Escape Room (2019)

Director: Adam Robitel

Writer: Bragi F Schut, Maria Melnik (Screenplay)

Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nik Dodani

 

Plot: Six strangers find themselves in a maze of deadly mystery rooms, and must use their wits to survive.


Tagline – Solve the Puzzle. Escape the Room. Find the clues or die.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Best Escape Room Movie

 

Story: Escape Room starts as we meet our six random strangers Zoey (Russell), Ben (Miller), Jason (Ellis), Mike (Labine), Amanda (Harper) and Danny (Dodani) who have been involved in a traumatic experience accept an offer for a $10,000 prize for an Escape Room.

Once inside the Escape Room, they find themselves fighting for their lives once it turns out the game isn’t a game, it is a race to survive, leading to the strangers needing to put a side their difference to escape.

 

Thoughts on Escape Room

 

Characters – Zoey is a student study quantum physics while being hiding from the world because of a traumatic experience, she keeps to herself and is dared to take a risk over the holiday. She is the smartest, even though she is the quietest. Ben is a slacker living with his own guilty for an accident, he wants to put his life back together with this game being a good start for him. Jason is a successful stock broker that has always seen himself as a winner, he takes the leader position when trying to solve the problems. Mike, Amanda and Danny complete the line-up, each has their own reason being in the game with their own trauma from their past. Danny gets to explain to the team and audience about escape rooms.

PerformancesWhen it comes to the performances, it is clear that we have the tension from strangers working together, we see the difference and they all make themselves get their moment in the limelight. It could be fair to say that we don’t always need much in a horror, but these six get to show their grief too.

StoryThe story follows 6 stranger who have been selected for an escape room, only for it to turn into a battle for survival over any game. Now we have had at least two escape room movies in the past, this thankful is the best when it comes to the story even if the rooms are wildly imaginative. The story does make it clear that each of the six has some moment of trauma in their past, which makes is clear that is why they have been selected too. My biggest issues with the story telling process, is the opening scene, which takes away any peril we feel for that character, we could have used the Danny character for the idea of escape room here. The second is that we only see the lives of three of the six which from the way I would read it, would be they are going to be the easy picks for the final three in the movie. We can say this movie does use elements from other films including ‘Cube’ only it does enough to make it, its own, the rest of the positive lead us into spoiler land so we will leave them for another day.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe is what escape rooms are all about, the mystery of how to get out of each room, this is like many of them, which is good to see as it keeps us wondering what will happen next, the sci-fi elements play more into the bigger picture of the events going on.

SettingsEach room created has something unique about it, it will make it clear how far along we are with items being placed to remind our characters of what is happened in their past that could hold them up.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the effects, we once again have high quality going on here, the ‘hatch’ room will become the biggest divide with the audience for what it achieves.


Scene of the Movie –
The ‘hatch’ room.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening scene.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily the best escape room movie we have had to date, it will keep you guessing, characters that make sense and is ready for bigger ideas too.

 

Overall: Enjoyable mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

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The Ottoman Lieutenant (2017)

Director: Joseph Ruben

Writer: Jeff Stockwell (Screenplay)

Starring: Michiel Huisman, Hera Milmar, Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley, Haluk Bilginer, Affif Ben Badra

 

Plot: The Ottoman Lieutenant is a love story between an idealistic American nurse and a Turkish officer in World War I.


Tagline – In a land on the brink of war the most dangerous place to be is in love.

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Paced

 

Story: The Ottoman Lieutenant starts on the eve of the First World War, American nurse Lillie (Hilmar) tired of the divide in the hospitals wants to help out with foreign aid in Turkey after meeting Doctor Jude (Hartnett) and against her parents wishes, she heads to Turkey.

Arriving in Turkey she is guided by Lieutenant Ismail (Huisman) who teaches her how to embrace the new culture which is just as divided as back home, in the middle of a war now her heart is captured by Ismail the man doing the right thing in this war.

 

Thoughts on The Ottoman Lieutenant

 

Characters – Ismail is the Ottoman Lieutenant, he is assigned to guide Lillie through the territory to make it safely, he knows how to handle situations of trouble, deals with the knowledge of killing his own kind over religion only to fall in love with Lillie. Lillie is an American nurse, raised in money and wanting to help people who are in need of help. She travels to Turkey to help where she learns the horrors of the war, while falling in love with a Lieutenant as she continues to battle to divide in people who need help. Jude is the American doctor stationed there, he doesn’t want to pick sides in the war and will do what he can to save the wounded.

