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All reviews - Movies (109)

Behind Enemy Lines

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 19 December 2011 03:53 (A review of Behind Enemy Lines (2001))

In the final stages of a NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in December 1995, US Navy naval flight officer Lieutenant Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) and pilot Lieutenant Jeremy Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht), who are stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Adriatic Sea, are assigned a reconnaissance mission over Bosnia. During the reconnaissance mission, they spot suspicious activity in the demilitarized zone, in which armed factions are not allowed to engage in military activity; NATO aircraft are also prohibited from entering the area. Burnett persuades Stackhouse to fly their F/A-18 Hornet off-course to get a close look at the target and photograph it. However, both men are unaware that they photographed mass graves, and Serbs in the area spot the jet. The local Bosnian Serb Army commander, General Miroslav Lokar (Olek Krupa), is conducting a secret genocidal campaign against the local Muslim population. Not wanting the mass graves to be discovered, Lokar orders the jet to be shot down.

Despite trying to outmaneuver the missiles shot at them, their aircraft is hit and both men are forced to eject. A short while after touching ground, a Serb patrol under Lokar's command finds Stackhouse and interrogates him. Stackhouse is then executed by Sasha (Vladimir Mashkov), a tracker and one of Lokar's right-hand men. Burnett, who was observing the Serbs' interrogation of his comrade from a hill, screams in horror, unintentionally alerting the Serbs to his location. Wanting Burnett dead as well, Lokar orders both Sasha and his second-in-command, Colonel Bazda (Marko Igonda), to find him.

Burnett contacts his commanding officer, Admiral Leslie Reigart (Gene Hackman), on high ground to inform him of what happened and is ordered to move to a certain location in order to be extracted. However, Admiral Piquet (Joaquim de Almeida) warns Reigart that the shooting down of Burnett's jet and any attempt to rescue the navigator in the no-fly zone could hamper or even cause the peace process to collapse. Therefore, as Burnett moves to the designated extraction point, Reigart tells him that he must move to a safer location miles away outside of the demilitarized zone in order to be rescued.

Immediately after being informed, Burnett sees a Serb patrol led by Bazda that is looking for him. Burnett runs off as the Serbs continue their search for the downed navigator. As Burnett keeps running, he falls into the very mass graves that he and Stackhouse had photographed and hides under a dead body. As the Serb patrol arrives at the graves, they inspect the area to find Burnett and then withdraw with no success. When the Serbs leave, Burnett continues to run. Reigart, who was watching the moment via thermal satellite imagery, decides to report Burnett's situation to the media.

On his way to the new extraction point, Burnett is nearly killed by Serb soldiers in an abandoned factory, but manages to flee the scene after the Serbs are killed by mines. Later on, as Burnett has a near-encounter with Sasha, he encounters Muslim guerrillas aboard a pickup truck who offer him a ride. The guerrillas inform Burnett that they are heading to Hač, which is located within a safe area, but turns out to be a war zone in which Burnett's Serb pursuers are fighting to take control of the town. During the battle, Serb troops believe that they have found Burnett's body, but Burnett has switched uniforms with a dead Serb soldier and escaped Hač with Babic (Kamil Kollarik).

The Serbians parade the corpse wearing Burnett's uniform, but Sasha immediately notices that it is not Burnett. Although convinced, Lokar has the corpse presented on the news and the media reports the Serb claims that Burnett was killed by Bosniak guerrillas, as Lokar fears that a rescue team tasked with rescuing Burnett may be on its way. Their ruse works and the rescue mission is called off just as Burnett gets a view of the helicopter. Burnett, disappointed, then notices an angel statue that he parachuted down nearby as this is where his ejection seat landed. Burnett, whose radio was destroyed in Hač, wants to return to the site in order to prove to his carrier group that he is still alive as well as to obtain the evidence of Lokar's crimes, which is located on a hard drive attached to the seat. Burnett orders Babic to leave, returns to his ejection seat and reactivates the rescue beacon. Even though the carrier group notices his signal, Burnett also alerts the Serbs to his location.

Although knowing that doing so could have him relieved of command, Reigart prepares a task force aimed at rescuing Burnett. But meanwhile, General Lokar sends both Bazda and Sasha alone to kill Burnett, with Lokar instructing the latter to shoot the downed navigator in the head. On route to Burnett's location, Bazda steps on a landmine, forcing Sasha to leave the helpless soldier to die. Burnett hears the explosion and is alerted.

Sasha takes a position and sees Burnett hiding behind the ejection seat. After hearing approaching American helicopters coming to rescue Burnett, he walks toward the ejection seat, but after getting there, Sasha realizes that he was tricked. Burnett jumps out of a snowdrift behind Sasha and the two men engage in a hand-to-hand fight until Burnett pulls out a flare and stabs Sasha in the chest with it, killing him. Immediately after Sasha is killed, Lokar arrives with armored personnel carriers and infantry who begin to fire upon Burnett as he runs to the nearby angel statue. UH-1 Huey helicopters of the United States Marine Corps led by Reigart finally arrive and fire on the Serbs. After running back to the ejection chair to retrieve the hard drive containing the photos of the mass graves, Burnett runs back to the helicopter and gets in. The task force successfully withdraws back to the aircraft carrier, where Burnett receives warm applause from the carrier's crew members on the flight deck after getting off the helicopter.

