crime, drama, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

July 25th, 2017 Movie – Seven

seven

1995 was a time for some fairly memorable movies to come out, and man did I enjoy watching them. Today’s movie was one that I first had the opportunity to watch during a movie night at college, but ended up falling asleep. That was an interesting night as they were showing both today’s movie and 12 Monkeys and I fall asleep after Gluttony body is found and wake up to a bunch of animals running around a city with no clue what had happened. So when this came available to rent, I immediately rented it so I could find out what exactly happened. I always thought it was a good movie but never got around to buying it on DVD. When my brother was getting rid of his DVD’s and offered some of them to me, I saw that he had this one so I immediately decided to grab it. Now let’s see if it is as good as I can remember as I watch today’s movie, Seven.

The plot: At the scene of a murder, retiring detective William Somerset is examining the scene when his new partner, Detective David Mills, arrives and introduces himself. As they leave the scene, Somerset questions Mills as to why he chose to transfer to that particular city before they part ways. On Monday, Somerset and Mills arrive at the scene of an obese man who was found dead in his kitchen. As they examine the scene, they find the man’s hands and feet were bound and a bucket was under the table, collecting the man’s vomit. When Mills keeps talking nonstop, Somerset tells him to go help the officers ask the neighbors if they heard anything, which upsets Mills. At the morgue, the medical examiner tells Somerset and Mills that the man was forced to eat constantly until his stomach ruptured, with bruises on his head indicating a gun was pressed against it to force him into eating. Meeting with the captain, Somerset asks to be reassigned, as he feels like this is only the beginning and he doesn’t want this to be his last case. When he also asks that Mills be reassigned, as he doesn’t want this to be his first case, Mills objects and says he will work the case alone if Somerset doesn’t want to. The captain tells Somerset that he will keep working the dead man’s case, while sending Mills to investigate the death of a defense attorney. Mills arrives at the law firm, ignoring reporters’ questions as he heads up to the scene of the crime, where he finds the word Greed written in blood. Meanwhile, Somerset returns to the dead man’s apartment, after he had been given some pieces of wood that were in the dead man’s stomach. Examining the fridge, Somerset notices scratches in the floor in front of it and moves the fridge to find the word Gluttony written behind the fridge as well as a note. Back at the precinct, Somerset explains to the captain and Mills that the crimes are related and seemed patterned after the seven deadly sins. Somerset then tells them that they can expect 5 more murders before he walks away, saying he can’t be a part of this case. Somerset heads to the library and does some research on the seven sins, leaving a note for Mills to follow up on. The next day, as Mills is getting settled into his new desk (which was Somerset’s old office), his wife Tracy calls and invites Somerset over for dinner. After dinner, Somerset and Mills go over the photos of the attorney’s death and after seeing the picture of the attorney’s wife with blood around her eyes to make a pair of glasses, they decide to go ask her to look through the pictures to see if she sees anything missing or different. When the wife says one of the pictures is upside down, the two men go back to the office to examine the painting and discover fingerprints on the wall that spell out “Help Me.” When they run the prints, they match a known drug dealer and child molester so the SWAT team accompanies Somerset and Mills to his last known address. Breaking into the man’s apartment, they find hundreds of air fresheners hanging from the ceiling and the emaciated body of the man strapped to his bed. Mills finds photos of that the killer took of the man, showing he had been held captive there for a year, when the man suddenly starts breathing and thrashing on the bed and they have him rushed to a hospital. That night, Tracy calls Somerset and asks if they can meet in the morning to talk. Meeting at a diner, Tracy tells him that she is pregnant but she hasn’t told Mills yet as she hates the city and doesn’t want to raise a child there. As Somerset and Mills discuss the case at the precinct, Somerset gets an idea and has Mills accompany him to the library, where he prints a list of all the books that have to deal with the seven deadly sins. They then head to a diner, where Somerset hands the list to a contact at the FBI and he explains to Mills that the FBI would be able to find out who had been checking out some of those books, as well as books about murder and crime scenes in order to come up with some possible suspects. When they get a name, they head to the apartment of a man called John Doe but as they knock on the door, they notice a man approaching at the far end of the hallway. The man suddenly starts firing at them and Mills gives chase throughout the apartment and out into the street but John Doe gets the drop on him and holds a gun to Mills’ head, but lets him live and escapes as Somerset shows up. Heading back to the apartment, Mills wants to go in and look but Somerset tries to talk him out of it, as the way they found him was not technically legal, but Mills kicks the door open anyway, then bribes a woman to lie to the police in order to justify their being there. Heading inside, Mills finds several pictures, including one of him, and realizes that they had seen the killer earlier at the drug dealers’ apartment, posing as a reporter. When they hear a phone ring, Mills answers it and the killer congratulates them on finding him but says he will have to step up his time table. Seeing a picture of a blonde woman, they have some cops try to locate her before it is too late, while they head to an S&M shop, where John Doe had apparently purchased a custom item. When the girl is found, they find that she is dead, as a man was forced to rape her with a bladed codpiece, which ended up traumatizing the man. The next day, 911 receives a call from John Doe and Somerset and Mills arrive to find the fifth victim, a woman whose face had been slashed up and had a phone glued to one hand and a bottle of sleeping pills glued to the other; giving her a choice of living with a disfigured face or ending her own life. When the two return to the precinct, they are surprised to see John Doe arrive and turn himself in, demanding to see his lawyer. As John Doe speaks with his lawyer, Mills and Somerset learn that John Doe had been cutting the skin off of his fingertips for years in order to keep from leaving any prints. The lawyer meets with the detectives, the captain, and the D.A. and tells them John Doe’s demands. He says that he will take Mills and Somerset to the location of the last two bodies and sign a full confession of what he did but if they don’t do exactly what he says, he will plead insanity to everything. Somerset and Mills get in the car with John Doe and he directs them to a field outside of the city, discussing the people he killed along the way as a police helicopter follows them. When they arrive at the field, John Doe has them walk out to the field when Somerset notices a van coming down the road towards them and goes to intercept it. He discovers that it is a delivery van with a package for Mills that John Doe had arranged to send to their location at that time. When Somerset opens the box, he recoils in horror, then tells everyone to stay away before he runs back towards Mills, yelling at him to put his gun down. John Doe starts talking to Mills and telling him how much he envied his life and how he went to his home and tried to imitate it with Tracy but it didn’t take so he killed her and took her head as a trophy. When Somerset reaches them, Mills asks what is in the box while Somerset tries to get him to put his gun down. When John Doe tells Mills that Tracy begged for her life as well as her unborn baby’s life. Mills becomes grief stricken and ends up shooting John Doe, becoming Wrath like John Doe intended. Mills is taken away and the captain tells Somerset that they will do all they can to take care of him, and when he asks where Somerset will be, Somerset tells him he will be around as he walks away.

Seven met with positive results from the critics, holding an 80% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A brutal, relentlessly grimy shocker with taut performances, slick gore effects, and a haunting finale.” While filming the scene of Mills chasing after John Doe, Brad Pitt really did injure himself when he fell and his arm went through a windshield, requiring surgery, and the injury was worked into the movie. Denzel Washington and Sylvester Stallone were offered the role of Mills, while Al Pacino was offered the role of Somerset, but they all declined for various reasons and have sense admitted that they regret turning down the roles. The movie was a big hit at the box office, earning $327.3 million off of a $33 million budget.

