The story is set in a European country in the Late Victorian era. It's a Steampunk world with a heavy helping of magical realism. The moving Castle of the title is steam-powered, but the steam generator is heated by a fire demon instead of coal!
Sophie ( Emily Mortimer ) befriends a wizard named Howl (Christian Bale - Terminator 4 ). Then she is cursed by the jealous Witch of the Wastelands ( Lauren Bacall ) and is turned into an old lady ( Jean Simmons ). She goes to Howl's castle, amnd works as his cleaning lady until she can be cured.
Meanwhile, the country goes to war. Howl has never stood up for anything in his life, preferring to run away. Now he makes a tough stand ... as a conscientous objector! The thing is that to fight, a wizard must turn into a monster - thus turning to the Dark Side!
Sinden and his colleagues discover a lost island peopled by Vikings, who have not advanced technologically in a thousand years. The plot then proceeds like a Doug McClure film. They must escape through a volcanic wilderness, while pursued by bloodthirsty Vikings.
He receives opposition from the local Reverend (Ben Kingsley - Sound of Thunder ), a powerful figure who dominates the film.
The pair started off as friends, working with Ricky Jay (a magician in X-Files ), Michael Caine ( Man Who Would Be King, Goldmember ) and Piper Perabo . But a tragic event pushes them apart, creating a deadly feud between them. Each seeks to best the other at performing a new trick, The Transported Man. Assistant Scarlet Johanssen , engineer Andy Sirkis ( LOTR, Deathwatch ) and Nikolai Tesla himself (David Bowie - The Hunger ) all play a part.
But in a battle of wits between two master illusionists, what is truth and what is illusion?
The first half introduces our protagonists. Instead of the original hero (Richard Francis Burton, Victorian hero of the British Empire) we get a Yankee astronaut from 2009. He teams up with Alice Liddell ( Emily Lloyd ), who is evidently the brains of the operation. They are enslaved by a Vandal horde led by Kevin Smith ( Xena: Warrior Princess ).
In the second half, Sam Clemens (AKA Mark Twain) faces off against the Emperor Nero. Somehow, Nero has gotten older since he died - and a lot better at sword-fighting and military strategy.
This is part comedy of errors, part journey of self-discovery for the Pastor and especially for his wife. There is an undercurrent of magical realism similar to Picnic at Hanging Rock . The magical atmosphere of the Outback, the subtle implication that the artist's models are the seductive sirens of Greek myth ...
Napoleon's Governor (Jonathan Pryce - Tomorrow Never Dies ) orders them to save some missing children from an enchanted forest ... Along with their sidekick McKenzie Crook ( Pirates of the Caribbean ), an Italian hit-man and a female rabbit-skinner ( Lena Headey ), they set off into the unknown.
This was directed by Terry Gilliam . It is far cry from his Monty Python stuff - it is closest to Baron Munchausen or Burton's Sleepy Hollow . All the Germans speak with English accents (even Matt Damon!), but the acting performances are all excellent.
Being force-fed sugary goodness turned Hansel into a diabetic. It also seems to have prematurely aged him, because in real life Jeremy Renner ( Avengers Assemble ) is fifteen years older than his supposedly twin sister, Gemma Arterton . Arterton is tougher than one would expect, in a role usually given to the likes of Milla Jovovich . But she does a good job. And she swears more than in any of her mainstream Hollywood roles so far. That said, she did a lot of near-the-knuckle stuff in low-budget Brit thriller Disappearance of Alice Creed a couple of years ago, so her potential should not be underestimated.
A Grand Witch ( Famke Janssen ) has a secret plan.
Writer Christopher McQuarrie and Director Bryan Singer deliver a mediocre CGI-fest. The 3D SPFX are at their best when the characters are swinging around on a giant Beanstalk. But didn't Puss in Boots already do this?
Django wants to rescue his wife Brunhilde ( Kerry Washington ), who is currently working on the plantation of Calvin Candy (Leonardo DeCaprio - ). To do this, he and King go undercover as slave traders. However, they have to outwit Candy's house slave Steven (Samuel L Jackson - ).
Candy attempts to justify his enslavement of Black people with phrenology, a pseudo-science that provides feeble justification for his concept of white supremacism. This was largely created by a Scottish doctor, an infamous Edinborough anatomist who bought bodies from Burke and Hare ... the serial killers who murdered people and sold their bodies, just like the so-called bounty hunters King and Django.