The conclusion of the movie reveals that the evidence of Lokar's war crimes put him on trial. Reigart is relieved from command for his actions and is offered a desk job in Washington, D.C., but chooses to retire with the respect of his sailors for the sacrifice he made to recover the downed pilot. Burnett, who earlier in the film wanted to resign from active duty, decides to remain in the Navy

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The French Connection

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 19 December 2011 03:52 (A review of The French Connection)

The film revolves around the smuggling of narcotics between Marseille, France and New York City, USA. In Marseille a policeman is staking out Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), a French criminal who is smuggling heroin from France to the United States. The policeman is assassinated by Charnier's henchman, Pierre Nicoli.

In New York, detectives James "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy "Cloudy" Russo (Roy Scheider) are conducting an undercover stakeout in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. After seeing a drug transaction take place in a bar, Russo goes in to make an arrest and the suspect makes a break for it. After catching up with their suspect and delivering a severe beating after the suspect cuts Russo on the arm with a knife, the detectives aggressively interrogate the man, forcing him to reveal where his connection is based.

After Russo's injury is treated, Doyle convinces him to go out for a drink. At the Copacabana, Doyle becomes interested in Salvatore "Sal" Boca and his young wife, Angie, who are entertaining Mob members involved in narcotics. Doyle persuades his partner to tail the couple; although the Bocas run a modest newsstand luncheonette, they have criminal records: Sal is said to have held up Tiffany and also killed "a guy named DeMarco" while Angie drew a suspended sentence for shoplifting and Sal's brother Lou served jail time for assault and robbery. They make nearly nightly trips to several nightclubs, as well as drive several new cars, which indicate they may be involved in criminal activity. A link is established between the Bocas and lawyer Joel Weinstock, who is rumored to have connections in the narcotics underworld; Doyle and Russo allude to a drug shipment from Mexico bankrolled by Weinstock.

Doyle and Russo roust a bar in their precinct, where the majority of the black patrons are in possession of marijuana and other minor drugs. The rousting is a stunt for Doyle to find an undercover policeman, whom he questions about an apparent shortage of hard drugs on the street; Doyle is told that a major shipment of heroin is on its way. The detectives convince their supervisor, Walt Simonson, to wiretap the Bocas' phones and use several ruses to try to obtain more information.

The film centers on three main points: the criminals' efforts to smuggle drugs into the United States, which is made easier when Charnier dupes his friend, a French actor named Henri Devereaux, into importing an automobile (unbeknownst to Devereaux, the drugs are concealed within the vehicle) and the sale of the drugs to Weinstock and Sal Boca; the efforts of Doyle and Russo to shadow Boca and Charnier; and the conflicts the detectives have with Simonson and a federal agent named Mulderig, assigned to the case due to the wiretap. Doyle and Mulderig dislike each other; Russo and Doyle feel they can handle the bust without the government's help, and Mulderig criticizes Doyle on items ranging from trivialities like Doyle's appearance to an incident where a policeman was killed and Mulderig holds Doyle responsible. Doyle comes to blows with Mulderig.

Weinstock's chemist tests a sample of the heroin and declares it the purest he has ever seen, establishing that the shipment could make as much as $32 million on a half-million dollar investment. Boca is impatient to make the purchase (reflecting Charnier's desire to return to France as soon as possible), while Weinstock, with more experience in smuggling, urges patience, knowing Boca's phone is tapped and that they are being investigated.

Charnier soon "makes" Doyle and realizes he has been observed since his arrival in New York. Nicoli offers to kill Doyle; Charnier objects, knowing killing one policeman will not amount to anything, but Nicoli says they will be in France before they can be detained. Nicoli attempts to assassinate Doyle, but botches the job, leading to a car chase scene that culminates with Nicoli's hijacking an elevated train.

Nicoli, after killing a policeman who was pursuing him, holds the driver at gunpoint. Near the end of the line Nicoli is confronted by passengers and the conductor passes out. The train reaches the end of the line and is halted by a safety mechanism on the tracks. Nicoli escapes the train and Doyle shoots him when he attempts to escape. The car containing the drugs is impounded when some thieves try to strip it of its valuables. Doyle and Russo take the car apart searching for drugs. When Russo notes the vehicle is 120 pounds over its listed weight, they realize the drugs must still be in the car. The mechanic tells them he did not remove the car's rocker panels; when he does, the drugs are discovered. The police put the car back together and return it to Devereaux.

It seems as though the drug deal has been a major success; Weinstock's chemist tests one of the bags and confirms its quality. Using a car that Sal Boca's brother Lou picked out, the criminals conceal the money. The car is to be imported into France, where Charnier will retrieve the money. Charnier and Sal Boca drive off, but run into a roadblock consisting of a large force of police led by Doyle. The police chase Charnier and Sal Boca to an old factory. Sal is killed during a shootout with the police and almost all of the others surrender.

