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Jersey Girl (2004)
Sad and sweet.
Oliver is a publicist working in NYC with a good success rate and a demanding schedule. He meets Gertie Steiney and his life is changed. The second huge change in his life comes when Gertie gets pregnant and dies giving birth to their daughter.
Oliver's father Bart helps him out with daughter Gertie up to a point. Then Bart demands that Oliver start acting like Gertie's father. The third huge change in Oliver's life comes when he makes the mistake of taking his daughter to work, resulting in his catastrophic firing.
Most of the film is about the period seven years after the firing, when Oliver meets Maya, and Gertie's big personality starts to show itself.
Does Oliver ever get his old life back?
Hell and Back (2015)
Wild, irreverent supernatural ride.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Remy and Augie work at a run-down carnival, Remy as a hawker, and Augie as the handyman/fixer. The biggest attraction is called 'Gates to H*ll' and it breaks down recurrently. The budget is limited for spare parts and safety features, 'run-down' is probably a stable state, especially after the bank foreclosure. Their life-long friend Curt has responsibilities at the park, but no authority. Curt's boss is a dedicated zoned-out doper. Will there be upgrades to make the park competitive, or even safe? Probably not.
Remy looks for some hail Mary action to save the park, but instead settles on a book of Madame Zonar's concerning Beelzebub. Curt asks Remy for a mint, and Remy gets Curt to seal a blood oath on the book that he will pay back the mint. Curt openly admits that he lied. This breaking of the oath activates the dormant Gates of H*ll ride. Curt gets pulled down. While the vortex is still active, Remy and Augie follow into H*ll, so as to find Curt and save his sorry self.
Delineation of conflicts: The Devil would like to have sex with Barb the Angel. Barb knows this, and leverages it into having the Devil find Remy and Augie, so that she can get 'save the misplaced mortals' off her To Do list.
Remy and Augie are looking for Orpheus, since he was able to walk out of hell with a person who was condemned. Deema the half-demon is looking for Orpheus for her own reasons.
One of the demon unions is p#ssed that there have not been enough sacrifices lately. Curt gets nominated, largely to his ill-considered speech, and his sacrifice becomes a big event in Hell.
Curt tries negotiating directly with the Devil, who has to deal with the demon union.
Resolution: Can the protagonists save Curt? Will Curt save himself?
Fire City: End of Days (2015)
Chaos generated by a demon with a kind heart.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: In a poor rental building reside humans and demons. The humans are not aware of the demons, who feed off the misery of the humans.
On the human side, in one apartment are Frank and Lisa. Frank has rage issues and beats up Lisa now and then. In another apartment are 11 year old Sara, daughter of Jane. Jane is a chronic drunk who periodically passes out before sexually satisfying live-in boyfriend Andre, who is not Sara's father. Archie lives in a third apartment with Ruth, but treats his despair regarding his life with alcohol and Amber's attention on the side.
On the demon side, Tripp, Mace, and Helo are the same demon type and live together somewhat contentiously in one apartment. The bulky demon Ford is older and studies 'demon science' whatever that is, and spends a lot of time trying to manufacture good luck for himself. Cornelia lives by herself, is an 'interpreter', and has lots of paraphernalia for divination. Amber lives alone, and feeds off the despair of men when she has sex with them.
The protagonist is Atum Vine who appears as human to the humans; to them he's the super. The demons see him as a demon, and see him as the one who guarantees misery, or lacking that, some fresh drugs.
Delineation of conflicts: Very early in the film, Sara runs from Andre, who traps her in the basement. He is enraged that Jane has passed out, and threatens Sara with rape. Vine intervenes since this might disrupt the balance. Vine does not like the cops in his building, for one thing.
Unfortunately for the demons, the real reason that Vine intervened was that he felt compassion for Sara. That odd change in this demon heart breaks everything.
There is a lot of consternation over this, especially after Cornelia diagnoses that Vine is the problem. Then it hits the fan.
Resolution: Despite resistance from all other demon parties, Vine needs to create a new balance. Will he get any help on this?
Man Up (2015)
Blind date with the wrong person.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Single 34 year old Nancy goes to a loud themed mixer hosted by a hotel at the insistence of her married sister Elaine. It's another failure.