Quentin Tarantino delivers yet another spaghetti Western homage. It has all his hallmarks, including a cast of familair faces. There is no official sequel, although Hateful Eight, The (2015) is sort of a follow-up ... albeit with the main role re-cast.
This film also revealed a strange difference in American audiences. It seems that White people were amused by the stupid antics of the racist night-riders led by Big Daddy (Don Johnson - Watchmen ), while Black people did not think it was any laughing matter. Apparently the scene that Black people found hilarious was when Django murders an unarmed defenceless White woman.
Some people are not impressed with this film, because it is over two hours long and most of the time is spent waiting for something to happen. Well, if a story about Kurt Russell being snowed in for days with a bunch of potential killers sounds familiar, that is because it is the basis for the finest film he has been in - The Thing ! In that tradition, Tarantino has delivered an impressive suspense thriller. Yes, QT is renowned as someone who delivers style over substance, but here (like in the well-plotted literary adaptation Jackie Brown) he delivers a film with depth.
Magic Mike from Haywire puts in an appearance in a flashback. He is Daisy's brother ... although this would make more sense if Daisy was played by the runner-up for that role, Katee Sackhoff . With the age gap, Jennifer Jason Leigh is closer to being his mother. Naturally, Leigh is the only cast member to be nominated for an Academy Award for their work on this film. Had Sackhoff done as good a job with the role, which she could have done easily if one compares Daisy to Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica (2003) , would she have gotten a nomination?
Bass Reeves (David Gyasi - ) is a posse man in the Wild West, helping a US Deputy Marshall arrest wanted men like Charlie Storm (Ron Perlman - Hellboy ) on the order of Judge Parker. Parker's assistant, a Progressive woman, suggests Reeves be promoted. Naturally, Reeves passes all the Judge's tests.
Unfortunately the eeevil White supremacists are against a Black man becoming a Deputy Marshall. It turns out that Reeves is ineligible due to his illiteracy. He was raised as a slave, and while his Master taught him how to use guns he was never taught to read because literacy would make him too dangerous. In reality, he was probably trusted with the guns because his mother was in a Sally Hemmings role. There was also a law that forbade the teaching of literacy to slaves, which might explain the Master's reluctance.
The most dangerous outlaw in the Indian territories is Bob Dozier (Frank Grillo - Captain America: Winter Soldier ). Reeves is the only man brave enough to take the arrest warrant, which gives Judge Smith an excuse to promote him anyway.
Reeves and his posse meet up with a Native American fellow who saved Reeves' life as a boy. They get a couple of scenes together to establish them as buddies, but we the audience get very little chance to know the character. There is very little opportunity for character development, which means that the character is basically an expendable redshirt.
Reeves and his posse lay down a major body-count on the outlaws. Yes, Dozier has a seemingly endless supply of goons for the good guys to kill. In reality, the Marshalls were paid mere cents to serve an arrest warrant but were charged dollars worth of burial fees whenever they killed someone. As a result, there was a strong financial disincentive to kill anyone.
A stagecoach gets ambushed by Ben Wade (Russell Crowe - Gladiator ) and his gang, including a mexican sharp-shooter with a scoped rifle. This seems unnecessary, because Ben's sidekick Charlie Prince (Ben Foster - ) is inhumanly accurate with his six-shooters. The rancher helps the sole survivor, Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda - ), and the Sheriff ends up catching Ben.
A small group escort Ben Wade to the big town, in the hope of putting him on the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. Evans finds himself having to work with Tucker (Kevin Durand - Robin Hood ), a gun for hire who works for the local big-shot who is trying to take over the Evans ranch. The town doctor (Alan Tudyk - A Knight's Tale ) tags along to help out.
Evans is not motivated purely by financial necessity. He feels he must prove himself to be a man of honour, in order to win the respect of his loud-mouthed son William. In contrast, Ben Wade is a more shades-of-grey character. He is a cold-blooded killer who wipes out his captors one at a time, but he always remains likeable when he is not killing people. This makes the movie a bit like Heat , with two protagonists who are at odds with each other.
All this is a bit moot when it gets to the final act. Charlie Prince is obsessed with getting his boss back, but Ben Wade has no such sense of loyalty towards his own gang. We also learn that Ben has broken out of Yuma prison twice before, so he could easily call off the bloodshed and escape later.