If you want a dark and gritty movie, than this is the one for you. This is a fantastic movie to watch. The acting was fantastic, with Morgan Freeman (Somerset), Brad Pitt (Mills), and Kevin Spacey (John Doe) were absolutely incredible in this movie, while Gwyneth Paltrow was pretty much the only bright spot in the movie, somewhat literally with her blonde hair, in her portrayal of Tracy. The story was incredible and did a good job of painting a rather bleak outlook on life. The drama and tension involved in the movie did a great job in drawing the audience in and getting them invested in the outcome. I have to admit that even though I knew it was coming, I still jumped when the drug dealer started moving on the bed. A great movie to watch, especially on a dark, stormy night.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

July 24th, 2017 Movie – Serenity

serenity

I think that just about everyone knows who Joss Whedon is by now. Even if you were not a fan of his shows, you have at least heard of his TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel, though more people might know him as the director of The Avengers and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. In 2002, Whedon had another show that some people might not know about called Firefly. Unfortunately, it aired on Fox and they did not know quite where to place it in their line-up, putting it on Friday nights and eventually cancelling it before it’s first season finished airing. However, the show had developed a massive following and, with the massive sells of the Firefly DVD as proof that there was consumer interest, a movie was green lit. So lets see how the final adventures of the Serenity’s crew fare as I watch today’s movie, Serenity.

The plot: By the 26th Century, Earth had become so overpopulated that humanity was forced to find another planet to live on. They eventually found a new solar system and used terraforming to make the planets habitable. The central planets formed the Alliance and set about rules for all of the planets in the solar system but the outer planets value their independence and a war is fought over it. Some time in the future, River Tam is being experimented on and the Alliance scientists are trying to turn her into a psychic assassin but River’s brother Simon manages to sneak into the facility and break her out of there. Later, a man known as The Operative is examining the footage of the Tams’ escape and when the lead scientist arrives to question what he is doing, The operative replays the footage of the scientist saying key members of the Alliance had seen the project. The Operative says that it is possible that River had telepathically learned classified information from those members and his job is to ensure that nobody else learns it, then proceeds to kill the scientist and his guards for allowing it to happen. Meanwhile, Simon and River have taken refuge on the cargo ship Serenity, where Simon earns their keep by serving as the ship’s doctor. When they land on a planet to rob an Alliance payroll, Simon is upset that Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is taking River with him but Mal insists that he needs her due to her telepathic abilities. Mal, River, Zoe, and Jayne leave Simon, Wash (Zoe’s husband and the ship’s pilot), and Kaylee (the ship’s mechanic) on Serenity and head into the town to rob the payroll. As Mal and Zoe are in the vault, River has a vision of the Reavers, a savage and cannibalistic group of people that attack the outer planets. Mal tells the vault guard to get everyone inside the vault and seal it so they stay safe, then he and his group get on their mule and head out of town. A Reaver ship follows after them but Wash brings Serenity to them and they are able to board it on the run, killing the one Reaver that manages to get on board. As Mal and the others recover, Simon punches Mal for putting River in danger and tells him that they will be getting off at the next port and an angered Mal agrees to it. When they reach the next port, everyone leaves the ship, with Simon and River going their own way but Kaylee, who likes Simon, doesn’t like it and argues with Mal about this. As Mal and Jayne go to meet their contact and get paid for the payroll job, River walks into the bar and sees a commercial playing on the TV, causing her to whisper the word “Miranda” before she begins attacking the patrons of the bar. As Mal and Jayne try to stop her, River knocks out Jayne and goes to shoot Mal when Simon appears and says a phrase that causes River to fall asleep. Mal grabs River and takes her back onto Serenity and, after securing River into a room, grabs Simon and demands answers from him. Simon starts to explain what happened to River and Mal is upset that he had spent 8 months on the ship and never told anyone about what could happen. Realizing they need to find more information, they contact a hacker called Mr. Universe, who tells them that the video never made it to the news and was accessed by the military. Reviewing the footage, they see what set River off and Mr. Universe discovers a subliminal message hidden in the commercial which was intended to trigger River’s response. Mal and the others head to Haven, where their friend and former shipmate Shepherd has set up a community, and while they are resting there, Mal speaks to Shepherd about their situation and Shepherd warns him about what the Alliance will do. Mal receives a communication from Inara, another former shipmate and whom Mal has a romantic interest in, and even though they know it is a trap, Mal and the others go to save her. Mal manages to sneak into where Inara is but he encounters The Operative, who attempts to reason with Mal into giving River to him. Mal refuses and they start fighting but before the Operative can kill him, a flash grenade that Inara had secretly lit goes off, allowing Mal and Inara to escape. They make it back to Serenity and use decoys to keep The Operative from being able to track them. As they are flying back to Haven, Jayne argues with Mal about why they are keeping River on board the ship. When everyone goes off to separate areas of the ship, Jayne heads to River’s room to kill her but she knows he is coming and knocks him out. As the others search for River, she knocks out Simon so he can’t put her to sleep, then heads to the bridge. Mal finds her there and tries talking to her as she goes looking through the ship’s navigation system and she stops and points to a planet, calling it Miranda. Mal has the others join them on the bridge, while River apologizes to Simon for knocking him out, and they discuss Miranda, finding it odd that there doesn’t seem to be any record of it in the Alliance database. Mal suggests going there to investigate but Wash and Zoe point out that Miranda is in the heart of Reaver territory. The group heads to Haven to come up with a plan only to find that Haven has been razed. Mal manages to find Shepherd and calls for help but Shepherd dies before Simon can get there. Realizing that The Operative is attacking anywhere where they had hidden before, Zoe says to warn their friends but they find that they have all been killed. As Mal stares at the screens, The Operative comes on and says that Mal left him no choice, angering Mal. Mal orders the others to take some of the bodies and tie them to the ship so they can disguise themselves as Reavers and head to Miranda, though the crew is unhappy about doing it. They manage to make their way through the Reaver fleet and land on Miranda only to find that it has been terraformed and populated at one point, but all of the people are now dead. Following a beacon signal, they find a transmission from an Alliance scientist, who says that the chemical they used in the air to pacify the population made it where they stopped doing anything, including eating or anything necessary to live. However, a small percentage of the population had the opposite effect, making them more violent and crazed, and Mal and the others realize that the Alliance had created the Reavers. Mal decides to take the video and have Mr. Universe broadcast it to everyone and contact him to arrange it but unknown to them, The Operative was at Mr. Universe’s home and after he finishes speaking with Mal, The Operative kills Mr. Universe and has the transmitter destroyed while he prepares to ambush Mal and the others. Knowing that the Alliance will be waiting for them, Mal fires on the Reaver fleet as they leave Miranda, getting them to chase after them. When the Serenity emerges from the ion cloud above the planet, The Operative has his fleet target it but they are surprised when Reaver ships appear after it and they are forced to fight them. The Serenity makes it through the fleet in the confusion but a Reaver ship follows after them and causes them to crash. They manage to survive the crash but Wash is killed by the Reavers and Mal orders everyone to leave the ship. They make their way inside and Zoe tells Mal they will hold off the Reavers while Mal goes and gets the video to Mr. Universe. Mal heads to Mr. Universe’s chamber to find it trashed but Mr. Universe left a message with his sexbot, which tells Mal he had a back-up transmitter that is ready to transmit. Mal heads down to the back-up transmitter but unknown to him, The Operative, who was forced to eject from his ship as it was destroyed, had followed him and hears the message as well. Meanwhile, the Reavers start to attack the others and Zoe and Kaylee are injured, forcing them to fall back behind some blast doors but they don’t seal all the way. When Simon is shot, River goes through the opening and seals the blast doors, throwing Simon’s medical bag through before it closes, and then proceeds to fight with the Reavers. Mal reaches the transmitter but is attacked by the Operative, who attempts to paralyze Mal so he can kill him but Mal manages to get the upper hand and breaks the Operative’s back, then makes it so he has to watch as he plays the transmission that tells the entire solar system about how the Alliance made the Reavers. Mal rejoins the others and when he asks about River, they are surprised to see the doors open and River standing there, having killed all of the Reavers. Suddenly, the wall blasts open and Alliance soldiers arrive and threaten to shoot them but The Operative orders the soldiers to stand down. Sometime later, Mal and the others hold a funeral for Wash, Shepherd, and Mr. Universe then get to work repairing the ship. As they prepare to leave, Mal is approached by The Operative, who says he can’t guarantee that the Alliance won’t come after them, as the video weakened the Parliment’s power but did not remove it entirely. Mal heads up to the bridge and gets in the pilot’s chair, with River acting as his copilot, and they take off to their next adventure.