Charnier escapes into the warehouse and Doyle hunts for him. Russo joins in the search. Doyle, trigger-happy and high on adrenaline, sees a shadowy figure in the distance and empties his revolver at it a split-second after shouting a warning. The man Doyle kills is not Charnier, but Mulderig. Doyle seems unfazed and vows to capture Charnier, reloading his gun and running into another room. The last sound heard in the film is a single gunshot. (In the TV version that ran in the late 1970s, Doyle says of getting Charnier, I'm going to get that son of a bitch if it takes me the rest of my life!!)

Title cards before the closing credits note that Joel Weinstock and Angie Boca got away without prison time while Lou Boca got a reduced sentence and Devereaux served four years. Charnier was never caught. Both Doyle and Russo were transferred out of the narcotics division

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Bonnie and Clyde

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 19 December 2011 03:49 (A review of Bonnie and Clyde)

In the middle of the Great Depression, Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) meet when Clyde tries to steal Bonnie's mother's car. Bonnie, who is bored by her job as a waitress, is intrigued with Clyde, and decides to take up with him and become his partner in crime. They do some holdups, but their amateur efforts, while exciting, are not very lucrative.

The duo's crime spree shifts into high gear once they hook up with a dim-witted gas station attendant, C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard), then with Clyde's older brother Buck (Gene Hackman) and his wife, Blanche (Estelle Parsons), a preacher's daughter. The women dislike each other on first sight, and their feud only escalates from there: shrill Blanche has nothing but disdain for Bonnie, Clyde and C.W., while gun-moll Bonnie sees Blanche's flighty presence as a constant danger to the gang's well-being.

Bonnie and Clyde turn from pulling small-time heists to robbing banks. Their exploits also become more violent. When C.W. botches a bank robbery by parallel parking the getaway car, Clyde shoots the bank manager in the face after he jumps onto the slow-moving car's running board. The gang is pursued by law enforcement, including Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle), who is captured and humiliated by the outlaws, then set free. A raid later catches the outlaws off guard, mortally wounding Buck with a gruesome shot to his head and injuring Blanche. Bonnie, Clyde and C.W. barely escape with their lives. With Blanche sightless and in police custody, Hamer tricks her into revealing C.W.'s name, who was up until now still only an "unidentified suspect."

Hamer locates Bonnie, Clyde and C.W. hiding at the house of C.W.'s father Ivan Moss (Dub Taylor), who thinks the couple — and an ornate tattoo — have corrupted his son. He strikes a bargain with Hamer: in exchange for leniency for the boy, he helps set a trap for the outlaws. When Bonnie and Clyde stop on the side of the road to help Mr. Moss fix a flat tire, the police in the bushes open fire and riddle them violently. Hamer and his posse then come out of hiding, looking pensively at the couple's bodies

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Enemy of the State

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 19 December 2011 03:48 (A review of Enemy of the State (1998))

As a U.S. senator moves to pass new legislation that dramatically expands the surveillance powers of law enforcement agencies, Congressman Phil Hammersley (Jason Robards, uncredited) remains firmly opposed to its passage. To ensure the bill's passage, National Security Agency official Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) kills Hammersley, but he is unaware of a video camera set up in a duck blind by wildlife researcher Daniel Zavitz (Jason Lee) that has captured the entire incident. Zavitz discovers the murder, and alerts an underground journalist, at the same time transferring the video to an innocuous computer disc. Reynolds learns of Zavitz's footage, and sends a team from the National Security Agency to recover the video by any means necessary. While on the run, Zavitz secretly passes the computer disc to an old college friend, labor lawyer Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith), moments before being killed in a traffic accident.

When the NSA discovers that Dean may have the video, a special team raids his house and plants surveillance devices. Unable to find the video, the NSA proceeds to falsely incriminate Dean of passing classified information to Rachel Banks (Lisa Bonet), a former girlfriend. The subterfuge destroys Dean's life: In one day, he is fired from his job, his bank accounts are frozen, and his wife (Regina King) throws him out of the house. Dean, trailed by the NSA, meets with Banks, who offers to set up a meeting with "Brill", one of her secret contacts. After meeting an NSA agent posing as Brill (Gabriel Byrne), Dean realizes his error, only to have the real Brill, retired NSA agent Edward Lyle (Gene Hackman), ferry him to temporary safety, helping rid Dean of all the tracking devices he is unwittingly carrying. With Dean and Lyle in hiding, the NSA agents kill Banks and frame Dean for the murder. While Lyle is able to find evidence that the NSA executed the murder, it is destroyed during a frantic escape from an NSA raid.

