American Animals (2018)

Director: Bart Layton

Writer: Bart Layton (Screenplay)

Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Udo Kier


Plot: Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

Tagline – Nobody wants to be ordinary

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Way Too Slow


Story: American Animals starts as we see the heist about to take place, rewinding us 18 months where we meet Spencer Reinhardt (Keoghan) an art student in Transylvania University, struggling with his identity, turning to his streetwise friend Warren Lipka (Peters) the two discuss the potential of stealing rare expensive books from the library.

As the idea turns into a plan they bring in Chas Allen (Jenner) and Eric Borsuk (Abrahamson), can they make this plan come off, well the answer is no because as we see the planning we meet the real thieves now in their 30s discussing what they remember about the idea.


Thoughts on American Animals


Characters – Warren is the streetwise student on a scholarship, not living up to his potential, he will always get things down however illegal they might be. He is the one that brings the team together to make this happen even if he is also the one that gets them in the most problems. Spencer is the art student that comes up with the idea because he is sick of not standing out in the art world, looking for the pain be believes artist require. He is all in with the planning but when it comes to following through he thinks they will need to go too far. Chas is the getaway driver, he has the most money which helps with the planning of the heist. Eric becomes the brains learning where things could and would go wrong if they do it in certain directions. We do also meet the adult versions of these characters in the real version that are looking back on the crime they committed.

PerformancesEvan Peters is the clear highlight in this film, he always comes off unpredictable which seeing the older versions of the characters you completely understand too. Barry Keoghan does play the stranger member of the crew well, he is the one that is happy to plan not commit a crime, he needs to be straighter faced than Peters character. When it comes to the rest of the cast they are fine without needing to do that much.

StoryThe story here is based on the real story of four university students that robbed the rare book collection in the library of their university. The way the story is told is interesting because it does both help and hinder the film, having a mix of the actors playing the younger versions and the real men talking about the events does give the story a documentary feel. Where this does hinder the story is by telling us that they failed early on and are now just remembering what happen which takes away any excitement or edge of your set moments towards anything going on. There are moments in the story which are good to watch, for example the scene where they are watching heist movies to learn how to pull it off and seeing the pitch perfect plan in Warren’s head. If we are being honest, the story is about 20 minutes too long because the opening hour just drags you along, once the heist gets underway things get more exciting but by then you might see the audience lose interest.

CrimeThe crime follows a real heist that happened at the same university, we get to see how it was planned, how things went down and seeing the consequences the boys felt.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in and around the university, this helps for any heist film, we do get moments where we step away, but that is for the plan which does work when you see how the boys are out of their depth at times.

Scene of the Movie –
Selecting the names.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The first hour.

Final ThoughtsThis is an overly long heist movie that drags along at a horribly slow pace, once things kick off we do get some interest, but the fact we have the real criminals involved in telling the story we know the outcome.


Overall: Just watch for Evan Peters being slightly crazy.




The Dawnseeker (2018)

Director: Justin Price

Writer: Justin Price (Screenplay)

Starring: Franziska Schissler, Khu, Alexander Kane, Jason Skeen, Alex Giuffreda, Michael Frazier, Carl Bailey


Plot: Set in the year 2245 when Earth’s sun threatens to wipe out all of humanity, “The Dawnseeker” follows five hired mercenaries who travel to an uncharted planet to collect a rare mineral known as stardust to replenish the dying star. After their spaceship crashes on the alien planet, they are stalked and hunted by a creature far more advanced than anything they have ever encountered before.


Runtime: 1 Hour 21 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Simple Sci-Fi


Story: The Dawnseeker starts as the resources on Earth have dwindled and now Feniz (Schissler) must led a team to collect stardust to help save the human race, she heads to a new planet known for having large amounts of stardust with Otto (Skeen) in her team, she quickly teams up with York (Kane) from another planet and learns that species from across the universe have headed to this planet.

As the team travels across the planet they continue to find new enemies known as Dawnseekers who will kill anyone or anything that gets in their way and the mysterious Zan (Khu) that proves to know how to survive the planet the best, the race against time is now on.


Thoughts on The Dawnseeker


Characters – Fenix is our leading soldier in the unit, we learn she can handle being out numbered in combat from her time on Earth and knows how to push an enemy that is holding her team back, she makes the smart decisions even if they are the hard ones. Zan is the mysterious woman on the planet that knows how to survive against the enemies the planet that has to offer. York is from another planet while Otto came with Fenix, both are searching for the same thing and butt heads for most of the film.

PerformancesFranziska Schissler in the leading role is the best part of the film, she handles combat and gun fights well as well as showing the leadership needed in her character. Khu was a character that we did want to see more off, with the rest of the cast they haven’t given us enough to make us notice them.

StoryThe story takes us to the future where the Earth could be coming to an end, space travel is the only hope for humanity as we follow a crew that go in search for the substance that would cure the problem. We have seen the idea of the end of the world before, we have seen going to another planet before, we haven’t seen the fact that on the other planet we have species from many different planets all searching for the same resource that could help their own planets, this is the highlight and easily the most interesting part of the story because it is world building. This however isn’t the most challenging story you will be seeing in the genre.

Sci-FiWhen we jump into the sci-fi genre we look at how things are different, we have a destroyed Earth, travel to new planet and different species on the planet, we get the check marks for sci-fi well and that’s all we needed.

SettingsThe settings in the film are not the best, while we can allow this because of budget, we do find ourselves just going for woodland area.

Special EffectsThe effects are also going to be affected by the budget, the costumes work for the film, while the weaknesses come from the laser like gun fights.

Scene of the Movie –
Push the enemy on the bridge.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not seeing enough of Zan.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid low budget indie sci-fi film, we have restrictions and a story which is watchable for the fans of the genre.


Overall: Solid low budget sci-fi film.