Shock and Awe (2017) Movie Review

Director: Rob Reiner

Writer: Joey Hartstone (Screenplay)

Starring: Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Rob Reiner, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Biel, Milla Jovovich, Richard Schiff, Luke Tennie

Plot: A group of journalists covering former President George W. Bush’s planned invasion of Iraq in 2003 are skeptical of the President’s claim that Saddam Hussein has “weapons of mass destruction.”

Tagline – The Truth Matters

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow Moving Thriller

Story: Shock and Awe starts in the aftermath of 9/11, journalists Jonathan Landay (Harrelson), Warren Strobel (Marsden) and John Walcott (Reiner) are looking to have the story about who was really behind the attack, being surprised that Iraq has become the main location for a connection.

As the story builds the pair start looking for comments which will hint the truth, as they looks to expose the reality of the future war with Iraq before it is too late and innocent American soldiers will become victims of a conflict they don’t need to be involved in.

Thoughts on Shock and Awe

Characters – Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel are the two head writers, they have sources in government and will only look to bring the truth to their readers, they are loyal to their contacts and will wait before publishing any stories. John Walcott is their boss, he will expect the stories that will bring the truth forward, he does want to stay ahead of rivals, but doesn’t want to make up stories which could bring the writers under flack. Joe Galloway is a Bronze Star winning former soldier who has written for years, he brings a fresh set of sources to the paper, as they look to get the truth.

PerformancesWe do have an excellent cast, where Woody Harrelson and James Marsden do work well together, Rob Reiner is strong too, while Tommy Lee Jones, does seem slightly wasted with the importance of his character.

StoryThe story follows four journalists who looks to expose the truth on the war in Iraq before America went to war, only their sources won’t speak out and the pressure from other papers looking to publish stories which would endorse a war. We do have an interesting story, one that should have been pushed through harder, only it gets to pair needing to hold back, it shows how the government used a national tragedy to endorse a war which will be remembered as an important piece of history. Where this story isn’t the most interesting is following the early relationship between Warren and his new girlfriend Lisa, it is part of the story we don’t need to see and fills like filler. Nothing through this film feels as intense as it should be, when it comes to dealing with the truth, which other films like ‘Spotlight’ covered with ease.

BiopicThis is looking at the time when the journalists were trying to put together a story which could bring the system down, they had everything they needed, only they couldn’t push home the story.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show where the journalist work and how they were connecting with sources, only we do spend too much time with the personal life, distracting from the bigger story.

Scene of the Movie – Learning defeat.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much personal life filler.

Final Thoughts This is a film that is trying to tell an important story, only it gets bogged down in parts it doesn’t need to be covering.

Overall: Journalism 101.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – M – Man on the Moon (1999) Movie Rob’s Pick

Head over to Movie Rob’s site for more reviews here.

“See, I don’t want to go for cheap laughs. I want real gut reactions. I want the audience to have gone through an experience. They love me, they hate me, they walk out. It’s all great.” – Andy Kaufman

Number of Times Seen – Too many to count (In Theater, on DVD, 19 May 2013 and 12 Mar 2021)

Link to original review – Here

Brief Synopsis – Biopic of comedian Andy Kaufman whose humor was on such a very different level than everyone else’s.

My Take on it – Amazingly poignant biopic that resonates so well no matter how often one watches it.

Jim Carrey is superbly cast in the lead role of Kaufman and is able to personify this unique comedian with amazing comedic timing.

The life of Kaufman was rife with controversy and many of the antics that he performed over his career are still left unclear as to whether they were real or just created by him for laughs.

The biggest problem with this film is that there is so much that needs to be included in order for us to get a clear idea of Kaufman’s life, but a two hour runtime is somewhat limiting, so there are lots of montages instead of going into more detail of many of these segments.

There is no question in my mind that Kaufman was a comic genius even if he wasn’t always understood by everyone around him.

That’s partly why Carrey is such a great choice in the lead role because he also fits into that same category.