Dean and Lyle blackmail another supporter of the surveillance bill, Congressman Sam Albert (Stuart Wilson), and record various state secrets to lure Reynolds into agreeing to a meeting with "Brill" to reveal his involvement. Dean and Lyle are captured by Reynolds and the NSA before the meeting. Dean tells them that the Hammersley murder footage is in the hands of Mafia boss Joey Pintero (Tom Sizemore, uncredited), whom he had been trying to prosecute and whose headquarters are under FBI surveillance. Dean, Reynolds and the NSA team head into Pintero's restaurant, precipitating a Mexican standoff and eventually a full-fledged gunfight that kills all the mobsters, Reynolds, and several of his NSA team. Dean and Lyle escape, with Lyle quickly disappearing from the authorities. The FBI discovers the plot behind the legislation, causing it to fail to gain passage, though they cover up the NSA's involvement. Dean is cleared of all charges and is reunited with his wife. Lyle escapes to a tropical location, but sends a friendly 'goodbye' message to Dean by bugging his television set.

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Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 19 December 2011 03:47 (A review of Antz)

Loosely based on the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the setting for the story is an ant colony in Central Park in New York City, under the chronological timespan of 4 days. The protagonist (Woody Allen) is Z-4195, or "Z" for short, a neurotic and individualistic worker ant living in a wholly conformist society who longs for the opportunity to truly express himself. His friends include fellow worker Azteca (Jennifer Lopez) and a soldier ant, Weaver (Sylvester Stallone). Z meets Princess Bala (Sharon Stone) at a bar where she goes to escape from her suffocating royal life and falls in love with her.

In order to see Bala again, Z exchanges places with Weaver and joins the army. He marches with the ranks, befriending Barbatus (Danny Glover), another soldier, in the process. He doesn't realize that the army's leader and Bala's fiance, the corrupt General Mandible (Gene Hackman), is secretly sending all the soldiers loyal to the Queen to die so he can begin to build a colony filled with powerful ants. At the base of a tree near nightfall, Z realizes he's actually marching into battle, and all of the soldiers except for Z are killed by the acid-shooting termites. Following the battle, all Z can find of Barbatus is his head. Before he dies, Barbatus tells Z to think for himself rather than follow orders all his life. Z returns home and is hailed as a war hero, congratulated personally by the secretly irate General Mandible, and is brought before the Queen. There he meets Princess Bala, who eventually recognizes him as a worker. When Z finds that he has been cornered in a lie, he panics and takes Princess Bala hostage. They escape the colony and hide, and Z decides to search for the legendary Insectopia. Bala reluctantly decides to go with him after she narrowly escapes from a hungry praying mantis.

Word of the incident quickly spreads through the colony, whereupon Z's act of individuality sparks a revolution in the workers. As a result, productivity grinds to a halt. Seeing an opportunity to gain control, General Mandible begins to publicly portray Z as a villain who cares only about himself. Mandible then promotes the glory of conformity and promises them a better life, which he claims to be the reward of completing a "Mega Tunnel" planned by himself. Mandible learns Z is looking for Insectopia after interrogating Weaver. Knowing full well of the place's existence, Mandible sends his aide, Colonel Cutter (Christopher Walken), to its location to retrieve the Princess and kill Z. Cutter, however, slowly begins to have second thoughts about Mandible's plans and agenda and develops sympathy for the worker ants.

Z and Bala, after a misdirection and a brief separation, finally find Insectopia, which consists of a human wastebin overfilled with decaying food (a treat for insects of all kinds). Here, Bala begins to reciprocate Z's feelings. However, during a break, Cutter arrives and takes Bala back to the colony. Z finds them gone and makes his way back to the colony to rescue Bala, aided by a wasp named Chip (Dan Aykroyd), whom he met earlier and has made himself drunk grieving over the loss of his swatted wife, Muffy (Jane Curtin). Z arrives at the colony, where he finds that Bala has been held captive in General Mandible's office. After rescuing her, he learns that General Mandible's "Mega Tunnel" leads straight to a body of water (the puddle next to Insectopia), which Mandible will use to drown the queen and the workers who have gathered at the opening ceremony. Bala goes to warn the workers and her mother at the ceremony, while Z goes to the tunnel exit to stop the workers from digging any further. He fails, however, and the water leaks in. Z and Bala unify the workers into a single working unit and build a towering ladder of ants towards the surface as the water continues to rise.

Meanwhile, General Mandible and his soldiers are gathered at the surface, where he explains to them his vision of a new colony with none of the "worker filth". He is interrupted, however, when the workers successfully claw their way to the surface and break through. Mandible tries to kill Z but is stopped by Cutter, who finally rebels against Mandible and instead tries to help Z and the worker ants out of the hole "for the good of the colony." Mandible then snaps, yelling that he is the colony, and charges toward Cutter, who is, however, pushed away by Z at the last moment. Mandible inadvertently takes Z with him back down into the flooded colony, and gets killed when he lands upon a root while Z falls into the water. Cutter, taking charge, orders the other soldier ants to help the workers and the queen onto the surface while he himself rescue Z. Although it seems that Z has drowned, Bala successfully resuscitates him. Z is lauded for his heroism and marries Bala. Together they rebuild the colony with Cutter as their General, transforming the colony from a conformist military state into a community that values each and every one of its members.