Serenity met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.” The movie takes place 6 months after the final episode of Firefly and a three issue comic mini-series, written by Whedon, was released in the summer of 2005 to bridge the gap in the story. Despite the strong following, the movie did not do so well at the box office, earning $38.9 million off of a $39 million budget.

If you are a fan of the show, you will enjoy this movie. Even if you aren’t a fan, if you are a fan of sci-fi movies, you will probably like this movie, but just not understand as much of what is happening. This is a pretty good movie all told. The acting was good, with Nathan Fillion (Mal), Summer Glau (River), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative) doing great jobs in their roles. Whedon did a good job in writing the plot so that you could follow along without having any previous knowledge of the show, while adding some elements that would appeal to the die hard fans. The special effects and fight scenes were pretty good, especially the fight scenes with River, as they utilized some of Summer Glau’s abilities as a former ballerina into her choreography. A fun way to end a TV show and a fun movie to enjoy.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review

July 23rd, 2017 Movie – Separate Ways

separate ways

“Here we stand. Worlds apart, hearts broken in two, two, two. Sleepless nights. Losing ground, I’m reaching for you, you, you.” I just new that as soon as I saw the title for today’s movie, that song would end up stuck in my head. Luckily, it happens to be my favorite Journey song so I don’t mind it happening, but it has absolutely nothing to do with today’s movie aside from sharing the same name. Now today’s movie comes from the Drive-In Cult Classics box set, which is one that I haven’t watched a movie from in a while. Since I had never heard of today’s movie before I got this set, this will either be a pleasant surprise, or a massive headache to watch. Let’s find out as I get right into today’s movie, Separate Ways.

The plot: Valentine Colby is married to a car dealer and amateur race car driver Ken Colby, but is growing unhappy with her marriage. The only good thing she feels has come with out of her marriage is her son, Jason. When Ken is at work, he has to deal with an auditor, who is trying to figure out why some cars that were sent to the dealership have gone missing. While Ken is finishing some paper work, Valentine is talking with some of their friends in the dealership, one of whom is complaining about the new sales lady, Mary, while another is discussing a car he is building for Ken but doesn’t give many details. Valentine tries to get some details from Ken about it but he doesn’t want to talk about it. The next day, Valentine is talking with her friends Annie and Karen, as Annie had just returned from a trip, and she discusses her unhappiness. After dropping off Annie at the pier, Valentine is walking along and sees Ken having sex with a coworker named Shelia in their boat. When she gets home, she proceeds to get drunk and start making a mess in the kitchen before heading upstairs to bed. When comes home in the morning, he finds the kitchen a mess but Valentine doesn’t say anything about it, while he doesn’t say anything about what he had done, as he had told her he would be at a meeting all day. Valentine heads to the local college, where she is taking an art class, and she runs into Jerry Lansing, who is attending classes there and invites her to go skating with him. After inviting her back to his place for something to eat, Jerry starts to kiss her and Valentine allows him to but stops it before things get too far. Meanwhile, Ken is filming a commercial for his dealership and afterwards, one of his guys tells him the auditor is back with someone from the bank, and Ken says he will handle it. Things seem to get worse between Ken and Valentine, as neither will admit to anything. They go over to their friends house for a BBQ over the weekend and as Ken is helping work on the engine of a car, his friend tells him his idea of having Ken drive his car as a way of helping to advertise for the dealership and Ken considers the offer. That night, Valentine is massaging Ken and tells him that she had fallen in love with him again, as the way he was today reminded her of the way he used to be. He tries to initiate sex but he refuses and she goes to the bathroom, feeling spurned. The next day, Valentine goes to Jerry’s apartment and ends up having sex with him. Some time later, Ken and Valentine are driving and Valentine says she wants to talk but they end up arguing over his reckless driving. After almost getting in a wreck, Ken pulls over and Valentine starts arguing some more before coming clean about seeing him with Shelia, then admitting that she slept with someone as well. While Ken says that his meant nothing and wants to try and get things back to normal, Valentine says that her affair meant something and she doesn’t want to head back home just yet and as they continue to argue, Ken ends up driving off and leaving her on the side of the road. Valentine goes to stay with Annie on her houseboat and ends up getting a job as a waitress at a go-go club. Meanwhile, Ken finds out that the bank is canceling the loan and if he doesn’t come up with the money for it, his business will be forced to close. After a few weeks, Valentine is on the phone with her son and when Ken gets on the phone, she tells him she will probably be coming home soon as she misses Jason but Ken isn’t sure that she misses him. After talking a little longer, Ken mentions he will be driving that Sunday and says he would like for her to be there. Valentine ends up dancing on the stage at her work in order to appease some drunken patrons and tells her boss she plans on quitting but he convinces her to stay on till Friday. After the bank forecloses on the dealership and takes all of the inventory, Ken says goodbye to his employees and heads home to spend more time with Jason. Valentine returns home and as Jason hugs her, she tells him the truth about why she was gone and says she isn’t going away again. After they put Jason to bed, Valentine and Ken start talking and actually communicate about what they want to do, and both of them admit that they want to be with each other and make their family work. That Sunday, as Valentine and Jason watch, Ken ends up winning the race and as they present him with the trophy, he kisses Valentine then walks off with his family.