This is one of his best roles (if not THE best) which shows his range as an actor, comedian because we can really feel how he is able to embody Kaufman’s wacky sense of comedy.

The music is great and helps make things even more enjoyable especially the songs by R.E.M. about Kaufman’s life.

I love this film and laugh and cry so much every time I see it!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – During filming, it was widely reported that a fight ensued between Jerry Lawler and Jim Carrey. It was later reported the whole story was fabricated to promote the movie. But Lawler has since revealed that the story was true. Carrey was so into his character that he constantly harassed Lawler off-camera. At one point, Carrey spit in Lawler’s face and Lawler grabbed Carrey’s neck. The altercation was broken up, and Carrey demanded that Lawler be fired and that his scenes be re-shot. But Carrey later relented. According to Lawler, when they later filmed the scene in which he slapped Kaufman on Late Show with David Letterman (1993), he slapped Carrey much harder than he ever slapped Andy as revenge. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10) (no change from original review)

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – M – The Mist (2007) Movie Review

Director: Frank Darabont

Writer: Frank Darabont (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Thomas Janes, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, Williams Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn

Plot: A freak storm unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.

Runtime: 2 Hour 6 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Creature Feature Delight

Story: The Mist starts when a storm hits the small town, with poster illustrator David Drayton (Jane) need to repair his home, taking his son Billy (Gamble) to the local shop, he notices a mist coming towards the town, with everyone screaming from within it, David along with many of the residents of the town take shelter in the department store, with everyone outside being consumed with creatures from within the mist.

As the tension rise within the department store, David tries to bring the people together to work as one to survive, while Mrs Carmody (Harden) leads another group within the department store, ones who believe this is the end of days, become dangerous with their religious beliefs within the event.

Thoughts on The Mist

Characters – David Drayton is a movie poster illustrator, a mild-mannered man still believing in the art. He needs to head into town to fix up his house after a storm with his son, where he finds himself trapped in the department store, trying to hold everything together, looking to get the highest number of people out alive. He is one of the few people that remains calm through the situation, always looking for the smartest solution to the unknown enemies. Mrs Carmody has a reputation around the town for making more of any incidents, she turns the event into an end of days prophecy, which sees her slowly turn the heads of the people other survivors. She fast becomes the villain of the story, as her own religious speeches will create a bigger divide within the store. Amanda Dunfrey is the new teacher in the town, most people only meet her for the first time on this day, but she isn’t willing to follow any groups through the problems, looking at things in a more logical way. We do have a large number of different people inside the store, some will be followers, some will do the right thing to survive, all will want to find the best way to survive.

PerformancesThomas Jane in the leading role is great to see, he fills the reluctant hero well through the film. Marcia Gay Harden is amazing in this film, bringing to life a religious leader that does something so terrifying, getting people to follow her. We do get an excellent supporting cast too, that help make the movie stand out for decision making.

StoryThe story here follows a group of people that find themselves trapped in a department store after a mysterious mist engulfs the town, the mist is filled with blood thirsty creatures, with the survivors needing to figure out how to survive with enemies building from within. Where this story shines isn’t just with the creature creation story, it is delivering a story that is dealing with the ideas that religion could see the growth of bigger problems in the world. We see how the growing pain in the film comes from seeing how the survivors are facing enemies from both sides of the door and just need to figure out the quickest way to survive the horrors waiting for them.

HorrorThe horror has a wonderful balance in this film, first the creatures, all designed to bring a new striking horror idea to life, while the other side of the horror comes from seeing how the religious follows grow so quickly.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the location within the department store, here we see how they could survive for a time, but would struggle with enemies trying to get inside.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are great, with the creature creations needing to look terrifying, which they do as well as dealing with the wounds they can inflict.

Scene of the Movie – The spiders.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The speed in which people turn to religion is quick.

Final Thoughts This is one of the greatest horrors of the century, the creature creations are wonderful, with brilliant characters and performances.

Overall: Excellent Horror.