Abstruse (2019) Movie Review

Director: Harley Wallen

Writer: Harley Wallen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Sizemore, Dennis Haskins, Jesi Jensen, Colleen Gentry, Clahoun Koenig, Harley Wallen, Jerry Hayes, Kris Reilly, Kaiti Wallen

Plot: Two young women get themselves into a very compromising situation that proves life changing, the aftermath is almost worse as all trails of the event has been wiped out and all of a sudden the tables turn and Amanda goes from being the victim to the accused. Amanda’s father decides to look into it only to realize it’s much bigger than they first anticipated. The story heads to a Good Vs. Evil showdown to settle the score.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense

Story: Abstruse starts when the playboy son of a senator Justin Stevens (Reilly) is getting tired of the normal call girls, he wants to make his own movies, adult movies, he recruits a couple of barmaids Mindy (Johnson) and her friend Amanda (Kaiti Wallen) to be their first stars of their movie, only for the night to take a turn for the worse, when Mindy is killed.

With Justin turning to his father Senator Stevens (Haskins), the police detectives Caldwell (Harley Wallen) and Morris (Hayes) have nothing to go on, even starting to investigate her. Amanda has one last out for the truth, her father Max London (Sizemore) a known killer who will stop at nothing to learn the truth.

Thoughts on Abstruse

Characters – Max London is an ex-con, a killer that has been used in protection before, he has connections that will get a job done and after he is released from prison, he must help his daughter, he will use his skills to try and learn the truth and his connections to make sure the people pay. Senator Stevens has always financed his son’s hobbies, he has always looked to save face whenever his son has done wrong and this is no different. Amanda is one of the barmaids that goes from having a good time, to seeing her friend murdered, she becomes the target by the senator who wants to spin the story on her, her father is one of the only people that could help her out of the position which could see her end up dead. Justin in the son of a senator, he has always lived off his daddy’s money, with his latest desire to make adult movies, which soon turns into filming a murder, now he will do anything to cover it up and get pleasure from hurting people.

PerformancesTom Sizemore back on the bring screen in great to see and this is the right type of role for his strengths. Kris Reilly does make for a wonderful psychotic rich person, while Kaiti Wallen as the victim looks as helpless and desperate as her character would be. The while cast do a good job here, showing us how to make their character make an impact in the film.

StoryThe story here follows the cover up of a murder, which sees the witness becoming one of the main targets of the cover up, with everyone needing to figure out who is working for who. This story does start slower that we get with the introduction to all of the characters, but once every pieces get put on the table, we do get a crime thriller that becomes edge of your seat, we literally don’t know who will be working for who, will people stay on certain sides etc. we have an antagonist that only seems to get more twisted as they get pushed. We even get to see how themes of money being able to get people off crimes and even try and turn the tables on the witnesses.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is more about the violent acts rather than being flying bullets or car chases, which it easily could be, the crime side of the film is much more complex as we see just how everything is unfolding between the characters after a crime has happened.

SettingsThe film does keep us in the city, which is filled with people that could do anything illegal to keep their names in the clear.


Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Did nobody see a dead body on the streets for that long?

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime thriller that does keep you guessing which is wonderful to see with strong performances throughout.

Overall: Great Crime Thriller

Nicholas Hoult Weekend – Dark Places (2015)

Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Writer: Gilles Paquet-Brenner (Screenplay) Gillian Flynn (Novel)

Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Andrea Roth, Chloe Grace Moretz

 

Plot: Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.


Tagline – In 1985, her entire family was murdered. 30 years later, the truth emerges.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Dark Places starts as we meet Libby Day (Theron) one of the daughters that became somewhat of a celebrity after her family’s murder when she was 8, with the support funds running low, she accepts an offer from Lyle Wirth (Hoult) a member of a private investigation group that look at crimes and whether they are solved correctly, who want to prove her brother Ben (Stoll) didn’t commit the murders.