This is a very boring movie to watch. The acting was ok, with Karen Black (Valentine) and Tony Lo Bianco (Ken) doing pretty good jobs in their roles. The story was honestly a little confusing at some points, but there was honestly nothing really remarkable about it. I have to admit that I had a hard time keeping interested enough to finish watching this movie. I will give it props for showing a decent amount of growth between Valentine and Ken and doing a good job of giving this movie a happy resolution but there was nothing else redeeming about this movie. Chalk this one up as just another unremarkable and forgettable movie that made it’s way through the Drive-Ins.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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crime, movie, movie review, thriller

July 22nd, 2017 Movie – The Sentinel (2006)

the sentinel 2006

I am going to be completely honest with you in regards to this movie. The only reason I watched this movie the first time was because I wanted to see if Kiefer Sutherland would be able to play this role and not slip into “Jack Bauer” mode. After all, this was right at the height of the 24 phenomenon, and Kiefer decides to do a movie playing a Secret Service Agent. It really isn’t that far of a stretch to imagine it happening. Anyways, I enjoyed the movie when I first watched it so while strolling through Blockbuster during their dying days (yes, I did that a lot and my wallet cried every time) I decided to pick up one of their copies as a change of pace from my usual fare. So now I am going to sit back and enjoy today’s movie, The Sentinel (2006).

The plot: After waking from a dream of his helping save President Ronald Reagan, Secret Service Agent Pete Garrison heads to the White House for his shift. Inside the White House, he runs into his friend and fellow agent Charlie Merriweather, who asks to speak with him later. After getting briefed on upcoming assignments, Garrison takes up his position as First Lady Sarah Ballentine and escorts her to the car, where she is going with the President to speak at a local school. As they head to the school, it is revealed that the President and First Lady are having marriage problems, and she tells him she plans on going to the beach house later that day. Meanwhile, Jill Marin arrives at the P.I.D. (Protective Intelligence Division) and reports to David Breckinridge, who chastises her for being late and then asks why she requested being assigned to him. When she tells him that Garrison said he was the best, he shows some displeasure at the mention of Garrison’s name but chooses not to say anything. Elsewhere, Charlie Merriweather is returning home when he is shot and killed by an unknown assailant. When he gets word of what happened, Breckenridge and Marin head to Charlie’s house to check the scene, which the DC police believe is a simple mugging gone bad, but Breckinridge disagrees and believes he was assassinated. At the beach house, Garrison and the rest of the security detail finish checking the house and when Garrison ends up alone with the First Lady, it is revealed that they are having an affair. Garrison is interrupted by someone calling him on the radio and when he heads downstairs, he finds another agent there who tells him about Charlie’s death. Breckinridge is speaking with Charlie’s wife on if he might have told her anything that could have gotten him killed and she tells him he was upset about some gossip about Garrison possibly having an affair with someone from work, which upsets Breckinridge. As Breckinridge leaves, he runs into Garrison and the two start arguing with each other but when Marin asks what the issue is between them, neither tells her. Later, Garrison is told that a former snitch of his, Walter Xavier, wants to talk to him and when he meets with him, Walter tells him that he believes Charlie’s death was linked to a plot to assassinate the president that he overhead. Garrison doesn’t believe it but Walter tells him that there is a mole in the Secret Service, then hands him a folder to prove his point before disappearing. The folder contains code words, call signs, and other info that indicate Walter was correct and steps are taken to increase the protection for the President, including flipping a coin to determine how the President travels to and from the White House. Meanwhile, Garrison receives pictures of him with Sarah just as Breckinridge shows up to ask him about Walter, and Garrison quickly hides the pictures and blackmail note. When he gets a chance, he goes to see Sarah to tell her about the pictures and blackmail, apologizing for putting her in this position. All Secret Service Agents are ordered to take a polygraph test and Garrison takes his before heading out to meet with the blackmailer at a hotel. While waiting outside, Garrison receives a call to head to a coffee shop and he waits there but when nobody shows up, he leaves. Garrison notices he is being followed and quickly evades his tail, only to begin following him but ends up being stopped by the FBI, who thought he was working with the cartel. Garrison accompanies President Ballentine and Sarah to Camp David and on the helicopter flight there, Ballentine asks Garrison if they can talk about the assassination threat and possible mole while at the camp. Walter contacts Garrison and tells him where to meet to deliver his money and tells him to come alone but Garrison’s superior assigns another agent to accompany him, while Breckinridge and Marin leave there office to serve as back up. When he gets to the mall, Garrison heads to his meeting with Walter but Walter sees the other agent and bolts. Meanwhile, the agent warns Garrison of a possible attacker but is shot and killed, ten the attacker tries to shoot Garrison, while taking a hostage to keep Garrison from shooting back. When Breckinridge and Marin arrive, they try to locate the assassin but he changes clothes in a shop and manages to get away. Meanwhile, Marine 1 is shot down by a surface-to-air missile but, due to the coin toss, the President and First Lady were not on board. The assassin meets with the other members of his group as the news about Marine 1 breaks and the group’s leader calls the mole and yells at him for failing to ensure the President would be on the helicopter. Garrison returns home only to have Breckinridge, Marin, and several other agents show up and Breckinridge tells Garrison he is being investigated for treason. Breckinridge tells him the evidence against him but Garrison thinks that his judgement is clouded because he believed that Garrison had an affair with his wife, causing the break-up of his marriage. When Breckinridge steps outside to meet with the director, Garrison manages to escape custody, taking an agent’s radio and gun as he does so. Using the radio, Garrison manages to locate where Sarah is and sneaks by the Secret Service guarding her in order to secretly meet with her and tell her he is being framed. Garrison then works on trying to track down Walter, eventually finding where he is hiding but when he gets there, Walter is already dead. Breckinridge and Marin arrive with some other Secret Service Agents and Garrison is forced to make a run for it, with Breckinridge chasing after him. Breckinridge manages to get the drop on Garrison and shoots him in the vest, but when Garrison tells him to shoot him in the head, he can’t bring himself to do it and allows Garrison to escape. Garrison goes to Charlie’s house to see if he can find anything in Charlie’s files and his widow mentions the car that is watching the house. When the car leaves, Garrison follows it and locates the assassins’ headquarters, killing the assassin that is inside but the other two members overhear it on the phone and head back. Garrison searches the place and finds several passports, weapons, and credentials for the G8 summit and calls Jill to let her know about it but when Breckinridge and the others get there, the body, passports, and credentials are gone. After Garrison calls Sarah and leaves her a goodbye message, she contacts Breckinridge and tells him about the affair and blackmail. Garrison makes his way to Toronto and runs the fingerprints he collected from the dead assassin and sends them to Marin to find out who he is but as he is waiting, Breckinridge appears. Garrison is ready to defend himself but Breckinridge says the First Lady explained everything and he knows he is being framed. As they identify the assassin, they try to figure out who the mole is and realize that Senior Agent William Montrose didn’t take the polygraph. As they head to the G8 Summit, they contact Marin and have her tell the First Lady that Montrose is the mole. When they get there, the Secret Service wont let them in and threaten to shoot Garrison, though Breckinridge tries to convince them he is on their side, when the radios suddenly go out. Breckinridge and Garrison head inside and during the commotion of their entering, Montrose escorts the President off the podium. Sarah gives to code word for the all clear and Garrison leads everyone after Montrose and the President. Meanwhile, the assassins, disguised as members of the RCMP, begin shooting at him and Montrose is conflicted on what to do and eventually decides to get the President to safety, coming clean about his being the mole. Montrose ends up being killed and Garrison is shot but they manage to kill the assassins and begin escorting the President to the waiting cars. As he is being loaded into a car, the leader of the assassins, disguised as a cop, approaches to try and kill him but when the First Lady exits her car, he grabs her as a shield but Garrison manages to shoot and kill him. The President is driven to safety as Sarah goes to check on Garrison, with Marin guarding her while Breckinridge calls for another car to get her out of there. Some time later, Garrison is forced to retire early due to the affair and says goodbye to his friends. As he leaves the White House, Breckinridge and Marin say goodbye and Garrison invites Breckinridge to dinner to repair their friendship but he declines as he is having dinner with his ex-wife to try and renew their marriage. Garrison walks takes one last look at the White House before walking away, unaware that Sarah was watching him leave from her office window.

