We Review: #Bloodshot Amazon #Prime Streaming Version. “Entertaining, but nothing special other than the effects.” MR

Bloodshot (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bloodshot
Bloodshot - official film poster.jpeg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by David S. F. Wilson
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by Jeff Wadlow
Based on
Starring
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Cinematography Jacques Jouffret
Edited by Jim May
Production
company
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • March 13, 2020 (United States)
Running time
109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45 million[1]
Box office $29.7 million[2][1]

Bloodshot is a 2020 American superhero film based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name. It is intended to be the first installment in a series of films set within a Valiant Comics shared cinematic universe.[3] Directed by David S. F. Wilson (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer and a story by Wadlow,[4] the film stars Vin DieselEiza GonzálezSam HeughanToby Kebbell, and Guy Pearce. It follows a Marine who was killed-in-action, only to be brought back to life with superpowers by an organization that wants to use him as a weapon.

Development of a Bloodshot film began in 2012, with Jared Leto originally in talks to star in July 2017. In March 2018, Diesel was hired to portray the title role, and the rest of the cast joined over the following months. Filming commenced in South Africa in August 2018, lasting through October.

Bloodshot was theatrically released in the United States on March 13, 2020, by Sony Pictures Releasing. The film received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed $29 million worldwide. Due to the coronavirus pandemic closing theaters across the globe, Sony made the film available digitally on-demand less than two weeks after it was released theatrically.

Plot ***SPOILER ALERT***

After leading a successful rescue operation in Mombasa, U.S. Marine Ray Garrison and his wife Gina travel for a holiday at an Italian beachside town. However, they are kidnapped by a group of mercenaries led by Martin Axe, who demands to know the source of the Mombasa hostage operation. Since Ray is not privy to this information, Axe kills him and Gina.

Ray is later resurrected by Rising Spirit Tech, a company that specializes in developing cybernetic enhancements for disabled US military personnel. The company’s CEO, Dr. Emil Harting, tells Ray that he is the first successful candidate that they have resurrected using a special nanite technology. Ray is also introduced to Dr Harting’s other patients including former US Navy diver Katie (“KT”), whom he strikes a romantic friendship with, and former soldiers Jimmy Dalton and Marcus Tibbs, whom he gets on poorly with.

After experiencing “flashbacks” of Gina and Axe, Ray escapes Rising Spirit’s laboratory in Kuala Lumpur and pursues Axe, seeking to avenge Gina’s death. Using the nanites to slice into computer databases, Ray tracks down Axe to Budapest. After trapping his convoy in a tunnel, Ray kills Axe’s bodyguards before executing the mercenary. He is later recovered by Katie, Dalton and Tibbs, who bring him back to Rising Spirit for reprogramming. In truth, Harting created false memories of Gina’s death as part of a plot to eliminate rivals in Rising Spirit.

After his memories are wiped and reprogrammed, Ray is sent to kill Nick Baris in East Sussex, “remembering” him to be Gina’s killer. Though Ray manages to kill Baris and his bodyguards, Baris has forced computer programmer Wilfred Wigans to build an EMP bomb, which is ignited after Baris’ death, incapacitating Ray and severing communications with Rising Spirit. After “resurrecting” Ray, Wigans reveals that Rising Spirit planted false memories to turn him into a killing machine. Ray also discovers Gina is alive but had left him five years ago and started a family in Westminster.

Growing disillusioned with Harting’s exploitation of Ray, Katie seeks Wigans’ help in taking him down. Meanwhile, Ray is recaptured by Dalton and Tibbs following a pursuit. He is brought back to Rising Spirit’s laboratory for reprogramming, but escapes with the help of Katie and Wigans, who sabotage the reprogramming process and Rising Spirit’s computers. Breaking free, Ray fights Dalton and Tibbs on top of an elevator. Dalton willingly lets Tibbs fall to his death before continuing the fight until Ray punches him down the elevator shaft, killing him. Ray confronts Harting, who manages to drain the nanites, but is killed when the second grenade he shoots at Ray is dismantled by the nanites and dropped directly at his feet. Ray is later rebuilt by Wigans and Katie, and the three then leave in search of a new life.

Cast

Our Thoughts

I have a fairly cool home theater so I did not miss out on the big screen/big sound effects here. This was a highly entertaining “Superhero Flick.” It might have been groundbreaking twenty years ago, but alas, in these media saturated times, it is but a third generation rerun-mashup.  I did enjoy the effects, and Vin’s great one-liners.  3.75 stars.    —   MR

 

Find Bloodshot and see the new trailer here.


My Publisher’s Weekly feature! I wanted to review ‘Bloodshot,’ but #coronavirus happened.

I wanted to review ‘Bloodshot,’ but my wife is doing Chemo, (her #BreastCancer fundraiser here,) and #coronavirus happened. Social Distancing is a must for us.

In lieu of a movie review, take a look at this feature Publisher’s Weekly did on me this month!

As Luck Would Have It: An Indie Success Story, Publishers Weekly 3/09/2020


We Review: #Jumanji: The Next Level “The Rock gets an Academy Award for his Danny Devito impersonation. Otherwise 3.5 stars.” — MR

Jumanji: The Next Level

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jumanji: The Next Level
JumanjiTheNextLevelTeaserPoster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Produced by
Written by
Based on Jumanji
by Chris Van Allsburg
Starring
Music by Henry Jackman
Cinematography Gyula Pados
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • December 13, 2019 (United States)
Running time
123 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $125–132 million[2][3]
Box office $754.8 million[2][4]

Jumanji: The Next Level is a 2019 American fantasy adventure comedy film directed by Jake Kasdan, and co-written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg. It is the fourth installment in the Jumanji franchise, and the second direct sequel to the 1995 film Jumanji. It stars Dwayne JohnsonJack BlackKevin HartKaren GillanNick JonasAlex WolffMorgan TurnerSer’Darius Blain and Madison Iseman reprising their roles from the previous film, while AwkwafinaRory McCannDanny Glover and Danny DeVito also join the cast. The film’s plot takes place three years after Welcome to the Jungle, in which the same group of teenagers, along with an old friend and two unwitting additions, become trapped in Jumanji, where they all find themselves facing new problems and challenges with both old and new avatars, while having to save the land from a new villain in order to escape.

