ABC Film Challenge – Biopics – U – A United Kingdom (2016)

Director: Amma Asante

Writer: Guy Hibbert (Screenplay) Susan Williams (Book)

Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Tom Felton, Jack Davenport, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto

 

Plot: The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams, put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.


Tagline – The true story of a love that shook an empire.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice History Lesson

 

Story: A Untied Kingdom starts in 1947 England where Prince Seretse Khama (Oyelowo) of Bechuanaland (known today as Botswana) is in England studying law, he meets file clerk Ruth Williams (Pike) and the two fall in love.

With tension between Bechuanaland and South Africa high the idea of the soon to be King marrying a white woman would be unheard off. The British government doesn’t want him to become king and Seretse own family don’t want him to become king if he stays with Ruth. With the racial divide still going strong, Seretse pushed for equality over anything else, so he can unite his kingdom when he becomes king.

 

Thoughts on A United Kingdom

 

Characters – Seretse Khama is the prince of Bechuanaland he has been studying law in England to prepare for his time as king, he falls in love a white woman in Ruth Williams which throws tensions from his family, government in the air and to prove his love is more important than his traditions and bring the equality between the races together. Ruth Williams is an English clerk whose family has been working to teach Christianity to Africans, she meets and falls in love with Seretse and goes against everyone else’s desires and marries him. Rufus Lancaster is the British liaison in Bechuanaland who leads the opposition from the land, which only shows us just how the English were over controlling.

PerformancesDavid Oyelowo is wonderful in the leading role, showing us once again that he can lead any movie he wants too. Rosamund Pike shines to showing everyone that she can handle to calm roles after the psycho ones in Gone Girl. The rest of the cast are wonderful even if the British characters are as stuck up as you would imagine them to be.

StoryThe story follows the lives of King Seretse who marries an English white woman which puts the balance between the racial tension in his home land and British rule. We learn a lot from this movie, because we see how the country was being controlled from outside forces that only saw them as a piece of land. There is a lot to take in and the history lesson about this union that created a chance in the land.

Biopic/RomanceWhat King Seretse and his wife Ruth achieved for Botswana was incredible and this shows us how their love drove them to achieve this change.

SettingsThe settings show us the high society British look at an African country that was following its own traditions to become the independent from this style of rule.


Scene of the Movie –
Speech to the ‘tribe’ as the British called them.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Knowing the English were this shallow.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at how the world was once ruled by people who believe they are in the right to control countries affairs and how their union would change everything.

 

Overall: History is always worth learning.

Rating

 

 

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They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

Director: Peter Jackson

 

Plot: A documentary about World War I with never-before-seen footage to commemorate the centennial of the end of the war.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Eye Opener

 

Story: They Shall Not Grow Old starts as the First World War begins as we follows through the stories of multiply men that lied about joining the army, followed their preparations before leaving for battle and learning how the men must learn how deadly the war was. We go through countless accounts of the life and experiences of the war, through clips that have been remastered to show the colour from the original black and white footage.

 

Thoughts on They Shall Not Grow Old

 

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best technical achievements in documentary film making, we get the see the footage that was only ever seen in black and white, restored to colour which shows us more of the harsh realities of war. Having the countless accounts from the former soldiers, where just weren’t prepared for going into war, seeing how almost pointless what they were doing was even after meeting the German soldiers too. This is an impress eye opening look at one of the biggest wars in history, the lives they were living both during and after the war which shows just how lost the generation could have been in this world.

 

Overall: This is easily one of the most important documentaries you will see.

Rating

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – T – Tombstone (1993)

Director: George P Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre

Writer: Kevin Jarre (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston

 

Plot: A successful lawman’s plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.


Tagline – Justice Is Coming

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Good as Wyatt Earp

 

Story: Tombstone starts when the successful lawman Wyatt Earp (Russell) has hung up his gun moved with his brothers Virgil (Elliott) and Morgan (Paxton) to Tombstone to follow in the silver boom. Wyatt does get his hands in plenty of pots, helping the town turn to their successful ways.

When the Marshall is killed by the cowboys the mayor turns to the Earp’s with Virgil and Morgan try to bring order to the town Wyatt reluctantly agrees to join them, which will see them come face to face with the deadly cowboy gang who want control of the town.

 

Thoughts on Tombstone

 

Characters – Wyatt Earp’s reputation precedes him as he cleaned up the town of Boulder, now he wants to put his gun away and head to Tombstone to start a business life with his brothers, he knows how the get a deal done, which will see him need to get rid of the cowboy gang running through the town causing chaos. Doc Holliday is the gambler that will and has stood by Wyatt’s side in combat, he will drink a lot even if he does face health problem that will slowly make his life harder. Virgil and Morgan are the brothers that take the roles in the law enforcement which will see them put their own lives at risk.

PerformancesKurt Russell does do a solid job in the leading role, the action scenes are where he shines the best. Val Kilmer does well making his character feel like he is standing out more in the film at times. We do get plenty of actors in this film, most do what is needed without being on the top of their games.

StoryThe story follows Wyatt Earp in his time in Tombstone only which does show how he was trying to live a non-conflict life only to be drawn back into the old ways which saw him become the legendary lawman. The story is difficult to watch after recently seeing the ‘Wyatt Earp’ film, which does cover a larger amount of his life, including the Tombstone time, we just don’t seem to get enough focus on the life outside of the battle in the town, which fails to give the wives required screen time in the story or show us what led to Wyatt becoming the famous lawman. This will give us the simple look at the battle with the cowboys which is good to see, but we would always want to learn more about the character involved.

