Stonehearst Asylum (2015)

logoDirector: Brad Anderson

Writer: Joe Gangemi (Screenplay) Edgar Allan Poe (Short Story)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, Jason Flemyng, Sophie Kennedy Clark

Plot: A recent medical school grad who takes a position at a mental institution soon finds himself taken with one of his colleagues — though he has no initial idea of a recent, horrifying staffing change.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Thriller That Lacks Something

Story: Stonehearst Asylum starts in Oxford University where The Alienist (Gleeson) tries to prove the madness of young woman as he teaches his students how to treat people with this dimension. Edward Newgate (Sturgess) is our medical student studying to become an Alienist and his work takes him to the Gothic Stonehearst Asylum. Finn (Thewlis) fills in the information about the number of patients that are at Stonehearst as well as filling us in on some of the more unique ones.

The head Doctor Silas Lamb (Kingsley) grills Edward on his motives about getting into the mental health world where his work would only be questioned and not held in high regard. Going on the rounds with Lamb, Edward the two are clearly going to start clashing with their ideas of methods with Lamb trying to keep his patients happy while Edward wants to cure their problems. On the trip around the hospital Edward gets to learn the story of Eliza Graves (Beckinsale) a patient that looks relatively normal compared to the rest.

Edward gets a warning from Eliza which leads to Edward investigating the Asylum and discovering Benjamin Salt (Caine) who claims to that himself and his employees are trapped in cells and Lamb has taken over the hospital. Edward has to figure out a way to work out who is really in charge and figure out how to prove what is going on. Edward continues to learn about the asylum where he has the make the final decision about what to do.

Stonehearst Asylum is a film that was slightly misleading because I thought it was going to leave us wondering who was the rightful doctor but in the end it gives us the information freely leaving us to wonder how Edward deals with the situation. The film did pull me in but through the whole film I did feel like something was missing. There is one final killer twist but otherwise it will play out how you would expect offer very simple. (6/10)

Actor Review

Kate Beckinsale: Eliza Graves is the beautiful patient who has captured the eye of young doctor Edward Newgate, she tries to help him get through the situation in the hospital leaving us to question whether she is really as mad as she is claimed to be. Kate gives a solid performance that continues to show her decline in performances in recent years. (6/10)grave

Jim Sturgess: Edward Newgate is a medical student looking to learn about the mental health. He requests to attend Stonehearst but little does he know that he is walking into the middle of a battle of power in the asylum. Edward has to work out who to help the doctor who goes too far or the patient taking over the asylum who treat each other like human beings. Jim gives us a good performance through the film. (7/10)edwward

David Thewlis: Mickey Finn is the muscles and man who will do the dirty work for Silas Lamb, he enjoys hurting people making him the most dangerous man in the asylum. David does a good job as the loose cannon in the asylum. (7/10)finn

Ben Kingsley: Silas Lamb is the man running the asylum but turns out to be a patient of the asylum, he has watched how the asylum was once run and now he thinks he knows how to treat the patients with the treatment they truly need. Ben delivers one of the best performances in the film being so calm and calculated throughout. (7/10)lamb

Michael Caine: Benjamin Salt is the head of the doctor who has been locked away by Silas and his patients whoo have taken over the asylum, he tries to get Edward to help but knows he can’t risk the new doctors life. He methods are what had led to the patient revaluation. Michael doesn’t have enough screen time for my liking for the character. (6/10)salt

Support Cast: Stonehearst Asylum has a supporting cast that includes the rest of the patients and doctors, you have to work out who is what as the story unfolds.

Director Review: Brad Anderson Brad does a good job directing but there is a certain moments that could have been better and we could have seen a lot more about the difference between Lamb and Salt. (6/10)

Thriller: Stonehearst Asylum does keep us guessing to what will happen, but I feel we could have had a little extra to pull us right in. (6/10)

Settings: Stonehearst Asylum keeps most of the action inside the asylum which helps keep us guessing because we know all the true identities are inside the asylum. (8/10)

Suggestion: Stonehearst Asylum is one to try, I think it will be enjoyable to watch but I do feel certain people will find it slow. (Try It)

Best Part: Final Twist.

Worst Part: Slightly slow.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

Tagline: No one is what they seem

Overall: Thriller that is entertaining but lacks that extra punch to pull it right in.

Rating 60

Opinions Battles Round 5 – Non Disney/Pixar Animated Movie

opinion battles

Non Disney/Pixar Animated films

This weekend we have just had ‘Minions’ come out so what better subject to look at than Non Disney/Pixar animated film. We have also chosen to avoid animé as we will look at them later in the year too. We all have a place in us that like to watch animated films but just which is our best choice.