Principal photography took place during 2019, between January 21 to May 11 in locations including Atlanta, New Mexico, and Hawaii, with much of the cast consisting of those from the previous film reprising their original roles for the sequel. Jumanji: The Next Level was theatrically released in the United States on December 13, 2019 by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label. The film grossed $754.8 million worldwide against a $125 million budget.

Plot ***SPOILERS***

In 2019, three years after their adventure in Jumanji, Spencer Gilpin, Anthony “Fridge” Johnson, Martha Kaply, and Bethany Walker lead different lives, but plan a reunion brunch in Brantford, New Hampshire that year. Spencer, apprehensive of the meeting due to depression, contemplates returning to Jumanji where he had purpose, and spends his first night looking over the broken video-game system he held onto. The following day, his friends visit his home, meeting with Spencer’s grandfather Eddie, who is recovering from hip surgery, and Eddie’s former friend and business partner Milo Walker, who is visiting for an unknown reason. Learning that they have no idea where Spencer is, the group search the house, and find the Jumanji game repaired in the basement. Realising Spencer returned to the game, his friends decide to follow him.

The game malfunctions when starting up, sucking in only Fridge and Martha, along with Eddie and Milo, forcing Bethany to contact fellow Jumanji player Alex Vreeke for help. Inside the game, Martha finds herself as her avatar Ruby Roundhouse, yet Fridge becomes Bethany’s avatar Professor Sheldon Oberon, while Eddie and Milo become avatars Dr. Smolder Bravestone and Franklin Finbar respectively. After instructing Eddie and Milo on the game’s rules, the group encounter non-player character Nigel Billingsley, the game’s guide, who reveals that since its last use, Jumanji is suffering from a massive drought. To leave the game, Nigel reveals that the group must recover the “Falcon’s Heart” – a magical necklace stolen by warlord Jurgen the Brutal – which can end the drought if brought before sunlight and uttering “Jumanji”.

Transported to a desert called the Dunes to track down Jurgen, and after narrowly escaping a flock of pursuing ostriches, the group encounter Spencer operating as skilled thief Ming Fleetfoot, a new avatar, who agrees to help them after blaming himself for their predicament. While attempting to escape the Dunes, the group face new challenges and problems, along with collecting an in-game item called a Jumanji Berry, and discovering a pool of glowing green water that allows them to switch avatars. In the process, Eddie bickers with Milo, revealing their friendship ended when a diner they owned was sold behind Eddie’s back, forcing him into retirement. After the group convince the pair to work together in escaping a troop of mandrills, they soon become reunited with Alex, as his avatar Jefferson McDonough, and Bethany, operating a new avatar called Cyclone – a black horse that can only be understood by Finbar.

Working together, the party leave the Dunes, and find a river with the same glowing green water, allowing Spencer, Bethany, and Fridge to become their original avatars, while Eddie and Milo respectively end up as Ming and Cyclone. Shortly after changing characters, Jurgen captures the group with his mercenaries and brings them to his fortress. Escaping their confinement, Spencer pursues Jurgen to his airship, while the others distract his men. Finding himself unable to best Jurgen, Spencer discovers he is weak to the Jumanji Berry, incapacitating him long enough to send him plummeting to his death in the wintery fog below. Discovering Cyclone has retractable wings, Eddie and Milo work together to rescue Spencer and bring the recovered Falcon’s Heart to the sun, calling out “Jumanji” and ending the drought. With the help of Alex, he found out Cyclone also had strengths and weaknesses, one of those strengths being able to fly.

Returning the necklace to Nigel for safekeeping, the group are surprised when Milo elects to stay behind and protect the land. Learning he was dying in the real world and thus sought to make up for his actions, Eddie reconciles with him before parting ways. Upon returning to the real world, Spencer decides to teach his grandfather about video games, while Eddie uses what he learned in the game to convince the owner of his old diner to hire him on as a manager, with his grandson and his friends turning up to enjoy a meal together.

In a mid-credits scene, the heating mechanic who Spencer’s mother hired finally shows up, only to be drawn to the game, while Spencer and the others are surprised to witness a flock of ostriches rush past the diner.

Cast

  • Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Xander “Smolder” Bravestone, the avatar used by Eddie and Spencer.
    • Johnson also portrays Bravestone’s father in a flashback scene in the film.
  • Danny DeVito as Edward “Eddie” Gilpin: Spencer’s grandfather. He is a retired diner owner following the sale of a diner he owned in Brantford, with little understanding of video games.
  • Jack Black as Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon, the avatar used by Fridge, Bethany, and Martha.
  • Ser’Darius Blain as Anthony “Fridge” Johnson.
  • Kevin Hart as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar, the avatar used by Milo and Fridge.
  • Danny Glover as Milo Walker: Eddie’s estranged friend and a co-owner in the diner he owned with him, before its sale ended their friendship.
  • Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse, the avatar used by Martha and Fridge.
  • Morgan Turner as Martha Kaply.
  • Nick Jonas as Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough, the avatar used by Alex.
  • Colin Hanks as Alex Vreeke.
  • Awkwafina as Ming Fleetfoot: a new Jumanji avatar used by Spencer and Eddie, whose character’s background is a thief with skills in burglary, pick-pocketing and lock picking, and who has a weakness to pollen.
  • Alex Wolff as Spencer Gilpin.
  • Rory McCann as Jurgen the Brutal: A new antagonist of Jumanji and avatar, whose backstory is presented an iron-fisted and arrogant warlord, responsible for murdering Bravestone’s parents years ago.
  • Madison Iseman as Bethany Walker.
  • Rhys Darby as Nigel Billingsley.
  • Bebe Neuwirth as Nora Shepherd[5]

In addition, the film also cast a number of actors for supporting roles, which included Dania Ramirez as Jumanji NPC Flame, Massi Furlan as Jumanji NPC Switchblade, Zachary Tzegaegbe as a Young Smolder Bravestone, Jennifer Patino as Bravestone’s mother, John Ross Bowie as a minion of Jurgen, and Lamorne Morris as a heater repairman. Lucy DeVito as Maiden, while Marin Hinkle returned alongside returning cast members from Welcome to the Jungle to reprise her role as Mrs. Gilpin. Ashley Scott was originally intended to also appear as herself, but her scenes were later dropped from the final edit.

Our Thoughts

I liked this, but it was exactly as expected, with no surprises or plot twists I didn’t see coming. The Rock did an amazing job imitating Dany Devito. He and Kevin Hart are hilarious together. It was fun, and an all ages night out, so I guess it’s worth the ticket price, but I recommend catching it as a matinee. Or just wait for Prime, or Cable.

