Monday, November 20, 2017

Movie Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Yorgos Lanthimos returns for a dark and disturbing film about revenge and consequences. Cardiologist Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) has an odd relationship with a young boy Martin (Barry Keoghan), helping out the boy but lying to his family. It is later revealed that he was responsible for Martin's father's death during a surgery that Steven may have been drinking prior to performing. Martin starts to insinuate more into Dr. Murphy's life as he receives presents, shows up at his work uninvited, and eventually receives an invitation from his family. Steven's wife Anna Murphy (Nicole Kidman) is welcoming to the strange boy but Martin has a bad influence on Steven's two kids Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob (Sunny Suljic). Martin tries to return the favor by inviting Steven over to his house but when his mother (Alicia Silverstone) starts to flirt with him.

The film takes a sinister turn when Bob cannot use his legs and no medical tests reveal what is wrong with him. Martin drags Steven out of the hospital room and informs him that each one of his family members will exhibit the symptoms: loss of use of their legs, loss of appetite, bleeding from the eyes, and death. Martin explains that since he lost a member of his family, Steven must lose one of his family members. The symptoms will progress and worsen unless Steven chooses on his family to die. Steven is dismayed but skeptical of Martin's claim and tries to make Bob eat but his son refuses. They continue to run tests but the doctors are convinced it is psychological. Steven tries to push Bob to walk but has no luck. Meanwhile, Martin has struck up a romantic relationship with Kim. 

Kim starts to exhibit symptoms after she collapsing during choir practice. She is able to walk a little bit trying to catch a glimpse of Martin from her hospital room. She stops eating too and Steven confesses to Anna about what Martin said. Anna investigates the operation herself speaking with the anesthesiologist Matthew (Bill Camp) and offering him a sexual favor for files about the operation. Anna confronts Steven about his past drinking but Steven refuses to admit that he is at fault. As the kids come home, Steven takes matters into his own hands by kidnapping Martin and keeping him tied up down in their basement. Steven tortures Martin to make him stop his family's suffering but Martin refuses even making a display of his dedication by biting a huge chunk of skin out his arm. 

The situation worsens when Bob starts to bleed from his eyes. As Martin threatened Steven's whole family, there is a lot of suspense about Anna finally exhibiting symptoms but she continues to stand and walk around fine. Bob and Kim struggle to prove that they deserve to live while Kim offers to sacrifice herself. Anna allows Martin to go free so Steven must make an awful choice. The climax has Steven blindfolding himself after tying up his family around the living room. He spins around and shoots hoping to randomly take out one of his family members. He finally stops when he shoots Bob and kills him. The film ends with the family sitting in the diner while Martin watches them.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a terrifying and confusing film. All of the characters have a strange way of talking which creates a wild atmosphere that allows the odd scenario play out in a believable manner in this world. The shots are impressive and the mounting terror keeps the film constantly entertaining. I was not sure what to expect when I decided to see this film but I found it quite shocking and somewhat disturbing in an enjoyable way. There is a solid cast with Farrell returning for another Lanthimos film and Kidman adding her skill this indie gem. Based on a Greek play that I am almost totally unfamiliar with, the film posits an interesting scenario of an impossible situation.  

TV Show Review: Ray Donovan (Season 5)

Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) returns for a mournful fifth season as the death of his wife Abby (Paula Malcomson) has caused him an immense amount of grief. It is not immediately revealed how Abby died the season is split between present-day drama and flashbacks of Abby's last days. Ray is in a drunken daze for most of the season as he copes with his grief. He is forced to attend anger management class after an incident involved his brothers and father and his daughter calling the cops. As the story plays through multiple times, Ray has problems in the present even if he isn't totally there to deal with them. HIs family is still up to no good and finding themselves in over their head with a ton of intense trouble. Abby was a sobering force for the Donovan family so leaving them behind with a bar leads naturally to chaos.

Ray's daughter Bridget Donovan (Kerris Dorsey) seeks out a young man Smitty (Graham Rogers) who was denied treatment because Ray arranged it that Abby would receive the treatment. Something went wrong with Abby receiving the treatment but Smitty was pushed out so he is steadily dying. Terry Donovan (Eddie Marsan) has had his Parkinson assisted by a device that stops his shaking as he struggles with his own guilt over Abby's death. Bunchy Donovan (Dash Mihok) tries to make an investment with his settlement cash but ends up being robbed at a subway shop. Mickey Donovan (Jon Voight) is being harassed by FBI agent Frank Barnes (Michael McGrady) to kill Avi (Steven Bauer) who is smuggling drugs. He also helps Daryll (Pooch Hall) when one of his clients Jay White (Brian White) accidentally kills his sensai.

Ray strikes up a relationship with the famous movie star Natalie James (Lili Simmons) who he may have started an affair with even before Abby died. Natalie has become pregnant after a separate affair with a producer Doug Landry (Michel Gill) who works with the ruthless mogul Samantha Winslow (Susan Sarandon). Samantha employs Ray to handle things but there is a competing fixer Vicky (Adina Porter) who tries to steal important information from him. Bunchy takes matters into his own hands since he can't find anyone to help him get his cash back so he goes to jail and meets one of the robbers, earning his trust. Mickey tries to take advantage of holding the clean up of a dead body over Jay White by getting his screenplay produced but White is hesitant to cooperate trying to change the movie into something Mickey doesn't like.

As the flashback slowly catches up, viewers learn that Abby decided she was going to kill herself just as Ray had arranged it for her to get the experimental treatment. Bridget threatens the doctor who performs the treatment to allow Smitty to receive treatment but ends up in jail. Ray has to step in and fix all the problems, faking Avi's death, helping Bridget out of jail, and helping Bunchy kill his robber and get his money. He eventually has to turn Mickey in to stop the FBI from pursuing his career but the spotlight is shined on Ray when Natalie James ends up dead. Ray helps Samantha undercut Doug Landry and kills the producer. The show ends with Ray finally returning to life still coping with the loss of Abby but able to handle his job.

Ray Donovan isn't a top show of the year but I always find myself enjoying the various stories of the Donovan family. It has confronted some tough issues and it is amazing to see how Ray gets out of seemingly impossible situations. The show looks like it is moving toward an end and I can't imagine that the show will go on for many more seasons after this one. Liev Schreiber is entertaining as the main character and his subtle performance as the fixer carries the show forward while a strong supporting cast keeps the story interesting. Without Paula Malcomson, the show will be missing a huge presence but this season was a solid send off for a great character. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok

The latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a brightly colored ride of hilarity and gorgeous special effects from brilliant director Taika Waititi. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) begins the film trapped in a cage after following a bad dream about Ragnarok, the end of Asgard. Thor has been captured by the demon Surtur (Clancy Brown) but he breaks free and uses his hammer to fight off Surtur's demon's soldiers and knock off the demon's crown. He tries to get called back to Asgard but it takes a minute since Skurge (Karl Urban) is now in charge of the Bifrost. Thor does returns along with a severed dragon head and finds that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is in charge maintaining his disguise as Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Thor and Loki head to Earth where Loki stashed him but the nursing home is torn down. With the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Thor finds Odin in his last moments. He warns of Ragnarok and their sister Hela (Cate Blanchett).

The goddess of death returns from her imprisonment and chases Loki and Thor through the Bifrost portal and knocks them out into space. Hela returns to Asgard and takes over murdering many of Thor's friends. The killing is a bit incongruent with the lighter tone most of the film takes. Thor wakes up on a waste planet Sakaar and is captured by the drunk Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a former Asgard warrior. Valkyrie takes Thor to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who decides to pit Thor against his best warrior, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Thor discovers Loki has already set up there for weeks and earned the Grandmaster's trust. As Thor waits to fight Hulk, he meets Korg (Taika Waititi), a hilarious rock creature who likes to plan revolutions. Thor fights Hulk in a spectacular battle and the god of thunder nearly wins but the Grandmaster uses the shocking device in Thor's neck to throw the match.