Nancy heads via train to an anniversary party at the house of their parents, Fran and Bert. Nancy sits down and talks to Elaine. Across from her is Jessica, who had listened to her telephone conversation with Elaine. Jessica lends Nancy a self-help book meant to help her meet her true match. The train stops; Jessica gets off without taking the book. When Nancy wakes up, she tries to find Jessica to return the book, but meets Jack instead. (Jessica buys another copy; she had left her old copy on purpose, but Nancy does not know that.)
Jack thinks Nancy is his blind date since she has the book. Jack has a pleasant manner, and does a Hannibal Lecter impression. Partly because Lecter is one of Nancy's favourite movie characters, she decides to let Jack keep thinking she's his date. Jessica shows up with her new copy of the book a good 90 seconds too late.
Delineation of conflicts: First, there is the lie that started their relationship. Jack and Nancy head into an evening together under false impressions. Nancy has several opportunities in their conversation to correct the misapprehension, but fails to do so.
During the date, they encounter some baggage from each side. There is Jack's ex, or soon to be ex, Hilary, whom they meet with Hilary's new significant other. Then there is Sean, whom Nancy has known for many years but does not remember. Unfortunately for Nancy, Sean's a bit of a stalker.
Jack is a bit battle weary from the recently failed marriage. Nancy is in a negativity phase since she has had so many disappointments in a row.
Then there is the party with Fran and Bert. Elaine and Fran want Nancy to write something to commemorate the 40 years of wedded bliss. When might that happen during this busy day?
Hangar 10 (2014)
Look for gold, find aliens.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Boyfriend Gus, girlfriend Sally, and Sally's old friend Jake set out with metal detectors and the like to discover some missing gold in the Suffolk area in England. They stop at a pub which Gus had used as a base when he found a Roman coin sometime back. Fliers at the pub note UFO activity. Right. Just before they start the actual search, Jake mentions that a military helicopter has been circling the area near them for hours.
They start in nearby accessible plowed fields. They find nothing, so the meandering continues.
Delineation of conflicts: Gus is a jerk; Sally and Jake put up with him. Jake is a jerk; Gus and Sally put up with him.
They do much of the search in the dark, and have some navigation difficulties in the woods (Rendlesham Forest). They are in a spot of danger from hostile forces that discover them.
Resolution: Will the aliens get them?
The Traveler (2010)
Cops pay for guilty secret.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: The film starts with a short depiction of the abduction of a young girl by an out-of- focus kidnapper.
We jump forward a year to the present day on a rainy Christmas Eve night.
Desk Sargeant Gulloy is a fussy man who is the omega male of the group at the Sheriff's station. He does not care for the loud, foul, disgusting speech of his coworkers at the station, or their generally inconsiderate actions, like leaving the door open for the cold and rain to flow in, canceling the central heating. His passive aggressive approach clashes with the classless alphas early and often.
The interactions of the four deputies are primitive and adolescent. Evidently psych tests were not required to obtain their jobs. Detective Black is the father of Mary, the girl abducted in the first scene.
To complete the initial scenery, Mr Nobody enters the station, and tells Gulloy that he would like to confess to murder. The state cops come by to tell them that they are going to close down the off ramp from the Interstate due to a major accident. The station will be more isolated than usual, and many things are not working due to the holiday. That's where we are when the action of the story begins.
Delineation of conflicts: The deputies and the desk sergeant despise each other. The detective's wife is phasing into a breakup with him. The detective is held in contempt by the deputies since he was promoted over them to detective. The detective is in a depressed phase since he has not been able to solve his daughter's disappearance.
Mr Nobody is not especially compliant with the orders of the cops. Clearly, he holds them in contempt, and the cops are not happy with his lack of obedience.
Have they already met Mr Nobody? Will any of them get a bit of closure about their failed pursuit of Mary's murderer?
Resolution: The police think they have a confessed murderer. Only late in the film do they realise that his confessions are to their detriment.
The Diabolical (2015)
Bad film on all fronts.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Madison reads an article on the Internet about whether or not to file for bankruptcy. She's interrupted by an apparition. She calls in paranormal investigators who do find something. However, they immediately run away and recommend that she leaves as well, without further explanation.
The father Mark passed away in the somewhat recent past. Young son Jacob is under investigation for violent behaviour. Both kids go to camp during the day. A large company wants to buy out Madison's mortgage.
