Tag Archives: Natalie Portman

Cinema Dispatch: Annihilation

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Annihilation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Alex Garland

So apparently Paramount wanted to bury this thing for some reason?  I mean… I guess it WORKED considered I never heard of this until the week before it came out.  I go to movies all the time, and I never saw ONE trailer for this thing despite starring some PRETTY big names right now!  Now this is hardly the first time that a studio had lost complete faith in the movie they had made, and it’s not always a sign that the movie is bad (*cough* Brazil *cough*), but it STILL is a bit worrying as studios are loath to just throw money away; especially on projects that seem to have had THIS much star power both in front of and behind the camera.  Does this offbeat science fiction film manage to shine through despite the studio doing everything it could to keep it out of the public eye, or was Paramount trying to save us from something that we were better off just forgetting it even existed?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Lena (Natalie Portman), told slightly out of order, where she went head first into a unique biome of alien origin that I like to call The Rainbow World and tried to reach its center to destroy it from within!  Okay, now that I’m writing this down, it’s possible that a bit more context is needed.  To rewind a bit here, about three years before the movie starts a meteorite smashes into a small coastal town and starts doing… something.  It basically creates its own isolated environment with a clear delineation between EARTH WORLD and ALIEN WORLD in the form of a shimmer; almost like an opaque curtain in the shape of a dome.  The US government seems to have gotten there right away and have been sending people into the strange place to find out what is going on, but no one has ever returned… until now!  Lena’s husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) is a military Black Ops guy (I think) and was sent on a MYSTERIOUS mission about a year ago and suddenly returns home right as the movie starts; albeit looking rather disheveled and coughing up a worrisome amount of blood.  The government weren’t too far behind him though and put him in a quarantine to study what’s happened to his physiology after being exposed to the alien biome, but they’re probably gonna have to work fast; lest this become an autopsy because his condition is getting worse.  Lena is brought into the loop at this point and is told about THE SHIMMER (I still think it looks more like a Rainbow World); promting her to suit up, grab a gun, and join the next expedition which is in less than a week.  Now if that sounds a bit silly, don’t worry!  She was in the military as well, so she knows how to handle herself and use a gun.  In fact, compared to the rest of the crew which includes a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez), a geologist (Tuva Novotny), a physicist (Tessa Thompson), and a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), she’s practically a god send as I doubt the rest of them would last a full day in there without her.  So the day is set, the inexplicable rag tag crew gathers their courage, and they walk into THE SHIMMER with one goal in mind; get to the center and destroy whatever it is that’s causing this.  Will Lena survive the harsh environment that nearly took her husband’s life, and will the secret to his illness lie within?  What is motivating the rest of these women to go into this place that even trained soldiers couldn’t manage to overcome?  Was this really the best we could muster after three years of failed attempts?  They couldn’t even be given gas masks or motor bikes?

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“Before we go in, does anyone need to use the bathroom?  Speak now or forever hold your pee.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Jane Got a Gun

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Jane Got a Gun and all the images you see in this review are owned by The Weinstein Company

Directed by Gavin O’Connor

January began with Oscar overflow from 2015, and it plans to end with… well not Oscar bait, but something MUCH classier looking than the usual January fare.  We’ve got Academy Award winner Natalie Portman producing this western about a woman making a stand against those who wish to destroy her.  Hell, take off the cowboy hats and replace the pistols with legal briefs and you basically have Erin Brockovich!  Still, if they expected this movie to be any good, they wouldn’t have released it in January.  Then again, we got The Boy in January, and that one turned out to be pretty great.  Could it be that we have ANOTHER January success story on our hands?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins at a small house out in the country which is the homestead of Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) and her young daughter.  Her husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) is arriving home after… doing cowboy things, but is in pretty bad shape as he had a run in with the Bishop Boys gang.  He managed to get away by the skin of his teeth, but the Bishops’ aren’t about to let him escape after what he and Jane had done to them in the past.  It won’t take them too long to find their house, and with Bill out of commission Jane must prepare for what happens next.  He drops off their daughter at a friend’s house before seeking out Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) who was her fiancée at one point, but all that changed some time ago in a backstory that we are drip fed throughout the movie.  The sad bastard has been drinking himself to death since finding out that Jane had married someone else, but he eventually agrees to help her fend off the bad guys for some money, though it’s clearly an attempt by him to get back in her good graces.  Armed with a couple of guns, some dynamite, and a few tricks that Dan picked up in the Civil War, the two of them prepare for the attack by the Bishop Gang led by John Bishop himself (Ewan McGregor).  Not only that, but they finally have a chance to discuss what had happened between them all those years ago which could lead to some unexpected revelations for the both of them.  Oh, and Bill’s hanging around there somewhere in the back; slowly dying from his multiple gunshot wounds.  Will they be able to put aside their differences long enough to stay alive, or will this uneasy love triangle be the death of them long before the Bishops get there?  Will there be very reasonable explanations for Jane’s actions that Dan should have PROBABLY guessed about instead of sulking for the last few years?  Did anyone manage to sit through this entire movie without passing out from boredom?

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“Just hit the target.”     “Okay.  I got this.”     *Bang*     “Hold on.”     *Bang*     “Hold on.”     *Bang*     “hold on, wait.  I got it.”     *Bang*     “Hold on.”     “Ugh…”

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