Thor wakes up with women tending to his wounds and Hulk soaking in a hot tub nearby. Hulk is a lot more talkative than before but is reluctant to help Thor. Finally, the green monster is convinced to call Valkyrie who doesn't really want to go along with Thor's plan. Thor escapes and returns to the quinjet preparing to return to Asgard just as Hulk bursts in. Hearing Black Widow's voice causes Hulk to turn back into Bruce Banner who is very shocked to be on an alien planet and to have missed the last two years. Together they reunite with Valkyrie who has capture Loki. The god of mischief proposes breaking into the Grandmaster spaceship hangar with a code he knows but then Loki betrays Thor but not before Thor puts one of those shocking devices on his back and leaves him. The group flies out of Sakaar with the Grandmaster's fleet attacking them but Valkyrie makes short work of them with a little help from Thor.

Back on Asgard, Hela has raised a dead army including her giant wolf Fenris and recruits Skurge to her side. Heimdall (Idris Elba) leads a resistance gathering as many Asgardians as he can. He sneaks them to the Bifrost as Hela finds their hideout but Thor has returned to challenge her. Thor fights his sister while Hulk fights Fenris. The people try to escape through the Bifrost but are beset by the undead army. Loki shows up with Korg and a ship that can fit all the remaining Asgardians. Thor loses an eye in the fight with Hela but learns there is only one way to defeat her, cause Ragnarok. Hulk defeats Fenris as Heimdall and the others fight of the remaining dead army and Skurge has a change of heart before succumbing to Hela's wrath. Loki causes Ragnarok by throwing Surtur's crown in the eternal fire and the giant monster destroys Asgard. Hulk tries to fight it but Thor tells him to stop. They all escape on the ship while Hela fights the giant beast and perishes. Thor takes the crown looking a lot like Odin and decides to head to Earth. 

Thor: Ragnarok is probably one of the funniest movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe putting up competition with other sci-fi romps in the series. Hemsworth is great as a comedic Thor and it's nice to see a familiar face change and grow more comfortable with the role. Waititi imbues the whole film with humor except for Hela who is done brilliantly by Blanchett as the evil goddess. Ruffalo is funny too as a recovering Banner and I'm glad the green hero gets more screen time in a film beyond the Avengers. Tessa Thompson has a great role in Valkyrie playing the character with a stunning swagger. Waititi has made a brilliant film and elevated the weakest two heroes in the Avengers into top notch stars of a hilarious and fun film. 

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns in phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a solo adventure that helps tie up some of the aftermath of The Avengers. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) Narrates an old tale of the dark elves and their powerful magical object known as the Aether. The leader of the dark elves Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) only manages to save a few dark elves including Algrim (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) before the rest are destroyed by the Asgardians. In the present day, Thor works to return peace to the nine realms after his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) brought chaos from his actions in The Avengers. Loki is punished and only spared death because of the mercy of his and Thor's mother Frigga (Rene Russo). Thor and his friends win a battle after Thor takes down a giant rock monster with one swing. He celebrates but his mind is tugged back to Earth even as Sif (Jaimie Alexander) makes advances towards him.

In London, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) goes on an awkward date with Richard (Chris O'Dowd) when Darcy (Kat Dennings) shows up to show her a strange signal on her device. Jane, Darcy, and the new intern Ian (Jonathan Howard) head to the location of the signal. Meanwhile, Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) has gone crazy around the Stonehenge landing him in a mental ward. Jane explores the area and is transported to the dark world and infected by the Aether. Heimdall (Idris Elba) notices that Jane has gone missing and sends Thor to find her. Jane returns thinking she's only been gone for a short time but has really been gone for five hours so Darcy had called the police. Jane is a bit upset to see Thor since he didn't visit her when he came to New York. First, Darcy then the police interrupt their talk. The police try to arrest Jane but it causes a huge explosion. Sensing something wrong, Thor brings Jane back to Asgard where they can discover more. Odin is not happy about Jane's presence her but he explains that the Aether is a fluid infinity stone. 

Malekith turns Agrim into one of the deadly Kursed and sends him to infiltrate the Asgard prison where Loki is kept. He breaks free causing a distraction and breaks down the energy defense field to allow the dark elves to invade and try to capture Jane. Malekith is fooled and only manages to kill Frigga before Thor shocks him in the face with a bolt of lightning. The dark elves flee and Asgard tries to recover. Mourning Frigga, Odin wants to heighten defenses while Thor desires to track down Malekith. With the help of Heimdall and his other friend, Thor plans treason and breaks out Loki from prison. He escapes off the planet with Jane using Loki's knowledge of a hidden wormhole and a dark elf ship. Darcy and Ian pick up Dr. Selvig at the mental ward as he warns of the convergence and provides the only solution in a new technology. On the dark world, Loki pretends to betray Thor tricking Malekith into pulling the Aether out of Jane. Thor meets his match in a battle with Kursed so Loki has to help by attaching a bomb to the monster's hip but the trickster is stabbed in the process. 

Jane discovers a wormhole that ties back to the one she discovered on Earth. A soldier returns from the dark world to inform Odin that Loki is dead. Back in the laboratory, Jane and Selvig discuss the convergence. They prepare to prevent it but the dark elves invade Greenwich. Thor fights Malekith as they transport between realms. Ian saves Darcy from a dark elf attack and Jane and Selvig flee the dark army. Malekith uses the Aether to unite the realms but Thor drives one of Selvig's tools into his heart destroying him though not the Aether. Thor returns to Asgard but decides he would rather be on Earth with Jane. The Aether is taken to the Collector (Benicio Del Toro) where it will be kept hidden from a greater threat. Loki takes control of the throne disguising himself as Odin. 

Thor: The Dark World is not a highlight for Marvel and plays like just another episode while contributing to the greater story by adding the Reality Stone. While the first film had to deal with Thor's origin and took away his powers, this second film does deliver more Thor action with hammer flying and epic superhero battles. Director Alan Taylor is familiar with fantasy fare so his experience brings out solid performances from Eccleston and Hopkins while Portman's foster appears to be the weakest part. Hemsworth is amusing as Thor but has not lived up to his full potential for action or humor. Phase 2 was definitely an improvement on the first part including this film but it still feels episodic and just another chapter in the Thor saga.  

Movie Review: Thor

Adding a third superhero to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and expanding it into a fantasy realm, this mediocre Marvel film was one of the first I felt really disappointed with after leaving the theater though I have learned to appreciate parts of it. Astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) waits for an event with her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Denning) and fellow scientist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) when chaos rains down from the sky and Jane hits a man, Thor (Chris Hemsworth). The film jumps back with a monologue from Odin (Anthony Hopkins) lectures his two son, Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), about the dangers of the frost giants and the wonders of Asgard. Thor is quick to violence while Loki is more crafty but Odin can only promote one to king. He chooses Thor but during his ceremony to receive the crown, the frost giants invade and try to steal a powerful weapon. Odin's security proves too powerful but Thor is angry the Jotunheim even attempted something so brash.

Thor stews but his friends Vostagg (Ray Stevenson), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), Fandral (Josh Dallas), and Siff (Jaimie Alexander) discouraged him from doing anything. Loki, however, encourages Thor to disobey Odin with trickier and go to Jotunheim. Thor decides to fight back but must use the Bifrost guarded by Heimdall (Idris Elba) who is upset the frost giants were able to sneak by him. The group is transported to Jotunheim where Thor challenges King Laufey (Colm Feore). A battle is almost avoided but Laufey insulted Thor. The friends fight the frost giants including a giant dog beast that Thor flies through the mouth of and out the back of its head. Odin shows up to rescues the group as Frandral is injured but war has been declared. Enraged with Thor's actions, Odin banishes him to Earth and separates him from his hammer. This catches the film back up to the beginning where Jan hits Thor with the car and Darcy tases him. 

Jane and company drop Thor off at the hospital then return to their research. They look at the pictures during the incident and see Thor among the pictures so they want to question him when he wakes up. Thor wakes up distressed not to have his powers so he beats up the hospital staff and escapes only to get hit by Jane's car again. Meanwhile, a crowd has gathered around Mjolnir, Thor's Hammer, as various men try and fail to lift it. SHIELD's Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) takes notice of the strange object. Back in Asgard, Thor's friends mourn his absence while Lokie reveals that he alerted Odin. Loki also learns that he is descended from frost giants which is why he can't be king of Asgard. Thor's behavior does not go over well back on Earth. Selvig is skeptical of Thor's claims and convinces Jane to let him search for Mjolnir on his own. SHIELD confiscates all of Jane's equipment as she returns to the lab. 

