Saturday, 3 August 2013

They do it with Mirrors 2* - Julia McKenzie

Preview s4 ep3. Book aka Murder with Mirrors. Elderly Miss Jane Marple is asked by Ruth (Joan Collins), friend from dancing debutante years, to visit Stonygates and protect her fragile sister Caroline Louise. The confusion of three marriages and half-siblings is thankfully visually overpowered by posh peaceful estate and elegant dressing for dinner and all occasions. Hats, gloves, and perfect pearls.

Carrie is now married to Lewis Serrocold, one trustee for the Gulbrandesen Foundation to rehabilitate delinquent boys. Another trustee is (Carrie's stepson by second marriage) Christian Gulbrandsen. Edgar Lewis, ineffectual pompous, nominally Lewis' assistant, claims various famous fathers, then loudly accuses Lewis himself behind locked study door, shoots twice and misses. But at the same time in a guest room, Chris is shot dead.

The Moving Finger 5* - Geraldine McEwan progress..

s2 v3 Clip. Full. Despite convoluted plot filled with coincidence and solved in a dream, I could watch BBC Marple with sound off, just for the visuals. The intro voice-over scene should be cut, naked man in strange bed the morning after. Looking up from the Colonel's grave at all the suspects could be postponed after the country fields.

Windblown in a sporty convertible, flamboyant Joanna (Emilia Fox) drives her brother Jerry Burton (James D'Arcy) for subdued recuperation in quiet Lymstock village. "A torture for both of us, as we had an absolute loathing for the country". She is always all in red: cherry car, driving gloves in supple leather, evening ruby Oriental silk, and velvet full-arm length, flame bob, crimson lipstick and nails, blaze suit, red trim on white day suit, even accents accessories, wrist bangle, tiny clutch relieves funereal black (on procession after, purse is black, little v-shape under jacket glashes (my word, not a typo) bright.

Over tea, Miss Jane Marple (Geraldine McEwan) discusses the recent death and posted threats. Soon we meet Jane's friend Maud (Frances de la Tour), devoted to her older vicar husband Caleb Dane Calthrop (Ken Russell). Maud says Jane "has a nose for rotten apples", and Caleb "no taste for fornication". Cardew Pye (John Sessions), "a little queer and what's wrong with that?", "came to attention of [police] colleagues in West Country over matters of an unsavory nature".

Megan Hunter (Talulah Riley) 20, looks and behaves 12. "Nothing ever happens .. people don't like me .. I don't like them", her father repressed lawyer Richard Symington (Harry Enfield), her disliked step-mother Mona (Imogen Stubbs), old friend from "the North" doctor Owen Griffith (Sean Pertwee), and tweedy interfering manly sister Aimee (Jessica Stevenson), shown below leading girl guides.

I missed double entendres first time through, "delectable" "radiant" governess Miss Elsie Holland (Kelly Brook) notices Jerry now walks without sticks "upright .. I do hope you stay that way". Even postboxes are red, where poison pen letters are dropped. Picture of Elsie beside tall postbox, Aimee leading girl guides past small box.

"Blah blah fishcakes. But a thing like this could send her completely off her onion" Upright Amy Griffith on resentful oddball Megan "people will talk .. our little village likes to think the worst". Maid Agnes Brown (Ellen Capron) voices puzzlement, setting her up to be next victim. She gets coshed, and skewer to base of neck suggests professional.

Peace interspersed with suspense - black leather glove snips medieval ornate capitals, dabs glue onto wicked compositions. Police siren breaks quiet. Inspector Graves (Keith Allen) lifts torn scrap from the body's grasp "I can't go on", crumpled but un-scorched accusation in cold fireplace grate. Why are letter envelopes typed at machine publicly available in Women's Institute, donated by Symington office, but the insides pasted? Why not type everything? Spread around suspicion by planting medieval book?

Names confuse - hero Burton with landlady Emily Barton (Thelma Barlow). Author assigns nobility hyphenated names, servants usually simple names. At their first tea, Joanna looks delightful, both in feathered cloche hat and full skirt, next opening letters at breakfast in silky dressing gown.