3.5 stars – MR

Find Jumanji: The Next Level and see the new trailer here.


We Review: Amazon’s Original #TheAeronauts “4.5 stars, well done.” – MR

The Aeronauts (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Aeronauts
TheAeronautsPoster.jpeg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom Harper
Produced by
Screenplay by Jack Thorne
Story by
  • Tom Harper
  • Jack Thorne
Based on Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air
by Richard Holmes
Starring
Music by Steven Price
Cinematography George Steel
Edited by Mark Eckersley
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • 30 August 2019 (Telluride)
  • 4 November 2019 (United Kingdom)
  • 6 December 2019 (United States)
Running time
100 minutes[2]
Country
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Language English
Budget $40 million[3]
Box office $3.2 million[4][5]

The Aeronauts is a 2019 biographical adventure film directed by Tom Harper and written by Jack Thorne, from a story co-written by Thorne and Harper. The film is based on the 2013 book Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air by Richard Holmes.[6] Produced by Todd LiebermanDavid Hoberman, and Harper, the film stars Felicity JonesEddie RedmayneHimesh Patel and Tom Courtenay.[7]

The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on 30 August 2019, followed by a showing at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.[8][9] It was released in the United Kingdom on 4 November 2019, and in the United States on 6 December 2019.

Plot  ***SPOILER ALERT***

In 1862 London, pilots James Glaisher and Amelia arrive for the balloon launch. Despite being haunted by a vision of her late husband Pierre, Amelia keeps up the brave front and the balloon launches. In a flashback, James appears before the Royal Society and explains his theory that the weather can be predicted but he is laughed out of the building. Returning home, he talks to his parents, who try to persuade him to pursue another avenue of science. On the balloon, James and Amelia start rising through the cloud layer. They soon run into a violent storm which sends the balloon spinning. In a flashback, Antonia persuades her sister, Amelia, to attend a society function. There, Amelia is approached by James and he asks if she would be willing to be his pilot while he attempts to prove his theories to which she agrees.

After a close brush with death, with James suffering a head injury, they make it through the storm and continue rising. James releases the first of five pigeons carrying messages stating the current altitude along with other scientific readings in case they don’t survive. They discover an air current which is home to a group of butterflies, confirming one of John’s theories which James had always refuted. In a flashback, as James practices for the flight, Amelia approaches and tells him she’s changed her mind. At this, John goes to see Amelia to convince her. Amelia goes to Pierre’s grave to reflect. When it begins to snow, as James had predicted, she decides to go with him after all. Eventually, the balloon exceeds 23,000 feet (7.0 km), beating the record for the highest altitude. Amelia finds out James didn’t bring any clothes suitable for the rapidly decreasing temperature and decides to start descending. James refuses, and the two argue. Amelia agrees to keep rising, but makes it clear to James that they’ll have to start descending soon.

James starts experiencing hypoxia from the altitude as they ascend and insists they continue. The two get into a scuffle. That is when Amelia tells him the story of how Pierre sacrificed himself to save her during a balloon flight. This convinces James to descend. Amelia discovers the gas release valve on top of the balloon is frozen. As James falls unconscious, she has no choice but to climb up the outside of the balloon and open the valve from the top. With frostbite setting in on her hands, she struggles to wedge her boot in the valve, causing a slow release of the gas. Amelia loses consciousness and topples over the side but is saved by her rope tether.

When she awakens, Amelia manages to swing back to the balloon and wakes James. As they continue to descend, snow begins to hover around them, and they realize the balloon is collapsing from the loss of too much gas. They manage to close the gas release but it is not enough to slow their descent, so they throw everything they can over the side. When this doesn’t work, they climb into the framework and release the basket. Amelia then prepares to sacrifice herself to save James, but James convinces her that they can use the balloon as a parachute, which slows their descent. They crash through trees and hit the ground hard, with Amelia being dragged along behind the balloon. She wakes and calls for James, who staggers towards her. Both are injured, but euphoric that they managed to survive, setting a new human flight altitude record of 37,000 feet (11.3 km). James’s findings eventually paved the way for the first weather forecasts. James and Amelia go on another balloon flight together.

Cast

Our Thoughts

The Aeronauts is an award worthy film. Considering 90% of the movie is our two mains, in a wicker basket, it packs quite a punch. I feared for Amelia’s life in more than one place, and wanted to smack James for his stupidity.  That requires great acting skill.

My hats off to Felicity Jones, and Eddie Redmayne. They gave remarkable performances.

4.5 stars. Well done. – MR


We Review: #Underwater “If you LOVED #Godzilla, #Sphere, and #Leviathon, you will LIKE this. 3 stars” -MR

Underwater (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Underwater
Underwater poster.jpeg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Eubank
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Brian Duffield
Starring
Music by
Cinematography Bojan Bazelli
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • January 10, 2020 (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50–80 million[1][2]
Box office $17.6 million[3]

Underwater is a 2020 American science fiction horror film directed by William Eubank and written by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad. The film is produced by Chernin Entertainment and stars Kristen StewartVincent CasselJessica HenwickJohn Gallagher Jr.Mamoudou Athie, and T.J. Miller.[4] It follows a group of scientists at the bottom of the ocean who encounter a group of creatures after a mysterious shaking destroys their laboratory.

Underwater was released in the United States on January 10, 2020, by 20th Century Fox. It was the final film to be released under the 20th Century Fox name before Walt Disney Studios changed its name to 20th Century Studios on January 17, 2020. It received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed $17 million worldwide.

Plot       ***SPOILER ALERT***

Tian Industries’ intends to drill seven miles to the bottom of the Mariana Trench for resources. A large earthquake hits, and a section of the Kepler 822 Station starts to suffer a catastrophic breach from the pressure. Norah Price, a mechanical engineer, and Rodrigo are able to escape the area and close it off, temporarily preventing further damage to the Kepler. They rescue Paul as they make their way to the escape pod bay. However, the three discover that all of the escape pods have already been deployed, with Captain Lucien being the only person in the area when the three arrive.

