ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – # – 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain (2017)

Director: Scott Waugh

Writer: Madison Turner (Screenplay) Eric LeMarque, Davin Seay (Book)

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Mira Sorvino, Sarah Dumont, Kale Culley, Jason Cottle, Austin R Grant

 

Plot: An adrenaline seeking snowboarder gets lost in a massive winter storm in the back country of the High Sierras where he is pushed to the limits of human endurance and forced to battle his own personal demons as he fights for survival….”


Tagline – Never lose hope.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Survival Film 101

 

Story: 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain starts as we meet the former rising ice hockey star Eric LeMarque (Hartnett) who has thrown his career away because of his drug addiction, facing a trial he decides to stay out of the limelight and head to the mountains for some snowboarding.

When a storm hits Eric finds himself lost in the mountain range, forced to survive on what he has, using his memories as motivation as he continues to battle his own addiction

 

Thoughts on 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain

 

Characters – Eric LeMarque had a future as one of the top ice hockey players, he threw this away with hiss reckless behaviour which has seen his career all but gone. With his addiction taking over his life, he finds himself hitting rock bottom and needing to find some hope. Heading for a snowboard away from the world he ends up lost in the harsh wilderness doing everything he can to survive in the conditions which will test his desire to get over his addictions and rebuild his life. Susan is his mother, she has always supported her son and will do anything to help him put his life back on track and is the first to notice he hasn’t been heard from for days. Sarah is one of the rescue team on the mountain, she leads the search once they learn that Eric is missing.

PerformancesJosh Hartnett in the leading role does a good job, even if it feels slightly mis-cast because you get the feeling Eric was a lot younger than Hartnett. Mira Sorvino and Sarah Dumont are both solid in the supporting roles as we see them both needing to make difficult decisions.

StoryThe story here follows the incredible survival story of Eric LeMarque as he faces days lost in the snow-covered mountain range without anyone searching for him for days, while also battling his own demons of addiction. The story itself is based on the real events that happened to the man who needed to rebuild his life. This does show us just how hard the survival was, though it just doesn’t become the truly engrossing story it could have been, because anything that happens is something we have seen before, be it wolves or injuries. Eric isn’t the most likely guy either because anyone that throws away a sporting career for drugs frustrates the audience. The rescue side of the film either needed to be a bigger involvement or not involved at all, we simply don’t get enough focus on what is happening on this side of the film.

Adventure/BiopicThe adventure side of the film shows us just what could go wrong for an ambitious rush can turn into a battle to survive. The biopic side of the film shows us the days which Eric is lost in the harsh snowy mountain conditions as he battles to survive and his own demons.

SettingsThe film puts us in the mountain range covered in snow, showing us how easy it could be to become lost and how hard it would be to survive.


Scene of the Movie –
The climb.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Hartnett feels too old for this role.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book survival story, it does show an incredible fight to survive and does give us a form of redemption for a young man who was throwing his life away.

 

Overall: By the books survival film.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Crime – N – Notorious (2009)

Director: George Tillman Jr

Writer: Reggie Rock Bythewood, Cheo Hodari Coker (Screenplay)

Starring: Jamal Woolard, Anthony Mackie, Derek Luke, Angela Bassett, Antonique Smith, Charles Malik Whitfield

 

Plot: The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.


Tagline – The story of the man behind the legend.

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fans of the Icon will Enjoy

 

Story: Notorious starts with the final moments of Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace (Woolard) life, before he flashes back to his childhood, raised by his single mother Voletta (Bassett), getting given a chance to start making money from drug dealing where he becomes addicted to make money, until he gets busted.

At 19 he gets a chance to enter the music industry when Puffy Daddy (Luke) gives him a way to escape the life of drug dealing, however difficult it seems. When Biggie finally get the record deal, he soon becomes an international sensation grabbing the attention from another rapper Tupac Shakur (Mackie) who soon becomes a rival with deadly consequences.

 

Thoughts on Notorious

 

Characters – Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace was a rapper from Brooklyn, he started on the streets as a drug dealer, before showing his rapping skills that saw him become one of the biggest rap stars in the world in the 90’s, we get to see how he has to deal with his vices with women chasing his desire to have too much money. The film doesn’t show him to be a nice man, he cheats on his partners, commits crimes and gets violent when he gets upset, it is a shame for somebody with talent to be such a horrible person. Sean Puffy Combs is the man that takes a chance on Biggie even after losing his position in a record company, he had an eye for talent and knew how to make the most out of it. Tupac is a rival rapper that starts with respect, but because of his continuing side business in drugs, the tension grows and Tupac soon starts a war against Biggie which became a bigger story than any of their music. Faith is Biggie’s wife that has the talent he has though she does become the one that stays with him even if they have an abusive relationship toward each other, well that is what the film shows us.

PerformancesJamal Woolard is brilliant in this leading role, he shows the laidback style Biggie presented himself as, while showing just how easily he can snap. Derek Luke and Anthony Mackie are both strong in the supporting roles, while the rest of the cast give us strong performances too.

