forced to continue cooking by criminals, Walt goes into hiding for months with cancer before returning to see his family one last time and get revenge against the criminals who wronged him, Walt ends up mortally wounded and succumbs to his injury, dying as the police close in. Also starring Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader, Steven Michael Quezada as Steven "Gomie" Gomez, Charles Baker as Skinny Pete, Jesse Plemons as Todd, Christopher Cousins as Ted Beneke, Laura Fraser as Lydia Rodarte- Quayle, Matt Jones as Badger, Michael Shamus Wiles as ASAC George Merkert, Lavell Crawford as Huell, Krysten Ritter as Jane Margolis, Carmen Serano as Carmen Molina, Emmy nominated Mark Margolis as Héctor "Tio" Salamanca (the bell ringing wheelchair-bound silent former drug runner and enforcer, one of my favourite characters), David Costabile as Gale Boetticher, Michael Bowen as Uncle Jack and Robert Forster as Ed. Cranston gives a brilliant performance as the ordinary dying man turned ruthless drug maker, he's both the sympathetic and loathsome anti-hero, Paul is equally brilliant as the street-wise drug-taking young man who has an ever-changing personality and a conscience, supporting cast members Gunn and Norris and others give great performances as well. The show I admit started slightly slow, but you are certainly hooked, and by season 2 or 3 you are absolutely gripped and cannot stop watching, it has everything you could ask for: brilliant acting, writing and direction; it has danger, intrigue, small moments of comedy and much more, the best episodes I think are the TV break down in the middle of nowhere and in the lab trying to catch the fly, and of course I agree with critics and opinions that it has a fantastic ending, overall it is a a suitably acclaimed, unmissable and superb crime drama. It won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Drama, and it won the Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series (twice, also nominated three times), Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (also nominated three times) and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series (four times, also nominated five times), and it was nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for a One Hour Series (three times), Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (twice), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (five times), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (three times) and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) (twice). Very, very good!

Trainwreck (2015)
Trainwreck, 23 August 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the leading actress and writer chatting about this film on The Graham Norton Show, from the trailer it looked like an alternative rom-com, it wasn't what I expected having seen the trailer, but I did watch it all, directed by Judd Apatow (The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People). Basically young sisters Amy (Devin Fabry) and Kim (Carly Oudin) are told by their father Gordon Townsend (Colin Quinn) that he and their mother are divorcing because monogamy isn't realistic, he uses a doll to illustrate the metaphor that he wants to be with other women. Twenty-three years later, Kim (Brie Larson) ignored this because she resented her father's constant sleeping around, drunkenness and cheating on her mother, she is married to Tom (Mike Birbiglia), but Amy (Amy Schumer, also writing) lives what she sees as an uninhibited life, with no boring romantic commitment, regularly getting drunk and stoned, partying and sleeping with various men, but no sleepovers, but she is dating gym-addict Steven (John Cena). Amy works as a writer for men's magazine S'nuff, during a meeting for pitches with editor Dianna (Tilda Swinton) Amy talks about her thoughts that sports are stupid, and with that Dianna assigns her take on the sports section article, she will interview sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), despite the fact she doesn't want it. Amy goes ahead with the scheduled interviews with the charming and successful sports doctor, soon after after a couple of interviews Aaron asks her for a date, she is apprehensive for a while, but eventually, during a date, she breaks up with Steven, admitting she sleeps with other men, he is crushed and leaves. Amy slowly finds herself falling into the article she is writing, and dating him often, and eventually giving in and sleeping with him, she finds herself falling for Aaron, she starts to question herself and thinking that if guys she has been with are on to something. Despite him saying often, Amy cannot truly give into her affections and be committed towards Aaron, her article seems to disinterest Dianna, who fires her, Amy opens up about her feelings to LeBron James, Matthew Broderick, Chris Evert and Marv Albert, and in the end she decides that she is truly willing to commit with Aaron, performing a cheer leading routine to get his attention, in the end they embrace true love. Also starring Vanessa Bayer as Nikki, Dave Attell as Noam, Randall Park as Bryson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower's Ezra Miller as Donald, Daniel Radcliffe as The Dogwalker (the movie within the movie) and Marisa Tomei as The Dog Owner (also the movie within the movie). Schumer is likable as the not conventionally attractive promiscuous and commitment-phobic "trainwreck" of the title, Hader is alright as the guy she fancies, but the one that surprised was Swinton as the brassy editor, I had no idea it was her until I came out of the cinema, she pulled off the American accent impeccably and was fantastically feisty. Schumer as well as being a good actress, with her career in stand-up and sketch shows, has made a well delivered script, I admit I did find little bits slowing things down, but the overall on and off love story is interesting, and there were a few moments that crack a smile and get a good laugh, a worthwhile enough romantic comedy. Good!

