Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Maleficent

Once upon a time, there was darkness throughout the land. The light did not comprehend it nor did it exist in the midst thereof. For within that darkness lived bitterness and anger, which swallowed goodness, and brought with it fear to those who desired peace. Out of true love’s kiss came the darkness.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent
Angelina Jolie is Maleficent

As part of this month’s tribute to women who rock Horror, included in today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday is Angelina Jolie’s timeless Maleficent.

*** May contain spoilers. Skip to the last paragraph for the summary. ***

True love’s kiss can usher a new dawn or can destroy a land.

Protector of the Moors is Maleficent, one of the greatest fairies ever to live. She swoops and soars across her domain, giving aid to those in need during a time when the light ruled the Moors.

When she was a girl, she meets Stefan, a young farm boy who wanders on the Moors to steal treasure. An embarrassing confession later, Stefan and Maleficent grow in friendship. After a time, Stefan once again steals something belonging to Maleficent, but it happens with true love’s kiss.

As the years pass and as Stefan draws closer to greed, lust and envy, Maleficent protects the land from evil invaders who want to pillage it. She confronts the human king who wants the Moors all to himself, banishes him and hails victorious over the evil tyrant. However, it does not discourage the wicked king from enacting an edict to charge any member of his court to bring back Maleficent to the castle—dead. In exchange they will receive the kingdom as a reward.

Stefan appears again to Maleficent. All the years of loneliness that had passed between them seems as yesterday to the couple, as they share a tender moment. Once Maleficent rises from a deep sleep, Stefan is gone, as are her wings. Stefan becomes king.

Maleficent's Angelina Jolie
Maleficent’s Angelina Jolie

In the wake of her loss, Maleficent falls into darkness. Her power increases, and the seed of resentment captures her heart, left empty by the betrayal of her only love, Stefan. All the fairies bow to their new queen.

Then, King Stefan has a daughter. Maleficent, being cordial, invites herself to the christening where she bestows a gift to the princess—a curse. The little girl would grow to be sixteen at which time she will prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep, deep sleep, forever to remain but for true love’s kiss.

Without a doubt, Angelina Jolie is Maleficent. Beyond the incredible effects that renders her the awesome power she possesses, her subtle pose, smile and glint in her eyes conveys more than volumes of exposition. And in some respects, it makes us believe the darkness is good.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What did you think of Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Maleficent?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Salt

Imagine someone close to you accuses you of betrayal. What would your reaction be? Disbelief? Shock? Anger? Or would you dismiss it as another play from someone willing to do anything to get to you? The options are endless. How about the source? Where did the accuser get their information? How reliable is it? Does the source have a history of exaggerating facts with wild suggestions and ideas? Has the source proven unreliable in the past? The motive can be anything. What if the conspiracy is so farfetched that it would be difficult for anyone not to believe the accuser? Salt is this week’s highlight for Women Who Wow Wednesday.

Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt
Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt

Initially securing Tom Cruise as Edwin Salt, an undercover operative, the film’s writers had to rework the script after Cruise had abandoned the project and Angelina Jolie stepped in to fill his shoes. The first order of business was the name change from Edwin Salt to Evelyn Salt.

Not wanting to give away any plot points or even discuss anything about Evelyn Salt’s covert predicament since it would suggest some form of spoiler, I’m going to concentrate only on one particular event in the film—the interrogation scene and everything leading up to it.

In a dank prison in North Korea, Evelyn Salt undergoes extensive questioning. Let’s not kid ourselves—she’s tortured. The North Koreas accuse her of being an American spy. They have evidence she’s working for the CIA. She denies it. They don’t believe her. They drag her from her cell wearing just her bra and panties. They restrain her and ask again if she’s working for the CIA. She again denies it. They hold open her mouth, stick a tube down her throat and pour into it a nasty liquid. It’s not certain if it’s oil or gasoline.

She chokes, denies ever working for anyone, and begs for mercy. Her spine-chilling screams echo throughout the prison. But she doesn’t give them anything. Again, they torture her in an attempt to compel her to talk. And again, she gives them nothing.

It isn’t until her boyfriend kicks up a fuss with the American Embassy, sending letters to Congress, and igniting a political firestorm that her tormentors release her into the hands of the CIA. Battered and bruised, she falls under the comforting arm of her boss and wonders aloud why they released her—she should be dead. Her boyfriend loves her so, and because of that love and political pull, she again saw the light of day.

Evelyn Salt
Evelyn Salt

Two years later a Russian defector surrenders to the CIA and Salt is brought in to interrogate him. Naturally, the CIA tactics contrast those of the North Koreans in that Salt calmly sits on one side of a table in a cold, yet highly watched room, while the defector sits on the other.

He has something to tell her. Something very important. Something that will change her life forever. But how credible is he? Can she trust him? Where did he get his information? Who is his source?

And this is why I love the character Evelyn Salt. In her time of uncertainty, her vulnerabilities are her greatest strengths. Her intuition is her best defense. She withstood torture, degradation, and even cheated death, but never gave up in her time of almost-permanent defeat. As shocking as her agony was, her victory came with her silence protecting the government with whom they had accused her of conspiring.