The surviving crew reach a control base and find biologist Emily Haversham and engineer Liam Smith, who are unsuccessful in their attempts to make contact with the surface. Lucien recommends that they put on pressurized suits and walk one mile across the ocean floor to the Roebuck Station 641. They start to emerge from the station into a cargo elevator, but Rodrigo’s helmet is faulty and cracks from the pressure, killing him instantly. The surviving crew see a distress beacon from one of the escape pods below, and Smith and Paul go outside to investigate. As Smith and Paul arrive at the location, the pod has been ripped open and a body lies in the rubble. Paul inspects the body, only for a hatchling creature to emerge from it and attack him. Smith is able to shoot and kill it with a bolt gun, and they bring it inside. Studying the creature’s body, Haversham realizes it is a part of a previously undiscovered species. The five begin to set out towards the Roebuck Station, but as they are walking, the Kepler explodes, causing debris to fly toward them. Smith is hit by the debris, but Price and Lucien manage to save him and bring him inside. They are able to make it to the meet-point station by taking an access tunnel, allowing them to charge and clean their suits, but find that Smith’s oxygen source is badly damaged from the debris. As they make their way through the access tunnel, Paul is attacked by an unknown creature and is dragged underwater before being ripped out of his suit and killed.

Before leaving the access tunnel, the team discover that Smith’s damaged oxygen pod will cause him to have to breathe in toxic fumes from the explosion. Unwilling to leave another crew member behind, Price, Lucien and Haversham agree to help him walk, dragging him if they have to. The remaining four crew members press on and start their walk across the ocean floor, but a humanoid creature appears, dragging Smith into a cave. Lucien manages to pull Smith out, but then tries to go for Smith’s bolt gun, allowing the creature an opportunity to drag Lucien up through the water and away from the other three. Price is dragged along with Lucien, but when the creature begins ascending, Lucien sacrifices himself so that Price may escape the increasing change in pressure. Price ends up at the abandoned Shepard Station and finds that Lucien worked there beforehand, causing suspicion as to what Lucien really knew about these creatures and their involvement with the drilling stations. Price tries to make contact with Smith and Haversham, but to no avail. She then gets a new pressurized suit and leaves the Shepard, continuing toward the Roebuck. Walking along the ocean floor, Price reunites with Haversham, dragging Smith towards the Roebuck Station, and proceeds to help. As they enter the station, they notice that there is a nest of the humanoid creatures hanging from the ceiling and try to sneak by, but Haversham’s suit, low on oxygen, begins to make noise, causing one of them to wake up and attack Price. Price is partially swallowed by one of the creatures, but is able to kill it and break free. Before more of the creatures can attack, an enormous creature reveals itself and causes an explosion. Haversham rescues Price and they continue their way into the Roebuck.

The three are able to reach the escape pod bay, but Price discovers that only two work, with a third being damaged and unusable. Price and Haversham manage to get an ailing but still alive Smith into one of the pods, and Price eventually convinces Haversham to take the last one. As this is happening, the gigantic alpha creature allegedly responsible for attacking and destroying their rig earlier, Cthulhu, emerges from around the Roebuck surrounded by even more of the humanoid creatures. The creatures start to follow the two escape pods, while Cthulhu begins to attack the Roebuck. Price, knowing she is already going to die, raises the energy levels of the core engines so that they explode, killing the creatures and allowing the escape pods to reach the surface. The film ends with images of newspaper articles depicting Tian Industries and their attempts to cover up the incident, which includes keeping Haversham and Smith’s testimonies classified. The company goes on to say that they intend to expand their drilling efforts.

Cast

Our Thoughts

Underwater could have been great. They skipped the whole “getting to know the crew” part of the plot, leaving no backstory. We jump right into disaster after disaster, but they never establish why we should care if these characters survive over the others dying all around them. I did not care one whit if the main character died because I knew NOTHING about her or her motivation, other than just to survive.

 

Anyway, it could have been amazing, but it would have to be thirty minutes longer, and the story start before they go 7 miles deep. Not right when crap goes bad, so we get no sense of normal life at depth.

 

3 stars at best. I’d wait until it hits Prime, or cable. -MR

Find Underwater and see the new trailer here.


We Review: #StarWars: The Rise of #Skywalker #IMAX #3D version “Entertaining, but nothing extraordinary. 4 stars” – MR

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. J. Abrams
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based on Characters
by George Lucas
Starring
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Dan Mindel[2]
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • December 16, 2019 (Hollywood)
  • December 20, 2019 (United States)
Running time
142 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $275 million[4]
Box office $453.6 million[5][6]

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (also known as Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker) is a 2019 American epic space-opera film produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams. It is the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), and final episode of the nine-part “Skywalker saga“.[a] It was produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’s production company Bad Robot Productions, and was distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The ensemble cast includes Mark HamillAdam DriverDaisy RidleyJohn BoyegaOscar IsaacAnthony DanielsNaomi AckieDomhnall GleesonRichard E. GrantLupita Nyong’oKeri RussellJoonas SuotamoKelly Marie TranIan McDiarmid, and Billy Dee Williams. It also features Carrie Fisher, who posthumously appears through the use of previously unused footage.[2]

The Rise of Skywalker follows ReyFinn, and Poe Dameron as they lead the Resistance‘s final stand against Kylo Ren and the First Order, who are now aided by the return of the deceased galactic emperorPalpatine. After the new trilogy was announced following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, it was originally reported that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson would write the script for Episode IX. In August 2015, Colin Trevorrow was hired to direct and to write a script with his collaborator Derek Connolly; both ultimately retained story credit with Abrams and Chris Terrio. In September 2017, Trevorrow left the project following creative differences with producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Abrams returned as director. Principal photography began in August 2018 at Pinewood Studios in England, and wrapped in February 2019; post-production was completed on November 24, 2019.

The Rise of Skywalker had its world premiere in Los Angeles on December 16, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 20, 2019. It received mixed reviews, with critics praising the cast performances and visual effects, but criticizing the plot, pacing and perceived departure from the themes and plot of The Last Jedi.

*** Spoiler Alert *** Spoiler Alert ***

Plot 

Following a mysterious galaxy-wide broadcast by the late Emperor PalpatineKylo Ren obtains a Sith wayfinder device leading him to the broadcast’s source on the planet Exegol. There, he finds a physically impaired Palpatine, who reveals that he created Snoke as a puppet to control the First Order and lure Kylo to the dark side. Palpatine unveils a secret armada of Star Destroyers and tells Kylo to find and kill Rey, who is continuing her Jedi training under General Leia Organa. Meanwhile, FinnPoe Dameron, and Chewbacca receive information from a First Order spy confirming Palpatine’s return. Rey discovers notes in Luke Skywalker‘s Jedi texts about a Sith wayfinder that will lead them to Palpatine. Rey, Poe, Finn, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO depart to the planet Pasaana to seek the wayfinder, while R2-D2 stays with Leia.

