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.

Rating

 

 

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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.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – P – Payback (1999)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Donald E Westlake (Novel)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Deborah Kara Under, John Glover, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: After a successful heist, Porter is shot by his wife and his best friend. They leave him there to die but when he recovers, he seeks revenge and wants his share of the money.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Revenge Thriller

 

Story: Payback starts as Porter (Gibson) is left for dead by his partner Val (Henry) and wife Lynn (Unger), Porter explains everything he wants to go and why it happened as he tells us all his plan. We watch how Porter dives into the criminal underworld to get his hands-on Val first to get his money, then to kill him.

Porter’s mission is filled with twists and turns along the way as he deals with his former bosses, Bronson (Kristofferson), Carter (Devane), dirty cops and his only friend is old flame Rosie (Bello), can he get what is owned to him?

 

Thoughts on Payback

 

Characters – Porter is a streetwise criminal that does the small jobs in the underworld until he is betrayed, he only wants his money but ends up going after the whole organisation in his cold calculated way. Val is the man that betrayed Porter, he has a short temper and gets himself into trouble more often than not. Rosie is the one person Porter is willing to trust but mostly used to show Porter could have a life after this revenge mission. We also have the traditional crime characters that don’t seem to have anything overly original about them.

PerformanceMel Gibson was one of the hottest properties in the 90’s before any controversy and here you can see he knew how to be the star of the show. Gregg Henry is a good villain but we have three main villains that all get the limited amount of time. Maria Bello is also good in this film as the helper showing us she can pull off the sexy smart partner in crime.

StoryThe story is a by the book revenge story of a betrayed criminal that goes after the man who turned on his just to get the money back but ends up facing off against the how organisation. This is also a film which is known for how the editing changed the tone of the film which is something you can see through the story a lot, one minute it feels like a dark thriller the next it has a moment of what feels slightly comical. This does take part of the film out but the story still ends up going the same way.

Action/CrimeThe action is shoot ups which are a good watch throughout the film, each having bigger stakes and each trying to give us something original. The crime world shows us the world all the characters are from which helps us understand all the motivation they show.

SettingsNew York, my old friend and favourite for a crime setting, nothing can be flawed and staying away from some of the bigger iconic monuments or structures helps us enjoy the gritty underworld.

Scene of the Movie – Pearl in a jam.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would agree with the people who say the edit doesn’t click for the tone.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good by the book crime thriller but the tonal problems stops it reaching the highlights of everything it could have from what I hear of the director’s cut.

 

Overall: Crime thriller fans will enjoy.

Rating