StoryThe story here follows the life of Biggie one of the biggest rappers of the 90s that wanted to prove music could inspire change only to get drawn into a gang war with another rapper Tupac, one that made the two even more famous. We follow Biggie in and out of the music world, seeing how he was trying to escape a life of crime, but is drawn into relationship problems. The story doesn’t always paint him as a nice guy though, the way he handles the women in his life is getting into the abusive area. Otherwise this shows us how Biggie wasn’t interested in getting involved in the gang war, he just want to make honest money.

Biopic/Crime/MusicThe biopic side of the film shows how Biggie was being drawn towards a life of crime or leaving it behind to become a big music sensation and how his life changed with the new, making him part of one of the biggest rap battles in history. The crime world is showing how Biggie was always trying to get out of this world and give you hope to others that are facing it. While I personally wasn’t a fan of the music involved, it will please the fans of his music.

SettingsThe film is set in the backdrop Brooklyn shows where he has come from and how he wants to stay loyal to the people who supported him.


Scene of the Movie –
Making the choice.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film doesn’t show him able to treat his women with respect.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic that showed how easily a rivalry can start within the business that could end up becoming deadly between two biggest names in the music industry.

 

Overall: Music biopic that defined a decade.

Rating

 

 

The Front Runner (2018)

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Matt Bai, Jay Carson, Jason Reitman (Screenplay) Matt Bai (Book)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, Mark O’Brien, Molly Ephraim, Chris Coy, Alex Karpovsky,

 

Plot: In 1987, U.S. Senator Gary Hart‘s presidential campaign is derailed when he’s caught in a scandalous love affair.


Tagline – Gary Hart was going to be President. Instead he changed American Politics forever.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over-Populated Political Thriller

 

Story: The Front Runner starts after Gary Hart (Jackman) has missed out on the Vice-President position, four-years later in 1987, Gary is running for the Presidency, he is the clear favourite too, his team which includes Bill Dixon (Simmons) knows it is only a matter of time before he wins, while the opposition team is looking for weakness in his reputation.

Gary’s lead starts taking a hit when an early report of a potential affair emerges and before long every single newspaper in the country is trying to cover the story on different levels, some using it as a gossip column while others just want to question his own integrity. This will see Gary’s hope of becoming President come crashing down around him.

 

Thoughts on The Front Runner

 

Characters – These characters are based on real people, which will show certain ones in good and bad lights. Senator Gary Hart is running for Presidency, is has the whole campaign under complete control, which has all but guaranteed he would become the next President of the United States. Gary has the ability to spin any story that is placed on front of him, to show that he could bring America a brighter future. Gary however does have a secret with an affair which the press turn into a big story which sees him needing to try and recover from the spiralling situation he has created with his own wrong doing. Lee Hart is the wife of Gary, she has been part of a previous separation which made her suffer enough, she has however always stood by her man with strict rules for the future. Bill Dixon is the campaign manager for Gary, that wants to keep everything simple only this becomes difficult when the truth starts to come out. The Front Runner struggles with one big problem, we have such a large cast of characters it does make it hard to keep up with the almost nameless characters, we have three or four papers and their staff, the campaign team, the people involved in the potential affair, it just becomes completely keeping up with who is who.

PerformancesHugh Jackman is great to watch in the leading role, if he was given that one scene to try and make his character truly memorable it would have put him into a stronger respected performance for the year. Vera Farmiga does everything asked of her character which she doesn’t do anything wrong with. J.K. Simmons almost feels wasted in his role which should have been larger for what is going on. Most of the performances do seem to struggle for this reason.

StoryThe story here follows a presidential candidate whose life becomes filed with speculation after an alleged affair that both sides denied saw him going from a guarantee winner to needing to withdraw, changing the way politics are portrayed in the papers forever. This story does put the spotlight on the moment that saw a change in how politics and journalist operated, the film even points out in the fact that previous Presidents asked for heads to be turned about affairs, but this alleged one saw the country turn on any person that was willing to cheat. The story does show how the three weeks changed the whole race, only it does try to put way too many characters into the film which does make it hard to keep up with who each person is and what side of the story they really are on.

Biopic/HistoryWe follow a 3 week period in Gary Hart’s life, the three weeks that took him from being the next President to the moment he withdrew wanting to keep the false accusations about him out of the papers, this shows how quickly the public can turn on people and the media can make it happen, this plays into the history side of electing a President because we see how minds suddenly changed after how previous ones had acted.

SettingsThe film does use the authentic settings, show how the press would hide for a story, while Gary would use the public to put an end to the stories being made up.


Scene of the Movie –
Twisting the medias words.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story which does feel like it should be told to more people, only this version of the story is completely over-saturated be characters making it hard to keep up with.

 

Overall: Political Thriller that just doesn’t pack the punch.

Rating

 

 

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Writer: Kimberly Peirce, Andy Bienen (Screenplay)

Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alicia Goranson, Alison Folland

 

Plot: Female-born Teena Brandon adopts his male identity of Brandon Teena and attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska.