On Pasaana, the group encounters Lando Calrissian, who points them to the wayfinder’s last suspected location. Kylo learns where Rey is through their Force bond and travels there with the Knights of Ren. Rey and the others discover the remains of the assassin Ochi, his ship, droid, and dagger inscribed with Sith text, which C-3PO‘s programming forbids him from interpreting. Sensing that Kylo is nearby, Rey goes to confront him. The First Order captures the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca, and the dagger; Rey, attempting to save Chewbacca, accidentally destroys a First Order transport with Force lightning. The group escapes on Ochi’s ship, presuming that Chewbacca was killed in the explosion.

Poe suggests traveling to Kijimi to have the Sith text extracted from C-3PO’s memory. The process wipes C-3PO’s memory, but reveals coordinates to a wayfinder on Kef Bir. Rey senses that Chewbacca is alive, and the group mounts a rescue mission. While Kylo searches for Rey, the group infiltrates his Star Destroyer with the help of Zorii Bliss, an old acquaintance of Poe’s. Rey recovers the dagger and has visions of her parents being killed with it. Kylo informs her that she is Palpatine’s granddaughter; the Sith lord had ordered Ochi to recover Rey as a child, but her parents hid her on Jakku to protect her. General Hux saves Poe, Finn and Chewbacca from execution, revealing himself as the spy. He lets the group escape on the Falcon, but is executed for treason.

The group arrives on Kef Bir. Jannah, an ex-stormtrooper and Resistance sympathizer, leads them to the remains of the second Death Star, where Rey locates the wayfinder. Kylo, having tracked the group to Kef Bir, destroys Rey’s wayfinder and asks her to help him supplant Palpatine. Rey and Kylo duel, while the rest of the group returns to the Resistance base. Leia, dying, calls to Kylo through the Force, distracting him, and Rey impales him. Sensing Leia’s death, Rey heals Kylo and takes Kylo’s ship to exile herself on Ahch-To. As a Force spirit, Luke encourages Rey to face Palpatine, giving her Leia’s lightsaber and his X-wing. Rey leaves for Exegol, using the wayfinder on Kylo’s ship. Kylo converses with a memory of his father, Han Solo; he throws away his lightsaber and reclaims his identity as Ben Solo. Palpatine has a Star Destroyer obliterate Kijimi as a show of force.

Our Thoughts

As I watched this one, I saw almost every scene was “extra” reminiscent of a scene from a past episode. I saw the original Cantina, the Ewoks with a ship crashing through their atmosphere, pod AND canyon races (as a land speeder chase,) our heroes on a destroyer in everything save for a garbage disposal, and Chewy in cuffs.  Reaching for the nostalgic feel was a wasted effort. This is episode 9, and if these are all the sets/settings there are, why bother?

I enjoyed the film, though I could pick the plot apart like fried onion. I won’t bother, but a HUGE gripe is the kiss at the end. Dude killed at least a hundred of her pals over three films, and she just forgets it?  That part was ignorant and whoever wrote it should be held accountable. She should have head-butted him, and then put him in a cell, forever.

But gripe(s) aside, it was a great film, and good fun for the whole family. We saw it in IMAX 3D and it was well worth the premium ticket price.  I’ll give it 4 stars. It could have been 5, but the drive to diversify the cast, left behind the NEED to diversify the on planet and on ship settings. – MR

Find Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and see the new trailer: here


Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of ‘The Sword and the Dragon’

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of ‘The Sword and the Dragon,’ we created handsome 2020 Edition ‘The Wardstone Trilogy’ paperbacks.

See 1,250-5 star combined reviews here:

Click a cover to start reading the FREE Kindle preview,

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The Sword and the Dragon

(The Wardstone Trilogy, Book 1)

Wardstone_Book1_eBook

Brothers torn by magic. A sorceress with dragony aspirations. A wolf king, a royal wizard, a squire fleeing with a coveted sword. What could possibly go wrong when they all collide in Highwander, where the very bedrock is formed of the powerful substance known as Wardstone?

2020, 10th Anniversary Edition

The Sword and the Dragon
When the Royal Wizard of Westland poisons the king so that his puppet prince can take the throne and start a continental war, a young squire is forced to run for his life carrying the powerful sword his dying monarch burdened him with from the death bed.

Two brothers find a magic ring and start on paths to becoming the most powerful sort of enemies, while an evil young sorceress unwillingly falls in love with one of them when he agrees to help her steal a dragon’s egg for her father. Her father just happens to be the Royal Wizard, and despite his daughter’s feelings, he would love nothing more than to sacrifice the boy!

All of these characters, along with the Wolf King of Wildermont, the Lion Lord of Westland, and a magical hawk named Talon, are on a collision course toward Willa the Witch Queen’s palace in the distant kingdom of Highwander. There the very bedrock is formed of the powerful magical substance called Wardstone.

Who are the heroes? And will they get there before the Royal Wizard and his evil horde?

Whatever happens, the journey will be spectacular, and the confrontation will be cataclysmic.

 

Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools

(The Wardstone Trilogy, Book 2)

 

Wardstone_Book2_eBook

Join Hyden Hawk Skyler, and some great new friends, on an adventurous quest, over land and sea, to find the Silver Skull of Zorellin.

Fight with Mikahl, Ironspike, and fierce King Jarrek as they try to free the enslaved people of Wildermont from King Ra’Gren and his Dakaneese Overlords.

Patrol the skies with Shaella, and her new black dragon, Vrot. With her father’s spell books, and the Priests of Kraw, she decides to aid King Ra’Gren, while scheming to free her lover, Gerard, from the hellish Nethers.

Demonic love, valiant battles, and foolhardy heroics await readers in this 180k word (600+ page) continuation of the epic Wardstone Trilogy that was written in a Texas prison cell by author M. R. Mathias

The Wizard and the Warlord

(The Wardstone Trilogy, Book 3)

 

Wardstone_Book3_eBook

**The Wizard and the Warlord – The Wardstone Trilogy-Book III** is the gripping conclusion to the epic fantasy trilogy that M. R. Mathias wrote in a Texas prison. This compelling volume brings the elves, dwarves, giants, and the dragons into the story again as our heroes, led by High King Mikahl and the great wizard Hyden Hawk, are forced to fight for the fate of the Kingdoms. This time, they do so against the terrible creature that Gerard Skyler has become, and the legions of demon-beasts that he commands.

