Custody (2016) Movie Review

Director: James Lapine

Writer: James Lapine (Screenplay)

Starring: Viola Davis, Hayden Panettiere, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Tony Shalhoub, Ellen Burstyn, Raul Esparza, Dan Fogler, Haden Michael

Plot: The lives of three women are unexpectedly changed when they cross paths at a New York Family Court.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Smart Courtroom Drama

Story: Custody starts when Sara Diaz (Moreno) sees her kid Davis (Michael) getting injured in the house, the school being concerned arrange for social services to take the children away to assess the situation. Ally Fisher (Panettiere) a rookie lawyer is assigned to the case, with judge Martha Schulman (Davis) taking the case, while still being haunted by a case which went horribly wrong.

As the case starts, Sara is left feeling helpless with not being able to see her children, while Martha is going through her own personal problems with her husband’s affair, with Ally needing to learn how to connect with the clients better, with all three looking to find the best solution for the children.

Thoughts on Custody

Characters – Martha Schulman is the judge for the case, she has been handling potential child abuse cases for years, she has just experienced one of the worst outcomes which is covering the news, her husband has been cheating on her and her son is at the college trying to decide his own future, she is strict in court, fair with both sides, always putting the children first. Ally Fisher is the young lawyer assigned to the case with Sarah, she has come from a privileged background where she has always walked into education. She starts off being distant from Sara before learning how to connect with a client, can help with the case. Sara Diaz is the hard working single mother raising two kids, she is accused of the abuse of her son, leading to the case against her being built, she must comply with the system if she is ever going to get her kids back, however difficult it will be for her.

PerformancesViola Davis is always wonderful to watch in any role, she does bring the judge to life, while balancing the troubles she has been going through in the personal life. Hayden Panettiere is great to, it is good to see her step away from many of the teen styled roles she was known for, with Catalina Sandino Moreno showing us just how difficult having her kids taken away would be for any mother.

StoryThe story here follows the case around a potential abuse case in New York, we have the mother who is fighting to get her kids back, a judge whose life is spinning out of control and a young lawyer who must learn how to process the system before losing an important case. This story does highlight how an abuse case can become something even if it started out as an accident, how the system however difficult it might be for somebody innocent, is in place to help make sure children are safe over anything else. We can see how the people in position of power will need to learn how to keep the cases out of their personal lives too. We might only see one case, but we can see how the system is getting held down with the pure number it is dealing with too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well, the hearing rooms work well for trying to help us understand how this isn’t at the serious level it could be, while the home environments, show us just how the three women are living.

Scene of the Movie – The final hearing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could learn or see more about how the bad case has truly affected the people involved.

Final Thoughts This is an important look at the process in which abuse hearings are dealt with, while it shows us how this might never have needed to go that far, it points out just how important it is to make sure.

Overall: Important.

Monster Hunter (2020) Movie Review

Monster Hunter – Big Action Blast

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson (Screenplay)

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman, T.I. Diego Boneta, Meagan Good, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung

Plot: When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers. Feature film based on the video game by Capcom.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Monster Hunter starts when Captain Artemis (Jovovich) and her unit, Lincoln (T.I), Marshall (Boneta), Dash (Good), Steeler (Helman) and Axe (Au-Yeung) are searching for a missing unit, only to find themselves caught up in a sudden storm, finding themselves in a desert that shouldn’t be there.

In this world the unit finds themselves under attack by a unknown monster, one their weapons can’t defeat, a mysterious man known only as Hunter (Jaa) is trying to warn them and takes Artemis to safety, needing to let their language barrier work together to survive.

Thoughts on Monster Hunter

Characters & Performances – Captain Artemis has her own military unit, she has them working as a team, she will fight with them and use their strengths to keep the unit safe. She is left helpless in the battle after they are transported to a new unknown world, where she must learn to adapt to survive. Continuing to be a strong fighting leading character, this is everything you would expect to see in a Milla Jovovich performance. Hunter is the man that has been fighting the monsters for a while, he tries to warn the soldiers of what is coming. He is prepared to fight with different weapons, he doesn’t speak English and must find a way to work with Artemis to fight the enemy waiting for them. Tony Jaa is one of the biggest draws for the action fan here, he does give us a fun action character that works very well through this film. When it comes to the rest of the cast, we don’t get to meet many more characters, the military unit don’t get to make an impact at all and anyone else we meet is here just to fill the blanks on the bigger picture.

StoryThe story here follows a military unit that get transported to another world, one that is filled with terrifying monsters that are happy to hunt the new prey, one soldier must try to protect her unit with the help of a mysterious figure who has been fighting here for years. This is a film without the deepest story, it does follow the idea of someone being placed into a new world, with a new enemy, that they must learn quickly to survive against. We get a lot of our one soldier needing to adapt, which at times does feel like Pitch Black for how certain things happen. We don’t learn the bigger picture to much later in the story, which could well have been placed her to create a bigger world in the future.

ThemesMonster Hunter doesn’t hold back on any of the action we get to see, we get chase, bullets flying, chases with monsters that you wouldn’t have seen before, it does feel relentless for the opening 30-40 minutes, which can leave you wondering about the context of what is happening, which we don’t learn more about till later in the film. The special effects are brilliant, with the creature creations looking flawless in the battles we find them involved in.