PerformancesMichiel Huisman and Hera Hilmar are both strong in the leading roles of this movie, it would be fair to say they are not as known as the supporting cast, these two must carry the movie with Josh Hartnett and Ben Kingsley providing solid supporting performance.

StoryThe story follow an American nurse that wants to help change the world, this brings her to Turkey to help in the war which is something we have seen before. This has a love story here is a by the book idea falling for the mysterious stranger in a new world, while we do have the idea of just where people need to tackle the problems with the war going over differences between the two religious beliefs.

WarWe show the war but mostly gets told in commentary about what is happened in this war.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well to show the landscapes that are being used in the battle which looks wonderful.


Scene of the Movie –
The island.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The commentary of the war.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that just is slow paced that shows a love story in the backdrop of war which is only going to be a basic movie to watch with snippets of history.

 

Overall: Slow, but effective enough.

Rating

 

 

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Director: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy (Screenplay)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Billy Magnussen, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Natalia Dyer, Rene Russo, Daveed Diggs, Zawa Ashton

 

Plot: After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: First Great Horror of 2019

 

Story: Velvet Buzzsaw starts by taking us into the art world with critic Morf Vandewalt (Gyllenhaal) being the man that can make or break an artist career, Rhodora Haze (Russo) runs the gallery with aspiring artists Josephina (Ashton), Coco (Dyer) and Bryson (Magnussen) working for her.

When one of Josephina’s neighbours dies suddenly, she learns of the number of breath-taking pieces of art, that soon gets the art world going into a frenzy, with Gretchen (Collette) the newly appointed consulate for the rich wanting to get the some of the work. This is only the beginning as the art work seems to have a supernatural force behind it that wants to consume the greed in the art world.

 

Thoughts on Velvet Buzzsaw

 

Characters – Morf Vandewalt is the biggest and most well-respect art critic in the business, he can make or break a career, which has given him enemies along the way. His friendship with Rhodora helps her collect and profit from the most amounts of work, he sees the brilliance in the new artwork, though he questions certain background towards them. Rhodora is the one of the most popular art curators, her gallery gives young artists a chance, while she knows which clients to accept or not, she wants this new work and makes a deal to make sure she makes the most money she can out of them. Josephina is the aspiring curator, she is learning of Rhodora and she is the one that finds the artwork, this gives her all the leverage required to finally make her name in the industry. Gretchen works in a gallery until she gets a job acquiring work for her clients, this shows us just how one person can go from small time to big time, while changing along the way. Jon Dondon is another curator, one that has become a rival to Rhodora, he clearly doesn’t understand the art world on the same level as her though, only requiring money to keep him happy. Piers is the famous artist that has been struggling with his latest work after giving up his addiction, he sees the brilliance, but is also scared of the work of the new artist.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is just as fantastic as we would expect, he plays the over the top figure that strangely feels grounded too. Rene Russo shines as the cut throat art curator that will put anybody who crosses her in their place. Toni Collette turns out an almost opposite performance to Hereditary, which see her become an ambitious lady that knows how to deal. It is Zawa Ashton that becomes a more influential performer in this film than you would expect, which surprises with the cast we have, she is equally as strong as the rest of the cast too.

StoryThe story takes us into the art world, we have the pivotal characters to make us complete accept being part of this world, as a new unknown artist gets discovered, only his work has a much more sinister side to it. The scale of the world created here is wonderful because within five minutes of the film, we are completely embraced into this world. The darker side of the film shows us just how easily people can become consumed by greed. This will leave you shocked with the events of the film and will leave you never wanting to be part of the art world.

HorrorThe horror comes from the sinister nature behind the art work, going hand in hand with just how Morf is slowly starting to lose his mind as the work is become bigger.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the art world for the settings, this shows us how the members of the art world will do whatever they want to become the biggest name in the industry.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the film are wonderful they play in with artistic world when it comes to the body count, we get to see.


Scene of the Movie –
The sinister side of the artwork.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The trailer gives too much away.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautiful horror film that will fully engross us into the artworld with the characters and gives us the twisted look at just what could happen when a spirit can spread so easily.

 

Overall: Visually beautiful horror film.

Rating

 

 

The Harvesting (2018)

Director: Ivan Kraljevic

Writer: Ben Everhart (Screenplay)

Starring: Elena Caruso, Chris Conner, Jennifer Gareis, Greg Wood, Noah Headley, Accalia Quintana

 

Plot: To escape their marital problems, a young family travels from the city to spend the summer in Amish Country where a malevolent presence grips them. They soon discover that they were brought there for a reason and they must break free before the demonic hold consumes them.