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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 18 December 2011 07:31 (A review of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole)

Soren (Jim Sturgess), a young barn owl, lives in the forest of Tyto with his family: his father, Noctus (Hugo Weaving); his mother, Marella (Essie Davis); his older brother, Kludd (Ryan Kwanten); his younger sister, Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria); and Ms. Plithiver, (Ms. P.) the family's nest maid, a snake. Soren enjoys hearing stories of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a mythical group of warrior owls, who once saved all owlkind from the evil "Pure Ones". His elder brother, Kludd, however, thinks Soren soft-headed for believing in such stories. One night, while branching, Kludd pushes Soren and loses his balance, too; and they both fall to the ground where they are attacked by a Tasmanian devil. They are then kidnapped by two owls, Jatt and Jutt, and taken to St. Aegolious, the canyon home of the evil Pure Ones.

There, Soren meets an Elf Owl named Gylfie (Emily Barclay) and her captor, a Boreal Owl named Grimble. Nyra (Helen Mirren), second-in-command of the Pure Ones and mate of Metal Beak, claims that the owlets are now the Pure Ones' slaves. Soren and Gylfie protest and are sent to be pickers. Kludd denies his brother and goes away to be a soldier with other selected owls. They are tutored by Nyra in the ways of the Pure Ones, who believe that Tyto owls (barn owls and their relatives) are the strongest owls and that they have the right to rule the owl kingdoms. Meanwhile, The other captured owls are forced to sleep under the full moon, which causes "moon-blinking", a trance-like state. Soren and Gylfie manage to stay awake so they will not be moon-blinked. They are brought to a large cavern to pick through owl pellets for small metal flecks, which causes excruciating pain in owls gizzards. Metal Beak conspires with one of his minions to lay a trap for the Guardians of Ga'Hoole. At the same time, Grimble secretly reveals to Soren and Gylfie that he is not truly a Pure One and that his family was captured and forced into their service. He teaches Soren and Gylfie to fly, so they can warn the Guardians of the Pure Ones' plans.

Kludd has become a strong soldier, and his promise prompts Nyra to ask him about Soren's potential. The Pure Ones find Grimble teaching Soren and Gylfie to fly, and Nyra attacks them. Kludd joins Nyra, ignoring Soren's pleas. Grimble sacrifices himself to hold them back, and Soren and Gylfie barely escape to begin their quest. On their journey, they meet a Burrowing Owl named Digger; a Great Grey owl named Twilight; and Soren's old nestmaid, Ms. P. They join Soren and Gylfie on their quest.

Soren and his allies are later mobbed by crows. The battle brings them to the home of an echidna mystic (Barry Otto), on the shore of the Sea of Hoolemere. The Echidna gives them their bearings to the Great Tree. When the group encounters the mist, or a blizzarding typhoon, Digger's wings freeze over and he falls towards the sea. Soren dives down to save him, only to find Digger being rescued by an enormous Snowy Owl; a Guardian of Ga'hoole. The Guardian leads Soren and his friends to the Great Tree. Digger's saviors are Boron and Barran, the king and the queen of the Tree, who listen to Soren's tale. A Great Grey Owl, Allomere, expresses doubt about Soren's story; but a Whiskered Screech Owl, Ezylryb (Geoffrey Rush), defends Soren. Boron sends a scouting party to St. Aegolious.

Soren, Gylfie, Twilight, and Digger begin their training in the different chaws of the Tree. Ezylryb teaches the young owls to use the wind currents instead of fighting them. In a conversation with Ezylryb, Soren learns that Ezylryb is, in fact, Soren's hero, Lyze of Kiel. Soren is disillusioned when he finds out that the owl is completely different than he had always pictured him.

Allomere returns without his scouts and tells Boron that the scouts were killed in an ambush and that he barely escaped with two moon-blinked owlets, one of whom is Eglantine. Outraged, the Guardians go to war, but Soren stays with Eglantine, where she soon awakes after Soren tells her about the Guardians, breaking the trance, and gives him shocking news: she wasn't rescued, she was kidnapped by Kludd and given to Allomere, who is a traitor. Soren and his friends rush to the Guardians' aid. When the Guardians arrive at St. Aegolious, they find a trap. Allomere peels off at the last moment, and the Pure Ones unleash the power of the metal flecks against the Guardians, leaving them helpless on the ground. Soren and his friends arrive too late, just as Metal Beak and Nyra send bats to finish off the defenseless Guardians. Soren sends Twilight, Digger and Gylfie to hold back the bats. He plunges into the burning forest fire, carrying an oil lamp that becomes engulfed in flames. The band's unexpected arrival leads Metal Beak to believe Allomere betrayed the Pure Ones, and he sends a group of bats to kill him.

