Ad Astra (2019) Movie Review

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Ethan Gross (Screenplay)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, Anne McDaniels, John Ortiz

Plot: Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.


Tagline – The Answers We Seek Are Just Outside Our Reach

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Mission Out of This World

Story: Ad Astra starts when astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) survives a fatal power surge that destroyed more of his solar space station, Roy with the reputation of never having panicked during any situation in his life remained calm and has been selected for a top-secret mission.

Roy must travel into space to locate his long-lost father Clifford McBride (Jones) whose craft seems to be the source of the power surge before it disrupts everything back on Earth.

Thoughts on Ad Astra

Characters – Roy McBride followed in his father’s footsteps becoming an astronaut, his ability to remain calm with his heart rate makes him one of the best candidates for most missions even if this has made his rational thinking making him emotionless towards the world, including his own wife. When he learns his father might still be alive in the depths of space, he gets assigned to try and communicate with him, which sees him travelling across the solar system, where he must face his own emotions of being left at a young age by his father. This is his story, he is the character we learn the most about through the film. Eve is the wife of Roy, she hasn’t gotten as much love from her husband, which has seen her wanting to leave him because of his travelling decisions. Helen is one of the people that Roy meets on his mission, somebody that does show him a truth about the mission unlike anybody else. Clifford McBride is considered a world-wide hero for his mission into the depths of space, his mission did mean that he became distant from his son because of the fact he left him on Earth, he is thought to have gone missing until the power surge seems to come from his own ship, leading to the mission across the solar system.

PerformancesBrad Pitt is brilliant in this role, where he steps away from his cool persona which he bought us in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ to give us a much straighter, distant, but brilliant character whose actions is what keeps us wanting to see more from him. While Brad Pitt might be fantastic, it is the supporting cast that are great without being fantastic, mostly due to most not having many scenes, with most being part of the journey, rather than on the journey.

StoryThe story here follows an astronaut that must travel across the solar system in an attempt to figure out what happened to his father’s mission and why there is a power surge that has become a threat to Earth coming from his last known location. This story is a tale about one man that gets a chance to communicate with his father after spending years believing he is dead, lost to space, only to learn of a bigger picture to his mission as he must learn to recontrol his emotionless character before he becomes a problem on the mission. The pace of the story does flow nicely as we learn things as Roy does, which does change his mindset along the way and it does show how big the mission is. There are a couple of issues with the story, with one being the length of the journeys, the second would be the fact that we do get a random side mission, which doesn’t need to be here. Overall the story is interesting to see, it keeps the science behind the story seeming not to distant, with the launches being like what we would see now, even if certain parts are meant to be commercial.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery in this film comes from us and Roy wanting to know what Clifford discovered in the depths of space, which does play into the sci-fi side of the film, with the idea of the human race wanting to find life in the galaxy, expanding the position from just being on Earth, with the first steps with bases on the Moon and Mars, though most of the technology ideas are where we would see us going in real-life, none of this hyper sleep concept yet.

SettingsThe film does use the different locations through space to be what we would imagine, with the moon looking like the lifeless place, Mars being filled with the reds and the crafts looking like they would be the ones used to travel through space, we feel the empty vacuum of space.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are brilliant, they obey the rules or space, giving us some of the best visual backgrounds to the mission’s journey too.


Scene of the Movie – Moon Rovers.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain camera angles or point of views could have been better for the impact of the scene.

Final Thoughts This is one of the best and most visually pleasing movies of the year, it has a fantastic performance from Brad Pitt in the leading role and keeps the science of the space travel feeling a lot more grounded than many of the film from the past.

Overall: Out of this world.

Advertisements

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

Director: Ken Annakin

Writer: Lowell S Hawley (Screenplay) Johann David Wyss (Novel)

Starring: John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, Janet Munro, Sessue Hayakawa, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran

 

Plot: A Swiss family must survive being shipwrecked on a deserted island.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disney’s Backward Thinking

 

Story: Swiss Family Robinson starts when the Robinson family, Father (Mills), Mother (McGuire), Fritz (MacArthur), Ernst (Kirk) and Francis (Corcoran) see their ship crash on rocks with the rest of the crew abandoning ship, the family finds a small island filled with wildlife from around the world, where they build a safe haven for themselves.

As the family starts to explore the island more, they discover pirates, rescuing one of the hostages Roberta (Munro), the humans must learn to survive on this island with the dangers around them.

 

Thoughts on Swiss Family Robinson

 

Characters – Father keeps everybody in order as he must keep his family safe before worrying about the livestock on the ship, he uses his skills to build a home for them, one that will keep them safe and be able to see anybody arriving to rescue them. Mother is all about the safety of the family especially the youngster member, she is still written to mostly be a housewife within this situation. Fritz is the oldest child of the family, he is the hands on type that will help his father build the new home, while Ernst is the brains of the family. Roberta is the woman that the boys find captive on the island, they rescue her and suddenly she is just a damsel in distress.