Loki has taken control of Asgard as Odin has fallen into a deep sleep. Jane agrees to help Thor seek out Mjolnir after all. Jane and Thor discover that SHIELD has put up a perimeter around the hammer so Thor goes in beating up all the guards. Watching him from above and waiting for his shot to be called is Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who only plays a small part in the film. Thor makes his way to the hammer only to find that he can't lift it. Distraught, he allows himself to be captured. Coulson interrogates him finding nothing of use but Loki stops by to tell him that Odin is dead. Thor is even more upset when Selvig comes to break him out. Selvig and Thor drink boilermakers until Selvig is wasted. Thor and Jane bond over science and magic by a campfire. Loki returns to Jotunheim to bargain with Laufey. Thor's friends want to go to Earth and with Heimdall's help, they reunite with Thor, letting some credibility to his story. Loki freeze Heimdall for his treason and sends down a giant metal creature that Odin use for security. Thor sacrifices himself, which earns him Mjolnir back and his powers. He defeats the metal monster and Heimdall frees himself to bring him and his friends back, but first, he makes a deal with Coulson to get Jane's stuff back and kisses Jane promising to return.

Thor returns just as Laufey invades Asgard but Loki stops him from killing Odin and using the frost giant attack as an excuse to destroy Jotunheim. He blasts Thor out of the tower and flees across the rainbow bridge. As Loki uses the Bifrost to destroy the frost giant planet, Thor confronts him and has to destroy the rainbow bridge to stop the destruction. They nearly fall into the void but Odin awakes to catch them though Loki still lets himself drift off into space. Thor is forced to remain in Asgard and Jane on Earth. Thor has some spectacular effects and director Kenneth Branagh brings out the Norse mythology fantasy quite well. Hemsworth is decent as the swaggering Thor while Hiddleston steals the show as the villainous Loki. Thor was just a bizarre stopping point to add the character to Marvel large stable as it moved closer to The Avengers. 

Movie Review: The Incredible Hulk

The big green superhero joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a reboot that skips over the origin story and jumps into the chase of Bruce Banner (Edward Norton). After a brief recap shows the Hulk's destruction, the controlling General Ross (William Hurt) trying to stop Bruce, and Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) being hurt by the Hulk rampage. Bruce disappears but General Ross pursues him using Stark technology and in cooperation with SHIELD. In the favelas of Brazil, Banner works to keep his inner monster under control with a series of meditations. He works at a bottling factory, studies the language, and tries to lay low but when a drop of his blood accidentally spills in a bottle, it triggers General Ross and his hunting party. A new member of his squad, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) takes a more ruthless approach to the pursuit but is stunned when he confronts the Hulk in a bottling factory. Banner is harassed by bullies until he turns into the Hulk before the team can advance. He beats up the teams throws a giant forklift at Blonsky before disappearing again.

General Ross scours Banner's old room looking for clues while Bruce manages to make it to another country to determined to cross the border back into America not just to converse with a mysterious Mr. Blue about a cure, but also to see his love, Betty. He watches her from a distance and seeks out shelter at a friendly pizza owner's place. Betty catches sight of him and flees but she manages to track him down in her car. He explains everything and why returned to collect his old data. Sharing it with Mr. Blue may be his only chance to find a cure. Blonsky becomes obsessed with Banner's mutation and General Ross agrees to give him a low dose of the serum. On campus, Bruce tries to escape with his data but the military surrounds him. He retreats to the library where he swallows the data stick before he morphs into the Hulk. As the Hulk, Banner fights off the military assault but Blonsky looks to be able to keep up with the Hulk. General Ross throws everything he has at Hulk including a soundwave cannon that Blonsky tricks him into chasing him into the range of. Hulk manages to break free of the soundwave and smash the vehicles. He kicks Blonsky hard smashing all of his bones against a tree. General Ross sends in a gunship helicopter but Betty steps in the way so Hulk wraps his body around her to protect her before escaping. 

Betty and Bruce go on the run once he returns to normal form and vomits up his data. They hope to find Mr. Blue and with the data discover a cure. General Ross is on their trail as Blonsky recovers from having his bones turned to gravel. Bruce is haunted by awful dreams and unable to make love to Betty without raising his heart rate. They eliminate any possible sources of tracking but Bruce does reach out to Mr. Blue which gives SHIELD a trail to follow. Dodging roadblocks and dealing with crazy taxi cab drivers, Betty and Bruce make it to the office of Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) aka Mr. Blue. He is amazed by Bruce's appears and agrees to help induce a Hulk episode to test out a new antidote. The trial works somewhat after Betty calms the Hulk down but as they discuss the possibilities the military invades. Blonsky tries to get information out of Bruce but he was hit with a tranquilizer dart.

Blonsky demands that Sterns give him some of the serum so that he can have super strength. He turns into the Abomination and begins to torment people in Harlem. General Ross has a dazed Bruce Banner so he didn't understand the reports of a Hulk in the streets at first. Banner convinces him to turn around and let him fight the Abomination. Bruce drops from the helicopter smashing into the road as he turns into Hulk. Abomination and Hulk clash in the streets but the Abomination proves he's stronger. Hulk smashes a car in half to use as metal fists but even after he smashes Abomination into the ground, the boney beast kicks the green monster through a building. General Ross uses a helicopter to shoot at Abomination so the mutated Blonsky jumps at the helicopter. Hulk grabs Abomination's foot and they all come crashing down on a rooftop. As a fire spreads beneath the helicopter, Hulk fights Abomination turns to save Betty and General Ross with an airwave caused by slamming his hands together. Finally, he smashes down on the ground and takes down Abomination, being calmed by Betty before he can kill Blonsky. In the end, Betty looks longing out at the ocean while Bruce hides out in the woods in Canada. 

The Incredible Hulk was an improved reboot that served as sort of a sequel while also clearing the way for the superhero to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As an early film in the MCU, the film does not have the quality of later entries but does boast some stunning special effects, especially in the battle between Hulk and Abomination. Hulk still suffers from the boring parts of Bruce Banner trying to find a cure, since doing scientific research is never very entertaining and doesn't move as fast as a Hollywood film. Edward Norton wasn't great as Banner and was recast before the Avengers film. This movie is strange because it feels separate with many different characters and actors that never came back into play, though recently General Ross has appeared in Civil War. I enjoy watching this film every once in a while but certainly not my favorite. 

Movie Review Hulk

Ang Lee's tribute to comics and the big green uncontrollable superhero distinguishes itself with a visual style but drags with a long story that is confusing and slow. David Banner experiments on himself with a new drug that enhance the immune system when he finds out his wife is pregnant. Their son exhibits strange behavior like a lack of response to pain and green-tinged skin when he's angry. General Ross confronts Banner about his experiments and threatens to shut down his work. David Banner's son is shown with his foster parents preparing to go off to college and become a scientist. Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) bikes to his lab at the institute where he works with Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) who recently dumped him. There experiment with gamma radiation is up for review but they are planning a big experiment but it goes wrong.

Looking to purchase the lab,  Glenn Talbot (Josh Lucas) has a unique relationship with Betty's father General Ross (Sam Elliott). A mysterious janitor (Nick Nolte) with three dogs begins to work at their lab sneaking around at night and watching Bruce. The next day the experiment goes wrong and Bruce is hit with a blast of gamma radiation. In the hospital, David Banner, the janitor, visits his son and tells him the truth of his identity. He uses his blood for his own nefarious experiments. Back in his lab, Bruce becomes uncontrollably enraged about confusing memories and transforms into the giant green monster Hulk trashing his workspace. He sees his father watching him and remembers the trauma of his childhood before leaping away into the city leaving his laboratory in shambles.