Soren frees the Guardians, and Metal Beak orders the Pure Ones to fight the Guardians. Ezylryb and Metal Beak square off, as do Soren and Kludd. Their fight leads them into the burning forest. Soren tries to talk some sense into Kludd, but he instead attacks Soren with renewed vigor and breaks his own wing. He convinces Soren to save him, only to try to pull his younger brother into the flames. Soren dodges the attack, and Kludd falls into the flames instead. Furious, Soren flies to the aid of Ezylryb, who is engaged in fierce combat with Metal Beak and Nyra. Soren takes Metal Beak by surprise, but Metal Beak easily overpowers him. Soren regains his weapon, a flaming branch, just as Metal Beak moves in for the kill; he impales himself on the branch. Nyra retreats with the remaining Pure Ones. Soren and his friends return to the Great Tree with the rest of the moon-blinked owlets, and Soren is greeted by Eglantine and his parents. Soren, Gylfie, Twilight, and Digger are made Guardians of Ga'Hoole.

In the epilogue, Soren tells the story to the young owlets and reveals that Kludd's body was never found and that Nyra is still out there with a handful of Pure Ones. (Kludd is then shown to be alive, now with the glowing red eyes of the other Pure Ones.) Ezylryb insists on taking flight into another storm, and they all fly towards the sea.

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How to Train Your Dragon

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 18 December 2011 07:27 (A review of How to Train Your Dragon)

The island of Berk has been plagued by attacks from dragons that steal their livestock and burn their homes. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the awkward son of the village chieftain, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), uses a cannon contraption he invented and shoots down a dragon he thinks may be a Night Fury, a rare dragon nobody has ever actually seen. Hiccup locates the dragon in the forest, but finds he is unable to kill the helpless animal. Hiccup instead cuts it free, and the dragon disappears into the forest. Meanwhile, Stoick assembles a fleet to seek out the dragons' nest, but before he leaves, he places Hiccup in dragon-killing classes taught by Gobber (Craig Ferguson), the village blacksmith.

Searching the forest, Hiccup finds the dragon trapped in a shallow glade; the dragon's tail was injured, preventing it from flying normally. By trial and error, Hiccup discovers a way to earn the dragon's trust and begins to care for it. He names the Night Fury "Toothless," for its retractable teeth. Soon after, Hiccup fashions a make-shift harness and prosthetic tail that allows him to guide the dragon in free flight. Hiccup is able to transfer his knowledge of dragons to the other species of dragons at school, appearing to conquer each one in battle and becoming the star pupil, much to the dismay of Astrid (America Ferrera), a girl in dragon training whom Hiccup has a crush on. Hiccup wins the class and gets the chance to kill a dragon in front of the entire village. The battered Viking fleet arrives home and Stoick learns of his son's exploits in school.

Later, Astrid follows Hiccup, suspicious of his sudden skill, and is shocked to discover Toothless. She attempts to escape to tell the rest of the village, but Hiccup coerces Astrid into flying with Toothless. At first, Astrid is terrified, but then begins to enjoy the excursion. Toothless unexpectedly joins a flock of dragons and takes the pair straight into the dragon's nest, where the truth behind the dragons' constant raids of their village is revealed – a gigantic dragon lives off the food they bring back, else it feeds on the dragons themselves. Astrid wants to tell the village of the nest, but Hiccup wants to keep it a secret to protect Toothless. Astrid, who admires his determination, agrees. Before she heads back, she punches his arm for kidnapping her, and then, kisses him on the cheek for "everything else".

Hiccup is put to his final exam the next day, but when he tries to show the village the dragon's true nature, Stoick stops the fight, inadvertently angering the dragon and endangering Hiccup. Toothless hears Hiccup's cries and flies in to save him, but is captured himself. Hiccup, attempting to explain his actions, reveals how to find the dragons' nest. He tries to warn his father of the danger, but Stoick refuses to listen to his son, disowns him, and sets off with another fleet, using a restrained Toothless as their guide. Astrid talks with Hiccup about why he didn't kill Toothless before. Hiccup reluctantly admits that he didn't kill him because he looked as frightened as he was. Hiccup, then, concocts a plan to save the Vikings with the help of the school's captive dragons and his classmates.

The teens arrive after the Viking fleet has already uncovered the gargantuan dragon. Hiccup's classmates distract it while Hiccup goes to save Toothless. Hiccup and Toothless almost drown, but both are saved by a now-repentant Stoick. Hiccup and Toothless lure the giant dragon into flight, ultimately setting fire to the flammable gas inside its mouth and forcing it into an inescapable dive back to earth, killing it in a massive explosion. While attempting to flee from the crashing dragon, Hiccup falls off Toothless, and Toothless dives into the flames after him.

After the explosion has settled, Stoick finds Toothless, who reveals an unconscious Hiccup safely wrapped in his wings. Hiccup wakes up back on Berk, finding an eager Toothless greeting him. As he leaves his bed, he discovers part of his left leg has been replaced by a prosthetic leg made by Gobber. His grief is turned to joy however, as he steps outside to find the Vikings and dragons working together to rebuild their village. He is greeted by everyone and Astrid rushes to kiss him on the lips. The film ends with the war between Vikings and Dragons finally over with Hiccup and his friends racing their dragons.