The Sentinel (2006) met with mostly negative reviews with the critics, holding a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Sentinel starts off well enough but quickly wears thin with too many plot holes and conventional action sequences.” Gerald A. Cavis, a retired Secret Service Agent who served as a consultant on the film, said that Eva Longoria was the best shot among the principal actors when they did there “shooting school” with live ammunition, hitting every target from 30 yards away. The movie was a mild success at the box office, earning $78.1 million off of a $60 million budget.

This won’t win any Academy Awards, but this is a pretty decent political thriller that gives you almost everything you could ask for in a drama. The acting was good, with Michael Douglas (Garrison), Kiefer Sutherland (Breckinridge), Eva Longoria (Marin) and Kim Basinger (Sarah) all doing good jobs in their roles, though I will admit that Kiefer did go a little Jack Bauer on Garrison at his home.  The story was pretty good and felt a lot more realistic than some other movies at the time, though I will say that the ending did feel a little crowded, with a lot going on all within the last 15 minutes. The tension and drama in the movie was great, especially the tension between Garrison and Breckinridge, and how Marin, who respected both of them, found herself caught in the middle of the two men. A good mix of drama and excitement that can make for some fun movie watching.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

July 21st, 2017 Movie – Secret Agent

secret agent

Now that’s kind of funny. I started the work week with a movie from the Legends of Horror box set and I am ending it with a movie from that same set. Today’s movie happens to be another one of Hitchcock’s early movies, and another one which I have never seen. I think I am going to have to count up how many movies in this set are Hitchcock movies, just to see what the ratio is out of the 50 movies in the set. But I need to stop rambling now and focus on what I should be doing right now, namely watching today’s movie, Secret Agent.

The plot: During World War I in 1916, a memorial service is being held for a British Captain and novelist named Edgar Brodie but after everyone leaves, the attendant goes to move the coffin and reveals that it is empty. Later, Brodie is brought to see a man, who introduces himself as R, and Brodie asks what is going on. R explains that he needs Brodie to undertake a secret mission to locate an enemy agent that is trying to cause trouble in Constantinople. Brodie’s predecessor believed the enemy agent was staying at the Hotel Excelsior in Switzerland so R arranges transport out of town and tells Brodie to make his way their inconspicuously. Brodie is given a new identity, Richard Ashenden, and an assistant called the General, whom he briefly meets as the man is chasing after one of R’s maids. Ashenden makes his way to Switzerland and as he checks in to the hotel, he learns that his “wife” is already there, which catches him off guard. When he enters his room, he sees a man eating grapes in a chair while talking to a woman in the other room. When Ashenden makes himself known, the woman comes out and happily greets him, then introduces the man as Robert Marvin, who had been keeping her company during the day. After Marvin leaves, Ashenden questions his wife, who reveals that she is Elsa Carrington, and tells him she took the assignment for the thrills. Some time later, the General arrives and greets Ashenden and is upset to find that Ashenden is married to Elsa but when Ashenden explains that she is there as part of his cover, the General immediately begins flirting with her. Ashenden tells the General to cut it out and get some rest, as they have to head out in the morning to meet their contact in the church of a small village. Meanwhile, an old man enters a shop to buy some chocolate and is given a specific package and after he leaves the shop, he throws the candy away while keeping the wrapper, which contains a message about Brodie faking his death and for him to “take steps.” The next day, Ashenden and the General make their way to the church only to find their contact, the church organist, is dead. As they examine the body, they find a button in the man’s hand and believe it was torn off in struggle. When someone enters the church, they go hide in the bell tower but regret that decision when the person sees the body, then rings the church bell to signal the authorities. Meanwhile, Elsa has gone to the casino with Marvin, who continues to try and seduce her but she refuses, saying she loves her husband. When Ashenden and the General return to the hotel, they can’t find Elsa and the concierge tells them she went to the casino with Marvin so they head off to meet her. When they get there, Elsa asks what happened and Ashenden goes to show her the button but he gets bumped and the button ends up falling on the gambling table, where it lands on the winning number. As Marvin and the other competitors laugh at what happened, Marvin says that the button looks like it came from Caypor, the man who bumped into Ashenden and when he notices it looks like one of his buttons, Caypor assumes it is his. After Ashenden and Marvin help keep Caypor out of trouble when his dog runs into the casino, they invite Cypor and his wife to join them, Elsa, and the General for a drink. As they are drinking, Ashenden pulls the General aside and they arrange to have an argument about who is the better climber. Caypor, who is an experienced mountaineer, offers to act as judge and the three agree to head out in the morning to a nearby mountain. Elsa wants to go with them but Ashenden tells her to stay with Mrs. Caypor, as he doesn’t want Elsa to be there if they have to kill Caypor. The next day, Elsa is sitting in the Caypor’s room tlaking with Mrs. Caypor when Marvin shows up and starts discretely flirting with Elsa again. Meanwhile, Ashenden, Caypor, and the General take a lift up to the mountain but Ashenden doesn’t feel capable of killing him so the General climbs up with Caypor, then pushes him off the cliff. That night, Ashenden receives a coded telegram saying that they killed the wrong man and the General laughs about it but Elsa gets upset and walks off. She boards a ferry and Ashenden follows after her and she begins venting about what happened and how she fell in love with him when she first saw him but now she isn’t sure what to do about it. Ashenden admits his feelings for her and that he didn’t kill Caypor and decides to resign his commission in order to pursue a relationship with Elsa and the two end up kissing. The next day, the General goes to the room to speak with Ashenden and is upset to hear that Ashenden resigned. He convinces Ashenden to come with him and takes him to his room, where a woman is there in his bed. The General explains that the woman’s fiance works in a chocolate factory but it is really a mail drop for German spies. Ashenden calls his room and tells Elsa that he has to leave for a few hours and tries to make her understand. Elsa says she does but after hanging up, writes Ashenden a note thanking him for pretending but she sees that he can’t give up the job so he is better off without her. Ashenden and the General head to the chocolate factory and the General notices one of the workers writing a note and placing it in a box on the conveyor, which is taken upstairs. When the note is received, the person contacts his headquarters, who sends some police there to arrest Ashenden and the General. The General sees them arrive and warns Ashenden, who hits the alarm, and the police end up being delayed by the mass of workers trying to exit the building. Ashenden and the General meet up with the woman’s fiance, who gives them a copy of the last telegram that was sent and they learn that it was addressed to Marvin. Back at the hotel, Elsa meets up with Marvin in the lobby and, after learning that he is leaving, she asks him to take her with him. Ashenden phones the hotel to try and reach Elsa but he learns that she left with Marvin so he and the General contact R to let him know what is happening while they head off to the train station to catch them. At the station, Ashenden sees Elsa and calls out to her and tells her that Marvin is the spy and they have to stop him from reaching Constantinople. They board the train for Constantinople, with Elsa coming with them but she tries to stop Ashenden from going after Marvin and killing him. When the train passes into Turkey, soldiers get on and Ashenden points to three bodies that are hanging near the station, and one of the soldiers tells them that they are spies. As Ashenden and the General enter a compartment, Marvin sees Elsa and she accompanies him to another compartment in order to keep him from seeing Ashenden and the General. Marvin then admits to Elsa that he is a spy and plans on killing her but stops when they hear planes attacking the train. Ashenden and the General go looking for Elsa and eventually find her but when the General goes to kill Marvin, Elsa grabs Marvin’s gun and tries to stop him. When the train is derailed due to the plane’s bombs, Marvin ends up pinned by the wreckage and Ashenden has a chance to kill him but chooses not to. Elsa hugs Ashenden as the General approaches Marvin and sits next to him to rest. Marvin grabs the gun that the General put down and shoots him before dying from his injuries and the General laughs and salutes Ashenden before he dies and Ashenden and Elsa continue embracing as the choose to quit the spy business for good.