Betty discovers Bruce the next morning in tattered clothes. General Ross knows Bruce's true identity and suspects him immediately. While Bruce is kept under surveillance, his father sends his mutated dogs after Betty at her cabin in the woods. Talbot attacks Bruce but is shocked when he turns into the Hulk and throws him out the window. Hulk makes it to the cabin and fights off the dogs protecting Betty before he turns back into Bruce. Betty calls her father and they capture Bruce the next morning. He is shipped to an underground facility and kept sedated. David Banner experiments on his own body and is able to combine his cells with other objects. Talbot usurps Ross's command and torture Bruce trying to carve off some of the green skin to study. Bruce is confined to a water tank and induced to have bad dreams but he transforms, and Hulk breaks out. 

The soldiers try to stop the big green monster but Hulk manages to escape as Talbot dies in the process. Hulk flees across the desert as Ross calls in the military. Hulk fights off attacks from tanks and helicopters. The military believes they've won but Banner survives the attack and heads to San Francisco where Betty has taken David Banner into custody. Hulk fights jets, one flies high into the sky and drops him. He continues to wreak havoc on the city until Betty finally calms him down. In military custody, David and Bruce are brought together under the threat of a giant electro-magnetic pulse machine. David bites into the wire and receives a massive shock turning him into a large monster that carries the Hulk through a fight in the clouds. The battling behemoths end up at the bottom of a lake where the Hulk forces his power onto David, destroying him. A year later, Betty lives life under surveillance while Bruce hides out in Central America.

Hulk has some issues like being a bit too long and over-serious for a superhero movie, especially one with a giant green main character, but it does have several decent action sequences that are worth revisiting. Ang Lee takes a unique approach showing the film as comic strips and there is a decent enough origin story to move the film along. None of the main creators would return for the reboot but this film has a special place as one of the early superhero films with an original take on the comic book adaptation. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sports: NFL (Week 7&8)

Two weeks of football has had some new teams rise to the top. As I looked back at the standings from last year, many different teams were leading each division, at least in the NFC. The AFC has some familiar teams at the top and it looks like it could be a repeat for the reigning champions. The season still has a long way to go so teams that look terrible right now could turn it around though there are some teams that the season is just over for. As we head into the final two months of the regular season with a ton of excitement on the way for nine more weeks, I'll be looking forward to which teams distinguish themselves as it gets closer to the playoffs.

NFC
NFC East
The Philadelphia Eagles look like the best team in the league. In the last two weeks, the Eagles have beat the 49ers and the Redskins before that, for the second time, so not the most impressive wins. Philadelphia's future looks a  little tougher with the Broncos this next weekend and division rival the Cowboys after that. The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of catching up to do but two wins recently also against the Redskins and 49ers have kept them in the chase. They are missing their star running back for the next few weeks so that may cause them some problems going forward against the Chiefs and Falcons. The two division losses for the Washington Redskins have put them in third and their schedule does not look easy with division leaders in the Seahawks and Vikings next. The New York Giants have given up this season with only a win against the Broncos before another loss to the Seahawks.

NFC North
The Minnesota Vikings have capitalized on an opponent's injury and won the last two games against the Ravens and the Browns in London. Their next two games against the Redskins and Rams won't be easy but will prove they deserve the top spot. A bye week and another loss for the Green Bay Packers does not bode well for their season moving forward without their starting quarterback. They'll face their division rival the Detroit Lions on Monday night then go at the Chicago Bears. The Lions have lost two straight going into Monday night's game but will have the Browns after the Packers on Mondy. The Bears have had a rough season but a win over the Panthers showed some light followed by a loss from the Saints. They have a bye week, then face the Packers too.

NFC South
The New Orleans Saints have risen to the top of this division after winning five games in a row including recent wins over the Packers and Bears. The Saints lost their first two games but rallied back. They have a divisional game against the Buccaneers this weekend and the Bills after. The Carolina Panthers have been inconsistent with a disappointing loss to the Bears before beating the Buccaneers. They'll go up against the Falcons this weekend then take on the Dolphins. The Atlanta Falcons have me worried as my favorite team. I've grown used to disappointment but they had a similar record last year. A blowout loss to the Patriots was disheartening for Atlanta but they may be back on track after a win over the Jets. The game against Carolina will make or break the season. After the Panthers, Atlanta has another challenge in the Cowboys. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost four in a row including Bills and Panthers leaving them at the bottom of the division. Their future games of the Saints and Jets won't be easy. 

NFC West
The Seattle Seahawks rose to the top after wins over the Giants and the Texans. They can probably beat the Redskins and Cardinals to stay in that position. The Los Angeles Rams are right behind them after two wins over the Jaguars and Cardinals. They can stay on Seattle's heels with wins over the Giants and the Texans. The Arizona Cardinals loss to the Rams after beating the Buccaneers. If they beat the 49ers, which should be easy, and upset the Seahawks, they'll be back in the fight. The San Francisco 49ers are truly the worst team in football losing 8 straight and no wins. 

AFC
AFC East
The reigning Super Bowl champions find themselves back in control after winning four in a row. The New England Patriots have the Broncos and Raiders next. The Buffalo Bills are right behind them winning the last two agains the Buccaneers and Raiders. They take on the Jets then Saints. The Dolphins beat the Jets but lost to the Ravens leaving them in third but they could get back into the chase if they beat the Raiders and the Panthers. The Jets have lost three in a row so will have to bounce back against Buffalo and Tamp Bay.

AFC North
The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely return to challenge the Patriots for an AFC title after beating the Bengals and Lions. They can probably make it past the Colts and Titans too. The Ravens are mediocre after beating the Dolphins but losing to the Vikings before. They'll take on the Titans and Packers next. The Cincinnati Bengals are the team I only root for because they are always on television here but their record is rough and their play is not great. They did beat the Colts and will continue through the AFC South against the Jaguars and Titans. The Cleveland Browns have not won any games.

AFC South
The Tennessee Titans are actually tied at the top of the weakest division in the league. Two easy wins against the Browns and the Colts put them there but they'll have to survive the Ravens and Bengals to stay on top. Right behind them, the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking better than previous seasons. They beat the Colts but lost to the Rams. They'll need to beat the Bengals and Chargers to stay on top. The Houston Texans are still in it with their strong new quarterback Deshaun Watson, formerly of Clemson, They ended up losing to Seattle despite the impressive performance. Houston's road ahead includes the Colts and the Rams. The Indianapolis Colts are one of the worst team this year, they lost their last three including the Jaguars and Bengals. They will probably lose to the Texans and Steelers in the next two weeks. 

AFC West
The Kansas City Chiefs have had a solid run except for a late night loss at the last minute to the Oakland Raiders made for a crazy game and gave them a second loss in a row. They had an impressive win over the Denver Broncos after that. Going forward they have back-to-back NFC East opponent; the Cowboys and the Giants. The Denver Broncos have a decent defense but that hasn't been enough with three straight losses including to two divisional rivals, the Chargers and the Chiefs in their last two games. The Broncos future looks bleak too with games against Philadelphia and New England in the pipe. The Los Angeles Chargers did win three in a row after a four loss start including over the Broncos but then dropped another game to the Patriots. The Chargers next matches are the Jaguars and the Bills. The Oakland Raiders did beat the Chiefs but then fell to the Bills the next week. The Raiders could back to a five hundred record with wins over the Dolphins and Patriots, but not likely. 

I may not have as much time to write about football in the future so I might stick to writing every two weeks and my focus is going to be only on the top teams from here on out. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

TV Show Review: Stranger Things (Season 2)

Netflix's 80s tribute and sci-fi adventure returns with another great season of monsters, twists, and a charismatic cast. The film begins with a bizarre scene where a group of punks flee including Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) who shares a similar tattoo to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) continues to reach out to Eleven over the radio but he never hears anything. Eleven is hiding out in a cabin with Jim Hopper (David Harbour), kept isolated from nearby Hawkins. Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) are obsessed over a mysterious MadMax who continues to beat their high scores. Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) has some residual effects of staying in the upside down for so long and will warp into the other dimension to see a giant monster approaching. His mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) worries for her son and has started a new relationship with Bob (Sean Astin), a technology expert.