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True Grit

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 18 December 2011 07:25 (A review of True Grit (1969))

After Frank Ross (John Pickard) is murdered in October 1880 by his hired hand, Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Ross' 14-year-old daughter Mattie (Kim Darby) travels to Fort Smith and hires the aging U.S. Marshal Reuben "Rooster" J. Cogburn (John Wayne). Mattie has heard that, despite his vices and missing eye, Cogburn has "true grit". She gives Rooster a down payment to track down Chaney, who has taken up with "Lucky" Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall), a gang leader whom Rooster once shot in a gunfight.

The pair must head into Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Mattie buys a horse for this, after collecting money from a horse trader. They are joined by a young Texas Ranger, La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who hopes to collect a $1,500 reward for capturing Chaney, much more than Mattie is offering Cogburn. The ranger says Chaney also killed a Texas Senator named Bibbs, and Bibbs' dog. Mattie dislikes the boastful La Boeuf and refuses his assistance, but the ranger joins forces with Cogburn, who agrees to split the reward with him. The two try to abandon Mattie, but they learn that she is determined to join their posse.

After several days, the three plan to spend the night at a cabin which Cogburn had said would be empty. At the cabin, they discover Emmett Quincy (Jeremy Slate) and Moon (Dennis Hopper), two horse thieves waiting for Pepper. Moon's leg is badly injured and Cogburn uses the injury as leverage to get information about Pepper from them. To prevent Moon from telling too much, Quincy fatally stabs Moon with a knife, and Cogburn kills Quincy. Before Moon dies, he tells Cogburn that Pepper and his gang are due at the hideout that night; the posse lays a trap.

The following morning, Pepper and his men arrive at the hideout. La Boeuf mistakenly fires and a shootout ensues, during which Cogburn and La Boeuf kill two of the gang, but Pepper and the rest escape. Cogburn, La Boeuf and Mattie make their way to McAlester's store, where the marshal arranges for the four dead men to be buried.

The three continue their pursuit. After a few days, Mattie slips down a steep hill one morning on her way to bathe in a river and finds herself face-to-face with Chaney. She shoots and wounds him, calling out to her partners. Pepper and his gang capture her, and he forces Cogburn and La Boeuf to abandon the girl.

Cogburn doubles back and attacks Pepper and his gang. La Boeuf finds Mattie and moves Chaney to an area he thinks is secure. La Boeuf and Mattie move to an outcropping and watch as a mounted Cogburn confronts Ned and his three gang members. Cogburn tells Pepper he has a choice of getting killed or surrendering and being hanged at Judge Isaac Parker's convenience. Pepper replies that is "bold talk for a one-eyed fat man." Cogburn shouts "Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!" just as he begins charging the four gunmen firing a rifle in one hand and a pistol in the other and holding the horse's reins in his mouth. Rooster shoots down three of the gang and wounds Pepper, but Rooster is trapped under his fallen horse which has been shot by Ned. As Pepper prepares to shoot Rooster, La Boeuf kills Pepper from the outcropping located a great distance away.

As La Boeuf and Mattie return to Pepper's camp, Chaney comes out from behind a tree and smashes a rock over La Boeuf's head, knocking him unconscious and fatally wounding him. Mattie shoots and wounds Chaney in the arm, but is driven back from the recoil, falls into a pit and breaks her arm. Cogburn arrives and fatally shoots Chaney, sending him into the pit. In the pit, Mattie is bitten by a rattlesnake, which Cogburn shoots dead as he descends into the pit on a rope. La Boeuf, thought to be dead, peers over the pit and helps them get out by pulling them out with a rope tied to his horse. After Mattie and Cogburn are safely out of the pit, La Boeuf falls off his horse and dies.

In a hurry to get help for Mattie's snakebite, they have to leave La Boeuf's body. They both must ride Mattie’s horse, but the overloaded horse collapses and dies before they reach their destination. Undaunted, Cogburn gathers Mattie in his arms and carries her until they encounter some horsemen with a wagon. Cogburn steals the wagon and they ride it the rest of the way to McAlester's. There, an Indian doctor treats Mattie's snakebite and splints her broken arm.

Days later, Mattie's attorney, J. Noble Daggett (John Fiedler) arrives. Throughout the plot, Mattie has frequently used his name as a legal threat on occasions when she fails to get her way. He pays Cogburn a $75 reward for Chaney's capture, plus an additional $200 for saving Mattie (at her request). Mattie is still ill from the snakebite and Cogburn offers to bet the attorney the $275 that Mattie will make it back to her home, but Daggett declines to bet against her.

Weeks later, we find Mattie, arm in a sling, recovered and at home. She shows a visiting Cogburn her family burial plot on the land. Cogburn was there to receive all the reward money offered for Chaney in Texas, which was apparently more than the $75 he initially received. She promises that he can be buried next to her family after his death. Cogburn reluctantly accepts, hoping his burial will not be too soon. She offers him her father's pistol which he reluctantly accepts, stating that it misfired once. He leaves, jumping over a fence with his horse to disprove her claim that he was too old and fat. He heads off into the valley below as the film ends.

