Sunday, February 23, 2014

"RoboCop" (2014)

Starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton
Written by Joshua Zeturner
Directed by Jose Padilha
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 118 Minutes

In the future, much of the violence in the world has been pacified by robotic combat drones from the powerful Omnicorp company. The only place this hasn't happened is in the United States, where public fear of drones has led to the passing of a law banning their use domestically. Realizing that this is costing the company money, CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) happens upon the brilliant idea to skirt the law by putting a man inside of a machine.

Omnicorp finds its man in Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) of the Detroit Police. After he and his partner go after a local drug lord named Vallon (Patrick Garrow), Vallon puts out a hit on Murphy. A bomb is placed under Murphy's car, and Murphy himself is gravely injured. His wife Clara (Abby Cornish) is approached by Omnicorp's Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) who proposes she allow him to save Alex's life by giving him his robotic replacement body.

At first, Murphy's transformation is only a mixed success. His humanity, it seems, gets in the way of his effectiveness compared to completely robotic officers. Sellars orders Norton to "fix it," and Murphy gradually becomes less human and a better cop.

But this takes its toll both on Norton's conscience, and on Murphy's relationship with his wife and son. As Murphy's popularity skyrockets, so do Omnicorp's profits, and as the repeal of the law banning robotic law enforcement approaches the question comes into play: Where does the machine end and the man begin?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

'Strike Back: Project Dawn' (2011)

Starring Phillip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton and Amanda Mealing
Developed by Andy Harries, Elaine Pyke and Frank Spotnitz
Rated TV-MA - Violence, strong language, sex, nudity

British counter-terrorist agent John Porter (Richard Armitage) is captured by a Pakistani terrorist named Latif (Jimi Mistry), a man Porter's outfit, Section 20, has been hunting for some time. An attempt to rescue Porter fails, leaving Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) without much in the way of answers or leads. Unfortunately for him, one turns up in the form of disgraced American special-ops soldier Damien Scott, who worked with Porter in the past and may be the only man alive who's ever seen Latif in person.

Scott reluctantly joins Section 20, under the command of Colonel Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing). Grant and Scott often don't see eye to eye, but she recognizes his value to the team, especially after learning that the mission that led to his dishonorable discharge from the US military may have been a setup, and that Latif and a possible traitor within Section 20 may be involved.

As Scott and Stonebridge learn to work together as a team, Section 20 races around the globe to find and stop Latif before he's able to enact his grand plan: to unleash a stash of stolen WMDs that went missing a decade earlier, and plunge the world into war.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"The Lego Movie" (2014)

Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Ferrell
Written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Rated PG - Mild violence, peril, very mild suggestive themes
Running Time: 100 Minutes

Emmett (Chris Pratt) is your typical everyman construction worker. There's nothing special about him, though he often wishes there was. One day after work, he notices something odd at the construction site and discovers a woman named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) rooting around in the rubble, searching for a relic known as the Piece of Resistance.

Unfortunately for Wyldstyle, Emmett is the one who finds the piece and it melds itself permanently to his back. Wyldstyle is distressed to learn that Emmett is not a Master Builder, as the prophecy laid out by the leader of the resistance, Vetruvius (Morgan Freeman), stated that the man who finds the Piece of Resistance would be the greatest builder of all time, who could save the Lego world from Lord Business (Will Ferrell).

Business, it seems, has discovered some kind of ultimate weapon which will lock all the Legos into their current forms, destroying all creativity and imagination forever. Only Emmett, with the Piece of Resistance, can stop him. But how? Not only is Emmett not special, but he can't even bring himself to believe that he could be.

With the help of Wyldstyle, Batman (Will Arnett), Metal Beard (Nick Offerman) a robotic pirate, Uni-Kitty (Alison Brie) an ever-positive unicorn-cat hybrid, and Benny the 1980s astronaut (Charlie Day), Emmett must find the specialness inside him to stop Business and his henchmen Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) before all the Legos are frozen forever.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear" (2013)

Starring Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi and Mika Hijii
Written by Boaz Davidson
Directed by Isaac Florentine
Rated R - Violence, language
Running Time: 95 Minutes

Casey (Scott Adkins) is an American living in Japan with his pregnant wife, Namiko (Mika Hijii). One evening while he's out running an errand, thugs break into his home and kill Namiko. Casey travels to Thailand to train at the dojo of his friend, Nakabara (Kane Kosugi) and to grieve for his dead wife and unborn child.

But it seems Casey's problems follow him - assassins attempt to kill him, but kill instead a member of Nakabara's dojo. Casey learns that a drug lord named Goro (Shun Sugata), an old enemy of his father-in-law, is responsible for Namiko's death. He heads to Myanmar to exact revenge, by taking apart Goro's criminal organization.

Nothing and no one is going to get in his way.