Delineation of conflicts: Madison needs money. Jacob needs calm and stability. Science teacher Nikolai wants to help Jacob learn physics, but also get inside Madison's pants. Madison and the children want the poltergeist or ghost phenomena to stop. Whatever is behind the phenomena wants something, but what?
Resolution: What resolution?
The Veil (2016)
Fools go where they should not.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Jim Jacobs runs a cult camp at Heaven's Veil Ranch, circa 1982. He's a self- appointed mage who does miraculous healing and the like. He does meditation, astral projections, telekinesis, and whatever else will inspire loyalty. His big draw, though, is promising techniques to gain eternal life.
The trick is, one has to die first before getting the big dividend. Indeed, every one at Heaven's Veil does die back in 1982, save for Sarah Hope.
Spin forward to the present, roughly. Sarah Hope is recruited by Maggie Price and her brother Christian to do a documentary on the Ranch. Maggie's father was the FBI agent in charge of investigating the Veil, and he ended up hanging himself when Maggie was three years old.
Delineation of conflicts: As one might expect, things start to go badly soon after the film starts.
The caretaker of Heaven's Veil was not all that welcoming. Film crew member Ed takes the group's van and kills himself by running into a tree at high speed. The group is more than a bit isolated by distance, since they are now all on foot.
Sarah finds the more secret parts of the place, which include multiple films of the inner workings of Jim Jacobs' group. The filmmakers hope to find out what the driving forces were behind the mass death at Heaven's Veil. Does something or someone at the Veil want those secrets kept secret?
Resolution: The film jumped the shark around 53:00 in. The transition from somewhat reasonable thriller to wholesale supernatural bullshit was sudden. The turnabout at the end was well-written, but I had long since quit caring.
A Picture of You (2013)
Relentlessly boring vanity film.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Brother Kyle and sister Jen travel from New York City to clean up details in rural Pennsylvania after the death of their mother. Kyle and Jen are estranged at best. Nothing goes all that smoothly as they traverse the house room by room.
Delineation of conflicts: Kyle took care of Judy as her health declined and as his divorce from Sara was in grim stages. Jen skipped most of that. Kyle does not forget, and Jen basically does not care. Kyle ends up packing all the house except the library since the self- involved Jen wants to look at every page in every book, and there are hundreds of books: Judy was a local college professor in some sort of humanities discipline.
Judy was the only Asian in many square miles of only blue-eyed Northern Europeans. Both Kyle and Jen make the joke 'Did you just racially profile me?' when the locals (who all loved Judy) easily identify them as Judy's children. This is tiresome after a while. Plus there was more of that hierarchy of sort of language.
Kyle is resentful of Jen's narcissism, and does not much care for her friends.
The siblings see some quite personal photos of their mother on her computer. First they want to keep it quiet, but then Jen gets the strong urge to find out who the other party might be.
Resolution: The brother and sister patch things up a bit, and they know a bit more about their mother.
Terribly ineffective Tao wizard.
The initial tableaux: A short tale is told of demons being contained by a flute being played. It was to be played for 3000 consecutive days, but the player miscounted.
So we have a comedy.
The monsters get loose and take possession of the flute. Transfers of mastery among humans fails repeatedly.
The incomplete Tao wizard Woo-Chi causes a lot of trouble to obtain the obtain the flute. His master saves his neck and gets the flute. A second master, Hwa-dam, fights him for the flute, which is broken in the process. Since it is split, perhaps the monsters will be contained.
The master of Woo-Chi is killed by Hwa-dam, but Woo-Chi is blamed for it. He is cursed to imprisonment for 500 years, and awakens in the present. The break occurs at 46 minutes into the 135 minute film.
We switch to current times; the monsters are present, the flute is still broken.
Delineation of conflicts: The monsters would like to be free and remain free using the restored flute. The guardians, or whatever, of the flute free Woo-Chi from his prison inside a painting. He is not interested in defeating the monsters and restoring the flute. The guardians, the Shin-shun, work on his ego, which has plenty of soft spots. The monsters try to kill all of them to get the two pieces of the flute.
There's a subplot about a young woman whom Woo-Chi meets in the past. He also thinks he meets her again in the present. This was not done well at all, but got all too many minutes of screen time.
Resolution: Who cares?
Remake of a Twilight Zone episode.