Secret Agent met with high praise from modern critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all tended to praise the cast and felt like it was one of Hitchcock’s better British era thrillers. John Gielgud (Ashenden) filmed his scenes during the day, as he was performing on stage in “Romeo & Juliet” at night. Hitchcock had convinced Gielgud to play the hero by describing him as a modern day Hamlet but Gielgud ended up hating the character as he felt that Hitchcock made the villain more charming.

This is a little confusing at times but a decent thriller of a movie. The acting was ok, with John Gielgud doing a decent job as Ashenden, but he was definitely eclipsed by Peter Lorre (The General), Madeleine Carroll (Elsa), and Robert Young (Marvin). The story was pretty good but it seemed like they tried to hard in disguising who the spy was so it got a little convoluted in the middle, particularly that scene in the chocolate factory. The suspense and drama were pretty well done, especially at the end with all of the soldiers on the train and Ashenden and the others trying to figure out what to do without being caught as spies. I don’t necessarily agree with it being one of his best early films but this is a good Hitchcock movie and worth watching.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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horror, Maneater series, movie, movie review, sci-fi

July 20th, 2017 Movie – Sea Beast (a.k.a. Troglodyte)

sea beast

Folks, I have some sad news to report regarding today’s movie. This will be the last time that I am able to play “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Or Can He?”, at least for the time being. No obviously, this means that two things need to occur; 1) I need to buy some more movies with Corin Nemec in them, and 2) he needs to start making some more sci-fi B-movies for me to purchase. Anyways, today’s movie is one of the last Syfy premiers that I remember watching before I got rid of cable, back when Syfy was known for showing all sorts of awesome B-movies. So let’s dive right into today’s movie, Sea Beast.

The plot: Will McKenna is out on his fishing boat with his crew when a storm hits and they try to pull the nets up so they can go home. When a massive wave hits the ship, Will and the crew are knocked off their feet and as Will is recovering, he sees an almost invisible creature standing on the deck rail next to Joey, one of his crew. Another wave hits the boat just as the creature attacks Joey and drags him overboard. Will and the rest of the crew try looking for Joey but see no sign of him and are forced to return home, unaware that the creature, or another just like it, has grabbed onto the bottom of the boat. On the dock, Danny and Drew, Will’s remaining crew, are repairing the nets when Will walks up with his daughter Carly and tells them to hurry in order to make it to the funeral to pay their respects. After he leaves, Carly stays behind to talk with Danny, as the two are secretly dating, and they make plans to go to Will’s cabin on a nearby island with Drew and his girlfriend Erin. After attending the funeral, Will returns to his boat and notices some slime near the rail where Joey was taken. Later, Will is approached by Roy, the previous owner of Will’s boat, and asks Will for his payment or else he won’t be able to go out again and Will grabs him when Roy taunts him about losing a crew member but things are quickly broken up by the arrival of Will’s brother Jay, the local sheriff. After Roy leaves, Will and Jay go to see Arden, a biologist that is studying the decline in the fish population, and she says she found some algae that might be the reason for the decline in fish but won’t know for sure until she does some more tests. Later that evening, Erin says goodbye to Drew, as she is going ahead to the cabin with Carly and Danny while Drew works the night shift on the docks. After they leave, Drew notices something in the water when the creature appears on the deck and spits it’s saliva on Drew, paralyzing him so he can only watch as the creature approaches and kills him. The next day, Will signs out the boat, having raided Carly’s college fund in order to make the payment, and he goes looking for Drew. When Arden shows up on the dock, Will shows her some slime that is on the dock and the follow it to the edge, where they find Drew’s severed arm floating in the water. As Jay and the authorities are called in, Jay says it was probably an animal attack and he plans on forming a hunting party to go look for it. Meanwhile, Will and Arden discuss the slime, and he shows her the slime on his boat and tells her that it was there when Joey went overboard. On the island, Erin is on the beach waiting for Drew and Carly tries to get her to come back to the cabin but Erin chooses to wait. After Carly leaves, Erin notices the rope that tied the boat to shore has come undone and is being dragged into the water and she goes to pull it closer to shore when the creature appears. Erin tries to run but it spits it’s venom on her and as she collapses on the beach, several smaller creatures come out of the water and, along with their parent, begin eating her. Some time later, Danny is out getting some fire wood when he sees one of the baby creatures and as he tries to take a picture of it on his phone, it bites him on the hand. Back on the mainland, Will goes to see Ben, another fisherman who lost a crew member similar to how Joey was lost, and tells him that he thinks a predator grabbed Joey and followed him back to the dock and killed Drew, and asks Ben to back him up when he tells the others. Will then goes to see Arden and asks her about the slime and she says it is some sort of venom from a deep sea creature. As they are talking, the creature attacks a nearby couple and kills them. Will and Arden witness the attack and Will tries shooting the creature but it manages to get away. Will tries to explain to Jay and the townfolk as to what he saw but they don’t believe him, or Ben when he tells them his story. When Barbara, the harbor master, tells the group that a creature was sighted climbing a tree, Roy decides to go looking for it and some of the other people go with him, with Jay going to keep things organized. Will and Ben go to see Arden, who is planning on going diving to look for the creature, and they go with her to help. On the island. Carly is worried about Danny’s bite wound and thinks they should treat it before it gets infected. When they go to get the first aid kit out of the boat, they find the boat is gone and Danny thinks Erin took it to go yell at Drew. Back on the mainland, Jay, Roy, and two others arrive at the park and go hunting the creature but they end up being killed by the creature instead. Meanwhile, Arden returns from her dive with a hatched egg and says that it had probably washed up from somewhere and there could be more out there. The three return to the harbor and while Will and Arden go to look for Jay, Ben stays on the dock with a plan to lure the creature out and kill it. Back on the island, Carly and Danny are returning to the cabin when they find Erin’s remains. Suddenly, one of the baby creatures appears and it tries to attack Danny but Carly manages to kill it with a rock. When they get to the cabin, Carly sees more creatures on a nearby hill and the two work on barricading themselves inside and finding whatever they can use to arm themselves. They manage to kill several of the creatures but when more break into the cabin, they barricade themselves inside the bathroom. Back on the docks, Ben built a cage on the dock to protect himself and places pieces of meat on the dock to lure the creature out. Barbara tries calling Jay but she reaches Will, who had found the bodies of Jay, Roy, and the other hunters, and she tells him what is going on. Barbara goes out to tell Ben that Will was coming but the creature is there and bites her head off. Ben manages to shoot a spear, with a GPS tracker, into the creature but as he loads another spear, the creature spit’s it’s venom at him and he ends up dying from it. When Will and Arden get there, they find the bodies and then discover the GPS tracker and Will realizes that the creature is heading towards the island and that Carly and Danny are probably there at his cabin. On the island, Carly and Danny don’t hear anything inside the house so they decide to head to the old ferry on the other side of the island to see if the radio might still work. When they leave the house, they are attacked by another baby creature but Danny manages to kill it. They reach the ferry but the radio is dead so they go looking for a flare gun to try and signal for help. Will and Arden reach the island and head to the cabin but find no sign of them there but they see the flare and head towards the ferry. On the ferry, Carly and Danny hear a strange cry, and Danny has Carly lock herself into a room while he goes to investigate. In the woods, Will and Arden hear the cry as well and quickly hide as they see several smaller creatures running by them and heading towards the ferry. When they get there, they find Danny, who goes to take them to Carly but before he can, the mother arrives and kills Danny. Will and Arden find Carly, who had been forced to kill several baby creatures that had crawled through the air ducts into the room. Trying to find the creature and kill it, they soon discover that the creature had made a nest in one of the cargo holds and it is filled with eggs. Will has Arden and Carly help him rig a trap to destroy the eggs when the mother arrives and Will tells Arden to get Carly out of there while he holds her at bay. After they leave, Will sets off the trap and goes to leave as well but the creature manages to grab his foot with it’s tongue. Will is finally able to get free of it and the creature leaps at him just as the gas explodes, engulfing the nest and the mother in a ball of fire. As the explosion rocks the ship, Carly cries out thinking that her dad had died but he when he shows up, she rushes forward to hug him. Some time later, Will is set to go fishing with Carly and Arden serving as his new crew.