Mike's older sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) continues to try to learn more about her missing friend Barb, enlisting of Will's older brother Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) much to the detriment of her relationship with Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). The new characters in town are Maxine (Sadie Sink) aka Max who has been beating Dustin's high scores and her bully of a stepbrother Billy (Dacre Montgomery). As the monster slowly creeps towards Will, stranger things happen around Hawkins even as Chief Hopper makes an arrangement with the Department of Energy's new project leader Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser). Pumpkins patches are dying and the scientists continue to try to burn out the encroaching substance from the dimension hole. Halloween comes as the boys dress up as Ghostbusters. Jonathan is supposed to watch Will but he leaves to hang out with Nancy at a party where she has got obnoxiously drunk and fought with Steve.

Will has a major episode as the creature approaches and Dustin discovers a small strange creature that steadily grows. Lucas struggles to keep the secrets of the last season from Max who starts to hang out with the group and ask questions. Eleven grows impatient with her captivity eventually journeying out only to find Mike talking with Max, making her jealous. As Mike sees the monster more and more, he stands up to it under Bob's advice and is attacked. He starts to act strange and when Joyce asks him to show what he sees, he draws a strange map. Eleven uses her telekinetic ability to seek our her mom and after an argument with Hopper, she flees. Hopper is distracted as he enters a tunnel beneath the pumpkin patch that is part of the upside down. Nancy and Jonathan fall deeper into the conspiracy theories when the lab takes them in to put them off the trail but then they go to the investigator Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman), who helps them share the information with the public.


Eleven explores her past learning more about her mother and seeing Kali. She seeks out the fellow enhanced individual and they join up to take revenge on their torturers. Eleven doesn't support their brutal acts and when the police invade she decides to return to Hawkins. Will has grown worse so they take them to the lab as he is now linked with the large monster. Dustin and Steve work together to find the creature that had burrowed out of his cellar. Lucas confesses everything to Max and they join up with Dustin and Steve to fight the dogs, sorry Demodogs. They are about to be killed when the creatures retreat to the portal where they kill off the scientist. Bob sacrifices himself so Joyce, Hopper, and the kids can escape. They split up into three groups once Eleven, or Jane, returns. She and Hopper go to the gate so she can shut, Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy take Will to the cabin where they use heat to get the monster out of him, and Steve, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, and Max go to burn the center of the monster growth but not before Billy fights Steve and Max has to stand up to her abusive brother. The finale is spectacular and the season wraps charmingly at a dance though there are hints at what will happen in the third season.

Stranger Things has lived up to its stellar first season making this one of my favorite television shows and giving the streaming service a new solid title to promote. All of the characters are fun to watch and the young cast is so impressive mixed with astounding visuals to tell a very fun story. The mystery makes the show very easy to binge in a weekend and superb viewing of consecutive episodes. I even had to revisit the first season again and it was easy to watch a second time since the show is so entertaining. I had binged it so fast the first time, I saw a few surprising things through the second time and this is a show I think I will revisit again in the future. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Movie Review: Cult of Chucky

Don Mancini brings back his killer doll Chucky (Brad Dourif) returning to a storyline that began it all. Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) tries to go on a date but his potential girlfriend googles him to learn about his past. He keeps the head of the murderous doll in a safe talking to it on lonely nights and burning its hair. Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) is transferred to a minimum security psych hospital where her fellow patients expect her of devious actions despite her claims that Chucky murder her family. Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) shows up at the hospital to inform Nica that her niece died under mysterious circumstances and deliver a Chucky doll. The therapist Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault) takes the doll into his office where comes alive with a blink. 

Chucky starts to sneak around and taunt Nica while Andy tries to convince Dr. Foley that the doll is, in fact, a killer. The other patients are even more suspicious when another patient Angela (Marina Stephenson Kerr) ends up dead. Nica tries to prove she's right by burning the hand of Chucky but it doesn't react, however, another patient Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen) has taken another Chucky doll as a substitute for her child. Yet another patient, Claire (Grace Lynn Kung) learns that Chucky is alive but Dr. Foley ties her down and drugs her. Malcolm (Adam Hurtig) believes Nica from the beginning but suffers from multiple personality disorder. Chucky uses compressed gas to break open a window above where Claire is strapped down and a falling shard of glass decapitates her.

Alone in his cabin, Andy follows the carnage at the asylum not understanding how another Chucky doll could be causing all these murders. Nica suspects that there is more than one doll killing people but Dr. Foley is skeptical. The therapist hypnotizes her to find out the truth but Chucky smashes his head open and gives Nica a piece of glass. Malcolm continues to switch personalities as Madeleine grows more attached to the doll. Dr. Foley confronts Nica the next day claiming to have a headache and to be insulted by Nica. Tiffany calls Andy as he drives to the asylum and tells him that there are three Chucky's and the cult is growing. Diane tries to suffocate Chucky and her insane actions put her on suicide watch where  Chucky doll forces an arm down her throat.

Dr. Foley makes another go at assaulting Nica but Chucky knocks him over the head again. Andy makes it inside the asylum by being committed and his other doll is given to the therapist. The multiple Chucky dolls come alive killing an orderly in front of Nica. Tiffany also arrives at the asylum slitting the security guard's throat. Chucky says the magic words and takes over Nica's body using it to stomp Dr. Foley's face in. Malcolm has another Charles identity in his head and uses a drill to take it out. The doll Andy brouth in attacks him but Andy hid a gun inside his stomach ripping apart the doll and shooting it in the head. Nica arrives in Andy's padded room taunting him but Andy runs out of bullets. Nica shuts the door on Andy and joins Tiffany. They drive away from the asylum laughing. 

Cult of Chucky is a mediocre latest installment that didn't make it to theaters. The show adds to the magic and mythos giving Chucky a new power while leaving it open for even more Chucky films in the future. The murderous franchise has taken off long breaks until the next installment but it may return for even more movies no longer having to go to theaters and utilizing Netflix. Fiona Dourif is a great addition to the series as she mimics her father's cackle quite well and has made a great new character. Bringing Andy Barclay with Alex Vincent in the role was also a nice tribute to the die-hard fans that have been watching since the beginning. I don't remember seeing the Chucky films all the way through when I was younger but it was nice to revisit. 

Movie Review: Curse of Chucky

Chucky (Brad Dourif) returns with a new look, a more serious tone, and back to the horror genre though it is hard to take the killer doll seriously. Nica (Fiona Dourif) receives a package in the mail, she's not sure it came from but gives it to her mother who ends up dead. Her sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) arrives to take care of her and brings her jealous husband Ian (Brennan Elliott), her daughter Alice (Summer Howell), and her expensive nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). Barb wants to put her sister in a home for disabled people since she believes Nica can't take care of herself. However, Nica insists that she can take care of herself and even offers to cook dinner for the family and Father Frank (A Martinez), a visiting priest.

The chili that Nica cooks turns out a bit strange thanks to the strange doll sitting nearby. Father Frank excuses himself and ends up dead with all of his limbs and head severed in a brutal car accident. Nica tries to figure out where the doll came from and hears over the phone through a bad transmission that it came from an evidence locker. She does some research learning about all the unsolved murders. Alice and Chucky have grown close as the doll whispers terrible things in the little girl's ear, finally coming alive in front of her and scaring her. Chucky takes out Jill next by pushing over a pale of water into an electrical cord shocking the nanny to death just as she was flirting with Barb over video chat. Barb goes to investigate the strange sight and power outage only to find the Chucky doll. Despite Nica's protest, Barb takes the doll up into the addict where she reveals its scared face underneath before he comes alive and stabs her in the eye.

Chucky chases Nica who flees to Ian who didn't hear anything due to earplugs. He is skeptical of her claims but leaves her alone in the garage to investigate. Chucky sneaks into the garage, locks the door, and starts the car pouring fumes into the enclosed area. Nica uses an ax to break open the window but Chucky snatches the keys and eats them before she can grab them. Ian bursts in and believes that Nica was trying to kill herself after committing two murders. She needs an injection to stop a pain in her chest and sees Chucky staring at her right before she blacks out. She wakes up tied to her wheelchair as Ian check the nannycam to see where his daughter is located. The camera turns into a live feed of Chucky sneaking up behind Nica. The doll pushes Nica into Ian who flips onto the ground. Chucky takes an ax and chops of his lower jaw. 