Plot has too many coincidences plus dreamed solution. Jerry finds torn pages source of harassing letters. He finds sister's regretful memo by phone "I can't come" on single line declining proposed appointment. Dreams blur together scraps "all nonsense .. what we sought to save?"

Colors and costumes add positively to the mood. In darkness, full moon, colors fade to grey blue. Amy I had imagined clothed brisk tweedy masculine, here soft sweet feminine in floral looks, change top to toe. Joanna goes creamy beside doctor she loves. Lastly, her floral black tiny pattern on white with soft green necklace blends with other tea drinkers. Megan goes tough smooth black pant outfit and hair instead of holed scruff before, thick-lined dark eyes large bright, even leather slippers instead of holey sneakers.

Jane Marple appears outwardly sweet in embroidered fine soft cardigan.

"I usually find the most likely people behaving exactly as I would have expected."
"We are not put into this world to avoid danger when lives are at stake."

Special Features

Behind the scenes - alternates clips of film "Isn't it sweet?" then actors
"tremendous sense of humor to write ordinary seeming woman, murders keep falling in her lap"
Photo gallery 15 mostly posed stills, few from film
Cast filmographies - text bios: McEwan, D'Arcy, works: Fox, Tour, Pertwee, Enfield, Stubbs, Stevenson (Shaun of the Dead)

Sittaford House 1* - Geraldine McEwan s2 v4

.. in progress .. Complicated solution 1*. Dislike spooky ghost picks up scorpion, harps on curses, reincarnation bulltwiddle, seances, dreams, booking under "F. Arewell" for "goodbye" - all obfuscate rather than clarify. WW2 prologue remains confusing. Underground in tunnel, group of uniforms hide from lit fuse explosion. Might be clearer if scenes cut.

On train, curious old Miss Jane Marple (Geraldine McEwan) meets politician Captain Clive Trevalyn (Timothy Dalton). At a night club, Charles Burnaby (James Murray) flirts with Emily Trefusis (Zoe Telford) and helps home drunk fiancee Jim Pearson (Laurence Fox - funny to see prim and proper Detective assistant to Morse). Odd to see Emily in perfect makeup while hidden in bubble bath from Charles.

Snowed in, Trev declines game of chess from secretary loyal war buddy John Enderby (Mel Smith). Jane takes call from nephew Raymond saying still in France. T dictates "final chapter", sees white woman ghost, burns photos. Meanwhile Jane hears night bells, reads to sleep, cawing.

Charles gives Em ride to Trev, at Sittaford House in blizzard, "modern woman for 50s", points gun from handbag. Raymond asks Trev to take Jane inside Sittaford . Night bell means prisoner escaped from nearby Dartmoor prison. Jane arrrives to Mr Enderby. Phone dead. John sets out to warn Clive at inn of The Three Crowns, owned by Stanley Kirkwood (James Wilby).

Bird dies from poisoned Turkish Delight, as Jane lifts candy to her mouth. Captain threatened by guest and ward. Mrs Willowby holds seance. Ouija board spells D-E-A-T-H. Enderby finds body, stabbed through heart, favorite Eyptian artifact accusingly nearby. Enderby "assumed authority" for investigation because cops can't get through, assigned elsewhere. Some witnesses heard a woman scream, some not.

Mrs Evadne Willett (Patricia Hodge) claims the tickets to Buenos Aires found on Trev's body are for their honeymoon. But she constantly criticizes spectacle-hidden beauty daughter Violet (Carey Mulligan). Flashbacks to the trio's first meeting last summer shows Trev recognized Violet, and she has a new marriage license.

Other guest are suspicious too. Luggage-less obvious fake Smith-Jones is Donald Garfield, official Whitehall dirtdigger "ordered to sniff out any skeletons in his constituency cupboard" of future PM. Ambrose Burt (Paul Kaye), injects sugar water to American employer. He forged his signature to clear name from war scam, blames Trev scot-free. Struck off medical register, "least said soonest mended". Imprisoned in the larder, Jimmy overhears chef Archie Stone (Michael Attwell) planning to scarper tonight, and wakes with a bloody knife and dead body.