Monster Hunter is a big enjoyable action blast, that might only be the beginning for a bigger world, but is one we can sit back and enjoy.

Foster Boy (2019) Movie Review

Foster Boy – Important Drama

Director: Youssef Delara

Writer: Jay Paul Deratany (Screenplay)

Starring: Matthew Modine, Shane Paul McGhie, Lex Scott Davis, Julie Benz, Amy Brenneman, Greg Germann, Louis Gossett Jr

Plot: Michael is a high-powered lawyer and Jamal is an angry young man who has been imprisoned after years of abuse in the foster care system. Together they have to overcome their differences to find justice and expose the foster care system.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Foster Boy starts as we meet high-powered cooperate lawyer Michael Trainer (Modine) who has an excellent record in the courtroom, but has never taken on cases for people. On his latest case, he wins, with the next case needing a lawyer, where Judge George Taylor (Gossett Jr) forcing Michael to take the case.

Michael takes the case of Jamal Randolph (McGhie) who is looking to file a case against the foster care system he was raised in, where he suffered years of abuse. This case could break the foster system and the company being exposed will do anything to cover up the truth.

Thoughts on Foster Boy

Characters & Performances – Michael Trainer is an experience cooperate lawyer that has been winning cases for fun, never caring too much about the clients. A judge pushes him into take a case for a former foster child that is trying to get case against the foster company after he suffered abuse. He isn’t interested to start with, but soon he finds himself being targeted in the company as he looks to win the case. Matthew Modine is great in this leading role, showing us how his powerful character can have his life pulled out from under himself, where he will showing the skills his character truly holds. Jamal Randolph is the victim that had been in and out of prison die to the abuse he once suffered in the foster system. He doesn’t like letting people into help him, clashing with Michael to start with. When he gets to open up, we get to see just how much he has been through, what he has suffered through the years, leading up to one of the most difficult scenes in courtroom dramas. Shane Paul McGhie is truly fantastic here, giving what could easily be the breakout performance for the young star. Pamela Dupree is the carer that works for the foster care company, she will do anything to make the case go away to keep her company clean, showing the dirty tactics involved. Julie Benz is great as this ruthless woman not willing to lose.

StoryThe story here follows a cooperate lawyer who gets drawn into a case for an abuse victim against one of the companies he would normally defend, showing he can make a difference to the people that need it most. This is one of the important dramas that might well give us a fictional story, but using the reality of the foster are system being flawed in America. It shows how a company will do anything to make sure they will get what they want over what is best for the child who might be suffering. Like any courtroom drama, we get the excellent courtroom sequences that push the story, grab the attention as we hear what is happening with the stories.

ThemesFoster Boy is a courtroom drama that is highlight the foster system flaws, we get to see the different worlds Michael and Jamal have come through, from the life of luxury that Michael lives, to the foster system which Jamal has suffered through. The courtroom adds to the scenes, which will keep us wanting to see what the next chapter of the truth will end up being.

Foster Boy will be available on Digital Download from 1st March and can be bought here

Foster Boy is an eye-opening experience into how flawed the foster care system truly is.

Canaan Land (2020) Movie Review

Director: Richard Rossi

Writer: Richard Rossi (Screenplay)

Starring: Rebecca Holden, Richard Rossi, Dawna Lee Heising, Joe Gonzalez, Isaac Bar-Jonah, Jozy Pollock

Plot: ‘Canaan Land” is a love story between a charismatic con man preacher, Brother Billy Gantry, who falls in love with Sister Sara Sunday, a sincere Christian. She seeks to redeem Brother Billy, who manipulates the flock with fake miracles, including a stunt with gold dust and feathers he claims are from angels. The film is an unapologetic look at modern religion and televangelism based on the director’s personal experiences as a former faith healing evangelist. 

Tagline – A lost preacher finds faith. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Canaan Land starts as we meet Brother Billy Gantry (Rossi) a conman that travels the religious circuits looking for vulnerable women he can take advantage off in the name of the Lord. His latest target is the internet sensation Sister Sara Sunday (Holden) whose following is the biggest target he has ever targeted.

Billy does get close, finding his way into the circle, but he isn’t prepared for the investigation going on behind the scenes looking to expose his true behaviour throughout the years, one that will ruin his reputation once and for all.

Thoughts on Canaan Land

ThoughtsCanaan Land brings us a look at how a conman could target a religious selection of people to make the most out of his life, tricking them into giving him money in place of fame. We see how the reputation will start to build up and lead to more people wanting to expose the truth about his actions. The story is shot in two styles, first watching Billy build his relationship for the con and secondly looking at how the investigation of people he has hurt is getting exposed. We could have had more on the investigation side of the story, as it comes off like it is being film side by side, but could have made a bigger impact. Richard Rossi in the lead role brings us the character that could sell anything to anyone. He also writes, directs and produces this film, showing his hand in everything involved in the film. Rebecca Holden takes the role of Sister Sara Sunday, the one person that will believe anything he is saying now, this is a role that shows us how easily the religious community might welcome people in to become the victims of con artists. The film will give the deeper message about doing the right thing, even if a certain character must learn the lesson the hard way.

Final Thoughts Canaan Land is a film with a deep message that will need to be taught balancing religion and a conman.