Nica manages to stop Chucky's attack by deflecting with her legs which lack feeling. She grabs the ax and chops off his head but then turns her back to wrap her leg while he puts his head back on. Chucky grabs her wheelchair and pushes her off the second floor. He walks down and reveals to her that her mother was one of his last victims as a human and he's the reason she doesn't have the use of her legs. Nica taunts and escapes to the elevator while Chuky is distracted by the power coming on. The doll and the woman fight until a police officer arrives. He sees the mayhem and convicts Nica to an asylum. The police officer turns out to be the one that took Chucky to Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) at the start of the fourth film.

The Curse of Chucky adds to Don Mancini's growing work of killer dolls nearly a decade later. The film returns the franchise back to horror after going off the rails with silliness in the last two films. The murders contain a similar amount of gore as the others but with update special effects with the advanced technology. This sixth film in the long series is enjoyable enough but also cliche and somewhat predictable. The film does tie into the previous films nicely and explain a little bit more about the origins of the brutal killer Charles Lee Ray. 

Movie Review: Seed of Chucky

The murderous doll Chucky (Brad Dourif) procreated at the end of the last film so this film picks up with the ugly result Glen (Billy Boyd). Somewhere in England, the ugly doll has nightmares of killing a family and is used by a British ventriloquist to scare crowds and tell crude jokes. In Hollywood, the lifeless Chucky and Tiffany doll are used to make a Chucky movie. Jennifer Tilly voices the Tiffany doll while also playing herself as a struggling actress trying to land a big role. Glen escapes his owner and jumps into a garbage truck. He catches a fly across the Atlantic and arranges a delivery to the Hollywood prop room. He discovers his parents but they are lifeless so he reads the back of his necklace and brings the two murderous dolls back to life. 

The first thing the Tiff and Chucky do is kill a prop manager. Tilly tries to land a role as the Virgin Mary by seducing the director Redman. Once Tiff sees Tilly, who discovers the body, she knows she must get into the actress's body. Glen is unsure of his gender so Tiff refers to him as Glenda since he doesn't have any genitals. He does pee his pants whenever he sees violence and wants to know why his parents kill people. Tiff makes Chucky promise not to kill anyone but he crosses his fingers. The three dolls sneak into Jennifer Tilly's limo and ride with her back to her house where she prepares to seduce Redman. The dolls come up with a plan to artificially inseminate Tilly and to take the two bodies for their own. 

Pete Peters (John Waters) is a snoopy paparazzi photographer who catches the two dolls on camera. Chucky steals Redman's car, runs Britney Spears off the road, and sneaks into the magazine office. Chucky is about to kill the cameraman when Glen shouts out to warn him, stunning Pete who falls back into a bottle of acid. Tiff struggles with her vow not to kill anyone even calling a hotline for support but she can't control her impulses so she stabs Redman when he refuses to cast a pregnant Tilly as the Virgin Mary. Glen can't handle the sight of his mother killing another person. The voodoo pregnancy is accelerated so she shows signs of her baby belly after one day. Jennifer calls her assistant Joan (Hannah Spearritt) but Tiff uses her extraordinarily similar voice to say something different while Chucky attacks her and ties her up.

Glen becomes even more disturbed at his parents' vicious behavior. Since Chucky can't use Redman's body, Tiff summons the limo driver Stan (Steve West) to the house to tie up. Joan arrives as they are about to perform the ceremony. Chucky is about to stab Joan when Tiff uses hairspray and a lighter to burn her, but its actually Glenda who has snapped and decided to be a woman. Jennifer gives birth to twins; a boy and a girl. Chucky tries to do the transfer but Glen can't choose his gender. Chucky decides that he'd rather stay a doll but Tiff decides to leave him. Angry, Chucky kills Stan as the police burst down the door. The officers come across Jennifer still tied to the bed, her two babies, and a  ton of dead bodies. In the hospital, Tiff tries to take Jennifer's body but Chucky bursts in and puts an ax in her head. Glen stands up for his mother and fights Chucky chopping him into pieces. Five years later, Jennifer is possessed by Tiffany and lives the life of a star with her two trouble twins.  

Seed of Chucky is a little too silly stepping more away from horror and into comedy. The movie does still have grisly murders but all of them are tongue-in-cheek. Chucky is still the funniest part but gender confused Glen is also a source of amusement while Tiff's approach to murders as an addiction is good for laughs too. The film does point out the awful culture of Hollywood and the pressure put on female actresses to have sex with their superiors. Chucky has grown his family and his franchise and will continue on for at least two more films. 

Movie Review: Bride of Chucky

Seven years after the end of the Child's Play trilogy and ten years after the death of Charles Lee Ray, Chucky (Brad Dourif) returns thanks to his former girlfriend Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). Stolen from an evidence locker by a cop whose life ends quickly at the blade of Tiffany, the doll is rebuilt and resurrected in a Voodoo for Dummies ceremony. Chucky takes his first victim, a punk who hangs around Tiffany. Meanwhile, Jade (Katherine Heigl) uses a ploy to get out of the watchful eye of Chief Warren Kincaid (John Ritter). Tiffany hopes to renew her relationship with Chucky foolishly believes that the killer had left an engagement ring but the doll wants no such thing. Tiffany locks him up in a playpen but he breaks out and pushes a television into the bathtub with Tiffany.

Revived as a wedding doll, Tiff and Chucky conspire to dig an amulet up that was around Charles Lee Ray's neck when he died. Tiff recruits Jesse (Nick Stabile), Jade's rebel boyfriend, to transport the dolls to New Jersey. Jesse gets sidetracked when he stops by Jade's and proposes to marry her. Warren tries to sabotage the trip by planting drugs in Jesse's van but Tiff and Chucky have other plans using a new creative method of murder, shooting a bunch of nails into his face. A pulls over Jesse and almost busts him for drugs but Chucky blows the cop car up by lighting a rag in the fuel tank. They set out for New Jersey but stop in Niagara Falls so Jesse and Jade can tie the knot. Chief Kincaid wakes back up but Chucky makes short work of him.

Two con artists try to rob the couple but Tiff throws a bottle at the ceiling mirror dicing up the two thieves. Chucky takes a ring of the dead woman's finger and proposes to Tiff which leads to some pretty funny doll sex since Chucky is anatomically correct. Worried that the other might be a serial killer, Jesse and Jade call their friend David (Gordon Michael Woolvett) so he joins them finding the Cheif's body. David freaks out but steps into traffic when he sees Chucky and Tiffany. They escape a high-speed chase with the police and Chucky takes the young couple hostage. Jesse sparks a debate between Chucky and Tiffany and Jade uses the distraction to kick Tiffany into the oven. Jesse pushes Chucky out the window but wrecks the RV. Tiffany is burnt to a crisp in the oven and Jade is taken hostage by Chucky. 

Jade is forced to open the grave of Charles Lees Ray and pull out the amulet. Jesse tries to trade Tiffany for Jade but ends up with a knife in the back. Chucky performs the ritual so that he and Tiffany can trade bodies with Jesse and Jade but Tiffany doublecrosses him. The two dolls fight and Chucky stabs Tiffany. Jesse knocks Chucky into his grave and Jade shoots him but not before a detective sees the revived doll. The cop lets the couple go but when he pokes Tiffany a little baby doll pops out of her. 

Bride of Chucky ups the camp and pays homage to plenty of other horror films that are part of the canon. The film has a ton of tongue-in-cheek references to its predecessors and other films. It's a fun movie with more humor than horror. There are not any scary scenes but the series has never had a ton of genuinely scary stuff. This fourth installment begins a new set of movies in the series tha move beyond the Child's Play trilogy into even more campy horror territory. 

Movie Review: Child's Play 3

The Child's Play trilogy tops out with a new setting and an old er protagonist. After the events of the first two films, the toy company that produces the Good Guy doll is trying to make a financial recovery and they can't do that without their best selling product, despite the terrible press. The same plastic that consisted of Chucky was melted down and used to make the new dolls. Chucky (Brad Dourif) wakes up in the highrise apartment of the toy company executive Sullivan (Peter Haskell) and uses the surrounding toys including marble and a yo-yo to trip and strangle the old man. Chucky looks up the whereabouts of his one ticket out of being a doll, Andy Barclay (Justin Whalin). Andy has been shipped out to military school where he is roommates with a nerd Whitehurst (Dean Jacobson) and is bullied by the drill leader Shelton (Travis Fine).