Miss Elizabeth Percehouse (Rita Tushingham) in 1927 was married to archaelogist who shot accomplice Ahmed Ghali. Trev stole all money and killed her brother (Jeffery Kissoon). She finds the truth, demands retribution, showing as proof a photo of Arthur Hopkin's sister Violet pregnant (with Violet Hopkins).

In fun shock ending, previously dowdy Violet Hopkins wears cute lilac topper to Buenos Aires with Emily, because Trev did not expect his long-lost son, Emily's admirer, Charles Burnaby, to be his killer.

Special Features Behind scenes 10' - clips from film alternate with actors' comments 9:13, everyone "veiled.. has agenda", praise Photo gallery 14 posed in costume stills Cast filmographies - McEwan, Dalton (Flash Gordon 1980), Brandon, Hodge, Telford, Murray, Fox, Wilby

The Breakfast Club 1985 5 *

Preview. Clips. 1985 Saturday high school detention students (some "Brat Pack") are rebel John "Bender" (Judd Nelson irritated everyone by staying in character), outcast Allison (Ally Sheedy), wrestler jock Andrew (Emilio Estevez), rich princess Claire (Molly Ringwald), and brainy Brian (Anthony Michael Hall). Teacher Richard Vernon "Dick" (Paul Gleason) is blackmailed by janitor Carl (John Kapelos) when searching confidential basement files while the five upstairs share a joint and secrets.

In an unlikely single day, every stereotype seen in every high school finds they have more in common than differences. People can be more hurt than helped by labels. Wish this were required by schools. At 16, I picked up the curse used by the teacher in "spoiled little p-s" from my younger cousins, thought meant "jerks", until my aunt, their mother, chastised me with her definition. Swearing now seems relative to intent.

Wreck-It Ralph 2013 5*

Preview. "There's no-one I'd rather be than me." "Go into the light." "I love Chocolate." MarioKart meets Halo at Turbo Boss level, the worst villain. Glitch makes good. Be-bop songs, eye-full delight. "I don't need a medal to tell me I'm a good guy." May be obvious. but worth repeating.

After arcade hours, on the 30th anniversary of the "Fix-it Felix" (Jack McBrayer) video game, villain Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) just wants a pie, a pat on the back, a medal from the Nicelanders - an impossible change. Fellows at "Bad-Anon" (motto "One game at a time") warn him "going Turbo", taking over another game, gets both games put Out of Order and unplugged.

In new "Hero's Duty", he aims for the top of the tower through alien bugs, but gorgeous "high-definition" Sgt Calhoun (exactly perfectly voiced by Jane Lynch) warns him their only duty is to help "the first-person shooter" get the Hero's Medal.

The escape pod accidentally crashes on colorful (mostly pink) Sugar Rush. His medal hooks atop a candy cane tree. Precocious brat Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) steals in first, wanting the entry fee for King Candy's (Alan Tudyk - last seen in Firefly) race that decides tomorrow's avatars. She's a "glitch" that flickers and nobody wants.

A Cybug stowaway is a consuming virus that threatens everyone. "If you die outside your game, you don't regenerate." Felix's job is to fix Ralph's wreck, and tags along. Meanwhile the Fix-it game is posted Out of Order, in danger of pull-the-plug.


King claims that a human who saw Van glitch in a race would report the game as broken. A glitch can never leave their game, so she would die when the plug was pulled.

But Ralph sees her picture on the side of the game, and wants the truth. Van was a racer until King wrecked her code. If she wins, the code resets. King locked away everyone's memory, so they don't know what would happen next.


Extras: Paperman Short

Previews: The Little Mermaid, Monsters University, Planes

Taken 1 2006 5* - Liam Neeson

.. in progress ..
Taken 2 preview revives interest in Taken 1. He seems to have his family back together. Do they deserve him? Taken 1 preview says it all. Expect more Bam Bang Boom. Smash Flash Crash Dash.

You don't have to be a parent to know the feeling of standing by helpless while a loved one suffers. Vicariously fight back. Gruesome electric torture is almost satisfying. Through Albanians, Parisians, Arabs, the closer he gets, the harder my heart pounds.