As Libby starts to investigate the case, she must face her past and learn about Ben’s past as a teenager as well as her mother Patty (Hendricks) struggle to keep the family together. This will help her confront her past and learn the truth of the events of murder.

 

Thoughts on Dark Places

 

Characters – Libby Day has spent her life trying to escape the fame that followed her after the murder of her family, her light is dwindling as she gets older and now she is forced into learning the truth about what happened in her past, plagued by nightmares we see just how she looks to remember the nightmare events the 8-year-old self-experienced. Lyle Wirth is the leader of a group that are investigating the night of the murder privately, however he comes of nervous about trying to figure out the truth even with his own theory. Patty Day is the mother and victim of the murder, we see her in the flashbacks are she tried everything she could to keep a roof over the children’s heads. We meet characters from the past and present version of the stories, as we flashback and forth learning more about the events from these characters.

PerformancesCharlize Theron is the star of this film, we get to see the withdrawn from the world character that wants to hide from her past and how she has accepted the outcome of the case, we see the range in how she deals with the problems she is facing in everyday life. Nicholas Hoult like most of the supporting performers are fine without being anything standout.

StoryThe story here follows one of the survivors of a family murder facing her past to learn the shocking truth about the events of the deadly night to which her brother was convicted of. The story adopts a mixture of flashbacks and forwards to show us just how different parts of the story played out, each clue brings the next tale in the story. The story does try to keep us guessing about who was responsible for the murders, it gives us plenty of suspects along the way and shows us just how a young girl would struggle to have grown into a mid-30s woman still lost in the world. this is from the same author as Gone Girl, and if you were to compare the two, this is easily the weaker of the stories.

Action/MysteryThe film has moments of action, but doesn’t turn to it that often as we wait to see how the murder really unfolded. The mystery is the highlight of the film because of how it keeps us wondering to just what really happened.

SettingsThe settings show us the struggles that the family would have had during the events leading up to the murder, when we are in the modern time we see the faceless city of Kansas which could have been any city really.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well when needed, with most happening off screen we see the aftermath of the events.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do seem to spend too much time watching seemingly pointless moments of the back story and one aspect with Ben doesn’t seem to get answered enough.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that does keep you guessing, but never draws you in enough, it has a strong cast of talented names and by the end you will b shocked even if the narrative does spiral down some dead ends at times.

 

Overall: Off-track thriller

Rating

 

 

Traffik (2018) Movie Review

Director: Deon Taylor

Writer: Deon Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Luke Goss, William Fichtner, Laz Alonso, Roselyn Sanchez, Priscilla Quintana, Missi Pyle

Plot: A couple off for a romantic weekend in the mountains are accosted by a biker gang. Alone in the mountains, Brea and John must defend themselves against the gang, who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.


Tagline – Run. Fight. Survive.

Runtime: 1 our 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Shock Filled Thriller

Story: Traffik starts when the ambitious reporter Brea (Patton) loses her big story and potential her job right on the eve of her birthday, her boyfriend John (Epps) wants to surprise her and with his friend Darren (Alonso) he gets a romantic weekend planned.

Heading up to the mountain location the couple find themselves in a gas station where confrontation is quick to find them with help stranger Red (Goss) along with gangs, showing a potential large group of different enemies. The romantic weekend takes a turn, first with the appearance of Darren and his girlfriend Malia (Sanchez), but again by a deadly gang of human traffickers led by Red, who will kill to keep their secret.

Thoughts on Traffik

Characters – Brea is an ambitious reporter always taking her time researching a story before throwing it to her editor, this has seen her get herself into trouble, losing stories and potentially her job. In her personal life it is her birthday celebrating among friends with a romantic getaway being part of it. This getaway will give her the biggest story of her career, when she finds herself targeted by human traffickers who want her in their collection. John is the boyfriend that is getting nervous about the getaway as he is about to propose to Brea, he gets hooked up by the friend that will give them the location and will need to help Brea fight back against the people after them. Red is the leader of the human traffickers, he can charm, but he will show his deadly side if anybody gets in his way.