Well, for the final time, we learn that Parker Lewis can’t lose, bringing his total score to 6-2-1 and proving that he is definitely someone you want with you if you find yourself in a B-movie. This was a pretty entertaining movie all around. The acting was good, with Corin Nemec (Will), Miriam McDonald (Carly), Camille Sullivan (Arden), and Daniel Wisler (Danny) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good but I wish that they had done a better job of trying to explain what the creatures are. The special effects were pretty decent, though I will say that I was little disappointed in the actual creature design. I did like the idea of the creature turning invisible as an act of camouflage, but felt like that was something really unnecessary, as it would have made the creature too difficult to kill because it could have just stayed invisible the entire time. A fun movie to watch if you are in the need for some aquatic creature goodness.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

July 19th, 2017 Movie – Kong: Skull Island

kong skull island

Seriously, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that I bought today’s movie. After all, my love for giant monster movies is pretty well documented on this blog. Anyways, after the success of Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla, it was announced that two sequels would follow. However, Godzilla wasn’t the only monster that Legendary had their sites set on, as plans were made to do a remake starring America’s most famous giant monster, King Kong. When Universal Pictures allowed Legendary Pictures to have Warner Bros. distribute their King Kong movie, in order to facilitate a Godzilla vs. King Kong movie down the road. But that isn’t happening for three years so right now, let’s focus on today’s movie. I was already excited about this movie when I first heard it was being produced, with the cast announcement only fueling that excitement. When the first trailer for it dropped, I was all in and, along with my 2 youngest brothers, we eagerly hit the theater opening night to watch it, then I pre-ordered it on Amazon as soon as it was available. Now, let’s strap in and enjoy today’s movie, Kong: Skull Island.