Iron Man 2 2010 5*

.. in progress ..
Original 2008. Sequel 2 2010. 3 2013 preview. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) takes center stage playing beloved American protector of peace, secretly grimacing in pain, fear. Traditional villain is ugly, Russian, isolated, mad scientist - all Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) building his own metal suit.

To replace right-arm Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) promoted to run company, Tony hires on the left arm, Natalie Rushman aka Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). (Spoiler: Natalie is undercover for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) of the Avengers). As his 30th birthday approaches, Tony's blood tests deteriorate, poison from the suit power core beside his heart. ~"If this were your last birthday party, how would you celebrate?" ~"I'd do whatever I wanted with whoever I wanted."

Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), U.S. government military weapons contractor, plays man of the people devil's advocate, "I'd love to leave my door unlocked when I leave the house, but this ain't Canada." Best pal Colonel Rhodes (Don Cheadle) testifies, reluctantly obeying bleeping Senator Stern (Gary Shandling), reading out of context, that the suit is a weapon better under official control.


Brave 2012 5*

.. in progress ..
Legend of Mordu.

"Destiny is woven like a cloth .. some who are led." sounded like glove, until I put on captions.

"I will fly - chase the wind, touch the sky." theme song Merida climbed the Crones Tooth and drank from the Fire Falls.

Extras: La Luna Short. Preview.

Previews: Monsters University, First Contact, Planes, Peter Pan classic, Finding Nemo 2003, Sofia the First

Commentary with director Mark Andrews, co-director Steve Purcell, story supervisor Brian Larsen, editor Nick Smith

Languages: English Français Español

Cast: Kelly Macdonald ... Merida (voice) Billy Connolly ... Fergus (voice) Emma Thompson ... Elinor (voice) Julie Walters ... The Witch (voice) Robbie Coltrane ... Lord Dingwall (voice) Kevin McKidd ... Lord MacGuffin / Young MacGuffin (voice) Craig Ferguson ... Lord Macintosh (voice)

Chronicles of Riddick 3* - Vin Diesel

.. in progress ..

Pitch Black first film is horror monsters, second Dark Fury is animé cartoon, third Chronicles is fight bang boom. "Modified to add material not in original release" added scenes, curses.

1 Pitch Black

Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) voices over spaceship "They say most of your brain shuts down in cryosleep, all but the primitive side, the animal side. No wonder I'm still awake." He smells the other civilians, hears their voices. Our hero is a criminal? Emergency wakes Pilot Caroline Fry (Radha Mitchell) - caught the Aussie in her accent), who crash lands on desolate sandy planet. Captain dies slowly from injury.

Searching for water, find bleak graveyard of dinosaur-size bones. In a deserted settlement, an escape shuttle needs only power and repairs. Colors all grey-blue outside. Something in a tunnel kills Zeke, so Fry goes down armed with a flashlight? Creepy tentacles wave in shadows above her.

William J. Johns (Cole Hauser), bounty hunter addicted to heroin for pain, releases Riddick to help them. When three suns align in eclipse, as in 22 years ago, the monsters from the dark rise to kill. They kill Shazza (Claudia Black) in daylight. Of course others get picked off one by one.



Jack (Rhiana Griffith) is really a girl, survives with Muslim Arab devout father Imam (Keith David) of three sons who do not. Last to go is Fry, saving Riddick, also a pilot.



1 The Johns Chase Log- to day 76, 17 paragraph entries, dull text and spoken
2 The Making of Pitch Black - extended preview for horror, effects
3 Dark Fury: Advancing the Arc - repeats Brett writer & Peter animator
4 Visual Encyclopedia - Johns narrates: Orrery (planet?), Merc, Slam- prison, Chronicles - d2
5 A view Into the Dark - we identify survivor with style, unlike usual hero who does tell you he will save you 6 Languages: spoken English, subtitles: English Français Español


