Steve Jobs (2015) Michael Fassbender – Movie Review

Steve Jobs is written by highly acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who scored big with another tech industry biography with 2008’s The Social Network. Although Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography on Jobs published in 2011 provides many of the facts used in the film, Sorkin takes all of those facts and conversations and eaves them into its own fictional circumstances, setting all of the backstage drama in the ramp-up to three key product launches in the career of Jobs, 1984’s Apple Macintosh, 1988’s NeXT “Cube”, and 1998’s iMac.  Handlers, work associates near and not-so-dear, skeptical tech journalists, demanding ex-girlfriend named Chrisann Brennan, and even Lisa, an estranged daughter Jobs denies is even his, come in and out of the story as he preps for going out on stage and trying to wow the crowd in his hype for another one of his uniquely designed consumer products. 

Crimson Peak (2015) Jessica Chastain – Movie Review

Starting off in Buffalo, NY, at the turn of the 20th century, Mia Wasikowska stars as an aspiring writer named Edith Cushing (nod to Hammer Horror thespian Peter Cushing , no doubt) is struggling to get publishers to accept her ghost story novel in an era in which female authors are relegated to the romance genre. Thought to be on a clear trajectory to become a spinster due to her independent spirit, Edith is soon courted by a well-to-do British man named Thomas Sharpe. The two eventually marry, and Edith uproots to Thomas’s massive but rundown mansion in England that has been built upon a mountain made out of red clay, which has caused the bottom floors to seep eerie blood-like ooze. Also living there is Thomas’s enigmatic sister Lady Lucille, who seems to have tendrils in every corner, including in her brother’s mind and heart. Proverbial skeletons fill the closet, but actual ghosts too, as the promising beginning of a new life may also come to a quick end for Edith, if she doesn’t keep her wits about her.

Bridge of Spies (2015) Tom Hanks, Spielberg – Movie Review

Set starting in 1957, in the midst of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Tom Hanks stars as New York-based insurance lawyer James B. Donovan, a by-the-book guy. Donovan is called upon by United States representatives to provide the legally defense for Rudolf Abel, a longtime Brooklyn resident who has been accused of espionage for the Soviet Union for many years. The United States feel it’s an open-and-shut case, but Donovan still takes his role very seriously, unwilling to play patriot by undermining his client to provide information to the CIA, and the public at large begins to despise him for trying to defend a man for supplying information to a country that is threatening the U.S. with nuclear annihilation.
Knowing that his client could get the death penalty for his alleged crimes should he be convicted, Donovan beseeches the already biased judge for leniency, citing that Abel would be good to have alive and incarcerated in case one of our spies ends up getting caught in a Communist country. Donovan’s insight bears fruit when a U-2 pilot named Powers is shot down flying a recon mission in Russian airspace, and the U.S. wants him back before the Soviets manage to extract sensitive intel from him while he’s in their custody. Now’s the time to play their trump card of Abel for Powers, and there’s only one master negotiator they’ve come to trust to get the job done who wouldn’t have information to give of his own: James Donovan. However, Donovan threatens to muck up the works when he tries to get two political prisoners for one, requesting the release of an American student named Pryor, who was captured behind the Berlin Wall.

Pan (2015) Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman – Movie Review

Starting out in London around 1930 we find a young and anguished mother leaving her newborn baby on the doorstep of an orphanage. During the bomb-ravaged times of World War II, years later, the baby grows into a spirited young lad, Peter, who quickly makes friends with the fellow boys in the orphanage, but even faster enemies with the badgering nuns that run the facility. Things get complicated when Peter learns that other boys have gone mysteriously missing in the night, and he wants to get to the bottom of things before he ends up the same. Peter finds out firsthand soon enough when pirates from the sky descend upon the building and steal him and all the other lads away to their flying pirate ship, run by the ruthless Blackbeard, who uses them for cheap labor in mining fairy dust from a land he’s dubbed Neverland.
However, when a cruel punishment reveals Peter’s ability to fly (something the boy didn’t even know he had in him), Blackbeard recalls a chosen-one prophecy of a rebellion led by a boy, born from the union of a fairy prince father and human mother, who could fly and makes him very wary of Peter. The boy’s put into pirate jail, where he soon befriends and American(?) adventurer named James Hook, who springs them out and takes them to the land of fairies transplanted when the pirates took over Neverland, where the scrappy mystic Tiger Lily leads. Peter thinks that Neverland has the key to being reunited with his mother again, and together with the newfound rebels, the prophecy Blackbeard fears takes root.

Sicario (2015) Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin – Movie Review

Emily Blunt stars as FBI agent and SWAT team member Kate Macer, whose services are enlisted in voluntarily helping out a mysterious group of black ops law-enforcement agents headed by drug war advisor Matt Graver (Brolin) and partner in crime-fighting in former Colombian prosecutor Alejandro (Del Toro), who are operating under the usual radar in their effort to deal with the extremely dangerous Mexican drug cartels that have begun to take firm root on the U.S./Mexican border, and have even spilled over activities into the Southwestern U.S. She’s in way over her head in the tasks at hand as she travels to the ‘lion’s den’ of Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, where the drug cartels have complete dominion. Macer, a firm believe in the law and her duty to uphold it, sees her new partners tactics as not only illegal, but potentially immoral, but her desire to see justice done after a calamitous mishap that saw several of her fellow agents killed in a suburban Arizona house raid gives her the resolve necessary to see the people responsible go down, specifically cartel kingpin Fausto Alarcon.

The Martian – Matt Damon, Ridley Scott – Movie Review

A NASA mission finds a group of scientists and astronauts on the surface of Mars collecting info and samples of the native soil.  Their mission ends prematurely when a major dust storm flings rocks and other debris around, causing the crew to head toward their spacecraft to leave the area, leaving behind a fallen team member, Mark Watney, who has been presumed to have died during the storm.  Only Watney doesn’t die, though he is quite injured, but manages to make it back to the Mars station for a bit of healing and contemplation on the fact that he is now stranded with no means of communication, and likely to die when one of his many precious resources (food, water, air) runs out.  About four years out from the next expected mission to Mars, Watney decides he’s going to use his training in botany and engineering to try to not only figure out a way to extend his chances of survival as long as he can, but he’s also going to have to find a way to let those on Earth know he’s still alive on the hopes they’ll come back before it’s too late for him.