PerformancesPaula Patton is the star of the show here, she gives us a strong performance that shows us just how determined she is to survive. Omar Epps, Luke Goss and the rest of the cast all do a great job letting Paula shine through in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a couple on a romantic getaway that get targeted by human traffickers who want to keep their secret safe. This is a story that is designed the highlight the horrific crimes of human trafficking, not just in America, but worldwide. Away from the message behind everything, we do see the mix of a home invasion, chase and fightback elements of story telling putting a firm light on the idea that women will fight back, in this case Brea. The way everything unfolds is mostly predictable which is fine, nothing really hits the intensity levels wanted from the film.

Action/CrimeThe action is a mix of chases and fight between victim and captures, they are quick instead of being over the top. The crime side of the film does show us just how easily this operation can happen to the victims and how organised it can be run.

SettingsThe film is set in the mountain range outside California where the people can pick and choose who they take.


Scene of the Movie – Escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – One of the main twists is too predictable.

Final Thoughts This is a generic action thriller that does highlight an important message of the horrors of the human trafficking world that leaves Paula Patton to shine.

Overall: Important, but Generic.

Franchise Weekend – Mythica: The Godslayer (2016)

Director: John Lyde

Writer: Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin (Screenplay)

Starring: Melanie Stone, Adam Johnson, Matthew Mercer, Jake Stormoen, Nicola Posener, Christopher Robin Miller

 

Plot: As the Lich King’s zombie legions ravage the world, Marek, a cursed young sorceress, embarks on a quest to obtain a weapon from the gods, with her friend Dagen, a self-serving half-elf rogue. But when she joins her sworn enemy in a desperate attempt to save the world, she must recover the good in herself before her friends are all dead, and defeat the Lich King before the gods are destroyed and the world forever enslaved.


Tagline – When there’s nothing left, there’s nothing to lose.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fitting Conclusion

 

Story: Mythica: The Godslayer starts with Szorlok (Mercer) reign of terror sweeping through the land, bringing the dead back to life with his undead army, Teela (Posener) and Thane (Johnson) are trying to halt the bloodshed which is becoming too much of a challenge in time. Marek (Stone) is searching for a weapon of the gods with Dagen (Stormoen) where we get to see how she is questioning her decision to give Szorlok the last Darkspore, as they now face the undead army too.

Marek must learn about her past if she is going to defeat Szorlok once and for all, this will take her down a road of uncertainty about who is rather than her powers, with only Dagen to guide her, while Szorlok is trying to turn her to the dark side.

 

Thoughts on Mythica: The Godslayer

 

Characters – Marek after making the decision to give Szorlok the last Darkspore is left questioning whether it was the right thing, being drawn to the dark side and power he possesses, Marek will put together her own plan to fight the gods who want to stop the death coming to the world, she wants to do this alone. Dagen is with Marek fighting of the hordes of the undead, he helps fill in the blanks from his past, which paints him in a very different light, he keeps Marek’s motives going straight to the best of his ability. Thane is working with Teela to help fight off the undead, showing his pure strength and commitment to the cause. Szorlok has the power now, he has been bringing the dead back to life now causing terror over the world, he wants Marek to join him to gain complete control being able to defeat gods in this world.

PerformancesMelanie Stone continues to balance the emotional levels of her character in the film, she shows the uncertainty that could be her downfall or her strength. Jake Stormoen has constantly improved through the film series, with this being his best performance so far. Matthew Mercer continues to be powerful in his villainous role, while Adam Johnson gets to give his best performance to date here.

StoryThe story here brings the epic saga of Marek and her friends to a conclusion as they look to stop Szorlok from taking control of the world, learning their own destiny along the way. This is the type of story that has earnt this kind of ending, we have seen a lot of the work from the previous stories, which has shown the characters grow along the way, change and become better warriors. We need to have seen the previous films to understand what has been happening though, which can be an easy weakness of this film, but it is unlikely you will be watching this one without seeing the previous one. when it comes to finishing a franchise, this does draw back the comedy that made the last one fun, but it does become the serious levels required with the new peril involved in the film.