Commentary - Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser, director David Twohy chatty, quiet for crucial bits, like watching with pals, insiders ; Cole hanging onto crashing ship really did get hit by stuff ; Vin could dislocate shoulders until chain too tight, only last bit special effects ; painfully cold ; "Zeke's flashlight for those who don't know what it was" -- I didn't ;

Commentary - director Twohy, producer Tom Engelman, visual effects Peter Chiang - alternate opening inside ship confused first audiences, added outside established ship (same in first commentary) too technical on specs - explains blue tint from blue sun backstory - Riddick's night vision enhanced for dark prison

2 Dark Fury - animé sequel

Riddick, Jack (same voices) and Imam (Keith David) are picked up by merc (mercenary) vessel. Crazy skinny artist Antonia Chillingsworth () freeze-sleeps killers in sculpture poses, orders Junner (Roger L. Jackson) to thaw everyone to pursue Riddick. Lots of chases, fights, gruesome machines, guts, gore.

Spoilers: Riddick wins, drops the others on New Mecca, but merc Toombs (Nick Chinlund) survives to threaten sequel.


1 From Pitch Black to Chronicles: Bridging the Gap - behind the scenes, drawings, links movies, safe unlimited stunts
2 Peter Chung animator - initial inspiration, observation, instinct, faster than comic book linger, crew specializes, tech advances, audience emotion key
3 Into the Light - Interviews Vin Diesel & writer-director David Twohy between clips, mostly plot of Chronicles

Languages: spoken English, subtitles: English Français Español

3 Chronicles

Aereo (Judi Dench) of Elemental race voices over Necromongers convert or kill their way across galaxy. "Icon" is conqueror's tower that releases planet's destruction. On Helion, Imam posted reward to fight Necromongers, led by Lord Marshal (Colm Feore). Terminology is hindrance.

To free Jack/Kyra (Alexa Davalos) from prison, Riddick allows mercenaries Toombs (Nick Chinlund) and Eve Logan (Christina Cox) to catch him on "UV" snow world.



Purifier (Linus Roache) is really a survivor of Furyan massacre like Riddick, could have fulfilled prophecy. Kyra helps kill Lord Marshal, dies. "You take what you kill" means Riddick has throne.



1 Deleted scenes - 1 Aereon & Imam on Helion, 2 snowy Planet UV-6, 3 Toombs's demise,
2 Virtual Guide - narrators 1 Conquest Icon - Toombs, 2 Crematoria - Jack/Kyra, 3 Elementals - Aereon, vamp 4 Helion Prime - Imam , 5 Planet UV - Toombs, 6 Lord Marshal - first, 7 Necromonger A v, 8 Necropolis - Lord, 9 New Mecca - Imam, 10 Quasi-Deads - Lord
3 Toomb's Chase Log ~ 100 days videos
4 Insider - trivia factoids during play include Necromonger backhistory, costumes
5 Visual Effects - green screen, fire world, disappearing Aereon, hellhound
6 Riddick's Worlds - Vin guides tour of sets - including miniatures and unused Sasquatch, 360 degree view
7 Commentary w writer-director Twohy, actors Vaako (Karl Urbain), Kyra (Alexa Davalos - she says very little)

DVD has more R ("overall intensity") scenes, such as 3 ancestral visions of Shira when newborn Riddick survives Furyan planet massacre by now Lord Marshal, 3 scenes for Toombs 2nd crew (Christina Cox) better cut where she sits on Riddick ; most looped for round theater speaker control ; Vin's idea to ask Dench, admired reputation ; Colm meanest role, funniest on set ;

Dame Vaako (Tandy Newton - tight dresses, hot) cut their twisting tongues unpalatable, yup ; "party poppers" are firecracker favors you pull tab string, here ship brakes ; end - irony, tragedy ;

Argo 2012 2* - Ben Affleck

Preview. Starts boring history dates, and except for the angry mob outside the embassy, suspense is more fear of being caught, most occurs in smoky typewriter offices. Terrifying bits. Believable when superiors pull the plug.

"you want to come to Hollywood, act like a big shot .. You'll fit right in."

"This is the best bad idea we have, by far."
"If we'd wanted applause, we'd've joined the circus." "I thought we did."

