Kurt Russell Weekend – Backdraft (1991)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glen, Rebecca De Mornay


Plot: Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along must work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Too Slow


Story: Backdraft starts when a young Brian McCaffrey witness his firefighter father killed putting out the fire. 20 years later Brian (Baldwin) is desperate to follow in his father’s footsteps much like his brother Stephen (Russell). Passing his tests Brian joins Stephen’s unit, the strictest in town.

As the number of fires increase, the number of firefighters are being cut and with each fire brings the investigator Donald Rimgale (De Niro) who uses slow methods but gets results. When Brian becomes worried about the safety of his brother’s actions he agrees to work with Donald to track down an arsonist operating within the city.


Thoughts on Backdraft


Characters/PerformanceStephen is the tough firefighter who enjoys the job knowing he and his team can save as many lives as possible. Brian is the brother of Stephen, son of a firefighter who became the photo of a generation after witnessing his father’s death at a young age. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps but finds himself having to turn on his brother to investigate arson rather than fight the fires. Donald is a grizzled veteran who has seen the worst in fighting fire, he now leads the investigations into the fires, he works with Brian to locate the arsonist and reckless behaviour being portrayed by the firefighters. The rest of the characters fill the loyal unit, the ex-wife and potential lover without being a major part in the film.

Performance wise, Russell is solid but never reaches the levels we know he can. Baldwin just doesn’t capture the level of performance you would see from other members of the family while De Niro is good in the supporting role.

StoryThe story shows the life of firefighters struggling with the demands placed upon them by dwindling resources, the lives get put at risk. We get to see the investigation into an arsonist but sadly this isn’t the focus of the story. the focus is on the broken relationship between the two brothers who have gone in different paths when it comes to following in their father’s footsteps. The story is fine but too long in my opinion.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe firefighting scenes are brilliant action set pieces without a doubt but the crime side which should be a major side just doesn’t get the focus required. The mystery also suffers because of this too.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully to show the intensity of the fires for the firefighters while outside the fires it just feels like a normal city which could be any.

Special EffectsThe special effects are stunning for the creating of the fires, using mostly practical effects which still look amazing today.

Final ThoughtsThe special effects in this movie do save it from being awful but in the end the story is just too flat for my liking.


Overall: Flat story, too long but amazing effects.





ABC Film Challenge – Random – Q – The Quiet Hour (2014)

Director: Stephanie Joalland

Writer: Stephanie Joalland (Screenplay)

Starring: Dakota Blue Richards, Jack McMullen, Karl Davies, James Browne, Brigitte Millar


Plot: In the aftermath of an alien invasion, a feisty teenage girl sets out to protect her farm from human scavengers who will stop at nothing in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Promising Sci-Fi


Story: The Quiet Hour starts in a world invaded by an alien force that constantly drill, well apart from two hours a day, the only hours the remaining humans can be active. Sarah (Richards) lives in her family farm with her blind brother Tom (McMullen) just keeping to themselves through the invasion.

When a stranger Jude (Davies) arrives in their home, he is injured but also being tracked by a group of savages who are hunting him down looking to take advantage of anything to survive for themselves. Sarah must make the difficult decisions to defend her farm from the human enemy, deciding on who to trust.


Thoughts on The Quiet Hour


Characters/PerformanceSarah is the feisty teenager waiting out an alien invasion with her brother, she is in control of everything within the house and knows how to stay safe, she must break her rules to survive though. Tom is the innocent brother that is blind living with Sarah, he has a skill for music but at times can hold Sarah back. Jude is the mysterious stranger claiming to be a reporter that Sarah takes in but we are never sure what to think of his motives in this film.

Performance wise, Dakota is good in the leading role as we see how she has grown up since her debut in The Golden Compass. Jack and Karl both give solid supporting performances without being brilliant, but it would be fair to say the performances reflect the films environment.

StoryThis is a good way to bring us a sci-fi thriller by doing something slightly different with the ‘they won the invasion’ angle. It all runs at a slow pace but that is because the film doesn’t want to focus on the alien invaders but instead focus on the human survival with the invasion going on. I do think it all works without being the most engrossing film you will see.

Sci-Fi/ThrillerThe world has been taken over by an unknown alien presence, humans hide to survive, this all sounds sci-fi enough for me. The thrilling side of the film comes from us wondering if the siblings can make it out alive.

SettingsThe film is mostly set within the small farm house which shows us the isolation our characters have created away from the problems in this world.

Special EffectsThe special effects are only used when needed and that is to look at how invaders are operating from a distance.

Final ThoughtsThis is a really promising idea for a film, it hits on many marks but just feels like it needed a couple more pieces to click together for something great.


Overall: Sci-fi fans give this a try.




Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Stake Land 2 (2016)

Director: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen

Writer: Nick Damici (Screenplay)

Starring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Aramsen, A.C. Peterson, Steven Williams, Bonnie Dennison


Plot: When his home of New Eden is destroyed by a revitalized Brotherhood and its new Vamp leader, Martin finds himself alone in the badlands of America with only the distant memory of his mentor and legendary vampire hunter, Mister, to guide him.



There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Solid Sequel to Underrated Vampire Film


Story: Stake Land 2 starts as we see Martin (Paolo) trained through the first film now a leader of a community that survives vampire attacks but his new life is shattered when he loses everything including his wife and daughter, left with only visions of his former mentor Mister (Damici) he roams the world alone searching for Mister.

Martin wants to take down the new leader of the brotherhood of the vampires, known only as The Mother (Hughes) he knows that only Mister has the skills to get the job done. Once Martin reunites with Mister the two must continue their battle with the vampires but also face the human enemies in the world.