From M.R. Mathias,
This is the CONCLUSION to The Wardstone Trilogy. It has taken me several years and a lot of sleepless nights to complete this grand work. I gave it my all, from the moment I put the inkpen to paper in prison, until the day I published Book III. I hope you like it.

You may see some of these characters and locals again, but the story of Claret and mighty Ironspike comes to its magnificent end here. Enjoy, M.R.

 

Click any of the covers to start reading right from the device you are using now!

 

 

 


We #Review: #GeminiMan – Will Smith is a great actor. I’ll give it 4 stars – Action packed fun – MR

Gemini Man

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gemini Man
GeminiManPoster.jpeg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ang Lee
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Darren Lemke
  • David Benioff
Starring
Music by Lorne Balfe
Cinematography Dion Beebe
Edited by Tim Squyres
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • October 1, 2019 (ZFF)
  • October 11, 2019 (United States)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $138 million[2]
Box office $149.3 million[2]

Gemini Man is a 2019 American action thriller film[3] directed by Ang Lee and written by David BenioffBilly Ray, and Darren Lemke. Starring Will SmithMary Elizabeth WinsteadClive Owen, and Benedict Wong, the film follows a hitman who is targeted by a younger clone of himself while on the run from the government.

Originally conceived in 1997, the film went through development hell for nearly 20 years. Several directors, including Tony ScottCurtis Hanson, and Joe Carnahan, were all attached at some point and numerous actors, including Harrison FordMel Gibson, and Sean Connery, were set to star. In 2016, Skydance Media purchased the rights to the screenplay (which had been through several rewrites) from Disney and in October 2017, Ang Lee signed on to direct for Skydance with Paramount handling the distribution rights. Filming took place from February through May 2018.

Gemini Man premiered at the Zurich Film Festival on October 1, 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States by Paramount Pictures on October 11, 2019, in standard 2D, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX as well as in HFR (high frame rate) “3D+” on select screens (including 16 Dolby Cinema[4] and 47 IMAX with Laser screens worldwide).[5] The film received generally negative reviews from critics, who complimented the performances but lamented the script and plot. The de-aging of Smith and the high frame-rate of 120 FPS also drew a mixed response, with some critics praising them as technical achievements, while others felt they were unconvincing.[6][7] It has grossed $149 million against an estimated budget of $138 million, becoming a box-office bomb, with projected losses as high as $75 million.

Plot

Henry Brogan, an aging government assassin, is sent on a mission to assassinate an anonymous terrorist aboard a bullet train. During the mission, Henry’s spotter warns him of a young girl approaching the target, causing Henry to delay his shot until the last second, shooting the man in the neck despite aiming for his head. Disillusioned with killing, Henry retires from government service.

While adjusting to retirement, Henry meets boat rental manager Dani and reconnects with an old friend, Jack, who reveals that an informant named Yuri told him that the man Henry killed was innocent; demanding proof, Henry has Jack arrange a meeting with Yuri. In retaliation for Henry knowing their deception, agency director Lassiter plans to kill him; Clay Varris, head of a top-secret black ops unit codenamed “GEMINI”, requests permission to eliminate him but is denied.

Realizing Dani is a fellow agent sent to monitor him, Henry befriends her. After his home is broken into by government agents, Henry calls his spotter, who is killed along with Jack and his mistress. Henry warns Dani about the attack and they manage to kill the assassins sent after them, learning the agency wants them both dead.

Escaping to Colombia, Henry and Dani go to the home of Henry’s former colleague Baron, and plan to meet with Yuri for further options. Meanwhile, Clay dispatches his top assassin to kill Henry. Fighting him off, Henry realizes the assassin bears an uncanny resemblance to himself as a young man, with a similar skill set. When the injured assassin arrives at a safehouse, he is revealed to be Clay’s adopted “son” Junior. Although he is curious about his similarities to Henry, Junior is ordered to finish the job.

Henry is also troubled by his similarities to the assassin, whom Dani suggests might be his child despite Henry’s denials. Testing DNA samples recovered from Junior, Dani discovers that his and Henry’s DNA are identical – Junior is Henry’s younger clone. Desperate for answers, Henry meets Yuri in Hungary, and learns of the cloning project and that the man he killed was one of the project’s scientists. Having designed a method to produce clones devoid of pain or emotion, the scientist tried to leave the project and was killed upon being discovered.

To try and get Junior to turn away from Clay’s intentions, Henry calls Lassiter, who agrees to send Junior to bring Dani safely back to the United States. Collecting Dani, Junior sets up a trap for Henry, but she warns him via a covert listening device hidden in her tooth. Ambushing the younger assassin, Henry explains to Junior that he is a clone, convincing him by revealing their similar traits that no one else could know. Escaping back to GEMINI, a heartbroken Junior confronts Clay, who claims that he must defeat Henry in order to surpass him.

Finding Henry after sneaking out of GEMINI, Junior allies with him to bring down Clay, while he urges Junior to quit in order to become someone better. Baron is killed in an ambush ordered by Clay, with Junior knocking Clay unconscious after a brief hand-to-hand fight.

After defeating a wave of GEMINI operatives, Henry, Dani, and Junior face another clone with special body armor who feels no pain or emotions. After shooting the clone repeatedly and along with several secondary explosions, they manage to kill it. A defeated Clay tries to justify his actions towards Junior, who almost shoots him. Henry persuades Junior otherwise and kills Clay himself, having already lived with the heavy burden.

Ensuring that there are no more clones that were produced and that they are finally free from harm’s way, Henry later meets with Junior, who has enrolled into college under the assumed identity of “Jackson Brogan” after Henry’s surname. Together, Henry and Dani plan Jackson’s future.

