ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – K – The King’s Choice (2016)

Director: Erik Poppe

Writer: Harald Rosenlow-Egg, Jane Trygve Royneland (Screenplay)

Starring: Jesper Christensen, Andrew Baasmo Christiansen, Karl Markovics, Tuva Novotny, Katharina Schuttler, Erik Hivju

 

Plot: On the 9th of April 1940, the German war machine arrive in the city of Oslo. The Norwegian King faces a choice that will change his country forever.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice History Lesson

 

Story: The King’s Choice starts in 1940 Norway, when the Germans start to invade, dragging the peaceful country into the war, King Haakon VII (Christensen) is left to see his country come under attack and communicate with his government on how to protect his people, Curt Brauer (Markovics) the German representative tries to play peacekeeper before Norway does something against the Germans.

As the Germans continue to advance in the country, King Haakon must make the difficult decision which will leave his country in their own position for the war that torn Europe apart.

 

Thoughts on The King’s Choice

 

Characters – King Haakon of Norway has kept his country at peace for years, now the war has come to his doorstep and he must be separated from his family while trying to keep his country together through the opening invasion, one they were not prepared for. Kronprins Olav is the son of Haakon who stands by his side through the difficult situation, he sees his children sent into hiding, knowing that their lives and his father lives will be put on the line against this enemy. Curt Brauer is the closest connection to the Germans in Norway, he tries to stop the bloodbath spreading. The characters in this film are based on the real people that has to make the difficult decisions during the war.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are strong throughout, Jesper Christensen in the leading role makes us understand every single struggle his character is going through. The rest of the performances let him take the starring role in the film.

StoryThe story here shows us just how Norway became involved in World War II, how they were first invaded by German and how the King made the difficult decision to help the country. This is a history lesson on another story from World War II, not knowing any of the Norwegian involvement, this made this much more interesting for me as I literally didn’t know what was going to happen in this story. if you do know the full history this will play it out for you nicely too.

Biopic/History/WarThe film uses both the history and biopic side of things to show us the couple of days from the first German invasion through any negotiations to keep the bloodshed down.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the film in the different locations the King went to during the first invasion, where he talks out any solutions the Norwegian people will need to make.


Scene of the Movie –
The speech to the cabinet.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slower than it needs to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good history lesson about World War II which continues to give us new moments in film that we didn’t know unless we truly studied the time.

 

Overall: World War II history lesson.

Rating

 

 

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Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Writer: Becky Johnston (Screenplay) Heinrich Harrer (Book)

Starring: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, BD Wong, Mako, Danny Denzongpa, Victor Wong

 

Plot: True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.


Tagline – At the end of the world his real journey began.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drags Along

 

Story: Seven Years in Tibet starts when Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer (Pitt) heads to India to climb in the Himalayas, he doesn’t get on with his team with leader Peter Aufschnaiter (Thewlis) forcing him to return, which does see him taken a prisoner of war.

Escaping from the prison camp, Heinrich and Peter head into the Himalayas before reaching Tibet, where he befriends the young Dalai Lama which sees a unique friendship started between the two.

 

Thoughts on Seven Years in Tibet

 

Characters – Heinrich Harrer is an explorer from Austria, he heads out for his next quest in the Himalayas to avoid the war heading to his country, he leave his pregnant wife behind him, but his nature isn’t to be friendly with anybody else on his team, he must learn to work as a team when the team are captured, and the escape sees him travelling around the Himalayas. Peter is the guide on the quest, which sees him being the one that does end up becoming the only friend for Heinrich, the two do their mission across Asia to the religious city. Ngawang is one of the Dalai Lama’s advisors, he wants to use the friendship to his advantage. Kungo is the man that welcomes the outsiders into the city, The young Dalai Lama is interested in Heinrich, being somebody with outside knowledge, he wants to keep him around.

PerformancesBrad Pitt really does struggle in the leading role, his accent is all over the place and for a charismatic explorer he doesn’t drag you into his performance. David Thewlis is solid enough in his role which is where he is always an actor to turn to. The rest of the cast have a mix of experience and screen time which just doesn’t let them effect the story.

StoryThe story tells us the events that led to Austrian explorer becoming friends with the Dalai Lama during World War II and the Chinese invasion of Tibet. It does show a different in culture, how the Dalai Lama was willing to gain knowledge from people outside of his village even at a young age. We do get a lot of jumping in time, with very little happening in places, which doesn’t help the flow of the story, which is meant to be a big moment in history. The narration from Brad Pitt doesn’t help too, because it sounds like he is just mumbling the lines which are meant to fill in the gaps.