Hero gets highest award, secret till 1997 declassified by President Carter, voice over credits. Real photos beside stills show actors' physical resemblance. I was proud of Canada - started rescue CIA Tony Mendez finished. End presumes happy "lives in rural Maryland with his family".

Extra short: "Rescued from Tehran: We were there" 4 November 1979 - 27 January 1980 Documentary interviewed real participants still living, including Jimmy Carter. 3 months with Canadians. Swissair had mechanical problem, projected 3 hour delay, rather than raise suspicions with alternate tickets, waited, only 20 minutes. When Tony returned, first time wife said "You're a national hero."

Previews: Beautiful Creatures, Cloud Atlas, Gangster Squad,

The Hobbit "From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends"

Taken 2 5* - Liam Neeson

villain Murad, hero Bryan, daughter Kim

Preview. Patriarch Murad (Rade Serbedzija) swears revenge for Slavic slavers killed in Taken 1 Original by CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), rescuing his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). The hero is "Die Hard" solo-style strong, brave, determined, relies on his own brain, brawn, and some borrowed guns. Suspense; chases - foot, car; fights - gun, fist. Villains and hero take separate roads to meeting point, when everything explodes. Rooftops, grenades, countdowns. I turn away at torture.

Bryan invites ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), separating from second husband, and daughter Kim along on his next trip, to Istanbul. If patriarch says "take him alive", why do they all shoot wildly? Here, Kim starts out tough, climbs to roof-tops, 'pitches in' throwing grenades, then wimps and whinges. Lenore delays natters nags in both - unlikeable. She is not Mrs Mills, so why not speak up and say so? Or scream so he could follow? They do keep shooting back at him.

Question: Yellow leaves on trees and ground mean fall. What school holiday is that?

Bryan may offer to drop his gun, but I don't trust patriarch. Smart saving bullet, but he'd have his own gun. Two sons remain for Taken 3. Filming in steps exaggerates look that fights staged, especially final fight in Turkish baths.

Just because Kim can crash-smash standard-gear cab like a maniac in a chase doesn't mean she can parallel park (American automatic?). But of course she passes "three weeks later". "Don't shoot this one, I like him" is a weak joke about new boyfriend Jamie (Luke Grimes). Closing song "going separate ways" seems opposite of happy families eating sundaes by the seaside.


Extras: Alternate ending repeat chase with mom in car, "navigating", "What I do best" same line. Bathing stranger for hostage instead of wife? Not a good choice. Same three weeks later, pass driving test, ice creams. FX Neeson interview - real fear for stunt driver on car roof, real soldier choreographed fights trailers

Previews: Broken City, Chasing Mavericks, TV The Following, Bond 50th Anniversary, Skyfall, Red Dawn (Chris Hemsworth), Lawless (Shia Lebouf), Killing Them Softly

Audio: English Français Español
Subtitles: English Español

Gangster Squad 2013 3*

Teaser shows high point visuals. 1949 Los Angeles looks very glamorous and very dangerous. Symbolic that the Hollywood sign has fallen letters? Crime boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn - poorly made up as old) wants the whole West coast. Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) enlists his most honorable "Sarge" (Josh Brolin - MIB 3) to form a small guerrilla team to take out the entire enemy operation. The standard pregnant (uh-oh red-shirt?) wife Connie (Mireille Enos) suggests he recruit wild cards like himself, not the rising stars likely to be already bribed. Sad ending for some, surprise for her.

Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) falls for Cohen's girl Grace Faraday (Emma Stone). Cohen's bodyguard Jack Whalen (Sullivan Stapleton) is Jerry's childhood pal, informant, and tries to protect the couple. Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie) wants to fight Harlem addiction by cutting off the drug source. Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), best "wire" man sets up listening bugs (only parent, puts him in a Trek red shirt). Old sharpshooter Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) has Mexican protegé "Christmas" Navidad Ramirez (Michael Peña) trying to get ahead against race prejudice. 30s feel to credits jazz score. Based on book "Gangster Squad" by Paul Lieberman.