PerformancesJohn Mills as the oldest member of the family is the strongest member of the cast, Dorothy McGuire and Janet Munro are badly written, so they struggle to make anything of their characters, while James MacArthur just seems to complete the cast without any major impact.

StoryThe story here follows a family that get stranded on a tropical island and must learn to survive the dangers they find on the island and the visitors that might put their lives in danger. This is adapted from the famous novel and adds in a couple of twists to give the story more excitement. It does show how a family as a unit can work together to survive and any disturbance to the system will become difficult to overcome, with the idea that just capturing the animals is casually ok, when it clearly isn’t. this does however capture the sense of adventure the family has created from their escape from the life they were living in.

AdventureThe adventure side of the film shows us what the family is going to be living in, with the tropical island showing what they can discover in the unknown.

SettingsThe film is set on an island, which is filled with different animals from around the world, it is a beautiful location and easily the highlight of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Francis, the whole film, the animal treatment and the poorly written female characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very dated movie that comes from a classic novel, which is filled with the problems Hollywood once had, even if the sense of adventure is told wonderfully.

 

Overall: Dated Disney.

Rating

 

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – R – Refuge (2013)

Director: Andrew Robertson

Writer: Lilly Kanso, Andrew Robertson (Screenplay)

Starring: Carter Roy, Amy Rutberg, Eva Grave Kellner, Chris Kies, Sebastian Beacon, Travis Grant

 

Plot: Refuge is a suspense-thriller about a family struggling to survive in the wake of a great catastrophic event.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Thriller

 

Story: Refuge starts as we learn of the mysterious virus which has spread across America, there is no cure, you just need to survive away from people, we meet one family Jack (Roy) Nell (Rutberg), Birdie (Kellner) and Kyle (Kies) do what they can to survive, while giving Birdie some sort of childhood.

When the threat or marauders comes to the home, the family must make the rash decision to go in search of a new sanctuary through the woods which is where they will face a new amount of threats.

 

Thoughts on Refuge

 

Characters – The characters focus on a family, Jack the father, the man that will do everything to keep his family safe, even if it means taking risks by saving strangers, he doesn’t back down from enemies or threats, but is forced into decisions he doesn’t want to make. Nell is the wife and mother, we don’t really learn too much about her though, she falls in the woman being protected circle. Birdie is the daughter that doesn’t fully understand the world and wants to just be a child in this world. Kyle is one of the people that Jack has saved in the past.

PerformancesThe performances from the cast are great throughout, we feel their bleak outlook on the life they are living which is what we want to see, the final act shows them at their best too.

StoryThe story here follows a family in a post-apocalyptic world where the biggest threats marauders and the virus that has wiped out most of the world. This is a bleak story that helps show us just how desperate the world now is and not having any sort of zombie side to everything giving us the only enemy the human one. This keeps everything simple because it is all we need, even though it does follow the typical mistakes being made by the characters.

ThrillerThis does try to keep us on the edge of our seats about whether our characters will survive and what is next in line for them.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the bleak locations from start to finish, they show where people will survive and keeps us away from the big city.


Scene of the Movie –
The break in.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just shot them.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best looking bleak virus outbreak movies, it does have questionable character decisions but that does add to the drama.

 

Overall: Simple and effective.

Rating

 

 

The Pining (2019) Movie Review

Director: Eduardo Castrillo

Starring: Diogo Hause, Tom Sizemore, Jackie Dallas, Connie Jo Sechrist, Miguel A Nunez Jr, Jonaz Cain

Plot: When members of Joe’s (Diogo Hausen) therapy group start dying under mysterious circumstances, Detective Harris (Jackie Dallas) is forced to reopen a cold case. Her only lead: Father William (Tom Sizemore) – the group therapy leader who seems to know more than what is in his police statements.

Runtime: 1 Hour 13 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Thriller that Lacks Intensity

Story: The Pining starts when Detective Harris (Dallas) starts investigating an unusual murder, with this being one in a line that murders that seem to have a connection to Father William (Sizemore) and his support group, which sees the victims being a mix of murder and accidents. We meet recently disabled photographer Joe (Hausen) who has a string of models that he can make look beautiful on camera.

Joe has started seeing Father William to complete his healing process, which has seen him start to move on by dating one of his models, but soon he finds himself being part of next incident, can Harris unlock the truth before it is too late.