This film is something of an oddity. It is a big-budget western, the first since Unforgiven (1992), with a cast of familiar faces. For some reason the filmmakers chose to do a remake of a somewhat obscure movie. When the Coen brothers did their version of True Grit , they did so because it was an established classic that won John Wayne his Oscar. In comparison, this is a little-known piece. However, the resulting remake is impressive indeed.
A villain terrorises a town full of innocent villagers. This town has been relocated from Mexico to the USA, and instead of a bandito the villain is a The main protagonist is Cahill (Denzel Washington - Virtuosity ), a blaxploitation Western hero of the type seen in recent films like Django Unchained, Hateful Eight . He recruits an unscrupulous gambler (Chris Pratt - Guardians of the Galaxy ), a Confederate sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke - Gattacca ) and a burly Mountain Man (Vincent D'Onofrio - Men in Black ). There are also plenty of People of Colour in the team - he hires a stereotypical Latino, Oriental and Native American.
Ethan Hawke is the best actor in the whole thing. In this reviewer's opinion it is not much of an improvement on the original - just a rehash of modern westerns, with trendy modern causes like environmentalism, multiculturism and socialism ...
There is one important question that this movie raises. Are rifle bullets fired at random from a gatling gun more powerful or deadly than those fired from dozens of sharpshooters?
The third act takes place on a riverboat run by the Commodore (James Coburn - ), where he hosts the exclusive card game. This pits Maverick and the others against professional card-sharps like Twitchy (Dan Hedaya - Alien Resurrection ) and the Old Gambler (Denver Pyle - ). We get a lot of twists, double-crosses, and a great ending.
If this seems familiar, it is because the film was previously made in 1969. This new version is a re-adaption of the original novel, rather than a straight remake of the John Wayne classic. That said, the dialogue is almost identical to that of the original film. This is grimmer, more brutal and cynical - like Unforgiven with the bookend narration of Titanic. Unfortunately, it is not as hard-hitting as either of those films.
Mary and her boyfriend the chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ) take the kids on magical adventures, courtesy of the Walt Disney corporation. The result is a big-budget 1960s technicolour musical that mixes live-action footage and animation.
To look after the three kids, they need the help of magical nanny Mary Poppins ( Emily Blunt ). She takes the kids on magical adventures, and introoduces them to magical friends of hers. The chimney sweep has retired, although Dick Van Dyke has a cameo in the movie as a different character. His job is taken over by his nephew (Lin-Manuel Miranda - His Dark Materials ).
The villainous bank manager is Colin Firth ( Kingsman ). Ironically he previously made a movie with Blunt called Arthur and Mike (2013), a road movie about a pair of Americans played by English actors.
Luckily, Emma Thompson arrives with enough make-up on to be an extremely ugly nanny with supernatural powers and a heart of gold. Yes, this is basically Mary Poppins as told in the manner of Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events . Nothing too original, but young kids generally do not like surprising or original things. It was popular enough for a sequel to get made, so the intended audience must have liked it.
To help the mother cope, a friendly old lady ( Maggie Smith ) summons a friend from her own childhood - Nanny McPhee ( Emma Thompson ), the ugly-looking version of Mary Poppins . Instead of beating the children, which would be blatant child-abuse, McPhee magically forces the children to beat themselves. Nice loophole.
Rather than use her considerable magical powers to hand-wave every problem away, McPhee lets the children do all the work. This is under the guise of letting them learn by doing things.
Since the men are away fighting the war, most of the characters are women and children. Positive male influence is provided by the local air raid warden (Sam Brown - Porridge). a profession featured in Dad's Army played by an actor from Allo, Allo.
The kids' uncle, a local spiv (Rhys Ifans - Hannibal Rising ), delivers a telegram stating that their father has been killed in action. The eldest boy (Asa Butterfield - Ender's Game ) does not want to believe this, so he gets a lift with Nanny McPhee to London and visits his uncle in the War Office. There is no historical accuracy here, it is a kids' movie version of what the office might look like. It is guarded by the Guards Brigade in their full dress uniform, rather than a regular infantry unit in combat dress. Notably, the guard is the African actor Nonzi Alonso ( Zoo ) for some reason. The building's foyer has a massive model featuring every on-going British military campaign in the world - even though they would have been locally controlled by different offices. The General (Ralph Feinnes - Harry Potter ) is presumably a Brigadier, since he commands thousands of soldiers instead of hundreds of thousands. But what is he doing in the civilian War Office rather than a military HQ?
This is a Canadian made-for-TV effort for 2002. The budget is appropriately limited. However, it is quite watchable.