Thoughts on Stake Land 2


Characters – Martin has lost his family to a vampire attack, now he seeks his mentor to get revenge and put an end to the vampire problem in the world, he is now capable to fight and this time he has more to fight for than ever. Mister is the mentor that taught Martin everything he knows and he has continued fighting his own way and now he is ready to join arms with Martin. Lady is a feral woman the guys find and take her under their wing to protect her against the common enemy. The Mother does make for a good villain, we know she is heartless and will kill anyone who didn’t obey here.

PerformanceConnor Paolo is good as the kid of the partnership, he shows the emotionless stage you would expect his character to be in. Nick Damici is good as the Mister character, he did also get the writing credit here so you would expect his character to get the best lines, which he does but otherwise this is a good aging hero performance. The rest of the performance are also good through the film even if we don’t get much development from the villains side of things.

StoryThe story follows the reunion between mentor and student as they look to kill a new deadly vampire leader that can control other vampires making them deadlier than ever. This is fine as a story, the problem I found was main about just how easy Mister was to find, it felt like just a couple of days but it is designed to feel like it should be longer. The battles themselves also come off too easy, find a place, get invaded, find a new place get invaded, there never seems to be a settled moment in the locations that feel like they are settled. When you do look into the deeper plot things feel rushed but otherwise it is a fun to watch.

Action/HorrorThe action used through the film is fighting the vampires, most you can’t see too much but otherwise nothing overly fresh. The horror is the attacks happening at night which should add terror.

SettingsThe settings are just designed to feel like safe holds in the battle but seem to always have one big weakness.

Special EffectsThe effects are only used when needed which is nice because we don’t need too much from this side of everything.

Scene of the Movie – The opening walk Martin goes on because it shows just how alone he feels now.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Night fights are nearly impossible to see what is happening.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action horror but in the end it just feels like it is hard to watch because of the lighting through the most part.


Overall: Solid sequel for the fan base of the original.




Tomb Raider (2018)

Director: Roar Uthaug

Writer: Alastair Siddon, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Screenplay) Evan Daugherty, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Story)

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi


Plot: Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

Tagline – Her legend begins.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Adrenaline Rush


Story: Tomb Raider starts as we meet Lara Croft (Vikander) a bike courier in and around London, she is independent and short of money. She learns a clue about her long time missing father Lord Richard (West) that shows Lara about the secret life he once lived as a treasure hunter.

Wanting answers Lara heads to Japan, the location of his case known case, the search for Himiko a story from Japanese legend, to learn the answers from the mysterious island, joined by Lu Ren (Wu) the son of the captain that also went missing with Richard, only to learn that her father wasn’t the only one after the legend, Mathias Vogel (Goggins) has his sights set on the tomb too. Lara will need to learn about her new identity before taking on the island and its secrets.


Thoughts on Tomb Raider


Characters – Lara Croft is the character we know from the video games, we had a couple of movies, but this is a fresh take on her. She is trying to be independent, she doesn’t live off the money her father has made, she isn’t even a treasure hunter, this is her origin into that life, her first adventure looking for her first treasure, the truth. We see a lot of Lara is action sequences, something we always want to see, we do see a vulnerable side to her too, which is important. Lord Richard Croft is Lara’s father, he made his fortune in business and loved his daughter, he has gone missing because of his secret life as a treasure hunter, he is the motivation for everything Lara does. Mathias Vogel is our villain, he is on the island searching for the same thing Richard did before Lara, stranded here until he gets what his employees are seeking, while he is a simple villain, he is never the leader of the people Lara is facing, just the general of this group. Lu Ren is a drunk captain that lost his father in the same mission that took Richard away from Lara, while has given up hope, Lara motivates him to go on an adventure to learn the truth.

PerformancesAlicia Vikander is great in this role, she has the look of Lara, she handles to vulnerable moments well and the action sequences on a level you wouldn’t have expected, but the accent does feel hit or miss at times. Dominic West is good in this role, he handles the mentor, father figure well through the film. Walton Goggins works very well in the villain role because he never over plays his character which he could easily have done. Daniel Wu brings us a fun supporting character that we would like to see in any further adventures too.

StoryThe story here follows Lara as she learns the truth about her father and his secret adventures, she is trying to hide away from the fact he is gone, but the clue she learns about sends her on the adventure that will kick start her love for treasure hunting. This is an origin story for Lara Croft, something the first films never gave us, this does work because we feel like she could get hurt or die at any moment, which isn’t always the case in a main character in peril situation. I do think the story plays out wonderfully for a video game adaptation because we learn about this life with Lara and are ready to follow her adventure.

Action/AdventureThe action sequences here are fantastic to watch, they all feel like you are playing the video game and wanting to help her jump, climb, hang on or whatever situation she finds herself in, each moment because increasingly more perilous for her too. This is what I would say is a perfect adventure fan movie, it has a reluctant character put into a situation of life or death and she thrives in it.

SettingsWe have wonderful use of setting here, I did worry at first because the London side of things didn’t interest for the start of the film, but once we hit the boat, it is everything you could imagine a treasure hunting movie would include.

Scene of the Movie –
The plane.

That Moment That Annoyed Me First arrival in Japan, I could never see a Lara who lives in London being so naïve about locals and security of property.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a video game movie that is fun, enjoyable and a blast, this one will be the one that gets it right, the action sequences are edge of your seat, the story is interesting and it keep everything so simple to follow.


Overall: The movie video game fans want.