Cast

  • Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an aging government assassin with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Ex-Marine corps, regarded as the best killer of his generation.
    • Smith also portrays Jackson Brogan (codenamed “Junior”), a cloned assassin of Henry sent after him, and “Senior”, another cloned assassin sent after him. Smith was “digitally de-aged” through the use of motion capture and computer generated imagery.[8]
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Dani Zakarweski, a Navy veteran and DIA agent who helps Henry after he saves her from being assassinated.
  • Clive Owen as Clayton “Clay” Varris, the ruthless director of GEMINI who creates Junior to “retire” Henry and take his place.
  • Benedict Wong as Baron, an old friend of Henry’s who works as a tour operator.
  • Ralph Brown as Del Patterson, Henry’s handler at the DIA.
  • Linda Emond as Janet Lassiter, the director of the DIA.
  • Theodora Miranne as Kitty, Jack’s mistress.
  • Douglas Hodge as Jack Willis, an old Marine Corps colleague of Henry’s.
  • Ilia Volok as Yuri Kovacs, a Russian operative who has been secretly monitoring GEMINI’s history.
  • E. J. Bonilla as Marino, a DIA agent killed for his association with Henry.
  • Björn Freiberg as Keller

Our Thoughts

This was a good flick. I have a few gripes about the effects, but those are only about the few places where the climbing and fighting was so cartoon-ish as to seem “B rate.” Other than that it was well made and pretty much family friendly save for a bit of violence and language. The age effects are cool, and Will Smith is a great actor. I’ll give it 4 stars for Action packed fun – MR

Find Gemini Man and see the new trailer here.


We #Review, #Zombieland: Double Tap “Zeek blasting laughs for (most of) the whole family. I’ll give it 4 stars for fun.” – MR

Zombieland: Double Tap

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zombieland: Double Tap
Zombieland Double Tap teaser poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Produced by Gavin Polone
Written by
Starring
Narrated by Jesse Eisenberg
Music by David Sardy
Cinematography Chung Chung-hoon
Edited by Dirk Westervelt
Production
companies
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • October 18, 2019 (United States)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $42–48 million[1][2]
Box office $39.3 million[3]

Zombieland: Double Tap is a 2019 American zombie comedy film directed by Ruben Fleischer and written by Rhett ReesePaul Wernick, and David Callaham. A sequel to Zombieland (2009), it stars Woody HarrelsonJesse EisenbergAbigail Breslin, and Emma Stone reprising their roles from the first film, alongside new cast members Rosario DawsonZoey Deutch, and Luke Wilson.

Talk of a Zombieland sequel began before the release of the first installment, with Reese and Wernick suggesting ideas, and the cast voicing their desire to make a second film. However, the project languished in development hell for several years before finally being confirmed in July 2018. The four main stars and Fleischer all signed on that month, while additional cast members, including Dawson and Wilson, joined in early 2019. Filming took place from January to March 2019.

Zombieland: Double Tap was released in the United States on October 18, 2019, by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label.[4] It received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed $39 million worldwide.

Plot ***SPOILER ALERT***

Ten years after the events of the first film, in an America overrun by zombies dubbed “Zombieland”, survivors Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock have become experts in identifying and disposing of various zombies. Living in the abandoned White House, Columbus decides to propose to Wichita using the Hope Diamond, while Tallahassee rebuffs Little Rock’s hopes of meeting a boy and starting her own family. The next morning, Tallahassee finds a note from Wichita and Little Rock, who have left due to Little Rock feeling Tallahassee still treats her like a child and Wichita’s fear she is too attached to Columbus.A month later, while exploring a mall, Columbus is startled by Madison, who has survived Zombieland alone since she was 14 inside the freezer of a Pinkberry. Madison quickly annoys Tallahassee, but Columbus invites her back to the White House, where she has sex with him. Returning and discovering Columbus has slept with Madison, Wichita explains that Little Rock has left for Graceland with a pacifist named Berkeley, and informs the group of more agile and durable “super zombies”. Fearing for Little Rock’s safety, the group head toward Graceland in a rundown minivan.

On the road, the group tries to commandeer a luxury RV, but Madison triggers the alarm, and zombies attack them. Annihilating the horde, they encounter a super zombie that takes multiple gunshots to kill, leading Columbus to nickname it the “T-800“. Madison shows signs of “zombification”, forcing Columbus to lead her into the forest to shoot her. Arriving at Graceland, the group finds “the Beast”, Tallahassee’s modified presidential limousine stolen by Little Rock, at an Elvis-themed motel run by Nevada, who reveals Little Rock took another vehicle toward Babylon, a hippie commune. Bonding over their love of Elvis, Nevada and Tallahassee spend the night together.

The group awakens to find the Beast being crushed by a monster truck driven by Albuquerque and Flagstaff, who strongly resemble Tallahassee and Columbus. Super zombies arrive, and Albuquerque explains they have turned back from their journey west due to hordes of super zombies moving east. Facing the super zombies alone, Albuquerque and Flagstaff seemingly triumph but are both bitten. Turning into super zombies, they are killed by the group with Nevada’s help.

Bidding Nevada farewell, Tallahassee is unable to drive Albuquerque’s monster truck; Columbus takes over driving duties in the minivan. The group finds Madison, alive and driving an ice cream truck. Rejoining the group, she explains that her nut allergy caused symptoms similar to zombification when Columbus spared her in the forest. At Babylon, Little Rock and Berkeley learn guns are prohibited and melted down to make peace medallions. The group arrives at Babylon, relenting to the no-guns policy, and find Little Rock. Realizing she is now grown up and no longer needs his protection, Tallahassee leaves, as the hippies celebrate the group’s arrival with fireworks. Tallahassee finds a massive horde of super zombies attracted by the fireworks and returns to warn the group. Left without guns, Tallahassee devises two plans: First, using fireworks to lure the zombies into an enclosed area, and exploding a tank of biodiesel. Second, commune members armed with barricade shields will corral the zombies off of a skyscraper, lured by Tallahassee.

The first plan proves disastrous when the zombie horde is more massive than expected, and the unarmed group is surrounded. Resigned to their fate, they thank each other for their companionship, but Nevada arrives in the monster truck, rescuing the group. The truck flips over, forcing them to journey up the skyscraper as Tallahassee delays the zombies. The survivors use shields to create a single path off the edge of the building. Pursued by the zombies, Tallahassee jumps off the building, catching the hook of a construction crane as the horde falls to their deaths. Two zombies seize Tallahassee’s leg, but Little Rock shoots them with a forgotten pistol given to her earlier by Tallahassee.

With Tallahassee saved and the zombie horde destroyed, Little Rock reconciles with Tallahassee, and Wichita accepts Colombus’ proposal of marriage. Little Rock breaks up with Berkeley, who hooks up with Madison; they stay behind as the group, joined by Nevada, leave Babylon. Columbus remarks that they have finally found their home in each other.