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Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 18 December 2011 07:23 (A review of Stagecoach)

In 1880, a motley group of strangers boards the east-bound stagecoach from Tonto, Arizona Territory to Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory. Among them are Dallas (Claire Trevor), a prostitute who is being driven out of town by the members of the "Law and Order League"; an alcoholic doctor, Doc Boone (Thomas Mitchell); Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt), who is traveling to see her cavalry officer husband; and whiskey salesman Samuel Peacock (Donald Meek).

When the stage driver, Buck (Andy Devine), looks for his normal shotgun guard, he is told by Marshal Curly Wilcox (George Bancroft) that he has gone out to look for a fugitive, the Ringo Kid (John Wayne). Buck tells Marshal Wilcox that Luke Plummer (Tom Tyler) is in Lordsburg. Knowing that the Kid has vowed to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at Plummer's hands, the marshal decides to ride along.

As they start to pull out, U.S. cavalry Lieutenant Blanchard (Tim Holt) informs them that Geronimo and his Apaches are on the warpath. His small troop will provide an escort until they get to Dry Fork. Gambler and Southern gentleman Hatfield (John Carradine) joins them. At the edge of town, the stage is flagged down by banker Henry Gatewood, (Berton Churchill), who is sneaking away with $50,000 he embezzled from his bank.

Along the way, they come across the Ringo Kid, whose horse had gone lame and left him afoot. Even though they are friends, Curly has no choice but to take Ringo into custody. As the trip progresses, Ringo takes a strong liking to Dallas.

When they reach Dry Fork, they are informed that the expected cavalry detachment has gone to Apache Wells. Buck wants to turn back, but Curly demands that they vote on it. With only Buck and Peacock objecting, they proceed to Apache Wells. There, Mrs. Mallory faints when she hears that her husband had been wounded in battle. She begins to go into labor. Doc Boone is called upon to help her. Eventually, Dallas emerges holding a healthy baby. Later that night, Ringo asks Dallas to marry him. She does not give him an immediate answer, afraid to reveal her checkered past, but the next morning, she agrees if he promises to give up his plan to take on the Plummers. Encouraged by Dallas, Ringo makes a break for it, but turns back when he sees signs of Indians.

When they reach Lee's Ferry, they find the station and the ferry burned down and the people either dead or having fled. They tie large logs to each side of the stagecoach and float it across the river. Just when they think that they are in the clear, they are chased by Apaches. Curly releases the Kid from his handcuffs to help fight them off. During a long chase, when things look bleak, Hatfield is about to use his last bullet to save Mrs. Mallory from being taken alive when he is fatally wounded. Just then, the 6th U.S. cavalry charges to the rescue.

When the passengers finally arrive in Lordsburg, Gatewood is arrested by the local sheriff, and Lucy is told that her husband's wound is not serious. Dallas begs Ringo not to go up against the Plummers, but he is determined to settle matters. Curly grants him leave and his gun. In the ensuing shootout, the Kid dispatches Luke and his two brothers. He returns to Wilcox, expecting to go back to jail. He asks the lawman to take Dallas to his ranch. However, when Ringo gets on a wagon to say goodbye to her, Curly invites her aboard to ride a ways out of town with Ringo. She climbs up with Ringo, and Curly and Doc laugh and start the horses moving, letting him "escape" with Dallas.

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Last Train from Gun Hill

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 17 December 2011 03:02 (A review of Last Train from Gun Hill)

Two old friends, Matt Morgan (Douglas) and Craig Belden (Quinn), now find themselves on opposite sides of the law. Belden is the de facto ruler of the town of Gun Hill, a rich cattle baron. Morgan is a U.S. marshal living in another town with his Native American wife (played by Ziva Rodann) and young son, Petey.

Two young drunken cowboys rape and murder Morgan's wife while she is returning with their son from a visit to her father. The boy escapes on one of the killers' horses, bearing a distinctive, fancy saddle.

Morgan sets off to find the killer. His one clue is the saddle, which he recognizes as belonging to Belden. Assuming it was stolen from his old friend, Morgan travels to Gun Hill to pick up the trail, but once there he quickly realizes that Belden's son Rick (Holliman) is the killer.

Belden refuses to turn over his son, forcing Morgan to go against the entire town. He vows to capture Rick and get him on that night's last train from Gun Hill.

Rick is taken prisoner and held at the hotel. Belden sends men to rescue his son, but Morgan manages to hold them off. In the meantime, Belden's former lover (Jones) decides to help Morgan. She sneaks a shotgun to his hotel room. The second rapist, Lee, sets fire to the hotel to flush out Morgan.

Morgan presses the shotgun to Rick's chin on the way to the train depot, threatening to pull the trigger if anyone attempts to stop him. Lee tries to kill Morgan but shoots Rick instead. Morgan then kills Lee with the shotgun. As the train prepares to leave, a devastated Belden confronts Morgan in a final showdown and is gunned down.

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