Killers (2010)
Killers, 23 August 2015
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the trailer for this film during its release, so I remembered the leading actor and actress starring, I think it was them and the title that attracted me to watching, I ignored the negative reviews, directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Monster-in-Law, 21). Basically Spencer Aimes (Razzie winning Ashton Kutcher) appears to be an average guy to ordinary people, but he is actually an undercover, government-hired assassin who often spends his time in exotic Euopean locations, flashy cars and surrounded by beautiful women. But things are due to change for him when whilst in Nice, France, he meets beautiful, fun-loving computer technician Jennifer "Jen" Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl), she is recently recovering from a break-up, Spencer has found true love. In a fairly short period, after returning to America, Spencer finds Jen and is keen to marry her, he gets the permission of her father Mr. Kornfeldt (Tom Selleck) and boozy mother Mrs. Kornfeldt (Catherine O'Hara), Jen is overjoyed, and Spencer drops international intrigue for domestic bliss. Of course escaping the assassination business is not that easy for Spencer, there will always be someone trying to catch or kill him, it is on his 30th birthday that he is now the target of a multi-million dollar hit, and worse is that the stalkers have been watching him and Jen for years, they could be close friends, neighbours, grocery store staff or an old man across the street. Jen is shocked to find out Spencer's true profession when he is targeted in their own home, they are forced to go on the run, their happy suburban life turns into a paranoid game of dodge-the-bullet, she is naturally mad that he has hidden this secret from her all the years they have been together. Spencer and Jen must now find out who is targeting him and why, while also trying to rescue their marriage in the process, manage the in-laws and keep up appearances to the neighbours, and just survive the chaos. Also starring Katheryn Winnick as Vivian, Kevin Sussman as Mac Bailey, Lisa Ann Walter as Olivia Brooks, Casey Wilson as Kristen, Rob Riggle as Henry, Martin Mull as Holbrook, Family Guy's Alex Borstein as Lily Bailey and rapper Usher Raymond a Kevin the Manager. Kutcher has always been a limited actor, only The Butterfly Effect and Punk'd stand out in mind as being any good, he cannot pull off the charming hit-man image well enough, at least Heigl is nice looking and is amusing being both unknowing and feisty, Selleck gets his moments as the wise father and O'Hara is likable as the often drinking and mugging mother. This could have been a good film, but it is a bit mixed throughout, the first half with the couple falling for each other while the guy's secret is hidden is fine, and it certainly picks up with pace once they are in danger from other hit men, but it can be predictable most of the way, and I admit I didn't laugh a lot, I don't think it's as bad as one star out of five like critics give it, it's not the worst action comedy. Adequate!

Immortals (2011)
Immortals, 23 August 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the poster and DVD cover for this mythical movie many times, the title made it obvious what the plot would involve, it had an average rating from critics, but that didn't stop me watching it, from director Tarsem Singh (The Cell, Mirror Mirror). Basically ages after the Greek Gods won their battle against the Titans, imprisoned deep within the walls of Mount Tartaros since the dawn of time and thirsting for revenge, but a new evil threatens the land, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) is mad with power and has declared war on humanity. Hyperion's army are amassed of bloodthirsty soldiers he has personally disfigured, like he is, he is in search of the legendary weapon of unimaginable power, the Epirus Bow, forged in the heavens by Ares, whoever possesses this bow can unleash the Titans, and bring a rain of destruction upon mankind and annihilate the Gods. The Gods, aka the "immortals", have ancient laws that dictate they must not intervene with the conflicts of man, they remain powerless to stop Hyperion, so Zeus (Luke Evans) secretly chooses a peasant named Theseus (Man of Steel's Henry Cavill) to come forth as the only hope for humanity from Hyperion and his army. Theseus rallies a band of fellow outsiders, including visionary priestess Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and cunning slave Stavros (Stephen Dorff), the leading hero will be the one to lead the uprising, or watch his homeland fall into ruin and the Gods vanish into legend, of course in the end Hyperion is defeated in the final battle, and Theseus sacrifices himself and is transported to Olympus with the Gods. Also starring John Hurt as Old Man, Isabel Lucas as Athena, Kellan Lutz as Poseidon, Joseph Morgan as Lysander, Peter Stebbings as Helios, Stephen McHattie as Cassander, Daniel Sharman as Ares, Steve Byers as Heracles, Romano Orzari as Icarus, Corey Sevier as Apollo and Mark Margolis as The New Priest. Cavill proves himself a good lead a few years before becoming Superman, Rourke is a good choice for the beefed up villain, and supporting cast members like Hurt and Evans get their moments too, the special effects are well done, and most of the fight sequences are engaging enough, especially being bloody, but it is a fairly predictable tale of the threat to the Gods and humans of ancient Greece, I admit I did get slightly bored at times, but overall it's not such a bad action fantasy. Okay!