In a mid-credits sceneBill Murray witnesses the start of the zombie outbreak ten years earlier while promoting a third Garfield film, before partaking in killing multiple zombies. In a post-credits scene, Murray is shown earlier practicing coughing up a hairball as a joke in his interview.

Cast

In addition, Bill Murray reprises his role from the first film as a fictionalized version of himself. Entertainment reporters Al RokerGrace Randolph, Josh Horowitz and Lili Estefan cameo as fictionalized versions of themselves.

Our Thoughts

If you liked Zombieland, you’ll want to see Double-Tap.  There is no sense in reviewing the flick. You know what is going to happen. This is a typical young love gone awry comedy story, only in Zombieland. Duh.  It was worth the cost of the premium ticket. I’ll give it 4 stars, for being fun, funny, and entertaining.  – MR

 

Find Zombieland: Double Tap and see the new trailer here.


We #Review – #Maleficent: Mistress of Evil “If you can forget it’s #Disney, it’s actually a pretty good fantasy tale. 4.5 stars”- MR

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Maleficent Mistress of Evil (Official Film Poster).png

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joachim Rønning
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Linda Woolverton
Based on
Starring
Music by Geoff Zanelli
Cinematography Henry Braham
Edited by
Production
c
ompany
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • October 18, 2019[2]
Running time
118 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $185 million[4]
Box office $157.3 million[5]

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a 2019 American dark fantasy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Joachim Rønning, and written by Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster. It is a sequel to the 2014 film Maleficent,[1] with Angelina Jolie returning to portray the title role. Elle FanningSam RileyImelda StauntonJuno Temple, and Lesley Manville also return to their previous roles, with Harris Dickinson replacing Brenton Thwaites from the first film and Chiwetel EjioforEd Skrein, and Michelle Pfeiffer joining the cast as new characters.

After the release of the first film in May 2014, Jolie stated a sequel was possible. The project was officially announced the following June and Jolie signed on in April 2016. Rønning, who co-directed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) for Disney, was hired to direct the film in October 2017 and the rest of the cast was added or confirmed in May 2018, with filming beginning that month at Pinewood Studios in England, lasting through August.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was released in the United States on October 18, 2019, and has grossed over $157 million worldwide. The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the performances of Jolie, Fanning, Ejiofor, and Pfeiffer, but criticism aimed at the “muddled plot and overly artificial visuals”.

Plot

Five years after the death of King Stefan,[N 1] Aurora continues to reign as Queen of the Moors while Maleficent serves as its protector. Despite her heroic actions, Maleficent is deemed a villain by the neighboring kingdom of Ulstead, home to Prince Phillip. When Philip asks Aurora to marry him and she accepts, Diaval, having overheard the proposal, relays the news to Maleficent, who warns against the union. Aurora insists she and Phillip will prove her wrong before persuading her to attend an intimate dinner with Philip and his parents, King John and Queen Ingrith.

On the night of the dinner, Ingrith attempts to provoke Maleficent by giving her iron silverware, mentioning the sleeping curse she placed on Aurora and openly accusing her of killing two men last seen near the Moors. Maleficent attempts to keep her composure but loses her temper after Ingrith dismisses her relationship with Aurora, seemingly cursing King John into an eternal slumber. She then flees without Aurora, who refuses to believe her claims of innocence, but falls into the ocean after being wounded with an iron bullet fired by Ingrith’s servant, Gerda. At the last minute, a mysterious creature with wings similar to hers saves her life.

Maleficent wakes up in a series of underground caverns where she discovers a group of winged and horned fairies of her own kind, among them Conall, their peaceful leader who saved Maleficent, and Borra, a warlike fairy who strives for an open war with humans. Maleficent discovers that she is one of the last Dark Feys, a powerful species of fairies that are almost extinct because of the human oppression. She is also told that her own bloodline ties directly to the Phoenix, an ancient and very powerful ancestor of the Dark Fey, and that is why she wields magic more powerful than the rest of her species. Both Conall and Borra believe that Maleficent is instrumental to end the conflict with humans, either by peace or war.

Meanwhile, in Ulstead, Aurora is disillusioned by her new life of a noblewoman but is happy that all of the Fair Folk from the Moors have been invited for her and Phillip’s wedding. On the wedding day, though, she discovers that Ingrith, out of her deep-seated hatred for them, has been secretly plotting to eradicate all of the fairies and woodland beings, forging iron weapons and inventing a crimson powder that can instantly kill them. It is also revealed it was Ingrith who cursed John with Maleficent’s old cursed spindle. As the Fair Folk gathers for the wedding ceremony in the castle’s chapel, they are trapped in and Gerda starts killing them with the powder, launched from the organ she plays. They are ultimately saved by Flittle’s selfless sacrifice, where ultimately, Knotgrass and Thistlewit cause Gerda to fall to her death.

At the same time, the Dark Feys launch an assault on Ulstead but are being massacred by the well-prepared soldiers until Maleficent, having channeled the power of the Phoenix, joins the battle. She nearly manages to kill Ingrith but is stopped by Aurora who appeals to her good nature, reassuring her that Maleficent is her mother. As the two reconcile, however, Maleficent saves Aurora from Ingrith’s arrow and dissolves into ashes. Ingrith proclaims herself victorious as Aurora weeps over the ashes. Maleficent is reborn in the form of the Phoenix.

Ingrith’s soldiers stand down, and the queen herself is transformed into a goat as punishment for her crimes. Phillip forges a peace pact with the fairies on the behalf of humans, Maleficent reverts back to her fairy form, gives Aurora and Phillip her blessing and breaks the curse on the spindle and spinning wheel altogether, awakening King John from his slumber. After the couple is wed, Maleficent flies away with a group of young Dark Feys, promising Philip and Aurora to come back for the christening of their child.

Cast

Our Thoughts

I’m tired of Disney films. I really am. But here, I was able to forget it was Disney and get lost in a pretty damn good fantasy tale, despite the princess and the over abundance of absurd fairies.  It is a typical forbidden love gone wrong type of thing until we are suddenly exploring Malificent’s unique race. This part was a bit too much like Avatar, but what can you do? The effects were superb, and it is well worth to cost of a premium ticket. We saw it in IMAX, which I highly recommend. 4.5 stars – MR

 

Find, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and see the new trailer here.