The initial tableaux: Nurse Ana and graphic novelist Freddy ride an almost deserted bus back to their common home town of Pearl. As it turns out, both live on Canon street. There's an accident, but both seem to wake up the next morning. The kicker is that there is no telephone service and no other people.
Delineation of conflicts: The protagonists have to realize that they are dead. The two leads here are more stupid than most. Instead of being an 18 minute film, this dog lasts for 90 minutes.
This is an old horror cliché dating back at least to the Twilight Zone, the early version in black and white. More recently, The Frozen (also 2012) did it again.
Early in their explorations of Pearl and environs, they see a storm that surrounds the town on all sides. It moves in at 0.08 miles per hour, so they have about two or three days total. Attempts to penetrate the slow dark storm are rebuffed soundly.
Resolution: Do they find an escape? Be sure to watch the final 3 minutes.
Open the Hellgate by EVP.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: First, the film flashes back to a Soviet research facility in the Kuril Islands, 1992. The well-funded ongoing work concerned paranormal activity and EVP (electronic voice phenomena). During the economic slide of the USSR, the research was officially abandoned, but a few scientists continued research while keeping to the underground parts of the facilities. While supposedly in contact using EVP, one scientist, Victor Konski, is assailed and killed after hearing from 'Abigor.'
Second, we flash forward to Los Angeles in the current day. Three couples plus Duffy discuss EVP after consuming a number of drinks at the audio studio run by Duffy and Nick. They go to the basement to listen to this and that, such as the website 'Voices in Static' which mentions Abigor and Professor Konski.
Delineation of conflicts: The fools try to recreate the calls to Abigor. Soon enough they get a reply, plus more than they bargained for. Can they close up this process?
Resolution: This movie is from the 'How do I close the Hellgate?' subcategory of horror. The resolution is about how well the remaining humans do at constructing a solution once they figure out a solution needs to be constructed.
I'll Follow You Down (2013)
Young genius tries to heal his family by altering time.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Erol's father Gabriel leaves for a routine trip. When Erol and Marika wait for his return at the airport, he does not arrive. Marika and Sal search to no avail.
Twelve years pass. Sal has done a huge amount of background work to replicate an experiment that he knew Gabriel wanted to attempt involving time travel. Sal enlists Erol's help in finishing the details.
Delineation of conflicts: Erol's girlfriend Grace is against the attempt, since she thinks their current life will be lost. Sal wants Erol to continue, since Sal hopes to 'correct' the timeline. Marika struggles with her loss.
Resolution: Supposing Erol can construct the wormhole, will he be able to convince Gabriel to alter his course?
Le prénom (2012)
Battle royale with words.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: The film starts in the 9th arrondissement in Paris. Pierre and Élisabeth (called Babu by most) are hosting a small dinner party. The daughter and son hopefully will stay asleep. Babu's brother Vincent arrives, and draws interest in the name of his pre-natal son with his wife. Trombonist and long time family friend Claude joins the group. Considerably later, Vincent's wife Anna arrives.
Delineation of conflicts: Vincent's choice for the son's name is quite offensive, and a debate rages over it. Much emotional heat is generated as a result; tempers warm more than a bit.
Later, Vincent admits that the announced name was a joke, but the hurt feelings remain. Worse, the admission comes only after Vincent and Pierre have wounded each other with words. The group continues skewering each other with sharp speech.
Resolution: Can the group resume their usual warm relationships? Several harsh buried truths surface during the verbal fencing.
Female mercenaries versus female terrorist.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Ulrika kidnaps the President's daughter. The ransom is the overthrow of Ganzar, a fictional country that Ulrika wants to rule. Great. Ulrika has a pathological hatred of men, and a deep disdain of women. Even better. The President is in a funk, so trusted aid Mona runs the op to recover the daughter.
Mona goes to prison to recruit female tough cases to make the extraction.
Delineation of conflicts: Ulrika wants the ransom; the US does not wish to pay it. Mona wants the prisoners to do the extraction; the prisoners are hardly interested. Mona hopes to make the prisoners offers that they cannot refuse. Ulrika wishes the extraction to fail; the prisoners would like to get their individual pay offs.
Cassandra was a captain in Delta Forces; she will be tactical command. Raven was CIA, like Mona, and will handle the close in wetworks. Mei-Lin specializes in explosives. Kat is a talented sniper, who will be sniping. The egos are as big as the talents here. What are the chances that they will not kill each other instead of the enemy?