Action/FantasyThe action is bigger, more impressive and in new locations. The fantasy side of the film once again builds on the world we are in and just like we are used to seeing, we find ourselves in a new set of locations that fantasy can offer us.

SettingsThe film uses the new settings to help us see the world potential when it comes to people who are willing to risk their lives to save the world.

Special EffectsThe effects do continue to be the weakest part, but by now we are used to this style which hasn’t gotten better or worse through the series.


Scene of the Movie –
The hammer fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough undead fighting.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fitting conclusion to the franchise, it has the highest stakes and shows what everything has meant in the previous films.

 

Overall: Franchise finishing in style.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mythica: The Iron Crown (2016)

Director: John Lyde

Writer: Jason Faller (Screenplay) Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin (Creator)

Starring: Melanie Stone, Adam Johnson, Jake Stormoen, Nicola Posener, Christopher Robin Miller, Paris Warner, James Gaisford, Ash Santos, Matthew Mercer

 

Plot: When a team of unlikely heroes hijacks a steam-powered battle wagon, a daring young wizard (Marek) steals the final piece of the all-powerful Darkspore and embarks on a desperate quest to deliver the cursed artifact to the gods for safe keeping; but when they are caught in a death race between a ruthless team of elite mercenaries and a trinity of demons, Marek must learn to believe in herself before her friends are killed and the Darkspore is lost, to stop the evil necromancer (Szorlok) from uniting the Darkspore and flooding the living world with his legions of undead.


Tagline – The War is coming.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Best One Yet

 

Story: Mythica: The Iron Crown starts with Marek (Stone), Thane (Johnson) and Dagen (Stormoen) on their latest quest to capture the last remain Darkspore before Szorlok (Mercer) collects them all, giving him the power to bring the undead back to life, the quest is filled with peril with more enemies coming after them, while Marek is trying to take the spore to the place of the gods.

 

Thoughts on Mythica: The Iron Crown

 

Characters – Marek has now learnt to control her powers, she leads her team to make up for the previous mistakes of losing the Darkspores, she is filled with guilt after losing a member of her team on the last quest, now she wants to be the one to end the hunt for the Darkspores once and for all. Thane is still the brute of the group, being the strongest in combat, while Dagen continues to show he has connection around this world, even ones that want him dead, he continues to go through the evolution from lowlife thief to valued hero. Szorlok is the evil necromancer that is trying to collect all the Darkspores, now he has three, he won’t stop till he gets the final one, giving him the power against the undead.

PerformancesIn the performances, this is the first film that you can clearly see the cast understanding their roles, they look like they are having fun with what is going on in world created. Melanie Stone continues to show she is the strong leader of the group, while Adam Johnson and Jake Stormoen both keep up the strong work in the supporting roles. Matthew Mercer continues to give us a menacing performance in the villainous role.

StoryThe story here continues the battle for control of the Darkspores, with Marek looking to get the last one out of the possession of Szorlok, which will see her leading the team against more enemies before deciding what path she wants to make herself. For this story, we get the most together story yet, it is a simple adventure from location A to location B with different people trying to stop them, the story is told in such a way that it feels like it isn’t taking everything too seriously at last, which give us the relaxing mood through the film, which was needed after the last one started getting slightly stale.

Action/Fantasy The action in the film is a lot bigger than we have been seeing, we large set pieces created, even if they do all feel like they have a slower pace than required. The fantasy world continues to grow which is great to see, leaving us ready for the next stage of the franchise too.

SettingsThe film continues to use the travelling settings, which uses the different weather conditions to help show the difficult of each setting for both heroes and villains.

Special EffectsThe effects are still the weakest part of the film, we have large set pieces which did turn to the effects which are weak in parts of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Carriage fights.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pace of some of the fights.

Final ThoughtsThis is the best in the franchise so far, it feels bigger, it feels funnier and enjoyable for the first time in the franchise.

 

Overall: The best in the franchise.

Rating