Chucky sends himself in a package to the school where he is intercepted from delivery by a young boy Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers). Chucky tries to take the boys soul but the ceremony is interrupted by Colonel Cochrane (Dakin Matthews) who throws the doll away. Chucky smashes the garbage man in the dumpster and sneaks into Andy's room. Andy tries to smash Chucky but Shelton walks in and takes the doll back to his room. Andy sneaks into Shelton's room that night to find Chucky but the doll is missing along with a knife. Shelton exacts punishment on all the cadets making Andy a pariah. Tyler plays hide-and-seek with the knife-wielding Chucky but they are discovered by De Silva (Perrey Reeves) and her friend. They put lipstick on Chucky which enrages the demented children's toy. 

Cochrane returns to his office to find the doll left behind. Chucky comes alive and scares the Colonel giving him a heart attack. Chucky's next victim is the school hairdresser Sergeant Botnick (Andrew Robinson) who attempts to cut the doll's hair but Chucky slashes the straight razor across his throat. Whitehurst sees Chucky but is too afraid to say anything. A large capture-the-flag game plays out over the next few days. The cadets should be using paint cartridges but Chucky replaces them with live ammo. Tyler realizes that Charles is an evil spirit and runs away. Chucky tackles De Silva and calls in the enemy team forcing a deadly confrontation. Whitehurst sacrifices himself to save the team when Chucky throws a live grenade.

Tyler runs to a nearby fair hoping to get away from Chucky but the doll kills the security guard and takes the young boy hostage. Andy and De Silva follow Tyler and Chucky into a haunted ride. Chucky and De Silva exchange gunfire and De Silva is hit. Chucky is maimed by a grim reaper robot losing half his face. Chucky prepares to take over Tyler's body chanting the words but Andy blasts his arm off. Andy's second shot hits Chucky in the heart but the doll revives attack Andy and Tyler. Andy cuts Chucky's hand off with Tyler's knife and the doll plummets into a whirling fan that dices him into pieces. 

Child's Play 3  adds to the campy horror and the mythos of Chucky while retaining the same gruesome murders and comedy. The new setting of the military school added more victims and an even more destructive nature to the rampage of the evil doll. Chucky had a new victim to focus on showing that he had other options besides Andy but it kept the same storyline through the trilogy. The acting wasn't great and the effects are still cheesy but the story of Chucky is fun enough to watch and Dourif's voice does well conveying the monster Charles Lee Ray's identity. This film rounds out the first three Chucky movies signaled the end of the series for most of the nineties but this doll doesn't stay down for too long. 

Movie Review: Child's Play 2

Chucky (Brad Dourif) returns for a new horror in the sequel to the frightening classic original. Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) has been put in foster care as the original story proved too crazy for the authorities. The toy company tries to cover up a PR nightmare by finding out what happened, rebuilding the Chucky doll in the process from the remaining eye. The evil killer takes his first victim by electrocuting a dollmaker. Andy is fostered by Joanne (Jenny Agutter) and Phil Simpson (Gerrit Graham). He still has terrible trauma and the sight of a Good Guy doll terrifies him. Chucky murders the toy company executive Mattson (Greg Germann) and discovers where Andy lives.

Chucky destroys another Good Guy doll and replaces it with himself but he causes trouble for the two foster kids. Andy bonds with Kyle (Christine Elise), a young woman about to be out of the Simpson's foster care in a year, over their shared punishment. Chucky ties up Andy at night and attempts to take his soul but Kyle sneaks back in through his window interrupting the ritual. Phil is angry about the troublesome behavior and throws the doll in the basement. The evil killer sneaks onto the school bus the next day and messes with Andy's assignment. Andy's teacher Miss Kettlewell (Beth Grant) punishes Andy and locks him in the classroom. She throws the Chucky doll in the closet before she leaves. Andy escapes out the window before Chucky can break out. 

When Miss Kettlewell returns, Chucky stabs her with a basketball pump and kills her with a ruler. Phil punishes Andy by showing him the doll who has returned to the same spot. Andy takes it into his own hands and tries to cut Chucky with a carving knife. Phil finds Andy with the carving knife in the basement but as he descends the stairs Chucky hooks his leg and kills him. Horrified, Joanne sends Andy back to the foster home with Grace Poole (Grace Zabriskie). Andy warns Kyle before he leaves and she finds the destroyed Good Guy doll buried out in the yard. She goes back inside to find Joanne dead with her throat slit. Chucky threatens her and makes her take him to Andy. 

Grace takes the Chucky doll from Kyle but gets stabbed. Chucky orders Andy to take him into the back of a newspaper truck and Kyle chases after them. The boy and his doll run into the Good Guy factory and Chucky attempts to complete the transformation but it's too late and he's trapped in the doll. Kyle follows them into the warehouse and helps Andy escape by slamming a door onto Chucky's hand. Kyle and Andy can't get out of the factory, and Chucky replaces his severed hand with a blade. A maintenance worker tries to fix the machine but he's attacked by Chucky and has his eyes poked out by the machine. Chucky attacks Kyle and Andy but they push him onto the conveyor belt where he is soaked in acid. Of course, Chucky isn't dead and still fights until Andy soaks him with molten plastic. Andy saves Kyle and Chucky bursts out to attack them again, this time receiving an air hose to the mouth until he fills up and explodes. 

Child's Play 2 is a solid sequel living up to the original with the same campy horror that is both amusing and slightly disturbing. It doesn't add much to the mythos of Chucky but it continues to entertain in the same fashion. Only a little older, Alex Vincent does a decent job again leading a feature film at such a young age. The added character of Christine Elise's Kyle makes the film a little more of a typical horror and an adult eliminate where Andy's mother did not return. The film is a decent stop along the way of this iconic horror series. 

Movie Review: Child's Play

The classic horror film birthed the iconic character Chucky that haunted children and told a pretty decent spooky story. When the escaped convict Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is shot in a toy store, he performs a ritual that transfers his soul into the creepy looking Good Guy doll. Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) is a young boy obsessed with the Good Guy show and he really wants a doll for his birthday. His mother Karen (Catherine Hicks) manages to buy one in the back alley and brings it home to her excited son. Karen's friend Maggie (Dinah Manoff) notices strange noises that night when she watches Andy and is hit in the head with a hammer sending her flying out the window. Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), the same detective who shot Charles Lee Ray, treats Andy like a suspect and hits on Karen.

Karen notices that her son is acting strange and talking to the doll. Listening to the odd instructions whispered by the doll, Andy takes Chucky to an abandoned house. Chucky turns the gas on and blows up his partner in crime in an explosion. The cops find Andy nearby the explosion and take him referring him to the psychiatrist Dr. Ardmore (Jack Colvin). Karen takes the doll home and is about to throw it out when she finds the batteries still in the box even though it has been talking all this time. Karen threatens to burn Chucky and it comes alive biting her on the arm and escaping. Karen tries to convince Detective Norris that the Chucky doll is alive but the cop does not believe her. She heads off to a dangerous neighborhood to find the man that sold the doll to her and Norris follows.

Karen confronts the homeless man who sold her Chucky but is attacked until Norris helps her. They discover the doll came from the burned down toystore where Norris shot Charles Lee Ray. Norris is still skeptical but the Chucky doll attacks him in the car nearly killing him before it runs off. Chucky heads to Dr. Death (Ray Oliver) and learns more about his condition through voodoo torture. Chucky needs to take the body of Andy so he heads to the psych ward where Andy is locked up while Norris and Karen are one step behind. Andy manages to escape but Chucky kills Dr. Ardmore making it look like Andy. 

Andy returns home pursued by Chucky and the boy and the doll fight as Norris and Karen run up the stairs. Chucky attacks them all until Karen traps the doll behind a fireplace grate and Andy sets him on fire. The doll takes forever to kill taking bullets from Norris and Karen and even choking Norris's partner. A shot to the heart finally brings Chucky down and this movie tells a sort of complete story though we know in hindsight that this was only the beginning of a major franchise.