The plot: During World War II, an American and Japanese plane are shot down over an uncharted island in the Pacific but both pilots manage to bail out. Seeing that they are enemies, the two pilots begin shooting at each other on the beach but when they run out of bullets, the Japanese pilot chases after the American with his sword. As the two fight on a cliff, they are startled when a pair of massive arms grab the cliff and a giant ape raises up and roars at them. 29 years later, Monarch official William “Bill” Randa and his assistant, Houston Brooks, arrive in DC, amidst the protests against the Vietnam War. As President Nixon announces the end of the war and his withdrawing the troops, Randa and Houston meet with Senator Al Willis about receiving funding for an expedition to Skull Island, which they were just able to get satellite photos of. Willis is reluctant to do so at first, believing Monarch to be a wast of government money, but when Houston says that the Soviets satellite will pass over the island in a few days and says they should know what is there first, Willis agrees to have them piggyback on a geological mission and Randa asks for a military escort. In Vietnam, the members of a helicopter squadron, The Sky Devils, are celebrating the end of the war and looking forward to going home in a few days. Their commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Preston Packard, feels differently and appears upset about leaving the war unfinished so when he receives a call from General Ward with new orders, he eagerly accepts them. Randa and Houston head to Singapore to meet with James Conrad, a former Captain in the British SAS, and hire him as a tracker/guide for their expedition, while photojournalist Mason Weaver is told that she has been given the assignment to document the expedition. The different groups all meet in Thailand and after boarding the expedition ship, they are briefed on the island and their mission of using seismic charges to help map the island. Later, Conrad and Mason meet up in the cargo hold, as both are suspicious of the true nature of the mission. As they reach the island, they see the storm system surrounding the island and the Landsat leader wants to abandon the mission but Randa and Packard overrule him and choose to proceed. The helicopters take off and make their way through the storm, eventually reaching the island. After setting up a base camp, the helicopters begin dropping the seismic charges to map the island, which Houston says is practically hollow, when a tree is suddenly thrown into one of the helicopters while a second one is swiped from the air by a giant hand. The rest of the helicopters are soon confronted by Kong, who begins knocking all of the helicopters out of the sky, killing several of the soldiers in the process. The group is scattered across the area and Conrad, along with Mason, Houston, San Lin (Monarch’s biologist), Victor Nieves (the Landsat leader), and Reg Slivko (the Sky Devils radio operator) decides to head towards the refueling drop in order to get off the island. Meanwhile, Packard gets in touch with Chapman, his second-in-command, and orders him to sit tight, as Chapman’s helicopter had all of the extra munitions. Packard then gathers his surviving soldiers, including Reles, Mills, and Cole, then asks where Randa is. Packard approaches Randa and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t tell him what he knows. Randa explains that monsters exist, citing his own experience, and how he spent the last 30 years in Monarch trying to prove it. Randa then asks that Packard help him get back home with proof so they can bring the cavalry but Packard says he is the cavalry, then orders his men to start moving. As they make their way through the jungle towards Chapman, one of the soldiers is impaled by the leg of a giant spider and as it tries to grab and eat Glenn, the others manage to kill it and save him. Meanwhile, Conrad’s group encounters a giant water buffalo-like creature but when they make no move to threaten it, it ignores them and walks away. They continue on their way and eventually come to some ruins, where they find themselves surrounded by Iwi natives. Suddenly, an American appears and introduces himself as Hank Marlow, the downed American pilot from WWII. Hank convinces the Iwi’s that the group means them no harm, then takes them to the wreckage of an old ship, which is considered hallowed ground by the Iwis. Inside, Marlow explains about how the natives worship Kong, who is considered their great protector, and how he fends off the creatures from below, lizard-like monsters which he calls Skullcrawlers. When Conrad tells Marlow about the refueling team, Marlow says they won’t be able to make it in time on foot, but shows them the boat that he and his friend, the Japanese Gunpei Ikari, had been working on before Gunpei was killed. As Conrad and Slivko help Marlow get it running, Mason is hears some cries from outside the wall and sees a buffalo trapped under a wrecked helicopter. She tries to help free it but is unable to move the wreckage when suddenly, Kong appears and lifts the helicopter, then stares at Mason as the buffalo leaves. Meanwhile, Chapman has his own encounter with Kong, having watched him kill a giant squid as he was drinking from a lake. As Chapman waits for Packard, he encounters a giant bug, which he manages to drive off, but he is then killed by a Skullcrawler. The group get the boat working and Marlow says goodbye to the Iwis, who have come to see them off. As they make their way along the river, Slivko manages to make contact with Packard’s group and Packard sends up a flare to show them where they are. As Slivko gets off the radio, a group of pterosaurs suddenly grab Nieves and tear him to pieces in the air. The two groups meet up and Conrad explains their plan but Packard refuses to leave Chapman, or the supplies, and tells Conrad that his job is to find lost men so he should do it. The group head west, where they reach a mass grave containing the remains of Kong’s family. Marlow warns them not to go through there but Packard overrules him and they head inside. Suddenly, a Skullcrawler appears and as they all hide, it spits up a human skull and Conrad sees it has Chapman’s dog-tags on it. When the Skullcrawler leaves, the group start to head out again but Randa is suddenly eaten by the Skullcrawler, which then begins attacking the soldiers. Several of them are eaten and killed before Mason manages to kill it by igniting a methane vent as it is over it. Marlow tells Packard that to continue on is suicide and Conrad shows him that Chapman is dead but Packard refuses to leave without killing Kong. Packard leads his soldiers towards the munitions and they make plans to ambush and kill Kong. Conrad, Mason, Marlow, Houston, and San make their way back towards the boat but as they stop for a rest, Conrad and Mason go on ahead and encounter Kong. Suddenly, they see explosions in the distance and Kong roars in anger and heads towards them. Conrad and Mason go back to the others and tell them to get the boat while they go try to save Kong and Marlow goes with them. Kong approaches Packard and his men and starts heading to attack them when Packard sets off the napalm they had laid out as a trap, engulfing Kong in flames and causing him to collapse. Packard orders his men to set charges on Kong so they can blow him up but Conrad, Mason, and Marlow show up and get him to stop. When Slivko turns his gun on Packard, the rest of the soldiers also lower their weapons. Suddenly, a giant Skullcrawler emerges from the water and approaches the fallen Kong. Conrad and the others leave but Packard stays behind and when he sees Kong has regained consciousness, he goes to set off the charges but Kong smashes him with his fist. Kong and the Skullcrawler begin fighting as Conrad leads the others to where the boat is. When the Skullcrawler comes after them, Cole tries to sacrifice himself to save the others by trying to get it to swallow him while he pops a grenade but the Skullcrawler simply swipes him with his tail, sending him into a cliff. As the Skullcrawler approaches them, Kong appears and continues to attack it but it knocks him into the remains of several boats. Kong ends up trapped in some chains and the Skullcrawler approaches to try and finish the job when Houston begins firing at it from the boat as he and San show up to get the others. The Skullcrawler turns towards them and Mason, who is on a nearby hilltop, fires a flare at it’s head to distract it. Kong manages to get free and uses the chains, along with the rudder attached to it, to attack the Skullcrawler again and starts to get the upper hand but their fight ends up knocking Mason off of the cliff and into the water. Kong grabs her from the water but the Skullcrawler bites down on his fist to try and eat her, and Kong’s hand, but Kong manages to rip it’s tongue and guts out from it’s mouth, finally killing it. Kong then sets Mason down on the ground and starts to walk off as Conrad goes to check that she is ok. The surviving group then head back to the refueling spot so they can leave and Kong watches as the helicopters appear. Marlow returns to his home and is reunited with his wife and meets his son for the first time before sitting down to watch a Cubs game for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, Conrad and Mason are detained by Monarch and Houston and San appear and explain to them that Kong is not the only “King” out there, showing them slides of cave drawings picturing 4 other monsters (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah), with a final drawing showing Godzilla and King Ghidorah locked in battle as people watch and as the screen cuts to black, Godzilla’s roar is heard.

Kong: Skull Island met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster’s mythos without ever matching up to the classic original. Jordan Vogt-Roberts cited Princess Mononoke as one of the influences in his creature design, saying that it was “a big reference, in the way that the spirit creatures sort of have their own domains and fit within that, so a big thing was trying to design creatures that felt realistic and could exist in an ecosystem that feels sort of wild and out there”. During the into credits, there is a drawing of a turtle with the word MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) written above it, which could be a slight nod to the Gamera movies or Kamoebas, the giant turtle from Toho’s Space Amoeba. The movie was a box office hit, earning $566.2 million off of a $185 million budget.

This was a great movie to watch on several levels. The acting was fantastic, with Tom Hiddleston (Conrad), Brie Larson (Mason) and John Goodman (Randa) doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked John C. Reilly (Marlow), who provided some great comic relief, and Samuel L. Jackson, who gave Packard an almost Ahab like character as he tried to take down Kong no matter what. The story was really good, putting a little bit of a new spin on the Kong story with the only big difference, aside from Kong not going to a mjor city, is the removal of the “Beauty and the Beast” story line that is in the other movies. The special effects were incredible, from the various explosions to the monsters themselves, and the scenery and location shots in the movie was absolutely breathtaking. The original King Kong is still the best version out there, but this is a great movie in it’s own right and worthy of carrying on the franchises namesake.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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