Tommy Lee Jones Weekend – In the Valley of Elah (2007)

Director: Paul Haggis

Writer: Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Mark Boal, Paul Haggis (Story)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, James Franco, Barry Corbin, Josh Brolin

 

Plot: A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son’s disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.


Tagline – Sometimes The Truth Is Best Left Buried

Runtime: 2 Hour 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Slowly Driven Thriller

 

Story: In the Valley of Elah starts when retired military investigator Hank Deerfield (Jones) receives a phone call informing him his son Mike (Tucker) has gone AWOL which leads him to head to the base to investigate the motives and hopefully find his son before it turns into a criminal case. Hank turns to the local police and detective Emily Sanders (Theron) for help, but derestriction causes the problems.

When Mike’s body is discovered the military want to keep things quiet, but Hank isn’t accepting the answers given to him, working with Emily the two investigate what really happened to Mike and the truth will leave us shocked.

 

Thoughts on In the Valley of Elah

 

Characters – Hank is a retired military investigator, he has lost one son in war and no his second has gone missing, he goes to solve the case using his years of experience to get to the bottom of the case. He is from an older school of military with a determination unlike what people are prepared for. Detective Emily Sanders is used to getting dead end cases, but she does care about the people who are in need of help, she listens to Hank’s ideas and takes lead on the case having to face the truths of not being able to help everybody. Joan is the wife of Hank and mother of Mike, she stays home while Hank tries to solve the case where we learn about the struggles she has faced with dealing with the boys she let go into war.

PerformancesTommy Lee Jones shines in this role, he carries the film with a performance that is up there with his very best. Charlize Theron is also strong in the supporting role showing she can step away from glamourous roles with ease. Susan Sarandon is good as the supporting role which we are used to seeing from her. The whole cast is great throughout the film never giving too much away.

StoryThe story starts off as if it was a simple missing persons case, but it soon turns into a murder with conspiracies about what could have happened on that night of his death. we are never driven down one path and the crime takes time to unfold which makes this a fascinating watch as we see things unfold like Hank. The other side of the story remains how parents must deal with losing children who are in the military.

Crime/MysteryThe crime starts as a missing person and soon turns into a murder that needs to be solved with the conspiracies about who could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe settings show us the town next to a military base and how it operates, it keeps everything simple which is what the story calls for.


Scene of the Movie –
Final piece of the puzzle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I didn’t get annoyed by a single moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an amazing crime mystery thriller, it keeps the pace perfect to not give too much away and tackles the idea of the modern horrors of war.

 

Overall: Must watch for crime mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Romance – P – Pompeii (2014)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson (Screenplay)

Starring: Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland

 

Plot: A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.


Tagline – No warning. No escape

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Mindless Action

 

Story: Pompeii starts as the last Celt Milo (Harrington) as slaved turned gladiator gets transported to Pompeii for the last arena to show his power in. while Milo is being prepared for his latest fight against fearless gladiator Atticus (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who has one last fight before freedom. Outside his prison, Cassia (Browning) is being lined-up for any bachelors from around the world including Corvus (Sutherland) the man that led the army that butchered Milo’s family.

When Milo and Cassia meet they know they are in love, though the different positions making their love impossible, shown the true colours of Corvus, it is the volcano Mount Vesuvius that will decide these characters fates.

 

Thoughts on Pompeii

 

Characters – Milo is a Celt, his family was butchered when he was a young boy, now he is the last of his kind, a slave turned gladiator, one that is unbeaten in combat. He falls for Cassia the heir to the throne of Pompeii and once the destruction starts he must risk his life to save her. Cassia is the heir to the throne, not interested in the men she is being arranged with seeing something different in Milo, she is being forced to marry Corvus to save her family until the volcano strikes and she needs saving by her true love. Corvus is the evil ruler from Rome, he has conquered around the world killing millions, he will do anything to survive including killing innocent people and uses his position of power to do whatever he wants. Atticus is fellow gladiator who fights with honour even though this could be his last fight because winning would me freedom, he becomes friends with Milo as they work together to escape their enemies.

PerformancesKit Harrington freshly out of Game of Thrones step into this role and does a good job without needing to do too much with the fighting being great to watch. Emily Browning is good too which is same for most of the supporting cast, we do have a couple of weak performances and over the top Kiefer Sutherland is one you will laugh off.

StoryThe story here tries to create the normal Roman traditions on the eve of the Mount Vesuvius eruption. So we do need to break this down a little bit more, first the whole gladiator fighting for freedom and the love of the heir of the city is mostly forgettable, it is almost trying to pull a Titanic with this angle for a love story in the mist of a disaster. Once the eruption starts the story gets more interesting because we learn the true colour of characters, though we do know the outcome making certain moments in the escape feel almost pointless including one where Atticus saves a little girl.  For a disaster movie with elements around it, we have an entertaining enough story, just one that tries too hard to give a fictionally twist on a real event.

Action/Adventure/History/RomanceThe action in the film is good to watch and easily the highlight, we have different sword or weapon fights, chase sequences and destruction. You could easily say the adventure side of things is Milo trying to escape which is a fair enough game to be watching. Now the history, this is hard because this eruption was a real event, what was going on at the time isn’t as clear. Mixing the real events with this nonsense romantic angle doesn’t help though.

SettingsThe film does make us feel like we are in Pompeii for the most part, the destruction sequences show us just how much of a panic it would have been for the victims of the disaster.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are mixed, we get moments that could have been better mostly to do with the larger sequences though.


Scene of the Movie –
The eruption.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Milo in the gladiator time, really?

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough disaster movie that does the action well though it has a pointless romance angle.

 

Overall: Simple disaster movie.

Rating