The local teenager Lexi wishes to help the team in return for passage to America.
Resolution: This ends pretty much the way I expected it to.
Dark Floors (2008)
Ghosts trap normals in hospital.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Father Ben and daughter Sarah are at a hospital getting sensitive tests run on her brain. The power fails, the machine adjusts, and Sarah freaks out. Ben decides to take Sarah somewhere else.
Ben, Sarah, Nurse Emily, Security Guard Rick, salesman Jon, and mental patient Tobias take an elevator together. The power goes out again. They manage to get out on the fifth floor, which at first seems deserted.
Delineation of conflicts: Sarah wants her red crayon. Ben wants her to be safe. Rick and Emily want to know what's going on. Jon wants to take his sample teddy bears and leave the building. Tobias seems to know they are in some sort of trouble, but does not communicate that well.
There is some poltergeist activity (television, radio, telephones, fans), and their freedom of movement seems hampered. While in a stairwell, someone takes a shot at them, and grazes Rick's neck.
Soon enough, it seems that something does not want them to leave. Tobias hints that the other four adults might know why this is. Again, his communication is oblique. Sarah draws things that no one else sees; ghostly images tantalize them; soon enough, tangible actions are observed.
Resolution: This film follows several horror movie clichés. The ghosts/demons seem to be suffering or obsessed with an issue or two. The adult humans need to surface parts of their memories that pertain to that suffering. Will they be able to work out issues with the supernaturals?
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Cold War bargaining.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: In 1957, the FBI arrests Rudolf Abel for espionage against the United States. For propaganda reasons, not for being true to American ideals, the powers that be select James to be the council of Abel. James tries to represent Abel well, and receives stiff resistance for his efforts. He does establish that the US should treat its prisoners well at least for the hope that our imprisoned soldiers or agents will receive reasonable behavior from jailers.
In 1960, the Russians shoot down the U2 reconnaissance plane flown by Francis Gary Powers over the USSR, and imprison him afterward. Powers has a great deal of classified intelligence that might be divulged. The Russians want Abel back; the Americans want Powers back.
Delineation of conflicts: James is 'requested' to negotiate the swap, but is not given diplomatic recognition, and must work as a private citizen. The East Germans detain Pryor, an economics PhD student as a spy to use as a chess piece.
James has to deal with a lot of murkiness, since none of the transactions are done officially. He has to deal with the Russians to get Powers, and the East Germans to get Pryor. The Russians and East Germans have their own agendas.
Resolution: There's a lot of juggling, but it turns out relatively well.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Mockumentary of vampire life in New Zealand.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Four vampires live in a flat together in New Zealand. Viago (from the 18th century) was a European dandy before he turned, and is the fussy one. Deacon (183 years old) had been a vampire Nazi, and needed to leave Europe after the war. Petyr is some 8 thousand years old, and does not get out much. Vlad is a bit older than Viago, but considerably younger than Petyr. Vlad was a noble who commanded armies and could do all sorts of animal transformations.
Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon prepare for a night out in Wellington. They cannot get into most clubs because they have to be invited in. However, there is a club just for vampires. Jackie is Deacon's familiar. She does all sorts of scut work for him, such as procuring victims, washing dishes, and whatever else.
After Petyr turns Nick, the main part of the story begins.
Delineation of conflicts: The vampires' night life activities in Wellington bring them into contact with humans. This is pretty limited until Nick joins them and is still able to get into the newer night clubs. They encounter werewolves and the changed relationships with their old friends. Nick does not feel any need for secrecy, which rather disturbs the older vampires.
Jackie wants Deacon to change her to vampire, but Deacon prefers she remain his familiar. Deacon does not treat her well, either. Nick's friend Stu introduces them into the Internet, WiFi enabled devices, selfies, and online social media.
To add to the fun, Nick's loose lips attracts the attention of a vampire hunter who breaks into the house. Petyr kills him, but is in turn struck by full sunlight, which kills him. The noise gets the notice of the local police, who give them safety violations.
Resolution: The supernatural takes its course in a number of ways.
Brother and sister challenge the supernatural.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Tim is on a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. He discovers a method for convincing his overseer that he has embraced reality and accepted responsibility for events of the past. So they let him go from managed care to a well-organised external support group including his sister Kaylie.
