Echelon Conspiracy

A conspiracy thriller (2009) starring Martin Sheen, Shane West, Edward Burns, Tamara Feldman, Jonathan Pryce, and Ving Rhames starts out with Max Peterson, a techno-whiz who travels wherever he is needed. He gets an anonymous gift which happens to be a new phone unlike any other he has seen before.

Max begins to have good fortunes via a genie-like cell phone that sends him messages. The first is a tip on what card games and slot machines to play where he wins tons of money (where do I get one of these phones?). Here’s where the thriller part comes in. Max is chased by the authorities to find out who is killing recipient’s of the “free phones”. Ahhh, did I mention that there were others that received the “free phones” and are no longer among the living? That’s the caveat, the “free phone” people live exciting but short lives.

Max intends to beat this trend and live a long and prosperous life. I should mention here that there’s more than meets the eye in this espionage thriller – is there really a Dr. Evil?? Only one way to find that out. This movie is similar to “WarGames” where a computer is the ultimate Dr. Evil. Oops, I may have given away too much. It’s enjoyable anyway!

I Am Number Four

Based on the 2010 novel, John Smith is one of nine Lorics (aliens) living on planet Earth. Each of the nine aliens also have a guardian called a Cepan to protect them as best they can. Each of the nine members of the Garde have special powers called Legacies which are mentored by their respective Cepan.

Enter the Mogadorians, hideous creatures with really sharp teeth, out to annihilate the Lorics but the caveat is the nine aliens have to be terminated in numerical order. There’s something to be said about being Number Nine.

The movie (2011) opens with Number Three getting done in by the guys in the black capes and it pans to Daniel Jones (aka, Number Four) leaving the State of Florida en-route to Paradise, OH. Now known as John Smith, Number Four decides he wants to stay put and not run anymore. Did I mention he met the cute girl?

The Lorics all have different special powers called “Legacies” and combined they can be a powerful lot to contend with. Number Four and Number Six “find” each other through telekinesis (they all have this power) and defeat the Moga-bad doers. Four and Six head out on a journey to gather up the other Lorics in their attempt to settle down. This has the makings of a sequel, so Sci-Fi followers, stay tuned.


Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid; The Magnificent Seven; the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; The Outlaw Josey Wales; The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; Dances With Wolves; Red River; Tombstone; Wyatt Earp; Unforgiven; The Searchers; True Grit (the original with John Wayne); and High Noon are classic Westerns. Blackthorn doesn’t even come close to being a classic Western.

Set some years after the encounter with the Mexican army, this story lets us believe the two famous outlaws didn’t die in the last scene when Butch & the Kid come out from behind that wall guns a blazing with the look of surprise when they are looking down the barrels of thousands of rifles. But lo and behold we find they survive and the film tells the story after that fateful day.

I love a good western but this film is worse than a B western, heck even a spaghetti western was better than this. The film looks twenty years into the future and reveals the whereabouts of the two outlaws in Bolivia. That’s about it, I won’t recommend you watch this as not only is the story line dull it drags in many spots and it’s so predictable I could write the script. Buy some popcorn though as this would be the highlight of the film in the event you really want to watch this.


In Time

Set in a distant utopian “time zone” in the middle of the 22nd century, people stop aging at 25 (boy, was I born in the wrong century). Ah, there is a slight stipulation though as once you reach 25 you have one year left to live, unless of course you begin to amass “time” then it’s conceivable to live for a very long time.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) vows revenge as his mother runs out of time controlled by the New Greenwich time zone.  Granted a generous “time” gift, Will leaves the ghetto of Dayton to travel through the time zones to avenge his mother’s death.

Once in New Greenwich, Will visits a “time” businessman and wins over a century of time in a poker game with one second to spare (now that’s cutting it a bit close) and Sylvia Weis, the daughter’s “time” tycoon invites Will back to the estate for a party.

Well, once at the party, The Minutemen (timekeepers of time) wreak havoc at the party and as a result, Will loses all but two hours of time. So, Will decides to abduct Sylvia and takes her back to the ghettos of Dayton where they run dangerously close to extinction but manage to prevail. Their goal is to give everyone the “time” they need. How to do that – rob the banks of “time”.

This futuristic “Bonnie & Clyde” is predictable but enjoyable to watch – you may want to skip the butter option on the popcorn as you may not have enough time…


The Thing

The 2011 prequel to the 1982 film of the same title tells the story of a group of Norwegian research scientists discovering an alien spacecraft deep in the ice. I can tell you’ve already figured out the plot but here goes anyway.

Dr. Sander Halvorson seeks out graduate student, Kate Lloyd to join the recovery team so they can understand what they’ve discovered. Yes, murder and mayhem is lively in this flick as mistrust is the theme as everyone tries to survive The Thing.

A power struggle develops between the evil scientist and the grad student to keep the group as safe as can be. The evil scientist wants to preserve The Thing but Kate wants it destroyed as The Thing wants to destroy them. Okay, I can understand the plot.