Sherlock Holmes (Matt Frewer - Max Headroom ) and Dr Watson (Kenneth Welsh - Twin Peaks ) are made aware of mysterious goings-on at Baskerville Moor. Holmes has important things to do, so he sends Watson to go and look after Sir Henry Baskerville (Jason London - Mallrats ).
Watson does a pretty good job of running the case single-handedly. He has to investigate a mysterious letter the dead man received. Suspects include the housekeeper ( Leni Parker ).
The real let-down is the hound itself. This is hardly a monstrous beast, merely a dog the size of a domestic house-pet. At least the film-makers did not resort to dodgy CGI, but they could at least have found a bigger dog.
The Whitechapel vigilance committee hires Holmes to help. Lestrade (Frank Finlay - ) has handed over the case to Inspector Foxburough (David Hemmings - Deep Red ), who operates under the command of Sir Charles Warren (Anthony Quayle - ). It seems that Warren is deliberately hindering the investigation ...
Rather than make a direct deduction, Holmes gets informed that Robert Lees (Donald Sutherland - Don't Look Now ) has had psychic visions about the murders.
This all links into a massive conspiracy theory involving Freemasons. Holmes assumes the Ripper's victims are specifically selected because they all somehow knew each other. He traces a woman named Annie Crook ( Genevieve Bujold ), who has a secret that could topple the monarchy. Of course, if the constitutional monarchy were removed it would be replaced by a Presidency ... a far worse situation.
Director Bob Clark has made series of films, each of a different genre. This time he delivers a Holmes-versus-Jack effort that may follow in the footsteps of A Study in Terror (1965) , but has its own spin on the subject.
Sherlock Holmes (John Neville - Baron Munchausen ) and his bumbling sidekick Watson receive a mysterious package. It is a doctor's instruments, but one of the scalpels is missing.
Jack the Ripper is menacing the women of Whitechapel, including Barbara Windsor Judy Dench Adrienne Corri . He is instantly recognisable because of his top hat, cape and doctor's bag. Despite this, Inspector Lestrade (Frank Finlay - ) is stumped. The suspects include the local police surgeon (Anthony Quayle - ).
Holmes comes out of this quite well. He is a skilled disguise artist and sword-fighting action hero. That said, he is also a cold-hearted ruthless man who uses unsuspecting people as live bait in a deadly trap. Worse, he always manages to save himself while those around him are not always so lucky.
Rent-a-villain actor Mark Strong ( Tristan and Isolde ) is Lord Blackthorn, a character about as subtle in demeanor as Severus Snape. This wicked Peer of the Realm is plotting to take over the Empire, and thus the civilised world, by means of apparent black magic.
Holmes' lost love Irene Adler ( Rachael McAdams ) is in town, working for a shadowy figure who calls himself The Professor. This sub-plot is an indication that the inevitable sequel might be even better!
Holmes has his sights on Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris - Fringe ).
Moriarty also has another minion to run errands for him - a very unlikely-looking fellow who is supposed to be Colonel Sebastian Moran, finest sharpshooter in the world (lately of Her Majesty's Armed Forces).
The memoir-writing leads to a series of flashbacks about Holmes' final case. It was just after the end of the First World War, almost thirty years earlier. A man is distraught about his wife's activities, so he hires Holmes to investigate her. Holmes has trouble remembering the rest of the case, since he has now become borderline senile.
In another set of flashbacks, Holmes recalls a recent visit to Japan. He wanted to obtain a rare herb to extend his life. Unfortunately the only place it grew is Hiroshima. Nobody mentions the idea of getting a geiger counter ...
The movie ties up the plot threads quite well, with Holmes learning the lessons of his last case and using itto help those around him. Not a particularly life-changing movie, but an enjoyable enough take on the character.
Abe's team include a token good vamp, a shopkeeper (Lloyd from Breakout Kings) and a Token black guy. He marries Scream Queen Mary Elizabeth Winstead , who is stuck with a very unflattering look.
The film misleadingly represents Lincoln as being primarily an Abolitionist (not a Federalist, as he was in reality). Worse, it portrays the Confederates as literally being bloodthirsty vamps.
The problem is that this story is a parody of OTT action films. But it is not even the first of its kind - it imitates Pride and Prejudice and Zombies , which had the decency to admit its own comical intent.
The film cannot seem to make its mind up. Bodies pile up, quite literally - but is this linked to Bathory herself? The overall theme of the film is that she was framed by a rival Aristocrat who wanted to seize her lands.