Tagline – The solstice is coming.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Borrows from Too Many Other Horrors

 

Story: The Harvesting starts when a family in need of a break from the city life, Dinah (Caruso), Jake (Conner) children, Steven (Headley) and Michaela (Quintana) move to a farmhouse in an Amish community for the summer. The community is haunted by previous events there which saw one of the Amish community Amos (Buckley) went on a killing rampage.

As the Solstice approaches the Amish community starts to warn the family to avoid the woods, as they know a evil presence can be found in them, which becomes strongest over the Solstice and when the children start seeing ghostly children around the farm, the ghost of Amos is waiting to return once again.

 

Thoughts on The Harvesting

 

Characters – Dinah is thee wife and mother of the family, she agrees to go to the country to start fresh, reconnect with her husband after her own mistake, she is the first to notice the changes her family is going through and knows she is the one that will need to protect them. Jake is a tonally confusing character, he has wanted to move away to the country for a break from the city, he wants his family to be together, but for some scenes he is growing isolated like George Lutz in Amityville Horror, the next he is the normal father figure, we just jump too often between these swings with no motivate for the swap. Steven and Michaela are the children that soon notice the problems in the farm with one capture footage, the other making friends with ghost children. Sarah is the member of the community that is willing to warn the family of the danger in the woods, after seeing its evil first hand. Amos is the Amish man that went on the killing spree, his ghost still haunts the woods searching for the next family to consume.

PerformancesWhen it comes to the performances with have Elena Caruso in the leading role, she fills the role well without making the impact other leading ladies have made in horror, Chris Conner struggles to balance his badly written character which most actors wouldn’t be able to pull off. It would be fair to say most of the cast do struggle to make the impact required for horror.

StoryThe story here follows a family in need of fixing heading off for a peaceful summer break, only to find themselves in the middle of an Amish Solstice which is known to bring out the evil in the weak. The story does borrow heavily from other films with the themes of ‘The Amityville Horror’ being the strongest to follow when it comes to the family problems and the evil trying to consume one. Mix that with the idea of a returning evil every solstice which is often used in horror for the idea of evil coming into the world. the fact this ends up with an anti-climax doesn’t help either because we did want a proper ending.

HorrorThe horror in this film comes from just how the woods can bring out the evil in the people around the area, we try to have a few shock scenes which don’t pay off well enough.

SettingsThe film is set in the woods around an Amish community that gets haunted by the events of the solstice, it does have an eerie feeling about it too.

Special EffectsThe effects are simple enough, they aren’t needed too often without them looking out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
Playing in the woods.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too anti-climactic.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book horror that just never reaches any high intensity levels which is required in horror and will let you down with a weak ending.

 

Overall: By the book horror.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – A – Allied (2016)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris

 

Plot: In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.


Tagline – Deception is an art. Truth is a test. Is love a lie?

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Suspense

 

Story: Allied starts as Canadian Intelligence Officer Max Vatan (Pitt) lands in Morocco to work with French Resistance Fighter Marianna Beausejour (Cotillard) as they pretend to be married as they complete their mission. The two fall in love for real and return to London to get married against the his superior Frank Heslop (Harris) opinion.

After a year of marriage Heslop comes to Max believing Marianna is indeed a spy, this leaves Max questioning, which side of the story to believe and what is the truth.

 

Thoughts on Allied

 

Characters – Max Vatan is Canadian intelligence working in Africa, highly skilled he can blend into his environment, but he does fall in love with his undercover wife. When he gets informed she could well be a spy, his life is turned upside down with doubts about what is the truth. Marianna is the French resistance fighter working with the Canadian Max as his fake wife, but she also falls in love with Max and returns to start a family with him. We don’t learn too much apart from that she is a loving wife and mother though.

PerformancesBrad Pitt is good for the opening mission, you believe his every decision, but when he becomes the family man, he just doesn’t reach the levels you know he can. Marion Cotillard is good without being her breath-taking best in this role.

StoryThe story here follows love and spies during World War II, we see how two people from different sides of the war fall in love and they must decide which side of the war they are supporting. This film doesn’t become as intense as it could be because seeing it from both sides could have heighted the experience and by the end it just doesn’t feel like it reaches the levels it should.

Action/Romance/WarThe action during the film is tame with very little being used or looking overly real. The romance doesn’t feel whirlwind like you think it should be either, but the war side comes off strong as we see how the tension between the sides cause most of the issues in the lives.

SettingsThe settings look authentic for the time, which does work well for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just fizzles out in the second half of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a war romance film that just never reaches the levels it should do, it just seems to go on and becomes one of the average films that you forget by the end.

 

Overall: Average and disappointing.

Rating