Our next subject with be parodies/spoof (comedies that make light of a serious idea) films, if you would like to join in email by the end 12th July 2015.

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

The Lego Movie (2014)ego

When I look for the best animated films I always look for one that I can pick up and watch from any point of the film. I enjoy watching this one because it has so many clever references, characters you will know in supporting roles but most important just a plain average main character just wanting to find his way in the world. Dare I quote the song ‘Everything is Awesome’ that once you hear you will never manage to forget. It was shocking when this didn’t get nominated for the Oscar, but as my first story of watching this involved me falling asleep and waking up with Will Ferrell on the screen I was left surprised by what happened leaving me to have to re-watch and now it is an all time favourite of mine.

Rob – Movie Rob

Prince of Egypt (1998)prince of

I loved how this movie decided to focus on something that most people don’t even think about when discussing the biblical story of the Exodus.

Moses’s own identity crisis is an exceptional theme to deal with due to the fact that he was born to a family of slaves but raised in The Pharaoh’s palace as his own son.

This movie expands that theme to many of the choices that he must make in life and it truly gives him both a sense of purpose and confusion along the way.

The voice cast is unbelievable; Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Patrick Stewart, Danny Glover, Ofra Haza and Helen Mirren.

The soundtrack is also one of the best ones from an animated movie.

My favorite two songs are Through Heaven’s Eyes and When you believe (which won the Oscar for Best song that year) sung by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston

Yes, this movie has a few historical inaccuracies, but overall it is a great story told in grand scale.

This was an amazing choice for Dreamworks SKG’s inaugural animated film.

Kim – Tranquil Dreams

Balto (1995)balto

Balto is a fantastic animated movie that I never get bored of.  Its something of an inspiring true story and there’s an actual statue of him inaugurated in Central Park. Balto is an amazing story of being different and accepting yourself for your own roots in the deeper meaning.  Balto is a beautiful animation that carries a strong story but also delivers a ton of laugh especially when Balto’s friends are a bossy goose and two silly bears that are scared of water.  Plus, it boasts some awesome voices by Kevin Bacon as Balto along with Bob Hoskins, Phil Collins and Bridget Fonda.   Sure, Balto may not live up to the quality of modern animation since its been 20 years since its been released but its absolute fun to watch for the family.  Its not just about the laughs because it also is a compelling story that carries a meaningful message with a little side love story and a ton of courage.  As the story unfolds, its hard to not root for Balto.  There is really no other choice for my favorite non-Disney/Pixar animated movie. 

Khalid – The Blazing Reel

Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm (1993)


In a decade that saw two of the worst Batman movies – Joel Schumacher’s cheesy and hyper-stylized Batman Forever and the deplorable Batman & Robin – most people forget about one particular Batman film that gave us one of the best on-screen interpretations of the caped crusader. I am of course talking about Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm.

Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s Batman: The Animated Series was immensely successful back in the 90’s. The show was beautifully animated, well-written and the dark and brooding nature of the show made sure it wasn’t just for the kids. Mask of the Phantasm retained the elements that made the show and in the process told a great and original story. Even though Mask of the Phantasm is essentially a comic book movie, it has all the beats of a contemporary noir. It is also the only Batman film that draws a striking resemblance to the comic books.

A highly underrated and under-seen film and probably the best Batman film after Christopher Nolan’s trilogy.


Despicable Me (2010)me

I’m not the biggest fan of animated movies so when my friend suggested watching Despicable Me I wasn’t hugely excited. Fast forward (or ‘skip’…this isn’t 1997 after all) ten minutes and I was laughing my head off. Within a week I had it on DVD. A year or so later I was watching the sequel in thecinema. Despicable Me is really funny. It’s also genuinely cute and heart-warming but the main hook for me is the humour. Gru and his Minions are hilarious. THE MINIONS ARE TOO HILARIOUS FOR WORDS. It’s just got something about it. Jokes for the adults, a brilliant soundtrack (produced by Pharrell Williams and Han Zimmer), likable characters, great performances and even a little self-deprecating humour. I get bored of charming films about talking animals. So Despicable Me was a breath of fresh air and there’s just so much to enjoy. A funny and lovely film that (in my opinion) is miles better than many other recent offerings, including Pixar.

Tim – FilmFunkel

Hoodwinked (2005)


Hoodwinked is a witty spin on some classic fairy tales and a refreshingly blatant departure from the institutional, paint-by-numbers formula we’ve grown numb to. It piggy-backs wry, tongue-in-cheek adult humor atop insider Hollywood jabs that will delight cinephiles everywhere. Like crossing Airplane & Sesame Street.

The animation style hearkens one to the classic works of holiday claymation from decades past adding endearing charm to the character movements & action sequences. I love it because it’s fun &,smart without being Ken & Barbie and because my nephews and I enjoyed it for completely different reasons.