Kaylie reminds Tim to keep in mind what really happened, and that they have a task that they have agreed to complete. The dreams and hallucinations start early on. Kaylie has spent the years growing her experience and reputation in auctions and properties. She retrieves what she thinks will be needed to settle the issue. Kaylie thinks that she is sufficiently prepared. Tim is willing to help her record any weirdness that might occur.
We flashback to the time when Tim and Kaylie lived as children with Marie and Alan, their dear parents. The flashbacks detail Kaylie and Tim dealing with their parents descending into madness and death.
Delineation of conflicts: Much of the action centers about an old mirror (the Lasser Glass) that Kaylie retrieves in the present, and their parents owned in the past, notably near the time when they died. Kaylie traced its history back to 1754, and documents deaths associated with it over the centuries.
The Lasser Glass does what it will, which is to kill its owners, often by dehydration or starvation. Kaylie intends to record its actions and figure out what really happened to Alan and Marie. Kaylie has that in mind. Tim has accepted deeply the more rational explanations given by his psychiatrists.
Resolution: Which model is correct? The rational one, or the supernatural? Kaylie's detailed plans should show something definite, unless someone interferes, of course.
The Hunter (2011)
Capturing the last of a species.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Martin contracts indirectly with Red Leaf, a biotech firm that is looking for some rare DNA. Unfortunately, the only source of these items is the last remaining Tasmanian tiger. There is restricted intelligence (which will leak) that there have been two confirmed sightings of the rare and elusive beast.
The probable site for the hunt is in central Tasmania. Martin has to deal with lack of electricity, decidedly unfriendly locals, children of the owner of the house he stays at, and foul tap water. Jack Mindy gives him some guide services that he did not ask for.
Delineation of conflicts: Martin wants to get paid and stay out of jail. Red Leaf wants the organic samples so as to make lots of money.
The locals in Tasmania have logging as a main source of income. Other locals (and outsiders) are involved in a campaign to save the trees. The early take on Martin is that as an outsider, he's a tree hugger, a 'greenie', and should be dealt with harshly.
Jack Mindy has his own agenda which does not seem to be aligned with Martin's. Martin is by no means alone when he is out hunting in the middle of nowhere.
To make matters worse, the tree huggers score a moratorium on logging so that the government can find the Tasmanian tiger. That means no logging and no pay.
Resolution: It's a dark tale with a dark ending. Several of the lies get exposed. Will Red Leaf be patient if Martin takes too long?
Jisatsu sâkuru (2001)
What's behind the group suicides?
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Fifty students jump in front of a train to their bloody deaths. At the hospital, there is consternation over the news and the rail closures; further, there is a power outage and another death. The detectives have many issues to sort out. On a website, red dots seem to count the deaths.
Delineation of conflicts: Were the deaths an accident, which would be convenient for writing them off, or were they murders, or were they something else? Who is behind the mysterious websites? Were the 50 youngsters from the same high school? The police have a lot to figure out.
On the one hand, we have regular common sense. On the other hand, we have the formation of local suicide clubs that wish to establish a new record on the total number of simultaneous deaths. Are the cops immune to this movement?
Conformity and nihilism seem to be working together, hand in glove, but why? Just what are those skin rolls (very long strips of human skin made of segments stitched together) about?
Resolution: One question for me was whether the film intended to show supernatural causes, or whether it stayed reality based. If it stays reality based, will the police find the human centre of the problems?
Nebbish from 1973 fights the State in 2173.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: In 1973, clarinetist and health food store owner Miles Monroe goes to hospital for a minor operation to repair ulcer damage. In 2173, he is revived from cryogenic stasis by rebel physicians.
Just as his orientation starts to succeed, the police raid the health facility; his revival was illegal.
To escape, Miles disguises himself as a robotic servant. He is delivered to the house of citizen Luna Schlossel, who assigns him tasks that illustrate life in 2173.
Delineation of conflicts: The State, under the direction of The Leader, seeks to have everyone fully assimilated into society. Miles kidnaps Luna to escape yet another police raid. Luna is initially loyal to the State, but when captured and threatened with mind wipe, she converts to the rebel cause.
Miles is captured, but not before Luna escapes with his help. Miles is assimilated by the State. Luna finds the resistance, and becomes enamored of Enro, the resistance boss, and with his ideology. By the time Luna and Miles meet again, their positions have reversed, and he does not remember her.
