Brahms: The Boy II (2020) Movie Review

Director: William Brent Bell

Writer: Stacey Menear (Screenplay)

Starring: Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman, Christopher Convery, Ralph Ineson, Anjali Jay, Oliver Rice

Plot: After a family moves into the Heelshire Mansion, their young son soon makes friends with a life-like doll called Brahms.

Tagline – He’s made a friend

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Too Much Baiting

Story: Brahms: The Boy II starts when Liza (Holmes) and her son Jude (Convery) suffer a burglary gone wrong, which sees Liza injured and suffering in her own way and Jude turned to a mute, communicating only with his notebook, to escape and try to rebuild their lives, Liza, Jude and Sean (Yeoman) escape to the country, to a guest house next to Heelshire Mansion.

Jude discovers Brahms the doll buried in the woodland area around the house and starts to use it to communicate, but the rules Brahms wants in place lead to Liza getting worried about the power it might be having over him and the promises it is making.

Thoughts on Brahms: The Boy II

Characters – Liza does suffer a head injury after the burglary gone wrong as she was protecting her son, she is suffering her own traumas, but is trying to stay strong for her son, even though her trauma is rubbing off on him. She does start to question Brahms, with everything that she does, being for Jude. Sean is the typical father in horror films, he will always be the child’s best mate, try to be the voice of reason and usually not around when anything scary is happening. Jude is the young boy that witnesses his mum get attacked, he used to like pranks and now he is left to communicate through a notebook, he finds Brahms and brings him back to the house and is getting overly attached to the doll. Joseph is the local groundskeeper that always appears when the story needs just a little bit more mystery or explanation thrown in.

PerformancesKatie Holmes does well in the leading role, it is more her dealing with the trauma that shines through over anything to do with the horror. Owain Yeoman had a difficult job because the character is so flat, it is hard to bring him to life. Christopher Convery is creepy at times through the film, which does add plenty to the film.

StoryThe story here follows a family looking to rebuild their life and solve the trauma they have been through with an extended stay in the country, only for the son Jude to find Brahms the doll and bring him back to the home to join the family, which only leads to creepy events around the house. Well, this story was a lot to digest, first I would praise the fact that we are dealing with the idea of trying to overcome a trauma, which would explain a couple of events in the film, including why the doll was used as a way of getting back on his feet and how Liza could be unsure of what she is seeing. Where the story gets confusing, is by knowing what happened in the first film and while it might well get explained, it does feel like we are watching a completely different Brahms than we saw first time out. A lot of this, does first change the tone, it is a light feeling babysitting gig, it is a personal story about overcoming something, with a much darker tone through the film, that does give us a couple of potential theories as to what will happen, I personally had three different ideas of how it would end and none of them happen.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film is the basic jump scares, we know we will get silence, loud noise as something scary happens, they all happen to Liza, because the mother will always be the target in this style of film, though the doll does give us a creepy vibe. The mystery is why is Brahms different this time around, while we do get the generic research and slowly unwinding story from supporting characters, we don’t get enough clues or hints to anything that happens here.

SettingsThe film is set in the guest house next to the first film’s house, while still on the same land, the hallways are less creepy and we do spend time at the original house, it just isn’t the primary setting.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are used sparingly through the film, they seem weird when used around Brahms, though could be saved by something in the final act.

Scene of the Movie – Let go of the hat, that kid deserved it.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – What sort of parent would bring their asshole son to see a child who has been through a horrific trauma, when he has the sensitivity level of zero?

Final Thoughts This is a sequel that feels like they wanted to try and create a franchise, the performances are good enough, the scares are basic and we don’t spend enough time on the true trauma of the characters.

Overall: Strange Sequel.