Takers (2010)
Takers, 23 August 2015
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this film listed in the television schedule, it sounded like your typical cop-criminal crime movie, but the cast list was good enough for me, so I decided to give it a go. Basically a team of five exceptional organised bank robbers, led by Gordon Jennings (Idris Elba), consisting of John Rahway (Paul Walker), A.J. (Hayden Christensen), and brothers Jake (Michael Ealy) and Jesse (Chris Brown) Attica, have successfully carried out several bank heists with perfect execution, leaving not a single clue for police to capture them. The "takers" treat each bank robbery as a business plan, planning each job with precision and being extremely to not leave any evidence behind, they keep the money clean, and they lay low for a year between jobs to keep away police attention. The team, with former member Ghost (Tip 'T.I.' Harris), decide to pull of one last heist, to be their biggest score, $20 million, with an armoured car, but they cannot use meticulous planning because of the short time frame to do the job, and the large cash amount that will split between them. But with the grand heist approaching they have trouble, reckless police officer Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) is getting closer to apprehending them, going through CCTV footage from a previous bank robbery. He gets lucky when he recognises one of the criminal's hand signals, spotting them on the street, while with his daughter in the car, the band of thieves finally make a major mistake, and it looks like the police have their opportunity to catch them. Also starring Jay Hernandez as Eddie Hatcher, Zoë Saldana as Lilli, Johnathon Schaech as Scott, Broadchurch's Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Naomi, Steve Harris as Lt. Carver, Gaius Charles as Max, Gideon Emery as Sergei, Zulay Henao as Monica, Glynn Turman as Chief Detective Duncan, Nicholas "Nick" Turturro as Franco Dalia, Isa Briones as Sunday, Andrei Runtso as Constantine and Vladimir Tevlovski as Ethan. Elba does well as the British robbers leader, Walker does well also as second in command of the crooks, and Dillon is good as the obsessive cop who will do anything to track and capture the gang of swindlers, this is nothing new really, a lot of predictable moments, but you cannot help but engage with both the police and criminal characters, their missions and how they will conclude, the best moments are of course the chase and robbery sequences, all in all it's not a bad action crime drama. Worth watching!

My Name Is Bruce, 20 August 2015
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I remember seeing the DVD for this film, the title pretty much tells you what to expect, starring and directed by the star I know best as Ash from The Evil Dead trilogy, I knew this was going to be terrible, but I had to see why. Basically in the mining town of Gold Lick, Oregon, young Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) is a big fan of B-movie star Bruce Campbell, he is out with his friend Clayton (Logan Martin) to meet Big Debbie (Ariel Badenhop) and Little Debbie (Ali Akay) in the nineteenth-century cemetery. Jeff unintentionally removes a medallion off the mausoleum, unleashing the Chinese god of the dead, Guan-Di (James Peck), it kills Clayton and the girls, while Jeff flees, he panics and knows that the town needs to be saved, and he can think of only one person to help, his movie hero. Bruce Campbell is filming his latest naff looking science-fiction , blood-filled B-movie, Cave Alien II, with his drinking habits and rude nature he is not popular amongst the film crew, but his agent Mills Toddner (Ted Raimi) has promised a birthday surprise. Next thing he knows Bruce is knocked unconscious and wakes up inside the trunk of Jeff's car, Bruce assumes he is a mad stalker-like fan, he arrives in the town of Gold Lick and listens to the townspeople talk about the trouble with the ancient ghoul, he assumes this is his birthday surprise, a new movie, and despite no scripts and cameras in sight he agrees to "help". While "preparing" himself Bruce is trying to get in the good books of Jeff's mother Kelly Graham (Grace Thorsen), who initially finds his behaviour irritating, and he gears himself up in the town gun shop. Bruce joins some townspeople brave enough to venture into the woods and take on Guan- Di, he assumes it is all still just a movie, he then finds out it is all real and flees the town, a running gag is an Italian painter (Ted Raimi) constantly repaints the population sign every time someone dies, including himself. Returning to his own movie set Bruce, everyone on the set hates him, including his own dog, and his ex-wife Cheryl (The Evil Dead's Ellen Sandweiss) has a restraining order placed upon him, but the real birthday surprise does show up, a singing prostitute named Kasey (Janelle Farber). Bruce gets a call from Jeff, he informs him he is going up against Guan-Di, so Bruce goes back to Gold Lick, he is treated with contempt and tries to reconcile with Kelly, but ultimately he is back to save the town. Bruce and Jeff set up dynamite at the mausoleum, they try to lure Guan-Di inside, eventually Bruce sacrifices himself and the dynamite is blown, and the medallion is returned into the wall of the mausoleum to ease the spirit. But Guan-Di ha survived and comes out to attack, at the very last minute however, it turns out that this whole scenario is a movie, Bruce argues with Ted he doesn't want clichés, he wants a happy ending, so it is changed to Bruce marrying Kelly, and Jeff accepted into Harvard University, Bruce is pleased with this new ending, but again, this is not real, and Guan- Di appears and attacks Bruce. Also starring Ben McCain as Mayor and Timothy Patrick Quill as Frank. The whole is geared by Campbell parodying his own persona and movie roles, there are many in-jokes and spoofs based on The Evil Dead and his many other movies, but the story of the actor going against an awakened Chinese demon is silly, it hardly made me laugh, and the quality of special effects was low, the whole thing is just an awful mess, even for fans of Campbell, I would not bother with this boring and ridiculous comedy horror. Poor!