Thoughts on The Pining

Characters – Joe is a disabled photographer, he used to be an athlete before his accident too, this saw his life change overnight with him still feeling the effects of what happened to him, he has built up a reputation for his skills with a camera too and just when he starts getting help, he starts to see unusual things happen to him too. Father William is the man that held the support group meeting, he is trying to help people get over the trauma in their lives, but he becomes one of the suspects when the bodies start piling up. Detective Harris has been investigating the bodies, some seem like clear murders, others look like accidents, she believes there is a connection between the support group meeting and wants to get to the bottom of it.

PerformancesDiogo Hausen is the best of the performers, he does show us how the character does feel like he has been a victim and showing the strength to carry on. Tom Sizemore is an actor we expect so much more from, he doesn’t get a chance to shine in this one, while Jackie Dallas does well with her scenes.

StoryThe story here follows a string of cases that involve the members of a support group being involved in murders or strange accidents, we see how one detective is trying put the pieces together, while trying to save one of the final living members of the group. This is an interesting spin on the idea of victim selection, it does work for making the characters seem like they have been selected to play into their strengths and weaknesses. With this strong idea, comes a weaker way of telling the story, which doesn’t seem to make many of the scenes feel connected, or get to a targeting moments, which could bring about motivation to light until way too late in the film. This is a story that could be a lot more intense only it fails to capture the moments well enough.

ThrillerThis film does try to keep us guessing to what will happen next, the problems comes with the fact we only have one scene that feels unpredictable with most just being a cut and dry version of the incidents.

SettingsThis film is set in one city where the victims have all been around one locations which could make them the potential latest victim to what is going on, it shows how people don’t know everybody’s stories in life.


Scene of the Movie – Grace’s bad date.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The film spends too much time on Joe, when it seems like we should be investigating the murders.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that doesn’t manage to hit the levels it could do, it has an interesting idea, only it never gives it the full focus it should.

Overall: Thriller that misses the edgy side.

Scar (2007)

Director: Jeb Weintrob

Writer: Zack Ford (Screenplay)

Starring: Angela Bettis, Brittney Wilson, Tegan Moss, Ben Cotton, Christopher Titus, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Devon Graye

 

Plot: Joan Burrows returns to her hometown for her niece’s graduation, only to be confronted by the serial killer she thought she offed years ago — after he kidnapped and tormented her and killed her best friend.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Late Night Horror

 

Story: Scar starts when Joan (Bettis) returns to her hometown for the first time after her survival from serial killer Bishop (Cotton) for her niece’s Olympia (Blanton) graduation, here she must face her past, remembering what happened all those years ago.

When a dead body turns up in the town, Joan must confront her past and a serial killer she thought was dead one more time to save her niece from the same fate.

 

Thoughts on Scar

 

Characters – Joan is a character we meet at two different ages and flashback between through the film, the teenage version of her gets tortured by the serial killer leaving her with the scar on her face. The adult one heads back to her hometown for the first time since to see her niece graduate. When the killings start again she becomes the prime suspect though she believes she killed the killer all those years ago. She must learn who the killer is before her niece goes through the same ordeal she does. Olympia is the niece that is living the normal teenage life graduating only to become the latest target by the killer who has already taken her friends. Bishop is the serial killer that targeted Joan and her friend all those years ago, forcing the through a torturous ordeal, has he return? He enjoys making the victims suffer as he cuts them. We do get to meet other characters who mostly become victims of the killer, each one interacts in their own way.

PerformancesAngela Bettis is strong in the leading role of this film, she often took chances on horror and this is one where she can lead the film and deal with the horrors involved. Kirby Bliss Blanton is solid in her role though she doesn’t get as much to do other than be generic teenager. Ben Cotton does make for a good villain that showed just how twisted his character it. The supporting cast are all solid enough without being challenged to do anything to make them standout.

StoryThe story follows a victim returning home for the first time only to face a serial killer she believed she had killed to protect her niece. The story does a good job balance the two timelines as we see how Joan is reacting to the ordeal from her first encounter to the new encounter, playing along the lines that she might not be as clean as she thought she was. We also get to deal with how people can become interested in killings over the stories about the killer over the victim. The strangest twist in the film is the fact that another bigger film seemed to use the exact same twist and motives behind the killings, I won’t mention the film because it will ruin the end of the film.

Crime/HorrorThe crime side of the film follows the action of the serial killer which plays into the horror because of the torturous nature that they follow through the film, the wounds feel real, look real and brutal with just how they are made to look.

SettingsThe film takes place in a small town, which has a reputation, we see the normal locations, but it is in the shadows where we see the killer conduct their actions.

Special EffectsThe effects come from the graphic body horror we are put through by the killer, the wounds being enough to make the blood appear over causing fatal wounds.


Scene of the Movie –
The killer’s identity.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The killer’s motivation.

Final ThoughtsWhen it comes to late night horrors sometimes we can just enjoy the events for what they are, this is one of the perfect examples of this giving us horror when we need it and a simple horror to watch.

 

Overall: Midnight horror treat.

Rating