Action/BiopicThe action in the film does see bullets fly around like we are used to, for a western, the biopic side of the film only shows us the Tombstone stage of Wyatt’s life which does focus more, only it doesn’t explain why he is such a famous figure.

SettingsThe film does create the authentic setting for the western genre, which is does make us feel like we are watching the story unfold with the characters.


Scene of the Movie –
Stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning enough about Wyatt’s life before Tombstone.

Final ThoughtsThis is the weaker of the two Wyatt Earp biopics that hit the cinema in the same year, it might have more entertaining action, but it just misses too much of his life out.

 

Overall: Disappointing biopic.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Exorcist 2: The Heretic (1977)

Director: John Boorman

Writer: William Goodhart (Screenplay)

Starring: Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, Kitty Winn, Paul Henreid, James Earl Jones, Ned Beatty

 

Plot: A teenage girl once possessed by a demon finds that it still lurks within her. Meanwhile, a priest investigates the death of the girl’s exorcist.


Tagline – It’s four years later…what does she remember?

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Substandard Sequel

 

Story: Exorcist 2: The Heretic starts as we meet Regan (Blair) a couple of years after the events of her exorcism, she doesn’t have any memories on those events and with the help of psychologist Dr Gene Tuskin (Fletcher) they look to rid her mind of any lingering dreams. This is until Father Philip Lamont (Burton) charged with investigating the exorcism which cost the lives of Father Merrin (von Sydow) and Father Karres arrives to see if Regan can help confirm what happened that fateful night.

Father Lamont must travel to Africa to learn the origin of the demon that is still inside Regan in any hopes of stopping before it takes over once again.

 

Thoughts on Exorcist 2: The Heretic

 

Characters – Regan is now little bit older and getting back on with a normal life, she is still seeing a psychologist to keep everything under control, when she starts to get questioned by the church about the exorcism things soon start coming back to her, this time she is in control about where her character goes. Father Philip Lamont is sent by the church to learn the truth about the original exorcism, what he learns sends him on a journey to Africa to hopefully learn the origin of the demon living in Regan. Dr Gene Tuskin is the psychologist helping sick children, one of which is Regan, she has bold ideas that could bring about new ideas to helping children open up. Father Merrin is involved in a few dream sequences, it is his death that is being investigated by Lamont.

PerformancesLinda Blair does return for this outing and doesn’t reach the levels of the first film, mostly because we don’t have to deal with many possession sequences until late in the film. Richard Burton is solid though we know how talent he is and this doesn’t show his full range. Louise Fletcher was struggling to capture her skills too and hen we look at the non-existent involvement from Max von Sydow we don’t get anything better than solid in the performance area.

StoryThe story does start on the right path, the idea that Regan could still be possessed is acceptable because we are still trying to balance the line between actual possession and mental health. Where things go terribly wrong for this story, is when we start looking at an ancient demon that is controlling Regan which has caused the events. The investigation into the origin only confuses and lessen the impact of the original film. it becomes an even bigger mess as thing unfold and we are left wondering just what the hell we are watching.

HorrorThe horror in the film doesn’t come through in any way, nothing involving any of the possesses even remote will scare the audience.

SettingsWe have a new setting, New York I feel, which is fine, but the problems here come from have a large part of the story in Africa investigating the origin over having any possession sequences which should scare us.

Special EffectsThe effects in film are weak even for the time, that locust will have people laughing.


Scene of the Movie –
The first syncing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of possession time.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the weakest sequels to a true classic I have ever seen, it has weak performances, a boring storyline and effects which haven’t dated in any acceptable way.

 

Overall: Just terrible.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – S – The Stanford Prison Experiment (2016)

Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez

Writer: Tim Talbott (Screenplay) Philip Zimbardo (Book)

Starring: Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano, Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist

 

Plot: Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Drama

 

Story: The Stanford Prison Experiment starts with Dr Philip Zimbardo (Crudup) is given a chance to prefer an experiment with 24 male students in Stanford psychology building. The idea is half the volunteer students will become prisoners the other half with be the guards.

With the contract stating no harm can be given to anyone involved, it is only the first day when things start to get out of hand as the guards start taking the role too seriously and this experiment heads down a path that even Dr Zimbardo could imagine it to go.

 

Thoughts on The Stanford Prison Experiment

 

Characters – Dr Philip Zimbardo is performing this experiment because he could make his career proving the mentality of the prison system, he doesn’t want to let thing get out of hand but is willing to the rules broken. The students playing both the prisoners and guards both become different types of what you would expect from a prison environment, they don’t get overly as much attention you would think but they are all important to what happens in the story.

PerformanceBilly Crudup is great in the doctor role but the highlight of the film comes from the actors playing the subjects, be it the prisoners or the guards both sides are fantastic with playing their roles.

StoryThe story is loosely based on the real Stanford Experiments which shows us just how twenty-four students get placed into roles of either prisoners or guards over a week long experiment that just gets to the levels of just how far will things go. Seeing how the men act puts us to the limits of wondering just how far things could go as we see things get intense in moments. Having seen the Experiment movie I was expecting certain things to happen but this time none of these appear in the movie, this does disappoint because the film never hits the truly shocking moments it could.

Biography/HistoryThis is a known experiment with different variables involved, it shows us the basic idea and it is still known as one of the most famous experiments in world history.

SettingsThe film is set entirely within the created Stanford Prison, it is either inside or watching from just outside seeing how it unfolds.

Scene of the Movie – The first moment the guards show what they will do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel this could have an explosive ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good tense thrilling character study that shows us just how far people could go.

 

Overall: Tense thriller that pulls you in.

Rating