Primal (2019) Movie Review

Director: Nick Powell

Writer: Richard Leder (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand, Michael Imperioli, LaMonica Garrett, John Lewis, Rey Hernandez

Plot: Frank’s caught wildlife in the Brazilian jungle incl. a 400 lbs. white jaguar. He ships it on the same ship as an arrested assassin. The assassin breaks free and frees the animals.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Con-Boat

Story: Primal starts as prize hunter Frank Walsh (Cage) captures an elusive white jaguar in the Brazilian jungle and looks to return back to America with the cat. On the ship returning, Frank is joined by US Marshalls who are transferring criminal assassin Richard Loffler (Durand) and Dr Ellen Taylor (Janssen) which sees the ship setting sail.

When Loffler escapes, Frank is forced to work with the Marshall’s as they look to hunt him down, only the animals have been let loose on the ship, making every corridor a danger and Frank must use his own skills to save the innocent people from the deadly animals.

Thoughts on Primal

Characters – Frank Walsh is a hunter that travels the world hunting, not killing animals to sell to the highest bidder, his latest hunt was for a jaguar, only he discovers a white one, which he captures to add to the collection he is looking to bring back to sell. He isn’t the most friendly person, being more interested in helping his animals than the people, with this journey becoming the latest challenge of hunting for a deadly predator. Dr Ellen Taylor is the military person on board the ship, she has history with Frank, with her father being the high ranking officer that once order Frank in the military. Richard Loffler is the assassin that the military trained and now a most wanted man, he has captured and being transported, only he escapes showing his training to pick off the member of the crew to get his freedom.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is on his best action persona role, which is always fun to watch, with moments that are over the top, but do work for the film. Famke Janssen is always good to see on the screen, but her role isn’t that strong for the film. Kevin Durand is great as the villainous figure, who shows the military training for everything.

StoryThe story here follows a prize hunter whose latest catches are being transferred only for the ship to be used to move an assassin, who only escapes with the hunter needing to recapture the animals and stop an assassin from killing everyone on board. This is a simple idea that gives us plenty to work with, we have a range of different animals that could be deadly, while the poster shows the jaguar, we do also have snakes and monkeys, this is an enjoyable factor because you don’t know which animal is going to appear next to come after the people on board, or whether it is the assassin. While fun to watch, we do have flaws, that could easily be picked apart, mostly the weakness in the military doctor character and the marshals not being the brightest.

Action The action might well be focused more on small shoot outs, but the danger is always there which does add to the tension in the film.

SettingsThe film is set on a large cargo ship, which is out at sea, meaning we have no way of escape from either the assassin or the dangerous animals on board.

Scene of the Movie – Feeding time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of the side characters are not important enough to be given anything to do.

Final Thoughts This is a fun enjoyable action film that is elevated by Nicolas Cage’s performance who makes this film even more enjoyable.

Overall: Cage Shines.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – U – Spartacus (1960) Thoughts

We are under U today because of star Peter Ustinov.

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Dalton Trumbo (Screenplay) Howard Fast (Novel)

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Nina Foch

Plot: The slave Spartacus leads a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic.

Tagline – The Electrifying Spectacle That Thrilled the World!

Runtime: 3 Hours 17 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Too Long, Too Slow

Story: Spartacus starts as young slave Spartacus (Douglas) gets sold to his latest owner Batiatus (Ustonov) who has been turning the slaves into fighters, which sees Spartacus training to become a warrior, only for him to lose his first fight, he finds himself leading a revolt against the owners, putting the Roman Republic needing to prepare for the problems they could face.

As Spartacus grows his army, the Romans put together a plan to stop the uprising, with different members of the empire using this as their own power play to become the ruler of the land.

Thoughts on Spartacus

Final Thoughts This is a film that is considered one of the classic of the art and for the time of release it would have been amazing, sure, only the problem is we have seen this story done many times since, we have seen the story trimmed to be watchable instead of nearly 3 and half hours long. This isn’t going to be a full review because after 1 and half hours, I simply couldn’t watch anymore, it is a shame because I like watching some of the classics, this one just isn’t one I could make it through.

Overall: Not for me.