Adventure/Biopic/WarThe adventure shows the incredible will to survive that Heinrich has, the ability to adapt to each situation which will take him across Asia. This plays out in the biopic side of the film, showing us just how the event of his story unfolded. The film is most set during the war, be it the second world war or the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

SettingsThe film does use the authentic locations for the events of the film, it shows the harsh reality certain locations are for Heinrich.


Scene of the Movie –
The meetings with the Dalai Lama.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing is slow for no reason.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced biopic that could show us a real moment of history, only it ends up not giving us enough to care about.

 

Overall: Disappointing a slow biopic.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – B – Birth of the Dragon (2016)

Director: George Nolfi

Writer: Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson (Screenplay)

Starring: Philip Ng, Yu Xia, Billy Magnussen, Simon Win, Ron Yuan

 

Plot: Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between an up-and-coming Bruce Lee and kung fu master Wong Jack Man – a battle that gave birth to a legend.


Tagline – The Fight That Created The Legend

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not the Most Effective Biopic

 

Story: Birth of the Dragon starts in 1964 San Francisco, where Bruce Lee (Ng) has started his own kung-fu academy with students including Steve McKee (Madnussen) and Vinnie Wei (Yin), he has just started to move into filming his fight sequences and always looks after his student’s mental vices too.

When one of the masters from China Wong Jack Man (Xia) visits to see the how Kung Fu is being used in the western world, he is guided around town by student Steve who wants to learn off him too. The showdown between the two is going to go down in legend.

 

Thoughts on Birth of the Dragon

 

Characters – Bruce Lee is the legend we know, in this film he is only in the early stages of teaching kung-fu to Americans, not the most popular decision within the kung fu community. He is cocky, arrogant and will help his students through any problems. He is moving into movies, filming his fights, but first he must prove himself to a former master. He believes he can win any fight he is put in using the kung fu skills he has learnt through the years. Wong Jack Man is a master of kung fu, visiting from China to learn how the Americans are using his skill. He is also punishing himself for his action back home, putting himself back into a position of needing to learn the reason of using kung fu. Steve McKee is the American that has been training under Bruce, but he becomes fascinated by Wong Jack Man’s visit wanting to learn more from his skills, while trying to win the heart of a Chinese local woman.

PerformancesPhilip Ng is solid enough with the fighting side of the film, but he does make Bruce look like a terrible person. Yu Xia is the best of the performers, the calmness he brings to the characters makes us want to see more of his characters life. Billy Magnussen did have his role cut back, which doesn’t help his performance because he does feel like the main character in this film.

StoryThe story follows one of the masters of kung fu going to America to witness the new wave of kung fu being taught be Bruce Lee before they both get caught up in the middle of a gang war, needing to see just who is the best. This is meant to lead up to one of the most controversial fights every reported, only it makes Bruce Lee out to be an arrogant man and uses the stereotypes of gang mentality to give us a mostly traditional and dull story to follow. The story also gives up on its own main character getting completely lost in the story it is telling through the film.

Action/BiopicThe action involves the basic of kung fu which we have seen before, only feeling anti-climatic when it comes to the showdown between the legends.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which for the time would have been one of the locations the Asian community would have first been bring the kung fu teachings to America.


Scene of the Movie –
The club fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The showdown was billed to be more.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action biopic that doesn’t give us enough details of the iconic Bruce Lee, doesn’t deliver on what is being promised and fails to make us connect to the characters involved.

 

Overall: Disappointing biopic.

Rating

 

 

Braveheart (1995)

Director: Mel Gibson

Writer: Randall Wallace (Screenplay)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Catherine McCormack, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen, Brendan Gleeson, James Cosmo, Brian Cox

 

Plot: When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.


Tagline – Every man’s spirit is free. Not every man has the courage to follow it.

Runtime: 2 Hours 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long Biopic

 

Story: Braveheart starts when young William Wallace see his father and brother killed fighting for the independence of the land, taken in by his Uncle Argyle (Cox) he is raised to be a fighter. King Edward I (McGoohan) is trying to take control of the whole of Britain planning on leading the pressure on the Scots to fold, his son Prince Edward (Hanly) marries Princess Isabelle (Marceau) to unite with France.

William (Gibson) wants a life of peace which sees him marry Murron (McCormack) in secret after seeing what happens to the brides on their wedding night. When an English soldier tries to rape Murron, she fights back, only for this to lead to her execution. William is now ready for war and will lead the Scottish into battle against the English.