Finding good non-Disney, non-Pixar animation isn’t that hard. Finding one made without the Disney-Pixar influence is another matter.

S.G. Liput – Rhyme and Reason

The Prince of Egypt (1998)

 prince of

Outside of the Disney/Pixar arena, American animation reached its zenith with DreamWorks Animation’s The Prince of Egypt. Who would have thought that a cartoon about Exodus would surpass every other cinematic interpretation, from Cecil B. DeMille’s to Ridley Scott’s? Though it’s not entirely faithful to the Biblical record, it gets so much right: the rivalry between Moses and Rameses, the divine depiction of God in the burning bush, the horror of the plagues, and the epic salvation of the Hebrew people. While it features enough humor to reel in the kids, it handles the drama equally well and doesn’t shy away from the death and devastation of the source material, all while remaining respectful of a story held as sacred by Christians, Jews, and Muslims (a fact pointed out in a disclaimer before the film’s start). The animation is often spectacular, especially the climax at the Red Sea, and the songs by Stephen Schwartz even rival those of the Disney Renaissance. While it made do with the Best Original Song Oscar for “When You Believe,” this is one of the few animated films that deserved a Best Picture nomination, IMO. No such luck, but it was a high point for DreamWorks that still remains to be topped.

Allie & Jenna – Flicks Chicks

How to Train your Dragon (2010)


This is one of my favourite animation films anyway (as much love as I have for Disney and Pixar), it was great to see an animated movie with such amazing detail.  I still watch it now and find new background detail that I didn’t spot before.  The story is fantastic and so different from anything else I have come across and it really takes children (and adults alike) on a rollercoaster of emotions, it raises themes that are rarely considered in animated films, death, lost limbs, love and isolation.  An awesome use of animation, story telling and characters, one of the best yet.

James – Back to the Viewer

Chicken Run (2000)
“We’ll either die free chickens or we die trying.”

When it comes to animated films we’re instantly drawn to the big names of Disney/Pixar and anime giants, Studio Ghibli. There’s something inherently appealing about their recognised visual style. You can sit down with a random movie and instantly distinguish it as a Ghibli film or a Pixar film and for that reason I was pleased when this week’s battle requires the viewer to venture away from our comfort zone and into less mainstream animation that still manages to capture the imagination of a generation. Aardman Animations are no small fry in the world of animation having produced the proud and chiefly British Wallace and Gromit shorts. But their debut feature Chicken Run holds it’s own against the dainty bouncing lamp. Set on a chicken farm in Yorkshire Chicken Run incorporates classic Britishness into a well-rounded and often humorous fight for survival against Mrs. Tweedy, the Kommandant of the prison styled chicken coop. When Rocky, a ‘flying’ Rooster crash lands on the farm one evening Ginger forms a plan for the chickens to fly out over the fence, with Rocky’s tutoring of course. For it’s beautifully crafted production quality, humour and nostalgic POW plotChicken Run deserves it’s place amongst the animated greats. 

That Other Critic

The Lego Movie (2014)ego

The Lego Movie is the best animated film of all time. “Everything is Awesome” is enough to prove it. But there’s more than just that. The characters are memorable, from Morgan Freeman’s Vitruvius to Chris Pratt’s Emmett to Will Arnett’s Batman, who steals the show every time he’s on screen. The jokes are hilarious, and the whole movie is an irreverent foray into mocking commercialism in entertainment, when a movie about plastic bricks has no reason to be anything more than the epitome of that commercialism. A thoroughly entertaining movie, and the best “kids’ movie”of all time.

Drew – Drew’s Movie Reviews

Shrek (2001)shrek

When trying to figure out which film to submit as my entry for this round, I was torn between Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon.  Ultimately, I chose Shrek.  Shrek was one of Dreamwork’s first forays into animated films, and easily up there as one of their best.  This came out when I was fairly young so many of the cruder jokes went over my head, but even still there was plenty for me to laugh at.  Then as I watched it more and more as I got older, I caught more of the jokes, adding to its entertainment value.  There is literally something for everyone to laugh at.  I think what I like best about Shrek is the world the titular character inhabits.  A place where all the fairytale characters and creatures exist in one place may not seem that original, but the way the characters live and blend together in the land of Far Far Away is.  It truly is a unique place that hasn’t been seen before or since. Of course, Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy as Shrek and Donkey are a such great pair.  I could go on and on with reasons why I like this movie, but I’m going to stop here (well in just a moment).  Really, it’s one of the best because there is no other movie like it and can be enjoyed just as much today as nearly 15 years ago (despite some outdated pop culture references) and by anyone and everyone.