Extra: short Tough Guys with Style

hats, suits, only Jerry in pinstripes like bad guys
"chin so strong you could break your fist on it"
girls in satin, Emma mix of classics Hayworth, Bacall, Tierney,
less money & malls, individuality, vivid crimson lips, "intoxicating .. glamor"

Previews: The Great Gatsby, Bullet to the Head, Beautiful Creatures, Man of Steel

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising 2007 2*

Turning 14 (unbelievable 11 in book) in rural English village at Christmas, Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) is threatened by mall security guards who demand "The Sign" and turn into flocks of crows. Lacking self-confidence, the blonde social misfit has a pointy cleft chin and elfin lean look, compared to dark-haired family.

"Old Ones", lady of the manor Miss Granthorne (Frances Conroy), her driver Merriman Lyon (Ian McShane), locals George (Jim Piddock) and white-haired Dawson (James Cosmo), all insist he is the seventh son of a seventh son, the Light destined to find six signs (not seven?) and stop the Dark from encompassing the world. His mother Mary (Wendy Crewson) and father John (John Benjamin Hickey) admit his older twin brother Tom vanished from his crib when a baby. Even his crush, pretty older brunette Maggie (Amelia Warner), says will "protect him".

In Susan Cooper's "Dark is Rising" book, I remember no Tom (spoiler: saved) or Maggie (spoiler: traitor). I remember at least one Old One dies (spoiler: none here). He still opens the Great Hall despite warnings, to the evil Rider (Christopher Eccleston - Dr Who #9). The villain's reactions almost make me believe the boy could be the strong Seeker.

The whole premise, that accident of birth means child can read book, become warrior, and save world, is just as weak here. Birthday is more plausible as 14th than 11th. Additions are not believable. Father opens door to Dark and kidnap via physics thesis. Will convinces college dropout Nick not to kill him because "your family loves you".

The Rider is on a white horse, but wears a cloak of black feathers, thunders fearsomely, and casts black smoke. Like in the book, the village are snowed in at the manor, but here giant icicles slice downward like swords, attacking. Water starts to flood, but I think washed away more in the book.

I like the limited special effects. We fear more the unknown, and sudden shifts to strange times. I doubt a fur-clad Viking type would exchange a looted shield for a digital watch, or that beeping could be heard in battle. Seems a token comic relief. Adds "aw shucks", when Will shelters little sister Gwen (Emma Lockhart) who rescues baby kitten.

Languages, Captions: English Français Español

Kill Bill 2 2004 4* - Uma Thurman

.. in progress ..

X-rated cartoon-style violence to Mexican cowboy twang music sets this apart from horror. Bea Kiddo (Uma Thurman) aka Black Mamba finishes her "roaring rampage of revenge" on rest of Deadly Viper Assassination Squad that massacred her wedding rehearsal, and left her a helpless vegetable, in a four-year coma. She has two more targets. Bill's jealous new lover Elle, and brother Budd are final photos in line-up. In the final confrontation with lover-mentor-killer Bill (David Carradine) aka Snake Charmer, truth comes out. The surprise finish involves the fate of her baby.

The Last Stand 2013 3-4* - Arnold Schwarzenegger

.. in progress ..

Preview. Chases, crashes, explosions. FBI Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) loses drug cartel prisoner Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) and hostage. Retired from LAPD Narcotics to Summerton home on Mexican border in path, Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) deputizes goofy Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) in cowbell hat, and Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro) from jail. The team arms with weapons and ammo from Dinkum's "Museum".

Through a ripened corn field, Ray borrows red Camaro (rich schmuck tossed him keys to move from fire zone if required) after the stolen black Corvette racer of Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), who wins trophies under an alias. Burrell (Peter Stormare) takes mercenaries to guard the assault bridge crossing and raid Summerton. Homage to Terminator coming from fire when the hat of "Figgy" Mike Figueloro (Luis Guzmán), bigger than his head, rolls off, while he ratatats machine gun.

All the slim long-haired brunettes look alike. Kidnapped FBI agent is Ellen Richards (Genesis Rodriguez). Deputy is Sarah Torrance (Jaimie Alexander). Diner waitress is Christie (Christiana Leucas).