Tagline – A true story about finding the courage to be yourself.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shockingly Powerful Drama

 

Story: Boys Don’t Cry starts with Teena (Swank) a young woman that wants to become a man, she uses the name Brandon to go around small American towns looking to pick up women, which has got her in trouble in the past.

On his latest trip she finds a new group of people, with Lana (Sevigny) taking her eye, with her friends and family including John (Sarsgaard), Tom (Sexton III), Candace (Goranson) all welcoming her into the group as Brandon, when her true identity is revealed there will be shocking consequence.

 

Thoughts on Boys Don’t Cry

 

Characters – Teena is a young woman that is preparing for her sex change, before that she is going around as a young man Brandon, trying to meet women. She meets a young lady in Lana, makes new friends, but she is on the run which will soon catch up with her. This is a based on a real person that is going through the difficult process of wanting to have a sex change. Lana is the young lady that Brandon takes a shine to, she lives the dead end life that she isn’t enjoying and Brandon brings a new feeling about it, though she is left in a difficult position when the truth comes out. John and Tom are two of the group of friends that happily welcome Brandon into their group, when they learn the truth, they will go to extreme measures to get revenge.

PerformancesHilary Swank went on to win an Oscar for her role in the film, you can see why because she is fantastic in the difficult role. Chloe Sevigny shows us jus how her supporting role she can make a huge impact in the film. Peter Sarsgaard and Brendon Sexton III both are disturbing in their roles in the film which shows just how they could make to truly disgusting human beings come to life.

StoryThe story here follows a young lady preparing for a sex change, that would go around looking for women, only for her secret to come back when the prejudice locals can’t deal with people somebody they can’t explain in their lives. This is a film way before it own time, even though it is only 20 years old, it is based on the real crime which would easily have been given a bigger spotlight in todays world. we do step into the world of transgenders, which is always difficult to word correctly because it is a sensitive subject. What occurs in the film is surprising and shocking that you couldn’t see happening.

Biopic/Crime/RomanceThe film uses the biopic side of the film to show the romance and crime against Brandon Teena a young transgender that is still wanting to figure out how to get through the sex change.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the locations which shows how the smaller towns can operate and have mindsets that don’t accept people that are different.


Scene of the Movie –
The first night together.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The actions of the men.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most difficult movies you will see, it has a sensitive subject on the table which will show the way people can act towards people.

 

Overall: Must watch movie.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Jarhead (2005)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: William Broyles Jr (Screenplay) Anthony Swofford (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Scott MacDonald, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Ming Lo, Lucas Black

 

Plot: A psychological study of operations desert shield and desert storm during the gulf war; through the eyes of a U.S marine sniper who struggles to cope with the possibility his girlfriend may be cheating on him back home.


Tagline – Every man fights his own war.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Effective War Film

 

Story: Jarhead starts as we meet Anthony Swofford (Gyllenhaal) who joined the marines, it isn’t long before he gets taken by Staff Sgt Sykes (Foxx) to the US Marine Sniper division going through the training regime meeting his spotter Alan Troy (Sarsgaard).

When war breaks out the marines are set to the middle east, where they must adapt to the desert condition before going into to conflict, this will test their psychical shape and their mental health as the waiting is just part of the sniper’s game.

 

Thoughts on Jarhead

 

Characters – Anthony Swofford who wrote the book the film is based on, we see how he joined the military out of college and struggled at first through the training regime. Anthony soon discovered he was ready for this life as a sniper, but his time in the gulf sees him start to lose his mind. Alan Troy becomes the best friend of Anthony’s and his spotter, he seems to be the most level-headed marine in the unit. Staff Sgt Sykes is the one running the sniper unit, he demands respect and isn’t afraid to put the marines in their place.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is fantastic in the leading role, he shows everyone how he can play the calm soldier, the crazed soldier and the broken man through the scenes of the film which only increase what he is dealing with. Peter Sarsgaard give us a brilliant supporting performance which shows how the fear can be kept inside a calm outer layer. Jamie Foxx brings us the energy of a career military man.

StoryThe story follows the experiences of one soldier that joins the marines before being put in the sniper division when war breaks out, he must adapt to life in the desert during the waiting game before the conflict. This story does show us just how difficult adapting to war can be for the soldiers and just how the war can be fought without needing to fire a weapon. It shows us just how the mindset can change over a set amount of time which will see the soldiers make decisions they wouldn’t normally consider making. This does focus on the idea that the main soldier Anthony never truly feels like he was part of the war followed by the effects of returning back from war can have on the soldiers who have returned.

Biopic/WarThis film follows Anthony’s experience with war, it shows how war isn’t everything he was planning and how his mindset wasn’t in the right place for parts of his experience. The war side of the film shows us just how different war has become over the years, where the ground soldiers are not as required as once before.

SettingsThe film has some wonderful uses of settings with the march sequence showing us just how open the area in question will be for the soldiers.


Scene of the Movie –
Returning home.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slow start.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fascinating look at the modern war effort, how the biggest problem is now waiting for the war to begin rather than the fighting.

 

Overall: Modern war time.

Rating