For a prequel that was made many years after the sequel pulled off a pretty good Sci-Fi flick keeping your interest and on the edge of your seat. I liked this one better than the 1982 remake of the classic 1951 James Arness’ portrayal of The Thing from Another World.

You’ll definitely want popcorn with this and put some butter on it as well. Yeah, add in some candy bars too.

Inside Job

This 2010 documentary is narrated by Matt Damon and was a well done film. It did what documentaries should do and that’s to get you excited, riled, angry, beyond angry, and I can’t believe we’re getting screwed like this angry – did I forget any adjectives?

Topics like sub-prime loans, derivatives, mortgage loans, savings plans, 401K plans, and predatory loans given to lenders the bankers knew could not repay them yet still allowed it to happen are discussed. The Securities and Exchange Commission virtually washed their hands of what was going on.

The one aspect of this documentary that just galled me to no end was the interviews with some of the bankers and hot shots who run our financial institutions were their answers to some of the questions.They really believed they did nothing wrong – can you believe it?? (yes, this deserved a double question mark) Do they think we’re just naive or just really stupid? Yes, this is a rhetorical question.

I would suggest not having butter on the popcorn as you will tend to get upset and throw the popcorn at your TV and then you’d have to clean it, etc. Oh, and no candy either, as these sugar and chocolate morsels can do incredible damage flying at high speeds 🙂

The Way

A 2001 inspirational movie about whatever it is we want this to be opens with a conversation between a father and his son. Turns out it was the last conversation they had together, although they do connect spiritually throughout the movie. The movie is done well and Martin Sheen does a great job with his role and Emilio Estevez did a great job directing it. Tom (Sheen) travels to France to collect his son Daniel (Estevez).

Tom decides to spread his son’s ashes throughout the pilgrimage along the El Camino de Santiago. While on his travels, Tom hooks up with several others on the pilgrimage for their own reasons. Joost, Sarah, and Jack join Tom because it seemed the right thing to do. After you watch this movie you may even want to hike the pilgrimage from the Pyrenees to Santiago as well. I think I’d like to but alas, to only find the time. I hear there’s lots of wine along the Way!

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1

This 2011 sort of futuristic type tale of corrupt government officials, devious businessmen, an oil-shortage economy, social disarray, predatory capitalists  – gee, are we sure this is futuristic albeit only about four years from now as this is when the movie takes place. It stars Taylor Schilling who plays Dagny Taggart trying to revive her dying railroad from collapsing. With the help of Henry Reardon (played by Grant Bowler), a daring manufacturer of a metal stronger and lighter than steel agrees to go into business with Taggart Transcontinental’s Colorado Line.

Throughout the movie, prominent individuals in their respective fields (i.e., CEOs, top executives) are disappearing and the mention of who is “John Galt” keeps resurfacing. This was an okay movie as far as plot goes but I really liked the characters. They made the film enjoyable (except the close to $40 a gallon gasoline crisis – gee, you think we’re headed there?) and they played off each other very well. I’ve never read the novel by Ayn Rand so I couldn’t compare the movie to the novel (not that I’d want to anyway) but the movie has piqued my interest in reading it though. Part 2 is scheduled to come out in the Fall of 2012. I’ll probably rent it when it becomes available in that venue.

Morning Glory

This 2010 feel good, witty dramedy wasn’t what I expected.  A cast of Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson, Noah Bean and show stealer – Rachel McAdams really pull off a ho-hum story and make it a worth while movie to enjoy when you’re looking for a decent movie to watch on a weekend afternoon.

Of course the story focuses on Becky Fuller (McAdams) as a workaholic TV early morning show producer. She loses one job and gets hired by Jerry Barnes (Goldblum) to resurrect the low rating morning show called Daybreak starring two co-anchors Mike Pomeroy (Ford) and Colleen Peck (Keaton). Of course the banter between the two will get you to laughing quite a bit. Becky has been given the task to re-establish the morning show back to respectability but gets thwarted by Pomeroy as he wants to do things his way.

In addition to Rachel McAdams performing above and beyond I was very pleased with the role taken on by Harrison Ford. Although he was great in Star Wars and the Raiders series, in this venue, he plays a conceited,  grump nose who wants to cover the stories he feels are worthy. In the end though he realizes he must change with the times and become a team player.


Have butter on the popcorn and pick up several boxes of your favorite candies.

In The Electric Mist

Set in post era Katrina the local sheriff , Dave Robicheaux, investigates a series of prostitute killings. Confederate apparitions keep appearing to Dave, a.k.a. Tommy Lee Jones, as he attempts to unravel another corpse’s demise found in the Atchafalaya Swamp in a killing some 35 years earlier.

Watch this if you will when you have nothing better to do as Tommy Lee Jones and John Goodman make this a better film than the story line but with names like Baby Feet (John Goodman), Bootsie (Mary Steenburgen), Twinky (Ned Beatty), Hogman (Buddy Guy), and General John Bell Hood (Levon Helm) I couldn’t resist watching this.

Although it’s as predictable as anything I’ve seen it was still enjoyable to view on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Have the popcorn without the butter (you’ll need dry hands while in the swamp) and stay away from the candies as this is a staple for hungry alligators.