Chucky is not a scary film in comparison with horror movies today but it is an enjoyable watch with a steady moving plot and an iconic villain. It is not lost on writer Don Mancini and director Tom Holland the comedy of a little doll running around terrorizing people and is used effectively to add humor to the gruesome scenes of torture by the doll. There were solid performances from most of the cast but Alex Vincent as Andy and Brad Dourif doing the classic Chucky voice really stand out. I look forward to recapping this series as we move closer to Halloween as there is a new movie that went straight to video and it's Halloween soon. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sports: College Football (Week 8&9)

There wasn't enough movement in the rankings two weeks ago for me to write a whole post about college football so I'll recap the last two weeks. A lot happened this last week to really change the landscape of college football and it sets up a lot of interesting matchups moving forward as nearly every conference has two top teams that will compete either in a regular season game or in a conference final. There is only a month left of football so every big game counts extra in these next four weeks. I wasn't sure how this season would play out and it has followed through being quite a shocking season with new teams showing up while other standard teams who have been dominant the last few years are still in contention. I'll look at each conference and their divisions to see who might be showing up in the College Football Playoffs.

SEC
SEC West
I don't see anyone one beating the Alabama Crimson Tide who started at the top and have stayed that way through the whole season. With eight wins, they are one of five undefeated teams left in the league. Alabama has been blowing out everyone but they haven't played a lot of ranked teams beyond their win over Florida State in the first week of the season. They had a bye week this last week after destroying Tennessee the week before. Looking ahead, they will have some lower ranked opponents like LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn in their final four weeks.

SEC East
The Georgia Bulldogs have stunned me this season by becoming the second-ranked team overall with their powerful play against some great teams. Their early win over Notre Dame propelled them into the top rankings and a follow-up blowout two weeks later over Mississippi State confirmed their position. They have taken out every SEC East opponent, most recently Missouri and Florida. The Bulldogs have a challenge of Auburn and Georgia Tech but I doubt either of these team will prevent them from entering the SEC Championship and moving to the playoffs.

Big Ten
Big Ten East
The Big Ten had an interesting run of games the last two weeks but a sudden comeback and upset has tipped the rankings around in this division. The Ohio State Buckeyes looked to be defeated by the Penn State Nittany Lions when they scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to come back and win. Ohio State now has one loss to Oklahoma that tarnishes their record but if they can win out and triumph in the Big Ten tournament, then they'll get a place in the playoffs. Their biggest challenge in the next four weeks are Michigan State and Michigan who have both been falling off in recent weeks.

Big Ten West
The Wisconsin Badgers are the other undefeated team in the top five who hasn't had enough wins yet to put them at the top of the rankings. Barring any upset, their eight-win record should be enough a platform to build off of making them a contender in the finals. Their biggest challenge will be a fight with Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. 

Independent
Notre Dame has risen up suddenly to be a contender for a fourth spot in the college football playoffs knocking off another champion from a big conference. Their loss to Georgia in the second week is a blemish on their record but they've put together six consecutive wins since then including over top-ranked USC and NC State. They still have challenges ahead like undefeated Miami and Stanford but these wins will also propel them up the rankings to a top spot.

ACC
Atlantic

Clemson suffered a rough loss to Syracuse two weeks ago but after a bye week and a win over Georgia Tech, the reigning champs can still make the playoffs as they lost a bad game last year and still went on to win it all. They'll face a tough battle with NC State next week but after that, they should be able to cruise into the ACC Championship. 

Coastal
The Miami Hurricanes have yet to earn the respect of the ranking committees as the Coaches' Poll has them at sixth and the AP has them down at nine. Still, two rankings in the top ten are great for a team that wasn't getting a lot of early attention. Their path ahead is not an easy one with Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in the next two weeks. Miami could prove that they are deserving of a spot in the playoffs.

Big 12
Iowa State may not make it into the college football playoffs but after a defeat of Oklahoma and now TCU this last week, they are good at playing spoiler to other Big 12 team hopes. Still, Oklahoma may have a chance if they can beat Oklahoma State next week and TCU the week after that. There is also a Big 12 championship to consider as one of these teams fights to prove they are ready for the playoffs.

The PAC-12 has pretty much been eliminated from any chance of entering the playoffs. Washington has one bad loss but they would need to win out while others lose badly. College football heads into November with the final four weeks of the season that will provide a lot of suspense, great games, and great football action. My prediction is that the SEC gets two teams into the playoffs and Ohio State and Clemson also slip in. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out. 

Movie Review: Jigsaw

The franchise that appeared dead and over returns to life with a mediocre entry that has a predictable and boring twist and a moderate amount of gore compared to some of the other gross films. Jigsaw sets itself apart from the previous franchise picking up a story ten years after the death of John Kramer (Tobin Bell). The story does utilize multiple timelines as it has done in other films to confuse the viewer but since this has happened several times before the shock has worn off. Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) is called to a chase when a perp Edgar Munsen (Josiah Black) demand he speak with him. Edgar claims that if he presses the button on a transmitter then the game will begin and right as he does, five people wake up with buckets on their head and chains around their necks.

Halloran and his partner Detective Keith Hunt (Clé Bennett) shoot Edgar in the hand but one bullet hits him in the chest. He's put into a coma so they can't get any answers. Bodies do start showing up around the city. Medical examiner Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) is called in to look at the victims finding a microchip in the puzzle piece wound on the decapitated man's neck. His colleague Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) has a strange fascination with Jigsaw and his murders making Halloran suspect there might be something more there. The five people in the main trap all have to put blood on their bucket head sensors or their chains will drag them into the spinning saws. Four of the five make it out but the fifth is dragged into the saws.

The four remaining victims include Carly (Brittany Allen) a purse-snatcher who let a woman die without her asthma medication for three dollars and fifty-three cents. She has a poison in her body that another victim Ryan (Paul Braunstein) has the cure for in one of three syringes if she can decide which one. Jigsaw wants them all to confess to their crimes but each of them seems reluctant. Ryan injects Carly with all three of the fluids including one that kills her a bloody death. They were about to be hung by the chains around their necks but when Carly is injected, they are dropped to the ground. The next room has a sign on a door that says NO EXIT but Ryan steps forward to smash open the door. Instead, his foot crashes through the wood and a wire is wrapped around his leg.

The other two victims Mitch (Mandela Van Peebles) and Anna (Laura Vandervoort) move into the next room, a grain silo when the door swings shut behind them, a classic move from the previous films in the series. Grain starts to pour in and will only stop if Ryan pulls a lever that will cut off his legs. Even as blades and spikes fall down on Mitch and Anna, Ryan is reluctant to pull the lever but he finally does and his leg is sliced into pieces as the other two are let out. Logan confronts Eleanor about her obsession and she shows him his studio where she has made several Jigsaw weapons. Detective Hunt trailed them and takes pictures of the interaction among the torture devices. Hunt worked with Logan in Iraq where Logan was captured and tortured. Meanwhile, Mitch has to go through another test because he sold Jigsaw's nephew a motorcycle with brakes that don't work. He is diced up even as Anna tries to save him.

Halloran suspects Eleanor and they search her studio finding another dead body. They put out a search and Hunt confronts Logan about what he saw, but Logan explains that he thinks it's Halloran doing the killing. Eleanor takes Logan to the farm where she believes the murders took place. John Kramer drugs and chains up Anna and Bryan, who is missing a leg. He gives them an option with a gun with one bullet in it. Anna shoots at Bryan but the gun backfires and blows her face off and since the bullet contained the keys, their freedom was denied. Halloran trails Eleanor and Logan to the farmhouse and he confronts them but he is drugged and tied up in the same spot as Anna and Bryan. Logan is also tied up and they are wearing collars with laser cutters. Halloran betrays Logan but it turns out that Logan is the killer. The trap was playing out ten or so years ago as Kramer's first Jigsaw game and Logan was the first victim but Kramer had a change of heart. Jigsaw continues the series but it is a weaker installment with not as much a connection to the earlier series. The story and mystery were not nearly as interesting and the gore seemed less creative than before. This film feels like a cash grab more than an actual attempt to revive the franchise.