Author’s note—There, I hope I didn’t reveal too much. Those were the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film. Yeah, no kidding. Trust me when I say, Salt is one of the most interesting characters I’ve had the opportunity to research. I may write a Part II to this post one day. We’ll see, though.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

If you’ve seen Salt, have you ever felt like you needed to watch the movie again? What did you like about Angelina’s portrayal of the protagonist?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Mrs. Smith

How would you feel if you realize your marriage was sputtering as a balloon losing air? For the women: what if your marriage was with Brad Pitt? Do you think you’d try to save it? For the men: how about if Angelina Jolie was your wife? Would you like one more chance to make it right?

Angelina Jolie as Mrs. Smith
Angelina Jolie as Mrs. Smith

From the start of the film Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play the namesake couple seeking help for their floundering marriage. Looking at them, you wouldn’t think they needed counseling. They look incredible together, even though the chill in the air could freeze anything within the radius of a few feet.

As part of this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday series, today’s highlight is Jane Smith. Be forewarned, if you haven’t seen this movie, spoilers lie ahead.

Meeting for the first time in Bogotá, Colombia, Jane approaches John on the run from the Columbian authorities. The attraction couldn’t be more genuine. Locked in a hug, the sound of sizzling fills the room. Without waiting, they marry. As the years move along, Jane becomes the perfect wife. Her home, immaculate. Her cuisine, extraordinary. Her marriage? Not so much.

In the whirlwind of their short courtship and subsequent marriage, Mr. & Mrs. Smith forgot one crucial element for making their relationship work. Honesty. They didn’t confess their innermost thoughts to one another. And—they didn’t tell what line of work they were in. Oh, they rehashed some made up story about working in an office, but they didn’t tell the whole truth. In essence, they lied to one another. Then they wonder why their marriage is sinking faster than an anvil placed on floating paper.

Mrs. Smith
Mrs. Smith

The truth? Both John and Jane are assassins. Pretty good ones, too. They work for competing agencies, vying for the same contracts in their small, niche industry fishbowl. When a mission Jane has assigned goes afoul, she discovers the reality. Her husband’s working for the other side. He has to go. At least, this is what her agency wants. Unbeknownst to her, John’s agency has a similar contract. She has to die, too.

One evening, as the Smiths have dinner in their lovely suburban home, a lively discussion ensues. Well, not that many words pass between them, but they sure know how to communicate. From one corner of the house to the other, their communication consists of firing at each other with live rounds of ammunition. Vases blow. Furniture explodes. Walls collapse. Still alive, baby? Your aim’s as bad as your cooking, sweetheart. And that’s saying something!

A few more attempts on her life, and Jane’s had it. She wants John taken out. Not so fast, there’s the small matter of what the agencies have done to perpetuate this hatred between the couple. Purpose-filled, analytical, she later learns the agencies played them against each other in an effort to even out the playing field once they were gone.

They take a last stand, and they eventually find themselves in marriage counseling once again. This time, they’re gushy-eyed all over each other. Their marriage survives intact.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen Mr. & Mrs. Smith? What did you think of Mrs. Smith?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Lara Croft

How can I describe her without my jaw collapsing in on itself? Do I concentrate on her large almond eyes, her puffy lips and her sporty braided ponytail? Or do I try to describe her well-endowed frame in a meaningful way so I don’t seem like I’m drooling? My regular readers already know what I’m going to say, but I’ll say it anyway—welcome to this edition of Women Who Wow Wednesday.

Alison Carroll as Lara Croft
Alison Carroll as Lara Croft

My first introduction to Lara Croft was in 1997 with the PC game Tomb Raider II. To say the game was long is an understatement. It took me a solid two months to complete. I fell in love with the character right out of the box. She was the first female hero I had played that actually had a set on her, if you know what I mean. Tough, tough, tough chick. I was in need of some serious R&R once I’d finished with her.

Alison Carroll as Tomb Raider
Alison Carroll as Tomb Raider

Lara might be a game character and may seem a tad two-dimensional (at least in the old PC games), but once Angelina Jolie breathed life into her, Lara became greater than life itself. I was one of the first guys in the theater opening night. I was also one of the first ones to have gotten the DVD several months later on release day. I don’t remember having slept that night either. The special features consumed me to a little nub.

What is it that I like the most about Lara? What’s there not to like? She’s attractive, intelligent, has one of those wicked English accents that would drive any young boy bonkers. Nothing fazes her. Machine gun fire could follow her up a wall and she’d laugh it off as if it was a game of hopscotch.

Angelina Jolie as Tomb Raider
Angelina Jolie as Tomb Raider

No matter how many assassins appear in any given moment, she can dispatch them without misplacing one hair on her head. Most of the times, the smirk on her face says it all, “I am easily entertained by your efforts. But today, you will die.” An expert marksman, weapons come easy to her. She carries two silver Heckler & Koch USP Match 9mm handguns, each holstered to her thighs. Custom mag holders dispense 18-round magazines at almost the same time.

What else can she do? Oh, boy—she can perform summersaults, back flips, layouts, tucks, pikes—I’ve seen her toss herself from the edge of a cliff, grab a crag on the other side, slide the length of a crevice, and hop the opposite side of a rock formation to land on a ledge barely wide enough for her fingertips. Excuse the pun, but Lara Croft: Tomb Raider rocks!

Have you played any of the Tomb Raider games? Have you seen any of the movies?