Erno tasks Luna with getting Miles to the rebel camp. They set about restoring Miles' memory. Erno sends Luna and Miles to stop the Aries project. The State, of course, has other ideas. Miles' jealousy threatens the rebel mission.
Resolution: The showdown is about the fate of the Aries project (not sure about the spelling here; I think I auto-corrected it).
Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses (2014)
Frank Vega versus LA drug criminals.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: We open in Frank Vega's apartment. In the sequel he still has his dog, he still is old, but now he has the notoriety from the first film, plus he's an honorary policeman. Frank's flat connects to a boxing gym that he operates. The other side of the gym connects to a bodega that Bernie operates. Frank and Bernie have traded insults for the last three years. Manny has been a bit of a protégé of Frank's, and gives him a smartphone with a heartfelt message as a gift.
Delineation of conflicts: Adolfo has a beef with Manny, and has his goons kill him. Manny seemed to have no idea what the beef was before he died. Frank would like more answers about Manny's passing, as would Rosaria.
After Frank stops an armed robbery against Bernie's place, Officer Malark tells Frank that Manny's body was found with drugs on it of substantial street value. The trail starts for Frank when he questions Tuscon, one of Manny's friends at the gym. Frank gives the drug pushers a bruising, and destroys a load of drugs. At first, it seems like Frank has dealt with the folks who killed Manny, but of course there is more to it than that.
Frank wants answers, Bernie wants answers, Manny's family wants answers. The perpetrators would prefer silence. This includes Adolfo and his father Leandro, who has the money and position in upper LA society to make things difficult for Frank and Bernie.
Resolution: Frank makes some progress using his fists, but needs more than just direct force.
Bad Asses on the Bayou (2015)
Frank and Bernie against Louisiana corruption.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: We open in Los Angeles. Frank's gym and Bernie's bodega were bombed and burned in the last film. They apply for a loan to rebuild, and are being turned down when a bank robbery starts. Our heroes break up the heist, and receive Internet and television accolades for it. Rosaria had moved to a new job in Florida. Carmen, their friend in LAPD, calls from Baton Rouge. She's getting married to Geoffrey. Her father is a generous mood, and springs for flying them in from Los Angeles.
Delineation of conflicts: The reception in Baton Rouge was lovely. Then there is a break in at Carmen's family's estate. The intruders kidnap Carmen. Frank fights them, but there are so many that they prevail.
The Sheriff is not interested in the help of the Bad Asses from Los Angeles. The kidnappers want 5 million USD. Frank and Bernie heed the call from Carmen's mother to find her daughter. Carmen's brother Ronald finds a clue: a Mr Buford at a racist strip bar. The guys are off on the chase, and it looks tough from the get go. The people behind it seem to be a group who has it in for Carmen's rich black father.
Ronald keeps getting bullied by Kyle, the son of the Sheriff's deputy. Frank and Bernie help him out, but Earl makes the case for pacifism. The kidnapping tests that pacifism severely.
Resolution: Frank and Bernie uncover some unfortunate connections. Do they have too much stacked up against them?
PC cliché meets scifi clichés.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux: Earth has been made unlivable. Seven colony ships left Earth, each looking for a new planet on which to live. The film starts in one of those ships, and it has long since lost contact with the others. Further, after 47 years, the original crew is gone except for Captain Hunter. Half a dozen teens spend much of their time training in combat.
Kate finds a wormhole to a possibly feasible planet. The captain gets convinced. So the ship heads through, only to encounter disaster in a space born rock field. The captain and some of the teens survive the crash of their space ship.
Delineation of conflicts: The humans are not alone on their new planet. There are some humanoids with blades and guns, but also some bipedal monsters. The monsters like to kill members of the other groups. The humanoids bicker among themselves, and decide, on the whole, not to like the newcomers.
The Captain gets seriously wounded early on, and holes up with his radio. The teens except Kate get killed or captured soon after planet fall. So, most of the film is Kate against the world and its natives.
One of the dissenters among the humanoids, Rogan, might lend her a hand, but her finely honed battle training does not seem to recognize that. He rescues her three times, she tries to kill him four times.
Resolution: There are not all that many directions for this elimination derby can go. In any case, rest assured that Kate gets to run a lot.