Excalibur (1981)
Excalibur, 20 August 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have seen The Sword in the Stone, Camelot, First Knight, The Magic Sword: Quest for Camelot and King Arthur are just some of the many adaptations I have seen of the famous Arthurian legend, and this was another one I was going to watch, directed by John Boorman (Point Blank, Deliverance, Exorcist II: The Heretic). Basically the sorcerer Merlin (Nicol Williamson) retrieves the mythical sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, he hands it to the violent, powerful knight Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne), but he is mortally wounded during battle, and before his death he plunges the sword into a stone. This legendary sword stays buried in the sword for months to come, Merlin proclaims whoever pulls the sword from the stone will become king of England, many try and fail, it only by chance that Uther's son Arthur (Nigel Terry) happens on the sword. Arthur pulls it out to give to his foster brother Kay (Niall O'Brien) after his original sword is stolen, Arthur is unaware of Excalibur's power, villagers and knights gather on hearing that the sword was pulled, so he hastily returns it, Kay with encouragement from his father Sir Hector (Clive Swift) tries to pull the sword, believing it to be loose now, but fails, so Arthur pulls it out once again, and is declared king of England by Sir Leondegrance (Sir Patrick Stewart). Arthur, guided by wizard Merlin, uses Excalibur to defeat the evil invaders and establish the great court of Camelot and the great Knights of the Round Table, including Sir Lancelot (Nicholas Clay), Sir Perceval (Paul Geoffrey) and Arthur's nephew Sir Gawain (Liam Neeson), he also falls in love with and marries Leondegrance's daughter Guenevere (Cherie Lunghi). In King Arthur's glory years and decline he experiences the shattering of his marriage to Guenevere following her affair with his best friend Sir Lancelot, the quest for the Holy Grail which produces many casualties among the knights, and there is the arrival of Mordred (Robert Addie), the son he had with his evil half-sister, the sorceress Morgana (Dame Helen Mirren). Through all of these events, Merlin watches over everything, always ready to throw in a Charm of Making when it's called for, including ageing Morgana and causing her own sons to kill her, in the end Arthur kills Mordred with Excalibur in a battle, he dies from a mortal wound, the sword is thrown into a pool to be caught by the Lady of the Lake. Also starring Keith Buckley as Uryens, Katrine Boorman, John's daughter as Igrayne, Corin Redgrave as Cornwall, Ciarán Hinds as Lot and Charley Boorman, John's son as Boy Mordred. Terry is a relatively interesting King Arthur, Mirren is good at being the villainess of the piece, but Williamson gets as the best lines and moments as the legendary wizard Merlin, I have to admit when I heard about this film I assumed it was a family film, I could not be more wrong, it had a lot of bloody moments, I also admit I think it should have been a little shorter, but for most of the fight and battles scenes and special effects ladened magic stuff makes it a worthwhile action fantasy. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Cinematography, and it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Costume Design. Good!


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