 

Thoughts on Braveheart

 

Characters – William Wallace saw his family die at war, raised in the peaceful land, wanting a peaceful life, his life if turned upside down when his wife is executed by the English. William becomes thee general for the Scottish army in the fight for freedom, becoming a leader put into legend. Princess Isabelle is from France, married to the Prince of England, she doesn’t like the conflict, turning to William to help him in the time of need. King Edward I is driven by war, he wants to conquer Scotland using his armies to try and keep them in order. Robert the Bruce is torn between keeping the peace or joining William’s war, he comes from the royal bloodline knowing his choice will be seen by the people. Murron is the common woman that William marries and sees killed for defending herself.

PerformancesMel Gibson in the leading role is strong for the most part even if he can’t manage to pull off the accent to a high enough standard, add in his age isn’t on the right scale required for this man. Sophie Marceau gets the strongest female role in the film, while the rest of the performance come off strong without anybody becoming overly memorable.

StoryThe story here shows a fictionalised version of the battle between William Wallace as he led the Scottish in battle with the English after the king tried to take control of the land, taking their freedom. While the scale of this story is massive, the reality it that most of the historical side of the film just doesn’t live up to the reality of what really happened, you can use the internet yourselves to learn the truth. For an inspirational hero of war leading a nation this is everything you want though. We do see how both sides prepare for the battles and just how they believe they are in the right, with both sides having people that don’t back what the leaders are doing to each others.

Biopic/History/WarThis is where we must look at how you read the movie, for a history lesson that is wrong this is easy to watch, it does everything to make it feel like a realistic version of events, but not the complete truth. The war between the English and the Scottish was real, was bloody and this film shows us just how brutal the wars of this time would have been.

SettingsThe film shows us just how large scale the battles were, when it comes to the pure numbers involved in the battles, we get the beauty of the highlands too which show us just how beautiful the land would have been for fighting for.


Scene of the Movie –
The battles.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The length of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a historically incorrect movie that can be watch for the pure scale of the epic battle between the nations, with have strong performance, wonderful directing when it comes to the battle scenes too.

 

Overall: Brutal at times, long at others.

Rating

 

 

ABC Challenge – Biopics – # – 42 (2013)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay)

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Lucas Black

 

Plot: This movie is about Jackie Robinson and his journey to becoming a Brooklyn Dodger and his life during that time.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Sports Biopic

 

Story: 42 starts with the history of baseball and how after World War II there was 400 players in the MLB and they were all white, the black players had their own league until 1947 when the number dropped to 399. Branch Rickey (Ford) wants to bring the first black man to the major leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers against everything the world at the time suggests, that player is Jackie Robinson (Boseman).

Jackie must start in a feeder team and must put aside the segregation issues that is still going through America, Jackie and his wife Rachel (Beharie) must show they have the thick skin to deal with the abuse from the crowd, other players attitude and prejudices going through America to become a trailblazer for the African American Baseball players.

 

Thoughts on 42

 

Characters – Looking at the characters we are looking at real people this time and one Jackie Robinson who would stand up for what he believed in while making his name on the baseball field, he becomes the trailblazer given the chance to become the first black major league baseball player defining all the segregation problems going through America. Branch Rickey was a bible loving owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who wants to make a difference in the game giving Jackie a chance to change the game so he could be owning a victorious team. Rachel is Jackie’s wife that stands by him through the discrimination he experiences.

PerformanceChadwick Boseman is fantastic in this role showing that he was going to be a huge name in the future. Harrison Ford gives us one of his best performances of his elder career that is outside his known franchises, with Nicole Beharie doing well with the character she has to work with.

StoryThe story of Jackie Robinson is the stuff of legends on America, the trailblazer for African America baseball players fight on and off the field against the discrimination he faces to become the star of the season. We get to see how the country of America was so far behind the times with their equality that is still happening without being as serious as it once was. This is an important history lesson if you are a fan of baseball, sport and history in general.

Biography/SportsJackie Robinson is an icon of the sport of baseball, this shows how he fought off everything to become that icon.

SettingsEach setting shows us the different worlds that Jackie must walk into with different opinions on the difference in race.

Scene of the Movie – The team standing up for Robinson against ben Chapman.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I don’t understand baseball.

Final ThoughtsWhen you look at sports biopics you will always see an icon born and this shows just how Jackie Robinson became the legend the game knows and is a must watch.

 

Overall: Must watch for sports fans.

Rating